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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Henry E. Lawrence

Although now in his eighty-fourth year Henry E. Lawrence is still as interested in the activities of the world at large as he was half a century ago, and he takes personal and intimate interest in affairs in Petaluma, with which he has been identified as a resident since 1875. Of English descent on the paternal side and German-French ancestry on the maternal side, Mr. Lawrence comes of a family long resident in Tennessee, and there too, in Robertson county, he was born January 17, 1828. His grandfather on the paternal side passed the greater part of his life in Tennessee, but when well advanced in years accompanied his son James to Missouri and passed away in that state when over ninety years of age. James Lawrence settled near Independence, Mo., about the year 1833, and upon the farm upon which he later settled in Cass county he passed away in 1864, when he was sixty-five years of age. Politically he was a Democrat, but was not an active worker in the party, giving his energies to the duties of the home and farm, his chief source of income being from large numbers of fine stock which he raised. He was justice of the peace for many years. His marriage united him with Miss Elizabeth Damewood, who was also a native of Tennessee, and at her death, which occurred in Missouri in 1844, she left nine children. She was the daughter of Henry Damewood, of French descent.

Next to the oldest in this large family, Henry E. Lawrence was born in 1828 and was therefore five years old when removal was made to Missouri. His educational and agricultural training was acquired in the years which followed, and it was there too that the news of the finding of gold in California reached him. He was then a young man of twenty-one years, full of activity and eager for an opportunity to put his powers to a test. He found three congenial friends who were as anxious to test the validity of these reports as himself, and as soon as arrangements could be made they began the purchase of ox-teams and wagons and such other equipment in furnishings and suppose of food as the long journey made necessary. Altogether there were thirty-three wagons in the train, known as the Pleasant Hill train, Jim Hamilton being the captain. The entire party reached their destination, Sacramento, after the usual six months of travel, and there they dispersed, many with tears in their eyes, each taking his preferred course. For a time Mr. Lawrence engaged in mining near Mount Shasta, in Shasta county, going from there to Trinity county, and in the fall of 1850 came to Sonoma county, where for one year he worked on the ranch of J. M. Hudsmith. It was during this experience that he noted the scarcity of fine cattle in the wet, and coincident with this discovery was the opportunity to form a partnership with Mark York in the importation of cattle to the west. Mr. York remained in California, while Mr. Lawrence returned to Missouri by way of Nicaragua. After securing the desired cattle he returned west, bringing them overland in 1852, and settled on a ranch near Stony Point, Sonoma county. In 1856 he again went east, making this trip also by way of Nicaragua, and in 1 857 he made the return voyage across the plains with cattle. The partnership had been dissolved in 1856, and with the cattle which he brought with him Mr. Lawrence stocked a ranch in Marin county. There he was very successful in raising stock for many years, or until 1875, when he leased his ranch of fifteen hundred acres and stock for dairying purposes and removed with his family to Petaluma. In the years that have intervened between that time and the present he has not been idle, but on the other hand has turned his energies to account in a number of directions. Besides buying and selling considerable land on his own account, he has interested himself in every public enterprise inaugurated in the community in which he settled, among them the waterworks, in which he owned stock and was a builder, and directed its affairs until 1900. He was one of the organizers and stockholders and a director of the Exchange Bank and at one time vice-president of the Tomales Bank, in Marin county. He is also deeply interested in educational affairs, and has served efficiently on the school board of Petaluma. His real-estate holdings include considerable town and country property, among which latter was a ranch of three hundred and twenty-five acres near Petaluma which he deeded to his son, J. W. Lawrence.

The first marriage of Henry e. Lawrence occurred in 1860, near Springfield, Mo., and united him with Keziah Hicklin, their marriage resulting in the birth of three children, as follows: Linnie B., the wife of T. B. Dalton, a rancher of Sunny Slope; Josiah W., a farmer near Petaluma; and Myrtle L., the wife of Lewis Winans, a grocer in Petaluma. Mrs. Keziah Lawrence passed away in 1898 and subsequently Mr. Lawrence married his present wife, who was then Mrs. Millie (Donley) Falkner. Politically Mr. Lawrence is a Democrat, but is not active in party ranks beyond casting his vote and endeavoring to put good, honorable men in office. Although advanced in years Mr. Lawrence is still active, and his interest in the welfare of his fellow-citizens is as keen as it was in the days when he first came to make his home in this community, where he has won and retained the love and esteem of all. His associations with men of affairs in the different corporations he has been interested in have been most agreeable and pleasant, and with none of them has he ever had any difficulty nor misunderstanding. It is to en of his caliber and energy that Sonoma county owes its place today as one of the first counties of the state in its agricultural and horticultural returns.

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