Notes for Peter VAN CLIEF

! From Canfield book:  Peter Van Clief, Jr. (probably born in Bedford
Co,Pennsylvania) move d to Washington Co, Ohio at the age of 4 with his
parents in 1796.  He grew up on the famil y farm in Washington Co, near
Waterford.  On June 29, 1815 he married Sally Newton, daughte r of Sylvanus
Newton and Elizabeth Stacy.  Sally and a child died later in the year as the
da te of death on her tombstone is 1815.  She was buried in Brokow Cemetery
near Stockport, Ohi o and east of Big Bottom in Morgan Co, Ohio.  Peter later

Peter Van Clief, Jr. and Temperance Sutliff (born 23 May 1797 in
Pennsylvania?) daughter of B arnabus Sutliff and Sarah (Sally) Evans, were
married in about 1817 in Washington Co., Ohio .  Soon after their marriage,
Peter and Temperance lived on a farm near Waterford Landing o n the Muskingum
River in Washington Co., Ohio.  According to census records Peter and his fam
ily moved several times.  However, it might not have been a great distance
because boundarie s and the names of settlements changed occasionalyl.  In
1818 Morgan Co. was formed so a par t of Washington Co, automatically became
Morgan County.

In 1820 Peter, his wife and two children were living in Homer Twp, Athens Co.,
Ohio.  On Octo ber 3, 1823 the heirs of Peter Van Clief, Sr. sold to their
brother, Daniel, the land in Wate rford Twp, Washington Co., that had formerly
belonged to their father.  Since the heirs live d in different counties it
took some time to complete the document.  Peter, Abigail Cheadle , Mary Ann
Frisbey and their families were living in Athens Co., at the time the deed was
wri tten

On Sep 7, 1828, Peter and Temperance were still living in Homer Twp.  On that
date they sol d a tract of land in Morgan Co., to Cyrus and Abigail Cheadle,
also of Homer Twp, who immedia tely sold it to Aaron Thomas of Roxbury Twp,
Washington County

In 1830 the family, with seven children, was living in Windsor Twp, Morgan Co. 
They were sti ll living there in December 1839 when Peter made a deposition
for his mother to receive a gov ernment pension since his father had been in
the Revolutionary War.  The family was also list ed there in the 1840 census. 
However, in the census three sons and five daughters were liste d.  The eldest
son, Peter, was probably living away from home at that time.  According to fam
ily tradition, Peter contracted malaria from breaking up the virgin soil on
his farm which we akened him and thereby hastened his death.  It is not
certain when Peter died but it was betw een 1840 and November 1843 when his
estate was probated.  No one seems to know where he is bu ried but it is
likely he was buried in the old Brokaw Cheadle Cemetery on the former Charli e
Case farm at Big Bottom.  It is across the Muskingum River from Stockport, In
Windsor Twp .  There is no stone standing on his grave but there is one for
his wife, Temperance.  She di ed on November 16, 1843, aged 46 years, 5 months
and 24 days.  Her epitaph reads:"Thou dear d eparted spirit, O who will wish
thee here Since now dost inherit A purer happier Sphere"

Since most of the children were minors, they were given guardiansa and some of
them lived wit h older members of the family as the 1850 census shows.
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Notes for Peter VAN CLIEF


!Peter lived with his parents in Washington, Athens and Morgan Counties, Ohio.
He attended local schools, such as they were in those days, and later entered
Marietta Academy in Marietta, Ohio.  While he was there he acquired discipline
of mind and mastery of English which was to hold him in good stead the rest of
his life.  After graduating from the Academy he taught school in various areas
of Washington County and also for a short time after his marriage.  The reason
he was not numbered inthe 1840 census with his parents was, probably, that he
was in school or teaching school and living away from home.

After his marriage he began the study of law with Judge Thomas Ewart in
Marietta.  In 1844 Peter was admitted to practice in the courts of Ohio at a
session of the District Court of Appeal in McConnelsville in Morgan County,
Ohio.  He continued to practice law from his admission to the bar until 1849.

In 1848 the Mexican War ended.  California became part of the United States,
gold was discove red there, and the Gold Rush was about to begin.  The
discovery of gold in California arouse d the interest of men around the world
and especailly those wll over the United States.  Dani e, Peter's brother, had
been at leasst as far west as Santa Fe, New Mexico in the Mexican War , so he
had some idea what the Southwest was like.  The "gold fever" touched the Van
Clief br others, Peter and Daniel, as well as Peter's law partner, Joel
Eveland.  Thesse three men, al ong with friends and others from their area,
heard that a large nmber of people from Souther n Ohio wer planning to
emigrate to California.  On April 10, 1849 in Morgan County, Daniel so ld land
situated in Range 11, Twp 9, Section 24 and several other acres, to his
brother, Pete r.  At the same time, Peter and his wife, Emily, sold the same
land to Arthur Taggert.  Thi s was land that Daniel had received from his
father's estate.  it was also land whick his gra ndfather, Peter Van Clief,
had received from David Pearce who was the original owner.  This d eed a\was
signed by Peter and Emily in the presence of William Boswich, Justice of the
Peace , and Daniel D. Van Clief.  Ths was probably done at that time in
preparation for their tri p west.

Peter's family at this time consisted of his wife Emily, two daughters,
Cornelia and Helena , aged seven and three, and an infant son, Marquis, less
than a year old.  No one seems to kn ow why his family didn't go with him to
California.  of course most of the trails across th e plains and mountains
were fairly new and since his children were so younng, perhaps they th ought
it best for his family to remain in Ohio.  However, his wife never joined him
in Califo rnia and his daughters didn't go until Cornelia was married and
Helena, at least seventeen ye ars old.  Peter's family is listed in the 1850
census, taken on Augusst 23, 1850 at Windsor T wp.  Peter's name is also given
with the occupation of lawyer even though he was in Californi a.  Besides the
three children mentioned above, listred in the census record, Emily's two you
nger sisters, Sarah and Alleiance, were living with her.  Marquis had died by
1860.  Family t radition says he died in infancy.  Cornelia and Helena
probably lived with relatives from th e time their mother died until sometime
before 1860.  In the 1860 census the two girls are li lsted as living with Mr.
and Mrs. L. Genney.  His occupation wa given as being a teacher an d Mary
Smith, aged 39, a teacher was also listed as living at the Genneys.  There
were seve n children between the ages of 6 and 17 listed so, perhaps, Cornelia
and Helene were llivin g in a boaaarding school at that time.  it wasn't until
about 1864 that they finally went t o California.

Sometime after April 1849 Peter, Daniel and Joel Eveland began their final
preparation for th eir trek west.  They loaded a vessel on the Muskingum Riber
and proceeded down the river to M arietta.  There, they joined the company and
headed west for California.  When the party arri ved at the Platte River it
was swollen by rains and thawing snow.  It was decided that it wa s impossible
or too dangerous to cross so they would camp there until the water receded. 
How ever, Peter, impatient at the delay, decided to go on alone.  He took some
equipment in a kna psack, his rifle, and swam his horse across the river and
continued on alone.  When Peter rea ched the high Sierra Nevada Mountains he
became snow blind and lost his way.  However, friend ly Indians helped him and
with them he saw Lake Tahoe.  He always believed that he was the fi rst white
man to see the lake.

Peter arrived in California in the fall of 1849.  For the first few years he
mined for gold i n El Dorado County.  Later, he was in Placer and Nevada
counties and finally he settled in Do wnieville, Sierra County where he again
engaged in the practice of law in about 1855 and wher e he lived for many
years.  In 1858 he was appointed district Judge of the tenth Judicial Dis
trict which included Sierra, Yuba, Suter, and Colusa counties, by Governor
Weller to fill a n unexpired term of two years.  He retained his home in
Downieville and resturned there to re sume the practice of law after his two
year term as judge had expired.  He had an important p art in all the
important litigation in Sierra and Plumas counties at that time.  From 1863 t
o 1865 he practiced law in Downieville with his son-in-law Hiram Gear and from
1865 to 1870 a t Quincy, in Plumas county.  In 1870 he moved to Marysville
California where he was associate d with Judge Ferdinand McCann and with his
son-in-law David Cowden.  In 1877 Peter moved to S an Francisco, California
where he practiced law with William M. Stewart and where they were l ater
joined by William F. Herin.  Shortly after William married Peter's daughter,
Annie, Pete r returned to his mountain home in Downieville.  There he formed a
partnership with Mr. Wehe .  In 1889 when the state legislature passed an act
providing for the appointment of five com missioners of the State Supreme
Court, Peter received an appointment in May as Commissioner a nd returned to
San Francisco where he filled his position as a jurist until his death in 1896

Judge Peter Van Clief was associated with the history of the state of
California for 47 years .  When he arrived in 1849, California was under the
control of Mexico. He participated in th e judicial development of the state
from the early years up to the time of his death.  He wa s a good writer and
frequently contributed articles to newspapers.  In politics he was indepe
ndent and fearless.  He would not hesitate to make his convictions known and
he had keen sens e of justice.The following story illustrates Judge Van
Clief's kindness and thoughtfulness o f others who had helped him in the past. 
When he was a young man teaching school in Ohio, h e became ill  and was well
cared for by the woman in whose house he was boarding.  Years late r in
California that woman's son was in trouble and went to Judge Van Clief for
legal keep .  After the case had been won, the Judge refused to take anything
in payment stating the h e had already been paid years before by the young
man's mother during his illness.

After Judge Van Clief's death, several friends gave testimonials of his high
character, integ rity and contributions to the legal profession.  The city of
Downieville flew the flag at hal f mast.  Thomas B.McFarland, Associate
Justice of the State Supreme Court said, "Peter Van Cl ief was a man of much
ability and learning.  He was thoroughgoing, and had a large practice b efore
he went on the bench.  I have known him since 1855 or '56".  Judge Searls, a
former Chi ef Justice of the State Supreme Court said, "I have known Peter Van
Clief intimately for ove r forty years.  He was a good lawyer, had a thorough
and logical mind, a fine constitution, a nd had a wonderful industry.  he was
not a great jury lawyer, but in the argument of law ques tions, and the
preparation of briefs for the court of last resort, he had very few superiors
.  He understood words and their meaning, and the English language

From the newspaper, "The San Francisco Call" for March 30, 1896, comes the
following remarks :                                                     "Judge
Van Clief was a man of the highe st integrity and a fast friend whose
character was unfolded the fullest only to his intimat e friends.  He has been
spoken of as a man of 'impracticable honesty.'  He had a judicial min d, was a
man of wide learning and thoroughly fitted for the responsible position he

Judge Peter Van Clief and Hester Ann Gillispie Birdsall, a widow, (born 15 Nov
1826 in Pennsy lvania or Southern Ohio) daughter of John Gillispie and Mary
Campbell, were married on May 24 , 1858 at Downieville, California.  According
to family tradiltion, Hester went by ship fro m the East Coast to the Isthmus
of Panama, crossed it, and went on to San Francisco, Californ ia by ship. 
They lived in Downieville, Marysville, California and also in San Francisco. 
Ju dge Van Clief died on November 29, 1896 in San Francisco at the home of his
son-in-law, Willi am F. Herin, which was located at 2530 Broadway, at 1:30 in
the afternoon.  About two month s previously he had returned from a visit to
Downieville and was taken ill.  He was buried i n San Francisco.  Sometime
after her husband's death, Hester moved to San Jose, California .  She died on
16 Jan. 1914 at San Jose and is buried there.
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