California Genealogy and History Archives
|David Barton English
One of the thrifty and enterprising agriculturists of Sonoma county is David Barton English, who though a recent settler on his property near Forestville, has been a resident of the state since 1853. He was born in Platt county, Mo., April 14, 1837, but he has little or no recollection of his parents, for death robbed him of their love and guiding care when he was a small child. However, he remembers with kindly feeling his foster-parents, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Tripple, who after the death of his parents took him into their home and reared him as one of their own children.
David B. English was a youth of sixteen years when with a family by the name of Stewart he started on the overland journey to California setting out on May 8, 1853, and reaching his destination five months later. The journey was a difficult one for the young traveler, for he was compelled to walk most of the distance as well as drive one of the teams. As soon as he reached his journey’s end his fatigue was forgotten in the excitement of his mining prospects, but here, too, he was destined to reap his reward only after the hardest exertions. He undertook placer mining in Eldorado county, and as there was no water near the mine he had to carry the dirt in gunny sacks a considerable distance to the stream, where he worked it with a rocker. Notwithstanding the difficulty under which he had to labor, he continued his efforts in the mines for two years, after which he came to Sonoma county and hired out as a herder of sheep for some time.
After giving up sheep-herding Mr. English went to Napa county and was employed at farming until 1855, when he came to Sonoma county and preempted one hundred and sixty acres near Guerneville; later he took up a homestead claim of one hundred and sixty acres adjoining, and made it his home for twenty-five years. Still later for five years he occupied a ranch he owned near Guerneville; this he sold and later returned to the home place, where he lived previously, until 1909, when he came to Forestville and took possession of the home he now occupies, consisting of the home and over an acres of land in the village.
In 1866 Mr. English was united in marriage to Miss Emily Beaver, a native of Indiana, theirs being the first marriage ceremony ever performed in Guerneville. No children were born of their marriage, but they have adopted two children, Ernest G. and Susie R., who bear their name and are the recipients of all the love and affection that natural parents could bestow. Politically Mr. English is a Republican, and twice he cast his vote for Abraham Lincoln. No one could be more enthusiastic for the advancement of Sonoma county and California than is Mr. English, this being especially noticeable along educational lines, for he is a firm believer in furnishing the best possible advantages for the rising generation. For five years he had acted in the capacity of school trustee of Miram district. He contrasts the advantages which the school boy of today has with those of his own school days, when he trudged to the log schoolhouse in Platte county, Mo., and conned his lessons sitting on the puncheon seat. Not only was the housing poor, but the instruction was meager in the same proportion, the teacher, more often than not, being incompetent and unfitted for the task which he had undertaken. If there is one thing that stands out more clearly than another in the life of Mr. English, it is his uniform adherence to the Golden Rule in every transaction, whether large of small, reflecting in inner fineness of character and broad humanitarianism that places his fellow man on an equal footing with himself.
Mr. English has the distinction of building the first house on the site of what is now Guerneville in the summer of 1861, the structure being erected for R. E. Lewis, who has been dead a number of years. The following poem was written by Mr. English in 1907 and published in a newspaper in Guerneville:
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011