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As It Was: Benjamin F. Washington Publishes in Northern California

The great-great nephew of George Washington, Col. Benjamin Franklin Washington, headed West in 1849 at the height of the California Gold Rush.  He was born in Virginia, the great grandson of Lawrence Washington, became a lawyer and practiced law for many years before settling in California.

He first lived in Sacramento, where in 1852 he established the State Journal.  As it grew in influence, he soon purchased two more small papers.

In June 1865, he moved north to Tehama County to a large ranch not far from the Nomi Lackee Indian Reservation of the Wintun tribe.  His home was located by a spring and he named the ranch Washington’s Gardens.  He continued to practice law in Red Bluff and became the editor of the newly
established Examiner newspaper.

During the Civil War years, Washington stayed out of politics, although he was sympathetic to the South.  He was considered a forceful writer with a keen sense of humor.

Col. Washington died a widower, leaving behind two grown sons and two daughters, who attended the Mills Institute, known today as Mills College in Oakland.


Source: Washington, Thornton A. "Benjamin F. Washington." A Genealogical History, Beginning with Colonel John Washington, the Emigrant, and Head of the Washington Family in America. Press of McGill and Wallace, 1891, pp. 37-42, books.google.com/books?id=Nk_6FcFbiwkC. Accessed 5 Aug. 2018.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.