Search billions of records on


 Biographies Index  



California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



When Illinois was still in the incipiency of its development from a frontier region to a cultured commonwealth an eastern family became identified with LaSalle county. The head of the household, Livingston Jenks, was a native of Rhode Island, but at a very early age he had migrated to Pennsylvania, where he married Miss Sallie Buffington, a native of that state. While making their home in Warren Center, Bradford county, Pa., a son, William Morgan, was born February 20, 1834. Two years later, in 1836, the family loaded their household effects in the primitive vehicles common to that period and traveled across the country to Illinois, taking up a government claim at Vermillionville, LaSalle county. The father was a man of considerable ability and not only trans- formed his claim into a productive farm, but in addition he con- ducted a small country store and also for thirty years served as justice of the peace of his township. After lives of usefulness and honor he and his wife entered upon eternal rest many years ago. Captain Jenks is a lineal descendant of Gov. Joseph Jenks of Rhode Island.

An eager desire to obtain an education characterized the youth of William M. Jenks. His own persevering efforts made possible academic advantages. Later he studied law and during 1857 was admitted to practice before the supreme court of Illinois. For a long period he engaged in general practice in Chicago and Morrison, Whiteside county, Ill., whence he removed to Pawnee Rock, Barton county, Kans., in 1876, hoping to recuperate his strength by a change of climate and by outdoor employment. During the four years of this residence in that state he gave his attention almost wholly to agricultural pursuits. Upon his return to Chicago he resumed professional work and also became associated with a brother in the real-estate business, helping him in investments that later made a fortune for the brother.

Since June of 1888 Captain Jenks has made his home in Sacramento, where he was admitted to the bar of California about a year after his arrival and since then has been a member of the State Bar Association. However, it was only for a few years that he engaged in professional activities. For some time he acted as secretary of a corporation engaged in the manufacture of grape baskets. In addition for several years he was secretary of the nursery firm of C. W. Reed & Co., and managed the papers necessary to secure in- corporation for the concern, whose largest stockholder, C. W. Reed, was his brother-in-law. As a citizen he has been progressive, de- voted to the welfare of California and intensely loyal in his allegiance to the nation. When the Civil War began he immediately offered his services to the Union and May 24, 1861, enlisted in Company G, Thirteenth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and was mustered into the service as first lieutenant. In recognition of his meritorious conduct he was commissioned captain of his company on August 10, 1863. Although he participated in all of the engagements of his regiment he was injured only once and that proved to be a mere flesh wound. In the Siege of Vicksburg he was standing by the side of a thirteen-inch mortar when it exploded and tlie concussion caused the bursting of one of his ear drums. As a result of the accident he became slightly deaf, and as a consequence he gave up his profession. At the expiration of his time he was honorably discharged, June 18, 1864, with his regiment, and he returned to his Illinois home. For thirteen years he served as chaplin of Sumner Post No. 3, G. A. R., at Sacramento, and he has long been prominent in the local work of the Grand Army of the Republic.

A few months after his return home from the war Captain Jenks established domestic ties, being united February 1, 1865, with Miss Mary E. Allison, a native of Vincent, Pa., but from early childhood a resident of Mount Carroll, Ill. She was a member of the first graduating class of Mount Carroll Seminary. For years her father, Rev. J. Y. Allison, was a minister in the Baptist denomination until his death, which occurred at Pawnee Rock, Kans., at the age of seventy-five years. The deepest bereavement in the lives of Captain and Mrs. Jenks came in the loss of seven of their eight children when they were yet young. The sole survivor, James Wallace Jenks, born in Chicago, Ill., July 23, 1882, followed in the footsteps of his father in giving his services to his country in time of need. Volunteering in the Spanish-American war, he enlisted July 27, 1900, in the United States Marine Corps at Sacramento, being assigned to the navy yard at Vallejo. Three months later he was ordered to the Philippine Islands and saw service on the Oregon and Solace and the Island of Guam. On account of an injury received while in the service he was given his honorable discharge at Vallejo, August 29, 1903, when he returned to Sacramento and became associated with his father in the nursery business under the firm title of W. M. Jenks & Son. By his marriage with Miss Mary A. Crabbe, a native daughter of Sacramento, James W. Jenks has one son, William Morgan, named in honor of his grandfather. Among the people of Sacramento Captain Jenks has an enviable reputation for character, integrity and intelligence. For years he has officiated as a deacon in the First Baptist Church of Sacramento and in other departments of the church work he also has been helpful and prominent. 

History of Sacramento 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: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011