Contra Costa County










DR. JAMES N. CAROTHERS. Throughout the length and breadth of Contra Costa county the name of this pioneer physician is familiar to almost every household. When he arrived in Martinez in 1852 there was but one doctor in the village, and he has been deceased many years, so that Dr. Carothers enjoys the distinction of being the oldest surviving physician in the town and county. He was born in Beaver county, Pa., September 5, 1823, and at two years of age was taken to Ohio by his parents, Andrew and Jane (Fitzsimmons) Carothers. Little of special moment occurred to mark the years of his youth. In common with the boys of his day and locality, his education depended largely upon self-culture, rather than attendance upon school, but the knowledge he acquired through reading and observation surpassed that acquired by many a graduate. From an early age the bent of his mind had been toward the medical profession, and at the age of twenty-two he took up its study with a prominent and successful physician of his town. After receiving a permit to practice he entered upon professional work in Ohio. However, the west fascinated him. Reports of its prospects and opportunities induced him to abandon all plans for remaining in the east.

Upon coming to the Pacific coast in 1852, Dr. Carothers visited different sections of California and selected Martinez as his future location. He then returned to Ohio for his family, and in 1854 for the second time landed in Contra Costa county, where he has since made his home. Few roads had been laid out. Much of the country was in the primeval condition of nature. Settlers were few, hence a physician was obliged to travel long distances and spend much time on horseback. Martinez at that time had only about six hundred inhabitants, but his practice extended to the limits of the county, and often he traveled more than seventy-five miles in one day. His services were in frequent demand to treat fever-stricken patients, for an epidemic of that disease existed on the San Joaquin river, and he was the physician for that locality.

Finding the long rides exhausting and injurious, Dr. Carothers conceived the plan of founding a town where he might make his home and be more accessible to those from whom his calls largely came. Acting on this plan, in 1861 he bought sixty acres from Don Salvador Pacheco and laid out the town of Pacheco, where he built stores, houses and his own residence. Grain was brought to Pacheco for shipment by water, which added to the importance of the town from a commercial standpoint. After having made his home there for fifteen years, he traded his property for real estate in Martinez and afterward built the cottage which is now his home. Although practically retired from professional work, he is still called upon in that capacity by the o1d families to whom he has long been physician. For about thirty-five years he served as county physician, also health officer ex-officio. An important movement to which he contributed was the establishment of the California State Medical Association, of which he is a life member. A stanch Republican in political views, his fidelity to the party and his prominence as a citizen were recognized in 1869, when he was elected to represent his district in the state legislature, and in that office, as in every relation of life, he proved himself worthy of the trust reposed in him. Fraternally he is connected with the Masons, and for many years was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, being a charter member of Pacheco Lodge at Pacheco. He held the office of past grand of Pacheco Lodge, and was its representative to the Grand Lodge of the state for several terms.

Before leaving Ohio Dr. Carothers was married October 25, 1849, to Emily F. Prince, who was born in that state, her father, David Prince, having migrated there from New England. Three daughter [sic] were born of their union, namely: Leonora, Lyda and Helen, all of whom are deceased. Leonora married Barry Baldwin, and at her death left a daughter, Lyda, who is the wife of Dr. George Clarence Thompson, the principal of the Alameda high school. The second daughter died in infancy, and the third passed away a few years after her marriage to John Reed.




Transcribed by Marie Hassard 03 July 2016.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 1241-1242. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2016 Marie Hassard.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library