Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The “Old Woman’s Gun" and the Battle of Rancho Dominguez

The Battle of Rancho Dominguez, also referred to as "The Battle of the Old Woman's Gun", occurred on October 8, 1846. It was a military engagement of the Mexican–American War and took place south of Los Angeles on the Dominguez Family's Rancho San Pedro.

Upon hearing of the Siege of Los Angeles, on October 4, 1846, Commodore Robert F. Stockton sent U.S. Navy Captain William Mervine and the American ship Savannah to the port of San Pedro to assist Captain Archibald H. Gillespie in military operations. Arriving two days later, Mervine set out on October 7th with sailors, marines and bear flaggers to recapture the town.
The Americans had occupied Los Angeles in August of that year, and residents had hidden some weapons, some by burying them. On August 14, 1846, Pablo Vejar (brother of Juan Nepomuceno Ricardo Vejar) communicated a plan to Maria Casilda Soto (of Rancho La Merced) and Maria Francisca 'Pancha' Perez (wife of ranchero Felipe Lugo), both sympathetic Californio patriots, to hide one of the small ceremonial Plaza cannons used for firing salutes on feast days and other celebrations. Vejar, with the help of Carlos Ballesteros and Jose Domingo Bermudez, transported the old cannon to the peach orchard of Maria Inocencia Reyes. Reyes then buried the cannon in the orchard for safekeeping. The Reyes home adjoined that of Antonio Maria Lugo, located at what today would be the corner of San Pedro Street & 2nd Street. the orchard may have been separate from the property, it was likely adjacent to the Reyes home.
Another slightly different account, from the article “Battle of Dominguez Ranch" by J.M. Guinn, conveys that upon the approach of Stockton and Fremont’s forces in 1846 that Maria Inocencia Reyes’ mother, Maria Clara Cota (with the assistance of her her daughters), buried the cannon in a cane field near their residence on the east side of Alameda Street near First.
On September 27, 1846 when the time had come to put the gun to use, Maria Inocencia Reyes delivered the gun to Jose Dolores de Altagracia “Huero” Higuera, who with the help of a local British carpenter made a cannon carriage from a cart belonging to Louis Vignes.
Mervine's commenced with little knowledge of the terrain or enemy forces. His troops were inadequately armed and they possessed no horses, wagons or cannons. General Jose Flores' force, was similarly equipped with lances, knives and old firearms that had been hidden, but they did have the recently unearthed cannon. This brass four-pounder or pedrero (swivel gun) was described by Jose Francisco de Paula Palomares as bronze and of about six inches in diameter, that it was “mounted over some iron-rimmed carreta wheels, and bound with reatas” and that at length it received the name "Conico".
Mervine and his troops marched on October 7 and reached Dominguez Rancho, where they camped for the night, within view of an advance detachment of Flores' troops. There was some shooting during the night, but with no effect other than keeping Mervine's party on the alert. Then, setting off at daybreak, the American force advanced just to the north of Rancho San Pedro.
The little four-pounder was placed upon the narrow trail that the Americans needed to follow. Ropes were lashed to the limber to quickly pull the gun into the brush for reloading. Californio horsemen deployed at a safe distance from the trail on the enemy flanks. These simple tactics proved effective. When the Americans came within range (about 400 yards), the cannon was fired and quickly pulled back into the brush, followed by covering musket fire from the horsemen.
Mervine's forces were at a disadvantage on foot against an enemy they could neither see nor count. Upon realizing they could not reach Los Angeles, they had no choice but to retreat. The battle lasted less than an hour; and five hours later Mervine's forces were back aboard their ship in San Pedro Bay. Four seriously wounded Americans died and were buried on a little island in San Pedro Bay called Isla de los Muertos (Island of the Dead). Mervine's troops reboarded the Savannah, and after a few days, sailed north to Monterey.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Family of Jose Martin Morales Cruz and Mauricia Verdugo

My Great-Great Grandfather, Jose Martin Cruz (1854-1920), was born November 9, 1854; he was baptized at the Los Angeles Plaza Church. His father was Jose Maria Morales (d. 1856) and his mother was Maria Uribes (1829-?). Jose Maria Morales and Maria Uribes were married on October 7, 1848 at the San Gabriel Mission in Los Angeles. Jose Maria Morales was from Sonora, Mexico and died on March 17, 1856. Maria Uribes re-married Jose Marcial Cruz on March 13, 1857 shortly before Martin turned three years old. Jose Marcial Cruz adopted Jose Martin Morales and gave him his last name of Cruz.

Jose Martin Cruz married my Great-Great Grandmother, Maria Mauricia Faviana Verdugo (1863-1941), on May 16, 1885 in Compton, Los Angeles. Jose Martin (Morales) Cruz and Mauricia Verdugo are found in the 1900 census living in Long Beach, California with Mauricia’s widowed mother, Basilia Verdugo, and 7 children ranging in age from 23 to 2 years old.

Later, in the 1910 census we find Maria Mauricia Faviana Verdugo (1863-1941) widowed and living alone in the San Antonio Township. The San Antonio Township was formerly part of the Rancho San Antonio owned by the Lugo family; Mauricia’s paternal and maternal aunts had both married into the Lugo family, so it is not unlikely that she had been provided a home to stay in from a close relative. As recounted below, 2 younger daughters of Mauricia at this time were inmates in an orphanage; the older children likely found their own way and the whereabouts of the two youngest Cruz children is undetermined as of 1910.
Rosa Maria Cruz was the second daughter of Jose Martin (Morales) Cruz (1854-1920) and Maria Mauricia Faviana Verdugo (1863-1941). She was born in Long Beach, California on June 6, 1896; one of nine children. The youngest child, daughter Aurelia “Ray” Cruz (1906-1923) reportedly died at the Weimar Sanatorium in California of tuberculosis, but I can find no record of her death in Weimar records under Cruz or under her married name of Stevenson. 
It is unclear what family difficulties occurred between 1896 and 1910; but Rose and her younger sister, Florence Ambrosia Verdugo Cruz 1901-1983), are found in the 1910 census as inmates at the Los Angeles Orphanage. Rose was 13 and Florence 9 years old. Per Rosa Maria Cruz she came to San Diego when she was 14 years old (presumably with Florence) to live with her brother, Marshall Verdugo Cruz (1888-1951), who either owned or worked for the moving company, Triangle Transfer & Truck Company. Marshall would have been a fairly recent transplant to San Diego himself, as he is found previously in the 1910 census, at 20 years old, living in Los Angeles as a boarder in the home of Carmen Marquez, with his 23-year-old brother, Benjamin F. Cruz (1887-?).
Rosa Maria Cruz is perhaps found (in the 1920 census) living in Pomona, California; the wife of Reginaldo Palomares Vejar and mother of a 3 ½ year old daughter Regina Teresa Marcelline Vejar (1916-2016).  A second daughter, Henrietta Josefina Vejar (1921-1988), was born in San Diego (per family history);  whether Henrietta was Reginaldo Vejar's daughter or the daughter of Henry Cesena remains unclear, but by 1923 Rosa was again in San Diego and had remarried Vernon Monroe Kemp (1903-1968), the father of her third daughter, Helen Marie Kemp (1924-2005).
In a column about Rosa Maria Cruz outlining her life when she was 79 years old, she claimed Mission Indian and Spanish descent, she claimed (it seems mistakenly) that the famed Maria Eulalia Perez (1766-1878) was her 5th Great Grandmother. Rosa stated that the Verdugo family came from Majorca, Spain and were landowners in Pasadena and of the Rancho Los Cerritos in Long Beach. Rancho Los Cerritos was a part of Rancho Los Nietos and was held by Maria Manuela Antonia Perez y Nieto (1791-aft.1835) and her husband Juan Ignacio Guillermo de Cota (1768–1844). Juan Ignacio Guillermo de Cota’s marriage to Maria Manuela Antonia Perez y Nieto was his second. He had been previously married to Maria Manuela de Jesus Lisalde (1777-1803), the daughter of Maria Tomasa Lopez (1756–1778) and Captain Pedro Antonio Lisalde (1753-1818).
Rosa Maria Cruz bought a house in San Diego at 1942 Thomas Street in 1929 and lived there until 1974 when she moved to De Anza Trailer Park on Mission Bay. Rose recounts fishing in Mission Bay with her family using chicken wire during the Depression. She tells that she, 2 sisters and her mother, Maria Mauricia Faviana Verdugo, were involved in the founding of St. Briget’s Catholic Church in Pacific Beach. There was no Catholic Church and they sold Spanish dinners to raise funds to build the church. Her nephew, Richard Severn Rash (1921-1988), the son of her sister Florence, was the first altar boy at St. Briget’s and her mother Mauricia Verdugo would pass away before the church was completed.
In a letter from Tecate, Mexico dated 12 August 1883 from Maria Mauricia Faviana Verdugo to Martin Cruz:
Senor Don Martin Cruz,
My beloved brother,
I will be glad if when you receive this letter in your hands you will find yourself and all of my other brothers and sisters in good health. My brother I wish and hope with anticipation to see all of you. The days seem so long. I received your wonderful letter, from which we received such great joy. I cannot tell you when we can go, I worry about the health of our father and mother. After this Novena and request to St. Francis I hope to be able to see all of you. Let me know when you will go to Sonora so I can commit myself to repaying this debt as promised to St. Francis. Let me know when you go, please do not stop writing to me. Next is only to find a job to make enough to pay my debt to St. Francis.
My greetings to Erlinda and Chachon, greetings from mother and father, from Margarita and from the rest of the family, and the heart of your sister who wishes she could see you.
Mauricia Verdugo
Maria Mauricia Faviana Verdugo refers to her husband as her brother and to her family members as her brothers and sisters. Why Mauricia Verdugo was in Tecate is unknown. Her greeting to Erlinda seems to refer to Erlinda Lopez (1876-1941), the daughter of Geronimo Lopez (1829-1921…3GGU) and Maria Catarina Lopez. Erlinda married Joseph W. Alexander (1870-1965). Margarita would likely be Mauricia’s sister, Maria Margarita Verdugo (1863-1924). Margarita Verdugo married Jose "Vicente" Nicolas Melendrez (1864-1905). Whether the “our father and mother” refers to Martin Cruz’ parents or Mauricia’s is unknown, but the presence of Margarita seems to point to a greater possibility that it was Jose Joaquin Juan Pedro Verdugo (1832-1889) and Maria Basilia Perez (1824-1908), who were, in this case, living in Tecate, Mexico.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Quintero Family, the Pueblo of Los Angeles and Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas

The Pueblo of Los Angeles was founded September 4th, 1781. In December of 1779 Lieutenant Governor Don Fernando Rivera y Moncada was sent south to Sinaloa and Sonora to recruit settlers and assemble an escort for the journey to Los Angeles. The two groups, totaling 44 persons (including 22 children), departed for Los Angeles from Los Alamos in April of 1781. One group under Alferez Ramon Laso de la Vega crossed the Gulf of California in launches and travelled overland to San Diego and then onward to the San Gabriel Mission. The second group, under Fernando Rivera y Moncada, took an overland route on the Anza trail 1,200 miles through the desert from Sinaloa, Mexico.

They passed through the new missions on the Colorado River, Mission Puerto de Purisima Concepcion and Mission San Pedro y San Pablo de Bicuner. The group arrived at the Colorado River in June of 1781. Rivera y Moncada sent most of his party ahead, but he stayed behind to rest the livestock before continuing their drive across the desert. His party would never reach San Gabriel. In July, Rivera was killed along with the local missionaries, settlers, and travelers with the revolt of the Quechan Indians (The Yuma Revolt) in 1781.

The Quechan and Mojave Indians rose up against the party for encroaching on their farmlands and for the many other abuses inflicted  upon them by the soldiers. From the 17th to the 19th of July in 1781 the Yuma (Quechan) Indians destroyed both the missions and pueblos, they killed 103 soldiers, colonists and the Mission Friars. They captured about 80 more, mostly women and children. Amid the casualties were Fernando Rivera y Moncada and Fray Francisco Garces. The Spanish were able to gather their dead and ransom nearly all the prisoners; but failed to re-open the Anza Trail. The Yuma Crossing and the Anza Trail were closed to Spanish traffic and would stay closed until about 1846. California was largely isolated from land based travel, with the only way into California from Mexico was now a 40 to 60 day sea voyage. According to historian David Weber, the Yuma Revolt turned California into an "island" and Arizona into a "cul de sac", severing Arizona-California and Mexican land connections before they could be firmly established.

Of the original 44 pobladores of El Pueblo de La Reina de Los Angeles; one included my 6th great grandfather, Luis Manuel Quintero (1726-1810); he was an Afro-Mexican tailor from Guadalajara, Jalisco (perhaps the son of an African slave). Quintero was the very last recruit to sign up with Rivera y Moncada. His wife, my 6th great grandmother, Maria Petranila Timotea Rubio (1743-1802), was born in about 1741 from Los Alamos, Sonora; she is described as a mulata, or a person of mixed Spanish and African descent. They were married in about 1760 at Los Alamos, Sonora, Mexico and their eight (or nine) children included, my 5th great grandmother, Maria Faviana Sebastiana Quintero (1766-1822). Luis Manuel Quintero’s decision to join the expedition was likely colored by the January 1781 marriages of 3 of his daughters to 3 of the expeditionary soldiers under Rivera y Moncada; Maria Faviana Sebastiana Quintero to my 5th great grandfather Ysidro German Eugenio Valdez (1755-1838), Maria Catarina Quintero (1766-1798) to Joaquin Rodriquez, and Maria Juana Josefa Quintero (1763-1793) to Jose Rosalino Fernandez.

At age 55, in about 1781, Luis Manuel Quintero, either requested to leave Los Angeles, or was evicted from the pueblo for not performing his appointed duties. One likely scenario was that Quintero, a tailor by trade, wished to continue in his profession rather than becoming a farmer at the Pueblo. Another factor may have been the 110-mile distance between the Pueblo and Santa Barbara Presidio where his three daughters lived with their soldiers husbands. In any event, Quintero did leave Los Angeles for Santa Barbara where he lived for many years. In 1784, he was reunited with an old compadre from Los Alamos when Felipe de Goycoechea was appointed as commander at Santa Barbara. Goycoechea was godfather to Quintero’s son, Jose Clemente Quintero (abt 1778-1803). Jose Clemente married Maria Josefa Andrea Rodriguez (1786-1851), the daughter of Jose Ygnacio Rodriguez (1759-1814) and Juana Paula de la Cruz Parra (1765-1827); her parents also members of the Riviera Expedition.

Jose Ygnacio Rodriguez was a co-recipient of Rancho El Conejo; a 48,572-acre Spanish land grant given in 1803 to Jose Polanco and Jose Ygnacio Rodriguez, it encompassed the area now known as the Conejo Valley in southeastern Ventura and northwestern Los Angeles Counties. El Conejo means "The Rabbit" in Spanish, and refers to the many rabbits common to the region. The rancho is the site of the communities of Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks, and Westlake Village.

Polanco, lost his portion of the rancho due to neglect. In 1822, Santa Barbara army officer Jose de la Guerra y Noriega was granted Polanco's claim by Spanish Governor Pablo Vicente de Sola. The grant was fully patented to Jose de la Guerra y Noriega and Jose Ygnacio Rodriguez’ daughter Maria del Carmen de Rodriguez (1798-1881) in 1873.

The rancho stayed in the de la Guerra and Rodriguez  families until the 1860s, when after drought and disease decimated local cattle, the families began selling off their land. In 1872, H. W. Mills purchased one-half of the Conejo grant from the heirs of Captain Jose de la Guerra, which he called the Triunfo Ranch. Mills went bankrupt and Andrew D. Russell purchased his Triunfo Ranch in 1881. In 1882, 2,200 acres of the Newbury tract were sold. In 1910, Harold and Edwin Janss of the Janss Investment Company purchased about 10,000 acres of land of what is now Thousand Oaks from the heir of John Edwards, who had purchased the land from the de la Guerra heirs.

Luis Manuel Quintero died in 1810 in Santa Barbara, after serving as tailor for the soldiers at the presidio. Some of the Quintero family eventually returned to Los Angeles.

My 5th great grandparents, Maria Faviana Sebastiana Quintero and Ysidro German Eugenio Valdez married on January 21, 1781 at Los Alamos. He was son of my 6th great grand parents Ygnacio Roque Valdez and Maria Manuela Fernandez of El Fuerte, Sinaloa. Ysidro German Eugenio Valdez served as an escort soldier in the 1781 expedition to Los Angeles. Maria Faviana Sebastiana Quintero and her, then retired, soldier husband would later move to Los Angeles. Their daughter,  Maria Rita Quiteria Valdez received the 4,500 acre Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas (Meeting of the Gathering Waters) in the area  now known as Beverly Hills. This was the rancho where two of my 3rd great grandfathers, Ygnacio Maria Palomares (1811-1864) and Juan Nepomuceno Ricardo Vejar (1805-1870) kept their herds of horses and cattle prior to receiving their own Rancho San Jose grant. Ygnacio Maria Palomares married Maria Rita Quiteria Valdez’ neice, my 3rd great grandmother, Maria "China" de la Concepcion Lopez; the daughter of my 4th great grandparents, Maria Jacinta del Sacramenta Valdez and Esteban Ignacio Maria De Los Angeles Lopez.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Family of Jose Joaquin Verdugo and Maria Josefa Magdalena Vejar

With Jose Joaquin Verdugo (1795-1832) and his wife, Maria Josefa Magdalena Vejar (1799-1850) we find a family with many relationships to the old Californio families, whether through blood, marriage or other affiliation. Jose Joaquin and Maria Josefa Magdalena were married in San Diego, California on January 7th, 1821 [per Marie Northrup]. They were the children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, cousins and in-laws of the original settlers, soldiers and immigrants that arrived in San Diego, Los Angeles and Upper California after 1769.

Jose Joaquin Verdugo was born in 1795 at San Gabriel, California; his father, Ygnacio Leonardo Maria Verdugo (1761-1830), had come north to San Diego as a boy from Loreto in Baja California. Leonardo’s wife, Maria Josefa Magdalena Vejar was born in November of 1799 in San Diego, California; her father, Francisco Salvador Vejar (1764-1824), was stationed as a soldier and served as a master carpenter at the Presidio of San Diego. Jose Joaquin Verdugo died at the age of about 37 years old in January of 1832 at San Gabriel in Los Angeles, California; leaving behind his 32 year old widow, 5 young daughters ranging in age from 1 to 11, and a son that would be born just shortly after his death.

Jose Joaquin Verdugo’s Parents

Jose Joaquin Verdugo’s parents, Ygnacio Leonardo Maria Verdugo and Maria Josefa Vincenta Rubio were married at Mission San Gabriel on July 4, 1793 by the Fr. Miguel Sanchez. The witnesses to the marriage were Maria Encarnacion Perez (1768-1825) and her husband Pedro Antonio Lisalde (1753-1818), Jose Manuel Perez Nieto (1748-1804) and his wife. Pedro Antonio Lisalde was a soldier with the San Diego Company who had come to California with the De Anza Expedition of 1776 and served with the Verdugo brothers. Jose Manuel Perez Nieto arrived in California with the Portola Expedition and is first found on the garrison list of Monterey in 1773, later the recipient of Rancho Los Nietos in 1784.

Maria Josefa Magdalena Vejar’s Parents

Jose Joaquin Verdugo’s wife Maria Josefa Magdalena Vejar’s parents were Francisco Salvador Vejar (1765-1824), a Spanish soldier and a Master Carpenter who came to California in 1790, and Maria Josefa Benita Lopez (1784-1863). They were married at the Mission San Diego in 1798. Francisco Salvador Vejar helped to build the Presidio at Monterey in 1796, constructed a watch tower at Point Guijarros in San Diego in 1808 (with his brother, Ship’s Carpenter, Pablo Vejar); repaired the leaking roof of Mission San Luis Rey in 1817, travelled to Santa Barbara to prepare ‘rockets’ for the celebration of the dedication of the new Mission there in 1820, and according to family tradition was involved in the construction of Mission San Gabriel as well as El Pueblo de Nuestra Sonora La Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula, or the Los Angeles Plaza Church.
From the Denver Public Library, was taken by William Henry Jackson

Children of Jose Joaquin Verdugo and Maria Josefa Magdalena Vejar

Their eldest child, Juana Maria Resurreccion Verdugo (1821-1870) married Teodoro Romero (1810-1846) in about 1837. Teodoro Romero was the co-recipient of the Rancho Potrero de Felipe Lugo with Juana Maria Resurreccion Verdugo’s step-father, Jorge Morillo. Teodoro Romero was from Sonora, Mexico and his parents are unknown, but it seems likely that he was a relative of Juana Maria Resurreccion Verdugo’s cousin’s wife. Her cousin, Julio Antonio Jose Verdugo, the son of Rancho San Rafael owner Jose Maria Verdugo, was married to Maria De Jesus Romero (1801-1872). She was the daughter of Soldado Juan Maria Romero (1747-1816) and Maria Lugarda Salgado (1761-1847). After Teodoro Romero died Juana Maria Resurreccion Verdugo remarried Jose del Refugio Zuniga (1820-1890) in 1850. Jose del Refugio Zuniga’s first wife was Maria Dolores Romero. Jose del Refugio Zuniga and Juana Maria Resurreccion Verdugo had several children together; including a son Manuel Maria de las Merced Zuniga (1854-1928) who later married Lucinda Amanda Temple (1860-1928), the daughter of Francisco Pliny Fiske Temple (1822-1880) and Antonia Margarita Workman (1830-1892).
Plat map of Rancho Potrero de Felipe Lugo

Maria Dolores “Isadora” Verdugo (1823-1868) married Juan Jose Cecilio Villalobo (1816-1854) in 1838. He was the son of the widow Maria Casilda Soto (1799-1854), grantee of the 2,363 acre Rancho La Merced in 1844; and Jose Cecilio Cedilio Villalobo (1786-a.1836). Juan Jose Cecilio Villalobo and Maria Casilda Soto were married June 6, 1812 at Mission San Gabriel, with the marriage document penned by Jose Cristobal Palomares who also provided parental consent for Maria Casilda Soto who was 13 years old. We later find them in the 1836 Mexican census living at La Mision Vieja with five children. Maria Dolores “Isadora” Verdugo, in a second marriage, wed Jose Facundo Reyes (1824-1870). He was the son of Maria Clara Cota (1790-1844) (a grand-daughter of Roque Jacinto de Cota) and Antonio Faustino Reyes (1785-1844). Jose Facundo Reyes’ brother Antonio Maria Reyes (1822-1928) married Maria Trinidad Jesus Francisca Vejar (1826-1852); the eldest daughter of Juan Nepomuceno Ricardo Vejar and Maria de la Trinidad Soto (and the sister of Maria Casilda Soto of the Rancho La Merced). Jose Facundo Reyes’ sister, Inocencia Reyes (1815-1863), was the 2nd wife of Teodosio Yorba (1805-1863). Teodosio Yorba’s 1st wife had been Maria Antonia Lugo (1810-1855), the daughter of Rancho San Antonio grantee Antonio Maria Lugo (1778-1860). Teodosio Yorba was the grantee of both the Rancho Arroyo Seco and the Rancho Lomas de Santiago. Teodosio Yorba’s father, Jose Antonio Yorba (1743-1825), was the grantee of the Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana.
Jose Facundo Reyes with Maria Dolores “Isadora” Verdugo in the background?

Maria Salvadora Verdugo (1825-1900) married Rafael Yescas in 1852 at Mission San Gabriel. We find her living with her brother Jose Joaquin Juan Pedro Verdugo and his wife, Basilia, at San Luis Rey in the 1870 census where her age is recorded as 24. She is again found living with the family of her sister Juana Maria Eleuteria Verdugo in El Monte in the 1900 census listed as age 65.

Maria Eustaquia De La Concepcion Verdugo (1828-1870) married Jose Luis Lugo (1830-?), the son of Felipe Lugo (1807-1885) and Maria Francisca 'Pancha' Perez (1814-1885); and the grandson of Antonio Maria Lugo, the grantee of the Rancho San Antonio. Maria Francisca 'Pancha' Perez was the daughter of Spanish Soldado Jose Esteban Perez (1765-1821) and Maria Asumpcion de la Encarnacion Ontiveros (1783-1825). Maria Francisca 'Pancha' Perez brother, Jose Perez (1805-1841), married Maria de la Merced de Lugo (1815-1903); Felipe Lugo’s, sister.
Lugo Family members at the Adobe of Don Antonio Maria Lugo

Juana Maria Eleuteria "Tia Chatta" Verdugo (1831-1915) married Josef Anastacio Alvitre (1822-1911). He was the son of Juan Jose Alvitre (1798-1838) and Maria Tomasa Alvarado (1799-1863). Josef Anastacio Alvitre inherited a section of the Rancho Potrero Chico from his father. Juana Maria Eleuteria "Tia Chatta" Verdugo and Josef Anastacio Alvitre had 6 children that lived to adulthood including their son, Jose Pedro Ramon Alvitre (1863-1941), who was living on the Rancho with his family in the 1920 census; and their daughter Maria Antonia Alvitre (1853-1939) who married Rafael Basye (1832-1887). Rafael Basye was the father of Tomas Basye, a close friend of Manuel Maria de las Merced Zuniga and Charles Parker Temple, the latter with whom he would become embroiled in an ongoing, violent, public and ultimately fatal (for Tomas Basye) dispute over the death of his sister, Rafaela Basye (1873-1899).
Vaqueros at San Juan Capistrano

The youngest, and only son, Jose Joaquin Juan Pedro Verdugo (1832-aft. 1880) married Basilia Perez (1830-aft. 1900). We find them, as mentioned, with his sister Maria Salvadora Verdugo, listed in the 1870 census for San Luis Rey; presumably residing on former California governor Pio Pico’s Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores, then owned by John Forster (on current-day Camp Pendleton, north of Oceanside in San Diego County) where Jose Joaquin Juan Pedro Verdugo worked as a Vaquero. They were located 5 houses away from Forster’s Santa Margarita Ranch House. In the 1870 census Jose Joaquin Juan Pedro Verdugo is listed as age 30, Basilia Perez as age 25 and Maria Salvadora Verdugo as age 24. Basilia Perez is again found in the 1900 census, listed as age 69, living in Long Beach, California with the family of her daughter Mauricia Verdugo (1863-1941) and her husband Jose Martin (Morales) Cruz (1854-1920).

More to come...please feel free to comment, offer corrections or credit where due.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Across The Plains With The Gold Seekers

The following is an account of my Great Great Grandfather's trip to the California gold fields in 1852 from Grant County, Wisconsin to Shasta City, California.
Written at the solicitation of the Wabaunsee County Historical Society
By William Horne             

(Born June 30, 1833, died Sept. 27, 1915.)

William H. Horne (possibly his marriage photo c. 1857)


bout the year 1836 my father[1]  and his family, consisting of my mother[2], my infant bother Jacob[3], who grew up and lived for many years in Wabaunsee county, and  myself, a three year old boy, emigrated from Germany to America. The family located for a few years in Illinois, and then moved to Grant County, the southwestern county of Wisconsin, where in a few years my father died. A few years thereafter my mother married again, my stepfather’s name being George Hefner. The family continued to live in Grant county, Wisconsin, until after the discovery of gold in California. Some of the western pioneers — settlers in the neighboring territory to us — had gone the year before across the plains by ox team in quest of their fortune, to be made by gold digging. Reports coming back from the gold fields were exiting, and my stepfather caught the gold fever so bad that he determined to leave home for California the next spring (1850). He went then, entrusting our mother to the care of us boys. I was then past seventeen years old, Jakie about fourteen, and a younger brother about six or seven. This younger brother Louis died in the army during the Civil War.

Gold coin from 1849

n the spring of 1850, and before my stepfather left, I was satisfied I had the gold fever myself pretty bad, but I did not dare say anything about it around home for a while, and yet I began planning to get ready to start in a year or two. In the summers of 1850 and 1851 I took contracts to break, and broke 200 acres of prairie with five yoke of old oxen our family owned. In part pay for this work I managed to take three yoke of young oxen, which I broke myself and claimed as my own. Such cattle were pretty cheap then.  

A Yoke of Oxen

ow in the autumn of 1851 I needed my mother’s consent to cross the plains to the gold fields the next spring, and had partially arranged with companions to make the trip with me. It was usual for three or four persons to unite to go with a wagon and three or four yoke of oxen. Three yoke were enough, though some went with four. I had agreed with two companions, who understood that I must get my mother’s consent. These were a cousin of mine, Fred Horne[4], aged about 35 years, and an ex-Mexican war veteran named Charles Pickett, both neighbors, and whom my mother knew to be honest and worthy people. I told my mother my intentions for the next spring, my arrangements with my companions and who they were, and that I had the three yoke of oxen and that in our arrangements the oxen were to remain mine at the end of the journey, and that we jointly were to contribute the wagon and provisions and camping outfit. I told her that I did not ask much help from her, and that if she tried to prevent my going I would sell the oxen and get the money for them and join some other outfit and go. She made no objections to my going beyond saying she feared the other boys—my brothers—could not be helpful enough at home.


fter this Fred Horne and Charles Pickett frequently came to our house, and preparations for the trip across the plains went forward. We planned to start early, as we knew the trip to be ordinarily an all summer’s journey, and that the trip started as late as in the spring as May 15th might find us stranded in the late fall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.


n March 21, 1852, I having passed my nineteenth birthday on the 29th of June in the previous year, my companions and I, with our ox teams and fully equipped for the trip, crossed the Mississippi river at Dubuque, Iowa, en route for Shasta, California, and a narrative of our experiences on the trip made 59 years ago this summer (1911) is here attempted.


rom Dubuque we crossed the state of Iowa, aiming at Council Bluffs[5] , then also known as Camsville, 320 miles distant, and arriving there we found collected a large number of ox teams in charge of gold seekers, and they were waiting because it was claimed by them that the grass was not started to have sufficient grazing. We also laid over there with them about two weeks,and then, as the grass was still

Kanesville. Aka Council Bluffs Crossing at the Missouri River

too scanty to start, it was agreed by the company and a train boss, or road pilot, to whom the others looked as being the big chief of the expedition, that if nearly all the company in charge of teams would buy and carry

A California Trail Wagon Train
 along from 15 to 20 bushels of corn to help support the cattle, the expedition might start in a day or two, and that all those who would not buy corn must start with some later expedition. Nearly all immediately bought the required amount of corn there in Council Bluffs, and on the fifth of May our expedition crossed the Missouri river on a hand ferry boat, a caravan of about 80 wagons with three or four yoke of oxen to the wagon. We followed the trend of the Platte River, and while passing through the Pawnee Indian[6] country about 70 or 80 Pawnee bucks and squaws closely followed our train and gathered up the droppings of our cattle and washed the corn out of it and ate it.

A Pawnee Indian Camp

efore getting through this Pawnee country we had to cross a creek over a bridge which I understand the U.S. government had built. This creek we believed to be impassable otherwise for a great distance, and when we came to the place of the bridge we found the plank removed from the bridge and carried a short distance to the west side of the creek. More than a few Pawnees were about there, and when we had to stop a few representatives of the Indians came to us and said, as I was informed, that we had no right to go through their country without their consent, and that they wanted pay for the privilege they were now ready to give us to go further. They said they asked 25 of our oxen and all the corn we had left in our wagons. The oxen we could not well have spared, but the corn we had left we could spare, as the grazing for our cattle was now sufficient. We held a kind of council among us and all agreed to offer the Pawnees all the corn we had—and the aggregate in the 80 wagons was no small quantity—and also a cow which someone in the train had found and which some earlier train had probably lost. They accepted this offer and allowed us to put the plank on the bridge and go on.


fter this we had no more trouble with the Indians. The Sioux never troubled us. We went forward and arrived at Ft. Laramie[7]—except that the fort was on the opposite side of the river—and that on the

Fort Laramie, Wyoming. Across the North Platte River
morning before we reached the fort an incident happened that detached the three lead wagons from the train—my wagon being ahead of all. This happened because quite a few of the wagons in the train contained women and children; and such wagons, or some of them, were invariably slow in getting ready to start with the train in the morning. It was customary, after plenty of time was allowed our oxen to graze in the morning and for everyone to have their breakfasts, for the train master to give a call which meant to yoke up your oxen. This was always punctually done by the teams in the forward half of the train unless the drivers felt they did not need to be in a hurry because of the fact that the women passengers on his wagon would not be ready when the team was yoked up. The order to yoke up had been given and the drivers were yoking up, and the train boss rode up to my wagon, which was one of the most forward ones, and told me that he assigned my wagon to lead the train that day, and he designated a couple other teams that could easily drop in behind me to fall in after me, but we were not to pull out until he gave the signal from back along the line when everybody was about ready. After waiting for the signal to pull out probably five minutes, it came, and I pulled out in the lead, and the nearby wagons fell in behind as directed, and the whole train seemed to us to have started, and so far as we could see it had. We had driven probably a quarter of a mile when the train boss came riding up to near the front and signaled us (the front teams) to stop.


e had anticipated such an occurrence every day, and when we saw the wagon boss riding forward this time the drivers and occupants of the wagons behind me (there were no women in them) called to me in an undertone, “go on, go on,” and I did not stop, for I felt the same disgust they felt. All the wagons behind the forward three stopped at the signal, but we three drove on. The train boss, seeing that we were ignoring him, rode after us until he was sure that we meant to free ourselves of the delays of his management, when he told us to “go to h---“ and turned back. One of our party replied to him that we wanted to get to California sometime. The boss went back and we went on, and after a day or two the rear division of the original train never came in sight of us again. I had a guide book of the overland route, and I believe every wagon had one, and except that my wagon was aiming for Shasta, and one other misadventure, we ought not have got lost.


ur three wagons continued on along the Platte, and from a place called the Devil’s Gate[8]  we followed the Sweetwater[9] to its head, and were above the timber line. Here the ground was frozen hard in July, when we were there. While passing over this frozen ground we had to bake our bread

The Devil’s Gate beyond Independence Rock
 in trenches. We dug in the frozen ground, as our bread pans would not bake well in coals on the surface. We were on this frozen ground two days before we could get beyond it. Proceeding, we crossed the Little Sandy and Big Sandy rivers and came to what our guide book described as a desert 55 miles wide and without water or grass[10].  Before entering this desert we gave our cattle a good rest, intending to cross by one continuous drive. We started into it at four o’clock one afternoon, and at midnight we stopped to make some coffee and rest the cattle a little. We drank the coffee and gave each steer a gallon of water, and started forward. We got over the desert and to Green River[11] about sundown the next day. Here for two days we rested the cattle. The Mormons had a ferry, controlled by rope, across Green River, and we had to pay $7 a wagon to cross on it, while the cattle had to swim. Going forward from here we came to the Bear River Mountains, which we crossed. We found the descent so steep that we had to take one wagon down before we could start to take another down. We locked both hind wheels and tied a rope to the rear axle, and all the spare men of the three wagons pulled back while the driver governed the cattle.

Bear River Mountains

oing on, we came to Bear River, where we found the mosquitoes so bad that the cattle could not eat and we could build no fire. We tied our cattle to the wagons to hold them and let them fight the mosquitoes, while we covered up and stayed all night without the cattle getting anything to eat. A white steer that belonged to me looked altogether black in his covering of mosquitoes. We moved on from here a few days and came to a strong ebbing and flowing spring near the Bear River, where we camped over Sunday. A few Ute Indians, about a dozen families, were camped there when we arrived. This spring had a perpendicular outlet, and flowed with such force as to throw out stones as large as our heads, which we threw into it at its ebb. While we were resting here over Sunday, we noticed our Indian friends with all their families, women and children, go into the Bear River valley, each carrying a stick. We watched them to see what they were about and we watched as they turned to the level valley land we saw that they were driving something. We could not see from our distance what they were driving, so we went to them and saw that they were

Wingless Grasshopper
driving large wingless grasshoppers, many of which were as large as a man’s thumb. They drove them into a large hole that had some water in it, and then they gathered weeds and grass and trash, which they threw into the hole and set fire to it. This killed the grasshoppers and then the Indians began to eat them. I think they had 8 or 10 bushels of them.

A River Crossing
e left this place the next morning, and the next considerable stream we came to was the Snake River. We went down this river a couple of days, and our trail crossed over it about 25 times in one day’s travel. After we left the Snake River we crossed a little divide, and struck the head of Humbolt[12], and followed this river down about 80 miles, and there we met a company of civil engineers or surveyors coming toward us. They had just laid out from the west end of the route a new trail to Shasta City, and they furnished me with a chart, as a guide book, on a sheet of paper of this new route. This new route was called Noble cutoff[13]. My wagon, with myself and two companions took this

Noble’s Emigrant Trail Route
 new route from here. The other two wagons continued on the trail toward Sacramento City. We did not realize the risk we were assuming, and so for 300 miles we three comrades pushed on alone through an Indian country across the Sierra Nevada mountains—a whole month’s travel. I have often thought over this fool-hardy venture and as often concluded that I would never take such a risk again of being killed by the Indians for all of California[14]. When we had traveled this route about 25 miles we came to a place called Black Rock Springs[15], and at this point the new route intersected the route taken by the ‘49ers. Here a great train of the gold seekers of ’49 were snowed in and could get no further, and all would have perished as did their cattle and some of the people, had not some territorial officers in California heard of their plight, and soldiers with mules were sent there to break a trail for them to walk out and go on foot.

Black Rock Desert, Nevada. West of Winnemucca

ere was one of the most sensational scenes I ever witnessed. Many hundreds of the carcasses of the dead cattle, though dead nearly three years, lay around, many with the hides still covering the bones. In the dry climate of that region they had merely dried up, rather than decayed. The ox yokes lay all around, and there stood hundreds of abandoned wagons. Inside and outside these wagons were great quantities of carpenter tools, blacksmith tools, and other implements. The misfortune of these people resulted from their starting too late to get across the mountains before the snows of the coming winter set in. They did not know anything of the character of the trail, and many of the wagons were too large and too heavily loaded and they had thus all retarded the progress of the train. From this place, Black Rock Springs, our route was entirely based on the chart the surveyors had given us.


e set out early the next morning on this new route, and stopped for the first day at a place nine miles out, where there was a small lake[16]. Here my two companions and I came to the conclusion that we could take our wagon no further and must abandon it, because the sage brush was so low, so thick and so heavy that we could hardly draw our wagon over them. We cut up our wagon box and made pack saddles from it for our oxen, and this caused us a day’s delay. The next day we packed our oxen (we had lost one and had five left) and only four of these were gentle enough to break into this new service easily. The fifth was a wild, unbreakable beast and would not submit to the pack saddle, bucking and on this account we had to leave some things behind that we wished to take along. One of these things was a feather bed my mother had given me, and Mr. Pickett, seeing that I was going to leave this, asked if I would consent to his taking it on the steer without a pack saddle. I told him, “certainly.” So we caught the steer and strapped it on him so we thought the sage brush would not interfere with it, but the steer when turned loose fought the light burden with his horns and got it out of position, and tore it and strewed our new route with feathers for much of the day’s travel.


rom this lake where we abandoned the wagon the first camping place on our new chart and route was 21 miles distant, and we had to start pretty early to make it, and even then we failed to reach the place as expected. We hoped to reach this camping place in 11 hours travel but when we had traveled that long we were on a salt plain with the salt an inch thick. We were very thirsty and had seen no water on the way.


e could not stop, and went on until six o’clock, and now my cousin, Fred Horne, was exhausted and could go no further. We knew our companion was all in when he told us so. This made our situation very embarrassing. We had to leave him and move on to reach a mountain in sight and distant about a mile, which indicated water by a little greenness about its base[17].


ickett and I, with the cattle, went forward, and about night we got to a place where the new trail went up a mountain. Pickett said he could go no further and that he was going to lie down there, and that he was so near dead that he did not expect to get up again. Pickett and the cattle lay down there, and I took my canteen and went up the trail. The moon was nearly full, and there was twilight yet, so I could see some. It was about a mile to the top of this mountain by the trail, and elevation I judge was about 1000 feet.


rom there, by the remaining twilight and the moonlight, I imagined I could see green timber not far to the left, and if this were so, there would probably be water there, so I abandoned the trail and went in that direction. The distance, however, was about a mile, and the timber was there and a dry run, but no water. I followed this run quite a piece until I came in sight of an opening or canyon between two mountains, and was now so much exhausted myself as to make up my mind to go there and if I found no water by the time I got there I would lie down and possibly go no further. The distance to this place proved to be about half a mile and there I found a pretty little lake[18] of snow water as cold as ice. Here, too, was the station  21 miles from where we had started in the morning. I judge it was considerably later than ten o’clock when I reached this lake of water,  because being very tired and carrying a heavy rifle and groping in the semi-darkness over much of the distance I had to go very slow in places.


 immediately satisfied my thirst by taking many little drinks of this invigorating water, during which time I got about five minutes rest, and then I filled my canteen and started back to Pickett and the cattle, saddened now by the thought of Fred Horne, whom we had left exhausted  a few miles further back. My trip back to Pickett was slow, and I judge it was nearly one o’clock when I got back to him. I gave him a drink, but did not let him drink all the water because Fred Horne might come up to us there. We got so roused contemplating the situation that we lost all desire for sleep, and it could not have been far from daylight when we decided to eat a bite of breakfast and then I take Pickett and the cattle to the lake, where they could rest, while I would try to find Fred, if he had not come up to us by that time. We did this, and now about six o’clock in the morning and I then left Pickett and the cattle at the lake and started back with my gun to where, in the early part of the night, I reached the top of the mountain and made the digression from the trail that led me to the lake. I traveled back to this point over the route I had gone along in the night, and missed meeting Fred on his way to overtake us by not following the trail from the lake back. Here I discharged my gun four times, assured that Fred, who had his gun with him, would answer by discharging it if he heard mine. I heard no response, and Fred was probably at the station at the time. So I went back to the station to make a better understanding with Pickett for a more continued absence which I might make a further search for Fred, but we were reunited and happy.


 have hundreds of times since then thought over this incident and our perplexity at the time. None of us three men thought otherwise than that we could, with our pack oxen, travel over a trail marked for plainsmen, go 21 miles in about 12 hours, or that an extra hour or two would signify much to us; but here we realized it with alarm. Walking all the way ourselves and wearing ourselves out crowding the oxen forward, we hardly made an average rate of a mile and a quarter an hour during the 17 hours to get from station to station, without seeing water while passing over a salt plain, and carrying a heavy rifle. This wore my comrades out; Fred five miles from our destination and Pickett two and a half miles from it, but our weariness and confusion taught us some things that might be useful for the future. We fully realized here that we three were going to California alone, and over a route no gold seeker had ever passed, and that we were still far east of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Sierra Nevada Range from the East

e rested at this station until well in the afternoon, and had intended to stay until the next day, but we came to the conclusion that it was not safe to stay there because our party was so small and we knew there were Indians about. So about three o’clock in the afternoon we loaded up our oxen and went on up the little creek or rivulet that fed the lake (our trail led that way). These mountain streams have the feature of having more water in them up stream than downstream. We camped on this stream that night, having traveled only a few miles. This was a beautiful little creek with many salmon trout in it.


ext morning we started off again still going up the creek, and all at once came to where a spur of the mountain butted out right against the creek, and we had to pass over this spur. When we got on top we saw that the creek had turned away from us, and here there was a fork in the trail with nothing to indicate to us which trail we should take. It was now four o’clock and we unfortunately chose the wrong trail and followed it until just before sunset, when we came to what we concluded was the crater of an extinct volcano[19]. After we had passed over this we came to some box elder trees and expected to find evidence of a creek or water there. There was only a dry creek with no water, and while we were consulting about what to do Pickett said in a low tone, “I saw an Indian’s head bob down behind that rock over there,” and indicating the rock. I said, “Let’s go to him,” and we all started directly towards the rock. Two Indians jumped up from behind the rock and started to run off. We stopped and called to them, and one of the party who had a tin cup made signs to indicate that we wanted water. They stopped and let us come up to them, and by signs and motions we understood them to try to tell us that water was to be found by going up on a nearby mountain and down the other side. We agreed to give each of the Indians half of a double blanket if they would pilot us to the water. They accepted and piloted us over and down the mountain, and there we came to Honey River[20].

Susan River, California near Honey Lake

e traveled all night and part of the next day getting to it, and our cattle had become so thirsty before reaching it that when they were yet a mile from it they started to go so fast that we could hardly keep up with them and when they got to the river they went right into it. The water was deep and we got everything wet that the cattle carried, but our supply of goods was so small and of such a character that it did not do much damage. For some time our provisions had been only rice, coffee, hardtack and dried beef, but we had enough left to do us until we hoped to reach Shasta City.


ur two Indian pilots stayed with us at Honey River until after breakfast. They relished our coffee greatly, but our dried beef was too salty for them. After we had taken several hours of rest and sleep, we decided as a precaution against treacherous Indians to move to another place before night. So in the afternoon we started off up the river, and about sunset of that day we were at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We camped there for the night, and that night water froze in a bucket half an inch thick. We had struck our trail again when we reached the Honey River.


fter we had camped here half an hour, 25 naked Indians came to visit us and took possession of our bed for the night, and we had to either sit up or lie on the ground. We did not dare disturb them. At daylight we got breakfast and made coffee for all those Indians. They drank it all and ate the coffee grounds up clean. They did not disturb us further, and we packed up and started on. I have often wondered why it was the Indians suffered us to camp over night and then move on unmolested in this country. We were always courteous toward them and this may have been the reason for our immunity. We assumed too much risk. Our escape from death or robbery was a surprise to all with whom I ever talked who had preceded us over the plains and mountains


ext morning we started up the Sierra Nevada Mountains, or principal Rocky mountain range. Here we had a trail we could not get away from, and it took us about two days to get to the top. The descent on the west slope was much more gradual. The distance down was nearly 100 miles, heavily timbered with pine timber. When we were pretty well through this pine timber, or nearly down as I supposed, we lost the right trail, by taking the plainest trail – an Indian trail that led to a nice spring of water, and from this spring trails ran in every direction but the right way.

A Scene in the Lassen Wilderness

he place was devoid of timber for several acres, as pine timber does not grow near water, and while discussing what to do an Indian wearing a U.S. soldier’s cap, but otherwise naked, and three other naked Indians and two Indian boys came up to us and acted friendly, and one of them offered us some roasted roots to eat. I took one and ate it and it tasted much like sweet potato. We hired the father of these two Indian boys by offering to each of the boys half of a double blanket, to pilot us to our trail again. The other accepted and the boys went ahead faster than we could go with our nearly worn out cattle. In half a day the boys got us through to Cow creek and waited until we came up. They gave us our direction by pointing down Cow creek, and here we were only half a mile from a camp of white cloth tents. There were a couple hundred of them in plain sight and we could see people moving about, but could not tell what they were or could be. While we were trying to make them out we heard a rooster crow in that direction, and we were satisfied that it was a camp of whites. We went down the creek toward the camp, which was on the opposite side, and there we stopped, and proceeded to arrange our camp for the night. Pickett crossed the creek to the camp to see if he could but something to eat different from our dried beef. He came back in a little while with a piece of pickled pork, some sugar and coffee. He learned that the U.S. government was building a fort there – Fort Reding[21].


he men had told him that we must not camp where we had stopped, as it was not safe there on account of the Indians, as the Indians were bad in that country, and an officer had invited us to cross the creek and camp with them. We did not act on this invitation promptly and were much inclined not to accept it at all, because we were so ragged and dirty. The soles of my shoes were worn completely off under the balls of my feet, the tops of my shoes were torn open and the leather curled up, my clothes were worn through and we had had no haircuts nor shaves on the whole trip. After a little while an officer with six men came over to us and told us we must come into their camp, and we went. Next morning the officer gave us each a soldier’s ration for breakfast. The officers also told us that there was no grazing for our cattle at Shasta, and that we could leave them with the government herd at the post to graze, and when we wanted them we could come and get them, and it would cost us nothing. We left our cattle at the post and set out for Shasta City, 40 miles distant. We hoped to make it in one day, but did not quite do it. However, we got to

Shasta City
 a place called Lower Springs[22], only five miles short of Shasta, where there was a mining camp. There was a store, a bakery, two saloons and some miners’ cabins here.


ere I saw the first gold dust I ever saw. The miners had just finished their day’s work and were coming home, and they showed us the fruits of the day’s labor in their prospecting pans. They said we must not camp where we had stopped (under a large burr oak tree outside the camp) on account of the Indians. We did not believe there was any danger and told them we had come alone 300 miles – through this bad Indian country and had not been molested. We did not act on the advice of the miners, but soon afterward the baker, who was German, the store keeper and one of the saloon keepers came to us and told us the Indians would kill us if we stayed there, and the baker said we could sleep in his bakery building. We slept in the bakery but the fleas greatly disturbed our rest. Next day we went to Shasta. Here I found my stepfather and on the next day I started in to work digging and washing gold. On the day before I had time

Panning for Gold
 to learn this trade by watching how the miners did it, and my stepfather assisted me in getting started. Mining claims were to be had for the selection of them, and a pan and a few days supply of provisions was all the assistance one needed to become a gold digger. My first day at mining here produced me an ounce of gold. This was on August 6, 1852.

The S.S. Golden Gate

 remained in California, not all the time at Shasta, however, until March 15, 1858, when I left San Francisco[23]  on the steamer Golden Gate[24]  for home. We crossed the isthmus on the Panama railroad[25]. It was the first railroad I had ever seen. The fare across for the 49 miles was $50. I got home in April, 1858. I had made lots of money in California, but did not manage well to save it. When I was 21 years of age I had 50 pounds weight in gold, worth $10,000. In 1853, the year after I got to California, I sent home $2,000 in gold. This got home all right. Two weeks later I sent $1,200 more, but the last shipment was lost.

The Wreck of the S.S. Golden Gate in 1862

The End

William Horne at about 70 years old
Compiled and transcribed, with  illustrations and endnotes added by Troy Dockins, a great great grandson of William Horne


[1] William Horne’s Father was George Jacob Horne. Born February 6, 1809 in Baden, Germany. He arrived in the US (presumably in New York) on August 29, 1833. He married Magdalena Reifsteck October 16, 1836 in the US and died circa 1840 in Grant County, WI
[2] William Horne’s Mother was Magdalena Reifsteck. Born circa 1812 in Baden, Germany. Daughter of Johann Christian Reifsteck and Christina Schoechlin
[3] William Horne’s Brother, Jacob Horne was born July 8, 1837 in Baden, Germany. He married Victoria Lang and had 4 children; Christina, Lewis, Sophia and William. Jacob died August 7, 1899 in Alma, KS
[4] We find Frederick Horne in the Shasta County, California, Naturalization Records dated March 28, 1856
[5] Council Bluffs is on the east bank of the Missouri River across from what is now Omaha, Nebraska. It was known until 1852 as Kanesville, Iowa — the historic starting point of the Mormon Trail and eventual northernmost anchor town of the other emigrant trails.
[6] The Pawnee lived along outlying tributaries of the Missouri River: the Platte, Loup and Republican rivers in permanent earth lodge villages where they farmed. They left the villages on seasonal buffalo hunts, using tipis while traveling. In the early 19th century, the Pawnee numbered about 10,000 people and were one of the largest and most powerful tribes on the Great Plains. They escaped early  exposure to Eurasian infectious diseases that impacted other Indian groups. But by 1859, their numbers had been reduced to about 1,400 people.
[7] Fort Laramie was a significant 19th century trading post located at the confluence of the Laramie River and the North Platte River in the upper Platte River Valley in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Wyoming. Founded in the 1830s to service the overland fur trade during the middle 19th century, it sat at the bottom of the long climb leading to the best and lowest crossing point at South Pass into western descending valleys and so was a primary stopping point on the Oregon Trail. Along with Bent's Fort on the Arkansas River, the trading post and its supporting industries and businesses were the most significant economic hub of commerce in the region.
[8] The Devil's Gate (Wyoming) is a natural rock formation, a gorge on the Sweetwater River a few miles southwest of Independence Rock. The site, significant in the history of western pioneers, was a major landmark on the Mormon Trail and the Oregon Trail although the actual routes of travel did not pass through the very narrow gorge.
[9] The Sweetwater provided an almost direct path from the Platte and North Platte Rivers to the wide South Pass Continental Divide between the Atlantic Ocean rivers and rivers that dumped in the Pacific Ocean. South Pass was the easiest pass across the Atlantic and Pacific drainages. These wagon trails crossed the meandering Sweetwater River about nine times on their about 10 to 20 day long trips along the Sweetwater River before they reached South Pass.
[10] This was the Sublette-Greenwood Cutoff (established 1844) that cut about 50 miles (80 km) off the main route through Fort Bridger. It left the main emigrant trail about 20 miles (32 km) from South Pass at Parting of the Ways junction and then headed almost due west. About ten miles (16 km) further they encountered Big Sandy River—about ten feet wide and one foot deep. This was the last water before crossing about 45 miles (72 km) of desert consisting of soft dry soil that rose in suffocating clouds before reaching the next water at the Green River.
[11] It is unclear whether this was the Lombard Ferry or another Mormon Ferry located further south on the Green River in Wyoming. After crossing the Green they then had to continue crossing mountain ranges where the trail gets over 8,000 feet (2,400 m) in several places before finally connecting with the main trail near today's Cokeville, Wyoming in the Bear River valley.
[12] The Humboldt River runs through northern Nevada. At approximately 330 miles (530 km) long it is the second longest river in the Great Basin, after the Bear River. It has no outlet to the ocean, but instead empties into the Humboldt Sink. It traversing roughly east to west, and passes through repeated gaps in the north-south running mountain ranges. It was the only natural transportation artery across the Great Basin, and provided the historical route for westward migration, railroads, and modern highways. The river is named for the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. In 1848 the river was explored by John C. Frémont, who made a thorough map of the region and gave the river its current name. The following year the river became the route of the California Trail, the primary land route for migrants to the California gold fields.
[13] Nobles Road. In 1851, William Nobles surveyed a shorter variation of the Applegate-Lassen trail. It was developed to make it easier to get to Shasta, California in the Central Valley and was first used in 1852. The route left the main trail near Lassen’s meadow (now Rye Patch Reservoir) in Nevada, bypassed most of the large Applegate-Lassen loop north almost to Goose Lake (Oregon-California) on the Oregon-California border. This route followed the Applegate-Lassen Trail to the Boiling Spring at Black Rock in Black Rock Desert and then went almost due west from there going on to Shasta, California in the Central Valley via Smoke Creek Desert to present day Honey Lake and present day Susanville, California before passing North of Mt. Lassen and on to Shasta (near present day Redding). The route today can be approximated by taking Nevada State Route 49 (Jungo Rd.) from Winnemucca, Nevada to Gerlach, Nevada and from there to Susanville, California via Smoke Creek Road. From there, California State Route 44 through Lassen Volcanic National Park to Redding, California approximates the rest of the trail. It depended upon springs for water, as there were no dependable creeks along most of the route. East of Mt. Lassen, it used part of Lassen's road in reverse over a distance of about 20 miles (32 km).
[14] Of the emigrants killed by Indians, about 90% were killed west of South Pass, mostly along the Snake and Humboldt Rivers or on the Applegate Trail to the southern end of the Willamette Valley.
[15] This hot spring was a significant destination for emigrants traveling along the Applegate Trail in the late 19th Century, as it was one of the few water stops known to the travelers.
[16] Possibly Trego Springs
[17] This area was likely the Smoke Creek Desert, an arid region of northwestern Nevada, USA that lies about 60 miles (97 km) to the north of Pyramid Lake, west of the Fox Range and east of the Smoke Creek Mountains. The southern end of the desert lies on the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation, and a rail line lies at the eastern edge. The Smoke Creek Desert is southwest of the Black Rock Desert's South Playa and is between the Granite Range and the Fox Range.
[18] Possibly Granite Creek
[19] There appears to be a peak that fits this description on maps about 6 miles north of Honey Lake, Shaffer Mountain.
[20] Most likely the Susan River (named so in 1857) which drains into Honey Lake.
[21] Established on May 26,1852, this adobe built, two-company post was located on the west side of Cow Creek, about two and a half miles from its confluence with the Sacramento River at the present town of Redding in Shasta County was primarily intended to protect the mining district from Indian depredations.
[22] Lower Springs came to life in 1849 as Lower Reading Springs. It was one of Shasta County's first three important settlements; the other two were Shasta and Horsetown. It was first named Lower Reading Springs to distinguish it from nearby Upper Reading Springs, what Shasta was first called.
[23] Wm Horne married Sophia F. Leschnitz from Hanover, Germany in San Francisco in 1857
[24] The SS Golden Gate was a 269 foot long 2,067 ton wooden side-wheel steamer with 3 decks, 3 masts, a round stern, & a spread-eagle head.  Her first run to San Francisco left New York in September 1851 and arrived in the City on November 19, 1851. San Francisco press hailed her as "the largest and swiftest steamer in our waters." The ship, while fast, was plagued with problems, including an outbreak of cholera in 1852, which resulted in 29 deaths (a second source reports 84 deaths). In 1853, she nearly collided with the Vanderbilt steamship Sierra Nevada off the coast of Mexico, her shaft cracked twice, and she went aground at Point Loma in 1854. Her end came on July 27, 1862 between San Francisco and Panama, about 15 miles from Manzanillo, Mexico, when fire was discovered in the engine room, and the vessel was headed for what is now called Playa de Oro to beach. Many of the passengers sought refuge in the stern, but the flames spread in that direction, and when boats were launched in the heavy surf the occupants were crushed against the ship or drowned; the ship broke up in the surf. Reports of between 175 and 223 passengers and crew lost their lives, together with the baggage, mail, and nearly all the cargo of $1.4 million in specie [gold coin].
[25] Construction on the Panama Railroad began in 1850 and on January 28, 1855 the world’s first transcontinental train ran from ocean to ocean. By 1858 the cargoes transferred by railroad between the two ports had an annual value of $2,000,000.  The limited capacity of the railroad was a challenge for the company. In order to buy time for upgrade, the management implemented a prohibitively expensive rate card to curtail the traffic.