CAPT. JAMES C.
Pioneer Settler of La Crosse, Wisconsin
SURNAMES: DEVINNA, McCLAREN,
residing on Hicks Avenue, is the owner of one of the finest ten-acre tracts in the Willow District. The quality of soil, the neat, comfortable residence, the well-cared-for, thrifty orchard, make the property very desirable. Captain Day purchased this property in 1884, paying $10,000 for it. As large as the price looks on paper, Mr. Day has found the investment a profitable one, as he has received from it an annual income of over fifteen per cent. The orchard is planted with peach, cherry, apricot, and prune trees. Over six tons of cherries were marketed out of the crops of 1886 and 1887.
Captain Day was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, January 30, 1822, his father, of Virginian birth, bearing the same name. His mother, Margaret Devinna, was also a native of the old Keystone State. She died in 1830, but his father lived to the ripe old age of eighty years. Captain Day is a self-made man. He has been the architect of his own fortunes. Few men have led a more active life or one more filled with adventure, than was his in his early days.
He first visited the Northwest in 1842, and looked over the ground on the Upper Mississippi, where, years after, he became one of the pioneer settlers. He was at La Crosse, Wisconsin (now a city of 30,000), when not ten families were living there. The winter of 1842-43 he spent in cutting pine logs, above Black River Falls, on Black River, Wisconsin. During the years which elapsed between this time and the Mexican War, he called Rock Island his home. In one way or another, he traveled over much of the then wilderness of the Northwest, or Upper Mississippi River and vicinity, and few men have borne a more active part in the pioneer history of this vast portion of the country.
In the spring of 1847 he volunteered for the Mexican War, in the St. Louis Battalion of Infantry. He passed unscathed through the danger from Mexican bullets, and the still more deadly dangers of the Mexican climate in two summer campaigns, and was honorably discharged. In 1849 he revisited the scenes of his childhood, and in February of that year married Miss Hannah McClaren, a Pennsylvania lady. In 1855 they became pioneers of Houston County, Minnesota, locating in a valley eight miles west of La Crosse, known ever since as Day’s Valley. There they opened a farm, which they left the following year, to establish a home in La Crescent, on the Mississippi, opposite La Crosse. Here, on the banks of the grand old river, Mr. Day made his home until he came to California, in 1884.
In the organization
of public affairs in his county, district, and State, Captain Day was an active
participant. He was a member of the First Constitutional Convention of
Minnesota, which convened in 1858. He was also a member of the first State
Senate convened, besides serving his people in several local trusts, such as
County Commissioner, etc. Among the adventurers who made the rush for Pike’s
Peak, could have been found Captain Day, who spent the season of 1859 there.
The season of 1864 was also spent in the far West, as Montana was then
considered. For over twenty-five years Captain Day was interested, as part
owner, in operating the steam ferry between La Crosse and La Crescent, for many
years commanding the boat in person. The genial, courteous, kindly man was then
shown. Thousands of people, his patrons at one time or another, remember him as
a friend, as the writer of this sketch can well testify.
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. p. 422-423
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
SANTA CLARA COUNTY BIOGRAPHY PROJECT