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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Charles Edward Fuller

The encouraging degree of success that has crowned the arduous and long-continued efforts of Mr. Fuller did not come to him at a single bound nor indeed with any rapidity, but is the result of years of strenuous exertion and intensity of industrious application. Had he been less persevering he would have succumbed to adverse fate. More than once he lost his all and was forced to start anew. This, however, was not an uncommon experience among Californian pioneers and whenever he "went broke" there were not wanting sympathetic friends whose encouragement and words of cheer helped him to begin once more with renewed energy and dauntless determination. As he looks back over the busy past and reflects upon his present prosperous condition he has every reason to rejoice that pluck and perseverance never deserted him in days of adversity, but enabled him to achieve a final and gratifying success as one of the farmers of his county.

Descended from old eastern ancestry and the son of New England parents (Chase and Philena (Kneeland) Fuller), Charles E. Fuller was born at South Boston, Mass., in 1837, and received a fair education in local schools. From 1851 to 1853 he followed the sea and made two trips to the West Indies. When still a mere lad news came to him concerning the discovery of gold in California and for the first time he began to be interested in the undeveloped west. Nor did that interest wane in the ensuing epoch of early youth. It was not the desire of his parents for him to go so far from them, but they reluctantly gave their consent to his departure and at the age of sixteen years he bade farewell to relatives and friends, embarking on a vessel bound for the Isthmus of Panama. After crossing the isthmus he came up the Pacific ocean to San Francisco. Soon after his arrival he secured work by the month in Alameda county. After two years he invested his savings in a threshing machine and during the next two years he engaged in the threshing of grain. At the expiration of that time he bought a settlers' claim to one hundred and sixty acres in what is Fruitvale, but a year later he was obliged to relinquish the property because it proved to be a part of an old grant.

Removing to Marin county early in the '60s and taking up land, Mr. Fuller engaged in ranching there for two years, after which he sold the property and came to Sonoma county. About 1870 he embarked in the saw-mill business near Occidental, but two years later he bought land near Freestone, the one hundred and thirty acres then secured forming the nucleus of his present estate. At a subsequent period he worked in Mendocino county, bur returned without means, to make a new start in Sonoma county. Here he erected a saw-mill for M. C. Meeker, and later in the year he built another mill for the same party. Then he started in the milling business for himself and from that time he has met with encouraging success. After he purchased his quarter-section of land in young manhood he married Elizabeth McKinly, who died in 1893, leaving no children. On March 5, 1895, he was united in marriage with Mrs. India M. (Overholser) Smith, who was born in Indiana. Her parents, Abraham Whitmore and Hester Ann (Cullum) Overholser, natives of Ohio, remained in Indiana for a considerable period, but when she was five yers old they crossed the plains with oxen and mules, in 1862, and settled in Sonoma county. Mrs. Fuller is descended on the paternal and maternal sides respectively from German and English ancestors. The only child of Mr. and Mrs. Fuller is Kneeland Lewis, who was born February 24, 1897, and is now a pupil in the Freestone schools.

In addition to the Walnut Hill ranch of one hundred and thirty acres, Mr. Fuller owns a fine ranch of three hundred and eighty-eight acres in the Colman valley, two and one-half miles from Occidental. Twenty acres of the home place have been planted to apple trees (Gravenstein, Spitzenberg, Wagner, Baldwin, Arkansas black, and Virginia greenings) and of this tract ten acres in full bearing bring an annual income of more than $2000. He also owns thirty acres of the old Fair grant, making his total holdings five hundred and forty-eight acres. Three years ago he started a walnut orchard that is now in fine condition. In order that he may give his entire attention to the fruit business he has sold his saw-mill property and is now in a position to profitably develop his orchards. Horticulture always has been a genial occupation to him and he is at his best when planning for his fruit, caring for the trees and endeavoring to improve the quality of fruit produced. The soil and climate seem well adapted to apple-culture and in the opinion of experts this industry will claim an ever-increasing attention from the progressive land-owners of the locality.

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