Tehama County Judge Charles P. Braynard was given the duty of property distribution for Tehama County by President Andrew Johnson in 1867, after the Federal Government found land sold and given away by Senator J. Grandville Doll, which he had purchased from the State of California at $1.25 per acre, had not been properly surveyed and some parcels had multiple owners.
During the investigation, the Department of Interior filed suit against California for selling land they did not own, citing the fact that Lands purchased from Mexico by Peter Lassen, appointed Ambassador to make the purchase, was bought with Federal Government Funds.
The dispute raised such alarm, that it went to Congress and as a result, President Lincoln’s successor, President Andrew Johnson, by way of a Special Act, appointed Tehama County Judge Charles Braynard, the most trusted man in Tehama County, Power of Authority to sort and settle confusions concerning Land Patents, a process which took over a decade.
In a special election during 1875, Horace A. Mayhew, Lawyer and Minister, took the bench with Judge Braynard as a Tehama County Judge, was among the many others who fell victim to Senator Doll’s misconstruements.
Joseph Spencer Cone, of Tehama County, California, is one of the representative men of his time, and of his region, and of his occupation. Although vice-president of a large banking corporation and the head of a large mercantile firm, he is essentially an American farmer, and proudly registers himself as such wherever called upon to state his occupation. The farm has been always generous and kind to him. Natural selection brought them together early in his life, and neither money changing, merchandising, politics, nor other allurements have ever shaken his love for the simple yet noble occupation of tilling the soil.
The lineage of Mr. Cone is traced back to the days of the Norman conquest, embracing eight and twenty generations, among the last of whom were many families which cast their lot in what was then the British-American colonies. He is the son of Timothy Cone, a native of East Haddam, Massachusetts, who was the son of Joseph Cone, a naval officer in the Revolutionary war.
Joseph was the seventh of Timothy’s ten children, and was born on the 26th day of August, 1822, near Marietta, Ohio. Of noble lineage, reaching by connected historical records to the invasion of England by William I, a more unaffected and thoroughgoing American, despising cant and humbug and modern snobbery, cannot be found anywhere.
Until reaching his twenty-second year Joseph worked on his father’s farm, making the best of such scanty educational facilities as the neighborhood afforded. His choice inclined toward a profession, especially to that of the law; and had he selected this career, he would, beyond a doubt, have achieved success, for he possessed a full share of the qualities required for this calling—soundness of judgment and a ready wit, coupled with a remarkable force of character and an almost unlimited capacity for work. But this was not to be, and fortunate it proved for his adopted State, and perhaps for himself, that while losing a good lawyer his country gained the assistance of one whose later services in developing the resources of Northern California it is impossible to overestimate.
But Mr. Cone was resolved to make his own way in the world, and as a beginning set forth in 1843, upon obtaining his majority, on a trading expedition among the Cherokee Indians, with the results of which he had no reason to be dissatisfied. From that date until 1850 the incidents of his career contained nothing calling for special mention. In the spring of this year the excitement that followed the discovery of gold being at its height, he joined a company of adventurous spirits like himself bound for California, starting from Jasper County, Missouri, and following the banks of the North Platte to the neighborhood of Fort Laramie. Here he became wearied with the slow and tedious travel of the wagon trains, and with four others, packing their effects on horseback, made their way to Green River, where, as he supposed, a settlement was near at hand. Meanwhile their animals had been stolen by the Piutes, and now provisions ran short, so that for a fortnight they were compelled to live on crow soup, to which were added a few teaspoonfuls of flour. At length, however, all arrived in safety at Nevada City, following exactly the route afterward selected by the Central Pacific Railroad.
He mined, engaged in merchandising, packing and all the varied occupations of that early period until 1857, when he settled down to the stock-raising business in Tehama County, on Alder Creek, where he remained with fair success until 1868. In that year he purchased the celebrated Rancho de los Berrendos, near Red Bluff, which he has developed into the finest ranch property, probably, in the State. The limits of this article will not permit a description of this noble estate. It has grown under the inspiring genius of its owner until it embraces nearly 100,000 acres, and is a principality.
Every branch of agriculture known to the wonderful climate of California can here be seen. Cereals, stock of all kinds, fruits, gardens, orchards,—indeed, all the varied products of our generous soil and climate here find splendid development. Mr. Cone is vice-president of the Bank of Tehama County and one of its largest stockholders; he is also at the head of a large mercantile corporation—the Cone & Kimball Company. Other business also engages his attention, and yet every detail of his great farm receives his supervision. He was president of the first railroad commission under the new constitution in 1879, and served with great benefit to the State for four years. He was the leading spirit in the railroad commission, and through his practical knowledge of affairs and his friends in dealing with the question of freight rates, he succeeded in obtaining for the people a reduction on all the staple products of the soil going towards tide-water, from twenty-five to thirty-three per cent. He has marvelous executive ability, and yet does his work in so quiet a way as to appear not to do it at all.
Mr. Cone is a man of strong and decided convictions. He is a Republican in politics and believes profoundly in the doctrine of protection to American industries and labor. His recent travels abroad have confirmed him in this belief. While not a communicant of any church he yet respects all creeds and supports the church liberally and endeavors to walk uprightly before God and man.
In 1867 Mr. Cone returned to his native State and married the daughter of Colonel Reppert. One son and two daughters are the fruit of this marriage. Kind and generous and helpful to the needy; enterprising and broad-minded on all questions, he is one of the foremost men of this region, and has stamped his influence and his character upon the history of his time. We regret that this work does not admit of a more extended sketch of his career.