Following John App’s Journey to California – Concluding Research

The past two days (August 18 & 19, 2014) have been devoted primarily to research at the Carlo De Ferrari Archives in Sonora, California. To help fill in some of the missing pieces of John App’s journey through California, my 5th cousin, Laurie Ennis Walsh and I have been attempting to document all of the properties he owned, all the mines he owned, and look for his obituary.

Yesterday when I arrived at the Archives Laurie had already found John’s obituary in an August 24, 1898 edition of “The Mother Lode Magnet”, at the time a local Tuolumne County newspaper. I had never seen the document before and wondered if it might contain some hints of his earlier life. It did.

The issue of the properties and mines owned is a little more difficult to track because John was continually buying and selling. Fortunately, he documented just about everything… just not always in a sequential way. Bits and pieces to this puzzle are found, sometimes, randomly. However, Laurie is “hot on the trail” of this information.

The App Mine itself was one of the largest producers of the southern mines and that is very evident to see. The homestead house still exists but is vacant now. Although it appears to be a little “ragged” the structure itself is still rock solid. It was built in 1852 of sugar pine wood from the Algerine mill which was located some distance away. John would take a horse and wagon down a dirt trail to the mill each day for a load of wood, and then drop some of it by the church he was helping to build (today’s Jamestown United Methodist Church) and the rest to the house he was building for Leanna and himself. It must have been a tedious process, but that’s what he did day after day. Today, there are buyers interested in period restoration and preservation of the house as an historic site.

John died on August 18, 1898 in Stockton, California while travelling by train back to Jamestown from San Francisco. He hadn’t been feeling well and went to see a doctor for his difficulty with “yellow jaundice”. He was not a drinker but was taking lots of 1898 medications. He had sent for his son, John Quincy App, to come to meet him for the return trip so that he could die at home, but he only made it as far as Stockton. The funeral was at his home and the obituary concluded with “To the widow and children of the deceased it is a pleasure to know that in the opinion of his acquaintances he was an affectionate husband and father, a generous friend and public-spirited citizen, whose loss is deeply felt in this community.”

The John App homestead 2014

The John App homestead 2014

App Street with the App Mine in the hill beyond

App Street with the App Mine in the hill beyond

About storiesretoldblogger

I am an Elkhart, Indiana native and became interested in applying video to history when consumer video cameras were first introduced on the market in the late 1970’s. My production company, Stories Retold, specializes in preserving oral history, traditions, and values with video. Primarily interviewing individuals, I sometimes document families, and on occasion document an entire community. My niche is developing a personal relationship with clients which helps me to tell their story just the way they would like to have it told. Everyone has a story worth preserving, and I enjoy discovering interesting stories from people with whom I come into contact on a daily basis. In years to come, these videos will be priceless as they portray original stories complete with visual images and actual voices filled with all the primary material and emotion that was intended to be. I gain a strong sense of personal satisfaction with each completed project whether it involves an individual or an entire community.
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2 Responses to Following John App’s Journey to California – Concluding Research

  1. jkattau says:

    How appropriate that you were there on/almost on the anniversary of the death of John App. What timing!!! I’m also amazed that his house is in such good condition. If it were built today, it would be falling down!

  2. says:


    Keep these coming… Is possible for you to send me Mr. App’s obituary? Also, I believe I could turn his home into the western division of Russell Products.


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