of the Counties of
Merced, Stanislaus, Calaveras,
Tuolumne and Mariposa,
Containing a History of this Important Section of the Pacific Coast from the Earliest Period of its Occupancy to the Present Time, together with Glimpses of its Prospective Future; with full-page Portraits of some of its most Eminent Men, and Biographical Mention of many of its Pioneers, and also of Prominent Citizens of To-day.
"A people that take no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride by remote descendants." --Macaulay
THE LEWIS PUBLISHING COMPANY
JOSEPH B. L. BITTICK, one of the oldest settlers now living in Stanislaus county, and a pioneer of California, was born in Shelby county, Texas, June 29, 1828. His parents were Jonathan and Jane (Butler) Bittick, the father born in Tennessee, of Welsh ancestry, and the mother a native of Georgia. They were married in Arkansas, and went to Texas under the Austin treaty. The maternal grandfather of our subject, George Butler by name, was one of the leading men of that section of the country, having been appointed as one of the Government Commissioners to pass upon the head rights under the treaty with Mexico, and having also been a member of the Texas Senate. [Note: George Butler was not a member of the "Senate". He was a delegate to the first and second Conventions of Texas in 1832 and 1833, before there was a senate in Texas.]
Joseph B. L. Bittick was reared in Texas, and from there came to California in 1849, via Mexico, crossing the line at El Paso del Norte and the Colorado river at the junction of the Gila on August 4, at which time he saw the water running in the New River. He proceeded on up to the Indian bar, on the Tuolumne river, in the county of the same name, and first struck his pick in the ground in the search for gold on September 21, 1849. After mining there about three months, he went to Mariposa, and his mining experience thereafter was a varied one, he having taken out gold, among other places, at Coulterville, Big Oak Flat, Chinese Camp, Sonora, Summersville, etc. Like most of the miners of that early day, he had his sobriquet and will yet be remembered by many of the pioneers as "Texas Joe." In the spring of 1850 he came down toward the valley, and settled three miles below La Grange, where he put in a water wheel, and conducted a vegetable garden. In the fall of that year he sowed sixty acres of barley, and harvested a good crop in 1851, for which he received seven cents per pound on the ranch. In 1853 he sold his property there, and settled at another location two miles below, where he remained until 1857. Then he went to Tuolumne county again, taking up his abode at Summerville (sic), and there, with others, located a mine, which is now known as the Lady Washington. He sold out in 1861,
then went to Tulare county, where he was engaged in buying cattle, and lived there until 1864. That was one of the dryest (sic) seasons in the known history of California, and he lost about all his stock, only saving one milch cow and his saddle horse. He then went again to Summersville, and from there in 1866 or 1867 to Merced county. In 1870 he bought property here, and ran what is known as the Cox Ferry, between Snelling and Merced City, until 1878. He next went to Bodie, and teamed there two seasons, after which he went to Bishop Creek, Inyo county, where he remained until 1883. That year he came again to Stanislaus county. He has been a resident of the county ever since, and of his present location since 1889.
Mr. Bittick was first married, in April, 1856 to Miss Eliza Summers, a native of Missouri, and a daughter of Samuel Summers, who died in 1852 while on the road to California. Three children were born to them, viz.: Henry M., Albert C. and George. He was married to his present wife on November 5, 1889. Her maiden name was Miss Susan Turpin, and she was born in Benton county, Missouri, daughter of Aaron and Jane (Smith) Turpin, her father being a native of Kentucky and her mother of Virginia. He[r] father died in Missouri, and the mother came with her family to California in 1864, and died in this county in January, 1865. Mrs. Bittick was first married at La Grange, August 3, 1866, to William McKinney, who came to California in 1849. He mined in Tuolumne county, and afterward came to Stanislaus county, where he died December 29, 1884, leaving four children: Ansel L., Benjamin W., Ora Belle and William M.
Mr. Bittick belongs to the Modesto Society of California Pioneers. Politically, he is a Democrat, and formerly took an active interest in party matters. He is a Mexican veteran and a pensioner of the war with the southern republic. He enlisted in Shelby county, Texas, in Captain M. T. Johnson's company, Hayes's regiment; rendezvoused at Austin, and was muster into the United States service there, with Colonel Bell, afterward Governor of Texas, as Lieutenant Colonel. Our subject's company was detailed to watch the Indians on the frontier of Texas, he being stationed most of the time near Waco; was mustered out in the early fall of 1848.
The home place, conducted by Mr. Bittick, comprises 820 acres, which is devoted principally to farming. It is well improved, among the conveniences being a fine family orchard. Mr. Bittick has an unusually good memory and recalls with ease the days of early gold-hunting, having a fund of reminiscences of those times and being an extremely interesting converser.
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