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COOMBS, Nathan

COOMBS, Nathan

Male 1826 - 1877  (51 years)

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  • Name COOMBS, Nathan 
    Born 1826  Middleboro, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Buried Dec 1877  Tulocay Cemetary, Napa, Napa, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 26 Dec 1877  Napa, Napa, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I5510  Parker/Collis Genealogy
    Last Modified 5 Jun 2011 

    Father Coombs, Elnathan 
    Mother Hinkley, Abigail 
    Family ID F3030  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family GORDON, Maria Isabella,   b. 27 Aug 1831, San Francisco del Rancho Toas, Mexican Territory Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 May 1890, Napa, Napa, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 58 years) 
    Married 1845  Sutter's Fort, Mexico Find all individuals with events at this location 
    +1. COOMBS, William,   b. Jan 1846, Cache Creek, Yolo, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Dec 1900  (Age ~ 54 years)
    +2. COOMBS, Evalina,   b. Abt 1848, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Sep 1937, Napa, Napa, California Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 89 years)
     3. COOMBS, Nathan,   b. Abt 1849, Napa, Napa, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Aug 1895  (Age ~ 46 years)
    +4. COOMBS, Franklin Leslie,   b. 27 Dec 1853, Napa, Napa, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 5 Oct 1934, Napa, Napa, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years)
    +5. COOMBS, Levi,   b. Abt 1857, Napa, Napa, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 11 Apr 1937, Napa, Napa, California Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 80 years)
    Family ID F2011  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Nathan Coombs.jpg
    Nathan Coombs.jpg

  • Notes 
    • "History of Solano and Napa Counties, California with Biographical Sketches of The leading men and women of the Counties, who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present time., History by Tom Gregory and other well known writers., Illustrated ~ Complete in one volume, Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California, 1912, p 882.
      The late Hon. Nathan Coombs was a pioneer of 1843 in California. De­scended from colonial ancestry, he was born at Middleboro, on Cape Cod, Mass.. in 1826, and early lost his father by death and later his mother became the wife of a Dr. Carpenter. The family moved to Iowa and settled at Muscatine, from which place, in 1842, young Coombs, at the age of sixteen, made his way across the plains to Oregon. The long and difficult journey was filled with many dangers, Indians were troublesome, the trail was often lost, wild beasts roamed the forests, water was scarce on the plains, but at last he reached his destination in safety. After spending one year there, he made the journey to California, arriving in the summer of 1843. He stopped in what is now Yolo county and secured employment on the Gordon ranch and it was there he met and wooed the daughter of his employer, Isabella Gordon. In the spring of 1845 the young people rode on horseback to Sutter’s Fort, a distance of about twenty miles, and were married by Capt. John Sutter. Returning to the Gordon ranch they remained but a short time, coming to the section that is now embraced in Napa county in June that year, and pur­chased land at Trubody. This Mr. Coombs farmed for a time, then selling it, he bought a tract of land from Salvador Vallejo and in 1848 laid out the town site of Napa. From that time until his death he was one of the most prominent factors in the building up of both city and county, and was known and esteemed throughout the entire west. He participated in the strenuous life of that early period and was of the Bear Flag party, the reckless daring of which at Sonoma has become a part of our traditions.
      Mr. Coombs found that horses of a good grade were not to be had in California and decided to make a trip to Kentucky in search of some good stock. Riding was the only means of travel and horses brought a good price and a fine animal was much admired. In 1857 he made the trip by way of the Isthmus of Panama. purchased several stallions, the most noted being Lilly Cheatham and Ashland, which were in all probability the first thoroughbred stock imported into this section of the state. On his ranch adjoining the town he raised many fine animals, some of which he sold. and others for his own use, and being a lover of horseflesh was interested in racing and became a patron of the turf. He also raised a great many cattle which roamed at will, as there were no fences to hinder them, and in this way obtained the best of forage.
      During the days of frontier life Mr. Coombs had many thrilling experi­ences. Once he was attacked by a grizzly bear that pulled him from his horse, struck him across the chest and tore flesh and muscles of his body and arm. By good fortune he escaped, but to the day of his death he suffered from the effects of that encounter. With that exception he possessed a robust constitution and great powers of endurance. In the midst of perplexing con­ditions he maintained an equable disposition and a fearlessness that were his distinct characteristics. Throughout his community he was known as a man of excellent judgment and his counsel was often sought by acquaintances and associates. The early settlers looked upon him as a councillor in many questions touching their titles to their lands. He was a liberal contributor to all charitable enterprises and to all measures for the upbuilding of the city and county of Napa. He was a member of the Society of California Pioneers of San Francisco, interested in all things that showed the growth of the Golden State.
      The death of this pioneer occurred December 26. 1877, when he was fifty- one years old, and his wife died at the age of fifty-five years. They had seven children, five of whom attained mature years: William ; Eva, who married Hon. J. M. Coghland; Nathan; Frank L. and Levi. Mr. Coombs served in the California legislature during the sessions of 1855 and 1857 and in later years was urged at many times to accept public honors, but steadfastly refused. Mrs. Coomb’s father, William Gordon, a native of Pennsylvania, crossed the plains in 1824 to Mexico, locating at Taos, where he married Miss Lusario, of Castilian parentage. He brought his family to California in 1840, and engaged in stock raising on a large scale on Cache Creek, Yolo county. His ranch was the rendezvous of the Bear Flaggers during the Mex­ican war. Mr. Gordon became a leader in all the early events of his section and died in Lake county in 1876. Perhaps no man in early California was better known, no one had more friends, no one could have been more trusted, and no one of the early timers died more lamented."

      Nathan Coombs & Isabel Gordon - from Napa Register, p 12-A, Saturday, March 30, 1963, John Eagan (The added text in Parentheses is from the book, Men of the Bear Flag revolt."

      18 year old Nathan Coombs and 14 year old Isabel Gordon rode horseback 20 miles from the Gordon ranch in Yolo County to Fort Sutter where they were married by General J. A. Sutter. They rode back home the same night, arriving about midnight, after two families destined to play major roles in the history of Napa County had been joined by the wedding. (they had no shoes to get married in and rode on the same horse. When the priests discovered this non-Catholic wedding, they sent a notice that it was invalid- the same treatment given to Cyrus Alexander who coughed up $300 wanted by the priest. Both were incensed, especially now that they already had children who were now "Illegitimate," but the Coombs had no money to pay and disregarded the order. Cyrus Alexander married Rufina Lucero, who was the younger sister to Isabel's mother, Maria Juana.*)

      Nathan was born in Middleboro, Mass., on Cape Cod, in 1826. His father died while Nathan was very young and his mother moved the family to the small settlement of Muscatine in what is now the state of Iowa where she remarried, becoming the wife of a Dr. Carpenter. In 1842 the family moved to Oregon with a caravan destined for Portland. A youth of 16, Nathan was the "game boy" for the group, going ahead and hunting for food. The caravan followed closely what is now the Southern Pacific right of way.

      Later, Coombs moved south and arrived at the Gordon ranch via the Columbia River and Sacramento Valley trail at the age of 18. While working for Gordon, a romance developed with Isabel.

      (Nathan came to California with the Hastings-Clyman Party from Oregon in 1843. Sutter gave them passports. All were disappointed with the slowness and complications of obtaining title to land in Oregon and a lack of markets for goods. In the fall of 1843, he and a party of five or six went after a grizzly prowling around William Gordon's cattle. Coombs was on a "half-broke" horse, the horse ran into a thicket, and the grizzly knocked down the horse and raked Coombs across the arm and chest, tearing the flesh. His dog hung on to the rear of the horse for dear life, distracting bruin. Fellow hunters rescued Coombs. In 1844 Nathan applied for naturalization papers. He worked for Wm Gordon for a while. He bought a farm of Salvador Vallejo 1-1/2 miles east of Napa, in Brown's Valley.*)

      He also acquired other land there with William Gordon, the Coombs and Gordon-Chimiles Rancho, 4 square leagues (17,762 acres) in Napa County, granted in 1846 by Governor Pio Pico. Coombs and Gordon filed a claim on that land in 1852 and it was confirmed by the federal court on 27 July 1857.

      When Coombs first came to Napa, he and Captain John Grigsby did carpenter work on Nicolas Higuerra's adobe house and received the land where Coombs was later to establish Napa in payment for the work. Grigsby later disposed of his share to Coombs and the young pioneer surveyed and laid out the city streets of Napa in the spring of 1848. He fought with Captain John C Freemont in the Mexican War. He and John Grigsby were both part of the Bear Flag Party. Nathan Coombs later was elected to two terms in the California Assembly and served in the lower house in the sixth (1855) and 11th (1860) sessions.

      Nathan Coombs was best known for his love of race horses. In 1870 he went to Kentucky where he and a friend, Wolfskill purchased several thoroughbred horses. The horses were floated down the Mississippi River by barge, then taken by boat to the Isthmus of Panama and then were ridden overland to the Pacific Ocean. They were then loaded onto ships and sailed to San Francisco, and finally arrived in San Francisco. On his land he raised many fine animals, some of which he sold. He also raised cattle which roamed at will, as there were no fences.

      * from "Men of the California Bear Flag Revolt and their Heritage," by Barbara R Warner.

      Nathan crossed the plains from Iowa in seach of health at age 18. Became a naturalized citizen of Mexico in 1844. He was the first bridegroom of Yolo County when he married William Gordon's daughter, Isabelle, in 1845. He purchased a Napa Valley ranch from Salvador Vallejo. He rode into Sonoma with the Bear Flag Filibusters under the Kelsey bothers in June of 1846 but seems to have taken no further part in the affair. Upon the discovery of gold he laid out the town of Napa on his grant, a venture that made him exceedingly wealthy.

      He served in the California Legislature of 1855, was a Captain of State Militia in 1863, became a noted patron of the turf and breeder of thoroughbred stock, dying in 1877.
      Nathan Coombs (c.1824-1877) — of Napa County , Calif. Born in Massachusetts. Married 1845 to Isabel Gordon (1831-1890); father of Frank Leslie Coombs grandfather of Nathan F. Coombs Member of California state assembly 10th District, 1855-56, 1860-61. Died in Napa, Napa County , Calif., December 26, 1877

      1850 United States Federal Census
      Name: Nathan Coombs
      Age: 26 farmer value $20,000
      Estimated birth year: abt 1824
      Birth Place: Massachusetts
      Gender: Male
      Home in 1850 (City,County,State): Nappa, Napa, California
      Isabella age 19 born Santa Fe, New Mexico
      William age 3 California
      Evalina age 1 California
      Joseph Gordon age 14 Born Taos, New Mexico
      Sarah Gordon Age 11 Born Taos, New Mexico

      1860 United States Federal Census
      Name: Nathen Coombs
      Age in 1860: 36
      Birth Year: abt 1824
      Birthplace: Massachusetts
      Home in 1860: Napa, Napa, California
      Gender: Male
      Post Office: Napa
      Value of real estate:
      Household Members: Name Age
      Nathen Coombs 36
      Elizabeth Coombs 27
      William Coombs 14
      Evalena Coombs 13
      Franklin Coombs 7
      Nathen Coombs 11
      Levy Coombs 3
      Nancy Coombs 28 servant
      John Coombs 24 cook
      Joseph Hinkley 23 day labor
      Franklin Hinkley 22 day labor
      C Coyle 44 carpenter
      Wm Thorp 36 Stock raiser
      C Briggs 42 hostler
      Louis Rowley 22 day labor
      John Williams 21
      Wm Emery 28

      1870 United States Federal Census <> about Nathan Coombs
      Name: Nathan Coombs
      Estimated birth year: abt 1825
      Age in 1870: 45
      Birthplace: Massachusetts
      Home in 1870: Napa, Napa, California
      Elizabeth 24
      Willie 23
      Nathan 19
      Frank 18
      Levy 12
      Race: White
      Gender: Male
      Value of real estate:
      Post Office: Napa City