EDWIN B. COGSWELL


Edwin B. Cogswell, dying in San Joaquin county in his sixty-ninth year, left behind him a record of success and great worth and esteem among all with whom he had had relations of a business or personal character, and it is not too much to say that few of the California forty-niners passed their careers in greater usefulness to home and community than did Mr. Cogswell.

Born in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, September 25, 1823, a son of James and Harriet (Sweetser) Cogswell, both natives of the Bay state, he was educated in his native place and at the age of seventeen became a clerk for his uncle, engaged in the furrier business in Boston. From there he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, filling a position in the same line, and remained there until the cholera epidemic of 1849, at which time he hurried from that city, and, by way of New Orleans and the isthmus, arrived in San Francisco in August, 1849. He had a considerable mining experience, also was in the mercantile business in Hangtown, now Placerville, and in the fall of 1850 he became one of the first homesteaders of San Joaquin county, locating a tract of one hundred and sixty acres near Belota. On this, the Henrietta ranch, he opened a hotel, and later had a store for a time in Weaverville. but from that time on until his death his principal occupation was farming, at first largely in the stock-raising industry and later his attention was devoted to general agriculture. He obtained a title to his land from the state in 1853, and he afterward increased the place, which valuable ranch is now the property of his widow.

Mr. Cogswell, a stanch Republican, was at one time a candidate for the office of supervisor of his county, but filled no other office than that of director and clerk of the Belota school district. In his death on June 19, 1892, his community lost one of its truly pioneer citizens, and a man who had always discharged his civic and private obligations to the best of his ability, retaining throughout the confidence and good will of all who knew him.

June 4, 1868, Mr. Cogswell was married to Mrs. Sarah J. (Kelton) Van Pelt, who was born in Grafton county, New Hampshire, July 4, 1830, a daughter of James M. and Sarah (Ford) Kelton, her parents both natives of New Hampshire. She was reared in her native county and state and came out to California in 1855, by the isthmus route, locating in Calaveras county. She was first married at Mokelumne Hill, March 13, 1857, to J. W. Van Pelt, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, and who was also a forty-niner of this state, and one of the first settlers of Calaveras county, where he died February 20, 1865. Mr. and Mrs. Van Pelt had one son, Edwin S., who is a resident of Stockton and is the father of two sons, Percy and Arthur C. Van Pelt. Mrs. Cogswell, after her marriage with Mr. Cogswell, lived on their ranch near Belota, until the fall following her husband's death, and she then removed to Stockton, her cosy and comfortable home being at 530 East Fremont street. She is a member of the Congregational church in that city, and is one of the venerable and beloved pioneer women of the state.

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

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


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