One of my more exciting discoveries with the addition of the Bridgeton Evening News to GenealogyBank.com, the obituary for my Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Ansel Irelan:
Ansel Irelan, one of Bridgeton’s oldest citizens, died at his home on Atlantic street early this morning, after an illness of several weeks with kidney affection.
Mr. Irelan was born in this city 76 years ago last July and has lived here nearly ever since. He married Elizabeth, daughter of the late Addi Ayars, and six children were born to them, four of whom are living. His wife died several years ago and deceased has since lived in the old home, Atlantic just above Broad street. The children who survive him are Emma, wife of James Garrison; Mary Ann, wife of John Neukirk; Lizzie, wife of Joseph Westcott, and Ansel, Jr., the only son.
Deceased was a ship carpenter by trade and when the gold fever broke out he was one of the original “forty-niners” who left this city to seek their fortune in the Golden State – California. He in company with his brother, William Irelan, Capt. Charles Woodruff, Tudel Clark, the late Edward Collins and others, left Bridgeton for the gold fields.
He came back to Bridgeton and has since resided here, working at his trade of ship-carpentering until within a few years. When the steamer “Golden Gate” which left San Francisco with one million dollars in gold on her was sunk, Mr. Irelan, with his brother William, and others took the contract for raising the gold. This was a thrilling experience in his life and the company came near losing their lives from Mexican bandits.
I was able to confirm that William Irelan did indeed raise some of the gold from the “Golden Gate” steamer, although neither Ansel or anyone else in William’s company was mentioned. Nor were Mexican bandits mentioned in any account I have yet found. I suspect that may have been an embellishment as the story was told again and again back home in Bridgeton.
William stayed in California and his son, William Irelan, Jr., made a name for himself in Mineralogy. He was California State Mineralogist from 1886-1892. He has a biographical essay in A history of the new California: its resources and people (1903), in which his father is also mentioned.