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Madera Biographies: LAREW

WILLIAM H. LAREW
                On account of the revocation of the edict of Nantes and the massacre of St. Bartholomew the Huguenot family of La Rue were forced to flee from France and seek safety in another land.  It was in this way that they became established in America and their settlement in Augusta County, Va., antedated the opening of the Revolutionary war.  From there they removed to Monroe County, now a part of the state of West Virginia, but then included in the Old Dominion.  Later generations gave the family name to Larue County, Ky., noted in history as the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.  The original spelling of LaRue is still followed by some branches of the family, but others have adopted the simple form of Larue, while others have changed the spelling to Larew.
            The founder of the family in America was Abraham La Rue, whose son Isaac, born in Augusta County Va., was the father of Jacob, a planter of August County and the first to adopt the Americanized spelling of Larew.  His son, Peter, removed to Monroe County, where he was the owner of a large plantation and remained on that estate until his death.  During the war of 1812 he was a soldier in the American army.  Of his two sons the elder, Jacob removed to Missouri.  The younger, John M., who became the possessor of the old plantation, lived to be about seventy-seven years of age and died in the house where he was born.  During the Civil war he served in the commissary department and his oldest son, Peter, was also in the army for a short time.
            The Larew estate comprises a plantation of five hundred and fifty-five acres, situated three miles from Red Sulphur Springs in what is now West Virginia.  The residence was erected by the grandfather, Peter Larew, and has since been added to from time to time.   Built after the southern style of architecture, it forms one of the picturesque features of the locality.  Since its purchase the property has never been out of the family’s possession and is now the home of several of the children of John M. Larew.  The later married Sarah Peters, who was born in Monroe County and died there in 1862 thirty years before the death of her husband.  She was a daughter of Col. Conrad Peters, who was born in Monroe County, Va., of German extraction, and married Clara Snidow, of Giles County, Va., also a descendant from German ancestry.  In the family of John M. and Sarah (Peters) Larew there were eight children, all of whom are still living.  Clara Peters, Peter and Mary Ann still occupy the family residence and Conrad Lewis resides upon a portion of the old homestead.  William Henry and his youngest brother, John Snidow, are attorneys-at-law in Madera and Mariposa respectively.  Margaret R. married Walter McClaugherty, and attorney of Blue field, W. Va., and James Alexander follows farm pursuits in Mariposa County, Cal.
            At the family homestead in Monroe County, W. Va., William Henry Larew was born February 8, 1855, and there he attended the district schools.  At the age of sixteen he began to teach not far from the old plantation.  From the time he was eighteen until twenty years of age he taught in the home district where he had attended school in boyhood.  In 1875 he came to California with his brother Peter, the latter returning east in 1884.  The former secured work in a warehouse at Winters, Yolo County, and then attended the state normal school at San Jose for seven months. His first term of school was taught at Salmon Creek in Humbolt County.  I the fall of 1876 he taught I Yolo County and then returned to the normal to take up the studies of the senior year, leaving, however, before graduation to take a school in Hollister, San Benito County, where he was employed as vice-principle for one term.  I the fall of 1878 he began to teach in Mariposa County and during the period of his residence there served as a member of the County Board of Education and also as County Superintendent of Schools.
            When he came to Madera in 1891 it was Mr. Larew’s purpose to engage I the manufacture of adjustable blackboards, which he had patented, but he abandoned the plan in order to take up the study of law, his early knowledge of which had been gained during his leisure hours as a school teacher.  In the fall of 1891 he was admitted to the Supreme Court and began to practice in Madera, where he has since become a prominent attorney.  Under appointment he held the office of district attorney for two years.  In 1892 he organized the movement to divide Fresno County and organize a new county under the name of Madera.  Ably seconded by J. W. Watkins and John M. Griffin, he launched the movement, which was successfully presented to the legislature, and the county was organized in May of 1893.  He was appointed a member of the county board of education and became its first president, filling the position for a number of years.  A thorough believer in education, his children have been given good advantages, in order that they might be prepared for positions of responsibility and honor.  His eldest daughter Clara Peters, married Ernest Brimmer, of Madera; the only son, James W., a graduate of the Madera schools, is employed by the Madera Sugar Pine Company; Virginia is a graduated of the Madera high school and is employed in her father’s office, and Christine s a student in the grammar school.  At the age of twenty-one years Mr. Larew was made a Mason in Buckeye Lodge No. 195, F.&A.M., at Winters Cal., and is now connected with Mariposa Lodge no. 24, also Woodland Chapter No. 46. R. A. M. and Opal Chapter of the Eastern Star at Winters.  In political views he has always been a believer in Democratic principles and has supported that party and its candidates by his ballot and influence.

Guinn, J. M., History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the San Joaquin Valley, California, (Chicago: Chapman Publishing, 1905), page 1523.

Transcribed by Harriet Sturk.

Last update: March 28, 2002
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