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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Barnabas Haskell

As far as the records of the Haskell family are obtainable, it is known that its members were residents of New England for many generations, and that the father of Barnabas Haskell was a seaman engaged in the merchant trade along the coast from Hartford, Conn., to New Orleans, La., throughout the active years of his life. It was in the first-mentioned city, Hartford, Conn., that Barnabas Haskell was born, and while a youth there prepared for his future by learning the hatter’s trade, and in connection with this, also acquired a thorough knowledge of the furrier’s trade. With this equipment he went to New York City to begin life in earnest on his own account, and for a number of years was in the employ of the leading hatter in the metropolis at that time. In 1847, he removed to Boston, Mass., and was employed at his trade in that city for the following five years.

During his residence in Boston Mr. Haskell became interested in the far west and he determined to come here and see for himself whether or not the opportunities were as real as he was led to believe. He made the journey by way of Galveston, Tex., and from there came to California and settled in Sonoma county. Many of the immigrants of that period were drawn hither on account of the prospects of a sudden fortune in the mines, but while Mr. Haskell had no ambition in this direction, he saw an opportunity to benefit indirectly by the impetus which the mining enterprise had created, and it was with this idea in mind that he came to Petaluma in 1856 and opened a dry-goods and clothing establishment. This was the pioneer establishment of the kind in the country for miles around, and it is needless to say that the undertaking proved a success. He continued actively engaged in business for about twenty-two years, when, in 1878, he disposed of his business interests and lived retired thereafter until his death, which occurred in 1887. His long residence in this community had endeared into a host of friends and acquaintances, for he possessed a kindly, lovable disposition, and his death was mourned as a public loss. In his political opinions he was independent, and at the polls supported those men and measures which, in his judgment, were best able to advance the prosperity of the community.

For all that he was able to accomplish in life Mr. Haskell gave much credit to the faithful and helpful co-operation of his wife. Before her marriage she was Miss Abagail Goodwin, a native of Hartford, Conn., the daughter of Joseph Goodwin and the descendant of a substantial colonial ancestry. Two years after her husband had come to the west she joined him in Petaluma, and at once threw the weight of her influence in channels that were uplifting and ennobling. She soon became identified with the educational progress of the town, and for ten years was principal of the schools of Petaluma. For two years she was a teacher also in Miss Atkins’ Seminary, in Benicia, Cal., the pioneer seminary in the state for girls, this later becoming Mills’ Seminary at Oakland, Cal. Not only was she interested in school and church matters, but she was a sell a leader in the reform movements of the day and was one of the leading supporters of woman’s suffrage in the state. In the best sense of the word she was a Christian, having devoted her life to the uplifting of humanity, and her death in 1884, when she was about sixty years of age, was the cause of universal sorrow among the many who had fallen under her influence. For many years she had been a member of and worker in the Swedenborgian Church. The only child born of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Haskell is William B. Haskell, of whom a sketch appears elsewhere in this volume.

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