Contra Costa County











     At almost every stage of his career Benjamin Boorman has shown a disposition to take opportunity by the forelock, and to see a little further than his companions in the race.  His life on the coast has embraced practically all of the mining and other excitement which has attracted fortune seekers since the latter '50s, and he has engaged in mining, lumbering, stage driving, road building, and political wire pulling, with equally satisfactory results.  He has occupied his present thirteen acre tract of land in the Stege district, a mile northwest of the town, since 1869, owning also residence lots in Berkeley, Richmond, and San Francisco.  He has been a stanch and active Republican for many years, was school director for nine years, has been county and state committeeman on many occasions, and has given acceptable service as deputy assessor of Contra Costa county for the past ten years.

     Born in Chautauqua county, N.Y., March 27, 1832, Mr. Boorman comes of an old Kentish family for centuries associated with England, his parents, Benjamin and Sarah (Hosmer) Boorman, having been born in Kent, removing thence to New York City about 1820.  Two years later the father moved to Chautauqua county, the same state, and bought land under the Holland Purchase grant, and from there moved to Sherman, where he lived retired.  Comparatively few couples are permitted to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of their wedding, yet Mr. and Mrs. Boorman had that pleasure, their married life being notable for its perfect harmony.  They reared a family of four sons and four daughters and both died at Finley's Lake, the husband two years before his faithful wife.

     The youngest son and seventh child in his father's family, Benjamn Boorman was obliged to work hard in his youth, and little time was spared for education or diversion of any kind.  At the age of eighteen he left the farm to begin an apprenticeship to a harness-maker at Sherman, N.Y., and after three years moved to Kansas, arriving there in the fall of 1857.  He was one of those active in making Kansas a free state, and for two years his home was at LeRoy, on the Neosho river.  In 1859 he contracted the western mining fever and started for Pike's Peak but on the way met some discontented and disappointed experimenters of that region, and decided to profit by their experience.  Entering the employ of the government, he engaged to drive teams across the plains from Leavenworth, Kans., to Camp Floyd, but once at the camp caught the mining fever and joined a party bound for California.  Purchasing cattle and wagons, he reached Nevada in safety, but there side-tracked his plans, owing to the Comstock excitement.  After mining for a time he sold his cattle and then came to California, arriving in San Francisco October 11, 1859.   October 12, the same year, he came to his present place as agent for Dr. Tewksbury, owner of a large share of the San Pablo ranch.  In 1861 he removed to Virginia City, Nev., bought a tract of timber land from a man who was going to the Salmon river region in Oregon, and for two years occupied himself with cutting down timber and selling it at $16 a cord.  In 1863 he loaded a wagon with timber and went to the Austin gold region, disposing of his timber at $500 per thousand feet.  In March, 1864, he started for the newly opened mines in Montana, arriving in Virginia City April 18, the same year, and receiving wages for his labor in the mines amounting to $15 per day.  The same fall he traveled to the Kootenai gold fields in British Columbia, and there was one of those interested in the Gold Hill tunnel, so much talked about at that time.  In the fall of 1865 he returned to Montana, worked in the mines on Grizzly Gulch, and next spring going to Bear Gulch, where he purchased an interest in four claims, and later became sole owner of those claims.  He was successful as a miner, and during the summer of 1867 went on a prospecting tour with some miners, returning to Grizzly Gulch in the fall.  In the summer of 1868 he returned to Nevada, built a toll road from Austin to Argenta,  acting in the capacity of foreman of blasting.  This road was an extremely difficult task and required fine management.  During the winter of 1868 Mr. Boorman drove the stage for the Wells-Fargo Express Company o n the White Pine route from Elko to White Pine, handling with dexterity a six -horse team, and during six months never encountering a holdup.  In 1869 he returned to his present place and engaged in farming, and now has thirteen acres under general produce.

     In 1875 Mr. Boorman married Mrs. Ann (Cross) Wood, who was born in England.  He has found time for social diversion as well as business and political activity, and is a welcome member of McKinley Blue Lodge No. 347, F.&.A.M., of Richmond.  Through all of his experiences on the frontier he has maintained firm belief in integrity and honesty, and whatever the nature of his transactions has invariably won the confidence and esteem of his associates.  Mr. Boorman has a large fund of interesting information concerning the early days in California, Nevada, Washington, and British Columbia, for he has ever been a keen and intelligent observer and has carefully stored away his observations for future reference.




Transcribed 8-24-16  Marilyn R. Pankey.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 1272-1273. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2016  Marilyn R. Pankey.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library