Placer County








            More than half a century has passed since John Thompson Kinkade came to California.  He has the honor of being numbered among the ‘49ers, those resolute men of determined purpose and high spirit who came here to seek a fortune and bent their energies toward the upbuilding of the commonwealth whose position in the Union is in many respects second to no state that forms the galaxy of the republic.

            He was born in Virginia in Holiday’s Cove, on the 24th of January, 1828, and is of Scotch ancestry.  During the reign of King James his ancestors suffered persecution in Scotland and were banished to the north of Scotland, whence representatives of the name came to the new world and aided in the early settlement of Virginia.  They bore their part in the upbuilding of that colony, and when the yoke of British oppression became intolerable the grandfather of our subject joined the American army, becoming a valiant soldier in the war of the Revolution.  For seven years he was at the front and was with Washington and his army of patriots during the memorable winter at Valley Forge, where they suffered hardships almost indescribable.  Mr. Kinkade held official rank, and lived to enjoy the peace of the republic, his death occurring in 1847, when he had attained the extreme age of one hundred and eleven years.  His wife was a Miss Taylor, a cousin of Zachary Taylor, and to their family of nine children John Kinkade, the father of our subject, belonged.  He was born in Virginia on the old homestead which had been in the family for generations.  In his native state he was educated and married Miss Isabella Adams, who belonged to one of the “first families” of the Old Dominion.  Her father, William Adams, also served with distinction in the Revolutionary War.  He was also the captain of a company of light dragoons in the War of 1812.  Unto Mr. and Mrs. Kinkade have been born three children.  Both the father and mother died of yellow fever, the former at the age of fifty-two and the latter at the age of forty-two.

            John Thompson Kinkade, who is the only survivor of the family, was then an infant.  His uncle, E. Kinkade, was appointed guardian of the children and had charge of the estate.  Our subject was educated in the schools of Virginia and in Bethany College, that state, but failing health forced him to put aside his textbooks and he traveled with his uncle through the western states, after which he resumed his studies in Wesleyan University, at Delaware, Ohio, where he was graduated in the class of 1844.

            Subsequently Mr. Kinkade returned to Virginia and prepared for the legal profession in Wellsburg.  In the fall of 1848 he was admitted to the bar, and the following year, with a well-armed and equipped company, he crossed the plains to California.  Their thirty wagons were drawn by oxen, while the men of the party rode horses and mules.  They had numerous fights with the Indians, but their custom on the journey was to place the wagons in a circle at night, then get under them and shoot between the spokes, thus being enabled to keep the Indians off no matter how numerous they were.  They were all young men, many of them being expert with the rifle, and the savages soon learned it was safer to let the party alone.  They were just four months in reaching Hangtown, now Placerville, for they left Missouri on the 1st day of May and on the 31st of August reached their destination.

            Like others who had come to California in search of a fortune, Mr. Kinkade turned his attention to mining and followed that business during the greater part of the time until 1869, but he was never very fortunate in his mining operations.  At time he made money and again he lost it through unfortunate speculations.  His quartz mining ventures were nearly always attended with failure, but fate had in store for him a prosperous future.  In those early days when crime of all kinds was prevalent he never engaged in gambling or others of dissipation, and was a representative of that class of worthy citizen who aided in laying the substantial foundation for the present splendid development of the commonwealth.  In 1869 he resumed the practice of his profession at Stewart’s Flat, then a prominent mining camp, and in 1870 he removed to Auburn, where he has since continued.  Although his knowledge of law is comprehensive in various departments, of late years he has confined his practice to those branches of jurisprudence which concern mining interests, land titles and probate law.  In no profession is there a greater field or one more open to talent than that of law, and in no field of endeavor is there demanded more careful preparation, a more thorough appreciation of the ethics of life, or of the underlying principles which form the basis of all human rights and privileges.  Mr. Kinkade’s success in his profession affords the best evidence of his capabilities in this line.  In no instance does he permit himself to enter the court-room without thorough preparation, and this has been a salient feature in his professional career.

            Although reared in Virginia, Mr. Kinkade became a staunch advocate of the Union when Fort Sumter was fired upon, believing that the south had no right to dispute the supremacy of the national government in Washington, and he joined the ranks of the Republican Party which stood by the Union during the thrilling hours of the Civil War; and for many years he was active in party work, making effective speeches in the campaigns and doing much more to promote its cause.  But in 1896 he found his views on financial and other questions out of harmony with the principles adopted in Minneapolis and has since then been independent in political relations.  He has long taken a deep interest in educational matters, and for six years he served his county as superintendent of schools.  His labors were untiring and very beneficial in upbuilding and improving the free-school system of this county, and the high standards of the schools today may be largely attributed to his influence and labors.

            On the 15th of May, 1853, Mr. Kinkade was united in marriage to Miss Ann Green Turner, and they became the parents of six children, but have been called upon to lay part of them away in the burying-ground of the place.  Their only surviving son is Edwin Morris, who is now in the employ of the Wells-Fargo Company.  In 1868 the wife and mother departed this life, and Mr. Kinkade remained single until October10, 1893, when he married Miss Nelly Goffney.  One child graces this union, Kenneth, who is now five years of age.  Our subject has a nice home in Auburn, where he is now enjoying the evening of a well-spent life, amid comforts that his former toils have brought to him.  His tastes and his talents are so generous that there is no subject of great human interest with which he is unacquainted or to which he has not given sympathetic aid.  Companionable, warm-hearted and open-handed, admiration of his masterful abilities is forgotten in the warmer admiration and love of the man.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 231-233. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.




Placer County Biographies

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