Soul's Name

SMITH, Napoleon Bonaparte

Date of Obituary

1907 December 8


Was a member of the “Bear Flag” Party and First Assessor of Contra Costa County. 

On Thursday [December 5], at Yountville, there passed away one of the earliest, if not the very earliest of the pioneers of Contra Costa County, known for many long years to every resident of the County, Napoleon B. Smith.  He was born in Ohio in the year 1818 and as an infant was taken into the wilds of Michigan.  In that state he received his schooling and with the exception of four years in Wisconsin in the employ of the American Fur Company at which time had no associates but Indians, in that state he lived until 1845. 

In the month of August, that year, in company with Henry C. Smith [his brother] and Philip Mendenhall, he started to Independence, Mo., and thence started over the plains to California.  At Fort Laramie they were detained by a predatory band of Indians for ten days, but [Jim] Bridger, the guide, landed them at Sutter’s Fort [Sacramento] on Christmas Day, 1845.  At first Smith worked for Captain Sutter, then in the San Antonio redwoods and in January 1848, on the discovery of gold, he went to Mormon’s bar [sic], where he first tried his luck.  Then with his wife he went to his father-in-law’s at San Jose and there conducted a store, freighting meanwhile by water to the embarcadero near the Mission from San Francisco. 

In 1849 he came to Martinez where he opened a store and on the formation of the County he was chosen as the Assessor.  In 1852 he was elected to the legislature, then sitting at Vallejo, and was a member of that body when the archives were removed to Sacramento.  It should be noted too, that Smith was one of the intrepid pioneers who raised the Bear Flag in 1846, and captured the town of Sonoma and declared the independence of California. 

After the legislature was over, Mr. Smith resided in Martinez until 1857, when he bought and moved to the 400-acre ranch in Alhambra Valley.  There he resided for many years engaged in fruit growing and kindred occupations.  Of late years, off and on, he has been an inmate of the Soldiers’ Home at Yountville, and it was at that place that he died on Thursday. 

He was married at the Santa Clara Mission, April 18th, 1847, to Miss Margelina Brown, daughter of the Hon. Elam Brown, a native of Illinois, by whom he had eight children, Frank, the first American male child born in this County, Lawrence M., Sarah C., Louis N., Ellen J., Elam, Timothy S., and Warren C.  His wife and daughters are buried in the cemetery at Martinez and his six sons survive him.  The remains were shipped from Yountville to Martinez on Thursday to the undertaking parlors of Henry J. Curry, and the date of the funeral will be given later.

Additional Comments:
“Contra Costa Gazette” published at Martinez, California.
This obituary appeared on the first page, fifth column.  Mr. Smith was buried on December 8, 1907 in the Alhambra Cemetery in Martinez.


Published by

Contra Costa Gazette
Martinez, California


Napoleon Bonaparte Smith
BIRTH: 2 Mar 1818 - Erie County, Ohio

DEATH: 5 Dec 1907 - Yountville, Napa, California

BURIAL: Alhambra Cemetery
 Martinez, Contra Costa, California


History-GALINDO Ruth