Plumas County

Biographies


 

John Harbison

 

is a native of Missouri, emigrated to this state in 1849, and settled on the east branch at Smith’s bar in the year 1850. For six months he kept books for the first merchants on the bar, and then engaged in mining. When the first convention was held after the organization of the county in 1854, having been a county clerk in Missouri, his friends on the river, ignoring politics, instructed their delegates for him, and he secured the nomination for that office. He had no opponent in the election, and immediately removed to the American valley to assume the duties of his office, embracing those of clerk, recorder, and auditor. His office was temporarily established in the old court-room built by H. J. Bradley, but was subsequently removed to the upper story of the Bullard building, corner of Harbison avenue and Main street. During his term he made periodical visits to his old camp on the east branch to take the declarations of would-be citizens, receiving as his fee an ounce of gold-dust for each candidate. In the fall of 1854 he was re-elected over James Lewis of Nelson creek. His first deputy was R. I. Barnett, and his second, George E. Bricket, a very accomplished officer. Harbison held the office until March, 1860, when he turned it over to his successor, J. D. Goodwin, who beat him at the election in 1859. Harbison served as deputy in this office under W. N. DeHaven, and returned to Missouri in 1863, where he now resides.

 

SOURCE:  Illustrated History of Plumas, Lassen & Sierra Counties, with California from 1513 to 1850. –
 Fariss and Smith, San Francisco,  1882. p 183-184
Transcribed by Craig Hahn, Dec. 2004

 


 

John R. Buckbee

 

Mr. Buckbee’s first labors in Plumas county were at mining at Smith’s bar on the east branch of the north fork of Feather river. On the fourth of July, 1852, John delivered the oration at the celebration. He was a man of considerable native talent, with a fair education. He came from New York, where he had studied medicine, but never practiced in California, being engaged in mining. His legal attainments were first made known to the public some time in July, 1852, when he prosecuted the man Joshua for the murder of Bacon, before a miner’s court. In the spring of 1854 he took up his residence at Quincy, and turned his attention to the law, and was admitted to practice at the first session of the district court held in Plumas county in July, 1854. In the fall of that year he was elected district attorney, and held it till the spring of 1857, when he returned to New York, married, and emigrated to Wisconsin. In 1860 he came back to Quincy and resumed the practice of law. He also associated himself with Matt Lynch in the Plumas Standard, a democratic sheet. He was a strong advocate of the right of states to secede, until the war broke out, when he became a Douglas unionist. He ran for district attorney in the fall of 1861, and was defeated by P. O. Hundley. He was elected to the office in 1863 by a fusion of the Douglas democrats and the republicans, and was re-elected in 1865. Buckbee was retained by James H. Yeates in the lawsuit about the shrievalty which occurred at this time. S. J. Clark was the republican contestant for sheriff, and Buckbee’s advocacy of Yeates got him out of favor with the old-line republicans. The county court decided in Yeates’s favor, which decision in the supreme court first sustained and then reversed. Mr. Buckbee gave his whole time to politics. He took an active part in the senatorial fight between his relative, Cole, and Sargent, in which the latter was defeated. Buckbee was elected to the assembly in 1867, defeating John D. Goodwin, the democratic candidate. The Virginia and Oroville railroad act, in which Buckbee was concerned, proved the death-blow to his political existence in Plumas. He returned to his constituents to find the people fearfully indignant, and it was apprehended by some that he would be mobbed. It was some time before the public became sufficiently tranquil to listen to Buckbee in vindicating his course. In a short time he went to San Francisco and obtained a situation in the mint. A softening of the brain finally resulted in insanity, and he was taken to the asylum in February, 1873, where he died June 29, 1873.

 

SOURCE:  Illustrated History of Plumas, Lassen & Sierra Counties, with California from 1513 to 1850. –
 Fariss and Smith, San Francisco,  1882. p 182
Transcribed by Craig Hahn, Dec. 2004

 


 

Judge Joseph E. N. Lewis

 

Judge Lewis was born in Jefferson county, Virginia, in 1826, and received his education at William and Mary’s College. He studied law with B. F. Washington, afterwards of the San Francisco Examiner, and was admitted to the bar of Virginia, but did not practice in that state. He came to California in 1849, in company with Mr. Washington, and settled in Butte county, where he continued to reside until his death. He was present and took part in the organization of Butte county. In 1851 Mr. Lewis was elected to fill the unexpired term of Adams as state senator for Butte and Shasta counties. In 1853 he was elected county judge of Butte, serving with great credit to himself and his party—the democratic. On the twenty-fourth of June, 1869, he was nominated by the democrats of the second district, which included Tehama, Butte, Plumas, and Lassen counties, for district judge, and that same evening died of heart disease. He was sitting on the front porch of Peter Freer’s residence at Oroville, talking with Mrs. Freer, when she noticed he was silent for a few moments, touched him and found that he was dead. Judge Sexton, in his article on the “Past and Present of Butte County,” speaks of him as follows: “Mr. Lewis was a large man, mentally and physically, and of high intellectual culture, of strong, positive powers of mind. He did not love study for its own sake; but when it was necessary to take hold of any question, and especially in his profession, he did not and would not give it up, though it required weeks and months of hard work, until he felt he had mastered it. He was a slow thinker, but a logical and correct one. At his death, he was justly considered one of the ablest jurists in the northern part of the state.” He was frequently called to the bar of Plumas county on important cases, and was unsurpassed as an examiner in the courtroom. He was leading counsel in the celebrated case of Plumas county versus R. C. Chambers et al., or the Oroville & Virginia railroad company.

 

SOURCE:  Illustrated History of Plumas, Lassen & Sierra Counties, with California from 1513 to 1850. –
 Fariss and Smith, San Francisco,  1882. p 181
Transcribed by Craig Hahn, Dec. 2004

 


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