John Marsh was born in Danvers, Massachusetts, in 1799. After graduating from Phillips Academy in Andover he attended Harvard University from 1819 to 1823. He also studied medicine with a Boston doctor.
Marsh moved to Minnesota where he opened a school. Later he became an Indian Agent for the Sioux Agency. He moved to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin and during the Black Hawk War was blamed for a massacre of the Fox and Sauk by the Sioux. After being discovered selling guns illegally to Native Americans he was forced to move to Independence, Missouri, where he became a merchant.
He moved to Sante Fe where he was employed by the American Fur Company. In 1836 he arrived in Los Angeles where he established himself as a doctor. According to the author of Wagons West: The Epic Story of America's Overland Trails (2002): "On the basis of a BA diploma written in Latin from Harvard - scarcely more than a certificate of attendance - he professed himself a physician, set up practice and even performed operations successfully, accepting hides and tallow as payment." Marsh therefore became the first practicing physician on the Pacific Coast.
Kathleen Mero has argued: "He was an educated man from a blueblood family, the last person you'd expect to be dealing with all the rough and tumble of ... the frontier," Mero said in an interview. "He was hungry for the wilderness, never satisfied, always kept going west."
In 1838 he acquired the Rancho Los Meganos at the foot of Mount Diablo in the San Joaquin Valley, east of San Francisco Bay. His 50,000 acre ranch contained thousands of cattle and horses. Marsh realised that he could make a great deal of money if he could persuade people to travel overland from Missouri to California. Along with John Sutter he publicised California as a land of opportunity. Frank McLynn has argued that "Sutter and Marsh underwrote the golden legend of California as the Promised Land."
Of the 4th November, 1841, John Bidwell and his party arrived at Marsh's Fort. They were the survivors of the first wagon train to attempt the overland journey from Missouri. Cheyenne Dawson wrote: "We had expected to find civilization, with big fields, fine houses, churches, schools, etc. Instead, we found houses resembling unburnt brick kilns, with no floors, no chimneys, and with the openings for doors and windows closed by shutters instead of glass."
Marsh provided them with pork and beef tortillas. When he gave them with a bill for five dollars each next morning they decided they could not afford another night of Marsh's hospitality and left the fort in search of work. Bidwell estimated that there was only about one hundred white natives of the United States in California in 1841.
Rancho Los Meganos was attacked by band of outlaws led by Claudio Feliz on 5th December, 1850. They overran the rancho, captured Marsh, looted the adobe ranch house, and killed a visitor, William Harrington. The bandits escaped with $300, gold watches and guns.
In 1851 Marsh met Abigail Tuck. She wrote to her parents: "The bachelor has been out here sixteen years. He is about fifty years old and is a graduate of Cambridge College. I like his appearance and have since become further acquainted with him." The couple married and Abigail told her mother that she now had "some one to love and care for me and who has enough of this material goods to satisfy every reasonable want. I expect to spend my days here...Next year he intends to build a house. There is a house here, but not one that he wants me to live in."
In March 1852, Abigail gave birth to a girl named Alice: "She seldom cries and is the best child I ever saw. Her teeth are now beginning to trouble her, what a treasure to us she is. She has dark blue eyes and very light hair nearly white...The Indians who live on our rancho almost worship her - they think she is a perfect little beauty."
During the Californian Gold Rush Marsh had problems with squatters. Marsh attempted to organize vigilantes against squatters, Gilbert Leonard and John Osborne. Marsh was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit assault and battery. He was convicted and fined $500.
A developed tuberculosis and on 12th June 1855 she wrote to her parents: "As I expect to be but a few more days to spend in this world I must say farewell! But do not weep or mourn for me. You know the source from whence to draw consolation. In a few more months or years I expect to meet you in another & better world where the wicked cease from troubling & the weary can rest. I did hope to see you again in this world, but God has ordered it otherwise. He calls and I must go. I have no wish to be here longer, but have rather depart & be with my Savior."
Abigal died in August. John Marsh wrote to her parents that: "During the long & painful sickness of my dear wife I have continually kept you advised of her condition & I have now to communicate the sad news of her decease. She died last Saturday morning at 5 o'clock.... At present I am so overwhelmed with sorrow that I hardly know what to think or determine, but it is probable that within the next six months I shall visit Massachusetts the place of my birth, & bring my little girl to see her grandparents."
On 24th September 1856, John Marsh travelled to San Francisco. On the road between Pacheco and Martinez, at Pacheco, he was ambushed and murdered by three of his employees over a dispute over their wages. Two of Marsh's killers were tracked down and brought to trial ten years after the murder. The third was never caught. One killer turned state evidence and was freed after the trial. The other served 25 years in San Quentin for second-degree murder.
I concluded (sic) to stop a few weeks with Mrs. Appleton a lady with whom I used to board with. She promised to take me on a pleasure trip over the mountains into the San Joaquin Valley. This trip promised to be quite an interesting one. The first day we came about twenty five miles. The next morning we started early & wandered among the mountains. When about one o'clock we came to the place where we started from in the morning, then we took a guide who directed us over the mountains. About sunset we came to a bachelor's rancho, but no one was at home. We had seven or eight miles further to go but did not know which way it was.... We later returned to the bachelor and found him at home and glad to see us. He was an acquaintance of Mrs. Appleton's. We stayed with him all night and the next morning completed our journey.
The bachelor has been out here sixteen years. I like his appearance and have since become further acquainted with him. His name is Doctor John Marsh & he is now your brother-in-law. We were married on the 24 of June. Our acquaintance was short only a little more than two weeks but I had [no] risk to [run] and is worthy in every respect, [engaging] my affections. I feel that my roaming is at an end - I have some one to love and care for me and who has enough of this material goods to satisfy every reasonable want. I expect to spend my days here...
Next year he intends to build a house. There is a house here, but not one that he wants me to live in. I know you will all be rejoiced to hear that I am married. Well, I think I have waited long enough, and I feel that I am compensated for so doing. He says he hopes he is a Christian & that is all I can find out. Pray for us that we be bright and shining lights in the world. My religious privileges may be small. The Doctor says he will go with me whenever I want to go to San Francisco.
I would like to come home next year, but have faint hopes, only as I know it will be very difficult for us to leave. Please do write often and do not forget us.
My time is mostly spent in superintending my domestic affairs. Since I last wrote you we have had a California specimen favorable to everyone since we last wrote you & is acknowledged by all to be one of the rarest specimen of the country and her father thinks one of the rarest in the market. We call her Alice Francis. She is more than five months old...
How I wish you could see our darling little Alice. She seldom cries and is the best child I ever saw. She has dark blue eyes and very light hair nearly white...The Indians who live on our rancho almost worship her - they think she is a perfect little beauty...Some of them have lived with the Doctor from his first arriving into the country...I often go see them and carry them medicine when they are sick, they now have the chills and fever [ ] great many of them and would die if left to themselves.
You want to know how we find our cattle, when we want to drive them all together which is called a roundup, some eight or ten men go in different directions and drive to a particular place, when the cattle get there they stop. This is called the rodeo ground which the cattle all know as well as we do. Then if we want to sell any we point out those we want to sell and drive them off. Our cattle are all marked in the ears and branded on the hips so that we know ours from other peoples and every owner has his brand and mark. So that if our cattle get on to other people's crops or farms we go and drive them home and other people do the same. They mark these once a year on every rancho.
Sometimes people steal our cattle for which a great many have been hung. Little more than two years or so, four men were hung for stealing the Doctor's and another man's cattle. We have now less stolen every year. We sold a hundred steers not long since for five thousand dollars. This is a very easy way to get money.
The Doctor has gone to Martinez and San Francisco. At Martinez it is court week and he had to go as a witness, in the trial of three murderers, who killed a man about two miles from our house...they shot him it was just dark and he escaped to our house and lived two days and nights...They are all convicted of murder in the first degree, and will be hung, we suppose. They are all very young men from 18 to 25, but they have bad countenances...
We have a great deal of money in a year but it goes to hire helpers, protect us from thieves and vagabonds that surround us, but we hope to have better times before long.
As I expect to be but a few more days to spend in this world I must say farewell! But do not weep or mourn for me. You know the source from whence to draw consolation - In a few more months or years I expect to meet you in another & better world where the wicked cease from troubling & the weary can rest. I have no wish to be here longer, but have rather depart & be with my Savior. Oh that I could have you here with me that I could have your prayers & your sympathies that are so much needed. May God bless you my Parents & support & comfort you.
During the long & painful sickness of my dear wife I have continually kept you advised of her condition & I have now to communicate the sad news of her decease. She died last Saturday morning at 5 o'clock. Perfectly calm and resigned and even desirous to depart & with her Savior. I have been so oppressed with grief that I have not been able to send you the sad intelligence until today & now I can hardly tranquilize myself sufficiently to write.
Yes, my dear Sir your affectionate & and most excellent daughter has departed from the earth to that eternal home where sorrow & sickness are unknown. I have lost the most loving, affectionate & dutiful of wives, & my child the kindest and best of mothers.
Last Sabbath evening the remains were deposited in a place long ago selected by herself in the orchard near the house. The funeral was attended by a minister & a large concourse of friends & neighbors. She was repeatedly visited and consoled by the Rev. Mr. Brierly and other clergymen. She has for a long time been attended by Mrs. Osgood a member of the Baptist church & a kind & excellent nurse, & and(sic) by Mrs. Thomson her neighbor & particular friend.
Some months ago she said to me that probably after her death her relatives might desire her body to be sent to the east. I informed her that whatever was her wish it should be complied with - Her reply was that she had no other wish "but to lie by my side of her husband," and whenever it shall please God to my spirit hence it is my intention to have [my] bones laid by her side.
Your little granddaughter is in good health & is for the present with Mrs. Thomson by the special desires of the mother.
A portion of her clothes she desired to be sent to her mother & sisters, & they will be accordingly forwarded in due time.
At present I am so overwhelmed with sorrow that I hardly know what to think or determine, but it is probable that within the next six months I shall visit Massachusetts the place of my birth, & bring my little girl to see her grandparents.
John Marsh was one of those Yankee chameleons who made the years before California statehood so interesting for historians -- and so profitable for himself.
His adherents and critics have staked many a claim: that he was the first to compile a Sioux dictionary; that he was the first Harvard man in the Far West; that his glowing letters about California brought the first wagon train of settlers here long before the Gold Rush; and that he was, if only for a year, the first Yankee-trained physician in Los Angeles.
Marsh inspired a 1930 biography by George D. Lyman and piqued the interest of modern historian Kathleen Mero, who works for the John Marsh Historic Trust in Contra Costa County in Northern California.
"He was an educated man from a blueblood family, the last person you'd expect to be dealing with all the rough and tumble of ... "He was hungry for the wilderness, never satisfied, always kept going west."
Until he got to Mexican-governed California. "I have at last found the Far West and intend to end my ramblings here," he wrote to friends back East.
Some Contra Costa County residents want to turn Marsh's mansion into a history center or the centerpiece of a proposed state park dedicated to California pioneers. The 3,600-acre site, owned by the state, is all that remains of his 50,000-acre holdings.
Born in Danvers, Mass., in 1799, Marsh earned a degree from Harvard in general education and worked as a teacher. For a while, he was an assistant Indian agent for the Winnebago near the Illinois-Wisconsin border, Mero says.
In 1826, Marguerite Deconteaux, a woman of French Canadian and Sioux descent, bore him a son. Charles had two webbed toes, a genetic characteristic in the Marsh family.
Around that time, Marsh got to know Abraham Lincoln in New Salem, Ill. The future president carved a pocketknife for Marsh's son, Mero says.
Sometime between 1828 and 1832, Marsh informally studied medicine for two years under an Army physician in Wisconsin. But after Deconteaux died in 1831, a heartbroken Marsh left the area, Mero says. In his biography, "John Marsh, Pioneer," Lyman had attributed the move to bad debts and accusations of gun-running.
"Lyman did not do a good job summing up Marsh's personality," Mero says. "He ... repeats claims from the journals of others without really looking into it. But of course, he didn't have the databases we have today."
John Marsh, Hartford Founder
JOHN 1 MARSH, HARTFORD FOUNDER (JOHN A ) was born 1618 in Braintree, Essex, England, and died 28 Sep 1688 in Windsor, CT. He married (1) ANNE WEBSTER abt. 1642 in Hartford, CT, daughter of FOUNDER JOHN WEBSTER and AGNES SMITH. She was born abt. 1621 in England, and died 09 Jun 1662 in Hadley, MA. He married (2) HEPZIBAH FORD 07 Oct 1664 in Northampton, MA, daughter of THOMAS FORD and ELIZABETH CHARD. She was baptized 15 May 1625 in Dorchester, Dorsetshire, England, and died 11 Apr 1683 in Northampton, MA.
John Marsh of Braintree, Essex, England removed to the American colonies about 1635, though his original location therein is unknown, but he had removed to Hartford by 1639/40.
In the Hartford land distribution of February 1639/40, it was recorded that &ldquoseveral parcels of land in Hertford upon the River of Conecticot (part) whereof did belong to John Stone & were by him given to Samuel Stone & by the said Samuel Stone unto John Marsh of Hertford & and now belongeth to him and his heires for ever&rdquo. These were: two acres on which his dwelling house stood with other outhouses, yards, or gardens located on the road from the Little River to the North Meadow two roods and thirty-one perches in the North Meadow another five acres, two roods and thirty-four perches in the North Meadow and three acres in the West Field. In addition, he held one acre, two roods, and twelve perches on the east side of the Great River originally sequestered for Founder Thomas Beale two acres also on the east side of the great River which formerly belonged to Founder Thomas Munson and was forfeited unto the town and settled on John Marsh and three acres in the North Meadow which formerly belonged to Thomas Munson and was also forfeited under the town and was settled on John Marsh.
He was chosen as chimney viewer in Hartford in 1658.
Ironically, since some of the lands he held were given him by Founder Samuel Stone, John Marsh became one of those protesting the appointment of Samuel Stone as minister, signed the agreement to remove to Hadley, Massachusetts in 1659, and removed there soon after. He removed to Northampton, Massachusetts by 18 June 1661 when he united with the church there and where on 7 October 1664 when he married Hepzibah Ford, the widow of Founder Richard Lyman.
His first wife, daughter of Hartford Founder John Webster, died in Hadley on 9 June 1662. His second wife Hepzibah Ford died in Northampton 11 April 1683, and he later returned to Hartford, where he died 28 September 1688.
Genealogy: &ldquoMarsh Genealogy: Giving Several Thousand Descendants of John Marsh of Hartford, Conn., 1636 &ndash 1895&rdquo, Dwight W. March, 1895
History and Hiking During John Marsh Historic Trust’s 5th Annual Heritage Day
Descendants from both sides of a deadly raid 168 years ago will come together peacefully Oct. 20 on the site the bloody incident took place.
The occasion is the John Marsh Historic Trust’s 5th Annual Heritage Day, a free community event being held in the Marsh Creek State Historic Park. Co-hosted by California State Parks, it will include a pair of hikes in and around the usually closed park, presentations on Native American culture, children’s’ activities, live music, a petting zoo and more.
Local filmmaker Todd Myers of Dragonfly Films, who is currently producing a feature film about the notorious bandit Joaquin Murrieta, will be a guest speaker at the event. Heritage Day will be held on the grounds of pioneer Dr. John Marsh’s 7,000 sandstone mansion, built in 1856.
A number of the Murrieta family will be on hand, as will members of Marsh’s family.
In 1850, Claudio Feliz, Murrieta’s brother-in-law, raided Marsh’s Rancho Los Meganos home in 1850. He robbed Marsh and killed a man staying with him. Murrieta soon joined the gang, and when Feliz was killed by vigilantes two years later, Murrieta became the gang’s leader, embarking on a bloody, three-year spree of robbery, murder and revenge.
Historians Bill and Kathleen Mero, who retraced Marsh’s journey from the East Coast to what was then Alta California, will also speak. They’ll discuss common misconceptions about the man who was the first to practice Western medicine in California and who became the first Anglo settler in Contra Costa County in 1838.
“A lot of important, yet largely forgotten events took place on Marsh’s rancho, and we’re excited to help bring that history to life,” said , executive director of the Trust. “Rancho Los Meganos was the first terminus of the historic California Trail when the Bidwell-Bartleson party crossed the Sierras in 1841 on its way to Marsh’s rancho, and he played an important role in California becoming a state.”
Visitors will also get a rare look inside Marsh’s mansion, which is currently being stabilized in preparation for restoration. They will also be able to view a 7,000-year-old archaeological site located next to it. State Park interpreters and Trust representatives will be on hand to talk about the plans for park, the Stone House, and the on-going effort to build an interpretive center to host 4th-grade field trips and other activities.
Heritage Day will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20. The address of the park is 21789 Marsh Creek Rd. in Brentwood.
The hikes will step off at 9 a.m. with a suggested donation of $10. Tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/4th-annual-heritage-hike-tickets-44347219728.
Guests are reminded to wear long pants and closed-toe shoes, as the site is still a working cattle ranch, just as it was in Marsh’s time.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Anonymous, &ldquoMarsh, William John,&rdquo Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/marsh-william-john.
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PRESERVATION THROUGH EDUCATION
A History of Mt Diablo Prepared by Seth Adams, Director of Land Programs, Save Mount Diablo Reprinted from Mount Diablo Review, Fall 2000
Mount Diablo State Park Weather Station
History of Mount Diablo
Geologic Summary: 165 million B.C.
Mount Diablo began as volcanic rock beneath the surface of the Pacific
Ocean was scraped into a mass between the Pacific tectonic plate and
the overlying sedimentary layers of the North American plate. As ice
ages affected sea levels, sedimentation continued in shallow coastal
seas. About four million years ago, the older, harder volcanic material
from the sea floor forced its way up from between the two plates
heaving the weaker sedimentary layers up an angle. Over time,
younger rock above eroded and by 2 million B.C. the older rock we
recognize as Diablo's peaks was exposed as low-lying hills.
According to one tradition, at the Dawn of Time, Mount Diablo and
Reed's Peak were surrounded by water. From these two islands the
creator Coyote and his assistant Eagle-man made Indian people and
the world. In a Plains Miwok creation account, Mol-luk (Condor man)
lived on the north side of Mt Diablo. His wife, the rock on which he roosted, gave birth to Wek-wek (Prairie Falcon-man). With the help of his grandfather Coyote-man, Wek-wek created Indian people, providing them with "everything, everywhere so they can live".
March, 1772 Fages-Crespi expedition.
Lt. Pedro Fages and Father Juan Crespi explored the Carquinez Straits and the western side of the mountain into the San Ramon Valley. In 1782 they returned to the mountain, climbing to the summit.
4-1/3, 1776 de Anza-Font expedition. Juan Bautista de Anza and Father Pedro Font conducted a second expedition circling the northern part of Diablo from Pacheco to present-day areas of Concord, Antioch and Byron. The de Anza expedition included Juan Salvio Pacheco whose grandson, Salvio Pacheco, founded Concord.
1800 Spaniards begin using Mount Diablo for winter grazing
after the Mission San Jose was founded in 1797 (in part to more easily missionize East Bay natives). In 1819 from the mountain's slopes Lt. Jose Maria Estudillo wrote "The view from south to north is beautiful, for its end cannot be seen".
Ca. 1805-1806 The naming of Mount Diablo.
General Mariano G Vallejo, in an 1850 report to the Legislature, gives the derivation of the name of Mount Diablo from its Native American to Spanish to Anglo form. In 1806 Spanish soldiers were pursuing native Americans as part of the missionization, the natives took cover in a thicket near Pacheco and the Spaniards camped with the intention of rounding them up in the morning. During the night the natives escaped across the Carquinez Strait, an act only possible, according to the Spaniards, with the help of the Devil ("Diablo"). The thicket became known as "Monte del Diablo" and Anglo settlers later misunderstood that the word "monte" can mean "thicket" or "mountain", and fastened the name on the most obvious local landmark.
1822 & 1824 Spain ceded California to Mexico, the Mexican Revolution took place and the beginning of land grants , including 18 in what became Contra Costa County. Between 1833 and 1846 three Rancho San Ramon Mexican land grants established to Bartolome Pacheco (southern San Ramon Valley) and Mariano Castro (northern San Ramon Valley, two square leagues), and Jose Maria Amador (four leagues).
7-31-1834 Ranch Arroya de las Nueces y Bolbones or 'Rancho Miguel'
17,782 acres were granted to Don Juana Sanchez de Pacheco including Pine Canyon, Little Pine Canyon and the North Gate Road area, Diablo and Turtle Rock Ranches. Approximately ¼ of the land grant is within the State Park today.
1837 Dr John Marsh, "Brentwood".
Dr John Marsh, Contra Costa's first American settler, acquired Rancho Los Meganos from Jose Noriega of San Jose, approximately 13,285 acres for $500. c. 1835, Marsh's stone mansion (John Marsh Home) built at his rancho the home is named "Brentwood' for his ancestral lands in England. Marsh was killed before the home was completed.
1841 The first travel account of Mount Diablo
Eugene Duflot du Mofras &ndash French attaché to California. By 1846 American immigration to the area had begun.
1848 Coal reported in CCC and on 1-24-1848 Gold was discovered at the American River,
leading to rapid population increase in California.
1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
Alta California becomes American territory, and much of Mount Diablo, sobrante lands bounded by Spanish land grant ranchos, was designated public domain and for homesteading at a minimum price of $1 per acre. In 1849 Frances E. Matteson came to California and homesteaded 160 acres which later became part of the Blackhawk Ranch. He hunted deer, bear, elk and antelope.
Jeremiah Morgan moved form the Ygnacio Valley to unsurveyed public land on the east side of Mount Diablo, ca. 1850, because the grizzly bear hunting was so good. Francis Such and W. E. Whiting discover lime on the northwest foothills of Mount Diablo on what becomes known as "Lime Ridge".
4-1850 Naming of Mount Diablo.
General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, in a Constitutional Convention report to the State Legislature, discussed the naming of Mount Diablo. "It was intended to call the county (Mount Diablo), but both branches of the Legislature, after warm debates on the subject, resolved upon the less-profane one (name) of Contra Costa. (Including present-day Alameda County). (Also see article on name change request and denial)
1851 Mount Diablo meridian and survey.
Colonel Leander Ransom, Deputy-Surveyor General, established the initial point of the Mount Diablo meridian at the mountain's summit, beginning the survey of public lands in California. The hills north of the Clayton area became known as the meridian Hills (the ridge between Concord and Pittsburg).
1852 The US Coast and Geodetic Survey used Mount Diablo as a base point for its National Triangulation Survey. Walnut Creek's population is less than 50. On 5-18-1852 Alamo (Spanish for "poplar" or "cottonwood") is designated and a post office established on the northern Rancho San Ramon.
1857 Joel Clayton, an English immigrant, founded Clayton.
In 1859 coal is discovered north of Clayton. For a time it is the chief source of fuel for manufacturing on the west coast. The two towns of Somersville and Nortonville ultimately included about 1,000 residents each and became ghost towns around 1885.
"Almost every Californian has seen Monte Diablo. It is the great central landmark of the state. Whether we are walking in the streets of San Francisco, or sailing on any of our bays and navigable rivers, or riding on any of the roads in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys, or standing on the elevated ridges of the mining districts before us &ndash in lonely boldness, and almost every turn, we see Monte Diablo". J.M. Hutchings, from Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity in California .
Bret Harte and the Legend of Monte del Diablo.
Farmer Abner Bryant hired a tutor for his sons on his Sycamore Valley farm (on the present-day Blackhawk Ranch), the first job for future-writer Francis Bret Harte (lived 1836-1902). Harte later wrote the most widely-reported myth regarding the naming of Mount Diablo, "The Legend of Monte del Diablo".
1861 Whitney's California Geological Survey visits Mount Diablo.
William Brewer wrote "The region north and northwest of Mount Diablo is a beautiful one &ndash pretty valleys scattered over with oaks, many of enormous size, with wide branches, often dropping like the elm. The rugged mountain rises against the clear sky, and when illuminated by the setting sun is an object of peculiar beauty. Our camp was in a very pretty place, with great trees around, and the mountain in full view." The Survey gathered rocks, fossils and plants (including 25 plants not then known and measured the mountain's elevation at 3,890 ft.
4-30-1862 Description of View, Mount Diablo elevation.
Brewer estimated that the view embraced 80,000 square miles, 40,000 "in tolerably plain view &ndash over 300 miles from north to south, and 260 to 280 miles from east to west". The view includes 60% of California, 35 counties and an area equal to the six New England states. Brewer's party calculated the height of Mount Diablo at 3,876.4' (actual 3,849').
throughout California, many county residents survived by working at the lime quarries. Copper ores with traces of gold were found in Mitchell and Bagley Canyons, at Eagle Peak, and there was a short-lived copper and gold rush. In 1863-4 L.W. Hastings discovered quicksilver (mercury) on the northeast side of North Peak and Perkins Canyon was mined until the 1950's.
1865-66 Legislative attempt to change the name of Mount Diablo.
The State Legislature made an unsuccessful attempt to change the name of Mount Diablo to "Coal Hill'. Clayton resisted the name change.
1870's The Green and Sycamore Valleys
are well-populated, most of the southern area is used for thoroughbred horses (until WW1), as was Perkins Canyon. In 1873 William Cameron began buying land in Green Valley. Several railroads also began purchasing land, and in time a single owner of the "Big Four" emerged, Central Pacific Railroad, which appointed David Colton (died 1878) to manage the 10,000-acre "Railroad Ranch". He was given Mark Hopkins share, and in time bought out Crocker, Huntington and Stanford.
First Wagon Road up Mount Diablo and the Mountain House Hotel constructed.
Green Valley and "Mount Diablo Summit Road Company" incorporated to build the first toll wagon roads up the mountain, by local investors including Cameron and Joseph Hall, who also built the 16-room Mountain House Hotel a mile below the summit (operated through the 1880's, abandoned 1895, burned c. 1901). In 1874 Seeley J Bennett inaugurated a stage line from Martinez to the Diablo peak, by 1879 including hundreds of visitors a year. Kate Nevins, who had worked at the Mountain House wrote "Citizens from all over the state made pilgrimage with wagon loads, journeying to the Mountain House then hiking to the observatory at the top. They stayed sometimes for weeks to enjoy Pine Canyon, one of the finest beauty spots on earth with its magnificent views of the Castle Rocks."
1876 The US Coast and Geodetic Survey erected a three-story signal station at the Summit,
which was later equipped with a telescope by Joseph hall for the use of Mountain House guests (it burned 7-4-1891 when fire swept up from Morgan Territory). Hall also had a floored tent at the summit for guests who wished to sleep there.
1877 Cook Farms, Oakwood Park Stock Farms.
Colton's daughter Caroline and her husband, mining engineer Dan Cook, inherited the Railroad Ranch, which by then extended from Green Valley School to Sycamore Valley and to Curry Creek, taking in the headwaters of Marsh Creek, the southern summit road and the Mountain House Hotel. Brothers Dan and Seth Cook (both 'rough, obscenity-speaking and hearty fellows' according to R.N. Burgess) and changed the name to Cook Farms. Seth, a bachelor, inherited and passed the farm to his niece Louise and her husband John F. Boyd. Boyd renamed it the Oakwood Park Stock Farms and by 1897 it included 6,000 acres. By 1913 it grew to 15,000 acres, including areas of Dan Cook Canyon, Rock City, Devil's Slide and the area along South Gate Road, and was considered the largest stock farm in the world.
1879 Concord had a population of 300 and in 1880 the village of Walnut Creek included about 300 people.
Over the next decade major fired scarred Mount Diablo, reportedly started by careless hikers and campers, leading to landowner calls to close the mountain to the public.
1890 John Muir, one of the founders of the American Conservation Movement, moved to Martinez,
until his death in 1914. By the 1890's grizzly bear and great herds of elk had disappeared from the area. Sunday picnics were often held at Mitchell or Pine Canyon. William Cameron died and his daughter Kate McLaughlin Dillon sold off her father's holdings, including White Canyon and Deer Flat to Dominic Murchio, an Italian immigrant with a ranch alongside Mitchell Creek, including part of Mount Zion. "Clear and cool. Beautiful silvery haze on Mount Diablo this morning, on it and over it &ndash outlines melting, wonderfully luminous." - John Muir, 1895.
1899 Borges Ranch established at Shell Ridge.
Frank Borges buys 700 acres (now preserved within Shell Ridge Open Space). Designated on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
1900's Contra Costa included 18,000 citizens at the turn of the century,
645 in Concord. The County includes 900,000 today. During the county's first decade, President Theodore Roosevelt ushers in a first wave of American Conservation.
through the Oakland Hills (now Old Tunnel Road). The tunnel inaugurates waves of new residents. In 1904 public electricity is established locally and in 1907 the first automobile garage.
1907 The Henry Cowell Lime and Cement Company moved to the Diablo Valley at Lime Ridge
and built the town of Cowell, employed 250 men, ran 24 hours a day (part of the area is now preserved in Lime Ridge Open Space).
1911 First electric train extended into the County,
the Oakland, Antioch and Eastern Railway through a 3,400 ft tunnel in the Oakland Hills to Walnut Creek to carry lime. Special trains ran for the R.N. Burgess Co., which sold land adjacent to the mountain at Diablo (June 2, 1914-1924).
1912 The Mount Diablo Development Co. established.
Louise Boyd sold Oakwood Park Stock Farm to R.N. Burgess and his Mount Diablo Development Co., a group of investors who wanted to create an exclusive residential park. They remodeled Cook's Clubhouse/Casino as the Mount Diablo Country Club and opened Mount Diablo to the public. Burgess then acquired the area later known as Blackhawk Ranch and all the land between it and Diablo, up to the summit, including the right-of-way to Mount Diablo Scenic Boulevard.
1912-15 Mount Diablo Auto Toll Road.
Burgess' group built new toll roads accessible to auto traffic all the way to Diablo's summit (North Gate and Mount Diablo Scenic Blvd &ndash completed 1915).
1916 Castle Hotel planned for Mount Diablo Summit.
Mount Diablo Development Co. planned a tower-hotel "Torre de Sol" (never built) with promised investment and national publicity by William Randolph Hearst. World War 1 intervened, Hearst's interest waned, Burgess' company went bankrupt and of the planned development only the community of Diablo was ever built.
1917 Blackhawk Ranch founded.
Ansel Mills Easton (the uncle of the photographer Ansel Adams) and his son-in-law William A. Ward purchased 1200 acres from R.N. Burgess and started the Blackhawk Ranch named for a famous Irish race horse "Black Hawk" he had owned. Meanwhile, Portuguese immigrant Frank Macedo purchased 825 acres in what is now a park staging area in Alamo.
1921 Mount Diablo State Park created.
Mount Diablo was one of the seven state parks created before the establishment of the California State Park System in 1927, a "state park and game refuge" on 630 acres (from Burgess' Mount Diablo Development Co.,) administered by its own appointive Mount Diablo State Park Commission.
1927-28 California Park Survey.
Frederick Law Olmstead prepared a statewide survey (the Olmstead Plan) for the newly-created State Park Commission, recommending acquisition of 5-6,000 acres at Mount Diablo to "amplify" and "round out" the small state park at the summit. Major properties were acquired along the historic Scenic Boulevard (South Gate Road), the North Gate Road and near the summit.
1928 Standard Diablo Tower.
Standard Oil of California constructed a 75 ft aviation beacon jointly with the U.S. Dept of Commerce to encourage and as a guide for commercial aviation (visible for 100 miles, first lit by Charles Lindberg). The beacon was later transferred to the Summit Building and is now lit only on 12-7 Pearl Harbor Day.
1929 Mary L. Bowerman, founder of Save Mount Diablo.
A young student at the University of California and future co-founder of Save Mount Diablo in 1971, Bowerman begins research on the botany of Mount Diablo, culminating in a 1936 Ph.D. thesis and the 1944 publication of the recognized work on Mount Diablo "The Flowering Plants and Ferns of Mount Diablo, California". Dr Bowerman continues as an active member of the Board of Directors of Save Mount Diablo in 2000.
1930's CCC Era on Mount Diablo.
The Great Depression and increasing calls for the municipalization of basic services ushers in the second wave of U.S. conservation, as public watersheds and parks are created. The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed Camp Diablo on the Danville side of Mount Diablo and built facilities at the mountain (among the best in the State's parks), realigning park roads, building hiking and fire trails, residences, picnic areas and campgrounds, dams and the Summit Building (1939-42).
1930 Proposal for the East Bay Regional Park District.
Publication of the Olmsted-Hall Report "Proposed Park Reservations for East Bay Cities" supported a Committee of East Bay Citizens proposal to create the East Bay Regional Park District from surplus East Bay Municipal Utilities District land, recommending a 10-11,000 acre park system extending 22 miles along the East Bay hills above the nine Bay shoreline cities below.
4-20-1931 Mount Diablo designated a unit of the new State Park System.
1934 Establishment of the East Bay Regional Park District.
In 1936 the S.F. to Oakland Bay Bridge is completed, and in 1937 the two-bore Caldecott Tunnel, making the East Bay and Central County much more accessible &ndash the County's first major subdivision is approved that same year. Nobel Prize Winner Eugene O'Neill moves to Danville &ndash "Mount Diablo, a mass of purple in the morning. Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad whatever is done or suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals whether in rocks or waters or sky or heart."
The 1940's census reports 1,587 people in Walnut Creek, 1,373 in Concord. Camp Parks' Seabees (Navy construction battalions) established Camp Diablo, a base at Rock City to train in mountain warfare, road and bridge construction. At the end of the war development booms.
1960's Population growth in the Sixties.
Contra Costa County population: 409,030, up 330,000 since 1930. Concord included 36,208 up from 1,373 in 1940. In 1966 much of Pine Canyon is added to the State Park.
1970's The Seventies &ndash Environmental awareness and the first Earth Day usher in a new wave of conservation.
Concord becomes the County's largest city. Traffic increases dramatically, General Plan process instituted as state law, the California Environmental Quality Act and the federal and state Endangered Species Acts. A proposal to develop Shell Ridge is defeated and local bond issues are passed to acquire open space in Walnut Creek and Concord.
12-7-1971 Save Mount Diablo founded.
Co-founded by Art Bonwell and Dr Mary Bowerman. SMD was created because subdivisions were spreading toward the mountain, and no organization was working primarily on the area. Bowerman provided the organization's vision, while Bonwell was the nuts and bolts guy. Bowerman wrote "My dream is that the whole of Mount Diablo, including its foothills, will remain open space . . . that the visual and natural integrity will be sustained." In 1971 Contra Loma Regional Park was created.
1972 BART reaches interior Contra Costa County,
adding to growth pressures working with the State, Save Mount Diablo helps preserve the mountain's northern canyons (Mitchell, Back, Donner) over the next several years. In 1973 Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and the City of Walnut Creek's Shell Ridge Open Space are created.
1-1974 Mount Diablo Interpretive Association founded
to work with the State Park in producing interpretive programs and publications.
1974 Blackhawk Development proposed.
Ken Behring acquired 4,200 acres of the Ranch and proposed subdivision. Save Mount Diablo negotiated for 2,052 acres to be dedicated to MDSP as a condition of develoment, including much of the Blackhills &ndash the Wall Point area, Blackhawk Ridge, parts of Dan Cook and Jackass Canyons, and the area below Oyster Point, the single largest donation ever to a State Park.
1975 Morgan Territory Regional Preserve is created.
Concord population increases to 85,423 residents, up from 74,958 in 1966, 36,208 in 1960 and 1,373 in 1940.
1976 Save Mount Diablo's first acquisition
with private funds, the Morgan Territory Investment parcel at the corner of Marsh Creek and Morgan Territory Roads, Lime Ridge Open Space is acquired and Diablo Foothills Park is created at Pine Canyon. In 1977 a large fire burns from Clayton to Blackhawk In 1978 Mount Olympia and the Mount Diablo waterfalls are acquired.
1980's The Eighties, growth booms.
101,844 in Concord, up from 85,423 in 1975. North Peak and Prospector's Gap are added to the State Park in 1980 along with Long Ridge and Pine Canyon, Emmons Canyon in 1982, White Canyon and Black Point in 1984. In 1988 Save Mount Diablo hires its first staff. In 1989 Save Mount Diablo's Morgan Ranch acquisition connects the State Park with Morgan Territory Regional Preserve.
1988 Round Valley Regional Preserve is created
and in 1989 acquisition of the Los Vaqueros watershed and the Vasco Caves Regional Preserve begins.
1990 Senator Daniel Boatwright
"Someday when Contra Costa is 4 million people maybe someone will say 'I don't know who did this but thank God for whoever saved this in the past. You won't be here. I won't be here. But the legacy we leave should not simply be that we passed everything over."
John Proctor & the Salem Witch Trials:
When the witchcraft hysteria first began in Salem village in the winter of 1692, Proctor became an outspoken opponent of the trials and stated to many that the afflicted girls, who had been accusing many of the villagers of witchcraft, were frauds and liars.
John Proctor’s Memorial Marker, Salem Witch Trials Memorial, Salem Mass. Photo Credit: Rebecca Brooks
When Proctor’s own young servant, Mary Warren, began having fits and behaving strangely in March of 1692, Proctor beat the girl in an attempt to get her to behave.
After her fits suddenly stopped on April 2, Warren tacked a note on the door of the local meetinghouse asking for prayers of thanks for this development.
Members of the congregation questioned Warren about the note the following day, during which she stated “the afflicted persons did but dissemble.” Although it is not clear what she meant by this, the congregation took it to mean that the afflicted girls were lying.
After Proctor left home on business a few days later, Warren’s fits returned and she joined the witch trials as a witness.
It wasn’t until Proctor’s wife Elizabeth, who was pregnant at the time, was accused of witchcraft on April 4 and examined in court, that John’s own witchcraft accusations came out. It was during Elizabeth’s examination that her accusers began to shift their focus from Elizabeth to her husband as well as to Mary Warren, according to court records:
Q. Abigail Williams! does this woman hurt you?
A. Yes, Sir, often.
Q. Does she bring the book to you?
Q. What would she have you do with it?
A. To write in it and I shall be well. — Did not you, said Abigail, tell me, that your maid had written?
A.(Proctor) Dear Child, it is not so. There is another judgement, dear child.
Then Abigail and Ann had fits. By and by they cried out, look you there is Goody Procter upon the beam. By and by, both of them cried out of Goodman Procter himself, and said he was a wizard. Immediately, many, if not all of the bewitched, had grievous fits.
Q. Ann Putman! who hurt you?
A. Goodman Procter and his wife too. — Afterwards some of the afflicted cried, there is Procter going to take up Mrs. Pope’s feet. — And her feet were immediately taken up.
Q. What do you say Goodman Proctor to these things?
A. I know not, I am innocent.
Abigail Williams cried out, there is Goodman Procter going to Mrs. Pope , and immediately, said Pope fell into a fit. — You see the devil will deceive you the children could see what you was going to do before the woman was hurt. I would advise you to repentance, for the devil is bringing you out. Abigail Williams cried out again, there is Goodman Procter going to hurt Goody Bibber and immediately Goody Bibber fell into a fit. There was the like of Mary Walcot, and divers others. Benjamin Gould gave in his testimony, that he had seen Goodman Corey and his wife, Procter and his wife, Goody Cloyse, Goody Nurse, and Goody Griggs in his chamber last Thursday night. Elizabeth Hubbard was in a trance during the whole examination. During the examination of Elizabeth Procter, Abigail Williams and Ann Putman, both made offer to strike at said Procter but when Abigail’s hand came near, it opened, whereas it was made up into a fist before, and came done exceeding lightly, as it drew near to said Procter, and at length with open and extended fingers, touched Procter’s hood very lightly. Immediately Abigail cried out, her fingers, her fingers, burned, and Ann Putman took on most greviously, of her head, and sunk down.
In Arthur Miller’s 1953 play The Crucible, Miller depicts Abigail Williams and John Proctor as former lovers and suggests jealousy was the reason behind the Proctor’s witchcraft accusations.
It is unlikely this affair even occurred since Proctor was 60 years old and Williams was 11 at the time of the witch trials and there is no evidence that they even knew each other before the trial.
Nonetheless, in an essay Miller wrote for the New Yorker in 1996, he stated that he fully believed John Proctor had a relationship with Williams and based his entire play on the idea after he read in the court records about the moment Williams tried to strike Elizabeth Proctor during her examination:
“In this remarkably observed gesture of a troubled young girl, I believed, a play became possible. Elizabeth Proctor had been the orphaned Abigail’s mistress, and they had lived together in the same small house until Elizabeth fired the girl. By this time, I was sure, John Proctor had bedded Abigail, who had to be dismissed most likely to appease Elizabeth. There was bad blood between the two women now. That Abigail started, in effect, to condemn Elizabeth to death with her touch, then stopped her hand, then went through with it, was quite suddenly the human center of all this turmoil.”
John Proctor was officially indicted on April 11, 1692 on three charges of witchcraft against Mary Walcott, Mary Warren and Mercy Lewis and was examined in court that same day.
There is no record of this examination but many of the afflicted girls, including Elizabeth Hubbard, Ann Putnam, Jr., and Abigail Williams, testified that Proctor’s spirit tortured and afflicted them and the other girls during his examination in court that day and had continued to do so ever since.
One of the court stenographers at the time, possibly Samuel Parris, wrote that during Abigail Williams’ testimony the afflicted girls continuously cried out that they saw Proctor’s spirit in various places in the court room, and even claimed they saw him sitting in the judge’s lap, according to court records:
“When the marshall was sent up to enquire of John Proctor & others & I was writing some what thereof as above I met with nothing but interruptions by reason of fits upon John Indian & Abigail, & Mary Walcott happening to come in just before, they one & another cried out there is Goodman Proctor very often: And Abigail said there is Goodman Proctor in the magistrates lap, at the same time Mary Walcott was sitting by a knitting we asked her if she saw Goodman Proctor (for Abigail was immediately seized with a fit) but she was deaf & dumb, yet still a knitting, then Mary recovered her self & confirmed what Abigail had said that Goodman proctor she saw in the magistrates lap…”
While John and Elizabeth Proctor sat in jail in Boston, many of their friends came to their defense and signed a petition asking for them to be released:
“We whose names are under written having several years known John Procter and his wife do testify that we never heard or understood that they were ever suspected to be guilty of the crime now charged upon them and several of us being their near neighbours do testify that to our apprehension they lived christian life in their family and were ever ready to help such as stood in need of their help
Nathaniel Felton sen: and mary his wife
Samuel Marsh and Prescilla his wife
James Houlton and Ruth his wife
Nathaniel Felton jun
Samuell Frayll and an his wife
Zachriah Marsh and mary his wife
Samuel Endecott and hanah his wife
Samuel Gaskil & provided his wife
Ed Edward: Gaskile”
Unfortunately, the petition did nothing to sway the court and John and Elizabeth Proctor remained imprisoned.
In May, three of the Proctor’s children, Benjamin, Sarah and William, were also accused of witchcraft and arrested as were Elizabeth Proctor’s sister, Mary Basset DeRich, and sister-in-law, Sarah Bassett.
The Proctor family and their in-laws were accused by many of the same people. Elizabeth’s sister and sister-in-law were both accused by John and Thomas Putnam, on behalf of Mary Walcott, Abigail Williams, Mercy Lewis and Ann Putnam, Jr., on May 21 and arrested shortly after.
The Proctor’s son Benjamin was accused on May 23, by Lieutenant Nathaniel Ingersoll and Thomas Rayment, on behalf of Mary Warren, Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Hubbard, and arrested by Marshal Deputy John Putnam.
Their other son, William, was accused on May 28, by Mary Walcott and Susannah Sheldon and arrested by constable John Putnam.
According to court records, the jury decided not to indict William Proctor or Sarah Bassett due to a lack of evidence and there are no court records indicating that Sarah Proctor, Benjamin Proctor or Mary Basset DeRich were indicted either.
On June 2, John Proctor was searched and physically examined by seven men, John Rogers, Joshua Rea, Jr, John Cooke, Doctor J. Barton, John Gyles, William Hine and Ezekiel Cheever, for signs that he was a witch but his examiners reported that they didn’t find anything suspicious.
During his trial, the Proctor’s former servant, Mary Warren, who was later accused of witchcraft herself when the other afflicted girls turned on her, testified that Proctor’s spirit beat her and forced her to touch the Devil’s book:
“The deposition of Mary Warren aged 20 years old testified I have seen the apparition of John Procter Sr among the witches and he hath often tortured me by pinching me and biting me and choking me and pressing me one my stomach tell the blood came out of my mouth and all so I saw him torture Ms Pope and Mercy Lewis and John Indian upon the day of his examination and he hath also tempted me to right in his book and to eat bread which he brought to me which I refusing to do: John Proctor did most greviously torture me with variety of tortures all most ready to kill me.”
Although there was plenty of “spectral evidence” against John Proctor, which were claims that a person’s spirit visited a victim and caused them harm, his own words and actions often came back to haunt him when various witnesses testified that Proctor threatened or admitted to beating several people involved in the witch trials.
One such witness was, Samuel Sibley, who testified in court that Proctor admitted to beating Warren in an attempt to control her behavior, citing a conversation he had with Proctor at a local tavern the day after Rebecca Nurse‘s examination.
During their conversation, Proctor, who lived on the outskirts of Salem Village in what is now modern day Peabody, said he was on his way to Salem to retrieve Warren so he could take her home and beat her and also said the afflicted girls should be whipped and hanged for lying, according to court records:
“The morning after the examination of Goody Nurse. Sam Sibley met John Proctor about Mr Phillips w’o called to said Sibley as he was going to sd Phillips & asked how the folks did at the village. He answered he heard they were very bad last night but he had heard nothing this morning. Proctor replied he was going to fetch home his jade he left her there last night & had rather given 40d than let her come up. sd Sibley asked why he talked so. Proctor replied if they were let alone so we should all be Devils & witches quickly they should rather be had to the whipping post but he would fetch his jade home & thresh the Devil out of her & more to the like purpose, crying hang them, hang them. And also added that when she [Warren] was first taken with fits he kept her close to the [spinning] wheel & threatened to thresh her, & then she had no more fits till the next day he was gone forth, & then she must have her fits again firsooth.”
Site of John Proctor’s House, Peabody, illustration published in The New England Magazine, Volume 6, circa 1892
Another witness, Joseph Pope, testified that Proctor threatened to beat Reverend Samuel Parris’ slave, John Indian, who was one of the accusers in the witch trials, according to court records:
“aged forty one years or thereabouts Joseph Pope testifyeth and saith that on the said day this deponent heard John Proctor say that if Mr. Parris would let him have his Indian he the said Proctor would soon drive the devil out of him and father saith not.”
On July 23, Proctor wrote a letter to the clergy of Boston pleading with them to appoint different judges or move the trials to Boston where he felt they would get a fair trial. In his letter, he described the torture used against the prisoners, particularly against his son William, and declared that the accused were innocent victims:
“Reverend Gentlemen, The innocency of our case, with the enmity of our accusers an our judges and jury, whom nothing but our innocent blood will serve, having condemned us already before our trials, being so much incensed and enraged against us by the devil, makes us bold to beg and implore your favourable assistance of this our humble tradition to his excellency, that if possible our innocent blood may be spared, which undoubtedly otherwise will be shed, if the Lord doth not mercifully step in the magistrates, ministers, juries and all the people in general, being so much enraged and incensed against us by the delusions of the devil, which we can term no other, by reason we know in our own consciences we are all innocent persons. Here are five persons who have lately confessed themselves to be witches, and do accuse some of us being along with them at a sacrament, since we were committed into close prison, which we know to be lies. Two of the five are (Carrier’s sons) young men, who would not confess anything till they tied them neck and heels, till the blood was ready to come out their noses and it is credibly believed and reported that this was the occasion of making them confess what they never did, by reason the said one had been a witch a month. And another five weeks my son William Proctor, when he was examined, because he would not confess that he was guilty, when he was innocent, they tied him neck and heels till the blood gushed out at his nose, and would have kept him so twenty-four hours, if one, more merciful than the rest, had not taken pity on him, and caused him to be unbound. These actions are very like the popish cruelties. They have already undone us in our estates, and that will not serve their turns without our innocent blood. If I cannot be granted that we can have our trials in Boston, we humble beg that you would endeavour to have these magistrates change, and other’s in their rooms begging also and beseeching you would be pleased to be here. if not all, some of you, at our trials, hoping thereby you may by means of saving the shedding of our innocent blood. Desiring your prayers to the Lord on our behalf, we rest your poor afflicted servants.”
On August 1, eight Boston ministers met to discuss Proctor’s letter and eventually changed their stance on allowing the use of spectral evidence in the trials, but it was too late to save Proctor’s life.
John Proctor and his wife were both convicted of witchcraft on August 5, 1692. The couple were sentenced to the gallows but Elizabeth’s sentence was delayed until the birth of her child.
John Proctor was hanged at Proctor’s Ledge on August 19 along with George Burroughs, John Willard, George Jacobs, Sr., and Martha Carrier.
Local legend suggests that Proctor’s family secretly retrieved John Proctor’s body from the execution site and buried it on a small 15-acre farm the Proctor’s owned on Lowell Street in Peabody, according to William P. Upham, who rediscovered the location of Proctor’s farm in the early 1900s and wrote a paper about it, titled House of Proctor, Witchcraft Martyr, 1692, for the Peabody Historical Society in 1903:
“The discovery that this was John Procter’s land called to mind a conversation I had with Mrs. Jacobs, an aged lady who lived in the old Jacobs house, now the Wyman place, and of which I made the following memorandum about thirty years ago:—’Mrs. Jacobs (Munroe) says that it was always said that Procters were buried near the bars as you go into the Philip H. Saunders place. Mr. James Marsh says he always heard that John Procter, of witch time, was buried there’…Upon inquiring lately of Mrs. Osborn, the librarian of the Peabody Historical Society, as to what was the family tradition, I learned that it was said by Mrs. Hannah B. Mansfield, of Danvers, that John Procter was buried ‘opposite to the Colcord’ (now the Wyman) ‘pasture, amongst the rocks.’ In answer to an inquiry by Mrs. Osborn, Mrs. Mansfield wrote to her as follows:—’A great aunt took me, when a little girl, with her to a spot in a rocky hill where she picked blackberries, and said there was the place ‘among birch trees and rocks where our ancestor of witchcraft notoriety was buried.’ It was on the north side of Lowell Street in what was then called the Marsh pasture nearly opposite the Jacobs farm which is on the south side of Lowell Street. The Marsh pasture from which Mrs. Mansfield’s aunt pointed out the ‘birch trees and rocks’ near by where John Procter was buried was, no doubt, the pasture conveyed by James Marsh to Philip H. Saunders, 11 June, 1863, and then described as ‘thirteen acres known by the name of Bates Pasture.’ I do not know of any other place near there that would be called the Marsh pasture at the time Mrs. Mansfield mentions. This thirteen acre pasture was conveyed by Ezekiel Marsh to John Marsh, 15 Oct., 1819, having been devised to him by his father Ezekiel Marsh. It had a way leading to it from Lowell Street over the eastern end of the John Procter lot as shown on my map. This way is still used as well as the bars opening into it on Lowell Street a few rods east of the westerly way leading southerly to the Jacobs, or Wyman, place. These are the ‘bars as you go into the Philip H. Saunders place’ mentioned by Mrs. Jacobs as stated above, unless we suppose the expression to mean bars leading from the John Procter lot where the way enters the Philip H. Saunders place, or Marsh pasture, as Mrs. Mansfield calls it. Perhaps the latter locality is the most probable since it is high rocky ground but which bars were meant is uncertain.”
Map of Peabody and John Proctor’s land, illustrated by William P. Upham, circa 1903
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Proctor remained in jail to await the birth of her child. Even after she gave birth to her son on January 27, 1693 she was not executed, for reasons unknown.
Elizabeth remained in jail until May, when Governor Phipps released the last few prisoners of the witch trials. It’s not clear if her child survived the jail time.
Once Elizabeth Proctor was freed, not only had she and her deceased husband been stripped of their legal rights due to their convictions, but Elizabeth also discovered John had written her out of his will.
John Proctor had probably done so because he expected Elizabeth to be convicted along with him and knew she would not be able to inherit his estate. To make matters worse, most of the Proctor’s belongings had been confiscated to pay for their imprisonment fees.
Being stripped of her legal rights meant Elizabeth also could not inherit her widow’s third or her dowry that she brought to her marriage. As a result, she was left penniless.
Finally, in April of 1695, the Probate Court of Essex County awarded Thomas Very and his wife Elizabeth, who was John Proctor’s daughter from his marriage to Elizabeth Thorndike, a portion of Proctor’s estate.
Although there are no records confirming it, it can be assumed by this turn of events that John Proctor’s legal rights had been restored at some point and his family finally had access to his estate.
In May of 1696, Elizabeth Proctor petitioned the General Court to restore her own legal rights and asked for access to her husband’s estate, or at least, the dowry she brought to the marriage. A year later, on April 19, 1697, the court restored her legal rights and awarded Elizabeth her dowry.
Although much of Elizabeth Proctor’s life after the Salem Witch Trials remains a mystery, it is known that on September 22, 1699, Elizabeth married Daniel Richards, in Lynn, Massachusetts.
When the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill in 1711 restoring some of the names of the Salem Witch Trial victims, it cleared the Proctors of their witchcraft convictions and awarded the family £150 in restitution for John Proctor’s death and the family’s imprisonment.
John Proctor’s Memorial Marker, Proctor’s Ledge Memorial, Salem, Mass. Photo Credit: Rebecca Brooks
According to William P. Upham’s paper, after Proctor’s execution, the small Proctor farm was passed down to the Proctor’s son, Benjamin, and it remained in the family until the 1800s:
“It appears from various deeds and other records that the title descended from John Procter to his son Benjamin, and then to his son John, the grandson of the first named John Procter. From him it passed to his son Benjamin, and then to this Benjamin’s sons, James and Francis Procter. Francis gave a deed of it to James April 19, 1802. Desire Procter, widow and administratrix of James Procter, conveyed it to Zachariah King Aug. 9, 1811…From Desire Procter the title descended to Rebecca P. Osborne, her granddaughter, and others who, in 1889, conveyed the lot to Harriet A. Walcott, wife of John G. Walcott…John G. Walcott and Harriet A. Walcott, wife, conveyed the same to Mary E. Collins, wife of William F. M. Collins, by deed dated June 27, 1898.”
In 1992, the Salem Witch Trials Memorial was built in Salem, Mass and a marker was established for John Proctor.
In 2017, the Proctor’s Ledge Memorial was built in Salem, Mass and a marker was established for John Proctor.
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John Marsh, (born 1752, Dorking, Surrey, Eng.—died 1828, Chichester, Sussex), composer and writer on music whose works include the only surviving English symphonies from the late 18th century. Largely self-taught, he became proficient at several instruments, including viola and violin. In 1768 he was apprenticed to a solicitor. He played violin in the amateur orchestra at Salisbury, becoming leader of a subscription series there in 1780. In 1783, two years after he inherited an estate near Canterbury, he became leader of the subscription concert orchestra there. In 1787 he moved to Chichester, where he directed subscription concerts and substituted at times for the cathedral organist. His chamber music and symphonies are admired for their melodic charm and skilled scoring. His writings include an essay on “ancient” and modern music, Hints to Young Composers, and an autobiography in manuscript.
Our History, Mission & Vision
Built in 1910, the John L. Marsh Elementary School has seen many changes during its rich long history. The neighborhood, once the home of steelworkers and other industrial workers, was the educational institution for students of Croatian, German, Mexican, Polish, and Serbian immigrants.
Marsh welcomed a much needed 74,000 sq. ft. new addition to its campus as the 2006-2007 school year began. Together, the original Heritage building and the state of the art new building consist of more than 45 learning environments, including classrooms, resource and activity centers. Marsh, which is handicap accessible, is able to generously accommodate all of our present students. Today, Marsh continues to service a diverse population of students from preschool to grade eight in our Veteran’s Park Community on Chicago’s far southeast side.
John Marsh is Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of four books. The first, Hog Butchers, Beggars, and Bus Boys: Poverty, Labor, and the Making of Modern American Poetry (2011), offers a revisionary history of poetic modernism that recovers the decisive role workers and the poor played in the formation of early twentieth-century American poetry. The second, Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way out of Inequality (2011), debunks the popular belief that what causes poverty and economic inequality in the United States is lack of education and, thus, that what will fix these ills is more and better education. The third, In Walt We Trust: How a Queer Socialist Poet Can Save America from Itself (2015), argues that the poetry of Walt Whitman can help us overcome the various sources of malaise (death, money, sex, political disgust) in the 21st century. Finally, The Emotional Life of the Great Depression (2019) tells the story of the Great Depression through its paradigmatic emotions: despair, anger, sympathy, righteousness, panic, fear, awe, love, and hope.
In addition to these, Marsh is the editor of You Work Tomorrow: An Anthology of American Labor Poetry, 1929-1941 (2007), which collects some of the thousands of remarkable but largely forgotten poems workers and labor organizers published in their union newspapers in the 1930s. The anthology won the 2007-2008 Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing from the Working-Class Studies Association. He is also the author of The Puzzle of Poetry (2020), an introduction to poetry textbook that describes how experienced readers go about getting at the meanings in poems. It finds an analogy for reading poems--hence its title--in crossword puzzles. In addition to the books, he has published articles, essays, and reviews in American Literature, American Literary History, College English, Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers and more popular venues like The Chronicle Review, Le Monde Diplomatique, Inside Higher Ed, The Hedgehog Review, Salon, and The Utne Reader.
In recent years, Marsh has taught undergraduate and graduate classes on modern and contemporary poetry, nineteenth-century American poetry, the 1930s, and the economics, philosophy, and literature of inequality.
History long but eyes on road ahead
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Dunedin-based Cooke Howlison celebrates its 120th year in business this year. Business reporter Sally Rae talks to managing director John Marsh about looking to the future, rather than dwelling on the past.
John Marsh doesn't spend much time looking in the proverbial rear-vision mirror.
Cooke Howlison might be 120 years old, but, instead of reflecting on the past, as managing director he needed to be forward-focused about the company, he said.
Still, it is remarkable how a small bicycle shop morphed into a large business and employer in Dunedin, with just two family owners in its more than a century of existence.
In 1895, Frederick Cooke and Edward Howlison opened a bicycle shop in Great King St, manufacturing their own brand of bicycle, the Record, from imported BSA parts.
Mr Cooke, an engineer, worked for a bicycle-making company in Christchurch before heading south, while Mr Howlison was a champion cyclist, and involved in light engineering and sales for the Dunedin City Council.
Ironically, Mr Howlison, who looked after the financial side of the business, never learned to drive a car.
In 1903, Cooke Howlison became Otago's first manufacturer of motorised bicycles.
Four years later, the company's focus changed and it became a motor vehicle dealer, importing and selling new and used vehicles and offering a parts and repair service.
The first car it imported, a single-cylinder 8hp Rover, was sold to Dr Robert Valpy Fulton.
In 1963, Eric and Graeme Marsh bought the business from the Cooke family and it is part of the Oakwood Motor Group, which has 10 dealerships in Otago and Canterbury.
Changing the name of the business to reflect the new ownership was not an option.
With such heritage and recognition in the community, it ''would have been crazy to throw that away'', John Marsh said.
John Marsh - Graeme's son - has been managing the business for about 25 years. His background was as a design engineer and he joined the business in his late 20s, starting in the sales department.
With such a long history, Mr Marsh acknowledged there was a certain sense of responsibility that came with the role.
Cooke Howlison has the Toyota, Holden, Hyundai, BMW and Isuzu franchises, while staff number about 115 including 10 apprentices.
Associated companies under the Oakwood Motor Group umbrella are Blackwells Holden, Blackwells Mazda, Blackwells Commercials and Arthur Burke Ltd in Canterbury, and Campbells Toyota in Balclutha. In total, staff number about 330.
Dunedin's car market had not seen the growth apparent in Christchurch and Auckland this year, but it was still in a healthy state, tending not to experience the peaks and troughs of other markets, Mr Marsh said.
He thought that might be due to the more conservative nature of Otago.
In 2008, with the global financial crisis, the vehicle market slumped 20% and it had been rebuilding ever since.
Growth had been good this year, Cooke Howlison's sales this year numbering about 1900 new and used cars, which was up 45% on five years ago.
The luxury vehicle market was still going well and it had been a good year for heavy trucks, suggesting the local economy was in good shape.
Low dairy prices had affected vehicle sales but things were improving, Mr Marsh said.
Having a spread of vehicles covering every sector, along with the various franchises, meant when one sector was down, another was usually up, so the mix worked well for the business.
There was a trend away from the traditional four-door sedan towards SUV-type vehicles, which were particularly suited to the southern lifestyle, and a preference for smaller-engined turbo-charged vehicles as they used less fuel, performed better and had lower emissions.
Toyota hybrids were gaining in popularity and the dealership had sold plug-in electric BMWs, but it would still be some time before full electric vehicles gained mass-market acceptance.
The ute market was also very strong, the trend being towards double-cabs with automatic transmissions which could double as family vehicles. Motoring was an exciting sector to be in as changes were happening all the time, some of which had been massive.
Modern cars had benefited greatly from computerisation in terms of safety, servicing, performance and economy, while there had also been the influence of the internet on car buying behaviour.
About 80% of buyers had done research on the internet before looking at a vehicle and they were ''very well informed''.
That meant the market has become very transparent, which kept pricing relatively consistent throughout New Zealand.
Safety had improved enormously, and deaths on New Zealand roads were decreasing.
While there had been comment for years that the future for vehicle dealerships was ''pretty cloudy'', he did not see it that way, Mr Marsh said.
He believed there was a big future for dealerships, run along modern lines, and the company was still investing in new showrooms and facilities.
Cooke Howlison was maintaining a reasonably low-key approach to this year's 120th anniversary milestone, preferring to keep it ''quietly in the background''.
''I'm not quite sure that focusing on the past really resonates with customers. [They] really want to know what's happening today and tomorrow,'' Mr Marsh said.
But the fact remained that the business ''must do things reasonably well or we wouldn't be here'' in such a competitive industry, and it gave people confidence it was going to be around a long time.
He was interested in the history of the business and relevant material had been archived.
Being so long-established, the company sold vehicles to families who had been dealing with the company since the turn of the century.
He believed a large part of the secret to Cooke Howlison's success was repeat business. Looking after customers was rewarded with high repeat-business rates.
The company took community responsibility seriously, supporting a variety of charities and sponsorships.
It also operated a free community van, used extensively by community groups, sports teams and schools.
''Our business is a community partnership. We have a huge loyal customer base and, in return, we enjoy giving back to many great local community groups and charities,'' he said.
The company's board of directors included Mr Marsh's siblings, as well as his father, and also outside directors.
He was proud of his father's achievements, he said.
Graeme Marsh, who received the University of Otago's inaugural honorary doctor of commerce degree last year, was 82 but still went to work most days.
Staff turnover was quite low, some employees having notched up 50 years' service.
Cooke Howlison worked with Otago Polytechnic, creating opportunities for young people.
He believed there was probably more recognition of the opportunities that existed in the trades it was a good career path, provided a good income and there was a guarantee of work.
There had been some big challenges in recent years with the two Christchurch dealership premises having been destroyed in the earthquakes.
Temporarily relocating to a truck workshop meant staff had to work ''under some pretty tough conditions'', but that was nearly resolved with new premises being built.
The group's business in Christchurch was larger than that of Dunedin but the group had a strong affinity for Dunedin and would always be Dunedin based.
''We enjoy doing business in Dunedin,'' Mr Marsh said.
1895 - Frederick Cooke and Edward Howlison establish Cooke Howlison as a bicycle shop.
1903 - Cooke Howlison begins manufacturing Record motorcycles.
1907 - Cooke Howlison imports its first car, a Rover, sold from the Hanover St premises.
1938 - Record total of 370 Chevrolets sold by Cooke Howlison.
1955 - First Holden sold by Cooke Howlison.
1963 - Marsh families purchase Cooke Howlison.
1966 - Andersons Bay branch opened.
1977 - Purchases Wrightscars Vauxhall-Bedford.
1979 - G. J. Marsh family purchases Blackwell Motors Holden Christchurch.
1980 - Opens Dunedin's largest specialist truck workshop.
1986 - All operations moved to redeveloped Andersons Bay Rd site.
1989 - Purchases Wrightcars Toyota (Dunedin and Mosgiel).
1992 - Toyota dealership relocates to Andersons Bay Rd site, Holden dealership to Princes St.