Search billions of records on


 Biographies Index  



California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


James L. Ross

The history of the Ross family is interesting to the general reader, not alone from the point of accomplishments of the father and several sons in a particular sense, but a broader and more comprehensive lesion may be learned in the steadfastness of their purpose in whatever they undertook. The father, William Ross, was a native of Tennessee, but while he was a young child his parents removed to Indiana and it was in that state that his early active life was passed. Not only did he become proficient as an agriculturist, but he also learned the gun-maker’s trade, blacksmithing and carriage-making, after which he opened a wagon shop in Harrison county, Ind., continuing there until 1849, when he followed his trade in Bonaparte, Iowa, for the following five years. In coming to California in 1855 he joined his two sons, Losson and James L., in Placerville, continuing with them there for two years, after which he located on a one-hundred acre ranch in Analy township which his sons purchased and deeded to him. This was his home until his death in 1876, at the age of seventy-two years. His wife in maidenhood was Sarah Kay. She too came of southern parents, her birth occurring in Virginia. Of the large family of eleven children born to this worthy couple, nine grew to years of maturity and eight became residents of California. However, only two of the number are now living, James L., a rancher in Sonoma county; and Jesse, a retired rancher in San Benito county.

James L. Ross was born on the old family homestead farm in Harrison county, Ind., November 22, 1830, and was therefore just twenty years of age when the gold excitement in California reached fever heat. Laying down the implements on the farm he and his brother Losson joined forces and capital and set out for California in 1850, their journey’s end finding them with just $1 to their credit. They started from Bonaparte, Iowa, April 8, 1850, and the party remained intact until they reached the Missouri river, then numbering seventy-five wagons, but after that the party scattered and there were only four wagons in the party that arrived in Placerville, September 14,. The brothers engaged in mining first at Placerville, continuing there during that fall, and the winter was passed in a cabin near Diamond springs. The following spring found them engaged in mining in Eldorado county, but in all of their efforts they were only fairly successful. Losson Ross came to Sonoma county in the spring of 1857, and in the fall of the same year James L. Ross joined him. Two years later Jesse Ross came to the vicinity of Forestville, and here the brothers jointly purchased three hundred and eight acres of land, and this has since been the home of James L. It is now fifty-three years since this property was purchased, and in the meantime wonderful changes have been brought about. Then a wilderness, it is now laden with luscious fruits, and it is a delight to the eye, as well as a valuable source of income to the owner. Over forty-four years ago he planted the ranch to apples and grapes, and today orchard and vineyard are both in splendid bearing condition.

The marriage of James L. Ross occurred December 14, 1865. In maidenhood his wife was Miss Sophronia Martin, who was born in Van Buren county, Iowa, October 17, 1839, the daughter of Samuel and Damaris (Rambo) Martin, natives respectively of Kentucky and Virginia. The wedding journey of Mr. and Mrs. Martin consisted of a journey from Virginia, where their marriage occurred, to Iowa, where they were pioneer settlers. There the death of Mrs. Martin occurred at the age of fifty-seven years. The year 1850 found Mr. Martin coming to California, where he worked in the mines for three years, after which he returned to Iowa, and a year later again set out for the west. This time, 1854, he brought his family with him and settled in Analy township, Sonoma county, on a ranch, which continued to be his home until his death at the age of eighty-one years. In the veins of this old pioneer flowed the blood of colonial ancestors, and his father, Aaron Martin, was a Revolutionary patriot. An interesting family of children was born to Mr. and Mrs. Ross. Alfred R. is living on a ranch near the homestead; he is married, and his daughter is the wife of Thomas Douglas, of Kenwood, and the mother of one child, a daughter; Laura M. became the wife of Daniel Covey, and making their home in Lake county, while their daughter, the wife of Daniel Morrison, resides in Suisun, Solano county; Lizzie R. became the wife of Isaac B. Frazier, formerly of Santa Rosa, but now a resident of Oakland; Nellie became the wife of George W. Siler, and they now make their home in Lakeport, Lake county. P. C. Coon, a son by Mrs. Ross’ first marriage, is a resident of Forestville. Mr. Ross takes great comfort in his eighteen grandchildren, renewing his own youth in their young lives, with the manifold interests and pleasures. Politically his is a Republican, but is not active in the ranks of his party, neither has he ever allied himself with any secret orders, but he is a stanch member of the Methodist Episcopal Church , as is also his wife, while his children are members of the Christian Church.

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