William Irelan, Jr., a mining and consulting engineer, was born on the 7th of August, 1842, in Wilmington, Deleware. His father, William Irelan, was a native of New Jersey, and was a sea captain. He came to California in January, 1850, at the time of the great emigration toward the Pacific coast and engaged in ship building. He was the inventor of hydraulics under water, demonstrating this by raising the treasure of the vessel Golden Gate, which burned and was sunk off the coast of Mexico. He saw military service in the Mexican war, and in community affairs in California in an early day he was prominent, active and influential. He married Miss Elizabeth Hancock Clark, a ntive of Pennsylvania, and like her husband she was descended from old Revolutionary stock. In the family were four sons and four daughters.
William Irelan, Jr., pursued his early education in Hyatt's Select Academy at Wilmington, Delaware, was a graduate of the Delaware Military Academy, also the Royal College and School of Mines in London, England, and the Royal College of Chemistry at Leipsic, Saxony. His excellent educational opportunities well equipped him for the important duties which have devolved upon him in his business career. His work has been of a very important character as a co-operant factor in the development of the rich mineral resources in the state, which have added so greatly to the wealth of California and to the world. In the fall of 1870 he came to California, whither his parents had removed in the meantime, and became here engaged in mining and scientific research. He also conducted a school in mining chemistry, metallurgy and kindred sciences, thus giving to his students a practical knowledge that would prepare them for labors in the mineral regions of the west. Retiring from this field of labor in 1885 he was made president of the state mining bureau, and in 1886 he resigned that position in order to accept the position of state mineralogist, in which incumbency he remained until 1893; in 1890 he was also made state engineer, filling both positions in an acceptable manner until 1893. While state mineralogist he compiled from ordinary field notes the accepted geological and mineralogical map of California and also six volumes on maps and mining in California. He resigned to take charge as manager of the California mining exhibit at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. At the same time he was made assistant general manager of the entire state exhibit and during the progress of the fair became general manager, succeeding the first incumbent in that office. After installing the exhibit and making the display of California one of the most attractive on the exposition grounds Mr. Irelan resigned and was appointed one of the commissioner of awards for the world's mining exhibit, acting in that capacity as judge of appeals.
Following the close of the exposition Mr. Irelan returned to California and again entered upon his chosen field of labor as a mining and consulting engineer, which work occupies his time and attention at the present time. Few men are better prepared for such a work. His extensive research and investigation along scientific lines, bearing upon his specialty, have thoroughly equipped him for the arduous and important duties of his chosen calling, and to-day Mr. Irelan is largely regarded as authority upon the subject of mines and metallurgy, his ability in this direction gaining him distinction throughout the entire country.
Mr. Irelan was married in Leipsic, Germany, to Miss Linna Vogel, a daughter of Col. Guido Vogel, and a grandniece of Bismark. The wedding was celebrated November 14, 1870, and has been blessed with one son, Oscar. Mrs. Irelan's people were among the founders of the University of Leipsic in the year 1550. She is descended from an ancestry honorable and distinguished. She has become known in art circles far beyond the borders of California. She has the distinction of having operated the clays of California and established the first art pottery, manufacturing the first wares of the kind west of the Ohio. She has won gold medals in exhibitions under the name of the Roblin Art Pottery and has a most extensive knowledge of pottery wares and manufacture. Her writings include a work on the use of clays and the manufacture of pottery in California, and she has been a frequent contributor to many of the leading magazines upon the subject of her specialty and is acknowledged as a pioneer in this line of industrial art in the great west. Her writings have not been confined entirely to pottery, but have covered many scientific subjects, including a paper on the World's Geological Society and the Society of Natural and Applied Sciences of Europe. As an artest in oils and water colors she has attained distinction, receiving the highest awards at the California state and other state exhibitions for her still-life paintings. She was also the first to introduce the leather plasticque or modeled leather now so much in favor in the European centers and in America. That Mrs. Irelan has an inherited taste and talent for her work in pottery lines may be imagined from a knowledge of the fact that her ancestors were the founders of the world famous Royal Meissen China Works of Saxony. The labors of Mr. and Mrs. Irelan have certainly had marked effect upon the industrial and manufacturing interests of California and they have given to the world valuable literature along the lines of their scientific research and industrial efforts. Their circle of acquaintance may perhaps be termed rather select than large, and yet in various parts of the world they have gained the warm friendship of distinguished scientists and art lovers.
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