Isaac Minor 1830–1915
BIRTH 3 APR 1830 • Uniontown, Fayette Co., PA
DEATH 11 DEC 1915 • Arcata, Humboldt Co., CA
3rd great-uncle of writer
Hannah Caroline Nixon 1838–1907
Samuel Minor 1800–1878, married
Louisa Keller 1806–1848
Theodore H. Minor 1856–
Isaac Nixon Minor 1858–1941
Mary E. Minor 1862–
Bertha A. Minor Graeter 1868–1922
David Keller Minor 1873–1943
Jessie Irene Minor Waters 1874–1961
Eliza Douglas Minor 1826–1902
Louisa Minor 1827–1879
Daniel Keller Minor 1829–
Isaac Minor 1830–1915
Sarah Ann Minor 1833–1856
Samuel Minor 1835–1863
Rachel Minor 1839–1870
David Wilson Minor 1839–1920
William Hazlett Minor Sr 1843–1893
Theodore Henry Minor 1845–1932
FACTS and EVIDENCE:
Portraits of Isaac Minor and wife Hannah Nixon Minor
Isaac Minor’s son, T H Minor, in band in Arcata, California:
Bio of Isaac Minor of Arcata, California – by Michael M. Minor, found in the Humboldt Historian:
Isaac Minor, pioneer California lumberman, embarked on his successful career in Arcata, Humboldt County, in 1853 at the age of 23. He turned his back on the gold fields for the vision of opportunity in the towering redwoods of the North Coast.
He is believed to be the first of the Minor family to adventure westward into California, exemplifying the pioneering spirit of his great-great-great-great-greatgrandfather,
Thomas Minor, a founder of Stonington, Conn., and the first of the Minor family to emigrate to the United States from Chew Magna, Somersett County, England.
Before Isaac Minor’s death in 1915, he was described as “capitalist, banker, builder and pioneer” who “has wielded perhaps a greater influence in the growth and development of Humboldt County than any other man,” by the Davis Commercial Encyclopedia of the Pacific Southwest, published earlier that same year.
Isaac Minor of Arcata is a descendant of Thomas Minor through his second son, Lieutenant Clement Minor, 1638- 1700, on down through five more generations –
William Minor, 1670- ; Stephen Minor, 1706-1750; Samuel Minor, 1739-1826; Isaac
Minor, 1769-1836, and Samuel Minor, 1800-1878.
Isaac Minor of Arcata was born in Uniontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, on April 8, 1830, the same town where his father was born and is buried. He is the son of Samuel Minor and Louisa (Keller) Minor. His mother was the granddaughter of General Ephraim Douglas, first Burgess of Uniontown, who served with. George Washington and sat with him at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Isaac used to tell his children stories of his great-grandfather fighting Indians, including this anecdote: General Douglas was selected to go west to convey to the Indians that the War of 1812 had come to a close, and their hostilities should cease.
However, he was captured by the Indians and held prisoner. He escaped by a ruse with his ice skates- demonstrating skating to the Indians, but going out a little further each day until one day he skated away to safety.
Isaac’s mother inherited from her grandfather his “meadow lot situated on Redstone Creek one mile below Uniontown, containing about thirty acres, with the tenements and appurtenances thereto belonging…,” according to the will of Ephraim Douglas. The General Douglas home plantation of around 100 acres near Uniontown was bequeathed to his grandson, Ephriam Douglas Keller, but was purchased by Samuel and Louisa Minor from Ephriam Keller in 1845 for $3,000, when Isaac was 15 years of age.
As a young man, Isaac farmed with his father, but early sought new adventures. Somewhere near the start of 1852, he traveled by boat down the east coast and
disembarked at Panama. According to the Davis Encyclopedia account, written in
Isaac’s lifetime, he “walked 30 miles across the isthmus in one day,” and boarded a steamer for San Francisco. “It became disabled en route and the trip required 49 days, during which passengers consumed 65 head of beef from the cargo when provisions ran out,” the Davis account says.
An earlier history book, “The History of Humboldt County, California,” published by Wallace W. Elliot Co. of San Francisco in 1881, recounts that Minor’s trip from New York to San Francisco required two months and 10 days.
Rolls of the Humboldt County Pioneer Society, founded in 1870 and reorganized and incorporated in 1881 with Isaac among the Board of Directors, show he arrived in California in March, 1852, and in Humboldt County the following year.
When Isaac Minor reached San Francisco he had barely enough money left to go to
Sacramento, nearer the gold country. When he reached Sacramento, the Davis
Encyclopedia recounts, he found part of that city flooded, with emergency pay of
$1 per hour being offered to carry goods to safety in higher sections of the city. Minor worked for 12 hours overnight, and with a grubstake of only $42 left walking the next day to Mormon Island on the American River, about 75 miles from Sacramento.
He engaged in gold mining there, at nearby Jamestown. During his lifetime, Isaac said his mining met with “tolerable success,” but as soon as he accumulated enough savings he started a mercantile establishment for trading with other miners. Soon, he decided he wanted greater opportunity than seemed to be offered by the small mining village so he sold his store and headed back to San Francisco. His intention was a return trip to Pennsylvania, but he was so impressed by the evidence of sudden wealth and rapid growth in San Francisco that he decided California was the place to stay. Again he struck out for new country, traveling north to the small hamlet of Eureka, on the Humboldt Bay. He was
impressed by the great potential of Humboldt Bay, and saw in it new opportunity for the surrounding area. He obtained a canoe and rowed across the bay to a pioneer settlement called Uniontown – by coincidence, the same name as the birthplace he had left in the
east. Uniontown became Arcata.
When Isaac reached Uniontown and saw the vast redwood stands covering all the surrounding hills, he became convinced this was his land of opportunity. Isaac bought a 25-head team of mules and started conducting a supply pack train from Arcata to Orleans Bar on the Klamath River, to Sawyer’s Bar, and as far east as Weaverville.
Isaac told of starting this pack train venture with a load of potatoes bought in Uniontown (Arcata) for four cents per pound, and sold at the mines for an ounce of gold per one hundred weight. An ounce of gold was then worth $17.50, and allowing 200 pounds of potatoes to the mule this would make a profit of more than $600.
In 1855 Isaac married Hannah Caroline Nixon, from Iowa. Their first son, Theodore H. Minor, was born in 1856 while Isaac was still conducting his pack trains to the interior mines. He continued hauling food and supplies until 1858, increasing his pack train herd to 65 head.
He sold out to enter the cattle business, buying a ranch on the trail between Arcata and Hoopa Valley on Redwood Creek, 25 miles from Arcata. There he raised cattle, started a dairy, engaged in general farming, and kept a “public house” that became the most prosperous in the area, a convenient stopping place for mail and travelers.
But just as he was prospering and expanding there, the following year hostilities between Indians and settlers killed a number of his neighbors, eventually driving him out. He took his family to Arcata for safety, after boarding up his windows and doors the best he could and hiring 12 men to protect his place. Despite his precautions, the Indian raids continued and eventually his business was burned out completely.
He began life anew in Arcata, and started cutting timber and hauling logs to Eureka. His younger brother, Samuel, had arrived from Uniontown, Penn., and joined him in working in the woods. This was during the Indian Wars of 1862-63 in that area. During 1863, the two of them were cutting down a large redwood tree when Isaac decided to go back into
Arcata on an errand. While he was gone the Indians attacked, killing Samuel with arrows and scalping him. He was only 28 years old when killed, and unmarried.
The tragedy forced Isaac to give up working in the woods for awhile, and he next settled on a ranch on the bottom lands about one mile from Arcata. This became a prosperous farm of 140 acres, but Isaac was still drawn by the lumber industry.
In 1870 he got his real timbering start by building the Dolly Varden sawmill near Arcata, with his partner N. H. Falk. It was so successful that by the second year they started a second one, the Jolly Giant Mill.
These were later sold and they built a new mill at Warren Creek, five miles north, on the Mad River. It became known as the Mad River Mill.
The 1881 Elliot History of Humboldt County says the Mad River Mill had a capacity of 50,000 feet per day, and the Mad River dam they built created a lumber pond with a capacity of 10 to 15 million feet of logs. While operating the Mad River Mill, Minor and his partner built the Glendale Mill, on the opposite side of Mad River. Isaac Minor prospered
in the timber business and continued expanding. During this period he cut practically all of the trees between Eureka and Blue Lake, an area of some 6,000 acres.
With lumber from his own mills, he started shipbuilding at the old Bendixson Shipyards in Humboldt Bay. He built four lumber schooners for transporting his lumber to the San Francisco Bay area and other points. The four were named the Jessie Minor, Birdie Minor (named for two of his daughters), Hester Buhne and Artille Foaud.
The Jessie Minor was built in 1883, and dedicated by Minor’s youngest daughter in front of all her school classmates. It carried the first shipload of redwood lumber to the Hawaiian Islands. When Jessie Minor reached college age, the three-masted schooner was outfitted for her as a personal sailing vessel to carry her into San Francisco Bay to enter Mills College. On her graduation, she took a group of her classmates aboard with her on a trip to Hawaii. The Jessie Minor’s longest voyage, 58 days, was to Bristol Bay. It finally was wrecked and sunk off Nelson’s Lagoon in Alaska, during a storm in 1911.
In 1889 Isaac Minor gave his last two sawmills to his children and established permanent residence in Arcata. He then began to speculate in lumber and timberlands. He bought 26,000 acres of timberland near Crescent City in Del Norte County, considered one of the
finest stands in the world, and sold it to Wisconsin interests at considerable profit.
He took trips to Tuolumne County and Merced and Madera Counties to inspect sugar pine tracts, buying and reselling five redwood and two sugar pine tracts. It was during this period that he acquired the now famous Mariposa Grove of Sequoias, borrowing nearly $1 million in San Francisco to make the purchase. He later resold it to an eastern syndicate at a substantial profit. The grove has since been preserved as a national forest adjoining Yosemite National Park.
Isaac Minor built the Warren Creek Railroad, from Arcata to the Minor Granite Quarry in the hills near Warren Creek, not far from Blue Lake, and was planning its extension east to Red Bluff in Tehema County. It was the era of railroads, and he envisioned an eventual
east-west rail link between Chicago and Humboldt Bay, the only east-west links ending at San Francisco on the south and Portland, Oregon, on the north. The mountain of granite he developed into a quarry was acquired in 1898, and had an appraised value of $1 million. It was from this quarry that he obtained the granite to build the Minor Mausoleum he constructed in Greenwood Cemetery at Arcata, where he and other members of his family are entombed. The mausoleum was built at a cost of $35,000, with the roof made from four slabs weighing 13 tons each. Isaac furnished the granite for building the first Humboldt Bay jetties.
Isaac built Excelsior Hall, the first public hall in Arcata; the Minor Theater, still standing in Arcata and founded the town of McKinleyville named for President McKinley, with his stores and creamery.
One of his last major business enterprises was organizing the National Bank of Arcata, of which he served as president until his death.
Isaac and his wife, Hannah Nixon Minor, had twelve children, only six of whom lived to adulthood. Six were fatally stricken by scarlet fever, three as infants:
Lottie F., Maggie L. and Sarah L., and three as young children: Alice L., Florence and May.
The children who survived Isaac were:
Theodore H., who went into the oil business in Bakersfield, Calif.
Isaac N., who took over management of the Minor Mill and Lumber Co. at Glendale.
David K., who became an oil operator in Oakland.
Elizabeth, who married H.D. Pressey in San Francisco.
Bertha, who married L.D. Graeter of McKinleyville.
Jessie I., who married H. J. Waters of Santa Rosa, Calif.
Isaac’s wife died in 1908 and is buried in the mausoleum that Minor built. He remarried in 1909 to Caroline Cropley of Arcata, younger than his youngest daughter, Jessie.
Out of Minor’s eight brothers and sisters, three followed him to California and were associated with him in his timber ventures. They were Samuel, killed by the Indians; David, who died in Arcata in 1920 and William Hazlett Minor. All three brothers are buried in the Greenwood Cemetery at Arcata where the Minor Mausoleum is located, along with at least 27 other Minor descendants.
At the time of his death in 1915, Isaac Minor still owned and operated what the Davis Encyclopedia of that year called “one of the finest farms in the region” on 140 acres of Arcata bottom land, “producing 80 bushels of wheat per acre and potato production exceeding all other farms in the area.” The earlier Elliot History of Humboldt County, published in 1881, contains two full pages of drawings of the Minor city residence, the
Minor residence and ranch, and the Mad River sawmill. Describing the Arcata farm, that history says it had “100 head of cattle, 30 hogs, 30 thoroughbred rams, 15 horses, 100 apple trees, 25 cherry, 12 plum and 12 pear.”
Photos of Isaac Minor at work in Lumber Mill and Yard at Glendale – Arcata, California
Isaac Minor’s photos of him at his granite quarry:
Isaac Minor’s homes in Arcata, California:
Photos of Isaac Minor’s lumber yard at Glendale – day to day operations and people:
Isaac Minor’s granite quarry, additional photos of work and people at quarry:
Isaac Minor’s mausoleum:
Obituary of Isaac Minor:
Obituary of Isaac Minor:
Blue Lake Advocate, Saturday December 18, 1915 Page 1
PIONEER ISAAC MINOR IS NO MORE
Passed Away Saturday at His Home in Arcata
CAME HERE SIXTY-TWO YEARS AGO
Held in Great Esteem by All Who Knew Him — Was One of our Most Enterprising Citizens
After an illness of nearly a year and despite all the best possible medical treatment, Isaac Minor, one of Humboldt’s best known and most highly respected pioneers, passed away Saturday forenoon, December 11, at his home in Arcata, surrounded by his wife and children. He was 85 years, 8 months and 3 days old.
By the death of Mr. Minor Arcata and this northern section loses a man whose manifold interests, were interwoven and bound up with the better development of the section. He was truly a pioneer of Humboldt county and was better known than any other man of the older school in the lumber and timber business of the west.
Sixty-two years ago when Arcata was a little place known as Uniontown, Isaac Minor settled here, and from that day to the time of his death all of his thoughts were for the best interests of Arcata and community. A half dozen lumber mills were built by him; he owned much real estate in Arcata; organized the First National Bank of Arcata, built the Minor Theater, and otherwise showed his interest in the community. He was also the principal in the movement for the establishment of a pulp mill at Warren Creek, which will soon be a reality.
Isaac Minor was born near Uniontown, Fayette Co., Pa. on April 8th, 1830 and was a son of Samuel Minor and Louise (Keller) Minor, natives respectively of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. His maternal great grandfather was General Douglas of Revolutionary War Fame. When he had arrived at majority Isaac Minor left home starting out for himself, and in the fall of 1851 he set sail for California via the Isthmus of Panama. From Panama he embarked on the steamer “Monumental City,” which consumed forty-nine days in the voyage to San Francisco. More than once the passengers were in danger of shipwreck, and it was necessary for them to take turns in pumping the water out of the vessel. They were also on short allowance in the provision line. From San Francisco, where he landed in 1852, Mr. Minor went to Sacramento. A flood had brought disaster to that town, and he was employed to work all night at $1.00 an hour, carrying goods to safety that were being endangered by water.
When morning came he waded through the water and hastened out of Sacramento, walking to Chinese Camp in Tuolumne county, where he spent eighteen months placer mining. It was in December, 1853, that Isaac Minor arrived in Arcata, then called Uniontown. Buying a pack train he began to carry goods to the mines, and for two or more years carried on a store at Orleans Bar on the Klamath river. The hostility of the Indians, who killed some of his neighbors and threatened his own life, forced him to leave the place. Returning to Arcata, he was united in marriage with Hannah C. Nixon on December 20th, 1856. Mrs. Minor was the daughter of Captain Isaac and Sarah Nixon, the well known pioneers of the then Uniontown. She also was born near Uniontown, Fayette county, Pa., on December 28th, 1839, and at the age of three years went with the rest of the Nixon family to Iowa, the family moving to Uniontown, Cal., in 1852.
After his marriage, Isaac Minor, in partnership with John Saf, bought a stock ranch at Camp Anderson on Redwood Creek, which now belongs to Thos. Bair, and in conjunction with operating that property, ran a pack train, transporting goods to the mines, for seven years. The Indians having again become troublesome, Mr. Minor sold his pack train and returned to his family at Arcata, taking up the business of logging from the redwood forest adjacent to and east of Arcata, while his partner, John Saf, remained at the stock ranch trying to save that property from the depradations of the Indians, but without avail, as ninetenths of the stock were run off and killed as well as houses and barns burned. In one of the raids to Arcata, the Indians killed Mr. Minor’s brother Samuel in the redwoods near the then Philips Place, east of Arcata, where there is now the beautiful addition to the city known as Pleasant Hill. Isaac Minor only escaped the same fate by remaining in Arcata that morning, looking after the purchase of some hay for his oxen. At the close of the Indian war, Mr. Minor bought the Christiansen place, a mile and a half northwest of Arcata.
Here the family resided for sixteen years, and while actively engaged in farming, Mr. Minor bought in partnership with the late Austin Wiley, the Washington place, being brush and timber land on Jacoby Creek, and upon which Bayside is now situated. He also built and operated in partnership with Mr. Noah Falk the Dolly Varden and Jacoby Giant saw mills, north of Arcata, but later sold his interest in both mills. Next, he in partnership with the late Isaac Cu1lberg Sr., and James Kirk, built the Warren Creek mill. Mr. Minor bought out his partners in 1886, and operated the mill until it was destroyed by fire.
In 1885 Mr. Minor built the Glendale mill on Hall Creek on the northern side of Mad River, two miles west of Blue Lake. This mill he operated for ten years, turning it over to four of his children in 1895. He has been actively engaged in farming and lumbering for thirty years, but could not remain idle, so he bought a place on Dows Prairie, and set about creating and improving the place called McKinleyville. During the next ten years he bought and sold, single-handed and alone, 16,000 acres of redwood timber land in Del Norte county, 14,000 acres redwood timber land in Humboldt countv, 2,000 acres redwood timber land in Mendocino county, 16,000 acres of sugar pine timber land in Tuolumne and Merced counties, and in conjunction with the Charles Nelson Co., 7,000 acres of sugar pine timber land in Mariposa county.
To Isaac and Hannah C. Minor, there were born twelve children, of whom the following survive: Theodore H. living at Bakersfield; Isaac N., living at Glendale, Humboldt county; Mary E., wife of H. D. Pressey of San Francisco; Bertha A., wife of L. D. Graeter of Arcata; David K., living at Oakland, Cal.; and Jessie Irene., wife of H. J. Waters of Santa Rosa.
On July 25th 1907, Hannah C. Minor, with all her loved ones at her bedside, laid down the burdens of this life and passed to her heavenly home, leaving a sorrowing community of relatives and friends. She was indeed a worthy type of the pioneer women of Humboldt county, and a true and loving mate for the sturdy pioneer.
Thirty years ago, Isaac Minor adopted the policy of sharing directly with his children the results of his labor and industry. After he had sold his timber land, he rebuilt his Warren Creek railroad, extending it down Mad River to a connection with the Northwestern Pacific at the Mad River railroad bridge. He had all the material on hand to extend the Warren Creek railroad to the upper or big Granite Quarry, and as the Northern Redwood Lumber Co. have taken the timber from the land, would have built the extension this year. This, however, will be built by his children this year. The road as it is, however, taps the two other rock quarries on Warren and Dodge creeks.
During the past two years, Mr. Minor built five buildings in Arcata, four business buildings and one residence. The first was a story building, then he put up concrete building for the First National Bank of Arcata, then a residence, followed by a concrete theater building; and a store building between the theater and the first store building put up. He also organized the First National Bank of Arcata and was elected president of the same. Mr. Minor’s wealth at the time of his death is estimated at about $500,000, which was equally divided between his six children and his wife.
His children having all married and established homes of their own, Mr. Minor, in August, 1908, married Miss Caroline Cropley of Arcata, and they have ever maintained a loving home for and delighted in the visits of the children and their families.
Mr. Minor was a member of the Presbyterian church of Arcata, and had been a contributor to and a supporter of the same since it was first built. He was also a member of Anniversary Lodge of the I. O. O. F. Besides his wife and the children named above, Mr. Minor is survived by 21 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, and also by two brothers, David W., of Arcata, and Theodore H., of Manitoba.
The funeral was held in Arcata, Tuesday afternoon from the Presbyterian church and it was very largely attended. Rev. C. P. Hessel officiated at the services in the church while the officers of Anniversary Lodge I. O. O. F. conducted ritualistic services at the grave. His remains were laid to rest in the family mausoleum. The honorary pallbearers were Frank Graham, Frank B. Stern, N. H. Falk, Josiah Bell, Sylvester Meyers and J. E. Crawford, and the active pallbearers H. A. Sorenson, Howard Barter, J. R. Brown, Frank Smith, Charles Peterson and John Lundberg.