Ezra Fiske, of Lodi, at this writing in the eightieth year of his life, still survives the flight of years and the strenuous scenes which have been the lot of the real California pioneers, and while he awaits the call to join the silent majority of old-time Californians it is a pleasure to utilize this opportunity to memorialize his life and work in this history.
Coming of one of the oldest American families, many generations of the Fiskes having lived in Massachusetts and other parts of New England, and his mother's people, the Sandersons, being equally long established in this country,--the maternal grandparents residing at Lexington when the first battle of the Revolution was fought and grandfather Sanderson taking part in that engagement as a minute-man,--Mr. Fiske himself was born at the town of Weston, Massachusetts, August 21, 1825, a son of Ezra and Lydia (Sanderson) Fiske, both parents natives of the same state. He grew to manhood in Weston, and its public schools, such as they were at the time, furnished him his educational equipment. Throughout life he has been noted as an eager reader, interested in the events transpiring in the world about him, and his character and mind have thus increased in breadth along with his years.
When about eighteen years old he began learning the trade of machinist at Waltham, Massachusetts, where he served an apprenticeship of three years, and subsequently followed his trade in New Jersey, at Philadelphia, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and in the railroad shops at Springfield, Massachusetts. On the last day of October, 1849, he embarked on the ship Richmond at Boston, being one of one hundred and fifty passengers, and after a long and ever memorable voyage around the Horn arrived in San Francisco on April 6, 1850. The ship went on as far as Benicia, and from that point he took the small steamer McKim to Stockton, where he left the boat and went to Mokelumne Hill with an ox team. He had a considerable experience in gold mining during those early days, mainly at the Rich Gulch diggings, and later in the vicinity of Jamestown. In the fall of 1852 he located in San Joaquin county, taking up one hundred and sixty acres of land about three and a half miles southwest of what is now the town of Lodi, although no such place existed then, thus becoming one of the pioneer agriculturists of this section of the state. He later got a government patent to this land, and by subsequent purchases he increased his realty holdings until at one time he was owner of about four hundred acres. For many years he was engaged in raising grain and general farm products, and is numbered among the oldest and most successful of the farmers of the San Joaquin valley. He was among the first men to plant the vice to any extent, and the vineyard of fifteen acres which he set out in 1862 has for more than forty years been one of the best producing vineyards in San Joaquin county and is still bearing good grapes. For nearly a half century Mr. Fiske resided on that fine ranch, and in 1901 moved into the town of Lodi, where he has since had his home. He has witnessed all this country develop from nost primitive conditions, and in this wonderful march of progress he has performed no small part as a supporter of all that would benefit his community.
Mr. Fiske was once a candidate for the office of supervisor of San Joaquin county, but the only office he has ever held was as trustee of the Henderson school district, serving as such for many years. His politics have always been Republican since the formation of the party. He is a member of the San Joaquin Society of California Pioneers. As an indication of how unsettled San Joaquin county was when he first located there, during the winter of 1852 he often saw bands of deer, elk and antelope roaming about the country, and impressed on his memory are many other scenes and events which from year to year marked the progress of civilization in this section 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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