Contra Costa County











During the early part of the '50s, when the tide of immigration flowed so strongly into the Pacific coast regions, Mr. Woolbert was among the large number who identified themselves with the new country. Although of Teutonic birth (having been born in Germany January 5, 1840), his previous life had been spent principally on a farm in Madison county, Ohio, where his father, John Woolbert, had settled during the childhood of the son. In training and education, therefore, Martin Woolbert was an American, and throughout all of his life he was a loyal and patriotic citizen. The meager educational advantages that fell to his lot enabled him to gain a knowledge of the three R's, but otherwise his education was acquired by reading and observation. In the fall of 1853 he went to Michigan and later drifted to Missouri. When Lafayette I. Fish and several others started for California in January, 1854, he accompanied the expedition, and helped to drive across the plains the five thousand sheep and large herd of cattle brought by the party, also contributed to the same a sum larger than the expenses of the trip.

November 2, 1854, Mr. Woolbert arrived in Contra Costa county. For a year afterward he worked on a large cattle ranch owned by Colonel Lathrop. During the two following years he worked for other parties. With the earnings of these three years he invested in stock and embarked in the cattle business. In those days the lands were not fenced in and stock-raisers had such a large range that they made money easily. In 1860 he leased a ranch owned by Captain Hazleton and began general farm pursuits. From there in the fall of 1863 he removed to the Bullhead ranch, comprising one hundred and twenty-seven acres, and in 1865 he purchased the property from Frank Major. Though not a valley farm, he was able to secure excellent returns for his labor by the exercise of integrity, untiring industry and good management. For many years he continued on the same place, erecting buildings that were needed, dividing and subdividing the land into fields of convenient size, tilling the soil and pursuing the even tenor of his way as a prosperous agriculturist. When his means permitted a life of greater leisure than any his former years had enjoyed, he bought a residence in Martinez and removed his family to that city, remaining there until his death, which occurred November 4, 1887. The passing of this pioneer citizen was recognized as a public loss. His high sense of honor, keen judgment and kindly disposition had won for him the confidence and esteem of his associates. Political affairs met with consideration from him, but he never mingled in such matters and maintained an independent attitude in voting. Nor was he an office-seeker, his tastes being for domestic rather than public life. To the poor and needy he was a sincere and helpful friend, and many a person in need had reason to be grateful for his timely help.

November 10, 1863, Mr. Woolbert married Bee McGuire, who was born in County Roscommon, Ireland, being a daughter of Francis and Elizabeth (O'Connor) McGuire. Carefully educated and trained for the responsibilities of life, Mr. McGuire at an early age entered into the mercantile business. About 1852 he came to the United States and settled in Connecticut, where he engaged in merchandising until 1867. Selling out during that year, he brought his family to California via the Isthmus and settled in Oakland, where he died in 1899, aged ninety-six years. Of their eight children five are living, Mrs. Woolbert being the only one of the family now living in Contra Costa county, Her brother, Frank McGuire, was for many years a popular and prominent Democratic politician of Martinez. To the union of Mr. and Mrs. Woolbert there were born the following named children: George B., formerly city marshal of Martinez; William and a twin brother, both of whom are deceased; Bernard M., who follows farm pursuits; and Mary E., who is employed as deputy county recorder. After the death of Mr. Woolbert his wife rented the farm to tenants. The location of the place on the bay afforded an excellent deep water frontage, suitable for wharfage purposes. Having such excellent facilities for commercial purposes, in 1903 the California Oil Refining Company purchased the estate for $50,000 and at this writing are engaged in the erection of a plant at a cost of $100,000; so it may be safely predicted that the old farm will become an important business point in the great state of California.





Transcribed 6-8-16 Marilyn R. Pankey.

Source: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 1203-1204. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2016 Marilyn R. Pankey.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library