Bio Pen Pictures
SURNAMES: BLACKFORD, SANDERS, ROBINSON
The subject of this sketch settled among the foot-hills of Union District near his present residence, and on the same quarter-section of land, in 1866, obtaining a title to his land under the homestead laws of the United States Government. He was born in Jefferson County, Ohio, January 25, 1825, but was reared in Coshocton County, same State. Reaching manhood about the time of the Mexican War demanded volunteers, he enlisted in Company B, Third Ohio Volunteers, in June, 1846. The regiment joined the army under General Taylor. The service was for twelve months, and after receiving an honorable discharge at New Orleans, Mr. Shannon went to Knox County, Illinois, with the intention of making it his home, but remained there less than two years. Suffering from disease contracted in Mexico, and thinking that a change of climate might be beneficial, he joined a party of gold-seekers bound for California. The company was organized in Galesburg, Illinois, and called themselves the “Jayhawkers.” It contained about forty or fifty men, from different parts of he county. They left Galesburg April 5, 1849, and crossing the Missouri at Council Bluffs, followed the overland trail to Salt Lake City, which they reached about the middle of August. Fearing, on account of the lateness of the season, to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the party hired a Mormon guide to pilot them to Los Angeles. Besides the Galesburg company, there were hundreds of other emigrants camping around Salt Lake City, some of whom united their fortunes with Mr. Shannon’s party, so that when the caravan was ready to start, which was about the last of September, it consisted of about 500 men, with 105 wagons. After proceeding some 300 miles southward the party divided on account of the scarcity of feed for so much stock, and thirty-four men (among them the subject of our sketch) undertook to make their way westward over the trackless desert, without guides or maps, expecting to reach the San Joaquin Valley. Of course the mountains interposed impassable barriers, and much time was spent in trying to find a pass through them. The sufferings of the party were indescribable, the intense heat of the desert being almost unbearable. Often they saw the deceptive mirage—in appearance from a distance a bright, sparkling lake, and in reality not water, but clay-beds where water had been evaporated by the sun. Four died from exposure and starvation, and one man wandered away from the company, and was found fifteen years later by United States troops, living with the Indians. He afterwards became a business man of San Francisco.
After months of suffering, the party, sick, and worn out, found habitations on the Santa Clara River, forty miles north of Los Angeles, near the present site of Newhall. This was in February, the company having been ten months in making a journey now accomplished in five days by the wonderful “iron horse.” The survivors of this overland party of 1849 keep up an organization, which has annual meetings February 4. Several reunions have been held, in which reminiscences both sad and merry have been brought up—sad in the thought that so many of the brave men of ’49 have gone, and merry in the recollection of the many makeshifts which they were obliged to concoct to keep life in their bodies. Mr. Shannon and L. D. Stevens, of San Jose, are the only survivors of the party living in Santa Clara County.
The subject of our sketch commenced mining on the Yuba River soon after reaching California, and followed the work for six years with varied success. He then spent several years in Marysville, and when the Civil War broke out he enlisted in the Seventh California, Company B, in October, 1864. After serving eighteen months doing frontier duty in Arizona, he was honorably discharged at San Francisco. He then located in this county, and held his claim for seven years, waiting for the authorities to decide whether his land was on Government or railroad land, before commencing the work of active improvement. Having sold about seventy-five acres of his original estate, he now owns eighty-five acres, which are devoted successfully to general farming with about six acres reserved for fruit and vines.
In 1851 Mr. Shannon married Miss Amanda Blackford, a native of Ohio. They have six children now living, viz.: Mrs. Mary A. Sanders, of Monterey County; Claude, Julius, and Mrs. Cassie Robinson, all residents of Los Gatos; Lulu, and Ralph, members of their father’s household. The eldest child, Cassius, a railway engineer, died at El Paso, Texas.
With his experience in two wars, one would naturally expect to find Mr. Shannon connected, as he is, with the G. A. R. organizations. He is a member of E. O. C. Ord Post, No. 82, at Los Gatos.
Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy
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