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James UNDERWOOD, native of Oregon and one of the oldest and most highly respected of the Humboldt County pioneers of today.  He is himself a descendant of one of the very oldest of the early California pioneer families, his father and grandfather having cross the plains with ox teams in 1853 and thereafter making their home in California save for a few years when his father resided in Oregon.  At present James Underwood is engaged in the general merchandise business in Trinidad where he has made his home for almost 20 years and is meeting with success.  Mr Underwood was born in Clackamas County, Oregon August 3, 1867. He is the son of John and Caroline Elizabeth Wills Underwood both being settlers in California. His early youth was spent in Oregon but when he was 9 his parents returned to California locating on the old Underwood Homestead on Dow's Prairie, Humboldt County. Here young James continued his attendance at the public schools of his district on Dow's Prairie graduating from the grammar course. Later he completed a course in the Eureka Business College. In 1887 he gave up school and started out for himself.  During the vacations for several years he had worked in the woods and now he naturally turned to this familiar occupation and secured employment with the Riverside Lumber Company remaining with them for five years.  The following year he was with the Korbel Lumber Company and from there he went to work for the Vance & Hammond Company remaining in their employ 12 years and being for the entire time engaged in working in the woods.  In the spring of 1907 he gave up this line of occupation and went to Santa Cruz County where he was employed by the Humboldt Contracting Company for 18 months. It was in 1908 Mr. Underwood returned to Humboldt County and bought out the general merchandise business of W. W. Shipley at Trinidad which enterprise he is still conducting with much success.  He is owner and manager of the business and has extended and enlarged its scope since taking it over and has materially increased his trade.  The marriage of Mr. Underwood took place in Trinidad December 8, 1897 united him with Miss Martha Watkins, daughter of Warren and Rose Ann Watkins and a native of Trinidad born April 20, 1872. She bore her husband one son, Warren. Since his marriage Mr. Underwood has always made his home in Trinidad and has been closely associated with public matters of interest for many years.  In politics he is a Republican and a stanch party man and has on numerous occasions represented his party at important conventions.  He is a member of the Knights of Pythias, at Blue Lake and local lodge of the Odd Fellows.  His success in business is due to his careful and conscientious application to duty as well as to his ability, good management and industry. Both Mr. and Mrs. Underwood are descended from splendid old pioneer stock.  The mother of Mrs. Underwood, Mrs. Rose Ann Watkins is the oldest settler in Trinidad at present. She is a native of Vermont and came to Humboldt County in 1863 and has continuously resided here since.  She has witnessed many changes in the country and her tales of the early Indian troubles are full of interest having lost none of their thrills through the intervening years.  The father of Mr. Underwood was John Underwood a native of Indiana born in Parke County September 13, 1831. When he was 3 he removed with his parents to Illinois where they lived a short time, later moving to Missouri and locating near St. Joseph, Buchanan County. Here he attended public schools up to the age of 17 and for a few years after continued to live at home with his parents helping his father farm.  Later he went to New Mexico where he engaged in teaming and freighting making the trip from Ft. Leavenworth to Santa Fe during the Mexican war, 1848-1849.  Returning after a time to his home in Missouri he made the long journey across the plains to California with his parents in 1853.  They left their home May 10 and were 5 months in making the trip using ox teams all the way and arriving at Redding, California in October.  From there they went to Hayfork from which point they were obliged to complete their journey on mule back and with pack horses across the Coast range on the coast itself, finally reaching Arcata after a hard and perilous journey. The father of John Underwood and the grandfather of the present respected citizen of Trinidad was William Underwood a native of North Carolina born 1800. The mother was Matilda Colceasur (sic)* born in Kentucky in 1804. Her marriage to William Underwood took place in Indiana in 1822. William Underwood was a hatter by trade but for many years he followed the occupation of the farmer both in Illinois and Missouri as well as after coming to California. Immediately after arriving at Arcata he took up a government claim of 160 acres on Dow's Prairie where he followed farming until the time of his death, December 5, 1875.  He is remembered now by but a few of the oldest settlers, but the property is still known by his name.  His wife died December 28, 1889 on the home place which is still in the possession of the family.  Shortly after the family was established on their Dow's prairie ranch the son, John Underwood went to Gold Bluff where he secured employment and where he remained until 1859. In June of that year he moved to Oregon locating in Marion County where for a short time he engaged in farming. Later he took up a government claim in Clackamas County and again engaged in farming and stock raising. While living there he was married to Caroline Elizabeth Wills a native of Des Moines, Iowa born November 12, 1846. She was the daughter of James Wills who crossed the plains to Oregon in early days. From this union have come 7 children of which the present honored citizen of Trinidad is third born.  They are: Matilda now deceased; Milburn Gipson deceased; James Andrew; William Thomas, deceased; John Jackson of Orange County; Fred Wills, and Norman Owen both farmers at McKinleyville. John Underwood continued farming in Oregon a number of years meeting with much success.  It was in 1876 that he returned to California locating on the home place in Humboldt County as the death of his father the previous year had left the mother without protection and the farm without a manger. He has continued to reside on this ranch on Dow's Prairie since that time having charge of his mother's affairs until the time of her death. When he took over the property it consisted of the original 160 acres only partly improved; he cleared the balance and put it in shape for farming in which line he is now engaged. 40 acres of the place have been sold, leaving 120 acres at present time.  John Underwood is the only old pioneer at present residing on Dow's Prairie and many and interesting are the accounts that he is able to give of the days long gone by.  He was living here during the worst period of the Indian troubles and during one summer served actively with the troops that were out to quell the marauders. Mrs. John Underwood is also one of the early pioneers of this section.  Her father was James Thomas Wills, a native of North Carolina born June 12, 1812 and mother Elizabeth Wills a native of Virginia born May 30, 1815. They crossed the plains in 1853 to Oregon at the same time that the Underwood family was making the crossing to California. They located in Clackamas County Oregon and remained there until the time of their death. - Irvine, Leigh H. History of Humboldt County, California.  Los Angeles, Calif.: Historic Record Company, Page 667 ( * Matilda Colceasur is Matilda Jane Colglazier/Colclasure, born 1804, daughter of Jacob and Elinor Dennen Colglazier.  )

 

USELMAN, George W., farmer, and stock raiser, Armiesburg, is a son of Thomas J and Mary (JOHNSON) Uselman, early setters in this county.  George was born November8, 1836 in Parke.  His early youth was spent with his parents on the farm, employed in farming, wagon making and attending school in the pioneer log cabins, with their split log seats and greased-paper windows.  With these limited advantages, and a short time spent at Bloomingdale, he acquired a good, practical education and then engaged in teaching school.  October17, 1860 he was married to Miss Melvina, daughter of Mr. Aquilla and Eleanor (HEADLEY) PUNTENNEY, early pioneers of this county. IN August 1862, Mr. Uselman, like all patriotic young men, left the bosom of his family and enlisted in Co. B 85th Indiana Volunteer Infantry.  His first engagement with his country's foe was at Thomson's Station, TN.  Being one of the musicians he escaped being captured, although all the rest were taken prisoners.  At Franklin, TN he participated in a sharp engagement, and his next hard battle was at Resaca, GA where he was severely wounded and sent to the hospital, and finally, May 20, 1865 was honorably discharged and returned to his family and home in Wabash Township.  He at once engaged in farming and stock raising, which occupation he now follows.  He owns 250 acres of land, well improved, one and a half miles so. of Armiesburg on the old state Rd. from Terre Haute to Lafayette. His very find residence has one improvement that could be recommended to many others in Indiana. 

 

USELMAN, Thomas J., deceased was a pioneer settler in Wabash Township, and began his career as all other earlier settlers in acquiring government land. His son, George W. Uselman, lately deceased was born in Wabash Township on the home farm, November8, 1836. He was a member of Co. "B" 85th Indiana Inf.. Historical Sketch of Parke County Indiana, Page 117 -- Combined Atlas