Contra Costa County












JOHN S. NETHERTON.  A resident of California since 1850 and of Contra Costa county since 1857, Mr. Netherton belongs to that class of pioneers to whose sacrifices, privations and indefatigable industry the prosperity of the present may be attributed.  He is a native of Missouri and was born in Clay county, April 30, 1835, being a son of Henry and Hannah (Wall) Netherton.  At the age of fifteen years he crossed the plains in company with his father and engaged in mining in Eldorado county, whence at the expiration of a year the father returned to Missouri to spend the remainder of his life; but the son, although only fifteen, possessed the fortitude of a man and, notwithstanding the loneliness incident to being far from home and kindred, he worked steadily in the mines of Eldorado and Amador counties, meeting with a certain degree of success.  With the means thus secured, in 1857 he came to Contra Costa county and purchased a quarter section in Romero district, where he built a small house and began to cultivate the land.  On disposing of that property he settled on rented land in the Pacheco valley, where he remained two years.  He then went to Tulare county, but a year later returned to Contra Costa county.  For a time he then rented land near Lafayette, from there removing to his present homestead in Point of Timber district.  The land was secured from the government and proved up on, after which he built a house and began raising grain.  Success in a gratifying degree rewarded his efforts.  While in Tulare county he had made a specialty of raising stock, but on his present property he has been interested almost wholly in raising grain.  Wheat has been his principal product, although he raises barley to some extent.  He was among the first to raise wheat and barley in his neighborhood, and from that early day to the present time he has been loyal to the welfare of his district and county, a thorough believer in its future and a champion of the fertility of its soil.  While the land is not adapted to all crops, yet it produces heavy crops of the principal grains and by the judicious tilling of the soil an excellent income is assured to the owner.  A portion of his profits from the land have been invested in the purchase of a half section of farm land in Merced county, which he still owns.


A great affliction befell Mr. Netherton in the gradual loss of his eyesight.  For years his vision was seriously impaired and finally he became totally blind.  Every effort was made to restore sight.  The most famous oculists were consulted, but, while the treatments entailed a heavy expenditure, no relief was obtained until finally he had the good fortune to treat with Dr. A. H. Voorhies, of San Francisco, who by a successful operation restored his sight.  Since then he has been enabled to superintend his home place and assume other duties from which his blindness had previously debarred him.  In Contra Costa county, January 9, 1859, he married Miss Matilda A. Estes, a native of Missouri, her birth occurring April 4, 1839.  She has proved a most efficient helpmate, lightening his troubles and doubling his successes by her sympathetic companionship.  Of the children born to them their eldest and youngest daughters, Carrie Luella and Flora Belle, died at the age of twenty-one years.  The others are William Price, an attorney of Santa Cruz; Frethias J., deceased; Edward Wallace, in San Francisco, engaged in newspaper work; George Eldridge, of Oakland; Walter Elbridge, in Merced county; Delbert Walbridge, at home; and Elmer Elwood, the latter deceased.  Frethias J. was a teacher in the schools of Arizona for five years and served as superintendent of public instruction of that territory for some time.  He also studied law and was admitted to the bar but did not live to enter upon the practice of that profession.  He was accidentally killed at the age of thirty-two years, being kicked by a horse.  Elmer Elwood was killed in exactly the same manner while at his father’s home.  In social circles the family hold a high position, by virtue of their long residence in the community and their participation in movements for the benefit of educational, religious and civic development.  For twenty years or more Mr. Netherton has been identified with the Independent Order of Good Templars and a devoted supporter of the temperance principles for which the order stands.



[Inserted by D. Toole]


John S. Netherton


1912 Oct 25, The San Francisco Call, P18, San Francisco, California

Matilda Netherton, Estimable Pioneer, Who Died in Byron (photo included in article)

For Sixty Years Deceased Had Resided on the Homestead Where Death Occurred

[Special Dispatch to The Call]

Byron, Oct. 24 – Matilda A. Netherton, wife of John S. Netherton, a pioneer woman of California, died yesterday at her home in this place, where she had lived 60 years.  She is survived by her husband and her sons, W. P. Netherton, an attorney of Santa Cruz; E. W. Netherton, Editor of the Marin County Tocsin of San Rafael; George E. Netherton, a business man of Martinez; Walter E. Netherton, retired rancher of Newman, and Delbert W. Netherton, a rancher of Byron, and one brother, W. J. Estes, a capitalist of San Jose.  Mrs. Netherton, daughter of the late Joel and Jane Estes, was born in Ray county, Missouri, April 4, 1839.  When she was a little girl her parents crossed the plains with ox teams, arriving in Solano county, California, in August, 1850.  After one year’s residence there, the family removed to Contra Costa county, where Mrs. Netherton resided ever since.  She was married January 9, 1859, to John S. Netherton.  She had three brothers and two sisters, but there is living now only one brother, W. J. Estes of San Jose.  Mrs. Netherton, with her husband and two brothers, was active in the early history of California.  She was a member with them of the Society of California Pioneers of Santa Clara county.  She was a woman of charitable impulses and of warm friendships.  The funeral will take place from the Netherton homestead to the Byron Congregational church, and the interment will be held in Point of Timber cemetery, where her father, mother, two sons and two daughters preceded her at rest.


1914 Jun 29, The Daily Free Press, P3, Carbondale, Illinois

2 Sets of Brothers United

One Pair Had Lived in Oklahoma for a Decade, Neither Aware of the Other’s Nearness

Sulphur Springs, Ark., June 29 – Charles Netherton of this city and his brother, John S. Netherton of Oakland, Cal., met here for the first time in 64 years.  They parted in 1855, while residing in northern Missouri, when John S. Netherton, stricken with the gold craze, traveled overland to California.  [Portion about the other set of brothers not included here.]


1914 Aug 22, Santa Cruz Evening News, P8, Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruzan, in the Eighties, Travels by Auto

The Byron (Contra Costa county) Times of yesterday has the following concerning the visit there of John S. Netherton, an esteemed Santa Cruz citizen who, though in his eighties, refuses to grow old.  He visited his old friends in Arkansas recently and has just returned by automobile from the visit to Contra Costa, of which the following articles treats:  “Enthused over his trip, John S. Netherton, one of Contra Costa’s most esteemed pioneer residents, and who, with his son, George E. Netherton of Martinez, has just returned from a two months’ visit to the scenes of his childhood, was a visitor to the Times office last week.  The old gentleman, now in the eightieth year of his well-spent life, was quite enthusiastic about the country through which he passed, especially Texas.  Mr. Netherton visited the old home in Benton county, Arkansas, and spent many happy hours with his brothers and their families.  One of the brothers, now fifty-eight, he had never seen, as John S. left home when fifteen to make his way in the world.  And he has certainly made it pretty well.  Mr. Netherton’s three other brothers are, one aged sixty-four, and twins, aged seventy-two.  Mr. Netherton returned to his home at Santa Cruz, after spending the week with his son, D. W. Netherton and family, at the home ranch near Byron.”


1921 Jun 15, Santa Cruz Evening News, P1, Santa Cruz, California

John S. Netherton Called by Death

After attaining the ripe old age of eighty-six years, John S. Netherton, father of W. P. Netherton, the well known attorney and banker of this city, passed away at his home, 82 Ocean street, this morning.  While Mr. Netherton has not been in the best of health, he seemingly enjoyed life and his death occurred unexpectedly.  He was born in Arkansas, but has been living in California since he was fifteen years of age.  He was intensely patriotic and thoroughly Californian in all his ways.  Mr. Netherton, who has been living in Santa Cruz for a considerable number of years, was the father of the well known Netherton family, three of whom still survive him, and these include W. P. Netherton of this city and Walter and Edward Netherton.  The latter for many years followed journalism and job printing and at one time was a reporter on the San Francisco Chronicle.


1921 Jun 16, San Francisco Chronicle, P4, San Francisco, California

Pioneer Dies in Santa Cruz Home

John S. Netherton Drove Across Plains

The passing of another California pioneer who crossed the plains in an ox cart in the 50’s, was recorded yesterday when E. W. Netherton, chief of the sales tax division of the Internal Revenue department, received word that his father, John S. Netherton, had died in Santa Cruz.  John Netherton was 86 years old.  He left Luke county, Mo., at the age of 17 years and followed the barren, sun-beaten, trail of the pioneers across the plains, until he settled in Hangtown, now Placerville.  John Netherton took an active part in the early history of California and figured prominently in the organization of the California Pioneers.  He is survived by four sons and twenty-six grandchildren and great grandchildren.


1921 Jun 20, Santa Cruz Evening News, P20, Santa Cruz, California

W. P. Netherton Here for Father’s Funeral

W. P. Netherton, local attorney and banker, has returned from Washington, D. C., having been hurriedly called back by the death of his father, the late John S. Netherton, who died last week at his Ocean street home.  Mr. Netherton and his family will drive tomorrow to Brentwood, Contra Costa county, where funeral services will be held and interment made.  The body was shipped by C. C. Chase to Brentwood on the 1:45 train this afternoon.


1903 Jun 8, Oakland Tribune, P3, Oakland, California

Netherton – In East Oakland, June 7, 1903, Flora Belle, beloved daughter of J. S. and Matilda Netherton of Byron, Cal., and sister of William P., Edward W., George E., Walter E. and Delbert W. Netherton, a native of California, aged 20 years, 11 months and 22 days.


1911 Apr 28, Santa Cruz Sentinel, P8, Santa Cruz, California

Passing of a Good Woman

Mrs. Martha C. Wiggs of this city passed away Wednesday in Oakland at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Clarence Doane, where she has been for the past two months.  The deceased was a native of Missouri and 62 years of age.  The Wiggs came to this city from Newman in the San Joaquin valley, and for the past twenty years this lady has been living in this city on the East Side.  She was a good woman and kind mother, always engaged in work to help others.  She had made many friends who will regret to learn of her demise.  She was a member of the Methodist Church and was active in temperance work.  Her husband, W. R. Wiggs, died a few years ago, and surviving her are four daughters, Mrs. Youngs Bull and Mrs. George Lucas of Santa Cruz, Mrs. E. Alcorn of East Oakland and Mrs. Clarence Doane of Oakland, a brother, J. Estes of San Jose, and a sister, Mrs. Matilda Netherton.  She is an aunt of W. P. Netherton.  The funeral notice will be seen in another column.


1881 Apr 12, San Francisco Bulletin, P3, San Francisco, California

Netherton – In Contra Costa county, April 1, Carrie Netherton, aged 21 years.


1897 Jul 3, The Arizona Sentinel, P3, Yuma, Arizona

A Terrible Accident

Thursday afternoon word was received in town that F. J. Netherton, the principal of our school, was thrown from a horse and killed, at Mesa City, his home.  At first no one would believe the news thinking it was not true.  But when there became no doubt of the truth of the report there was a general expression of grief.  While Prof. Netherton only spent six months with us in Yuma, in that short time he endeared himself to all who became acquainted with him, and to them his sudden and violent death came in the nature of a stock.  Prof. Netherton was one of nature’s gentlemen, kind and courteous to all, an ideal school teacher and a perfect man.  The facts of the accident are about as follows:  It appears that Mr. Netherton, who has recently embarked in the butcher business, at Mesa City, with a number of men went out to gather and drive to Mesa a bunch of cattle for the shop.  While driving along several of the animals turned down a side road and Mr. Netherton, on his horse, dashed after them to bring them back.  When the cattle stopped and turned Mr. Netherton’s horse, which had been trained to such work, stopped suddenly and Mr. Netherton, not expecting it, went over its head.  He struck the ground on his forehead and face, smashing the bones of the forehead, breaking his nose and terribly lacerating both eyes.  The injured man was at once taken to town, where Dr. Draine attended him and Dr. Hughes was sent for.  But no human aid could avail and he died at 5 o’clock p.m. never having regained consciousness.


1897 Jul 3, The Arizona Sentinel, P2, Yuma, Arizona

By the sudden and tragic death of Prof. F. J. Netherton, on the 1st inst., Arizona loses a brilliant and popular young man, and an able instructor.  As Superintendent of Public Instruction he made an enviable record, and proved himself endowed with capabilities far beyond his years, and as principal of our Yuma schools, the scholar under his jurisdiction showed marked and rapid advancement.  He was in the zenith of his mental strength, and his terrible end has cast a pall over a community that are his friends and admirers to a man.


1897 Jul 9, Graham Guardian, P2, Safford, Arizona

F. J. Netherton Killed

His Skull Crushed by a Fall From a Horse

Prof. F. J. Netherton was killed at Mesa city last Thursday by a fall from a horse.  Mr. Netherton had lately bought an interest in a meat market at Mesa.  He was assisting in driving a lot of cattle from the country to the market.  The cattle turned back at the outskirts of the town and Mr. Netherton rode rapidly after them.  The horse he was riding was trained to drive cattle, so that when a cow turned suddenly the horse stopped as suddenly or swerved and the rider was thrown to the ground, striking his forehead.  The contact was so violent that the frontal bone was crushed.  The injured man was insensible for a short time, but recovered consciousness, and Dr. H. A. Hughes was summoned from Phoenex[sic].  Mr. Netherton lived only a few hours after the accident.  He was 32 years of age and unmarried.  He was born in Contra Costa county, California, where his father still resides.  He came to Arizona nine years ago and was almost immediately elected principal of the Mesa schools.  He was connected with the Gazette for a short time in 1891 and later became one of the promoters of the Mesa Free Press.  He held this position in the Mesa schools until four years ago.  Governor Hughes appointed him territorial superintendent of public instruction, which position he filled with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of the people.  He held this position until the change of the territorial administration, after that he was elected principal of the schools at Yuma, lately closing her service there.  Prof. Netherton did a great deal in the promotion of education throughout the Territory.  Wherever his services were needed in his official capacity, there he was always found.  His many friends in this county will regret to learn that a young life, with so many bright prospects before it has been so suddenly extinguished.


1897 Nov 19, Arizona Republic, P5, Phoenix, Arizona

W. P. Netherton, brother of the late F. J. Netherton of Mesa City, was unanimously re-elected grand secretary of California by the grand lodge of Good Templars, recently in session in Pasadena.  He has held the position since 1891, and is very popular throughout the state.


1897 Jan 9, San Francisco Chronicle, P14, San Francisco, California


Netherton-Netherton – In this city, January 6, by Rev. Dr. E. R. Dille, Edward W. Netherton of Santa Cruz to Alice M. Netherton of Martinez.


1899 Mar 17, Evening Sentinel, P3, Santa Cruz, California

Edward W. Netherton is the victim of lead poisoning on his hands, caused by handling type.  It is seldom one is thus affected.  The skin on the fingers are inflamed and ridgy, causing them to be stiff almost.


1909 Oct 21, Santa Cruz Evening News, P2, Santa Cruz, California

San Bruno’s New Paper

The News has received the first number of the San Bruno Banner, published at San Bruno, San Mateo county, by Edward W. Netherton and Charles Pfluger.  It is a weekly, and is of handsome typographical appearance, and full of news of interest to its community.  Mr. Netherton formerly conducted the Record of Santa Cruz, and is a journalist of ability.





Transcribed by Donna Toole.

­­­­Source: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Page 1041. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

© 2016  Donna Toole.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library