Copyright © by Toucan Valley Publications, Inc. | Source Citation


18th Governor of
California, January 8, 1891 - January 11, 1895

Born:  November 16, 1840, in Wilmington, New York

Died:  October 9, 1923, in Pasadena, California

Marriage:  Mary Adams Dana (1876), 5 daughters


It was the gold of oranges that drew Henry Markham to California in the 1870’s, as land in the southern part of the state was being advertised in the East as a healthier place to live.


Early Life

Henry grew up in a small farming town in New York State, where he attended public schools. He graduated from Wheeler’s Academy in Vermont in 1862 and moved to Wisconsin, where he enlisted in the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry in 1863 for service in the Civil War. He was with General Sherman on his “march to the sea.” He was wounded in the Battle of Rivers Bridges in South Carolina in February 1865. When he was wounded again just a few months later, he was discharged from the military. 

He then studied law and went into partnership with his brother in a law firm in Wisconsin. Looking for a warmer and healthier climate, Markham purchased a ranch in Pasadena, California, and moved there in 1879.



In Pasadena, amidst the orange groves, Markham established a law practice, invested in real estate, and became an owner of the Calico Union Mining Company. Later he founded the Los Angeles Furniture Company. Markham’s first political office was as a U.S. congressman from California.



Markham’s time as governor was marred by a national economic depression, deepened in California by crop failures from lack of rain. Labor unrest followed, including a strike against the Southern Pacific Railway in Sacramento, which led Markham to call out the state militia.

On a happier note, California was represented at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where immigration to the Golden State was encouraged. The Mid-Winter Exposition in Golden Gate Park in 1894 attracted many of the Chicago exhibits to the west coast.


Later Years

Markham had a long retirement during which he was active in the affairs of veterans and disabled soldiers. He was 82 years old when he died at his home. Mount Markham in Angeles National Forest is named for him.


Go to Top