Tuesday, July 2, 2013


© Kathy Duncan, 2013

Nancy (Skaggs) Witter, daughter of Hannah (Holcomb) and James Skaggs, married Chester Rood Witter on April 18, 1862, at Salt Spring Valley in Calaveras County, California.

The Witters on the U.S. Census:

20 July 1870, San Juan Twp., Monterey County, California, p. 389:
Witter, C. R. - 36 M W Farmer NY
----, Nancy - 3 F W Keeping House MO
----, Laura - 6 F W CA
----, Lorena - 4 F W CA
----, Phoebe R. - 2 F W CA
Skaggs, Hannah - 59 F W Keeping House MO
[Living next door is Nancy (Skaggs) Witter's first cousin, Amanda (Jamison) Brooks.]

5 June 1880, Hollister Twp., San Benito County, California:
Witter, Chester W M 49 Farmer b. WS fb. NY m. NY
----, Nancy W F 48 wife Keeping house b. MO fb. KY mb. MO
----, Laura W F 17 dau student b. CA fb. WS mb. MO
----, Lorena W F 15 dau student b. CA fb. WS mb. MO
----. Armina W F 12 dau student b. CA fb. WS mb. MO
----,Steven W M 9 son student b. CA fb. WS mb. MO
----, Alfred W M 7 son student b. CA fb. WS mb. MO
----, Chester W M 4 son b. CA fb. WS mb. MO
----, Clyde W M 1 b. CA fb. WS mb. MO
[In household #49 is Andrew Pool, Nancy (Skaggs) Witter's first cousin.]

28 June 1900, Hollister Twp., San Benito County, California, p. 292A
Witter, Chester R. Head W M Oct 1833 66 M-38 b. NY fb. NY mb. NY
----, Nancy A. Wife W F Aug 1836 63 M-38 7-7 b. MO fb. KY mb. MO
----, Chester A. Son W M May 1876 34 M-0 b. CA fb. NY mb. MO
----, Kate M. D-i-L W F Apr 1876 24 M-0 0-0 b. CA fb. Germany m.b. Germany

25 April 1910, Hollister Twp., San Benito County, California:
Witter, Chester R. Head M W 73 M1-38 b. MO fb. US mb US
----, Nancy A. Wife F W 62 M1-38 7-7 b. MO fb. KY mb. MO

A biography of Chester R. Witter, published during his lifetime:

CHESTER R. WITTER, a pioneer of California, resident of San Benito county and a native of Albany county, New York, was born near Albany city, October 17, 1833. His father, Robert Witter was a farmer by occupation and was one of the pioneers of Wisconsin, during 1833 and 1840. The family was of German descent and were noted for their industry and thrift.

The subject of this sketch came to California via northern route and arrived at Placerville, August, 1853. He spent the greater portion of ten years in the gold diggings, and then resumed his occupation of a farmer in the vicinity of Stockton. In the fall of 1872 he came to San Bernardino county and located on Santa Ana creek, near the fort of Santa Ana peak, where he has since resided and reared his family. The home farm comprises 186 acres of valuable land.

 Mr. Witter was married, in 1862 to Miss Nancy Skaggs, a native of Missouri, and they have seven children and four grandchildren.

  Mr. Witter is among the most highly respected citizens of San Benito county.
[Source:  Memorial and Biographical History of the Coast Counties of Central California. Illustrated. Containing a History of this Important Section of the Pacific Coast from the Earliest Period of its Discovery to the Present Time, together with Glimpses of its Auspicious Future; Illustrations and Full-Page Portraits of some of its Eminent Men, and Biographical Mention of many of its Pioneers, and Prominent
Citizens of To-day. Luther A. Ingersoll, Editor (1893)]

Obituary of Chester Rood Witter:

Chester Rood Witter passed away early Tuesday morning at his home on Hayden street after an illness of about four months duration. He had been troubled with rheumatism and is grippee since last November, but his condition was not considered serious. Monday morning, however, he was taken seriously ill and the end came at 3:40 o'clock Tuesday morning.

Mr. Witter was a native of Wisconsin, coming to California when he was but 18 years of age. He located in this county  in the early part of 1867, near Lone Tree, where he acquired a large stock ranch. Four years ago he moved to Hollister and took a position with the Granger's UNION.

Mr. Witter was married on April 18, 1862, at Salt Spring Valley in Calaveras County, and leaves to mourn his loss his wife, Mrs. Nancy A. Witter, four sons and three daughters.

The daughters are Mrs. Laura Henry, who lives in the southern part of the State, Mrs. Lorana Mercy of Panoche and Mrs. Minnie Worrell of Ceres, Stanislaus County: and the sons are Steve Witter of Winchester, Idaho, Clyde E. Witter of Klamath Falls, Or., and Alfred and Chester Witter of Hollister.

At the time of his death Mr. Witter was looking forward to the celebration of his golden wedding anniversary on April 18.
[Source: San Jose Mercury News; San Jose, CA; Fri. Mar. 29, 1912]

Celebrates Anniversary. At the home of her daughter, Mrs. C.R. Witter, Sunday. "Grandma" Witter celebrated the passing of her 89th birthday with a family party and dinner.
[Source: San Jose Mercury News; San Jose, CA; Thurs., Aug. 31, 1916]

Marriages of Witter children:

Laura was married by 1887 when her sister Minnie visited her--
Miss Minnie WITTER has returned home after an extended visit to her sister, Mrs. D. SMITH, of Guerneville.
[Source: The Hollister Free Lance; Hollister, San Benito County, CA, 14 Jan 1887]

Married WORRELL-WITTER -- at the bride’s home, at Lone Tree, by Rev. C.P. CONE, on Jan. 3, Charles WORRELL to Miss Minnie WITTER
[Source: The Free Lance; Hollister, San Benito County, CA, 6 Jan 1893]

Married -- WITTER-NORTON -- at Auburn, Jan. 7, Clyde WITTER to Miss Fannie NORTON
[Source: The Free Lance; Hollister, California; 12 Jan 1900]

Married -- WITTER-FABER -- at Auburn, Apr. 18, Chester A. WITTER and Miss Katie FABER.
[Source: The Free Lance; Hollister, San Benito, CA 27 April 1900]

Married -- WITTER-JEROME -- at Hollister, Oct. 29, by Rev. J.W. BRYANT, at the M.E. parsonage; Alfred J. WITTER and Miss May JEROME.
[Source: The Free Lance; Hollister, San Benito County, CA, 2 Nov 1900]

Deaths of Witter children:

Laura Smith Jahnke born 24 Dec 1862 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co., UT,  died 16 May 1940buried 20 May 1940, divorced, spouse George L. Jahnke, father Chester R. Witter b NY , mother Nancy Skaggs b MO 

Lorena A. Mercy died 27 Mar 1941, San Benito, California, born 29 Jan 1866 in CA. Father: Witter; Mother: Skaggs.

Burials in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Hollister, San Benito County, California:

Chester R. Witter 1833 - 1912 Father
Nancy A. Witter 1836 - 1921 Mother
Chester A. Witter 1876 - 1933
Kathryn F. Witter 1876 - 1933
Crystal Witter 1913 - 1916
Maye Witter 18__ - 1904

Biography of Lorena's husband John Joseph Mercy:

John Joseph [Mercy] was  born in San Francisco, October 11, 1861, coming to the Little Penoche when  he was but two years of age. He attended Golden Gate Academy in Oakland and St. Mary's College in San Francisco, and then the Gilroy High School, where he was graduated.  

After his graduation he entered heartily into sheep growing, and when his father became an invalid, with his brother, Henry, took charge of the place and have since then given it their undivided time. In early days a Yaki Indian sheepherder, Francisco Sanava, discovered a spring in the canyon and told their father of it; he dug a hole and the deeper they dug the warmed the water, so the father put a box in for bathing in the hot water as it came from the earth. Later on they dug it deeper to obtain more water for large flocks and found the water still hotter. John J. homesteaded the 160 acres on which the spring was located and obtained a title. People were attracted by the bathing and the water and found it had great curative and medicinal properties particularly for rheumatism, stomach trouble and sores and Mercy Mineral Hot Springs became popular. While they owned it the water was not only free but the bathing was free. However, the Mercy's finally decided the exploitation of the springs was out of their line so they sold it, so that the water and benefits might be obtained to a greater extent by the public. The Mercy ranch extends about six miles along the Little Penoche Creek and is an excellent stock ranch. About twenty years ago they sold their sheep and have since been engaged in raising cattle, their brand, J and H combined, being well known. They have installed four pumping plants which they use in irrigating alfalfa. 

John J. Mercy was married in Hollister in 1885 to Lorana Witter, born in Calaveras County, the daughter of Chester R. and Nancy (Skaggs) Witter, born in Brodhead, Wis., and St. Louis, Mo., respectively. Mr. Witter was also a forty-niner. Mr. and Mrs. John J. Mercy have three children: Irma. Mrs. Burge of Little Penoche; Alta, Mrs. Trowbridge of Los Angeles; and William who assists his father. 
[Source:  History of Fresno County, California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present (1919) History By Paul E. Vandor]

Minnie Armina Worrell died 29 Nov 1941 in Stanislaus, California, born 3 Mar 1868 in California. Father: Witter, Mother: Skaggs

Obituary of Minnie (Skaggs) Worrell:

Mrs. Minnie Armina Worrell, 73, a resident of Ceres for the past thirty one years, died in her home there this morning. She was a native Californian, having been born in Copperopolis.

Mrs. Worrell, a member of the Ceres Christian Chruch, leaves her husband, Charles H. Worrell of Ceres; five children, Elvin E. Worrell and C.C. Worrell of Ceres, C. Harold Worrell of Modesto, Mrs. Vena Maynard of Alameda and Thelma Ward of Beverly Hills, and a brother, Stephen Witter, of Idaho. She also leaves five grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Monday morning at 11 o'clock in the Shannon Chapel with Rev. Paul Boyer officiating. Interment will be in the Masonic Cemetery.
[Modesto Bee, November 29, 1941, p.7 Transcribed by Judy Ewbank]

This page last updated on 9 July 2013.

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