Pierson Barton Reading
Miner before the 49ers
Pierson B. Reading, was born in New Jersey. He came across country to California with Samuel J. Hensley as a member of the Chiles-Walker party in 1843. In 1844, Reading entered the service of General Sutter as a clerk, explorer, and chief of trappers. He received the 26,632 acres (108 km2) Mexican land grant Rancho Buena Ventura in 1844 for the area along the Sacramento River near Cottonwood Creek in Shasta County.
In the Winter of 1844-45, Reading commanded Sutter’s Fort while Sutter joined up with Governor Michaeltorena. Reading also participated in the Bear Flag Revolt in 1846, and during the Mexican-American War, Reading enlisted under Fremont and was appointed Paymaster of the California Battalion, with the rank of Major.
In 1848 Reading was among the first to visit James W. Marshall’s gold discovery in Coloma, California – and shortly after engaged extensively in prospecting for gold in Shasta County, at the head waters of the Trinity River. In the fall of 1849, Major Reading fitted out an expedition to discover the bay into which he supposed the Trinity and Klamath Rivers must empty. From 1849 to 1850, Reading operated a store in Sacramento with Samuel J. Hensley and Jacob R. Snyder. He was the Whig candidate for Governor of California in 1851.
In 1854 Reading went to Washington, D.C. for the US Supreme Court hearing on his land grant claim. There he met and married Fanny Wallace Washington. Reading returned to his Rancho Buena Ventura in Shasta County.