The founders of a state are not merely the men who handle the reins of government and control the public policy, but are alos those who carry civilization into hitherto wild regions and develop the natural resources of the state. Such a one is Stillman L. Magee, who came to California in pioneer days and was among the first to establish the fact that this section of the country furnished splendid business opportunities along many lines. He has been identified with industrial and commercial pursuits and now has extensive investments in important business concerns.
Mr. Magee makes his home at the Lone Star Mill near Clements in San Joaquin county, where he settled in 1865. Here he has resided continuously since, and whatever has tended to develop and improve this portion of the state has received his earnest endorsement and co-operation. A native of Maine, he was born in the town of Columbia, Washington county, on the 25th of July, 1823, and is a son of John and Lucinda (Looke) Magee, who were also natives of the Pine Tree state, where they spent their entire lives. In the paternal line he is of Scotch lineage. His father was a soldier of the war of 1812, serving with the ranch of lieutenant, and during that second struggle with England he was captured and taken as a prisoner of war to England. By trade he was a lumberman and ship-builder.
Reared in the county of his nativity, Stillman L. Magee spent his boyhood days under the parental roof and acquired his preliminary education in the public schools of his native county. Subsequently he spent almost four years at the Cherryfield Academy, Maine, and while pursuing his studies there also acted as an instructor in certain branches of learning. In early manhood in New England he engaged for a time in surveying and also in ship-building. He was but twenty-six years of age when, attracted by the possibilities of the great west, he left home and came to California. He was one of the party of six who purchased the bark Belgrade of about four hundred tons and sailed from Millbridge, Maine, by way of Cape Horn to San Francisco, where they arrived May 7th, in the year 1850. The vessel carried sixty passengers and the voyage was at length completed in safety. After arriving at San Francisco Mr. Magee in company with a number of others ran the steamer San Joaquin, plying between San Francisco and Stockton on the San Joaquin river. In less than a year, however, he and his partners sold the steamer to a Captain Clark. This particular steamer had been brought to California on the Belgrade as a part of her cargo and after reaching the California port had been put togehter in sailing condition. It was built at Bangor, Maine, and was one of the early steamers tht made the trip between the ports mentioned. The Belgrade also carried among her freight several frame houses, and the dwellings were put together upon reaching California. In this cargo was also the Fulton foundry, which was a complete foundry outfit erected in 'Frisco.
Mr. Magee was also associated with Captain Folson in the buiding of the steamer Sagamore, which made seveal trips between San Francisco and Stockton on the San Joaquin river, but was afterward destroyed by an explosion at the foot of what was then called Long Wharf, about seventy-five people being killed at that time, while many others were maimed and wounded.
After severing his connection with the steamboat interests Mr. Magee was engaged in mining gold for about two years at Mokelumne Hill in Calaveras county. Later he was for many years interested in different mining ventures and contributed to the development of the rich mineral resources of the state. He was also connected with mercantile interests at Mokelumne Hill for some time and with keen business sagacity extended his efforts into many fields of business activity that proved remunerative. For several years he was a part owner in two sawmills in Calaveras county and handled the product thereof, conducting a lumber yard at Mokelumne Hill in connection with his general mercantile interests.
In the meantime Mr. Magee had become recognized as a factor in political circles in his section of the state. His ability and his loyalty in citizenship were noted by his fellow townsmen, and in the year 1855 he was chosen by popular suffrage to the office of treasurer of Calaveras county on the Democratic ticket for a term of two years. He discharged his duties so acceptably that he was three times re-elected and therefore filled the office for eight consecutive years, at the end of which time he retired from the position as he had entered it, with the confidence, good will and trust of the entire community. In the meantime he purchased an interest in the Calaveras Chronicle, a well known weekly newspaper, published at Mokelumne Hill, and for ten years he remained its proprietor and manager, the period of his ownership covering the decade between 1857 and 1867. In his journalistic venture he displayed the same enterprising and progressive spirit which has charactereized his labors in every line of life with which he has been associated. From Mokelumne Hill he removed to San Francisco, where he resided for several years or until he established his home at his present location at the Lone Star Mill near the present site of Clements, California. He settled here in 1865, but was the owner of the mill and adjoining real estate from 1860. For more than a quarter of a century he operated a mill, engaging in the manufacture of flour and other meal products, and his business grew in extent and importance until it was very profitable. Mr. Magee was also for several years president and a director and auditor of the Farmers' Trade Union of Clements. He is now and has been for some time president of the Farmers' Mutual Warehouse Company, incorporated, and was the principal promoter of this enterprise and one of the leading builders of the large brick warehouse at Clements, which was erected at a cost of sixteen thousand dollars by the Farmers' Mutual Warehouse Company. He is likewise the owner of a ranch of three hundred acres, which is devoted to the raising of grain and stock, and his investments have been so judiciously placed that he has garnered a good return therefrom and is now one of the substantial residents of central California.
On the 18th of May, 1859, occurred the marriage of Mr. Magee and Miss Rebecca Athearn, who was born in Rising Sun, Indiana, and in 1854 was brought by her parents to California, the journey being made by way of the Licaragua route, the family settling in San Joaquin county near the present site of Clements on what has since been known as the Athearn ranch. To Mr. and Mrs. Magee were born four children, of whom two are living: Louisa A., the wife of Frank L. Meisner, of San Francisco, California; and Henry S., of Clements, California. Those who have passed away are Willie and Sophia A., the latter the wife of Frank Gaskill, who resides at the Lone Star Mill near Clements.
Mr. Magee is a member of the San Joaquin Society of California Pioneers and is also a valued representative of the Masonic fraternity at Lodi. He has been identified with the craft since 1855, having been initiated into the order at Mokelumne Hill. His political views have ever been in accord with the principles of Democracy, and he has rendered unfaltering support to the party organization. A self-made man in the truest sense of the word, he owes his advancement entirely to his own efforts, to his quick recognition and utilization of opportunity and to his strong and honorable purpose. While conducting business affairs of importance that have resulted in making him one of the prosperous citizens of central California, he has also manifested a public-spirited interest in general progress and improvement, and has been the champion of many measures that have been effective factors in promoting social, material, moral and political progress.
Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II
The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine
Return to California AHGP home page
Return to Sacramento County AHGP home page