Contra Costa County











     To the men who were identified with the pioneer history of Contra Costa county and who have survived to witness its present prosperity, few names are more familiar than that of the old Red House.  In the early history of the locality it occupied a position both unique and prominent.  Being the only hotel south of Antioch in the entire county, travelers often sought its friendly hospitality.  Within its walls each night a throng of ranchers and prospective land purchasers sought rest and shelter.  When the shadows of evening began to fall travelers familiar with the country would turn their horses' heads toward Point of Timber.  The name by which the locality was known arose from its splendid grove of gigantic oak trees, numbering one hundred and forty-two at that time.  Now, however, only one of these historic oaks remains, and within the shade of its branches Mr. Chilson built the house he now occupies.  In early days he sold a number of the trees, as they stood, for $25, but later cut others down and sold for fuel, thus netting as much as $75 from a single tree; and it is a matter of interest that one of these trees cut into forty-five cords, which he sold at $6 per cord, thus realizing a handsome sum from its sale.

     Of New England descent, Mr. Chilson was born near Boston, Mass., May 29, 1830, being a son of John and Almira (Cook) Chilson.  It was the desire of his parents, as of most New Englanders, that their children should receive good educational advantages, hence he was sent to school as much as possible in his boyhood years.  On starting out to earn his own livelihood he took up farm pursuits, but soon drifted into the clearing off of timbered tracts and the sale of lumber, also the building of mills.  The lumber business and kindred interests engaged his attention until 1879, when he disposed of his property in the east and came to California, settling at once in Contra Costa county, where he purchased the Fred Wilkening ranch of one hundred and sixty acres.  By subsequent sale he has reduced the size of the place to one hundred and fourteen acres, a portion of which is in alfalfa fields, another portion in grain and a small tract in fruits and vineyard for family use.  When the founding of the village of Byron caused a hotel to be built in the new settlement, the old Red House no longer remained headquarters for travelers and was then converted into a private dwelling.

     The first marriage of Mr. Chilson united him with Catherine Thomas, and after her death he was united with Emma Chilson.  He has an only son, born of his first marriage, and bearing the name of Walter.   This son has followed in the father's footsteps and has taken up agricultural pursuits, which he follows with every promise of eventual success.  By his marriage to Etta Littlefield he has two children, Breten and Ina.  In fraternal relations Mr. Chilson is identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.  Through his long residence in the same locality and the uniform integrity of his actions he has won a large circle of friends, whose confidence he retains by his genial friendliness of disposition and fair dealings with all.





Transcribed 11-2-16  Marilyn R. Pankey.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Page 1366. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2016  Marilyn R. Pankey.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library