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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


M. V. Hooten

With the activities of earlier life restricted by the physical limitations of advancing years, Mr. Hooten has withdrawn from many of the enterprises that once occupied his attention and has reduced greatly his former extensive agricultural operations, so that at the present time he owns merely his old homestead of six acres. From time to time in other days he sold off land from the original tract and thus reduced the size of the place to its present acreage. The title of Walnut Grove, by which the farm is known, comes to it in recognition of its splendid grove of beautiful large black walnut trees, planted by the present owner very many years ago and now forming one of the best-known landmarks in the vicinity of Healdsburg.

Born in Morgan county, Mo., in the year 1838, M. V. Hooten was a son of Jesse and Elizabeth (Cook) Hooten, pioneers of 1852 in California. During the spring of the year mentioned the family packed their belongings in a wagon, and with ox-teams started across the plains in company with an expedition comprising seventy-five persons. The eventful journey lasted four months and was made memorable by an outbreak of cholera among the emigrants. Twenty-three of the number were taken ill during a period of two weeks, and all died within eight hours after their first seizure. Every sickness proved fatal and death soon ended their sufferings. The survivors, worn and exhausted, arrived in California in the early autumn, and the elder Hooten mined during the winter at Cherokee Flat, Butte county. Coming to Petaluma, Sonoma county, in 1853, he took up land near Liberty and there remained for seven years. The county was sparsely settled and Petaluma itself contained only two stores and a few houses. The tide of emigration was diverted from San Francisco to the southeast and the coast counties to the north were passed by, their settlements being insignificant and their ranches few for many years after the discovery of gold. During 1860 the Hooten family came to Healdsburg, and near here the father bought the Paxton ranch, where he remained until 1868, the year of his death.

Remaining at the home ranch M. V. Hooten aided his father until the latter’s demise, and afterward he superintended the estate until it was sold in 1879. Subsequent to that sale he bought and sold ranches near Healdsburg. A number of well-known places in this vicinity were owned by him at one time, but it was his custom, after making improvements on the land, to sell the same at a small profit and then buy unimproved property. Wheat was his specialty in the early days, and several years he sold as many as three thousand sacks in one season. In addition he engaged extensively in raising hogs and cattle, and one year he brought one thousand head of hogs to the San Francisco market. During the era of mining activity in Nevada he went to that state and worked in the mines for three years, but was not sufficiently successful to be encouraged to continue the mining industry. For some time he has made a specialty of drying peaches, pears and prunes, of which he dries more than two hundred tons per annum, and this work he finds both congenial and profitable. In the year 1854 he married Rebecca J. Marical, a native of Missouri, but from girlhood a resident of California. Politically prominent in the Democratic party, he is known to politicians throughout the entire state and has served as a delegate to almost all of the Democratic state conventions held since 1860. In many of these gatherings he bore a prominent part as a committeeman and active worker, and his counsel was often sought in the selection of candidates, as well as in the promulgation of measures for the benefit of the organization. Nor has his interest in politics lessened with declining years. On the contrary, he has maintained an intelligent knowledge of public projects and has supported with earnestness all movements for the permanent upbuilding of the party as well as the local enterprises for the county's 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