William J. Little, of San Joaquin county, is one of the few venerable and honored forty-niners of California who yet enjoy ife and its blessings in the state with which they so early cast their lot in the days of gold. Mr. Little is now verging toward the age of fourscore, with his years of strenuous activity all behind him, but so well has he enacted his part and borne his varied responsibilities that he may well take pleasure in the comforts and delights which adorn his last years. He and his pioneer wife are spending their contented and happy old age on their beautiful homestead, which has been theirs for forty years, situated six miles to the north of Stockton, on West Lane, where he owns three hundred and twenty acres, which under long years of careful cultivation has become one of the model ranches of this locality. It is devoted to general farming, stock-raising and dairying.

Born in Warren county, New Jersey, July 15, 1828, Mr. Little is a representative of one of the old and prominent families of that down east state. He was a son of William and Sarah (Ayers) Little. His father, also a native of New Jersey, was of Scotch-Irish extraction, and the original Little ancestor came to America some time previous to the Revolutionary war, settling in New Jersey. The maternal grandfather Ayers served as a soldier in the Revolution.

Reared in his native county of Warren until he was eighteen years old, in the meantime receiving the educational equipment which was to last him through life, at that age Mr. Little went west to the state of Missouri, and for several years lived in Lafayette county. In 1849, being then a vigorous young man of twenty-one, he joined an emigrant train bound for California, and after a six months' trip by the old Lawson route arrived in the Golden state. In that particular train was also Judge Buckner, since so well known in this state and now a resident of San Jose. Since the memorable year of 1849 Mr. Little has been a permanent resident of this state. For a time after his arrival he mined gold on the Yuba river. For several years, up to 1860, he resided in Santa Clara county, and since 1860 he has lived in San Joaquin county. He permanently located on his present estate in 1864, so that it has been his best loved and most familiar home for the long period of forty years.

Mr. Little is a Republican in politics, and he has always been noted for the possession of a high degree of public spirit in all matters affecting the public welfare. On December 4, 1853, Mr. Little married Miss Nancy Fine, who has been his faithful companion through all subsequent life scenes for more than half a century, they having already celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.

Mrs. Little was born in Lafayette county, Missouri, June 3, 1833, being a daughter of John and Agnes (Mitchell) Fine, her father a native of Tennessee and her mother of Kentucky. In 1853, with her parents and other members of the family, she set out across the plains from their Missouri home and in due season arrived in California, where she was married in the same year. For a time they were located in Santa Clara county, where her father was engaged in the cattle business. The next home of the Fine family was in Contra Costa county, and about 1866 they moved to San Joaquin county, locating on Calaveras river near Linden, where her parents resided many years until their deaths.

The following children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Little: Mary K., of San Joaquin county; Sarah A., wife of Samuel McClean, of San Joaquin county; Loretta, wife of Andrew Sinclair, in Calaveras county; Louisa, wife of Jesse Reynolds, of Calaveras county; Susan E., wife of Thomas Cowan, in Fresno county; henry H., in Calaveras county; Birdie, wife of James Sutherland, in Sonoma county; Martha E., wife of George Hebert, of San Joaquin county; Charles H., in San Joaquin county; and Laura R., wife of William Cowan, of Stockton.

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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