Nevada County









            John R. Tyrrell, whose name is found on the roll of leading law practitioners of Nevada County and among the representative citizens of Grass Valley, is a native of England, his birth having occurred in the town of Hale, on the 30th of January, 1868.  His father, Samuel Tyrrell, was also a native of England and at an early age learned the blacksmith’s trade, which he followed throughout his entire life.  He came to American in 1868, and for a time was engaged as a mine machinist at Virginia City, Nevada, after which he came to Grass Valley, making a permanent location at this point.  His wife and family joined him a year or two later and he was continuously employed as foreman blacksmith in this section of the sate up to the time of his death, which occurred July 10, 1890.  His wife, whose maiden name was Alice Jones, was also of English birth, her parents being James and Jane (Oliver) Jones.  On the paternal side the ancestry can be traced back to the Welsh and for many generations representatives of the name were wholesale merchants in Wales. The Oliver family belonged to the French nobility and held large landed estates in France.

            John R. Tyrell was the third of the family of five children, all of whom are yet living.  He was reared and educated in Nevada County, pursuing a commercial course in a business college at San Francisco.  He served an apprenticeship as a machinist in the Union Iron Works in that city, but during that time devoted all his leisure hours to the study of law, after the work of the day was done, for it was his desire and intention to become a member of the legal fraternity.  The acquisition of knowledge in this way prepared him to enter Hastings Law College, but circumstances intervened to prevent him from carrying out his plans and he returned to Grass Valley, where for two years he was engaged successfully in dealing in hay and grain; however, he never abandoned his plan of becoming a member of the bar and worked continually to that end.  In 1893, under the new charter of Grass Valley, he was elected a justice of the peace and police judge for a period of four years, and in the prosecution of his duty he found an excellent opportunity to continue his law studies.  Improving every spare moment, after holding the office for a year he passed a creditable exam before the Supreme Court and was admitted to practice in 1895, since which time he has been a member of the Grass Valley bar.  A close student, he has a comprehensive knowledge of the various branches of jurisprudence and has been very successful in conducting criminal as well as civil cases.  He prepares himself with great thoroughness and precision, and when before a court or jury is ready to meet every possible attack and to give his authority for the position which he takes concerning litigated interests.  There has come to him a liberal patronage and he is now occupying a position of distinctive preferment in connection with the bar of his adopted county.  Mr. Tyrell is also interested in mining, and at the time of this writing is associated in the work of developing the old Lincoln mine, of which he is now the owner, under the name of the Independent mine, which promises to become a very valuable property in the near future.

            Mr. Tyrrell has also been prominently connected with the military companies of Grass Valley and for several years he was a member of the California National Guard.  During the Spanish-American War he held the rank of first lieutenant of the Eighth Regiment of California Volunteers, and remained in active service during the war.  Politically he is a staunch and steadfast Republican and has rendered his party valuable service as a member of the county central committee, for which he was the secretary for four years.  He was elected a state senator at the last election to represent the people of the third senatorial district, comprising the counties of Nevada, Sierra, and Plumas, by the largest majority ever received by any candidate for that office, and in his own county (Nevada) he ran over four hundred ahead of his ticket, thus confirming his position as a popular honorable young man, appreciated by the people.  His term of office will expire December, 1904.  The cause of education finds in him a warm friend and he is now a member of the school board, and formerly served as secretary of the board of school trustees.  Popular in fraternal circles, he is identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of San Francisco, the Knights of Pythias of Auburn, the Ancient Order of Foresters of Grass Valley, the B. P. O. E., of Grass Valley, and the Improved Order of Red Men, also of Grass Valley.  In the last named he has filled all the offices, and is now one of the leading grand officers of that lodge.

            Mr. Tyrrell was united in marriage on the 3rd of September, 1889, to an estimable young lady, Miss Minnie M. Harding, a daughter of Samuel Harding, one of California’s prosperous farmers who came to the Pacific coast from the Blue Grass state.  They have an interesting family of three bright sons, Samuel E., John B., and Park S.  For all these years Mr. Tyrrell has been to the people of Grass Valley the personification of honor and honesty in all life’s relations and his public service has been most commendable.  He holds friendship inviolate and in business life he is most true and faithful to the trusts commended to his care.  He has reached a position of prominence and influence as a citizen and lawyer with which a much older man might well be satisfied.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 350-351. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.





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