California Genealogy and History Archives
San Bernardino County and Riverside County
MRS. SUSAN MEEKS — Chino is the home of one of the interesting pioneer women of San Bernardino County, Mrs. Susan Meeks, who has lived here sixty-three years, and has made a modest fortune and reared and provided for her children out of the fruits of strenuous labor and remarkably resolute struggle with the adversities and hardships of existence.
Mrs. Meeks was Miss Susan Bishop before her marriage and was born in Fillmore City, Utah, December 13, 1855. Her mother, Melinda (Case) Bishop, came to California a widow. The Cases were among the first white settlers in San Bernardino, her brothers, John, William and James Case, having preceded her. Mrs. Bishop had come from Salt Lake with her brother-in-law, Henry Dodson, a trader, and her intention was to make a visit in San Bernardino. She and her four children reached here June 15, 1858. She never went back to Utah, and subsequently was married to Edward Wilcox, who died as the result of injuries received from the kick of an animal. Mrs. Bishop died at the age of seventy-eight, in Orange County. Her children were Martha, Julia, Susan and Artemus; all living in California.
Susan Bishop was three and a half years of age when brought to California, and she grew up in the home of her mother, the other children being reared elsewhere. There was little opportunity for schooling under such conditions, and Miss Bishop was earning her living and more when a mere girl. At the age of fifteen she became a general houseworker. At the age of seventeen her employment involved the care of children, all the housework, milking, churning and bread-making, all for a wage of five dollars a week.
At the age of twenty-one she became the wife of John H. Meeks, who was born in Indiana in January, 1835, and was a photographer by profession. His home for a number of years was near Westminster, California, in Orange County. Mr. and Mrs. Meeks became the parents of five children: John L., born in May, 1878; Laura A., born November 12, 1879, now Mrs. J. V. Dunn, of Chino, and the mother of eight children; Charles Edward, born October 1, 1884; Fred, born December 20, 1887, who married Agnes Irving and has a son; and Florence, born March 11, 1891, wife of Ray Campbell and the mother A a daughter and son.
Mr. Meeks after his marriage continued his profession as a photographer, removing to Chino in 1893, and died in 1901. He moved to Chino when the sugar factory was being opened. He had previously taken up and proved a homestead in San Diego County. Mr. Meeks was an invalid the last ten years of his life, and in addition to looking after him Mrs. Meeks had the care and burden of her household and her family, and at her husband's death she was practically penniless and her fortune has been accumulated by her thrift and good management in the last twenty years. She has accumulated city property at Chino and at the Beach. After the death of her husband she bought her present homestead of five acres on Philadelphia Avenue and the Pipe Line. She paid eight hundred dollars for this, and has since refused five thousand dollars. It is well set in deciduous fruits. Mrs. Meeks did a great deal of nursing in Chino as a means of paying out on her property. As her children grew older they helped her in accumulating her present ample holdings. She bought real estate at different times, paying only a part of the purchase price down and carrying the remainder on interest. For thirty-six years she has been a member of the Methodist Church, a strong prohibition worker, and she has faced and solved the problems of life with true fortitude and Christian spirit.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011