John C. Cabaniss was born around 1805 in Franklin County, Virginia, the son of Nancy Sink and Courtland Henry Cabaniss. He left Virginia circa 1850 for San Francisco, California to make his fortune in the Gold Rush. Cabaniss was a proprieter of the Folsom Street coal yards as well as several other lots around San Francisco. He was a member of the San Francisco Lodge No. 7 of the Masons and died of an apparent suicide on April 25, 1858.