Reuben O. Carmer is one of the early settlers of California. He drove two yoke of oxen and a yoke of cows for leaders across the plains to this State in 1859. Those who come overland to this coast in four or five days, in a palace sleeping car or a tourists' sleeper, know little of the danger and privations of the men who spent six or eight weary months in coming to California before the railroads were built and the iron horse began to come "whizzing o'er the mountains and buzzing through the vales."
Mr. Carmer was born in New York in 18--, and comes of good old Revolutionary stock. His great-grandfather, Isaac Carmer, came from Germany to this country when a youth. At the age of seventeen he carried his musket and fought bravely in many of the battles of the Revolutionary struggle. He afterward settled in the State of New York, married and became the father of Abram Carmer. Abram Carmer had a son John, also born in New York, who married Hulda Hart, a native of New Jersey. They reared a family of seven children, all of whom are living, Reuben being the youngest of the family.
He worked on his father's farm and attended school in his native town until he reached the age of seventeen years. He then went to Illinois and worked on a farm for three years. On the twelfth of April, 1859, he started for California, as before stated. When they reached the Missouri River, the young men with whom Mr. Carmer started went back. He came on with Dr. Roberts, a gentleman from Pennsylvania. They had several skirmishes with the Indians, and Mr. Carmer received three arrows in his left shoulder. They were stone-pointed arrows, and the Doctor cut them out. When they arrived in California, at a point between Stockton and Sacramento, they sold their cattle and went to Kentucky Hill, two miles and a half from Camptonville, in Yuba County. There they engaged in mining and were successful. The Doctor lost the use of his arm by a shot, and Mr. Carmer and his partner, William Roades, earned money at one ounce of gold per day and furnished him with the means to return east that winter. During the winter they made $9,000 each. Then they went to the Yuba River and sunk all the money they had made except $60. After that Mr. Carmer went to Yreka and prospected; then went to Red Bluff and worked for wages in the ice business; next, engaged in freighting to Weaverville, Yreka, Shasta and Scott's Valley. In 1871 he sold out, and was employed by the railroad company for a year. In 1872 he came to Redding, then an embryo town. He built a feed corral, which he kept two years. Then he sold out, and, in company with Mr. F. C. Tiffan, built a barn and opened a livery stable. He conducted the feed stable and also did a freighting business until 1875, when he sold out. One winter he drove a stage from Yreka to Oregon, during which time he met with many exciting adventures. Once, in crossing the Cottonwood River, his lead horses were both drowned. He stuck to the wagon and floated to a bend in the river where he jumped out. He succeeded in rescuing the other horses and saved the mail. In the spring he returned to Redding and worked for Bosh & Johnson, freighters. Then for a time he was night clerk in Conroy's Hotel. Then he followed various callings, including mining. About this time he became blind. His disease was what the physicians called adhesion of the eye. He suffered severely, but his sight was finally restored. In 1887 he opened his drug store in Redding, and is now doing a very successful business.
In 1888 Mr. Carmer married Mrs. Lydia A. Wilson, a native of California. He is in politics, a Republican. For twenty-two years he has been an Odd Fellow, having passed all the chairs of the order.
Source: Memorial and Biographical History of Northern
California, Lewis Publishing Co., 1891 pages 776- 777
Transcribed by: Melody Landon Gregory, August 2004