Daniel Killes Berry was born on October 10, 1824 to Daniel M. Berry and Charlotte Ellen Knight Berry. In 1846, the same year that the ill-fated Donner Party traveled westward, Daniel Berry and his parents joined another wagon train, consisting of fourteen wagons and fifty people, heading to California. Daniel was just twenty-two years of age when the Berry Family made the arduous trek from Missouri to Sutter's Fort in California.
Once in California, Daniel Berry met General John C. Fremont who was known as the "Pathfinder" because of his numerous exploration and mapping trips throughout California and the west between 1842 and 1854. Berry enlisted in Fremont's army and fought with his troops during the Bear Flag Rebellion. This Rebellion was an effort to declare a Texas-style Republic and secure California's separation from Mexico. The Mexican Army was finally defeated near San Diego by General Kearney's Troops and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war.
When Fremont's troops were disbanded, Daniel Berry started the long trek back to Sutter's Fort. During this journey northward, he traveled across the Tejon Pass and skirted the bank of Tulare Lake. Near the future cities of Tipton and Tulare, he spotted rich alluvial soil that he knew would make ideal farmland, and he vowed to return someday to establish his home and farm.
In April of 1847, Daniel Berry rejoined his family at Knights Landing on the Sacramento River. The family then became the first permanent American settlers of the Suisun Valley when they pitched a tent six miles west of what is now the city of Fairfield. On September 9, 1850, California became the thirty-first state in the union, and Daniel Berry was elected a constable and eventually a justice of the peace for the townships that included the Berry home place.
In 1852, Daniel Killes Berry and Mary Elizabeth Estes, daughter of Joel and Jane Albright Estes, married in Suisun. They settled in Bridgeport in Solano County before moving to Contra Costa County where they were acknowledged as pioneers of the Point of Timbers area. During this time, Daniel and Mary Berry had eight children. Although the Berry family was thriving, he never forgot the vow that he had made to himself as a young man to return to the fertile soil around Tulare Lake.
In the Spring of 1874, the Berry Family headed southward to Tulare county where he purchased land six miles west of Tipton. His wife and he farmed and raised their twelve children, most of whom married sons and daughters of other Tulare area pioneer families. On October 29, 1911, Daniel Killes Berry died at his home west of Tipton at the age of eighty-seven. Today, his descendants number around eight hundred, and many of them continue to live in the Tulare and Kern counties area.
For additional information, visit the Tulare Historical Museum, 444 West Tulare Avenue, Tulare California 93274 or call (559) 686-2074.