Among those who are to be numbered as sterling pioneers of California is Joseph Woodard, one of the leading citizens of Sacramento county. He is a native of Montpelier, Vermont, his natal day being November 7, 1832, and he is a son of Edward and Phoebe (Meers) Woodard, natives of New England. During his early childhood Joseph Woodard was taken by his parents to Boone county, Illinois, but the mother died shortly after their arrival there, when Joseph was but four years old, and three years later the father joined her in the home beyond.

Left an orphan at the tender age of seven years Mr. Woodard was thereafter reared in the family of Moses Blood, a prominent citizen of Boone county, Illinois, there remaining until 1849. In that year he went to St. Louis, Missouri, but after a short time spent in that city came to California in 1850, crossing the plains with ox teams and in company with R. P. Clark, of Platte, Missouri, who brought with him three wagon loads of dry goods and such provisions as were needed on the journey. Six yoke of oxen were used on each wagon, and on arriving at Hangown, now Placerville, after a long and tedious journey of six months, the merchandise was disposed of, and after spending a short time in that city Mr. Woodard went to Sacramento and assisted in building the first levee in that city. A short time afterward he turned his attention to gold mining at Prairie City, near Folsom, spending several years in search of the precious metal there and on the Feather river. In 1852 he engaged in the cattle industry on the farm which he still owns, located near Folsom. Thus for over fifty years he has resided in this community, upon the farm which is now his home, and is accounted one of the leading and enterprising agriculturists of the county. He owns and cultivates six hundred and fifty-two acres of land, which has been acquired through his own efforts, his success resulting from energy and capable management. Upon this extensive ranch he conducts a large dairy, and is one of the prominent cattle raisers of the county. He is the owner of Sardine valley, fourteen miles north of Truckee in Sierra county, California, which comprises about one thousand four hundred acres of land. It is one of the finest valleys in the state. For several years he has served as a trustee of the Alder Creek school district. The schools find in him a warm friend, and he is deeply interested in everything pertaining to the welfare of the community and its progress along social, material, intellectual and moral lines. In an early day his political affiliations were with the Whig party and since the formation of the Republican party he has been a stanch supporter of its principles.

In 1858 Mr. Woodard returned to Illinois over the isthmus route, and in Boone county, that state, on the 23d of March, 1859, he was married to Minerva E. Vrooman, a native of Lake county, Ohio, where she was born November 3, 1842, a daughter of Timothy and Olive N. (Froom) Vrooman, both natives of New York, and the father of Holland and the mother of English descent. The paternal grandfather of Mrs. Woodard, John Vrooman, was a valiant soldier in the Revolutionary war, in which he held the rank of lieutenant, and both he and his wife, Sarah Vrooman, were killed by the Indians, as was also their little daughter. In 1859 Mrs. Woodard accompanied her husband on his return journey to the Golden state, crossing the plains and taking up their abode on his ranch near Folsom. Of the children born to them in their California home eight are now living, namely: Edward E., a resident of Nevada county, this state; Florence E., the wife of Thomas H. Quinn, of Placer county; Annis M., the wife of B. F. Biggs, of Sacramento county; Carrie A., wife of Charles Unsworth, in Eldorado, California; Frank E., at home; Jessie A., a teacher in the public schools; Blanche E., the wife of Frederick A. Cornelison, in Jamesville, California; and Hazel L., who resides in Sacramento county. Mr. and Mrs. Woodard are held in high esteem by all who know them, and have won a reputation of true worth throughout the county in which they reside.

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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