Christopher (15) Temple Emmet


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, Genealogical ID:
Wednesday, September 4, 1822
New York, NY
Monday, February 25, 1884
Green River, Wyoming

Christopher (15) Temple Emmet, the fourth son born in New York to Rosina (Hubley) and Judge Robert (2) Emmet, was always known by his middle name. Temple went to school in the city and then went down to Charlottesville, VA to study medicine under his uncle, John (5) Patten Emmet, who was a  professor at the Univ. of Virginia. Returning to New York as a physician and surgeon, he soon rejected the idea of working as a doctor and instead decided to study law in his father's office. No sooner had he passed the Bar than he took off for California at the height of the gold rush in January of 1849 with his brother, Bill (William (17) Jenkins Emmet), a cousin Herman (21) Rutgers LeRoy and a LeRoy cousin of Herman's, Herman LeRoy Jones. 

Two ships leaving New York a few weeks later carried six other cousins: John (28) T Emmet and Thomas (30) Emmet, sons of Judge Robert's brother Tom (6), John (18) P Emmet, Temple's younger brother and two Jenkins boys, the sons of Rosina's sister Mary Field Hubley who had stayed in Lancaster and married a local lawyer, William Jenkins. The trip to San Francisco took at least five months, and in Temple's case, much longer, as his ship was decimated by storms before it even reached Rio de Janiero.  All nine cousins eventually met up in California, along with thousands of others from the East.

Temple immediately found he could make a great deal more money as a lawyer than as a prospector, given that "the name is pretty well known and answers a good purpose here" as Herman (21) LeRoy made clear in a letter home to his mother, (Temple's aunt) Elizabeth (4) Emmet LeRoy. (See the N Y Historical Society Quarterly, v. 47, #4, pp. 348-397 for an entertaining article on this trip (based on letters sent  home by the cousins) by John E Parsons: "Nine Cousins in the California Gold Rush.") 

Whereas the others in the group all eventually returned to New York, Temple remained and prospered; by the fall of 1850, he had placed an ad in the San Francisco Journal of Commerce announcing the location of his law firm at the corner of Montgomery and Commercial Streets. His legal work ranged from drawing up contracts for British businessmen to defending the first person ever tried for murder in San Francisco. Forced by the size of the practice to take on partners, he left the law in 1867 with a fortune of over a million dollars, all of which he soon lost investing in the California & Oregon Railway with one Ben Holladay. On a trip east in 1869, he married Ellen James Temple, the sister of his brother Dick's wife Kitty. She was 28 years younger than he was - scandalizing the James clan once again.

The Emmets lived in San Francisco and had six children; Temple returned to his law practice in 1873, and once again was hired by many of the leading banks, corporations and citizens. Considered an invaluable advisor, he eschewed politics and was reserved and sedate in his behavior, tall in stature with blue eyes and light colored hair.  Although once a lover of card games, wine and cigars, he gave them all up when he married. The San Francisco Bulletin, in Temple's obituary, described him as a conservative, even in his dress: "He clung to his old-style English shoe and other peculiarities of attire of earlier days and older lands." Considered a scholar of the law, he was at ease with all its intricacies and familiar with Greek, Latin, French and Spanish.

The family moved north to Ross Valley in Marin County around 1880 and were living there when Temple, returning from a visit east, died in February of 1884 on a train near Green River, WY. Ellen moved back to the east coast soon after, bringing her five remaining children, the youngest, Katharine (66) Temple Emmet, having died only a few months after her father. Both Temple and his little daughter are buried in the Mt Tamalpais Cemetery.

Ellen remarried (in Pelham, NY) on Sept. 1, 1891; her second husband, George Hunter, the son of Jane Thomson and Moses Hunter, was born in Glasgow, Scotland on Jan. 27, 1851. She had six children: 61 i + Mary “Minnie” Temple Emmet 62 ii Rosina Hubley Emmet 63 iii + Ellen “Bay” Gertrude Emmet 64 iv Edith Leslie Emmet 65 v Christopher Temple Emmet 66 vi Katharine Temple Emmet and one Hunter child, also named George.