John F. Stephenson, who was born in California during the pioneer days, is at present and has been for many years one of the foremost ranchers of Sacramento county. His residence and homestead are situated two miles south of Franklin, where he is the owner of ten hundred and eighty acres of land, and as a business and industrial manager he has shown premier ability and enterprise in the conduct of his extensive interests, being a prime factor in the material and civic progress of his locality. Mr. Stephenson was born in Sacramento county, July 13, 1854, and during his lifetime of a half century he has been closely identified with the best interests of his native county.

Mr. Stephenson is a son of a California forty-niner who during a long and active career figured prominently in the affairs of Sacramento county. James M. Stephenson, a native kentuckian, left his home in Missouri in 1849 and crossed the plains to California. He was among the successful few who made money at gold mining, for several years operating a placer on a branch of the American river northwest of Coloma, near Greenwood. In 1852 he went back to Missouri, via the isthmus and New York city, and was there married to Miss Arzelia E. Halley, who was born in Missouri. While there he also purchased a herd of Durham cattle, and immediately after the consummation of his marriage he and his wife set out on their journey across the great plains, driving their cattle with them. After six months' traveling he arrived in Sacramento county and settled on the Cosumne river near Hicksville, where he went into the stock-raising business on an extensive scale. He later removed to a ranch in what is known as the Pierson Reclamation district, about three miles and a half east of Courtland, and there raised stock and did a dairy business until 1868, in which year he located on the ranch now owned by his son, John F. He continued his former enterprises at this place until 1885, when he moved into the city of Sacramento. In 1892 he became associated as a founder and organizer of the Farmers' and Mechanics' Savings Bank at Sacramento, and for some years served as a director and the surveyor of this well known financial institution. His death occurred in 1902, while he was sojourning in Oakland under medical treatment. This venerable pioneer was in his seventy-ninth year at the time of his death, and few men have filled up their lifetime with greater activity and broader usefulness. In politics he was a Democrat, and during the early days of Sacramento county he served as deputy county assessor for County Assessor Ryan. He was a member and had served as president of the Sacramento Society of California Pioneers. His good wife passed away in 1885.

Mr. John F. Stephenson was reared in Sacramento county, and after his public school education he attended the old Christian College at Santa Rosa and also, at the same place, the private school of Prof. George W. Jones, and later graduated from Heald's Business College in San Francisco. In 1876 he became interested in the mercantile business at Sacramento, as a member of the firm of Rapp and Company. In 1882 he severed his connection with that firm and settled down to agriculture on the ranch where he now lives. He is thoroughly progressive in his methods of doing business, and as a positive and influential character he has helped to give permanence and stability to the institutions and material welfare of his county.

Mr. Stephenson was married, July 9, 1879, to Miss Lillian A. Watson, a native of Eldorado county. They have had six children, five of them still living: Ethel O., wife of Charles J. Johanson, of Sacramento county; Edna L., wife of Clarence Bloom, of Sacramento county; John M., at home; and Mabel M. and Eva L., twin daughers, at home. Mr. Stephenson affiliates with Elk Grove Lodge No. 173, F. & A. M., and is a past master of the same. He is also a member of the Woodmen at Franklin. In political matters he gives his allegiance to the Democratic party.

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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