1850- Santa Clara County
SURNAMES: DUCKWORTH, SMITH, GARNSEY, FINE
one of the pioneer agriculturists of Santa Clara County, established his residence on the land he still owns and occupies, in 1850. His ranch faces on the old Santa Clara and Santa Cruz stage road, adjoining the city limits of Santa Clara on the south.
Mr. Raney dates his birth in Washington County, Kentucky, April 4, 1803. He is the son of Joseph and Ruth Raney, who were pioneers in that part of Kentucky. The grandfather of the subject of this sketch, Joseph Raney, was a volunteer in the War of 1812-14. Felix Raney was reared to the age of seventeen years on a farm in his native county, the family removing at that time to Martin County, Indiana, where the parents spent the remainder of their lives, the malarial conditions of that climate doubtless hastening their death. After suffering the loss of his parents, Mr. Raney left Indiana, and settling in Washington County, Missouri, engaged in lead-mining for five years, after which time he opened a farm near the famous Iron Mountain. There he followed agricultural pursuits for many years—in fact until he removed to this State.
In 1834 he married Miss Hannah Duckworth, a native of South Carolina, where she was born in 1816. To them were born seven children, all of them claiming Washington County as their birthplace. Mr. Raney, finding that his health was failing, concluded to try the efficacy of the climate of California, of whose virtues he had heard so much. Accordingly, with his household, he left St. Joseph, Missouri, on the eighth of May, 1850. The great bereavement of his life occurred at Green River, where his wife died July 12, of the dread cholera. She was buried by the roadside, and sadly the family wended their weary way toward the land of promise, which the wife and mother was never to see.
Reaching this county late in October, Mr. Raney bought a squatter's claim, and in a rude cabin on his purchase the family wintered. Mr. Raney was obliged to undergo the common experience of those who bought land in this way—that of fighting for years claimants under Mexican grants; and, although he finally bought and obtained a patent from the United States Government of 120 acres, still it had cost him over $100 per acre.
As an illustration of the richness of the soil in this beautiful valley, our subject states that the twentieth crop from about 100 acres yielded him 250 tons of hay and 1,500 bushels of grain; but not to mislead, he adds that the crop mentioned was the best ever raised on the ranch.
True to the memory of his wife, Mr. Raney has never remarried. Of his seven children, all but one are now living. Margaret, the wife of Charles Smith, died in Solano County, in 1863. Joseph is now a resident of Los Angeles County; Ruth, wife of J. L. Garnsey, resides in the same county, as does also Mary, the wife of L. B. Fine; John makes his home in Albany, Oregon; Felix H. is a resident of Santa Barbara County; and Josiah M. is engaged in the livery business at Santa Clara, living with his family at the old homestead, with his father. Mr. Raney counts between twenty and twenty-five grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and says that but two deaths have occurred among them.
In the early
days the subject of our sketch was a Whig, but since that party has disappeared
from the political field he has been a Democrat. He has lived to witness the
most marvelous development in this county and State; and, as he has retained his
mental vigor to a remarkable degree, he possesses a vivid recollection of the
scenes, incidents, hardships, toils, and pleasures of a pioneer life in four
States: Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, and California, in all of which States he
has had much to do with the labor of subduing the wildness of the virgin soil
and creating comfortable homes thereon. From his ripe experience of eighty-six
years, and from his knowledge of the natural conditions of different parts of
the United States, he concludes that if the people of California would act
soberly (not losing their cool, sound judgment over exceptional crops and
inflated prices, nor incurring debts that in the ordinary course of events
cannot be paid), this State, with its many superior advantages, would yet become
the most prosperous country in the world.
Pen Pictures From The
Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated.
- Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.
SANTA CLARA COUNTY BIOGRAPHY PROJECT