GEORGE WASHINGTON TOWLE

Bio-Pen Pictures

            George Washington Towle was born in the town of Newfield, Maine, November 15, 1810.  His father was Major Josiah Towle, a native of New Hampshire, and was one of the early settlers of that portion of the then Province of Maine.  He was a successful business man and represented his town in the Legislature of Massachusetts, at Boston.  He was twice married, his second wife being Miss Nancy Doe, a daughter of a prosperous farmer of Parsonfield, Maine.  George Washington was the first-born son of his mother. He received a common-school education, supplemented by a few terms in academics at Fryeburg and Effingham.  At twenty years of age he engaged in business as a merchant at Lincoln, Penobscot County, Maine, and gave his personal attention to the business until the fall of 1839.

            Owing to the disagreement of the commissioners appointed by the United States and Great Britain to locate the boundary line between Maine and New Brunswick, there was for a long time a heavily timbered tract of wild land larger than several of the States, called the disputed territory.  This land was drained by rivers flowing into the Province, and the valuable pine timber was each winter taken off by the people of the Province.  This state of facts was represented to the general government, and the necessity of the settlement of the boundary urged, but without effect. Maine finally resolved to protect her property, and in January, 1839, the Legislature passed an act instructing the State Land Agent and Sheriff of Penobscot County to raise an armed force of 300 men and take possession of the territory and arrest all persons found trespassing there.  He was asked to raise a company, and in February of that year led his company 100 or more miles into the disputed territory. 

            This act of Maine caused a great excitement in the Province, and the British troops quartered there were ordered to proceed to the disputed ground, and the governor of Maine ordered out the militia.  In the meantime the volunteers were re-inforced and moved down the Aroostook River some seventy-five miles and took a position on a hill that commanded the line as claimed by Maine and the Aroostook River.  Upon this hill they built a block-house of heavy timbers and surrounded it with palisades, and named it Fort Fairfield.  While this was in progress General Scott was sent by the general government on a mission of peace to the Province, and succeeded in preventing bloodshed.  On the arrival of the militia the volunteers were dismissed, and he returned to his business.  In the fall of 1839 he was asked to take charge of this post in a half civil and half military capacity, as assistant land agent and captain, and with some forty men he took charge of the fort.  That winter he arrested the proprietors and confiscated the teams of some half dozen large camps of trespassers, which discouraged any further attempts of the kind.  He remained there until 1841, when he resigned, and soon afterward the place was occupied by United States troops.

            He then went into business at Presque Isle as farmer, lumberman, and merchant.  In the spring of 1849 he closed his business there, moved to Bangor, and became connected with a joint-stock company that purchased and loaded a vessel, and sailed for California, November 1, 1849, as President of the company, arriving in April, 1850.  He and a few others went to the mines of the Yuba and Feather Rivers.  Owing to sickness he left mining and went into business in Marysville, as furniture manufacturer and hotel-keeper.  He left there in 1852, and for a short time engaged in the commission business and keeping a boarding and lodging house in San Francisco.  He sold out there and came to Santa Clara and purchased the land where he now lives.

            In early life he was a Democrat, and was elected by the Legislature of Maine a member of the Governor’s Council form the Seventh District, and served one term.

            In 1856 he took an active part in the organization of the Republican party in this county, and remains a Republican.

            In 1834 he was married, in Penobscot County, to Miss Hephziba Flint Watson, a native of that county and a descendant of the Flint family, prominent in that State, and a daughter of Rev. Edmond Watson, of Penobscot County.  Both are members of the Presbyterian Church.  They have two living children:  Charles B., a teacher at Vallejo, California, and George W., Jr., an attorney of San Francisco.  They lost four children:  Helen Mar, who died April 12, 1855, aged eighteen years; Julia Katie, October 20, 1857, aged twelve years; Edwin Henry, October 30, 1857, aged eighteen years; and Elisha A., November 19, 1861, aged twenty years. 

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.

Pg. 284-285

Transcribed by Kathy Sedler

Proofread by Betty Vickroy


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight