Contra Costa County











     A pioneer resident of Contra Costa county, Cal., Capt. Joshua E. Durham, who is successfully engaged in the culture of grapes in the vicinity of Concord, is entitled to more than passing mention.  A Tennesseean (sic) by birth and a native of Sumner county, he was born on his father's farm about fifteen miles from Gallatin, December 6, 1829.  His paternal grandfather, John Durham, went into Sumner county, Tenn., from North Carolina, at an early date, and it was there that Buckner C., the father of Captain Durham, was born in 1796.  Both ancestors lived to the advanced age of about ninety years, the father having died in Missouri.  The mother of Captain Durham, whose maiden name was Rippy, died in Tennessee, leaving eight children, and of this family Joshua E. was the seventh, and was four years old when his mother died.  About 1836 the family moved to Arkansas and lived near Boston Mountain in the northern part of the state one year.  Some time afterward they removed to Barry county, Mo., subsequently returning to Benton county, Ark., and after residing there for eight years, they again took up their abode in Barry county, Mo.

     Joshua E. received his education in the schools of Barry county, Mo.  Remaining at home and assisting his father until March, 1850, he started for California at that time, but spent the following winter in Salt Lake valley,  where he had charge of a band of cattle for Jedediah Granby.  May 1, 1851, he continued his westward journey, arriving at Georgetown, Eldorado county, in June of the same year.  Entering the mines of that place, he followed mining until the fall of 1853, and shortly afterward engaged in running a pony express between Stockton and Hill's Ferry.  Discontinuing this business in 1859, he ran a ferry on the San Joaquin river, known as Durham's ferry, until 1868.  Selling out to advantage, he remained in that vicinity until the spring of 1870, purchasing at that time the farm in Contra Costa county upon which he still resides.  Although for a time Captain Durham carried on general farming, he eventually turned his attention exclusively to the culture of grapes, and although well advanced in years, is hale and hearty and superintends twenty-five acres of grapes.  His grape industry has been very prosperous, producing in 1903, one hundred and sixty tons from twenty acres.  In connection with his grape industry, Captain Durham has been interested in breeding and training standard bred horses, and some have been bred on his farm who have made a record on the turf.  His mare, Skipaway, made a record on the Concord track of 2:29พ, and Lulu 2:33, and many others have made notable records.  His bay filly Byway worked a mile in 2:40 at two years old.

     Captain Durham has been married twice.  In 1862, in San Francisco, he was united with Miss Jane Sherman, a native of Illinois.  Her death took place in 1874, when she was about forty years of age.  Six children blessed this union:  Burnett S.; Melvina L., wife of A.B. McKenzie, of Martinez; Fanny, deceased; Cora; Lee, of Martinez; and Aurelia, a nurse in a hospital in San Francisco.  October 10, 1877, Captain Durham married for his second wife Miss Melvina E. Strickland, also of Illinois.  One child, Herbert S., blessed this union and he is also at home. Democratic in his politics, Captain Durham can not be termed an active politician, but takes a just pride in being classed among the quiet, unassuming citizens of his community.




Transcribed 8-20-16  Marilyn R. Pankey.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Page 1260. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2016  Marilyn R. Pankey.







Contra Costa County Biographies

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