YUBA COUNTY Biographies
D. A. HEMSTREET
A native son who has become prominent in business affairs in the Sacramento Valley is D. A. Hemstreet, who was born at Calistoga, Napa County, June 5, 1897. He is a son of J. S. Hemstreet, born near Princeton, Colusa County; and a grandson of David Hemstreet, a native of Three Mile Bay, N. Y. The latter made his way to California when he was eighteen years of age, arriving in Marysville a mere youth, having come hither because he had two brothers who were engaged in mining here. Dave Hemstreet followed mining for a while, following up various mining excitements, and also ran a pack train from Marysville to Nevada City and Grass Valley. In the very early days he rode horseback from Marysville to Colusa by way of West Butte, and so was probably the first man to pass through West Butte Pass. He finally made his way to Butte, Mont., and had one of the first log cabins in that city. There, too, he had valuable mining property; but he was never satisfied to remain at one place. He was doing well in the stock business in Montana; but the Indians became bad and he returned to California and for a while framed in Glenn County and then ran a ranch in Tehama County a few years, and later also had one in Sonoma County. After remaining there for sixteen years he moved to Los Angeles, where he lived for several years. He spent his last years’ with his son, J. S. Hemstreet, in Marysville. The grandmother of our subject was Mary Johnson, who was born in New Jersey and crossed the plains with her parents in the fifties. She is still living, making her home in Los Angeles. This worthy pioneer couple had nine children, J. S. Hemstreet, the father of our subject, being the third in order of birth.
J. S. Hemstreet was reared in Sonoma County. After completing his education at Healdsburg College, he followed ranching for a few years and then came to Marysville and began well-drilling, at which he continued, eventually taking his son, D. A. Hemstreet, in partnership. They also improved an orchard. Later the son took over the well-drilling business; since then J. S. Hemstreet has devoted his time to horticulture.
The mother of our subject was Pearl St. Louis, a native of Colusa County. She comes of a very old and prominent family, being a daughter of Alex St. Louis, who migrated from St. Louis, Mo., across the plains to California in the pioneer gold days and settled for a time in Yolo County. Later on he located on a large ranch in Glenn County (then in Colusa County), which he operated, residing there until his death.
Of the five children born to his parents, D. A. Hemstreet is the eldest. He spent his youth in Sutter and Yuba Counties, attending the public schools. When fourteen years of age he began working for himself in Marysville; and while thus employed he attended night school in a private college, and completed a business course, which he has found of inestimable value to him in his business undertakings. Next he became an engineer in the Marysville fire department, a position he filled for two years. Then in 1918, he became associated with his father in the well-drilling, and at the same time improved a thirty-five acre peach orchard. Afterwards they divided their interests, our subject taking over the well-drilling, and his father the orchard. He began with the one rig, and has now three rigs, all of standard make, mounted on trucks. He operates these all over the Sacramento Valley, and they have bored more wells than anyone else in the business.
In 1920 Mr. Hemstreet began general contracting; and in 1921 William Meek became associated with him, and the firm was known as Hemstreet & Meek. In January, 1923, Mr. Bell purchased Mr. Meek’s interest, and the firm name is now Hemstreet & Bell. They have a very large equipment, including thirteen trucks and two clam-shell dredges, and have just completed a new sand and gravel plant at a cost of $15,000. Here the sand and gravel are washed and screened before shipping to the various parts of the Sacramento Valley and to San Francisco. They also own a thirty-acre tract adjoining Marysville which contains a very fine quality of sand, 200-mesh, used for asphalt paving; in fact, it has been demonstrated by experimenting that it is the best sand in the natural state for that purpose. For this sand they have a very large call, and ship to various patrons throughout Northern California. On this tract they have equipped a clam-shell dredge, so that the sand can be loaded onto cars on spur tracks build in from the railroads.
Mr. Hemstreet is a very energetic man, full of enthusiasm, and is never idle. He is very optimistic and sees a wonderful future for this great commonwealth, so rich in the natural resources of soil, water, and climate. Descended from pioneer families on both the maternal and paternal sides, he is greatly interested in preserving the history of the early days as well as the pioneer landmarks. Fraternally, he is a member of Marysville Lodge No. 783, B.P.O. Elks.
History of Yuba and Sutter Counties, Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, 1924
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