Contra Costa County












GEORGE BEMENT.In George Bement the state of California has long recognized one of its foremost promoters of scientific agriculture and stock-raising.That his operations have been varied and extensive is evident from the fact that he is one of the founders, promoters and directors of the agricultural societies of Napa and Solano counties and the San Mateo and Santa Clara valley, the Golden Gate Agricultural Society and others which have aided the farmer in his search for knowledge regarding his calling.Mr. Bement belongs to the present as well as the past of stock-raising, for many of his premiums at state and county fairs are of recent date, more especially the gold medal received at the State Fair in 1903 and in 1904 for thoroughbred Essex hogs and Southdown sheep.At present he is confining himself to hogs and sheep, whereas in the past cattle and horses constituted the chief of his output, special mention being due his herd of Ayrshire cattle, which he exhibited at numerous fairs, and which represented the largest enterprise in the state of this particular breed.In the line of horses, the trotter, General Taylor, famous throughout the west, was a specimen of his ideals of fine horses.


Mr. Bementís knowledge of the state dates from the influx of í49, and extends through the crude mining camps, the law-defying days of San Francisco, and the first attempts at tilling the soil with unsatisfactory and dearly purchased machinery.From all the phases of life represented in the early days he has gained something, and to-day seems a typical representative of the man who has spent much of his life out of doors, and has evolved success out of as strange a medley of people and interests as any part of the world has produced.Born in Albany, N.Y., March 3, 1828, Mr. Bementís ancestors were numbered among the pioneers of New England, whither they took refuge in Enfield, Conn., after being exiled from France in 1682.His paternal grandfather, William Bement, and his maternal grandfather, Jotham Holmes, were soldiers in the Revolutionary war, the latter having been born in Connecticut, while his daughter, Caroline, the mother of George Bement, was born in Massachusetts.His grandfather Bement was a blacksmith during early life, but latterly was keeper of the jail in Great Barrington, Mass.


Jotham Holmes, when a small boy, was fishing at the foot of Horse Neck Hill when General Putnam made his famous descent at Horse Neck, Conn.He said that he did not go down the hill, but came around it so quick that the British thought he went down the stone steps.


Caleb Bement, the father of George, was born in Salisbury, Litchfield county, Conn., September 28, 1791, and during his lifetime lived in Hudson and Albany, N.Y., attaining renown as a stock-raiser and farmer.He acquired a better education than the average farmer, was a close student of the science and was ambitious of greater success than was possible within the boundaries of his farm.At the time of his death he was assistant editor of the Albany Cultivator, the Central New York Farmer and the American Agriculturist, his wide experience in fancy stock-raising and scientific farming qualifying him especially for this line of work.He was one of the founders of the New York State Agricultural Society and the American Institute of New York City, and for many years exerted a broad influence in agricultural and stock-raising circles throughout the east.


George Bement had one brother and one sister, and with them attended the common schools of Albany and afterward entered a boarding school in Lanesboro, Mass., for a few months.At the age of fourteen his school education was practically over, for it became necessary for him to assist his father on the farm.After the family removed to Albany he secured a position as shipping clerk with the Boston & Albany Railroad.During the four years with the railroad he saved as much of his earnings as possible, and in the meantime contracted the western fever, which resulted in his leaving Albany December 14, 1848, for New York, at which port he sailed, February 23, 1849, for Panama.Owing to inadequate transportation facilities from Panama at that early day, he joined a company of one hundred men who proceeded to Callao, South America, and there embarked on the whaler Massachusetts, arriving in San Francisco June 8, 1849.On this vessel was D. O. Mills, as well as several others who were destined to impress their worth upon the new country.Mr. Bementís first occupation on the coast was characteristic of the conditions into which he was ushered, and consisted in assisting in the erec- [sic] of a gambling house called the Eldorado, for which he received $10 a day.The money thus secured enabled him to get to the mines on the north fork of the American river, but after a few days of indifferent success he went to Horseshoe bar, where he met some young men from Albany, N.Y., with whom he went to work.The inclement weather and the constant change soon undermined his good health, and he went to San Francisco, where he bought an interest in a sawmill near Oakland.In April, 1850, he began to team and freight in San Francisco, and in 1858 removed to San Mateo county and bought two hundred and forty acres, the same being sold to the SpringValley Water Company in May, 1868.The same year he moved to the Napa Valley where he remained until 1878, when he returned to San Mateo county, and near Redwood City ranched and raised stock for ten years.Here began his first actual attempt to place high-grade stock on the market, and he was so successful that in 1888 he moved to a larger ranch near San Pablo.He then went to Contra Costa county and ranched for two years.He next moved to the edge of Fruitvale, where he lived until purchasing his present home of two and a half acres on Seminary avenue, later buying three and a half acres in the vicinity.His Essex hogs and Southdown sheep have been famous for years, and from them he derives a comfortable income.Recently Mr. Bement has come into an inheritance from an aunt in the east, which practically assures him of a steady income for the balance of his life.


Mr. Bementís first wife was formerly Maria Green, who was born on the English Channel, and who died in Redwood City in 1882.Of this union there were five children, of whom Mary E. is in New York City; George, Jr.; William is in Redwood City; Caleb N. is at home; and Harriett is the wife of Claude Fox.The present Mrs. Bement was born on Cape Cod, Mass., and was formerly Mrs. Sarah J. Hardy.She has a son, Frederick Alden.


Mr. Bement is a Republican in politics.In 1904 he became a member of the Society of California Pioneers.He has a pleasant home on Seminary avenue and Walnut street, and is living in comparative retirement.He is an interesting talker on topics relating to the pioneer days, and specially likes to recall how he owned and drove in the first buggy seen on the streets of San Francisco.Since then he has watched the metropolis rear its giant industries and send its tentacles of trade into the remote corners of the earth, while he himself has been accomplishing in an equally worthy direction, upbuilding and maintaining a high standard of stock-raising, one of the greatest industries of the west.


[Inserted by D. Toole]

1906 Jul 27, Oakland Tribune, P11, Oakland, California

Pioneer Resident Dies at His Home

George Bement, a resident of California in the days of í49, died this morning at his home on Seminary avenue, from a complication of physical ills.He had been ill for some months.He was surrounded by the immediate members of his family including his wife and four children.George Bement has for many years been recognized as one of the foremost scientific agriculturists of California.His operations have been very extensive.They date almost from the day of his arrival in California in 1848.In the intervening years, he has farmed in San Mateo county, in Napa valley, in Contra Costs county, and lastly near Fruitvale.His second wife survives Mr. Bement.He also leaves five children, one of whom lives in New York.Arrangements for the funeral have not yet been perfected.


Transcribed by Donna Toole.

≠≠≠≠Source: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 958-961. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

© 2016Donna Toole.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library