W. L. MANLY
farmer, near Hillsdale Station, was born near St. Albans, Vermont, in 1820. When he was a boy his father and uncle sold their farms and concluded to go to Ohio, which was then the " far West," and he drove the family carriage, which was then considered a fine vehicle, although it was only a wooden spring-seat wagon, with small wooden axles, etc. His uncle, just ahead, drove a two-horse wagon. They stopped for the winter twenty-one miles south of Cleveland, Ohio. During this time the father changed his mind, and concluded to go to Michigan Territory, by water, with the rest of the family. In that Territory one could then obtain land from the government at $1.25 per acre. The uncle went around Lake Erie, as far as Huron River, and shipped the teams to Detroit to escape the hardships and dangers of crossing the much dreaded Black Swamp. He and young Manly overtook the parents of the latter south of Ann Arbor, when all were found well, and they had a happy reunion. The two men soon found good government land near Jackson, which they purchased, and on which they lived and made improvements for some years. This was before schools were established.
When the construction of the Michigan Central Railroad reached their vicinity W. L. joined in work upon it, at $13 per month,—half cash and half "store pay!" Making here the acquaintance of a broad-ax man, Orrin Henry, they quit the railroad, built a boat, went down Grand River to Lake Michigan, crossed the lake on a lumber schooner, and landed at Southport. Then they took their blankets upon their backs and traveled westward through Wisconsin, at that time a very thinly settled country; but they found no employment until they reached Mineral Point, where lead mines were in operation. By this time thirty-five cents was all the money that Mr. Manly had left. Sleeping in an old house, he worked at anything he could get to do, and did some hunting and trapping; and, although he could lay up no money, yet he had good health, and therefore life here was preferable to having the ague (cold fever) in Michigan, to which he had been subject.
He contracted a "fever," however, but this time it was the "gold fever," in 1849. Making his own clothes, out of the skins which he himself had dressed, and from deer which he had killed, he left his Wisconsin outfit with A. Bennett, with whom he had been living, and who intended soon to start for California. At Prairie La Crosse, on the Mississippi, where lived an Indian trader, in a log cabin, the only house within many he bought a small Indian pony for $30 —nearly all the money he had—and struck out. At Council Bluffs, the only town heard of on the Missouri River at that time, he expected to meet Mr. Bennett; but, not finding him there, he went down to Prairie du Chien, where he found a letter from him, not dated, stating that he and his party would not start so soon, and requesting Mr. Manly to return and go with them. He complied, but his journey was so slow that he reached Mineral Point too late. The party had been gone some time. Mr. Manly hurried westward again crossing the Mississippi at Dubuque. He found no settlements west of the Des Moines River. Arriving at Council Bluffs, he found that all the gold-hunters had crossed the Missouri. He searched diligently for Mr. Bennett, and for a letter or some memorandum from him, and even for his name scratched on the logs of the houses where hundreds of others had left their names; but all in vain.
Returning across the river bottom he found a small train of six or seven wagons, owned by Charles Dallas. The latter wanted a driver, and would board one for his work. Thus, turning his pony in with his disengaged horses, Mr. Manly took the whip and drove a pair of oxen and two cows all the way to the vicinity of Green River. Here Mr. Dallas concluded that it would be too late to cross the Sierra Nevada before winter, and that he had better winter at Salt Lake. He accordingly discharged all his drivers, who felt greatly disappointed, as there was no prospect of finding work among the Mormons.
At Green River was a small ferry-boat 6x10 feet in dimensions. The reasoning of the discharged men was that if they could get some provisions from Mr. Dallas, they could descend the river in this boat to the Pacific Coast. Being allowed $60 for his pony by Mr. Dallas, Mr. Manly purchased of him provisions, and the party descended the river until they were stopped by some Indians, who informed them that Green River was not navigable all the way, and that they had better cross over the mountains to Salt Lake. At Utah Lake they met a train of 107 wagons going south to enter California at San Bernardino. Joining this train, Mr. Manly soon found Mr. Bennett and the outfit he had left with him in Wisconsin.
Near Mountain Meadows, November 4, 1849, they turned west for a shorter route to the mines. Going by way of Death Valley, they arrived at Los Angeles on the twelfth of March following, with nothing but the clothes on their backs; they even had not shoes! They went up the coast to the mines on the Merced, thence to Georgetown, Downieville, and finally to Moore's Flat, in Nevada County.
In the fall of 1859 Mr. Manly came to San Jose and purchased the farm he now owns, on the Monterey road near Hillsdale Station, and here he has ever since been an industrious farmer and exemplary citizen.
July 10, 1862, is the date of Mr. Manly's marriage, to Miss Mary J. Woods, of San Joaquin County, California.
In his political
principles he is a Republican prohibitionist.
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