California Genealogy and History Archives
San Bernardino County and Riverside County
MRS. GEORGIE J. HOAG, widow of Isaac Newton Hoag, is a venerable and loved woman of Redlands, San Bernardino County, who has a specially high claim upon pioneer distinction in California, to which state she came in 1851 to join her widowed mother, who had come here in the preceding year, so that her experience has compassed virtually the entire period of marvelous development and progress in this state, while her husband was one of the adventurous argonauts who came to California in 1849. Mrs. Hoag was born in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the 31st of March, 1832, and is a daughter of Joseph G. and Mary Knight (Riggs) Jennings, the former of whom was born in England and the latter in the State of Maine. The father was still a young man at the time of his death, which occurred in the City of Boston, Massachusetts, and in 1850 the widowed mother came to California, she having made the voyage around Cape Horn on a sailing vessel and having become one of the earliest pioneer women of San Francisco. Mrs. Hoag acquired the major part of her youthful education in the City of Portland Maine, where she was graduated in a school for young women. In 1851 her mother sent her funds with which to defray the expense of the journey to California, the mother having come here in 1850, as previously noted. Mrs. Hoag gave the money away instead of applying it to the designated purpose, and her mother then sent an additional sum of $700 to the eastern agents of the Adams Express Company, who secured transportation and became responsible for the safe delivery of the daughter in to the mother's charge at Sacramento. Mrs. Hoag was thus "personally conducted" by Messrs. Niblo and Parvue, who were at that time leading officials of the Adams Express Company and who traveled in direct charge of the express company's shipments, including Mrs. Hoag. The journey was made by steamboat to the Isthmus of Panama, and the first stop was made at the Island of Jamaica, where Mr. Parvue took his winsome "shipment," the future Mrs. Hoag, ashore to visit the barracks and to view other points of interest. Mrs. Hoag recalls the trip across the Isthmus of Panama as one of surpassing interest. The party passed up the Chagres River in a canoe rowed by natives, the tropical forests being so dense that the trees on the river banks were at times almost within touch of the passengers on the little fleet of canoes, while vines frequently extended across the full width of the stream, from tree to tree. Birds of resplendent colors vied in attraction with the tropical foliage, and monkeys chattered their curiosity and protest as the voyage proceeded. Upon leaving the river the company found further transportation by riding mules, and all of the women in the party sat astride, wearing bloomers to add to their stately dignity. Mrs. Hoag rode an express company mule. Mr. Parvue riding in front and Mr. Niblo behind as protection to Mrs. Hoag. The trail was narrow and innumerable difficulties were faced in making progress along its course, Mrs. Hoag having her full share of incidental accidents and troubles, as may well be imagined. Upon reaching the coast the party embarked on the vessel which afforded transportation to the destination. Mr. Parvue and Mrs. Hoag always sat at the captain's table on the vessel, and Mrs. Hoag was shown every possible courtesy, as the special guest of the commander of the boat. After a delightful trip up the coast Mrs. Hoag disembarked in the port of San Francisco on the 1st of February, 1852, and her guardian on the eventful trip, Mr. Parvue, finally delivered her into her mother's charge at Sacramento, to which place the journey was made by river boat. At the home of her mother she formed the acquaintance of the man who was destined to win her hand and heart, the mother having become acquainted with Mr. Hoag some time previously. On the 19th of January, 1853, was solemnized the marriage of Isaac Newton Hoag and Miss Georgie J. Jennings, the ceremony having been performed in the City of San Francisco.
Isaac Newton Hoag was born at Macedon, Wayne County, New York, on the 3rd of March, 1822, and his early education included the discipline of Macedon Academy. He taught school in the old Empire state and after his graduation in the academy he read law, his ad- mission to the New York bar having occurred January 1, 1849. On this selfsame day he decided to join the goodly company of venturesome spirits who were making their way to the newly discovered gold fields in California. He made the trip by way of the Isthmus of Panama, and it may be consistently recorded that ninety-nine days elapsed in making the voyage from the Isthmus to San Francisco, the vessel having remained becalmed for thirty days of this period and the food supply having become so limited that passengers were reduced to a daily diet of one cracker and a pint of water. On July 4, 1849, Mr. Hoag dug his first gold, from Horse-Shoe Bar, on the American River. He was not accustomed to the hard manual labor involved in digging gold, and after meeting with measureable success in his mining operations he went to Sacramento and established himself in the mercantile business, his capital at the time having been about $1,500. In 1850 he placed in service the first ferry across the Sacramento River between Sacramento and Washington, the latter place being known as West Sacramento. This ferry enterprise proved a distinct financial success, the receipts for three months in the fall of 1850 having been $27,000. Steam power was finally brought into requisition in operating the ferry, and Mr. Hoag admitted to partnership a man named Myrick, who returned to the East and squandered large sums of the firm's money. Later a bridge was constructed across the river and the ferry encountered the opposition of the Southern Pacific Railroad, so that the business became unprofitable. About this time Mr. Hoag gained admission to the California bar. After retiring from the ferry enterprise he was for a time associated with his brother, Benjamin H. Hoag, in importing agricultural implements from the East, and he became also secretary of the California State Agricultural Society, an office which he retained ten years. As one of the leaders in the community he did all in his power to further its interests, and incidentally he acted as correspondent for various newspapers, including the Sacramento Record-Union and San Francisco papers.
He drew up and secured the passage of the law which made the. California Agricultural Society a state institution, his election to the presidency of the society having occurred in 1862. He was for four years the leading agricultural writer on the staff of the Pacific Rural Press, which was founded in 1870, and his contributions to other papers were mainly in the promotion of agricultural interests in the state. In 1881 he was elected secretary and actuary of the California State Anti-debris Association. In May, 1883, he was appointed commissioner of immigration for the Southern and Central Pacific Railroads, he having been the first to become a colonization agent in such service. In his official capacity he maintained headquarters in the City of Chicago, where the family resided about three years. In that metropolis he opened offices and displayed a large and varied assortment of California fruits and farm produce. En route to Chicago he made a visit to San Bernardino County in order to gain intimate knowledge of the value and productive resources of lands here owned by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company and which he represented. His activities brought to California a large number of most valuable settlers, and when failing health necessitated his relinquishment of his service as immigration agent he returned to California, and in 1887 purchased thirty acres of unimproved land in the vicinity of Redlands. He developed this into one of the fine orange ranches of this section, erected an attractive residence at 816 East High Avenue, Redlands, and here remained, as one of the most honored and influential pioneer citizens of the state, until his death, on the 21st of April, 1898. His original tract of land at Redlands extended from Colton Avenue to Zanja and Church and Division streets. He laid out the beautiful Sylvan boulevard, deeded his portion of the same to the city and prevailed upon other owners to do likewise. His intense interest, his enthusiasm, his high character and distinctive ability, together with his broad and varied experience, made him the ideal colonizer and builder, and his name and fame shall ever remain closely associated with the history of development and progress in California. He continued his vigorous activities until an attack of pneumonia brought his earnest and worthy life to a close. In 1861 he was elected representative of Yolo County in the State Legislature, and later he served with characteristic ability as county judge of Yolo County-. At Redlands Mr. Hoag was active in the promotion and support of many enterprises projected for the development of local interests. He assisted in securing the Chicago colony, and at one time had an interest in 1,600 acres of land belonging to the Crafts estate. He sold $70,000 worth of this in one year, and through efforts to provide irrigation for the tract he assisted largely in the early improvement of Crafton. He was one of the organizers of the Domestic Water Company and became one of its directors. At the time of his death he was the owner of twenty-five acres of bearing orchards on Lugonia Heights.
Mr. Hoag was a birthright member of the Society of Friends, ordered his life in accord with the gentle and noble teachings of this great religious organization, and he commanded at all times the unqualified respect and confidence of his fellow men, his death having been deeply felt as a general community loss and bereavement in Redlands. Mrs. Hoag still resides in the beautiful home which her husband provided at Redlands, and is one of the remarkable pioneer women of California, with secure place in the affectionate regard of all who have come within the sphere of her gracious influence. In former years she passed many days in driving about in her carriage in the furtherance of developing Redlands as a city of ideal beauty, she being a charter member of the United Workers of Public Improvement, and though now of advanced age she still retains a vital and loyal interest in all that touches the welfare of her home community and its people. Mr. and Mrs. Hoag became the parents of six children: Charles Eugene, Anna Eunica, Granville, Edna, Lizzie Mary and Newton. All of the children are now deceased except Mrs. Anna Hoag Watkins who resides in Oakland, California, and Lizzie Mary Warner, the widow of Clarence A. Warner, her home being with her widowed mother, to whom she accords the deepest filial solicitude.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011