Mark DeSpain was born in Texas and came west to California as a young man. He met and married Clara Mills in Soledad, California. Two daughters, Hazel and Myrtle, were born to them while living in Soledad.

During the Gold Rush in 1890, they moved to Auburn, California, to gold mine. They tossed a coin as to whether to stay or to go. They moved north to Chico, California, in 1898 where he worked for Butte County doing road construction. He helped gravel Highway 99E with a 20-mule team. He also farmed. While living in Chico, two more daughters were born — Pearl and Oma.

He died at age 65 in his sleep in 1929. Clara lived another ten years, dying in 1939.


Israel DeSpain was born in January of 1828 in Kentucky. He moved to Texas with his brother, James, in the 1850s. He married Marillous (Lewis) Ballard on December 15, 1862 in Burnet County, Texas. Marillous had been married previously to Wyatt Ballard and had four children: Nancy, John, Mary, and George. She and Israel had five children: Mark, Luke, Florence, Minerva, and Paul.

Mark and Clara DeSpain and daughters