Alonzo Emery Raynes, California pioneer, merchant and man of affairs, is one of the most interesting characters and successful men of northern California and Siskiyou county. His career, especially during its early years, was one continuous record of adventurous activity--as one who sought excitement for its own sake, who delved for the golden treasures of the Pacific Eldorado, who packed and trafficked among the mining camps, who traveled about the wild country without fear of personal danger and more than once risked death in encounters with the red men, and who in the years of more sober and less strenuous activity has held positions of public trust and responsibility and become one of the most influential and reliable of the business men of his community. He is one of the few survivors of the "days of old, the days of gold," and his personal history and reminiscences form one of the many attractive chapters of California pioneer history.

He was born in Brewer, Maine, September 27, 1830, so that he is already past the Psalmist's limit of life. His father, Solomon, was also born in Maine and died in 1884, being of an old American family of English descent. He was in the butchering and mercantile business, and was a prominent and well known man of his community. He married Ann Martin, a native of Maine and connected with the Adams family, of Revolutionary and Elglish lineage. Mr. A. E. Raynes has one half-brother, John Martin, a retired business man living in Bangor, Maine; his two sisters are Nancy Ellen, widow of Judge A. M. Roseborough, and residing at Highland Park, Oakland, California, and Mrs. Rebecca Stevens, of South Windom, Maine.

Alonzo E. Raynes received his early education in the public schools and at Hamden (Maine) Academy. At the age of sixteen he became clerk in a store at Bangor, where he remained until January, 1849. He then sailed on the bark Suliot, via Cape Horn, from Belfast, Maine, on the first ship thatleft Maine for California in consequence of the gold excitement. It arrived in San Francisco, July 19, 1849. This voyage is one of the interesting features of Mr. Raynes' career. There were about fifty passengers on board, and when they got out to sea and into the gulf stream they found they were short of water, that in the whale casks not being usable, and they were placed on short allowance until they could reach the Cape Verde islands for a new supply. The next stopping place was Rio de Janeiro, where the ship was provisioned. In rounding Cape Horn the captain's son, a friend of Mr. Raynes, was lost overboard. There was a variously assorted company on board, merchants, lawyers, doctors and youngsters seeking their fortune for the first time, and Mr. Raynes was one of a quartette of young men with vocal talents who enlivened many an hour of the voyage. At Valparaiso they were engaged, for fifty dollars, to sing four selections between acts at the theatre, and after singing were invited into the manager's box, and afterward went to the home of the American consul.

Arriving at San Francisco, he went to Stockton by sail boat, and there he and his artners engaged a Spanish oc team to haul their provisions to Mokelumne Hill. The party mined at McKinney's bar until fall, and then pt p the first cabins ever erected on Mokelumne Hill. Mr. Raynes worked there till spring of 1850, and then embarked at Stockton and went up the Tuolumne river to Don Pedro's bar. In the fall he returned to Stockton and clerked in a store until the time of the Gold Bluff excitement, when he went to San Francisco and took passage on the brig Waukulla for Trinidad bay. A storm at night wrecked the vessel, but he was saved, along with his guitar, and by playing and singing he got his lodging and supper.

His next venture was on the Salmon river in Siskiyou county, where he determined to start an express business. He went to a place called Bessville, and all along the river took the names of the miners working there. He then went back to Trinidad, and sent the list of names to the San Francisco postoffice and arranged to have all the letters for the corresponding persons and a number of eastern newspapers sent on to him. He took these up the Salmon river and delivered them at the rate of two dollars per letter and one dollar per paper, taking in eight hundred dollars from this enterprise. He then bought a horse and continued his expressing operations. He crossed Klamath river in those days at Blackman's ferry, and he had a large tent for his men to sleep in.

One day, on returning from a trip down the river, he met a man by the name of Blackburn, who reported that the Indians had killed everybody in the vicinity except himself and wife. Blackburn had two rifles and revolvers and plenty of ammunition, and while his wife loaded the guns he stood guard till morning, when the redskins withdrew. Raynes, with two ranchers from two miles' distant, started for Trinidad for assistance, getting lost in the redwood forest during the night, and returned with twelve men. They had a fight at Lagoon, thence went on to Bald Hill and Durkey's ferry, where they fought and drove off the Indians, and eventually restored peace to the neighborhood.

Mr. Raynes, in company with Cram and Rogers, under the name of Cram, Rogers and Company, made arrangements to act as agents for the Adams Express Company and the old banking firm of Adams and Company, establishing offices at Yreka, Weaverville, and in Jacksonville, Oregon, and they continued these connections four or five years, until the failure of Adams and Company. In 1854 Mr. Raynes was sent to New York, as a messenger for the Adams Express Company.

He then got the mail contract from Shasta to Weaverville and down the Trinity river, which he continued until 1858. In that year he went back to Maine and married Miss Fannie Parsons, of Bangor, after which he returned to Yreka and embarked in the stantionery and fancy goods business with Henry Wadsworth, and has been in business in this city ever since. He bought out his partner in two years, and then moved to his present quarters on Miner street, forming a partnership with C. H. Pile, who was then postmaster. When Pile's term was up Mr. Raunes was appointed to the office of postmaster, holding the office several terms, and in one way or other was connected with the postoffice of Yreka for nearly thirty years, having had the office in his store during all that time.

Mr. Raynes was elected to the office of county treasurer for one term, and was chief of the fire department for two terms. He was a school trustee for many years and clerk of the board for some time. He has always been active in the work of the Republican party, and has attended the county conventions. He has extensive mining properties. He owns a quarter interest in the Beaver Creek placer mine on Klamath river, a quarter interest in a quartz ledge on the Humbug Creek, and recently sold to G. W. Grayson, for thirty thousand dollars, a fourth interest in the Great Northern mine of Humbug creek. He was at one time interested in the blue gravel mine at Greenhorn creek and worked it for two years. He has fraternal relations with the Masonic order, being a member of the blue lodge, chapter and commandery, and also with the Ancient Order of United Workmen.

Mr. and Mrs. Raynes had three sons, one of whom, Frederick T., was drowned in the Klamath river. Herbert R. is a practicing attorney and has held the office of district attorney; Frencis E. is a physician of San Francisco. Mr. Raynes has responded to many requests for charity, and is known as one of the generous men of northern California, giving much from the accumulations of his past years for the benefit of his fellow men.

Mr. Raynes is a most fascinating personality, and his stock of reminiscences and pioneer experiences never fails to arouse interest when he recounts them to his friends. Among his Indian adventures he recalls one day in the fall of 1851, as he was coming up the south fork of the Salmon river with a pack mule, when three Indians stepped out on the trail. One took the mule by the head and motioned for its rider to go on after them. Mr. Raynes at once pulled his gun, and the red men, realizing that one of them must be sacrifice every time the trigger was pulled, desisted and retired. they soon returned, however, and the program was repeated to Mr. Raynes' great annoyance, but he was finally left with the path to himself. That night he went into camp all alone, fearing an attack at any moment. After cooking his supper he lay down by the fire for awhile, and then crawled out of his blankets and shivered in the brush near by until morning came and he could once more pursue his journey without fear.

During his expressing experiences Mr. Raynes once owned a mule that upon the breaking of a stick or the cocking of a revolver, would jump into a mad gallop. He was riding on this animal through the forest one night, and on coming to the top of a hill saw a gun protrude from behind a tree. His own revolver was out of his belt in a second, but the cocking of it set the mule at a headlong pace down the hill, and before the astonished highwayman cold realize what had happened his intended victim was far beyond the reach of a bullet, and it was half a mile from the hill before Mr. Raynes could bring his long-eared steed to a halt.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume I

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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