The First
John William Guest Family
of Mariposa County - Bear Valley

John William Guest was born in England in 1829 or 1830. He migrated to the United States circa 1850 and settled in the State of Ohio, where he worked as a miner. There was an explosion in the mine where was working and, as the story has it, he was one of the fortunate men who survived the blast and as he exited the mine dazed and with his clothes burning, a young woman, Elizabeth Tracy, wrapped him in a blanket to smother the burning material and gave him assistance.

On April 10, 1853 at Athens, Ohio, John Guest and Elizabeth Tracy were married. While still in Ohio, the young couple had three sons, John William II, Thomas Matthew, and Philip Benjamin. About 1859, with their young sons, John and Elizabeth left Ohio and sailed, via the Horn of South America, to California. The family disembarked the ship somewhere in the San Joaquin Valley, probably Stockton, California.

The family settled in Bear Valley, Mariposa County, where John resumed his occupation as a miner, except this time it was for gold.

They had several more children that survived to adulthood, Lucy, Lillian, Annie and Mary. Unfortunately, Hannah and Elijah died as children. Elizabeth died in 1874, age 39, a week after giving birth to their last child, name unknown. Her dying1 request of long time family friends, Mr. and Mrs. Eli Hunt that they be a good Uncle and Aunt her's and John's young children

John William Guest II, like his father, became a gold miner. By age 16 he moved over Bear Valley mountain to the Washington mine near Quartzburg and worked there at his choosen occupation. It was at the Washington Mine where he met Mary M. Scott, the two were married in  1878.

The other sons of John and Elizabeth Guest married and remained in Bear Valley until their deaths. Both Thomas Matthew and Philip Benjamin were miners, in his declining years Thomas was Justice of the Peace. In 1881 the daughters Lucy and Annie were married in a dual wedding ceremony; Lucy to Patrick McElligott of Mariposa and Annie to Albert Gourguet of Fresno. Lillian wed John Branson in 1890; they made their home in Madera County. Mary married Frank English and they moved to Oregon.

In March of 1882, John William and Mrs. Sarah Condray, the widow of another Bear Valley pioneer John Condrey, were married.

Apparently John was not only employed as a quartz miner, but worked a mine with two partners. John along with Eli Hunt and Birmingham D. Walton, had a quartz mining claim known as the Bear Valley mine, on the Bear Valley Road on the southern extension of the Juniper mine, situated on the eastern slope of Bear Valley Mountain, about 1½ miles west of Bear Valley.

John William Guest I, as so many of the miners, including his sons, suffered from "miners consumption" or more specifically pulmonary tuberculosis. The disease eventually claimed his frail body. He died at his home on North Carolina Street, Bear Valley on November 15, 1889. He was a long time member of the Oso Lodge number 110 of Independent Order of Odd Fellows and his funeral was conducted by that Order on Noverber 16 at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. His remains were interned, presumably near his first wife Elizabeth and their children Hannah and Elijah, at the IOOF cemetery in Bear Valley.

Sarah Guest, John's second wife died in 1913.

1. According to a letter to John William Guest II informing him of his mothers death.

Submitted by Clayton John Guest, great grandson of John William Guest(1st) and Elizabeth Tracy Guest. ( )
February 2005