Monday, December 22, 2008
Richard "RW" Heath: Mexican War Hero, Vintner, Politician, Original Cemetery Trustee
[Photo of Mtn View docent Stafford Buckley and Heath family plot by Michael Colbruno; click to enlarge]
Plot 2, Lot 55
Richard W. Heath (Jan. 30, 1823-Feb. 6, 1875) was a native of Bladensburg, Maryland. He married the former Mary Elizabeth Allen (1829-1901) in Richmond, Virginia and together they had twelve children.
Heath was hailed as a hero in the Mexican War having served almost the entire duration of the conflict. After the war he was ordered with the U.S. forces to California where he became the quartermaster for the Pacific Division. On his voyage to California, the captain of the Cruces steamship died and Heath took the helm and completed the trip around the Horn. He arrived on February 28, 1849.
That same year, he became a member of the first California State Assembly. He also served as a pilot commissioner of the San Francisco harbor and took part in the founding of San Joaquin County.
In 1856 he was promoted to Brigadier-General of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, of the California Militia.. In his civilian life, he was known as the “Tobacco King” and owned a shop with a Mr. Horne.
Records also show that he was invited to attend the San Francisco Vigilance Committee of 1856, but he refused to serve.
In 1872, Heath bought a 1,500-acre property at what is now Edge Hill Vineryard in Oakville. He died here on February 6, 1875 and his body was transported to Mountain View Cemetery for burial. Tragically, his 16-year-old daughter Marbury Ewell Heath died a month after him of heart disease .
His winery was passed on to his son Richard Shelden Heath, who sold it to William Scheffler in 1879 after quickly going bankrupt.
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Posted by Michael at 4:13 PM