Contra Costa County











     William Balton Rogers was born in Ripley county, Ind., on a farm, June 26, 1827, and in 1837 accompanied his parents, Samuel and Catherine (Martin) Rogers, to Iowa, where he was reared on a farm.  In April 1847, he married Elisabeth Shaffer, of Van Buren county, Iowa, a native of Cadiz, Ohio.  In early youth he learned the cooper's trade, but not finding it profitable he went to farming again until April, 1852, just after the gold fever broke out in California.  April 1, 1852, in company with his brother-in-law, D.P. Smith, Mr. Rogers started from Ottumwa, Iowa, with ox teams and loose cattle for California, walking all the way across the plains and driving one of the teams.  October 10, 1852, he landed in Drytown, Amador county, Cal., having only five cents in his pocket.  He stopped in Drytown and sometimes was engaged in mining, sometimes in helping his wife at the washtub, the price for laundering white shirts being $6 per dozen, and checked shirts $3 per dozen.  In 1854 his father crossed the plains and came to Drytown.  Hearing of new mining diggings supposed to be very rich in Calaveras county, near the town of Campo Seco, they concluded to go there and open a boarding and lodging house, which they did at quite a cost.  In less than two years the diggings failed and all business houses in the camp failed, many of the miners leaving the camp owing large bills which they could not pay.

     Mr. Rogers will never forget the price which he paid for his trip to California, an experience shared by many men in early days who happened to be without the necessary funds to outfit themselves.  His adventures would seem trying and long drawn out to the boy of to-day who for comparatively a small sum and less arduous toil can reach his goal without suffering and danger of such magnitude.

     In 1856 Mr. Rogers left the mines, moving to San Ramon valley, Contra Costa county, where he rented land.  The first year he sold wheat for four and a half or five cents a pound and cleared about $1000.  Two years later he bought one hundred and twenty acres of land near Alamo, Contra Costa county, and devoted it to grain and stock, and sold the same in 1865.  He then went to San Francisco and engaged in the express business.  In 1868 his wife died, and in 1870 he married Eliza Jane Anderson, a native of New York City.  In 1877 he entered the employ of the city as a member of the police department, finally becoming sergeant of the harbor, and thus rounding out a creditable service of eight years.  In the meantime, in 1880, he had erected a hotel in the town of Walnut Creek, in which he installed his son, C. W. Rogers, as part owner and manager.  He was not successful and Mr. Rogers resigned his position and came to Walnut Creek and managed the hotel himself.  Three years later he disposed of it to his son, Walter A., the present proprietor.  At the same time he bought his present pleasant home in Walnut Creek, remodeled the house and has since kept open house, entertaining his many friends and enjoying the diversion earned by his many years of industrious application.  Mr. Rogers is prominently identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.  He is also a member of the Police Widows and Orphans' Aid Association of San Francisco.

     In Iowa Mr. Rogers married Elisabeth Shaffer, a daughter of Jacob Shaffer.  She died at the age of forty, leaving two children, Walter A. and C. W., the former of whom runs the hotel in Walnut Creek, while the latter is a resident of Martinez, having formerly been sheriff of Contra Costa county.  The second wife of Mr. Rogers was Eliza Jane Anderson, of New York City, who died in Walnut Creek at the age of sixty.  For a third wife Mr. Rogers married Jennie Crabtree, who was born in Ireland, a daughter of James McCue.





Transcribed 7-31-15 Marilyn R. Pankey.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 704-705. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2015  Marilyn R. Pankey.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library