James R. Rogers

JAMES R. ROGERS, a valued citizen of Merced County, Cal. and one of the successful fig-growers of the state, of which he is a pioneer of 1850, was born November 14, 1826, in Olham County, Ky. In tracing the ancestry of Mr. Rogers it is found that he is a descendant of distinguished families of Virginia on both paternal and maternal sides. His father, Thomas Rogers, was born in Spottsylvania county, of that state, and his mother, Priscilla Chancellor, was a Virginian and a sister of Sanford Chancellor, a wealthy miner and a member of a prominent family of Virginia. Thomas Rogers followed farming for a livelihood and as early as 1812 moved to Kentucky, and in that state their family made their home until James R. was sixteen years old. In 1842 they removed to Missouri, the father becoming prominently identified with that community, remaining there until his death at the age of seventy-eight years. Four of his children are still living: Winslow, a resident of Missouri, now eighty-eight years of age; William, a retired rancher of Santa Rosa, Cal; George, a resident of Solano County; and James R.

The boyhood days of Mr. Rogers were spent on a farm and at sixteen he accompanied his parents to Missouri, where he lived until his twenty-fifth year. In 1850 he came overland to California, the train of which he was a member consisting of about forty people. His first month in California was spent in the mines; he then went to the entrance of Grass Valley and conducted a hotel for a year and a half, after which he spent some time in both the northern and southern mines. Before the close of 1852 he was homeward bound and while crossing the Isthmus of Panama saw for the first time a railroad. The following year he again left Missouri with the Williams party for California, and upon his arrival, was married in Sacramento to Polly Ann Williams and took up his residence in Sonoma county, near Santa Rosa. He afterward bought four hundred acres of land in Solano county near Vacaville, which he put out in orchard and lived upon it for forty years.

In 1896 Mr. Rogers came to Merced county and August 15 of that year he purchased his home place of fifty acres four and one half miles northeast of Merced, in partnership with his son S. M. Rogers. Mr. Rogers has his entire place planted to figs, having six hundred and fifty-two trees which are now thirteen years old. These trees yielded in 1902 twenty tone and the fruit was sold on the trees for $750. In 1903 the yield was the same, but $100 additional was realized for the sale of the fruit in the same way. Mr. Rogers has on this place a comfortable residence containing eleven rooms, and fitted throughout with all modern improvements. His wife died in 1865, leaving three children, Commodore P., Seldan M., and Zilla, deceased. By his second marriage, in 1866, he was united with Laura Church, a native of Pontiac, Mich., who was born in 1844, and came to California in 1865. Two children were born to this union, namely: Celia May and Bert Agnes, the latter the wife of Bert Hatch. The family unite in worshipping at the Christian Church, of which Mr. and Mrs. Rogers are active members. Mr. Rogers is a member of Merced Lodge No. 97, F. & A. M., having been made a Mason in Vacaville Lodge No. 133, F. & A. M.

Historical and Biographical Record of the State of California, San Joaquin Valley, 1905, Guinn. Page 1044

Contributed by: Carol Lackey