General Thomas E. Ketcham, of Stockton, and for over half a century prominent in the affairs of San Joaquin county and the state, is distinguished as being one of the few durviving veterans of the Mexican war. His military career has been especially noteworthy, for he was also in the western service throughout nearly the entire period of the rebellion, and he has been acquainted with military tactics and with army life from what we now look upon as the primitive epoch of the forties and fifties of the past century up to the twentieth century period of military development and efficiency. General Ketcham's life has been broadly varied, and hs war experiences have really been only a phase of an unusually busy career, in the course of which he has become one of the large landowners and ranchers of San Joaquin county and generally prosperous and successful in the affairs of life.

General Ketcham was born in New York city, July 3, 1821, so that he is now in the midst of the eighties of his life, a well seasoned veteran of many life campaigns. The Ketchams are of English extraction, a Ketcham forefather having fought valiantly for the cause of the Commonwealth under the great Cromwell and having later sought home and freedom in this country. General ketcham's parents were Israel and Alice (Case) Ketcham. The maternal grandfather Case was a Presbyterian clergyman in Dutchess county, New York, where he organized the first church in Pleasant Valley, near Poughkeepsie.

General Ketcham spent his youth in his native state, and his education was mainly acquired in a private quaker boarding school at a place called Nine Partners in Dutchess county, but he also attended other private schools. during the course of the Mexican war, being then a young man between twenty-five and thirty, he joined a detachment of recruits for Colonel Stevenson's regiment, whose various members have played a most conspicuous part in the history of California, and many prominent men mentioned in this work will be found to have been members of that regiment. Young Ketcham joined the regiment as a second leiutenant and was in command of the second detachment of recruits forwarded from the east. He took passage on the sailing vessel Sweden at New York, sailing on September 18, 1847, and, rounding the Horn, arrived at Monterey, California, on February 22, 1848, only a short time after the discovery of gold. A few days after his arrival he was ordered to take command of the first detachment of recruits and to relieve Thomas J. Roach. With sixteen icked men from his former command, added to the first detachment, he went south to La Paz, Lower California, where he reinforced Lieutenant Colonel H. S. Burton. Two days after his arrival at la Paz the strengthened force of Colonel Burton met the Mexicans in battle of Todos Santos and completely routed them, thus clearing all Lower California of hostile Mexicans. Mr. Ketcham remained at La Paz with his command until September 2, 1848, and then returned on the United States battleship Ohio to Monterey, where he and his men were mustered out of service on October 22, 1848.

Thus freed from military duties he went to Woods diggings, in Tuolumne county, and there engaged in gold mining and general merchandising. His partner was George A. pendleton, a first lieutenant of Company D, which also participated in the expedition into Lower California. the firm of Ketcham and Pendleton lasted from 1849 to 1853. In the latter year General Ketcham purchased a ranch of three hundred and twenty acres of land west of and near Linden, San Joaquin county, and this was the nucleus of the long-continued and prosperous business operations which have since increased that estate to nine hunded and forty acres, and he also owns another place of one hundred and twenty acres on the Linden road about four and a half miles from Stockton. General Ketcham followed active agriculture for almost half a century, only retiring from it in 1902.

During the Civil war he raised a company of eighty men, of which he became the first senior captain, and it was known as Company A, being a part of the Third California Infantry. With this company he was ordered to Fort Humboldt, California, to relieve Major Charles S. Lovell, whose command of United States regulars was sent east. Throughout the early part of the war his company remained at Fort Humboldt, and was on active duty in that section of the state in quelling the outbreaks of the Digger Indians, some six hundred and fifty of which troublesome tribe were captured or killed by General Ketcham's men. He was later transferred to Camp Hooker in Stockton for a time, and thence to Fort Churchill, Nevada, where he remained from the latter part of october, 1862, until July 4, 1863. He was then with his command in Ruby valley in Nevada, and from there was ordered to Camp douglas near Salt Lake. He was relieved at the last-name p9int in May, 1864, and during the remainder of his army career until his honorable discharge in October, 1864, he was engaged in recuriting service at Stockton, San Jose and San Francisco, as occasion demanded. Immediately on resuming life as a civilian he went to farming, and continued that, as mentioned, throughout the rest of his active life.

General Ketcham was married in October, 1852, to Miss Esther Sedgwick, who was born in Hudson county, New York, and came to California with her parents in the spring of 1852. Her father, Thomas Sedgwick, was a pioneer of San Joaquin county. Mr. and Mrs. Ketcham had three children, two of whom are living: Frank E., in San Joaquin county; and Anna A., wife of Frank S. Israel, in San Joaquin county. The daughter Alice is deceased.

General Ketcham is a member of Rawlings Post No. 23, G. A. R., at Stockton, and he ws the first post commander of Rawlings Post No. 9, which has since been reorganized as Post No. 23. Some years ago he was active in Grange matters, being a charter member and twice serving as master of Stockton Grange, P. of H. For three years he served as treasurer of the Frist Presbyterian church at Stockton. In politics he is a stanch Republican.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume I

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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