A leading citizen and first settler of Brentwood was murdered today en route to Martinez. Dr. John Marsh was ambushed just outside of Pacheco by bandits as he drove his buggy to the ferry in Martinez to embark for San Francisco. In his possession was $50,000 in gold, believed to be the motivation for the killing. Marsh’s son, Charles, has vowed to bring the assailants to justice.
Marsh is survived by his wife, Abby; son, Charles; and baby daughter, Alice.
Marsh, a native of Massachusetts, Harvard graduate and medical man, was urged to be his party’s candidate for governor at the next general election. His newly constructed stone house, the first of its kind in California, was inspired by Hawthorne’s “House of Seven Gables.” Marsh and Abbey were to move from their adobe into the structure in a few short weeks – a truly fitting mansion for Marsh’s political ambitions.
Marsh first moved to the area in 1838, when he purchased Rancho Los Meganos for $500 from San Francisco Alcalde, Jose Noriega. Locally, Marsh is known for his larger-than-life personality, introduction of dry wheat farming into the Central Valley, vast cattle herd, viniculture and orchards. His industry provided employment to the Native Americans released from the San Jose Mission at secularization. His letter-writing campaign back to the “States” is credited with bringing thousands of immigrants to California, starting with the Bidwell-Bartleson Party. Marsh’s Polpones ranch hands found the half-starved immigrants and brought them safety to Marsh’s adobe.
– Contributed by Carol Jensen