JOHN TYLER GRIGSBY.
That period of the nineteenth century embracing the years between 1845 and 1865 was characterized by the immigration
of the pioneer element which was so largely influential in developing the great state of California to its present
high standing. These immigrants were sturdy, heroic, sincere and, in the main, upright people, such as constitute
the strength of the commonwealth, and among the true pioneers of the section of the state of which this work treats
was John Grigsby, a native of Missouri, who came to California in the same year as did General John C. Fremont,
the great "Pathfinder." He had married Miss M. Shields in Missouri, and together they made the long and
dangerous trip across the plains, arriving here in 1845. During the ensuing years he took a prominent part in the
upbuilding and improvement of this section of the country. He first located in Sonoma county but in 1846 moved
to the vicinity of Yountville, where he bought a tract of land and applied himself to the task of creating a homestead,
doing his plowing with the aid of his oxen. The wild oats grew as high as a man's head, the only roads were goat
trails, and conditions in general were exceedingly primitive. Mr. Grigsby fought throughout the Civil war, and
he spent his last days in the state of Indiana, where he died at the advanced age of ninety-five years, secure
in the respect and love of all who knew him.
The late John Tyler Grigsby, a son of John and M. (Shields) Grigsby, was born on the 24th of July, 1845, on an
ox wagon, just back of the old mission Ain Sonoma county, California, his parents having but recently reached that
locality after their journey from Missouri. The family moved to the vicinity of Yountville when he was about one
year old, and there he lived until 1857, in the meantime receiving such education as could be secured in the schools
of that period. After his mother's death the ranch was sold, and he was thereafter reared by Jesse Grigsby until
he reached the age of twenty-one years. He then, in 1866, bought fifty acres of land just east of the old Grigsby
place, which is now known as the Fauver ranch. His farm was located in the Salvador district, and he made his home
there until 1913, a period of forty-seven years, devoting himself closely to the cultivation and management of
the ranch, in which he met with very gratifying success. During this eventful period he observed and aided in the
wonderful transformation which took place here during the early part of his actives life, and he was influential
in the adoption of many measures which effected a betterment of local conditions. In 1913 Mr. Grigsby relinquished
the management of the ranch to younger hands and went to live with his son, at the latter's home on the Napa valley
highway, where he spent the golden sunset years of his life in peace and comfort.
In 1869, in the city of Napa, Mr. Grigsby was married to Miss Helen Mathews, who was born in Ireland, July 14,
1843, and came to the United States in 1867. To them were born four children, two sons and two daughters, namely:
Mary, born July 25, 1870; Lizzie, born January 29, 1872; Henry, born July 1, 1873; and James, born January 31,
1875. Of these, the only survivor is Henry, who owns and operates a ranch just south of Yountville and also owns
the old home place, where he was born. On his land is an old log cabin, once occupied by a squatter, who was run
out at the point of an old musket by Captain Grigsby when the latter bought and occupied the place. Mr. Grigsby
was a stanch supporter of the democratic party and always maintained a deep interest in public affairs. He was
a man of fair and honest business methods, generous and accommodating according to the ways of the old pioneers,
who were usually open-handed and liberal in their mutual helpfulness, and all through his life he so ordered his
actions as to earn the confidence and highest esteem of all who knew him. In the early days he performed his farm
operations under the most difficult conditions, but he succeeded by the exercise of persistent effort and lived
to see the advent of modern labor-saving machinery and implements. In all matters concerning local history Mr.
Grigsby was a veritable encyclopedia of information, his reminiscences having been very interesting and valuable
from a historical viewpoint, and his life was one of usefulness and accomplishment.
History of Solano County, California
BY: Marguerite Hune
Napa County, California
BY: Harry Lawrence Gunn
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Napa County, CA
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