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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


William Henry Bones

A comparison between the life record of Mr. Bones and the history of his home county of Sonoma reveals many points of similarity. Each has been devoid of sensational features and thrilling episodes, but both alike have risen from small beginnings. Starting out in life to make his way with no other equipment than his two hands and a strong ambition, he has since attained a position of influence and prosperity, revealing in the slow but steady growth the possession of traits that make for the advancement of the county or an individual. Agriculture has been a leading factor in the progress of the man and the locality of his residence, but kindred pursuits have been utilized with gratifying success, notably horticulture, which is proving a source of profit to those willing to devote to it the time and care necessary to prosperity in the occupation.

Born in Harrison county, Mo., January 4, 1850, William Henry Bones is of southern ancestry. His father, William, was a native of East Tennessee, and his mother, Selina McCreary in maidenhood, came from Buncombe county, N. C., but much of their early years was passed in Missouri, where the son was sent to the local schools and trained to helpfulness at home. During the spring of 1862, when William H. was in his thirteenth year, the parents started across the plains with an expedition of home-seekers. The trip was made with wagons drawn by oxen and horses. In spite of the perils due to the depredations of Indians that continued throughout the Civil war period, they reached California in safety and settled in the Sonoma valley, where they remained one year. In 1863 the family located on the place near Sebastopol now the home of William H. The father died in November 1893, and the mother passed away at the age of eighty-four years.

Mr. Bones' advantages for an education were limited to a few terms of common school, for he was left to care for his parents and to maintain the home place, on which there were no improvements. He set about culling the wood, burning charcoal, clearing the land and experimenting with crops until he discovered those most remunerative. One of these was cherries, he claims the distinction of being the pioneer in that industry in this section. He sold the first cherries from this section to the cannery, which he found a great source of profit, when he needed it most. His ranch near Sebastopol comprises five hundred acres, of which three hundred are in woodland, while the remainder is under cultivation. Enough stock is carried to provide for the needs of the farm. A specialty is made of fruits. More than forty acres are planted to vineyard, which produces a large annual harvest of grapes, and twenty acres are in cherries, also a profitable crop. In addition to a bearing orchard of two acres, a venture which has proven very successful, the sales being much greater than was expected. In 1905 he built a large warehouse on Ellis street, Santa Rosa, which he rents, besides which he owns a residence in Santa Rosa and three houses and a store building in occidental.

It was not until 1886 that Mr. Bones established a home of his own. During that year he was united in marriage with Miss Martha Patterson, a native of California and a woman of recognized worth of character and gentleness of disposition. Seven children blessed their union, namely: Elmer E., born in 1888 and now employed on the railroad; Russell, born in 1889; Francis Leslie, 1891; Reuben Wesley, 1892; Nellie Elizabeth; Warren Anzel and Edith S. The children have been given excellent educational advantages, and are deservedly popular among the young people of their community. While voting the Democratic ticket in general elections, Mr. Bones has never displayed any partisanship of spirit, but is inclined to be independent in local elections, favoring for office such men as he deems best qualified by ability and character to represent the interests of the people. Political views he considers of small importance in local campaigns, but he recognizes their value in national affairs. As a citizen he is progressive, alive to the interests of the county and devoted to the upbuilding of the community where for so many years he has made his home.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011