Eugene Aram, a prominent lawyer of Sacramento, is certainly one of the very oldest living native sons of California, with whose business, professional and political affairs he has been identified to a degree most honorable and creditable to an eldest son. He was born at Monterey, in what is now the state of California, on January 26, 1848, two days after Marshall had made his epoch-making discovery of gold in Eldorado county. Mr. Aram was one month old when the treat of peace was concluded with Mexico which ceded to the United States the great territory now comprising California and other states of the west, and he was over two years old when California was admitted to the Union. Thus he has grown as the land of his nativity has grown, and as he himself has prospered in material and professional advancement so he has likewise been active in promoting the improvement and welfare of his commonwealth, so that Senator Aram ranks foremost among the men who have proved themselves public benefactors and have given their time and unselfish efforts for enterprises of public moment and worth. Throughout his career he has been actuated by the highest principles of integrity and devotion to the general good, and in public and private life his record is without blemish.
Mr. Aram is only the third generation removed from the ancestral home in Yorkshire, England, where his grandfather Matthias was born, and whence he emigrated to New York, and during the war of 1812 was drillmaster of the United States troops. The history of Mr. Aram‘s parents has special connection with pioneer records of California, and they must always be ranked among the prominent early settlers, distinguished not only because of their early arrival in the Eldorado country but also for what they accomplished during the remainder of their lives. His father, Joseph Aram, was born in the state of New York, and joined a party that crossed the plains and was met in the foothills by a detachment of soldiers sent by Fremont to protect them against roving bands of Spaniards. The party made their first camp at Sutter’s Fort, and then they were accompanied by the soldiers as far as Santa Clara, where Fremont commissioned Joseph Aram captain of a company and placed him in charge of the fort, at which Captain Aram remained until the close of the war. He took part in the battle at Santa Clara, and later built the old fort at Monterey. He was elected a member of the first constitutional convention of the state and also to the first state legislature. He was the pioneer nurseryman at San Jose, and was engaged in fruit-raising until the closing years of his life. His long and useful career came to an end at San Jose in 1898, when he had attained the great age of eighty-eight years.
Mr. Aram‘s mother, Sarah M. (Wright) Aram, who dies in 1872, has also an important place among the pioneers of California. She was a descendant of some of the early English settlers to this country, her earliest American ancestor being one of three brothers, and one of them also became the forefather of a governor of New York. She was born in Vermont, and accompanied her husband on the long journey across the plains. She discovered gold on the south fork of the Yuba river in October, 1846, over a year before Marshall’s find created the great gold excitement of 1848. The immigrant party had camped on the south fork, and as they had found a delightful spot for both man and beast they remained several days to rest and clean up. The women scooped out a hole by a little tributary of the river, as a place in which to wash their clothes, and on the day they packed up to leave Mrs. Aram took to the men several bright particles that she had found by her improvised washtub. One of the pieces was the size of a pea, and to test it the men hammered it out on a wagon tire until it was as large as a dime piece. The men became excited over the discovery, but just at this time General Fremont’s men arrived and advised them to hurry away to avoid the greaser bands. When Marshall’s find created the rush the men who had composed that overland party hurried back to that old camping ground, only to find that every foot of it had been staked. It turned out to be one of the richest placer diggings in the state.
Mr. Eugene Aram has one sister, Mrs. Sarah M. Cool, of Los Angeles. Mr. Aram was educated in the public schools of San Jose, and was graduated from the University of the Pacific in 1870 with the degree of A. B. He soon afterward took up the study of law with Judge D. S. Payne, then county judge of Santa Clara county. He was admitted to practice in 1873 and for a few years had an office in San Jose. During the early eighties he went to Arizona and was a member of the legislature of that territory in 1885. He then returned to California and located in Woodland, Yolo county, where he resumed his practice, and in 1894 was elected senator from the sixth senatorial district, serving during the sessions of 1895 and 1897. He then located in Sacramento, where he has carried on his practice ever since. He was the partner of the late General A. L. Hart until the latter’s death, and then for a short time was associated with Archibald Yell, now warden of the state penitentiary. Since then he has been engaged alone in his general law practice, having also more or less corporation business.
Mr. Aram is a strong Republican, and has been an attendant at county and state conventions, having been a member of the county central committee throughout his residence in Yolo county. In his election to the state senate he defeated Edward Leake, a brother of the famous Same Leake. During his senatorial term he had charge of the appropriation of three hundred thousand dollars for the improvement of the Sacramento river. This was the first appropriation made for this purpose, and Mr. Aram‘s policy was to get the federal government interested in state improvements by first having the state take the initiative and subsequent developments have shown how successful he was in his efforts. The first work done under the appropriation was the jetty at newton shoals, which was the means of much general improvement, and the vast benefits arising from this enterprise made it an easy matter to secure a second sum of two hundred thousand dollars at the last legislature to be devoted along the same lines.
Mr. Aram was married in 1875 to Miss Lizzie Jasper, a daughter of J. M. C. Jasper, of Wheatland, Yuba county. She died in 1892. Mr. Aram affiliates with the Bnevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
Source: Irvine, Leigh H. History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume I, pp. 422-24. New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.