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Charles J. Fox

Charles J. Fox, C. E., San Diego. No man has been more closely identified with San Diego County during the past eighteen years, and no name is better known to the early settlers and later residents, than that of Charles J. Fox. Mr. Fox was born in Boston, Massachusetts, October 12, 1834. He comes of a noted family and can trace his lineage back to 1640, when his ancestors settled in Massachusetts. Five generations back on his mother's side, Wheelock, the head of the family, was the founder and first president of Dartmouth College, where his portrait hangs in the art gallery, and Mr. Fox's father, grandfather and great-grandfather were graduates of that famous institution of learning.

His paternal grandfather was a soldier of the Revolutionary war, and Mr. Fox has in his possession a book written and published by him, entitled, Fox's Revolutionary Adventures." He was taken prisoner by the British troops and confined for some months in the old Jersey prison ship, in Wallabout Bay, in Long Island. Sound.

Charles spent his boyhood days in Boston, and at the age of seventeen graduated from a scientific school, where mathematics and engineering were specialties. He had a natural taste for these pursuits, and the first work he did after graduation was as a member of a railroad survey party in Pennsylvania in 1851. In the spring of 1853 he went West, and until 1869 was engaged on different railroads throughout the western States and Territories.

In the spring of 1860 he crossed the plains to where the city of Denver now stands, and was one of the first settlers of that place, there being at that time but few houses, and they mere shanties. Most of the summer was spent in California gulch, now the site of Leadville, in mining, prospecting and surveying. During a recent trip to the East he stopped at Leadville and saw the remains of a log house which he helped to build in the summer of 1860. During 1864 and 1865 he was in the United States Engineer service, having charge of the reconstruction of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad from Memphis to Corinth.

He continued to be engaged in railroad business in the South until his health failed, and in the spring of 1869 he came to California. After prospecting different parts of the State for six months, he finally selected San Diego as his future residence, being attracted by the beauties of the climate and what he foresaw of its future commercial importance.

Having invested all his available funds in San Diego real estate, he opened an office for surveying and engineering, and has ever since devoted his best abilities to aid in building up the city and county. In pursuance of this object he took an active part in the organization of the San Diego and Fort Yuma turnpike road, 200 miles in length, which was the first good road across the county to Arizona, and opened up a good deal of trade and travel. In 1875 he established a large apiary at Fallbrook, and the following year organized the Bee Keepers' Association, of which he was president, and established agencies for the sale of honey in various Eastern cities.

He was one of the incorporators of the San Diego Society of Natural History, and for ten years its treasurer; also one of the stockholders of the Masonic Building Association, and a director for several years; also one of the charter members of the San Diego Lodge, Knights of Pythias, serving a term as Chancellor Commander. He was in charge of surveys for the Memphis & El Paso Railroad, the San Diego & Los Angeles Railroad, and the Texas & Pacific, being the first engineer to call attention to and survey through the famous Temécula canon, now occupied by the California Southern.

Having for several years explored the county, including the Colorado desert, he obtained an extensive and minute knowledge of the country, and was generally called on by new-comers for information, which he always cheerfully gave. He was active in protecting the rights of the settlers from the greed of land monopolists, and was several times elected county surveyor and city engineer, and filled these situations to the satisfaction of all. In connection with his partner, Mr. H. I. Willey, afterwards State Surveyor-General, he prepared and published the official and only map of San Diego County.

By appointment of the Judge of the Superior Court, he served as commissioner in the partition of most of the Spanish grants, including the ex-Mission grant of 52,000 acres, surrounding the city of San Diego. He is now owner of considerable real estate in the city, and a good deal of county land, including a tract at Linda Vista, where he was the first to make improvements on Government land; and he also owns a large interest in the Junipero Land and Water Company, of which he is the president.

He has always been active and liberal in support of every important public measure, especially during San Diego's dark days, and has the respect of all the old settlers.

Mr. Fox married, in 1880, Mrs. A. A. Cosper, of San Diego. They have no children.

Source: An Illustrated History of Southern California; pub. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1890.

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