When Phoebe met George Hearst, he had recently returned to Missouri after several years in California following the gold rush. He quickly became smitten with the young teacher. Though he had not yet struck it rich, good business dealings following the Comstock Lode in Nevada had made him wealthy.
He was 22 years her senior, and though an astute businessman, he was considered by many to be nearly illiterate. Following a brief courtship, Phoebe at first refused his proposal for marriage but was eventually talked into accepting by a favorite old uncle.
Following their 1862 wedding, the couple headed west on horseback, by way of the Isthmus, for San Francisco. Once in California, the ambitious George Hearst quickly entered state politics and acquired the 48,000-acre Piedras Blancas Ranch, which would become the site of the famed Hearst Castle. He went on to be a major investor in the largest mining operations in the U.S., including the Homestake in South Dakota and the Anaconda in Montana. In 1880, George Hearst acquired The Daily Examiner (later the San Francisco Examiner) in an arrangement connected to a gambling debt.
Birth of William Randolph Hearst
Mr. and Mrs. Hearst were the parents of only one child, William Randolph Hearst, born in 1863. William took over newspaper operations from his father in 1887. He would become a towering figure in the American publishing industry.