Author: John Outcalt (1925)


The life story of this "born and reared" Californian is full of interest to all students of history, including as it does the experiences of pioneer parents, and his own life as a youth, during the early days in the settling up of the valley regions of the State. Born in Plainsburg, Merced County, August 29, 1869, of Scotch-English extraction, David L. Ellis is the eldest of eleven children born to his parents, all of whom survive, but none of the family, with the exception of David L., now reside in Merced County. Thomas H., the father, born August 18, 1826, in Humphrey County, Tenn., was a Forty-niner, and worked his way to California with a party of emigrants who left Tennessee in 1848 and arrived at the Southern Mines in 1849, and followed mining until his marriage. After his marriage, which united him with Maggie Harris, her family at that time living near Plainsburg, he settled in Merced County, at Sandy Mush, and devoted his life to stock-raising and ranching. He was well and favorably known on the range from Stockton to Tulare Lake, and from Mariposa to Hollister. Active as a Democrat, he was always much interested in California progress, and did worthy work toward that end. He later sold out his Merced County interests to spend his declining years in Selma, and there his death occurred, July 10, 1899. Maggie Harris Ellis was the daughter of the late Isaac Harris, a Texas ranger who came to California in 1853; she was a native of the Golden State, and her death occurred November 23, 1900, at Selma, Cal.

David L. attended the Lone Tree school, with some sixty-five other pupils, having for a teacher Judge Connolly, now of Madera. He was practically reared in the saddle, working on the range with his father, and recalls many interesting experiences, one of them indelibly printed on his memory. It occurred during the exceedingly dry year of 1877, when he accompanied his father, driving a band of cattle from Sandy Mush to the North Fork of the San Joaquin River. The sad sight of the dead stock on the plains due to the drought, made an impression on his youthful mind and heart which he has never forgotten.

When Mr. Ellis started out to work on his own account, he entered the employ of Henry Miller, and remained steadily in his employ until 1890, in charge of cattle camps on the Santa Rita, New Columbia and Hoglan ranches; a faithful and trusted employee of the former "Cattle King" of California, he became well-known throughout the valley as a man to be depended upon. The next nine years were occupied at Sandy Mush homesteading 160 acres, and working on the outside on the Chowchilla ranch and also for Chamberlain & Company. In the meantime he invested in the Landram Colony at Buhach buying twenty-six acres and starting development work there. He is now the owner of this ranch, having brought it to a splendid condition of development, and also owns city lots in Atwater.

The marriage of Mr. Ellis, July 9, 1889, at the Moran Hotel, Merced, united him with Leila Robison, born April 26, 1873, at Mariposa, the daughter of Neil and Tabitha Ann (Elam) Robison, both natives of Tennessee, the father born February 14, 1840, and died October 16, 1889, at Plainsburg, Merced County;
while his good wife was born July 3, 1849, and died February 2, 1882. Six children were born to them, Mrs. Ellis being third in order of birth. Three children have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Ellis: Neil L., an ex-service man who served in the World War as a Second Lieutenant, now resides in Fresno; Mae L., wife of H. A. Dodson, also of Fresno; and Lee R., at home. There is one grandchild, Neil L., Jr. Fraternally, Mr. Ellis has been a member of the Modern Woodman of America for twenty years. He is keenly interested in the further growth and development of his section of the State, and does all in his power to aid in movements which have that end in view.

Additional Comments: From:

HISTORY OF MERCED COUNTY CALIFORNIA WITH A Biographical Review OF The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified with Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present



File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:
Joy Fisher February 6, 2006, 12:36 am