Orrin Plumb Ranch, Jesus Maria
Orrin Plumb, born in Connecticut about 1820, evidently arrived in California in the early years of the Gold Rush, as in 1852, he and two others constructed a mining ditch from Wet Gulch to Boston Flat near Jesus Maria (Bonfiglio n.d.). On May 19, 1844, he was married to Frances Pease in Hartford, Connecticut, and in 1850 the 25-year old Frances was residing with their two-year old son Orrin, Jr., in the family of Henry Gardner in Hartford; Orrin, Sr., probably having left for California. By 1860 the family was residing in Jesus Maria, where he was working as a rope maker. A daughter, Frances Ellen, aged 2, born in California, was with them. His real estate was valued at $400 and personal property at $175.
The family built a house on a parcel of land about a half mile east of Jesus Maria, on the road to Boston Flat. As did many of the folk in the area, Orrin was working as a farmer and miner, listing his occupation as miner, but assessed for cows, a hog, goats, etc. over the ensuing years. An informant recalled that the family also had a garden, located in the creek below the Boston Flat terraces, and raised vegetables (Hughes 2015).
By 1880, four more children had been born to the couple: Alonzo in 1861, Arthur in 1863, Emma in 1865, and Amasa Cole in 1871. In 1880 Orrin was still gold mining, sons Orrin, Jr. and Arthur were also mining, while Alonzo was working as a butcher; Amasa and Emma were in school (Ancestry.com). The 1882 assessment noted only 40 acres, but in 1885 Orrin patented 80 acres of land (SW4 of NE4 and fractional NW4 of SE4 of Section 15, T5N.R12E) (Calaveras County Land Patent Maps).
Orrin died on March 2, 1888, and was buried in the Mokelumne Hill Protestant Cemetery (Calaveras County Death Records). In 1893 only his sons Amasa, a machinist, and Arthur, a laborer, were residing on the ranch (County Directory), but Arthur was considering going into the hog business. Orrin’s estate in 1894 was assessed for 70 acres, with house and fence valued at $90, and included the ditch from Wet Gulch, valued at $50. By 1900, only the widowed Arthur was residing and farming on the property. In 1906, sons Alonzo and Arthur deeded the property, then noted as 80 acres, along with three-quarters of the Wet Gulch Ditch, to neighbor Celestina Giuffra. Celestina was assessed for the property with a house, barn, shed, fence, and water right valued at $500, until at least 1927. It appears likely that she was renting it out, as she and son Alvin resided on the Boston Flat Ranch.
In 2015, when the Butte Fire raced through Jesus Maria, the Plumb house and barn were no longer extant. Only the stone foundations of the house and barn and the stone terraces remained of the over 50 years of Plumb family residence in their canyon homestead.
By Judith Marvin, 2016
Article Source: Rabellino, Kyle, Julia Costello, and Judith Marvin, 2016. Recordation of Historic Properties Destroyed in the 2015 Butte Fire, Calaveras County, California. Prepared for CALFIRE by Anthropological Study Center, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA.
Bonfiglio, Tony (Lagomarsino family descendent). n.d. Reminiscences of Jesus Maria. Unpublished Ms. in Lagomarsino Family File, Calaveras County Archives, San Andreas.
Hughes, Ray, 2016. Interview of 15 December 2016 at Jesus Maria and 18 March 2016 by phone, by Judith Marvin. Notes on file, Foothill Resources, Ltd., Murphys, California. Fourth Generation of Jesus Maria family.