The traveler speeding across the country to-day in a palace car equipped with every luxury and convenience known in a palatial home can scarcely realize what were the conditions that attended the early pioneers, who journeyed over the hot, sandy plains in covered wagons drawn by oxen. Such was the manner of James M. Short's advent into California, where he arrived after a long and wearisome trip covering seven months. He became identified with th early development of Sacramento county, and while assisting in the substantial improvement of this part of the state he has at the same time conducted business affairs of importance and is to-day the owner of an extensive ranch of one thousand and twenty-three acres in Alabama township. It has been his home continuously since July, 1852, but his residence in California dates from 1850.

Mr. Short was born in Barren county, Kentucky, on the 17th of July, 1822, and was a son of William W. and Mary A. (Curtis) Short, both of English origin, and it is definitely known that it was established in American in colonial days, for Elisha and Joshua Short, brothers of Joel Short, grandfather of our subject, espoused the cause of the colonists and served in behalf of independence in the Revolutionary war.

James M. Short was only about five years of age at the time of his father's death. Later he accompanied his other on her removal to Alabama, the family home being established near Florence, where he remained until about seventeen years of age. He then became a resident of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, where he spent several years. Previous to this time he had enjoyed only the educational privileges afforded by the public schools, but while a resident of Lawrenceburg he had the opportunity of attending the famous Jackson Academy and later while a resident of Marshall, Harrison county, Texas, he was a student in a high-grade private academy, thus securing a good education which has served as an excellent foundation for a successful business career. After leaving Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, Mr. Short resided for a brief time in the Chickasaw purchase in Mississippi, and then went to Texas, remaining in that state for several years. He finally started for California in the year 1850, attracted by the discovery of gold on the Pacific coast and the business opportunities which were thereby opened up along other lines. He made the wearisome journey across the plains with an ox team in company with the usual train of emigrants, and was seven months in covering the distance between Buffalo, Missouri, where he outfitted, and Sacramento, where he arrived late in the year. Hoping as did many others that he might rapidly acquire wealth in the mines, he devoted two years to a search for the precious metal, being engaged in mining gold at the Indian diggings on the Cosumne river, but at the end of that time he turned his attention to agricultural pursuits, and in 1852 settled upon the ranch which has since been his home. He was the first resident upon this tract of land, and in consequence it was in its primitive condition, not a furrow having been turned or an improvement made, but with characteristic energy he began its development, and in course of time the place had been divided into fields of convenient size, which returned to him good harvests. Buildings were also erected and improvements were made in keeping with the spirit of modern progress. He has carried on stock-raising, and for a number of years has been successfully engaged in the dairy business. His landed possessions are now valuable, and he ranks with the more substantial citizens of the county, a position which he deserves to occupy as his prosperity has been gained through his own earnest labors.

In his political views Mr. Short is a stalwart Democrat, and for seventeen years he served as justice of the peace of Alabama township, discharging his duties with fairness and impartiality, so that he has made a most capable official and has been long retained in office. He was also at one time a candidate on the Democratic ticket for the general assembly. He served as deputy assessor of Sacramento county under William A. Selkirk, and his official duties have ever been discharged in a most capable manner. He is a well informed man, has read extensively and has broad comprehensive knowledge not only of political questions and issues, but of the general topics of the time. He has served as a trustee of the Alabama school district, and the cause of education received his earnest support, for he believes it to be one of the strong bulwarks of our republic and does everything in his power to secure the establishment and continuance of good schools in his neighborhood. Fraternally he is connected with Galt Lodge No. 267, F. & A. M., of which he is a past master.

Mr. Short was married to Mrs. Maria Wade, of Sacramento, California, by whom he had one son, Dr. William L. Short, who became a practicing physician of Santa Rosa, California, and there died. For his second wife Mr. Short wedded Mrs. Augusta R. Sawyer, also of Galt, California. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church South at Galt, takes an active and interested part in its work and is now serving as steward and also as church trustee. His influence is on the side of right, justice, reform and progress. Few men of Sacramento county have resided for a longer period within its borders than has Mr. Short, and none has been more loyal to its interests or had firmer faith in the future of California. His name should be enduringly inscribed upon the records of her early settlers, and it is with pleasure that we present to our readers the history of his career.

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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