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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



The discovery of gold was the immediate cause of the removal of the Donnelly family to the west and since then their identification with the material upbuilding of Sacramento county has been permanent and important. Three successive generations have resided at Folsom, the original Argonaut, Henry F., representing the first generation, while his children and grandchildren continue the family identification with this section of Sacramento county. All have been characterized by a patriotic devotion to the local welfare, a pride of citizenship in this great commonwealth, a personal association with important commercial affairs and a decided individual interest in mining activities. A genuine degree of success has re- warded their painstaking efforts and they have become well known in their chosen place of residence.

Not only was Henry F. Donnelly a native of Pater son, N. J., but his wife, who bore the maiden name of Katie McKernan, likewise claimed that city as the place of her birth. Upon coming to California immediately after hearing of the discovery of gold, this pioneer began to prospect and mine and he never lost his interest in such work, although later he gave his attention almost wholly to ranching in Sacramento county and at one time owned the Natoma grant. Over the broad range his large herd of cattle roamed throughout much of the year, and when the round-ups came and those ready for market were sold he usually received a neat sum to repay him for the care of the stock. He died in 1877 while yet in middle life. His widow was later married to Mr. Foster, and she now resides in Sacramento.

Peter F. Donnelly, son of Henry F., was born at Folsom, Sacramento county, October 22, 1875, and at the age of six entered the Folsom primary department of the public school. Later he studied in the grammar school, but at the age of thirteen he discontinued his studies and took up the task of self-support.

Ever since his father's death Mr. Donnelly carried on a livery and teaming business in connection with his brother, and besides owning this stable he was also proprietor of the Folsom hotel. These he conducted until 1912, since which time he has leased them. He owns other valuable property interests, and in addition to devoting considerable time to the care of these various holdings he is also serving as constable of Folsom. Prior to 1905, and since then, he has served as deputy, in all six years, during which time he made some important arrests, among them being the Natoma high-graders. At this writing he is engaged in mining, owning and working some gravel mines that hold out especially fascinating inducements. Throughout all of his life he has been identified with the Roman Catholic Church and his contributions to its maintenance and charities have been large. The Republican party has received his ballot ever since he attained his majority. His marriage took place April 8, 1901, and united him with Miss Mollie Scott, who was born in Iowa, but has spent her life principally in the west. Of this union there are three sons, Henry, James and Peter, to whom the father hopes to give every educational advantage possible and every opportunity to prepare with thoroughness for life's responsibilities. In fraternal relations he is connected with the Eagles, the U. P. E. C. and the Native Sons of the Golden West. 

History of Sacramento 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: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011