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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


James Franklin Elphick

From the age of ten years to the present time Mr. Elphick has been a resident of California, and ever since early manhood he has followed ranch pursuits, his tastes inclining him to make a specialty of the raising of fruit, in which he has been successful to an unusual degree. The place which he owns and occupies comprises eighty acres of valuable land lying near Penn Grove in the county of Sonoma. For a long period he has devoted his time and attention to the cultivation of the land, specializing with four acres of fruit of the very choicest varieties. Through intelligent care in the selection of his trees and vines and through wise management in the cultivation of the orchard as well as skill in the marketing of products, he has been rewarded with considerable financial success as well as a growing reputation in horticultural circles of the county.

Genealogical lore connected with the Elphick family indicates their long residence in the old town of Hastings, England, associated so inseparably with the history of the Norman Conqueror. Thomas Elphick was born at Hastings, October 13, 1821, and received a common-school education in the city where his boyhood years were passed. An early-formed decision to seek a livelihood in America led him in 1839 to bid farewell to the friends and environment of his childhood, after which he crossed the ocean to the United States. At the time of his immigration from the old country he was scarcely eighteen years of age and it was not until some time afterward that he established domestic ties through his marriage to Sarah Estherline, who was born in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1820. His first employment in the new world was that of mining in Michigan, and later he secured work at South Bend, Ind., after which, in the spring of 1858, accompanied by his wife and children, he started across the plains for the west, bringing with him a large band of horses. The trip lasted five months and nineteen days, when the party landed at Woodland, Yolo county, Cal., with a loss of only eight out of the large drove of horses.

During the sojourn of the family in Ohio James Franklin Elphick was born February 28, 1848, and he was ten when he started for the west in a "prairie schooner," meanwhile aiding his father in the care of the horses and in the other work incident to such a tedious trip. Across the chasm of a busy half-century he recalls vividly some of the happenings of that journey, which made an indelible impression upon his mind. One of the amusing though dangerous incidents occurred in a camp one night, when a man was awakened by feeling something pulling at a toe. Hastily investigating the cause he raised the tent and found a black bear had been the intruder. Needless to say that the animal was dispatched in haste.

The other members of the parental family were Filora, Mary J., Sophronia, Amos F. and Thomas. Two children, Clarence and Herbert, were born to the union of Thomas Elphick and Anna Defreaze, while after her demise he married Elizabeth Doerson, by whom he had five children, Roy, Linn, Pearl, Blanche and Sara Jane. Filora, Mrs. George Whitley, had three children, Harry, Frank and Ora. Mary became the wife of J. W. Morris and had a family of eight children, seven of whom attained mature years, namely: William, Ralph, Edwin, Eben, Edward, Ida and Isabel. Sophronia married Thomas V. Barney, their union being childless. In 1877 James Franklin Elphick moved from Susanville to a farm in Sonoma county, where he still resides. To this place in 1880 he brought his bride, who was born at Petaluma in 1860 and bore the maiden name of Hester C. Blackburn. Five children blessed their union, Oscar, Frank, Mayze, Sidney J., and Lottie.

The father of Mrs. Elphick, Charles Blackburn, like the father of Mr. Elphick, was born in England in 1821 and came to the new world in 1839. Immediately afterward he landed in California, where he lived during his remaining years, being for a long period an honored resident of Sonoma county. The mother of Mrs. Elphick bore the maiden name of Jemima Richardson and was born in Illinois in 1825, coming to California in girlhood. There were ten children in the Blackburn family, namely: John S.; Charles, who married Laura Bennett; Allen, who married Anna Winquist and had two children, Walter and Alma; Frank M., who married Cora Williams; Mary E., who died in infancy; Martha; Mary J.; Hester C., Mrs. Elphick; Emma H., who is unmarried; and Lillie M., who married Harry Parsons and has five children; Charles, Harry A., Russell, John B. and Gladys. Mary J. Blackburn was first married to George Faith, by whom she had a son, George, and later she was united with Samuel Rudd, their union being blessed with a daughter, Dora. Ever since attaining his majority Mr. Elphick has voted with the Republican party in national elections and has been firm in his allegiance to the principles for which the party stands. The community has in him a patriotic citizen, accommodating neighbor and loyal friend, and his long and honorable identification with the county has brought his name into permanent association with the local advancement.

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