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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


B. W. Paxton

One of the early pioneer families of California is that to which Mr. Paxton belongs and which was established on the coast by that venerable and honored pioneer, John A. Paxton, during his long and active life very prominently connected with the development of his adopted state. The Paxton family was one well and favorably known in the east, and John A. was one of the first in his neighborhood to give serious though to coming to California and availing himself of the larger opportunities of the coast, but when, in 1849, he set out on the voyage by way of Cape Horn, he was fully determined to make a success of life among the new conditions toward which his life was turned. His wife came overland to California during the same year, and in Marysville, Yuba county, their first home in the west was established. Subsequently the family removed to Sonoma county, and it was with this part of the state that the life and accomplishments of John A. Paxton reached their greatest height. In Healdsburg, where he first located, he established one of the first vineyards and wineries in the county, dating from the year 1879, and was probably more influential than any other one person in putting this industry on a firm footing in that locality. Some years later he came to Santa Rosa and made his home, and here as in previous places his interest in the activities of life were still unabated. Probably the greatest achievement credited to him along the public benefits to the young town was the establishment of the gas works.

It was while his parents, John A. and Hannah H. Paxton, were living in Marysville, Yuba county, that the birth of B. W. Paxton occurred in May, 1858. The education commenced in Marysville was continued in Healdsburg and Santa Rosa, and as a predilection for mining engineering became apparent in the later years of his student life his energies and studies were concentrated along this particular line. With the completion of his studies he accepted a position with the Manhattan Mining Company at Austin, Nev., and for some time everything seemed propitious for a successful career in his chosen line of work, but disappointment awaited him, for the failure of his eyesight made it necessary for him to resign his position. Later he was employed in his fatherís bank in Reno for a time, and still later was connected with the commission firm of George W. Meade & Co. of San Francisco. Thus far he had not recovered his health as rapidly as he had hoped to, and while in San Francisco he determined to give up work entirely and devote his time to travel for this purpose. From San Francisco he went to Guadalajara, Mexico, thence to the Isthmus of Panama, and finally to Europe, where a number of years were pleasantly and profitably passed. With renewed strength and vigor he returned to California in 1890 and assumed the management of his fatherís winery and vineyard in Healdsburg, continuing there until coming to Santa Rosa in 1899. Some time after locating here he became president of the Santa Rosa Bank, a position for which he was in every way well qualified, but ill-health once more interfered with his plans, and he was compelled to resign his position and engage in a work less confining. This he found in the care of his hop ranch interests on the Russian river near Windsor, where he has one hundred acres of rich land. Here he has thirty-six acres in hop-vines, and the same amount of land in vineyard, in addition to which he owns forty-five hundred acres in Marin county, which is leased to tenants engaged in the dairy business. Although his ambitions would take him into the active commercial and business world, fate decrees otherwise, and in following the less exhausting and probably no less congenial outdoor life that is now his he is happy in the fact that he is able to adapt himself to conditions and enjoy the many blessings of life that come to him.

In 1900 Mr. Paxton erected one of the most beautiful residences in Santa Rosa, on Mendocino avenue, surrounded by grounds that are artistically laid out and in perfect keeping with the residence and its appointments. This home is presided over by Mr. Paxtonís wife, formerly Miss Jane Marshall, a native daughter of California, to whom he was married in 1900. Two children have been born to this worthy couple, both sons, Marshall and Butz. Fraternally Mr. Paxton is a Mason of the Knight Templar degree, and he also belongs to the Elks.

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