Charles P. Noell (1812-1887)
Charles P. Noell was born in Bedford County, Virginia, February 20, 1812. Came to California in November, 1848. He was a merchant in San Francisco until December, 1849, when he lost all he had in one of the great fires In February, 1850, he came to San Diego and put up the first wooden building in the place. Here he conducted a general store, in partnership with Judge John Hays, for eighteen months. In company with M. Sexton and James Fitten, he bought a schooner in San Francisco, loaded it with a miscellaneous cargo, and went on a trading expedition up the Gulf of California. They bought a band of sheep in Sonora, shipped them across the gulf, and drove them to San Diego overland. This was the first large band of sheep ever brought to San Diego County. In 1853, he sold his interest in the store to Judge Hays. The following year, he was elected and served as assemblyman. He then went to South America and remained two or three years, prospecting for gold. In 1870 he came back to San Diego, but returned to Texas where he had a brother, and three years later settled in San Diego for good.
In 1850, he was one of the purchasers of the addition known as Middletown, and, some years later, this proved a profitable investment. He was in the real estate business in partnership with Morse and Whaley, from about 1880 to 1886, when he retired. He was a public spirited citizen and did much to aid in the development of the city. In 1850, he was chosen one of the first councilmen; while serving in that capacity, he did everything in his power to prevent the looting of the city treasury by the ring which were then in the majority. Finding he could accomplish nothing, he resigned, in disgust. Two years later, when the treasury was empty and the town impoverished by the folly of his opponents, he was chosen a member of the first board of trustees (the city charter having been abolished). He was never married. He died December 30, 1887, leaving a valuable estate, and a richer legacy in the esteem of his neighbors. On his monument is carved the words: “An Honest Man is the Noblest Work of God.” He deserves everlasting remembrance as the one honest and fearless man in San Diego’s first reign of graft.
[from Smythe, William Ellsworth. History of San Diego, 1542-1908. San Diego: History Co., 1907. (pages 284-285)]
Return to Biography.