The consensus of public opinion accorded John R. W. Hitchcock a prominent position in San Joaquin county. He occupied an enviable place in political circles, and his public career was an honor to the county which honored him. The moral, intellectual and material welfare of the county was a matter of deep concern to him, and he put forth effective effort in behalf of general progress and improvement and left the impress of his individuality for good upon the section of the state in which he so long made his home. He also aided in forming the organic law of California as a member of the constitutional convention, and, moreover, he is entitled to distinction as one of the California pioneers of 1849.

Mr. Hitchcock was born at Richmond, Virginia, on the 21st of October, 1825, and was a son of John and Maria (Frazier) Hitchcock. His education was acquired in the Baptist College of Richmond, Virginia, and he possessed a studious nature which caused him to read extensively and to keep well informed on topics of general interest. He was a broad and well trained man and he had intimate knowledge of the events and questions which claimed the attention of the thinking world. In 1849 he left virginia for California, attracted by the discovery of gold on the Pacific coast and the opportunity which was thereby developed in all lines of business activity. He took passage on the ship Glenmore in the month of April and sailed around Cape Horn, arriving in San Francisco on the 5th of october of the same year. He worked for three years in the gold mines of Tuolumne and Merced counties, and during this time accumulated sufficient capital to enable him to establish a good home and business of his own. Late in the year 1852 he settled in San Joaquin county, locating in Castoria township upon the farm where his widow now resides and where he made his home for nearly a half century. He devoted his attention to agricultural pursuits and carried on the work of the farm year after year, transforming its wild lands into richly cultivated fields and making his property a valuable and attractive one. He was always deeply interested in subjects bearing on agriculture and kept fully abreast with the most modern ideas concerning that great department of labor. He served as vice-president and as one of the directors of the District Agricultural Society for three years and was one of the promoters and organizers of the Farmers' Co-operative Society of San Joaquin county. He possessed excellent business qualifications, which he exercised not only in how own behalf, but also for the benefit of others representing the agricultural life of the community.

Mr. Hitchcock was twice married. On the 6th of April, 1858, he was joined in wedlock to Miss Eliza Dickey, of San Joaquin county, and to them were born three children, of whom two are now living: Fannie C., the widow of William Leasey, of San Joaquin county, and now a resident of San Francisco; and John R., who is living in Tulare county, California. For his second wife Mr. Hitchcock chose Josephine Nicewonger, a sister of Levi H. Nicewonger, who is represented elsewhere in this work. This wedding was celebrated on the 26th of June, 1870. Mrs. Hitchcock is a native of Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, born September 7, 1840. She was reared in the county of her nativity, came to California in 1869, and has since been a resident of San Joaquin county. Of the children born of this marriage five are yet living: Margaret J., the wife of George Leasey, of San Joaquin county; Virginia M., the wife of Everett Salmon, of Stockton, California; Henry H., at home; Crawford C., of San Joaquin county; and George C., at home.

Mr. Hitchcock held membership in the Cumberland Presbyterian church, while his widow now attends the Methodist Espiscopal church at Atlanta. She is a stanch advocate of temperance principles and holds membership in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Highly esteemed in social circles, she has many friends and enjoys the warm regard of all who know her. Mr. Hitchcock was enabled to leave his widow in comfortable financial circumstances and she now owns a valuable ranch of more than three hundred acres of land, which yields to her a good financial return. Mr. Hitchcock conducted all of his business affairs in capable, energetic manner and his prosperity resulted directly from his own labor. In public affairs he was also influential and was elected and served as a member of the consitutional convention which was held in Sacramento in the '70s. In politics he was a Democrat, but he placed the public welfare before partisanship and gave to every measure which he believed would contribute to general progress his earnest support and loyalty. He was a man whom to know was to respect and honor. He reached the age of seventy-five years, passing away on the 13th of January, 1901. His life record characterized by untiring activity through many years was crowned by successful effort that enabled him in life's evening to enjoy the fruits of his former toil without recourse to further labor.

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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