Placer County










            A highly esteemed and exceptionally interesting pioneer, now in comfortable retirement, is John Holt, of 118 Pleasant Street, Roseville.  A native of England, he was born at Bury, about nine miles northeast of Manchester, on August 19, 1839, a son of Samuel and Rachel Holt, and his early life was passed in his native country.  There the mother died, and later the father remarried.  There were seven children in the family:  Alice, William, Ann, Henry, John—the only one now living—Jane, and Rachel.  The father was a dairyman in England, and there our subject learned that business thoroughly.  William was the first to come out to California, making his way here in 1853; and then the elder Holt and John and Henry followed together in 1858, and Alice came in 1860.  The other girls came still later, about 1870.

            In 1858 when he was nineteen years of age, John Holt crossed the ocean and the continent, and arrived in San Francisco on December 15 of that year.  Like so many others, he went into the gold mines at Michigan Bluff; and he worked at hydraulic mining, continuing in that industrial field until 1864, when he decided to engage in the cattle business.  Coming then to the vicinity of Orangevale, he took up stockraising, accompanied by his two brothers, William and Henry Holt.  The family became well acquainted with Leland Stanford, who had a store at Michigan Bluff, and who induced them to come into the Sacramento Valley; as a result, they settled on a farm of 320 acres east of Orangevale and ran stock on the San Juan Grant.  Mr. Grant also made railroad ties, out of tamarack and pine timber growing near the Cascade Bridges at Camps No. 41 and No. 42, on the South Yuba River, six miles below the Summit, for the building of the Central Pacific Railway, then being constructed; so that farming, hauling, tie-marking, and stockraising constituted his main work.  Mr. Holt rode the range over this entire country at the time the Central Pacific Railway was being built, being at that time extensively interested in the stock business buying, selling, and shipping livestock, with Roseville as his headquarters.  He is therefore one of the oldest, if not the oldest, among the early settlers and businessmen here.  He owned large tracts of land in Placer and Sacramento Counties, and had a large warehouse at Roseville, where he stored hay and grain.  He was one of the first livestock shippers, and was very successful in his operations, becoming known far and near as one of California’s leading drovers.  In 1895 he became possessed of over 200 acres at Roseville.  This he sold to parties who subdivided into city lots; and it is now nicely built up.  He has built his own commodious residence at 118 Pleasant Street, in Roseville, and enjoys the distinction of being one of the city’s oldest and most highly honored pioneer citizens.

            Mr. Holt was first married at Sacramento to Mrs. Lucy Jane Richards, a widow who had two children by her first marriage.  He was married to second time at Sacramento on December 15, 1898, to Mrs. Elizabeth Blunkell, nee Miss Elizabeth Le Maistre, born on the Isle of Jersey, one of the English Channel Islands, a gifted lady of French descent, her father, Thomas, and mother, Annie Emily, being both of French blood.  Mrs. Holt was married the first time in London to James Blunkell, a jeweler by trade, and came with him to America for his health.  They settled at Pittsburgh, and there he died.  They had two children, named John and James, both of whom died in childhood.  After Mr. Blunkell’s death, his widow came to California and settled in Sacramento, where she lived with her brother, George Le Maistre, who died at Roseville, September 3, 1923. 

            Bright and active in mind and body, and blessed with a charming, devoted wife, Mr. Holt now looks back on the years that are past, comforted with the thought that his somewhat strenuous life has been fruitful indeed, in that it has contributed definitely toward the permanent development of the country of his adoption.





Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “History of Placer & Nevada Counties, California”, by W. B. Lardner & M. J. Brock. Page 463. Historic Record Co., Los Angeles 1924.

© 2013  V. Gerald Iaquinta.




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