January 1883: Fisherman James Peace said he was the oldest guy in the county

The article below comes from the “Times & Gazette,”  January 27, 1883

The Oldest Inhabitant

Interesting Reminisceses of 65 Years Ago

History of an Old Fisherman

James Peace Claims a Residence in San Mateo County of over half a century —

In the year 1818 there sailed from English shores the shipe Neriad owned and controlled by the Hudson Bay Company. Upon reaching the Pacific Coast a delay of a month was necessary for repairs which were made at Monterey. From there the vessel visited the harbor of San Francisco. At that time there was not a habitation nor a living soul where now flourishes this great city.

A landing was made under the ? of Telegraph Hill, near where the seawall has been built. On this ship was a sailor named James Peace, aged 20 years. He had had trouble with the captain and mate and left their employ at this port and was landed and left to ? for himself. He found his way to the old mission where he was kindly cared for. After remaining there for a short time, he made his way south along the coast until he struck Half Moon Bay where he found a tribe of wild Indians ?. Peace took up his residence amongst this nomadic herd and built for himself a home.

Several years afterward he was taken prisoner by the Mexican government and held there for nearly two years. Matters were finally settled and he was allowed to return home. From that day to this James Peace has lived in San Mateo County–a residence of 65 years. In an early day he was possessed of considerable property, but owing to poor management he gradually lost all that he had gained until he retained only a small homestead.

Several years ago his son Tony shot and killed a man by the name of Clifford near Half Moon Bay. The trial and subsequent acquittal cost his father even his old home which had to be mortgaged for the cost of the expensive trial.

Since that time the old man now 86 years of age, has had to earn his living by fishing and digging clams in the creek near Redwood. All that he now has left is the boat, in which he lives, and from the small revenue derived from the sale of fish, he subsists.

Thinking that perhaps the old fellow’s history might contain something of interest, a T & G reporter called upon him the other day at his craf in a slough back of Belmont. We found him all alone preparing to put out his nets for the night.

It is Jimmy’s pride to tell about the first American flag that was ever unfurled in Half Moon Bay and he takes unto himself the honor of this act of patriotism.

He still has the old flag on his boat, which he showed us. In those early days Peace claims to have seen none of the race now called the “Greaser.”

At that time away from the mission, the country was uninhabited except by wild Indians. But as the Mexicans began to locate and intermarry with the natives, the foundation was laid for the “greaser” race of today.

Although 86 today, Jimmy is far from being feeble as is evidenced by his management of his boat and nets without aid. But there is no help for it; it is either work or starve. Peace is probably the oldest white resident int he state, and there does not live today the man that can truthfully dispute his claim as “the oldest inhabitant.”


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