Andrew Jackson Worsham

by Edmund Starling, 1886

 

ANDREW JACKSON WORSHAM.-The young gentlman of whom this sketch tells, is the eldest living son of Elijah W. and Miriam Jane Worsham, and was born in Henderson County on the seventeenth day of May, 1850. His father, by honest effort, faithful application, and fine judgment, had gained from this world a competency sufficient to give to his children such an education as they would take; therefore, our subject was given the benefit of the best schools of his county, and afterwards was given the benefit of the best schools of his county, and afterwards sent to Poughkeepsie Commercial College at the city of that name in New York. Subsequent to that time, he matriculated at the Eminence Ky. Military College, where he finished his education with credit to himself and the father who had been so mindful of his son's future interest.

     In the month of August, 1873, the father of our sketch removed to the State of California, taking with him his entire family, and settled upon the San Joaquin River, near San Francisco.

     During the residence at that point, and on the night of the tenth of November, 1873, Mr. A. J. Worsham, the subject of whom we are writing, met with the most exciting and distressing accident associated with his entire life. Before proceeding with the narrative mentioned, let us say that subsequent to that time, from 1875 to 1881, our subject lived at a little place called Banning, where he was engaged in merchandising. Banning, as all far West towns are, was inhabited by a peculiarly ignorant and desperate class of people-Spaniards, cow boys and toughs generally. Men were accustomed to ride on horseback into the stores, and, at the deadly end of a "British Bull Dog" or six-shooter, demand what was wanted and ride out again. Life was but a feather weight, and one and another shot down, was as innocent an amusement with them as coasting on a snow clad hill is to the children of our clime.

     This was the inevitable, and our subject soon found it out, yet he had settled there, purchased property and invested his all, and that he fully determined to protect. His admirable personal and social traits gained for him friends among the toughest of the neighborhood. His personal bearing showing no fear, but, at all times, exhibiting a courage undaunted by the display of weapons, won him other friends, and his proud Kentucky blood showed him so prominently beyond bulldozing that "Devil Jack," as he was known in his youth, soon became the head of the town and respected by all around him. many of the incidents connected with his life in Banning are thrilling, intensely interesting. and, were they committed to print in full, novelistic form, a story could be told that would make a volume.

     But back to the night of November 10th, 1873. The day preceding this night was windy, bleak, chilly and cold, and, as the weary sun was lolling in the West, the winds gained headway, and, as twilight came, so came a perfect windstorm. Our subject, accompanied by a friend, had, during the day, sauntered along the shore of the great river, coasting in a sailboat, not to kill the tedium of slow-creeping days, but there was a mission of love, and when one has a big heart and feeble hands, a heart to hew his name out upon time as on a rock, then immortalities, to stand on time as on a pedestal, danger presents no fears. Racking night came, the wind drew the pale curtains of the vapory clouds, and showed those wonderful, mysterious voids throbbing with stars like pulses of men. Our subject and his friend, young, brave Duncan Cargill, bent upon love across the raging waters, bade their time with patience until patience ceased to be a virtue, and go they must and go they would.

            "The King of Day had dipped his weary head
            Within old Father Ocean's billowy bed."

Yes, it was night when the little boat left its mooring, and the dauntless young men bended themselves to the work of the oars. The river, at this point, was one and a half miles in width, and the rolling whitecaps flying housetop high, the wind howling as wolves for blood; yet, on they went, the little boat mounting the madcaps and, swan-like, settling gracefully in the valley, only again and again to be tossed high up. Slow progress was made, however; the sea grew worse and worse until our subject's blood ran back; his shaking knees against each other knocked, and he foresaw that the dark-winged angel respects not time nor place. He realized "All seasons are thine, O Death!" and how true it was, for at eleven o'clock, the boat capsized, the two were thrown into the cold waves, and soon thereafter, the winds sweeping over its restless surface, sighed a requiem in the trembling shrouds of poor Cargill. Wave tossed and almost frozen, our subject saw his comrade go down to the alley and shadow of death.

          "What next?" he cried.

               "I know not, do not care.
               There's nothing which I cannot bear
               Since I have borne this startling blow."

     The position in which he thus found himself, appalling as it surely was, seemed to nerve him to a determined and successful fight for life. Midnight came and found him still clinging to the capsized boat, fighting the waves. One o'clock came with the same result; two, three and four o'clock came, and yet he was drifting. At this merciful providence, through a Mr. Sutherland, went to his rescue, lifted him from the water onto his shoulder and carried him to his house, where blankets and other restoratives were administered and his life save. he revived in the course of time, but how many could have successfully contended with the ordeal.

     On the seventh of June, 1876, not quite three years subsequent to the time of which we have been writing, Mr. Andrew Jackson Worsham (who is an "Old Hickory" in fact) was united in marriage to Miss Florence Rhorer at her home in the City of San Francisco. They now have four children, John Cook, Miriam, Milton Young and Ludson. Several years ago Mr. Worsham returned to Kentucky with his family and has since been engaged in the wholesale liquor and distilling interest. He is a Republican in politics, a Baptist in religious training, but by no means an enthusiast in the work of any religious or secular work. He himself is a consistent, hard worker, attends diligently to his business and accords that same right to all his friends, who are numbered by the thousand. Our subject is a ember of both the Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias.

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