William S. B. Townsley was born in East Tennessee, September 1, 1824, the son of John and Mary (Blair) Townsley. His father was born in Tennessee, and his mother, a native of Virginia, was reared on the James River. The ancestors of the Townsley family emigrated to this country from England during the Colonial days. Grandfather George Townsley was a soldier in the Revolutionary war. He settled in Virginia, and afterward removed to Tennessee. The subject of this sketch is one of a family of four sons and five daughters. When last heard from his brothers and sisters were all living, scattered over Kentucky, Arkansas and Missouri.

Mr. Townsley was reared and educated in his native State until nineteen years of age, when, with his younger brother, Nicholas, he came West. He drove an ox team across the plains for a trader. He came as far west as Santa Fe in 1848. In 1850 he came to California. His first mining experience was near Diamond Springs, on the Cosumnes River. In the summer of 1851 he was in Vacaville. He had only moderate success in mining, getting enough of the glittering gold to pay his expenses. Then he engaged in farming for two or three years, then, until 1858, he mined on Scott and Klamath Rivers. From there he came to Shasta County, and mined two years at Buckeye. After this he located in the southeastern part of Shasta County, on 360 acres of land, where he built and made improvements and lived for twenty-five years. There are only two men now living who were there at the time he settled on that place. There was not a child of school age in that part of the county. While there his principle business was stock-raising. He sold that property and purchased an improved farm of 120 acres, where he now resides.

Politically Mr. Townsley is a Democrat. In 1886 he was elected a member of the Board of Supervisors of Shasta County. During his term of office he has favored many valuable county improvements, such as the building of roads and bridges, and the construction of the fine court-house and jail. These buildings were completed in 1889, and cost $50,000. Mr. Townsley is one of the worthy and respected early settlers of Shasta County, and it is eminently fitting that his name should find a place in history among other brave California pioneers.

Source: Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California, Lewis Publishing Co., 1891 page 778
Transcribed by: Melody Landon Gregory August 2004

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