All honor is due the pioneer settlers who braved the hardships, trials and dangers of frontier life and aided in planting the seeds of civilization in the wild and undeveloped regions of the West. To this class of men belonged William Slingsby, who came to Yuba County in the late fifties. The quality of the work which he did and the importance of the place to which he attained are evidenced by the deep and widespread regret which followed his demise at Dobbins, on May 17, 1909, at the age of seventy-four. He adopted as the guide-posts of his life those principles which everywhere excite admiration and win respect, and through tireless effort and the ability to convert opportunities into tangible assets succeeded in building up a mercantile enterprise of large and profitable proportions, winning a position of leadership in his chosen field of activity.
Mr. Slingsby was born in Kent County, England, April 3, 1835, and was educated in the public schools. When fourteen years of age he accompanied his parents to Connecticut, where he learned the turnerís trade. As a young man of twenty-three years he made the voyage to the Pacific Coast by way of the Isthmus of Panama, arriving in San Francisco, March 5, 1858. For a few months he followed mining on the Yuba River. Being a man of broad vision and keen perception, he saw the great possibilities along mercantile lines, where the element of chance was eliminated. Accordingly, he opened a general store at Oregon Hill, in the Yuba foothills, forming a partnership with John Roberts. In 1867 he and Mr. Roberts embarked in a similar enterprise in Dobbins in association with Daniel Gettens. They sold supplies to the miners and settlers on the Yuba River and the streams traversing Yuba, Plumas and Butte Counties. From its inception the venture was a success. The firm bought up thousands of dollarsí worth of gold; and as the business prospered they expanded the scope of their operations, establishing a branch store at Bullardís Bar in 1887. They transported supplies, using pack animals and wagons. The relation between the partners was a most harmonious one; and throughout a wide area the firm name became a synonym for integrity, reliability and enterprise. From 1896 until 1902 Mr. Slingsby held the contract for supplying the commissary department of the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, during which time the Colgate plant was being constructed, and provisions and supplies were furnished to thousands of workmen. Years ago Mr. Roberts took the Oregon Hill interests, and Mr. Slingsby and Mr. Gettens retained the Dobbins store. On the death of Mr. Gettens, in 1900, Mr. Slingsby purchased his interest; thereafter he continued the business alone, until 1902, when it was sold to the firm of J. Merriam & Son, its present owners.
Mr. Slingsby was a man of forceful personality, with keen insight into business affairs and situations, and what he undertook he accomplished. His nature was an optimistic one, and while there were many dark days in his career, he never abandoned hope of ultimate victory. Actuated by the spirit of progress in all he did, he was quick to adopt an innovation, and one of the first in this section to make use of the telephone and electrical power. His success was due not only to his business talent, but also to an unsullied reputation, which he valued more than riches and al that power that wealth can buy.
On May 18, 1886, Mr. Slingsby was married in Marysville to Miss Mary McMenamin, who survives him and still resides in the home at Dobbins which he built and furnished in that year. She is a native of County Donegal, Ireland, and since 1867 has lived in the Golden State, being numbered among its honored pioneer women.
Mr. Slingsby had unalterable faith in the future of his community and worked earnestly for its upbuilding. He was called to public office, serving for twelve years as supervisor of Yuba County, and for many years was postmaster of Dobbins. He was faithful and efficient in the discharge of his public duties, proving at all times trustworthy and dependable. He was a Mason of exceptionally high standing, being a member of Yuba Lodge, No. 39, F.&A.M., Marysville; Washington Chapter, No. 13, R.A.M.; Marysville Council, No. 3, R.&S.M.; and Marysville Commandery, No. 7, K.T. He was chosen to represent his commandery at the conclave at Boston in 1895. Accompanied by his wife, he made the trip to that city and took part in that interesting conclave. He was also a member of the Masonic Veteransí Association. His was an admirable character, worthy of all praise, and he left behind him a memory that is cherished by all with whom he was associated.
History of Yuba and Sutter Counties, Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, 1924
MRS. MARY SLINGSBY
Among the pioneer women of Dobbins few can claim precedence to Mrs. Mary Slingsby, whose work as an educator was a valuable public asset, and whose many admirable qualities of heart and mind have made her greatly beloved. She was born in County Donegal, Ireland, the eldest daughter of the late Neal McMenamin, also a native of the Emerald Isle. She attended Loretta Convent in Letter Kenny. In 1867, impelled by the adventurous spirit of youth, she bade adieu to friends and native land and set out alone for America, securing passage on the steamer Iowa. Twelve days later she arrived in New York City, and after spending three months in Philadelphia she started for California, going from New York to Nicaragua and thence up the river and across the lake of that name to the Pacific side, where she took a steamer to San Francisco. She reached Dobbins on September 4, 1867. Her journey was an uneventful one. The trip between Marysville and Dobbins was made in a stagecoach drawn by six horses, John Hogan being the driver. She supplemented her education by study in Notre Dame Academy at Marysville, and after her graduation was offered a position as teacher in the public schools of Dobbins, with which she was connected during 1872-1873, or for a period of two terms. In 1873 she opened the Smartsville public school, where she was employed as an instructor until 1881, after which she taught at Dobbins for one term and then became a teacher at Sacred Heart Academy, Ukiah, remaining there until 1885. She was thorough and systematic in her work, and was very successful as an educator, imparting clearly and readily to others the knowledge that she had acquired.
After completing her work at the academy, Miss McMenamin returned to Dobbins, later revisiting Marysville, where she was married on May 18, 1886, to William Slingsby, the ceremony being performed by Father Callan. Mr. Slingsby was a native of England, and in 1858 made the journey to California, choosing the Isthmus route. He spent some time in the gold mines, and in 1867 located in Dobbins, where he continued to reside until his demise, devoting his attention to mercantile pursuits. He was one of the pioneer merchants of the town, and won a large share of public patronage; for he was industrious, enterprising and reliable, giving to his customers full value for the amount expended. Much of his success was attributable to the able cooperation and wise counsel of Mrs. Slingsby, who took charge of the accounting department, frequently spending from twelve to sixteen hours a day at the store. She also attended to all of the household duties, presiding with grace and charm over her home, which has always been a most hospitable one and a model of neatness, abounding in cheer, comfort and attractiveness.
The union of Mr. and Mrs. Slingsby was severed by the death of the husband on May 17, 1909. In his passing, Dobbins lost one of its honored pioneers and a citizen of worth, whose life was an open book that all might read. After his demise, Mrs. Slingsby continued to reside at the old home, looking after the interests left by her husband, devoting her entire attention to the management of her affairs.
For fifty-five years Mrs. Slingsby has been a resident of Yuba County. During this time she has witnessed many remarkable changes; and as the work of development has been carried forward, she has borne her part in what has been accomplished. She has seen the rise and decline of mining. While assisting her husband in his business operations, she took charge of the gold handled by the firm, placing the dust in sacks and preparing it for shipment to the San Francisco mint. Although she has visited many parts of the West, viewing with appreciation its scenic grandeur, she has found contentment and happiness amid the beautiful foothills of Yuba County, and has unbounded faith in the future of this section of the State. She has performed many acts of charity and kindness, known only to the recipients thereof. Her unselfish, useful life has won her the affectionate regard and unqualified respect of all with whom she has been associated.
History of Yuba and Sutter Counties, Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, 1924
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