JOSEPH POWNALL, M D.
Is a native of Hackettstown County, New Jersey, and was born on August 8, 1818. His primary education was received in that town, after which, at the age of nineteen, he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. William Rea, and in the Spring of 1841 attended a course of lectures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at New York City, followed by another course during the Summer and Fall at Pittsfield, Massachusetts; then returned and entered the Medical Department of the University of the City of New York, at its first session in the Fall and Winter of 1841-2, From which he graduated on the 9th day of March, A. D. 1842. After a visit to his home of six months, he returned to the city for a month or so, then went to Savannah, in Georgia; remained there a short time and settled in Laurens County in that State. After a six months’ residence there he moved to Micanopy, Alachua County, Florida, remaining until about July 1, 1846, when he went to New Orleans, thence to Matamoras and Monterey, in Mexico, returning to New Orleans about January 1st, 1847. He remained there until September, 1848, then moved to Keachie, De Soto Parish, Louisiana. On the 28th of March, 1849, he, in company with Capt. I. G. Messec of Gilroy, and fifty others, started for this State, taking the El Paso route, and arrived in California about the 20th of July of that year. The Doctor first settled in Mariposa, the same Fall going to Stockton, and engaging in “packing” to the mines for a short time, and then returned to Mariposa. From there he came to Big Oak Flat in this county, on March 18, 1850. In the Winter of 1850-1 he was engaged in mining at Quartz Mountain, near Sonora. About February, 1851, he went to the northern mines, where he remained till January, 1852, and returned to this county, settling in Columbia. He acquired an interest in the Tuolumne Water Company in January, 1852, and in 1856 was elected its Secretary, and is now Secretary, Treasurer and Superintendent, as well as being one of the Board of Directors. On March 10, 1857, Dr. Pownall married Mary C. Newell. Joseph B , aged 24 years, and Lucy A. H , aged 22 years, are their children.
Among the Doctor’s lively recollections is an account of an affray between white men and Indians, which took place at Big Oak Flat in very early times, and which has been previously mentioned in this work. This account is given nearly in the gentleman’s own words, he having been an eye witness.
When the Doctor was coming to the Flat from a gulch beyond, he witnessed a scene of blood, on the 5th of June, 1850, at a place called Savage’s Old Camp. A small tribe of Indians were encamped there, and on that day the Chief, Lotario, and a few chosen warriors, becoming a little more fuddled than would be considered genteel in the higher walks of life, concluded to have a row with some Americans encamped there. Words with them not being quite potent enough, bows and arrows were called into requisition, and the melee became general, and as he came from work he saw the whole tribe of warriors, squaws and pappooses, taking French leave of their heretofore quiet abode, and making tracks for parts unknown, amid an accompaniment of howls, shrieks and lamentations that would have done no discredit to a pack of hungry wolves. When coming in he saw the Chief and several others lying dead, and another badly wounded. One unfortunate American, named Rose, was so badly wounded with arrows that he died in about an hour.
“A History of Tuolumne County, California” Pub’d by B.F. Alley, 1882. Pg. 336-337.
Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton