The subject of this sketch was a wondeful pioneer and it affords the
writer great pleasure to give the biography of such a useful
citizen. Mr. Rodgers came to California in 1849 from Missouri. He
was born a slave, but by a great effort, close study and appliation
seized every opportunity that might come to him along educational
lines, he finally acquired an education as a mining engineer and was
very successful in California. His knowledge soon made him one of the
most distinguished miners in all California . This statement willl be
borne out by the following facts in regard to his mining career in
California: He secceeded in working claims succesfully and
thereby was soon able to purchase several mines at Hornitos, Mariposa
County, California, located twenty-five miles from Merced.
In the Sixties he married Miss Sara Quivers of Snelling, California,
building a beautiful home for her at Quartzburg not far from his
mines. The marriage was blessed by the birth of five daughters,
to all of wom he gave the very best education California afforded. One
daughter graduated from the State University of Berkeley.
Moses Rodgers was one member of the race whose color the pioneers of
the opposite race never for a moment stopped to consider. He was
at all times treated as a distinguished citizen. The esteem with which
he was held can be better understood from the following quotation which
appeared in a pioneer paper, The Merced Star: "A carload of
machinery arrived at he depot last Friday, consigned to the Mount Gaines
Mine, Mariposa County. Moses Rodgers, of Horniots, than who there is no
better mining man in the State, has been engaged as its
superintendent. The standing and known energy of the men
backing the enterprise are a guarantee that the mine will be carefull
hlandled and worked on a paying basis. The Mount Gains Mine is well
known among mining men to the good mining property, and the new
arrangement and its undoubled success will mean a great deal for mining
in the vivinity of Hornitos".
Moses Rodgers was not only activley engaged in mining, but was
interested in and contributed liberally to every movement that was
of benefit to the race. In order that he might give his daughters
the advantage of better school facmilities, he removed his family to
Stockton, and built an elegant home which to this day is attractive
and is located on one of the best residence streets in the town.
There was no gas at that date in Stockton and he was the first to bore
for it. He did not give up his efforts until he had spent
thousands in boring a well and flow of gas was finally reached, but
hispartners wer not sateisfied and there ws nothing made of it.
A bank cashier for Merced, for whom he acted as bondsman, was accused
of a discrepancy in his accounty. The accusation grieved the bank
cashier so that, before the trial, he committed suicide and his
bondsmen had to make good the funds. Mr. Rogers' bond for
this cashier was thirty thousand dollars. The Court ruled that he,
together with the other bondsmen were compelled to pay their
bonds. Notwithstanding such heavy losses,h e was such a good
financier that he left his family comfortable, and they still retained
the homested in Stockton, together with a few of the mines.
At his death he left a host of warm and appreciative friends in both
races who fully valued his worth to the community, irrespective of
color. An idea of the many kind expressions concerning his death
will be given by the following clipping from the Merced Star, under
"Mariposa Items," October 25, 1890: "Saturday morning Moses
Rodgers died at his home in Stockton. He was well-known through
the Southern Mines, having arrived in the early fifties from Missouri,
where he was born a slave. He entered actively into mining
pursuits and followed mining the blance of his life. He was an expert in
his line and his opinion was always sought by intending purchasers fo
mines. He was a man of honor and his word was as good as his
bond. He was energic in his younger days and took a great interest
in helping along any good enterprise."
The following is one of many kind letters of condolences::
"San Francisco, Calfiornia October 22, 1900
Mrs. M. L. Rodgers, Stockton, Califonria
"Dear Madam: A card was received this morning notifying me
of the death of Mr. Rodgers, of which I am sorry to learn.
I have known Mr. Rodgers a long time and knew him only to respect
him. It is itrue he was a colored man, but I always regarded him
as thewhitest man in all my acquaintance of Mariposa County.
"In all his dealing and business relations inevery way he was as
honorable,high-toned a mans as I have ever met. When with him I never
had the feeling that he was a colored man. It never seemed to
occur to me. I have sat at his table many times and he at mine, and the
reflection that he was a colored man never entered myt mind. He
was a gentleman in every sense of the word. But he has gone and
many others of his day are dropping out. The time will soon come
when all of that generation will have passed. I must puthim down as one
of the ffiends who is forever gon.
"Very respectfully yours,
"William S. Chapman."
Mr. Moses Rodgers, at his death. left a widow and the following
daughers: Miss Adele Rodgers, a professional nurse in Stockton,
California; Mrs Wlinor Harrold, of Spokane, Washington, Miss Lulu
Rodgers, who for a number of yeasrs has been assistant Postmistress at Hornitos, california. She is also an artist with the
needle. She wsent to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition,
held in San Francisco, 1951, two exquisitepieces of handiwork, one of
embrodery and the other Mexican drawn-work. An idea of
their beauty and value may be had from the fact hat the ladies
who had charge of collecting the exhibit for San Joaquin County
carried the highest rate of insurance on her work of any of the exhibits
of embroidery, and the pieces were kept on display in a glass case during
the entire exposition.
Miss Vivian Rodgers, another daughter, graduated with the class of 1909
from the University of California, majoring in Science and
Letters. She afterward accepted a position as teacher in
the publich schools at Hilo, Hawaiian Islands. While there she
conracted the tropical fever, and after months of illness on the islands,
she returned to the United States and to her home in Stockton.
She never regained her streength and finally passed away. The
writer had the pleasure of meeting her and it seemed more than sad
that one so young, amiable and beautifully educated should have to pass
from the state of action.
Miss Nettie Rodgers is a modiste and is kept busy by the very best
families in Stockton who wish advanced styles. The entire family shows
clearly that they are well-born, and , if their father was so drand,
noble and good, the mother was equally so. She has left her imprint on
the daughters whom one has only to meet to realize thier superior
womahood and their gentleness of manners.
from- The Negro Trail Blazers of California-New York-Negro Universities Press, 1969- page 113
MARIPOSA COUNTY BIOGRAPHIES
MARIPOSA COUNTY HISTORY AND GENEALOGY