GEORGE OHLEYER, SR.
Those who knew George Ohleyer, Sr. -- and he had a wide acquaintance throughout California – esteemed him very highly, and his genuine worth was attested by all with whom he came in contact. He was not only well known as an agriculturist and horticulturist, but was the organizer of the first warehouse business in Sutter County; and his activities against hydraulic mining were productive of much good to the county.
Born in Alsace-Lorraine, France, in October, 1830, he came to Ohio with his parents when five years old, and as early as 1852 came across the plains to California and engaged in mining in Sierra, Plumas and Yuba Counties. In 1855 he returned to Ohio, and on September 25 of that year was married to Miss Ellen Guthrie, a daughter of Joseph and Nancy (Turbutt) Guthrie, natives of Scotland and Pennsylvania, respectively. The following year Mr. Ohleyer and his wife came to California via Panama to San Francisco; and from there they went by river-boat to Sacramento, thence by stage to Marysville, and from there to the Oregon House in the Yuba foot-hills, where Mr. Ohleyer was in business. During the harvest season of 1859, he engaged in contract threshing northeast of Marysville; and during the winter of 1859 and 1860 he located on a ranch on the Yuba River, where he took up fruit culture, being thus occupied for about six years. He lost heavily in the flood of 1862, which devastated the country. In 1865 Mr. Ohleyer located in Sutter County, where he purchased land three miles west of Yuba City, the property consisting of a quarter-section of government land. In 1878 he built a fine home on the ranch, where he resided till his death. He added to the original purchase until in 1895 he owned 960 acres of choice valley land. He gave liberally of his time and means for the advancement of his locality, and during the agitation against hydraulic mining made five trips to Washington, D. C., in the interests of the valley. He was a member of the State legislature and of the constitutional convention of 1879, and served as a supervisor of Sutter County for several years. He was the organizer and president of a stock company which bought the Sutter County Banner, changing the name to the Sutter Farmer, of which he was also the editor. He was also one of the organizers of the Farmers’ Cooperative Union of Yuba City, of which he was president for many years; and it was during this time that the company began the banking business that has now grown into the First National Bank of Sutter County. An active member of the State Grange, Mr. Ohleyer contributed through its activities to the advancement and progress of the county. He passed away on August 14, 1896, mourned by a host of friends, for he was kind and generous to all with whom he came in contact. Mrs. Ohleyer still resides on a portion of the old home place, which consists of seventy-three acres, the rest of the tract having been sold off. Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Ohleyer; Mrs. Annie Hausinger, of Yuba City; Frank, a rancher here; Mrs. Mary Frick, of San Francisco; George and Fred, both ranching near the old home; Lewis, in San Francisco; and Ada E., who resides with her mother.
History of Yuba and Sutter Counties, Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, 1924
Significant of the opportunities offered by the commonwealth of California was the success achieved by Henry Best, who arrived in Sutter County without a dollar and with a sick wife to care for, and who, in spite of the discouraging environment and domestic anxiety, worked his way forward to a position of influence among the farmers of his locality. By the gradual acquisition of land he was able to give each of his ten children 160 acres as a heritage, retaining a homestead of like size situated nine miles southwest of Yuba City, provided with the improvements that mark a modern country place, where he resided until his death. Henry Best was born on February 25, 1832, in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, being a son of John G. Best, whose birth occurred in Pennsylvania about 1790. It is supposed that the paternal grandparents were natives of Germany, and according to family tradition the grandfather served in the War of 1812. When only a boy, John G. Best was in the service of the army in Ohio as a hunter. Later he took up farm work and remained in Ohio until about 1837, when he removed to Missouri and took up government land in Crawford County. Later he put up a mill on Bourbon Creek and sawed the lumber used in building the houses of the pioneers of that locality, and cherry lumber used in the manufacture of coffins. Afterward he had a small tannery, where he tanned the leather and made the shoes for all the members of his family. After eight years in that county he moved to Iowa and settled on the Des Moines River on an Indian reservation, securing a decree title to his land, but later was obliged to buy the title. In course of time he acquired the ownership of 400 or more acres, and there he engaged in farming and stock-raising until his death, at sixty-five years of age. Before leaving Ohio he married Tracy Burrell, of Eastern birth, and who died in that State at thirty years of age, leaving four sons.
The youngest of the four sons, Henry Best, was five years of age when his father settled in Missouri and about thirteen when the family located in Iowa, where he remained on the home farm until he attained his majority. Starting out for himself, he worked as a farm hand for nine dollars per month, and a year later rented land. As he had but one horse and could not undertake farming with an equipment so meager, he traded the animal for a yoke of oxen, which he used on the plow. At the expiration of his first year as a renter he traded the oxen and also paid $100 to secure the title to an eighty-acre tract. Lacking fifteen dollars of having enough to complete the payment, he worked in the timber until he had earned the required amount. The next season he rented the land for one-third of the crops, while he engaged to work as a farm hand. After a year he and a brother took up the cultivation of his place, which he sold during the course of the year for $700. Immediately afterward he bought another tract, but not having any crops he lost the land through inability to meet payments. In other respects he met with reverses; and finally, in 1862, he disposed of all he owned excepting three horses and a wagon. With these he brought his family overland to California, arriving in Yuba City in the fall of the year. Selling one of his horses, he secured means sufficient to defray expenses until he found employment. During the winter he chopped wood and husked corn; and the following year a Mr. Stevens furnished a plow and allowed him to put in forty acres of wheat on rented land, the crop gained being so large that he was greatly encouraged. In 1864 he rented seventy acres on the bottom near Yuba City, where he raised a crop that netted him $1200. With the money thus earned Mr. Best bought a squatter’s claim to 160 acres of raw land, whose only building was a rude shanty. Forty acres were sown to wheat, which brought forty sacks to the acre. As soon as possible he filed a homestead claim on his place, and later received title to the property. With a stanch faith in the future of this country, he bought land as he was able whenever it came into market, provided it was located near enough to his home place to be worked therewith. At one time he borrowed $23,000 with which to buy land, a venture that would daunt many, but which he carried through, with faith in the future and in the increased valuation of property. For some of the land he paid as much as eighty dollars per acre, but other tracts of course were secured at a much smaller price. Eventually he acquired about 2000 acres of land in one locality; but, as previously stated, by giving to his children a quarter-section each, he reduced his own possessions to 160 acres.
The marriage of Mr. Best occurred in Missouri in 1856 and united him with Miss Luvina McPherson, a native of the same part of Ohio as himself. They were the parents of the following children: Alice, wife of William Stoker; Alvin; Samuel; Amanda, Mrs. Augustus Case; Charles; Fannie, who married George Stoker; Lee Valentine; William H.; Clara Belle, wife of Louis Case; and Andrew, all of whom have substantial homes in this neighborhood. In national affairs Mr. Best always voted the Republican ticket. Fraternally, he was connected with Yuba City Lodge No. 70, F.&A.M., and for more than thirty-seven years was affiliated with Yuba City Lodge No. 185, I.O.O.F.; he had previously joined the Oriental Lodge in Marysville, but a few years later was demitted in order to aid in establishing a lodge at Yuba City. At the inception of the Farmers’ Union Bank he became one of its first stockholders, starting with eight shares of stock; in 1905 he purchased nine additional shares, and from 1900 to the day of his death he officiated as a director of the institution. He died on April 26, 1920; his wife had passed away one year before, to a day.
History of Yuba and Sutter Counties, Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, 1924
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