Another of the native sons of the Golden State who has made his influence felt in agricultural circles is Joshua Casaretto, now living in retirement on his ranch on Bear Creek about three miles from Merced. He was born at Hornitos, Mariposa County, on April 19, 1859, a son of the late Giuseppe and Catherine (Daneri) Casaretto, the former born in Genoa, Italy, and the latter at Chiavari. Giuseppe Casaretto left his native country in 1852 and came by way of Panama to California to make his fortune in the mines, but after trying his luck until 1855 he decided the surest way to fortune was in something more substantial and he engaged in working at the trade of stone mason. He had married in Italy and when he sent for his wife and son in 1855, he quit mining for his trade. They settled in an adobe house near Benton’s Mill; then in the late fifties he moved to Hornitos and built a stone store building, which he later traded to Mr. Olcese, who had a store at Indian Gulch, for his building and business there, but this did not prove to be a profitable exchange for the store at Indian Gulch was soon to become extinct with the dwindling of the mines. In 1857 Mr. Casaretto moved to Merced Falls and took up his home, working at his trade and raising stock. He died of blood poisoning while at Snelling, on June 28, 1885, when fifty-eight years old. Three boys and one girl in the Casaretto family grew up and are still living: John lives at Merced Falls on the old home place; David is a butcher in Atwater; Joshua is the subject of this review; and Mrs. Julia Fee lives in Modesto. Her husband was the son of the late Peter Fee, who came to California in 1849 and conducted the first hotel in the mining section of Mt. Bullion, known as Norwegian Tent, because it was only a tent house. The elder Casaretto was a man of integrity of character and was highly esteemed.
Joshua went to the school in Indian Valley and was brought up on the mountain ranch owned by his father and spent much of his time in the saddle, during which time he learned to speak the French, Spanish, Italian and English languages fluently. In 1870 he was a joint owner in a sheep and wool growing business; and in 1872-1873, with John and David, his brothers, conducted a general store at Hopeton, but continuing his sheep business until 1884, when he was forced to quit during the Cleveland administration when wool dropped so low in price that no one could afford to keep sheep. He then turned his attention to cattle and horse raising on a part of the old home place, and at the same time was made manager of the Casaretto interests. He sold out his stock interests in 1919 and decided to retire when he moved to his present place of eighty-six acres. The rich Bear Creek land had such an attraction for him that he once more began farming, raising Poland China hogs and fruit; he also owns 1800 acres of foothill land in Mariposa County where he runs some stock, and with the help of his sons they are making a success of their ventures.
When Mr. Casaretto married on September 8, 1902, he chose for his wife Miss Marceline Leota, born on November 15, 1861, on a ranch at Mokelumne Hill, Calaveras County, the daughter of Leon Leota, born in Marseilles, France, and a man of considerable intellect and culture. He was proficient in seven different languages; came to California in 1851 and settled in the mining section. He was the second man in Calaveras County to receive a patent from the United States Government for land. Her mother was Mary Mullin, born in Ireland of Scotch parents, and she died in Oakland in 1915. Mr. and Mrs. Casaretto have two boys, Victor Emanuel and Emanuel Victor, who are assisting their father to run the ranches owned by him. Mr. Casaretto is a Republican and the family belong to the Catholic Church.
Source: Outcalt, John. A 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; Los Angeles, Calif. : Historic Record Company, 1925.