John Vonderlin: Meet Josiah P. Ames

Story from John Vonderlin
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Hi June,
  Here’s a biography of Josiah P. Ames, from “The History of San Mateo” book on
Hon. J. P. Ames. The following narrative of the life of one of Califor- 
nia’s earliest pioneers will be found worthy of perusal, replete as it is with 
incidents of a busy life. Mr. Ames was born in England, on January 23, 1829. 
He came to the United States with his parents when but six months old, and 
the family settled in New York City. They moved to Hartford, Connecticut, 
and in Dutchess county, New York, the subject of our memoir received his 
primary education at the common schools, and his academic learning at a 
seminary in that county. After finishing his education, he went to New York 
City, and was one of the men who came to this coast in the historic Stephen- 
son’s regiment in 1847. To give the reader a better knowledge of the move- 
ments of Mr. Ames while with this regiment, we refer them to its history. 
Suffice it to say, that he was honorably discharged at Monterey, in September 
1848. We next find him in the mines at Mokelumne Hill, Calaveras county, 
and in this place, and other mining regions of California, he remained until 
185G, when he went to Half Moon Bay, San Mateo county. We believe of all 
the men that we have had the privilege of writing about in California, those 
who came in Stephenson’s regiment possess the most interest. They were all 
bold, resolute men, men who let no trifles hinder them from achievino- the 
purposes and aims of life which they had mapped out. At the very ouset of 
Mr. Ames’ coming to Half Moon Bay, his public career commenced. He was 
first elected supervisor, in 1860, and this office, with the exception of a few 
years, he continuously held until 1881. In 1875 he was appointed by Gover- 
nor Booth to settle the Yosemite claims, and so faithfully and well did he 
perform this duty, that he was selected by the republican party and elected to 
represent the people of his county in the legislature, in the winter of 187(5-7. 
He was appointed warden of the State Prison at San Quentin by Governor 
Perkins. We believe, therefore we say, that no man has ever had charge of 
this institution that has’ managed it with more economy, and we know no one 
has made the improvements, which will result in so great a profit to the state, 
as those made by Mr, Ames. The jute factory has in the past year saved to 
the farmers of this state money enough to endow Judge Ames with a princely 
fortune. In 1867 he erected a landing, the first on the coast in this county, 
which for all time to come will bear his name. 
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