Bio- Sawyers

. — A highly-esteemed woman who is particularly interesting as a successful manager of large affairs, is Mrs. Melinda C. Plank, who was born in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico, on October 12, 1847, the daughter of Charles Rich Conant, a native of Pittsford, Va., where he was born on December 5, 1807 a lineal descendant of the celebrated Roger Conant, the founder of Salem. Mass., and the first governor of that colony, continuing in office three years as stated in the Conant genealogy.

Roger Conant was born in Devonshire, England, on April 9, 1592, and our subject is of the eighth generation of Conants in America. Roger was married in London, England, in November, 1618, and came out to Massachusetts in 1623 on the vessel named "Anne." Fort Conant, now known as Stage Fort, was named after him. In time, Charles Rich Conant moved to Putnam, Ohio, with his parents, and came in 1830, with the David Crockett party to Texas, later coining to Mexico, traveled through Sonora and at Buena Vista, in 1840, he married Miss Simona Maldonado, then settled at Guaymas. He became interested in both lands and mines in Sonora, Mexico, but in 1849 he rushed north to California at the news of the discovery of gold, returning the next year to Mexico to bring his family to California. He and his wife had six children, and they were named Charles, Thomas, James Francis, Mary Melinda,—the subject of our review; Simona Frances and Joseph Benjamin.

Charles R. Conant and his family settled at Stockton in the spring of 1850, living on the vessel Attila, which he partly owned, and for a short time the prospects were satisfying, and then he went to Stanislaus County and there built a dam on the Stanislaus River, intending to use the water for irrigating land. But just as the dam was about completed, a freshet washed it away in 1852. He then came back to Stockton and bought an interest in a foundry, which he conducted for years. He was really a physician by profession, as his father before him had been, although he was interested in these various enterprises, and for sixteen years he had practiced medicine before coming to California, and during the early cholera epidemic he and Dr. McLean were the only doctors to fight the epidemic in Stockton. He had an interest in mines at Copperopolis, Cal., but he died eventually near Alamas, Mexico, in 1863. His wife had died there eight months previously.

Miss Melinda Conant was married at Alamos, Mexico, on July 25, 1868, to Frederick Plank, a native of Cold Springs, N. Y., where he was born on November 2, 1843 the son of Philip and Mary Plank. Philip Plank, a mechanic by trade, spelled his name Planque; and in 1851 Frederick accompanied his parents from New York to California by way of Panama, and later he and his father went to Sonora, Mexico, where Dr. Plank became interested in mining in the Alamos district. At the time of their marriage, Dr. Plank's father was chief engineer of the Mint at Alamos, Sonora, Mex., and he also was interested in mines in Chihuahua. After their marriage, Dr. Plank continued mining very successfully, in Baucari, and located many valuable claims, but in 1884, the couple moved back to California and lived at San Francisco until 1888, when they removed to San Jose. While here Dr. Plank bought the David Spence property on the Alameda, and also bought lots and several orchards, improved them and sold at a profit. Later still, they moved back to Lower California, engaged in mining near Los Angeles Bay, and stayed there until 1906, when they returned to San Jose. Dr. Plank then bought the Rudolf Spence home on the Alameda, and there the family lived until .1920, when they moved to 326 North Sixth Street.

Mr. and Mrs. Plank had a family of seven children: Frederick died, aged twenty-eight; William, at home; Francis died, aged thirty-one, leaving a son, Frederick Edmund; Amelia, Mrs. C. C. Coolidge of San Jose and mother of four children, Eleanor, Frederick, Adele and Claire; Adela, wife of J. W. A. Pearson of Mexico City; Charles at home, and Mary Lucy who died in infancy. Dr. Plank passed away while in San Francisco on December 29, 1911, and is buried in San Jose. Mrs. Plank still has extensive mining interests in Lower California and lands in Sonora, Mexico, and still retains the old hacienda at Baucari.
from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,
 published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 1043


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight