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Biography of L. J. F. Jaeger

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The following biographical sketch of L. J. F. Jaeger was furnished me by his son, now living at Tucson:

“My father, L. J. F. Jaeger, was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He worked as a mechanic in the Baldwin shops, Philadelphia. Later was appointed mechanic in the arsenal at Washington, D. C. In the latter part of 1848, he took the first sailing vessel out of Philadelphia bound for San Francisco, the ‘Mason. ‘ On reaching San Francisco he worked for a while as a carpenter. At that time the Bay extended to Montgomery Street. He was then employed as engineer on the boats running between San Francisco and Oakland at $25.00 per day. Giving up this position, he joined a party formed to go down to the Colorado River. They had heard of a big influx of people coming into California from New Mexico and Mexico. The party landed at a point about 9 miles below the present site of Yuma, at what was known as Fort Yuma. They had to saw their own boards out of cottonwood trees to make flat boats to ferry the traffic over the river. This was the beginning of the ferry they established. Later on my father bought out the other parties and operated the ferry on his own account. The company built a stockade at the ferry to protect themselves from the Yuma Indians.

“In 1851 he returned to Yuma with the troops under General Heintzelman and General Thomas. He established the second ferry just about seven or eight miles from the present Fort Yuma School, which was then the Fort Yuma Military Reservation. They fought with the Indians about a year, and at the end of that time peace was made with the Indians. The treaty was made at the Jaeger house. The Yuma Indians have never broken the peace treaty. During the years 185154 Fort Yuma was established and the building completed. My father was at this time carrying passengers across the river, also large droves of cattle and sheep being driven into California by the Luna and Baca families from New Mexico. On the discovery of the Vulture Mine at Wickenburg, my father hauled out the first train load of ore from the mine, which was shipped to San Francisco. He had contracts with the Government for hauling supplies to all the forts up to 1863. He was one of the stockholders in the first canal in the Salt River valley. He also established the town of Sonoita, just across the line in Sonora, and from there he drew a great deal of his supplies furnished to the Government. In 1861-62, there were tremendous floods on the Colorado River, which washed out part of Jaegerville, the first ferry crossing. Arizona City, now Yuma, was then established. In 1863 the first large store in Arizona was established at Arizona City by a man named Hinton, who brought in a mechanic from San Diego to put a tin roof on his building. The name of the mechanic was Julian. This was probably the first tin roof placed on a building in this territory.

“My father ran the ferry up to 1877 when the Southern Pacific was extended through to Yuma, selling out to that railroad.”

(The part left out in the above designated by asterisks, is a description of Mr. Jaeger’s trip to San Diego, on the return part of which he was severely wounded by the Indians. This is given in full in an earlier chapter of this work in that portion devoted to the Yuma ferries.)

Mr. Jaeger died in Washington, D. C, June 30, 1892, where he had gone to press his Indian and other claims against the Government.

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