John Chrisman is numbered among the prominent citizens and representative farmers of San Joaquin county, where he has lived since this was a wild frontier region, giving little promise of development and improvement which were so soon to transform it and which in the course of years would make it one of the best districts of the great commonwealth. John Chrisman resides near Tracy, where he owns a good ranch of two hundred acres under a high state of cultivation. He came to California in 1859 and resided in Santa Clara county until 1867, when he removed to San Joaquin county and took up his abode upon the farm which is now his home.

He was born in Chester county, Pennsylvania, on the 30th of September, 1831, and is a son of Henry and Elizabeth (Yeager) chrisman, both of whom were natives of Chester county, Pennsylvania. In the paternal line he is of German lineage, the family having been founded in the Keystone state at an early day by ancestors who came from the fatherland. The subject f this review was reared in the county of his nativity and acquired his early education i the public schools. He afterward attended private schools and was later graduated in the Phoenix Classical Institute at Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, where he comleted a course of study at the age of twenty years. When not occupied by the duties of the schoolroom and the pleasures of the playground he devoted his energies to farm work, assisting in the development of the fields from the time of early spring planting until after crops were harvested in the late autumn. Before leaving Pennsulvania he was engaged for a short time in teaching school and proved a capable educator, imparting clearly and readily to others the knowledge that he had acquired.

In 1859 he left the Keystone state, having determined to try his fortune in California, of whose favorable opportunities he had received many excellent reports. Accordingly he made the journey across the plains with an ox team in company with H. W. Briggs and many others. They traveled westward to Illinois and thence made arrangements to continue their journey, which required six and a half months from the time they left Illinois until they reached Stockton, California. The trip across the plains was a very arduous and tedious one and was fraught with considerable danger, because the Indians were liable to attack the emigrants at any time. Mr. Chrisman has seen much pioneer life and has done considerable pioneer work, especially along the line of reclaiming wild lands and transforming it into valuable farming property. Upon reaching California he located first in Santa Clara county, where he remained until 1867, when he removed to San Joaquin county and took up his abode upon the ranch which has since been his home, covering a period of thirty-seven years. He entered one hundred and sixty acres of land from the government and was the first permanent settler upon this tract, which he has developed from a primitive condition to one of rich fertility. He subsequently urchased forty additional acres so that his present farm comprises two hundred acres of land. In 1866 Mr. Chrisman was united in marriage to Miss Ruth A. Hobson, a native of Kansas, and to them were born two children, but only one is now living: Ruth A., who is the wife of P. McCaskill, of Oakland, California. In 1873 Mr. Chrisman was again married, his second union being with Mrs. Savilla L. Hatfield, the widow of Theodore Hatfield, of San Joaquin county, and a daughter of Charles Needham, of DeKalb county, Ilinois, his ancestors being of old New England stock. By this union there is one son, John Chester, who is now in Oakland, California.

Politically Mr. Chrisman is a Republican, well informed on the questions and issues of the day and giving earnest support to the party. Some years ago he was a candidate on the Republican ticket for county supervisor of San Joaquin from the fifth district, but was defeated by a vote of twenty, his opponent being Levi H. Nicewonger. He has for a number of years served as a trustee of the Valley school district. In community interests he is active and influential and has been the champion of many measures which have contributed to public progress and improvement.

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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