James Bartholemew Newman, who for thirty years has been a resident of California, making his home in Napa, was born in Essex, England, on the 21st of September, 1851. He is the son of John and Hannah (Merritt) Newman, both of whom were natives of the same country, where their respective ancestors had lived for many generations. The father still resides in England and has now reached the venerable age of eighty years.

The subject of this review spent the days of his boyhood and youth in his native land under the parental roof and acquired his education in the public schools and at Newport grammar school of that country. He was twenty-one years of age when he resolved to try his fortune in America, having heard favorable reports concerning its opportunities and privileges. Thinking that he might benefit his financial condition, he crossed the Atlantic in April, 1872, taking passage on the ship Peruvian, which, however, never reached its destination, being wrecked off the coast of Halifax. The passengers from this ill-fated vessel were picked up by the steamer Moravian and taken to Baltimore. Mr. Newman did not remain on the Atlantic coast, but proceeded at once into the interior of the country and in Chicago secured employment as a stone-cutter. This was shortly after the great fire of that city, when much building was going on, and he was paid five dollars per day for his services, the day being eight hours in length. He remained in Chicago until 1873, when he again started westward and at length reached San Francisco. Almost immediately afterward, however, he came to Napa, where the work of construction on the state asylum for the insane was being carried on. On this building he secured the contract for cutting the stone for the windows, and he has since been identified with building interests in Napa, and through his chosen vocation has contributed in large measure to the substantial improvement and progress of the city. As a business man he is known for his thorough reliability as well as his excellent workmanship, and his labors have therefore been attended with the success that has made him one of the substantial residents of Napa. Some of the more important buildings which Mr. Newman has constructed are the entrance to the Tulocay Cemetery, the St. Helena School buildings, Goodman Library and the Schupert Building, the Marin Block, being all erected of stone. A local publication has this to say of his establishment:

"At the Napa Stone, Marble and Granite Works, 16 Third street, next to Palace Hotel, Scotch and American granite monuments, headstones, vaults and curbing in granite, marble or concrete are made, and bridge and building work is done, and all work is guaranteed to be as good as any work done in the state. In the line of cemetery work, Mr. Newman's designs are the very latest and his work the very finest. Many of the handsomest and most costly vaults and monuments in Tulocay Cemetery were done by him. And as contractor and builder his work stands in the first class. At present he has in hand the Goodman Library and the St. Helena Grammar School building. These buildings are all to be of stone from the foundations up."

On the 29th of February, 1888, Mr. Newman was united in marriage in Napa to Miss Minnie E. Mitchell, of this city, and their union has been blessed with two sons, Raymond Webster and Harold Merritt, aged respectively twelve and ten years. Mr. Newman is identified with several fraternal societies. In the Independent Order of Odd Fellows he has become a member of the lodge, the encampment and the order of the Rebekahs, with which his wife is likewise identified. He is also a faithful representative of the Masonic fraternity, belonging to the blue lodge, chapter and commandery, thus having attained the Knight Templar degree. Since becoming an American citizen he has given his allegiance to the Republican party and keeps well informed on the questions and issues of the day. About two years ago he was elected a member of the city council of Napa, and in community affairs is deeply interested, putting forth every effort in his power to promote the welfare and progress of his city. He has served as school trustee for the past six years. He has never had occasion to regret his determination to come to America, in fact has more than realized his hope, for in this country he has found the opportunities he sought, and through the exercise of his energy and the persistency of his purpose has gained a comfortable competence and at the same time has secured a good home and won many friends in the city of his adoption.

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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