Contra Costa County











     A man of sterling worth, William A. Fotheringham enjoys the esteem and confidence of all who have come to know him during his residence in Contra Costa county, where he is engaged as a successful rancher.  He was born in Buffalo, N.Y., August 14, 1857, a son of Alexander D. and Mary (McDonnell) Fotheringham, descendants of Scotch ancestry.  His parents moved to Canada, where he grew to manhood and followed farming for a livelihood until 1876, when he came to California  and located near Byron, Contra Costa county, and engaged in the same occupation.  His business ability and sterling traits of character secured for him the position of superintendent of the E. DeWitt ranch, where he remained for five years.  He then went to Napa valley and served in the same capacity for the Oak Knoll ranch for a period of two years.  After spending about two years in San Francisco in the hay and grain business, he decided to travel through southern California in search of a desirable location for a permanent home.  Instead of being only on expense he spent two years of his trip in San Bernardino as superintendent of construction of the railroad there.  He then returned to Contra Costa county, which still seemed to him the most desirable place in the state.  Unlike the great majority of young men in that early day he had saved some money and proceeded to invest it in land, purchasing first two hundred acres near Byron, which he has since devoted to stock-raising and grain.  He has met with success in his work and is justly numbered among the self-made men of the county, to whom the greatest credit is due for their work in life.

     Mr. Fotheringham married Mary B. Alexander, a native of East Kilbride, near Glasgow, Scotland, and daughter of Capt. John Alexander, a seafaring man who lost his life at sea.  His wife, formerly Jean Chalmers, survived him with their one daughter, and afterward became the wife of William Gilchrist, a native of Scotland, to whom she was married in California.  Mrs. Alexander and her daughter, Mary B., came to this state in 1876 and settled in Contra Costa county.  Mr. Gilchrist, a pioneer of 1851, purchased three hundred and twenty acres of land and carried on farming and stock-raising, and set out a thirty acre orchard, consisting principally of almond trees.  He is now retired from active life and makes his home in Pacific Grove, where he built a residence.  Mr. Fotheringham lives upon his land and superintends its management as well as conducting the interests of his own property.  To Mr. and Mrs. Fotheringham have been born six children:  John Alexander, Jean McDonald, Mabel Elizabeth, Lillian A., Ellen McD. and William Byron.  Both Mr. Fotheringham and Mr. Gilchrist are members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Ancient Order of United Workmen, the former being past grand in the first-named organization and past master in the latter.






Transcribed 4-19-16  Marilyn R. Pankey.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 1142-1143. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2016  Marilyn R. Pankey.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library