GEORGE W. OUSLEY
SURNAMES: POTTS, UNDERWOOD
The subject of this sketch is one of the fortunate owners of a fruit farm in the Willows of San Jose, he having eleven and three-fourths acres in that favored locality. Of this tract three acres are in apricots, three acres in pears, three acres in prunes, and one and one-half acres in peaches; the apricots and peaches are in bearing. In 1887 he had about twenty-six tons of apricots, five tons of peaches, and five tons of pears. He bought this place in 1879, paying $440 per acre, and immediately planted a portion to fruit. He has never irrigated his land, as below the first soil is a stratum of water-bearing sandy deposits.
Mr. Ousley was born in Edgar County, near Paris, Illinois, in 1831. He remembers going to Chicago with his father about 1839, at the commencement of Martin Van Buren’s presidency, with a load of wheat, which was to be sold to pay the usual taxes. This wheat was hauled about 165 miles, to Chicago, and sold for thirty-five cents a bushel, as money was a very scarce commodity in those days. Considerable corduroy road was traversed in this journey, and five yoke of oxen were required to draw the load.
Mr. Ousley left Paris March 12, 1849, for California. His health being bad, and he having heard much of the healthfulness of the “plains” and of California, he decided to make the trip in that way. His parents, Henry B. and Sarah (Potts) Ousley, had died when he was a child—his mother when he was three, and his father when he was twelve years of age. His father was a native of Kentucky, but left there in 1831, as he was opposed to slavery; his mother was also a Kentuckian, and both parents from the neighborhood of Crab Orchard Springs. Both his paternal and maternal grandfathers came from Maryland to Kentucky in the footsteps of Daniel Boone, having been soldiers in the Revolutionary War. They located land warrants at Crab Orchard, Kentucky, and were the first settlers of that place.
Mr. Ousley’s journey across the plains was made with seven companions and two teams, all arriving safely in California. The train crossed the Missouri River at St. Joseph, May 8, 1849, and arrived at the spot where Placerville is now located on the twenty-fourth of August of the same year. In the fall of 1852 Mr. Ousley located 160 acres and commenced farming in Humboldt County, near Arcata, having previously, in 1850, become interested in a schooner that ran to Humboldt County, also taking a little dip into the mining excitement at Salmon and Klamath Rivers. He left the farm in 1857 to go into the harness business in Arcata, leaving this in 1861 to go East and enter the United States’ service. On his way from New York to Illinois he was prostrated with pneumonia and compelled to return to California. In the spring of 1863, Governor Stanford commissioned Mr. Ousley Captain to enlist a company in the northern part of the State to resist the depredations of Indians who had been incited to revolt by sympathizers with the Southern Confederacy. The Captain was in active service in Indian warfare almost continuously until his honorable discharge in May, 1865.
Captain Ousley was
married May 27, 1863, to Miss Sophronia Underwood, a native of Naperville,
Illinois. Five children were born to them, three dying in early infancy, and
two—Agnes A., born April 22, 1868, and George W., born July 23, 1869—now
attending school in San Jose. Captain Ousley is a member of Phil Sheridan Post,
No. 7, G. A. R., of San Jose, and of Friendship Lodge, F. & A. M. He is also a
member of the Willows Horticultural Society, and is Republican in politics,
having voted for Fremont in 1856.
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.
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy