Samuel King was born on the 16th of January 1806 in Abington, Washington County, Virginia. This information comes from the date found in a copy of the King Family Bible and on Samuel's own tombstone in the Savannah Cemetery in Rosemead, California. In the historical manuscript "Los Paisanos", King is named by his granddaughter as a native of Smythe County, Virginia [re: page 211]. Smythe County is the parent county of Washington County. Despite all these clues and the numerous amount of family history have not helped to identify Samuel's parentage. According to early Census records, there are few King families in Washington County. Many of these King families appear to be related to the prominent and wealthy Irish merchant, William King of Abington who left a million dollar estate upon his death in 1808. William King was married to a Mary Trigg; however, King's will proves that he left no issue. William's estate went to his brother James and sister, along with an allowance to his half-siblings Hannah Allen and Samuel King. This half-brother Samuel King died in 1811 leaving issue, but records found so far indicate only sons William, James, and Thomas. Still, further family records indicate a possible connection to the William King family. In 1869, Samuel King's son Andrew Jackson King of Los Angeles contacted a friend in Virginia to help engage a lawyer to recover money from the King estate and the response to this inquiry is found among the King family papers at UCLA. The response from Stephen Adams, Esq. Of Lynchburg, VA states, "Dear Sir ... Mr. J.J. Creed says you desire to correspond with some lawyer here with reference to the estate of Saml. King decd. who I suppose was the proprietor of King Salt Works in Washington County. The property is very valuable but I am now prepared to say much about the interest of Saml Kings heirs - I will enquire into it as requested by Mr. Creed and in the mean time please write on the particulars that may be within your knowledge. I will with pleasure attend to any interest you may have or any that you may have or any that you may represent..." [re: UCLA, King Papers, 07 Oct 1869]. The King Salt Works were never owned by Samuel King, but the business described in the letter are clearly those once owned by William King and later by his heirs. We also know from family letters that Andrew Jackson King's paternal grandmother was still alive in the 1860s in Dahlonega, Georgia. Unfortunately, we do not know her name, though a Nancy King, widow, is found living alone in Dahlonega in 1850 and 1860 census records. It may be that the grandmother's death came in 1869 and initiated attempts by the California King family to regain money that might have been due to them from the William King estate. Despite all of the evidence suggesting family ties to William King, there are several other King families that show up in Washington County records before William's arrival, by evidence of tax records. Very few of these households are shown on the first two Census records, which is where one would expect Samuel's family to appear [re: First U.S. Census; Washington Co, VA]. On the other side of the border in Tennessee there are several King families, especially in Hawkins County, though most of the records of that county were lost to fire.
By 1829, Samuel marries Martha Mee. In a local history of El Monte, Samuel and Martha are said to have married in 1828 in Tennessee [re: Prudhomme, "Los Paisanos" pg 211]. The source of this information is most certainly Lula Mayes, Martha Mee King's granddaughter. Martha was born on the 08th of October 1814, in a place called Chatta Farm in Tennessee [re: Family Bible & Tombstone; Savannah Cemetery]. The 1860 and 1880 Census both corroborate Martha's birthplace in Tennessee. The 1880 Census lists the birthplace of her father as England and the birth place of her mother as Tennessee [re: Census CA; El Monte entry #164]. Martha's father was most likely Joseph Mee who emigrated with his father from Virginia to Tennessee and who died in Bradley county, TN where he and his wife Nancy Rice Mee are buried in the Mee graveyard near Cleveland [re: History of Tennessee; Goodspeed Company (1887) Biog. of Columbus Mee, & survey of Mee Graveyard c1969]. According to the 1860 Census of California, Samuel and Martha's first child, Mary Ann, was born in 1830 in Tennessee. Mary Ann's tombstone at the Savannah Cemetery in Rosemead, California lists her birth place as Athens, Tennessee which is in McMinn County, a county where Joseph Mee's children left land records and a county which borders Bradley county.
In a biographical sketch of Samuel and Martha's son - the Honorable Andrew J. King - Samuel was living in Union County, Georgia in 1833 [re: the listed birth place of Andrew King]. The family eventually settles in the bordering county of Lumpkin where Samuel served as Sheriff for two terms (1834-36) and (1838-40) [re: History of Lumpkin County, Georgia]. Samuel was the second Sheriff of this newly formed county. The County Court House, now the Dahlonega Gold Museum, was built under Samuel's administration.
During the 1830s, Lumpkin County, Georgia was a frontier society, in the midst of a gold rush. Samuel's involvement with the "rush" is not clear, but in future times and generations the family would be very active in both mining and law. This area of Georgia was obtained from the forcible removal of the Cherokee Indians and many people were draw here to the cheap land or through the Cherokee Land Lottery. I have found no reference to the Samuel King as one of these settlers or lottery winners. Lists of white settlers living on Cherokee land in 1834, names Samuel King with five people in his household [re: Whites Among the Cherokees "Lumpkin Co., GA Census 1834", page 8]. On the same list is Rachel King with six in her household, William R. King with two in his household and on the same page, as Samuel, is Roswell King also with two in his household. By the 1838 Census of whites, Samuel King is found on page 9 with fourteen people in his household. A later Georgia Census lists Samuel King as a tanner and Andrew Jackson King's biographical sketch describes Samuel King as a tanner and saddlemaker, a profession which his sons would be trained in and would work as at various periods of their lives [re: California and Californians and 1860 Census Tulare County]. A deed dated the 14th of April 1834, records the purchase of a parcel of land [#130 & #135] in Dahlohnega township for $300.00. This purchase included a lot 1\4 acre in size with a house and a tanyard and was bought with a $5.00 promissory note from William Wiley. On the 16th of May 1834, Samuel King bought from John D. Field for $100.00, lot #985 in the twelfth district, first section of Cherokee County, Georgia. Sheriff Samuel King is mentioned briefly in the History of Lumpkin County, Georgia, in an anecdote about racing. It appears that King was an avid breeder and racer of horses and was tricked by a stranger, losing $500.00 in one race [re: Cain, page 77-78]. Samuel was the first to be elected as Sheriff for two terms and the only one in Dahlonega's early period to hold that position twice. His dual term as Sheriff suggest some wealth and status.
By evidence of the 1840's census, Samuel King moved his family to Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas. The Census shows Samuel as head of a household with three male children, one female child, three men between the ages of 30 and 40 years old and a man and a woman 40 to 50 years old. Samuel is listed in the Richland Township. The children fit the ages of the King children, although one daughter is missing who must have been Margaret who must have died young. The three men, 30 to 40 years old, are listed as working in agriculture and may have been boarders, hired laborers, or slaves that were entered incorrectly as white men on the Census. In 1849, Samuel King moves his family to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he was contracted to cargo food to various government forts, using mules [re: King, Wrangl'n in the Past, page 17].
In 1852, Samuel King lead a group of pioneer colonists along the Southern route to Los Angeles County, California [re: California & Californians, A.J. King biographical sketch, Frank M. King, & "Los Paisanos"]. The Kings settled along the San Gabriel River, in what was once the San Franciscito Rancho, which had been purchased by Englishman, Henry Dalton [re: Ranchos Become Cities, W.W. Robinson]. Both Samuel and his son Samuel Houston purchased parts of the San Franciscito. It is written that the King family laid out a village along the San Gabriel River called Lexington, which was later consolidated with a neighboring township know as, Willows, to make what is now known as El Monte [re: California & Californians & William H. King, "Thesis" (Clarmont, 1966)]. Don Carlos Prudhomme recorded stories of the King Family's arrival in 1852 along with other pioneers, such as: Dr. Mayes, Robert Tweedy, Dr. Whistler, Edmund Tyler, Frank Talmadge Richard C. Fryer, John Guess, Jacob Weil, W.B. Lee, Charles Cunningham, and others. However, Prudhomme attributes the founding of Lexington to Captain William Johnson who also arrived in 1852:
"This party, composed of J. R. Johnson, Micia Johnson, Frank Johnson, John M. James, Hugh Witeford, Barney Ross, the leader, William Johnson, and a number of others, arrived in El Monte in the [F]all of 1852. Many recruits joined the train as it traveled along its route. Some of the names were Tweedy, Guess, Fryor, and Talmadge. There were eighty wagons with unbound iron wheels...Through the wilderness of what is now Nebraska and Colorado, the followed the trail to Santa Fe, New Mexico...they forded the Colorado river, journeyed through the great Mojave desert, following the Rio de las Animas...and found themselves in the San Bernardino valley...Captain Johnson named the location Lexington, but it later became a part of El Monte."
[re: Manuscript; "Los Paisanos" Chapter 26]
The sketch of Andrew Jackson King mentions that Samuel King "laid out Lexington", not founded it suggesting he may have surveyed or owned the land. The only deed located for Samuel is a deed of sale between Samuel and Martha King to K. H. Dimmick for land in "a place called city of Lexington", which for $100.00 Samuel sold Dimmick two blocks shown on a map by Henry Hancock in the northeastern quarter of the city [re: LA Deed Book 3, pg 35/6; 25 Nov 1854]. Later deeds suggest that Samuel owned a large portion of the land which would later become Lexington. Numerous deeds of sale are found in 1869 between Martha King and her children to various pioneers who purchased lots in Lexington. Though the record of Samuel's initial purchase has not been located it is clear that the King family owned a substantial portion of the city.
The early life and early character of El Monte is reflected in the history of King family. In his memoirs, "Sixty Years in Southern California", Newmark portrays the citizens of the Monte in this romanticized passage: "While tilling the soil, these farmer folks made it their particular business to keep Whigs and, later, Republicans out of office; and slim were the chances of those parties in El Monte and vicinity, bur correspondingly enthusiastic were the receptions given Democratic candidates and their followers visiting there. Another important function that engaged these worthy people was their part in the lynchings which were necessary in Los Angeles. As soon as they received the cue, the Monte boys galloped into town; and being by temperament and training, through frontier life, used to dealing with the rougher side of human nature, they were recognized disciplinarians. The fact is that such was the peculiar public spirit animating these early settlers that no one could live and prosper at the Monte who was not extremely virile and ready for any dare-devil emergency."
[re: page 91]
As Newmarks writing suggests, this era was one where violent action was seen as survival and as admirable. The Kings were clearly active participants in the age of vigilantes and gunfights. They were probably involved in groups like the Knights of the Golden Circle who were sympathetic to the South. This group is described by an informant as, "We had a big lodge in El Monte, almost everyone belonged except three or four living down on what was known then as "Black Republican Alley" - the Durfees, the Johnsons and a few others ..." [ref: "Historical Society of S. CA", Vol. 29, pg. 56]. It is interesting to note the Johnson name among the Republicans, since the Kings feuded with the Johnsons in El Monte. In 1854, John H. Hughes formed the Monte Rangers, a vigilante group formed to protect the villagers. The Rangers included Jack King, Samuel's son as well as a close family friend John G. Downey, who would later become Governor of California. In 1861, Jack King organized the Monte Mounted Rifles, who won support from Governor Downey, despite their strong sympathies with the South. The Monte Mounted Rifles were formed at the Monte Exchange on Saturday the 23rd of March 1861 and the Governor sent them arms in April; however, the Union troops confiscated them at San Pedro [re: Looney, Percivel J, "Southern California in the Civil War Days"].
Samuel was killed on a Sunday afternoon in a gun fight by a man named Micajah Johnson, in 1855. Samuel died on the 8th of January. The news arrived in San Francisco aboard the steamer Goliah, which arrived from San Diego on January 15th, "...bringing news of...the murder...of a man named Johnson by the 'King' boys." [re: "Annals of San Francisco", Historical Society of S CA Quarterly, Vol 15, pg 270]. Frank M. King writes that Johnson was later killed by Samuel's son Samuel Houston King at Tehachapi Pass [re: Wranglin' in The Past page 18]. "The Los Angeles Star", recounts the incident in an article dated the 11th of January 1855. This article reads:
"A most fatal affray occurred in the Monte on Sunday afternoon between Samuel King and sons and Micajah Johnson. The particular, as far as we can learn are as follows: Johnson was in a drinking house and took occasion, in the presence of one of the sons of Mr. King to call him a scoundrel and many vile epithets which it is useless to mention. Young King told Johnson that he should not take up the quarrel as he did not consider himself man enough for Johnson, but he would find one who would and left the grocery and went home. Shortly after this Johnson saw King and his sons coming towards him, and he got on his horse apparently with the intention of leaving. Raising his hat and bidding the bystanders Good Day. Whether there were any words passed between King and Johnson we have not learned, but in the examination it was proved that King fired first, and is supposed to have wounded Johnson, whose horse threw him off, who then retreated into a house and as King came up fired upon him. The shot taking effect in his [King's] left breast, in the upper lobe of the left lung, passing entirely through and mortally wounding him. King immediately got off from his horse and lay down on the ground, telling his sons he was dying, and calling upon them to avenge his death. Johnson then attempted to escape but was pursued by the Kings knocked down and severely beaten. Johnson then retreated to a house, barricaded the door, which was broke down by his pursuers, who entered the premises, and shot him down. Two balls taking effect in his side, one in the head and one in the arm. Johnson died almost immediately from the wounds in his head and side. The young Kings after their father's death came in and gave themselves up, and their examination is now being held. We forbear dwelling on this painful occurrence, as doubtless there will be legal proceedings instituted."
As it is mentioned earlier, Johnson does not seem to have been a stranger, but was known to the King family and Micajah was probably related to the Johnson family who settled El Monte and arrived the same year as the Kings. There is certainly more behind this story than the papers suggests.
Samuel King is buried in the Pioneers cemetery in El Monte, now known as the Savannah Cemetery. None of his son were convicted in the death of Micajah Johnson. Martha Mee never remarried and remains in the Los Angeles area. Martha later lives with her son, Andrew Jackson King and her death is recorded on the 26th of May 1886. She is buried next to her husband in the Savannah Cemetery.
Samuel's children are well documented in both published and private sources. Frank King's books clearly name all of Samuel & Martha (Mee) King's children. Months after the King - Johnson gunfight, the King brothers are involved in other incidents. In a letter of response to the article "A Yuma Tragedy". R. Olsen elaborates on the King Family's reputation in Los Angeles. "four horse thieves were lynched by vigilantes from El Monte, who were arrested. Frank King signed a petition demanding the release of theses men, calling them "some of our Best Citizens," and they were never tried. Finally, on January 29, 1857, the three King brothers were principles in a lynch murder. A Mexican, thought by some to be Jose Santos, one of a notorious band of outlaws that had killed the sheriff and instigated revolution, and by others to be an inoffensive servant was wounded and cornered in a swamp near San Gabriel. The swamp was set on fire, and while the owner of the land was imploring the gathering mob to capture the man alive, the Mexican raised his head above the reeds, and was shot and killed by one of the King brothers. The mob wanted to whip the body; later, at San Gabriel, the corpse was stabbed, mutilated, and decapitated by a drunken mob, and three more persons were killed."
[re: Magazine, Olsen, R.; "Truly Western" 1980?]
Samuel Houston King
Samuel Houston King was born in Dahlonega, Lumpkin County, Georgia on the 15th of April 1836 to Samuel & Martha (Mee) King [re: King Family Bible; copy made by Frank M. King]. Samuel and his brothers strongly identified with the South and held great attachment to their native region, even as residents of California. During the Civil War, both Samuel and Andrew Jackson were admonished by local California governmental officials for joining in a public demonstration, mourning a Confederate General Beauregard. Little is known of Samuel's education or early life in Georgia. He was known as a crack shot, fine horseman and like all of the family fiercely loyal to friend and family.
The first record of Samuel is in the 1860 Census in Tulare County in Visalia where he is listed as a saddlemaker with $500.00 worth of property and living with or near a wealthy tanner. Also in his household is his brother Francis Marion. Frank M. King recalls in one of his books, that Samuel joined in partnership with Lud Bacon, raising stock in Tulare. On the first of April 1860, Samuel marries the daughter of a local farmer and stockraiser, David Biggs. His daughter, Jacqualina was part Cherokee and tribal records would show payments that were made to her and her children by King as members of the "Old Settler Cherokee".
Samuel moved back to El Monte by 1863, and according to his son Frank M. King, he went into business, dealing in sheep. Maymie R. Krythe in her history of the Bella Union Hotel, mentions that Samuel was raising sheep with former California Governor John G. Downey, who had been a close friend of the King family. Many of Krythe's information on the Kings appear to come directly from Frank King, the author and son of Samuel and Jacquelina. A photograph of Samuel Houston dating about 1860-70, and possibly taken in San Luis Obispo is inscribed "from the Comfort". The "Comfort" must have been the name of a ranch or farm owned by the King or Biggs family. The Los Angeles "Great Register" of 1866 lists Samuel H. King, 30 years of age born in Georgia and a trader in El Monte. Los Angeles county deeds indicate that in 1866, Samuel King purchased from Henry Dalton and John Wheeler, 100 acres of the Rancho San Francisquito between Los Angeles and El Monte [re: DB 8, pg 53/4; 30 May 1866]. King paid $1,200.00 for this tract of land, which the deed describes as "...the land King now resides on...". Deeds also show that in 1869, Samuel, his mother and his siblings sell off numerous lots in the City of Lexington.
A great deal of material on Samuel H. King comes through his various involvement's in violent battles in Southern California. Probably the most famous of all is the King-Carlisle gunfight at the Bella Union. There are several versions of the story in existence and the surviving remains of court records, family records, and eye witness account all contain some differences. As one of the most famous fights of early Los Angeles history, the gunfight leaves us with one of the more interesting records concerning this family. In the fight, Samuel's brother Francis Marion would be killed and Samuel would be left seriously wounded. Both family and court records indicate that the incident stemmed from the hostility between Andrew Jackson King, the then acting under-sheriff of Los Angeles County and brother to Samuel and Frank with Robert S. Carlisle. Among family history, newspapers accounts and published histories, the cause of the friction between Jack King and Robert Carlisle has never been noted. A recent publications on the Mission of San Gabriel, provides an insight into this part of the fight. Robert S. Carlisle (01 March 1827 - 06 July 1865), has been described as handsome, strong and quick tempered. He had married the daughter of Col. Isaac Williams and owned the Chino Rancho. Carlisle had gained control by power-of-attorney of the valuable Merced property of John Rains' widow through coercion. Carlisle had defrauded the widow by convincing her to give him power-of-attorney, thus seizing control of the large ranch. On May 18, 1865, Judge Samuel Bell McKee transferred control of Merced's property to Andrew J. King, finding the widow's property to be at risk. As friends of John Rains, the Kings took Carlisle's actions personally and were quick to step in and protect the widow's property. On the 5th of July, A.J. King and Robert Carlisle crossed paths at the wedding of Miss Caroline Newmark and Solomon Lazard, which was being held at the Bella Union Ballroom. King and Carlisle entered the bar at the Belle Union at the same time.
"At midnight the wedding reception was well under way when Carlisle and A.J. King happened to step into the bar, he said quite loudly, "Jack [Andrew] King is a g** d** s*** a**". King reacted by slapping Carlisle on the face with his open hand. They grappled and were separated. King went off toward the ballroom. After a few minutes Carlisle followed. But King ignored him until Carlisle, using his dirk, attacked King and cut his right hand. Then Carlisle drew his pistol. King escaped out the door, and with his uninjured hand fired at Carlisle. The shot went astray. Carlisle then returned to the ballroom, acting as if nothing had happened. King was given immediate attention by Dr. John B. Griffin who stopped the bleeding, and probably saved King's life".
On the 6th of July, Samuel H. King arrived in Los Angeles on his way to the port of Wilmington to ship his wool. Upon stopping at his brother's offices in the city and hearing of the stabbing, Samuel swore revenge. Samuel and Jack's other brother Francis went to seek out Carlisle and found him at the Bella Union. At that time, the Bella Union hotel was the center of Los Angeles social life and more importantly was the center of Southern social life. Upstairs, during the battle, the Newmark family were still celebrating the recent wedding [ref: "Ninety-six Years in California"; Newmark]. It is at this juncture that the stories of the fight become less clear. With the arrival of the Kings and the report of the first shot, anyone within sight ran for cover. Despite the fact that over 30 witnesses were called at the trial of Samuel King, it is unlikely anyone really saw the whole fight. It is known that Samuel Houston killed Carlisle, but not before he had been shot in the chest. Frank King was also killed. In Krythe's detailed version of the gunfight, which draws from both King's written version and court records, it appears that the fight started on the street. Krythe writes that Carlisle took refuge in the Bella Union Bar, shooting at the King brothers with the cover of the hotel's adobe walls. She notes that it was Frank who returned the shots emptying his Colt revolver; however, Samuel did not shoot until he reached the bar itself. It was upon opening the door that Samuel was hit in the chest, the bullet piercing his lung and passing through his shoulder. Still having been hit, "Samuel couldn't raise his right arm, but cocked his pistol and flipped the muzzle up, he hit Carlisle four times in the stomach...", Frank then struck Carlisle on the head with his emptied pistol. [re: Krythe, pg. 173-4]. It was at this point that Frank was mortally wounded. In Frank M. King's version, an unnamed gunman, a friend of Carlisle, appeared from the card room and shot Frank King in the back, piercing his heart. Samuel, though wounded saw the whole interplay. This version was not presented in court and appears only in Frank King's book. Frank King claimed that the gunman was known to the King family and came from a respectable Texas family who were friends with the Kings. The Kings wished to preserve his family's honor and thus never made the story public. In "California and Californians", this version is said to have no claim to truth, that Francis was killed by Carlisle or by Samuel's stray bullet. Frank M. King writes that his father, out of loyalty to the Texas family, would never reveal the name of the unknown gunman, but claims to have killed him later in Texas. Samuel Houston King was acquitted of any wrong doing, but left El Monte for Texas and finally for the Cherokee Nation. Andrew Jackson King remained in Los Angeles and prospered as a prominent lawmaker, judge and became the publisher of Los Angles' first daily newspaper, the "Star".
On the 05th of March 1873, Samuel Houston leaves California on the old Butterfield trail for Texas [re: Frank M. King]. It is said that his motive was to track down the killer of his brother Francis, but it seems just as likely that he went to claim his wife's share of the Federal Governments settlements with the Old Setters of the Cherokee Nation. Frank relates that Samuel was able to obtain 160 acres for each of his children which would have been 800 acres plus his wife's claim. This land transaction seems unlikely and I have found no evidence for it. In a letter written to Ada Jones, Frank King mentions being registered at Talaqua in 1873 and given the registration number 2349. This record too has not been proven, since there was not registration at that time. The King family appear on the 1896 payroll list for the Old Settler Cheorkee; however, all of the Kings were living in Arizona by that time.
After failure in Oklahoma, the family moved again, to New Mexico where Samuel had lived for awhile with his parents in the 1840s. In New Mexico, Samuel became involved in mining and in mercantile [re: Frank M. King]. The 1880 Census records Samuel in Golden, New Mexico and lists his occupation as a miner. Frank King also mentions a store which Samuel ran in Golden. Indications are that the family probably prospered here, acquiring money which Samuel would use to buy land in Arizona.
After this period, Samuel seems to have returned to El Monte, but then finally moved to Arizona where he entered into several projects involving ranching and mining in Yuma, Phoenix, and Florence. Records of his life at this time are less accessible, since deeds and tax records are dispersed in county court houses in Arizona. Frank King also left no record of his father's life in Arizona, leaving little family history to fill in the gaps. In 1887, Jacqualina dies in Phoenix, Arizona and is buried there. The 1900 Census records Samuel as a rancher in the Summerton area of Yuma County. An article in an Arizona paper records an accident which Samuel breaks his leg in/on a wagon/horse. Samuel dies in Florence, Pinal County, Arizona on the 13th of April 1915.