GEORGE FOX PACKER
††††††††††† Long association with the agricultural interests of Colusa county and close identification with movements for the upbuilding of the same have made Mr. Packer one of the most prominent figures in this portion of the Sacramento valley. A half century, lacking only a few years, has elapsed since he cast in his lot with the few settlers of this county and began the task of developing a ranch from the wild prairie soil. A man of large affairs, with the executive ability needed for their management, he easily won his way to prominence and became known as one of the most successful agriculturists of the valley. Nor has age weakened his intellectual powers or lessened his interest in the prosperity of the county and valley; on the other hand, while the years have taken from him a capacity for long physical endurance, they have made a recompense in their accumulating fund of experience and mental grasp.
††††††††††† The early settlement of Pennsylvania attracted hither from England the family of Packers, who were active members of the Society of Friends. Job Packer, a native of the Keystone state, resided successively in Center, Venango and Clarion counties were he acquired extensive lumbering interests. While on a visit to a son in Tennessee he died at sixty-five years of age. By his marriage to Orpha Wilson, who was born in Center county, Pa., and died in Clarion county, he had nine children, but only three are now living. Marshall, a California pioneer of 1852, and William, who came in 1854, both died in this state. While George Fox Packer was a native of Center county (born May 23, 1821), he was reared in Venango and Clarion counties and received his education in subscription schools there. At that time pig iron was manufactured in Clarion county and shipped by the Clarion and Alleghany rivers to Pittsburg, and when he became twenty-one he embarked for himself in the building of flatboats, loading them with pig iron, which he delivered in Pittsburg. The first railroad iron manufactured west of the Alleghany mountains he freighted to Pittsburg, whence it was delivered to Cincinnati, Ohio, and from there sent to Madison, Ind., being the first iron ever landed at that point.
††††††††††† At the age of thirty years Mr. Packer disposed of his interests in the east and started for California by the Panama route. After walking across the isthmus he took a sailing vessel for San Francisco and on landing pursed his way to the mines at Deer creek, thence to Downieville. During the three years of his work as a miner at Downieville he engaged in building flumes and also built the first water power derrick in the entire state. In 1854 he gave up mining and opened a meat market at Downieville. In order to buy stock for the market he traveled over the entire Sacramento valley and in this way was able to investigate properties and conditions. During 1859 he sold his market and purchased fifteen hundred acres, forming a part of the grant of the Larkins heirs. The land he developed from the wild prairie and devoted it to stock and grain raising. Later he purchased six thousand acres above Princeton, which he called the Clarion ranch, in memory of his old Pennsylvania home. On the river, at Packerís Landing, he built a warehouse of iron, which was then considered the best of its kind in the state and which he utilized for the storage of his grain. At the Clarion ranch he used a traction engine and about ten eight-mule teams. Another improvement on that ranch was the prune and peach orchard of one hundred acres, at one time the finest orchard in the valley, and from which in 1902 he sold about six hundred tons of fruit, leaving one hundred tons in the orchard. In the fall of 1903 he sold that ranch, since which time he has lived retired on his home place of more than fifteen hundred acres, situated ten miles north of Colusa and four miles south of Princeton. One of the noticeable features of his ranch is the pumping plant, operated by a steam engine with fifteen-inch pump, which is utilized for irrigating the alfalfa.
††††††††††† The marriage of Mr. Packer was solemnized in Clarion, Pa., October 30, 1848, and united him with Miss Julia McPherson, a native of that county, and a descendant of Scotch ancestry early established on American soil. To this same family belonged General McPherson. Her father, David McPherson, was born in Center county, Pa., and engaged in farming Clarion county, that state, until his death at seventy-three years. In religious faith he was a Presbyterian. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Hannah Anderson, was born in Center county, Pa., and died in Clarion; she, too, was of pioneer stock noted for devotion to country. During the war of 1812, her father, James Anderson, and one of her brothers went to the front as soldiers in our army, and both died during their period of service. Among twelve children Mrs. Packer was next to the youngest and is now the sole survivor. In 1854 she came to California, crossing the Isthmus of Panama on muleback, (sic) and then taking the steamer Golden Gate to San Francisco, where she landed during June of that year. Immediately afterward she joined her husband, who had preceded her a few years.
††††††††††† Reared in the Presbyterian faith, Mrs. Packer is a firm adherent of that denomination and a contributor to its various interests. While Mr. Packer is not connected with any organization, he is a believer in religion and aids such enterprises by his contributions. Politically he votes with the Republican party. Whenever a worthy movement is inaugurated for the benefit of his county he is one of the first to extend to it his hearty support and co-operation. Especially noticeable was this in the building of the levees. No attempt had been made in that direction when he settled on this ranch, but as the work began the sloughs were stopped up and as a consequence levees had to be built along the river. Over three miles of embankment along his farms was built by himself and made so much higher and more substantial than most others that there has never been a break in the levee since. Buying an instrument, he ran his own levels and assisted many of his neighbors in the same way. When the Packer district school was organized he donated an acre of ground for school purposes. In many other ways he has proved a helpful factor in local affairs and now, in the twilight of his useful life, he is surrounded by esteem of associates and a circle of warm friends. ††
Transcribed By: Cecelia M. Setty.
≠≠≠≠Source: "History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the Sacramento Valley, Cal.," J. M. Guinn, Pages 612-613.† The Chapman Publishing Company, Chicago, 1906.
© 2017 †Cecelia M. Setty.