Daniel Carlisle, California 49er & Early Pioneer of Oakland

Daniel Carlisle, Miner
Louisville, El Dorado, California, 1850
Source: Ancestry

Daniel Carlisle was born c1825 in Kent, Ontario, Canada, the son of Daniel Carlisle and Elsie Stover. Both of his parents were children of Loyalists – Robert and Catherine Carlisle and Peter and Matilda Stover – who settled in Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada by the 1790s.

I found a small treasure trove of information about Daniel and his family, who are part of the documented California Pioneer collection at the California State Library in Sacramento.

Daniel died (reportedly, per pioneer letter at the California State Library) in December 1883, Fort Worth, Tarrant, Texas, which I questioned, at first, because of his long life in California. However, there was an explanation of sorts.

Daniel was likely born in Harwich, which was a township in Kent County, Ontario, Canada and would have been one of the younger children born to his parents, as they likely married c1810.

His early life was spent in Harwich, with Daniel Sr. filing a land patent for Lot 7 in Harwich in 1837. However, the Canada Company resold that land in 1844. I haven’t been able to find any record of Daniel selling the land to them. Perhaps he fell behind on payments or taxes and it reverted back.

In any case, by 1840, Daniel Carlisle Sr. had moved his family across the border and settled in La Porte County, Indiana, where they appear in the census. Daniel’s sister, Elcey, married in January 1841 in Berrien County, Michigan, just to the north of Indiana, and stated that she was a resident of Door Prairie, La Porte County, Indiana.

Indiana records are locked on FamilySearch, so I haven’t been able to look for probate or land records for Daniel Carlisle. However, it appears that he died before 1850 or moved elsewhere. Supporting that idea is the fact that Daniel Jr. married Minerva Adams in Fond du Lac, Grant, Wisconsin on 13 August 1848.

James Carlisle, who I believe to be Daniel Jr.’s brother, married Maria Helms there four days later on 17 August 1848. There are no Carlisles living in Grant County in 1850. Both Daniel and James had moved on.

Back now to Daniel Jr.’s story! Although Daniel was mining for gold in 1850, the whereabouts of wife Minerva are unknown. She had become one of thousands of wives known as California widows.

Minerva Adams was born sometime between 1828 and 1834, depending on the record one reads. The pioneer letters state she was born in Rochester, New York; census records for her all report New York as her birth state.

There is no evidence as to Daniel’s success, or more likely failure, as a gold seeker, but he liked life in California and by 1860, he, Minerva and their children were settled in Township 2 in Contra Costa County, where he was raising stock.

Township 2, Contra Costa County, CA, 1860
Source: Ancestry

The 1860s were a busy time for the family. Daniel uprooted and moved yet again, this time to Oakland in Alameda County. The Great Register of 1867 lists him as a teamster and includes the information that he was naturalized on 2 September 1867.

By 1870, Daniel had changed occupations once again, as he was listed as a carpenter in 1870, living in Oakland with his wife and family.

Oakland, Alameda, CA, 1870
Source: Ancestry

If the census real estate valuation of $5000 is to be believed, Daniel was doing quite well as a carpenter. Note that a surveyor, an architect and a laborer were all boarding with the family. Carlisle letters to the Pioneer project share that Daniel and Minerva ran the first hotel in Oakland. Perhaps he was just beginning to build the hotel at the time of the census.

This is the last census record in which I’ve found Daniel, even though the Pioneer letters say he died in Texas in 1883. A search for Minerva in 1880 might have brought up the reason for Daniel starting over in Fort Worth:

Minerva Carlisle, 1880
Source: Ancestry

Minerva and three of the children are living in San Francisco; Minerva’s marital status is clearly entered as D – divorced.

By 1887, Minerva was back living in Oakland, where she was found in the city directory, listed as the widow of Daniel Carlisle.


  1. Eveline, born c1854, California; died after 1870; no further record.
  2. Ida E., born c1856, California; died 1923, Napa County, California; married George B. Rieman, c1875, probably Alameda County, California. He was born c1849, Pennsylvania; died 1880 1900. They lived next door to Minerva Carlisle in 1880 in San Francisco. The family appears in the 1883 city directory. George was a photographer. They had a stillborn son in 1876 and daughter Georgina B., born November 1879; died May 1904; unmarried.
  3. Eudora, born 28 February 1859/60, California; died 8 February 1928, Napa County, California; married (1) John Davis Basnett. He was born January 1855, Missouri; died after 1900. (2) Harry E. Chapman, 11 December 1918, California.
  4. Laura, born August 1864, California; died between 1930-1940, California; married Jefferson M. Brown, c1882, probably Alameda County, California. He was born August 1860, Maine; died after 1940, possibly Mendocino County, California.
  5. Herbert Leslie, born c1867, California; died 23 October 1933, Alameda County, California; married Daisy Abigail Stevens, 11 September 1893, Alameda County, California. Daisy was born March 1865, California; died 11 July 1951, Alameda County, California. They divorced between 1910-1920.
  6. Ada Mae, born 13 November 1871, Oakland, Alameda, California; died 31 December 1931, Petaluma, Sonoma, California; married William David Ayers, 31 October 1892, Alameda County, California. He was born March 1869, California; died 1929, Petaluma, Sonoma, California.
  7. Forest Daniel, born 29 March 1875, Oakland, Alameda, California; died 22 September 1948, Alameda County, California; married Mary (MNU), c1909, probably Alameda County, California. They divorced before 1920 and may have had no children. (2) Hattie Runwill, 19 March 1921, Alameda County, California. Hattie was born 21 December 1872, California; died 10 January 1964, Alameda County, California. He was a barber in Oakland, Alameda, California in 1915. It appears Forest had no children.

Although Daniel and Minerva had seven children, Eveline is not found after 1870 and may have died young, and Ida had only one daughter who never married.

The other five children, however, provided Daniel and Minerva with thirteen known grandchildren, so there are descendants out there. I would love to make contact with them.

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