My Father: David Fairfield (Connie’s great-great grandfather)
Of my father's paternal ancestry, I have no complete record. I have heard him say that the family originally lived in France where the name was Beauchamp and that upon immigrating to England they adopted the literal translation, Fairfield [unverified as of 2011]. Nor have I any knowledge of the date of their coming to America, although I believe it was quite early in the nation’s history [1638 is first recorded document in Salem, MA].
My father was born in Pomfret, Connecticut, February 2nd, 1830 . His father's name was Jason W. [Williams] Fairfield. There were four children in the family; three sons and one daughter. My father David and his older brother, Charles, were very handsome men; tall and slender with crisp, curly hair, fair skin and clear eyes, gray-in my father's case, and my Uncle Charles, blue. I have never seen a picture of Uncle Jason, but have in mind that he was more like the father for whom he was named, being shorter of stature and plainer of face.
Caroline, or Carrie, as she was called, and the only girl, was the pride of the family. I never heard much about her looks although judging from her appearance as a mature woman she was probably a beautiful child, but all my life I have heard about her wonderful precocity of mind. At the age of four she read the Bible easily. She had completed her education and been appointed principal of a Young Ladies Academy when she was sixteen. She became the author of several books, principally stories for young people. "Belle and the Boys" was the favorite of my childhood. In later life at least one serious work-" A Woman’s Philosophy of Love” was published under her married name, Caroline F. Corbin. It was the fond wish of her parents that she should equal the fame of her gifted cousin, Louise Chandler Moulton, but that hope was never realized. Mrs. Burnett, of whom more later, has often told me of the rivalry between the two families. Although she never had such a high opinion of my Aunt Carries' talents as was cherished by their immediate family. Caroline Fairfield married Calvin Corbin of the wholesale grocery firm of Corbin May, Chicago. Her wedding was a unique event, taking place in the mouth of Putnam 's Wolf Den, near Pomfret, [CT] where General Putnam is supposed to have met and killed a wolf in hand to hand conflict.
My father's mother was Hannah Chandler, and her mother was Hannah Cleveland. From the Clevelands, and perhaps the Chandlers as well, Hannah Fairfield had inherited aristocratic ideas not quite compatible with her circumstances as the wife of Jason Fairfield, who was a carpenter by trade. She would have liked to educate her boys in the professions, and [she] brought them up as gentleman, but opportunities for schooling for young men without fortunes were few in those days, and at an early age, young David made his way to New York City seeking employment which his mother begged him should be of a nature not to spoil his beautiful hands, an inheritance from the Cleveland ancestry. Accordingly, he found work as a clerk in a dry goods store, where his handsome face and gentlemanly manner made him much admired by the ladies.
But he was young and ambitious, longing for adventure and when his cousin, Wellington Burnett, about his own age, proposed that he join him in the daring and exciting venture of seeking a future in California, his enthusiasm knew no bounds. Wellington Burnett's mother was also a Cleveland and he had been educated in the tradition of the Burnett family - for the law - and proposed to establish himself in the new city of San Francisco in his profession. The two young adventurers set out in the year 1854 for the land of their dreams. My father visited his home in Connecticut to bid his family goodbye, assuring them he would be back in a year or at most, two, with the family fortune. He never returned and never again saw his parents or the beloved little sister, although his two brothers followed him to California -Charles in a few years, and Jason, later.
Taking ship from New York, crossing the isthmus of Panama by train and proceeding up the coast to San Francisco on the ship was all one grand adventure and I have often heard these two [David and Wellington] in their later years, laughingly remind one another of incidents, especially in connection with some members of the "fairer sex" who were among the passengers that made the voyage memorable. Mr. Burnett settled in San Francisco and after about two years of, I think, quite successful practice, he journeyed back to New York to be married, and returned with his cousin, Jane Cleveland [daughter of Charles and Jane (Scott) Cleveland], who, I have heard my father say, was not the lady whom he had planned to wed. She (Jennie, my parents called her) was a beautiful stately woman, I have never seen one who so adequately expressed in appearance and demeanor, the descriptive adjective "queenly." With the true Cleveland flair for social position, she took her place in the early day society of San Francisco and in her home entertained many who became noted figures in the business and social development of that city. Mr. Burnett was for years City and County Attorney for San Francisco and always had a fine practice in the civil courts. They had a large family; Isaac, Lester, Olive, Gertrude, and Marius, and one boy, Charley, who died in infancy.
My father did not linger in San Francisco, but set out to try his fortune in the mining regions to the north. How I wish now that I had listened more carefully to the tales he used to tell of those earlier days. He seems not to have engaged actively in mining, but sought employment in other lines. I have often heard him refer to days and nights spent with pack trains, carrying supplies to the various mining towns where no wagon roads had yet been built and goods must be carried by train of mules and horses. By the year 1860, he had taken a position as clerk in the Napa Hotel at Napa City and it was there he and my mother were destined to meet.
My Mother: Ann Morton (Tate) Fairfield
My mother was always proud of her ancient lineage although she did not have any definite record to show of it. However, I have often heard Mrs. Burnett, who outlived my mother by several years, and who was a very remarkable narrator, tell of an incident which occurred while we were living in San Francisco, before my grandfather's [Robert N. Tate’s] estate was settled. My mother's Uncle John [Tate] had come out from England to receive his share of the inheritance and it was during his stay with us that it happened. Mrs. Burnett was so proud of ancestry and so interested in family records that she could always trace her family tree, which to a certain point, was the same as my father's [maternal Cleveland side], and establish her claims by proof. This, to a woman as proud and sensitive as my mother, was sometimes irksome and irritating. But, having no record, she was powerless to reply in kind. However, Uncle John evidently brought with him from England such a record and one day when Mrs. Burnett came to call, my mother brought a large leather bound book with heavy clasps, laid it open on Mrs. Burnett's lap, and, her dark eyes snapping, exclaimed in triumph, "There, beat that if you can." And, Mrs. Burnett always added, "I could not begin to equal it." She said the Tate family lineage was traced back for ages to the old Kings of England. I never saw the book and presume that Uncle John took it back with him to England.
My mother's father, Robert Tate, was born May , 1804 in Bishop Wearmouth, Durham [Co.], England. He was apprenticed to a bell hanger and silversmith at an early age until he was twenty-one. In 1830, at the age of twenty-six, he crossed the ocean and landed in New York. He soon found work as a mechanic and his employer recommended to him a boarding house kept by a widow named Mrs. McDonnell who, he said, would look after him and "be a mother to him.” This prediction was not quite accurate as to relationship [Actually, it was Ann McDonnell’s mother, Ann (Mears) Hunniford, also a widow, who was the landlady, according to Tate’s diary; thus, the motherly connotation]. About a year later, Ann McDonnell, only about six years his senior, although the mother of five children [three surviving: William, Barbara, and Robert McDonnell] became his beloved wife. She was of Irish birth, having come to America as a small child with her parents - William and Ann [Mears] Hunniford - from County Armagh, Ireland.
My mother [Ann Morton Tate] was born September 2nd, 1832 [in New York City]. Two younger sisters [Mary and Ellen] died in infancy [in New York City] and a brother [unnamed] was still-born [in Illinois], so that she remained the only living child of Robert Tate, although the McDonnell children were always like older brothers and sister. Of these, William and Barbara were the only ones I knew. Robert ran away as a young lad [April 1844] and was never heard of again [not quite: Robert Tate recorded in his diary in January 1868 that Robert went to Galena, Ill., where “he was employed for a time in some one of the many smelting furnaces, and afterwards became second engineer of a steamboat, going on the Mississippi River. We once heard from him, or of him, being at Peoria. He sent his sister [Ann Tate] a periodical. After which we heard no more of him.”] I don't remember having heard the fate of the other two [died in infancy].
In 1839, the family, consisting of my grandparents, my mother - then seven years old -and William and Barbara McDonnell [and Robert was still with them], left New York for the prairie country of Illinois, going by way of the Erie Canal. There they settled somewhere near Rock Island [actually near Dixon in Lee County] and engaged in farming for several years. They encountered the usual trials and privations of the pioneer and at least once during the next decade the husband and father left the family to carry on the farm while he returned to New York to work at his old trade as machinist to tide them over financially. In 1855, having returned to Rock Island, he became interested in a small plow factory being established by John Deere. Having been employed to install machinery in the new factory, he was quick to see its possibilities for the future and succeeded in buying an interest in the enterprise. [Actually, Tate recorded in his diary that he met Deere while working at Andrus & Deere in Grand Detour, Ill., in 1845. In May 1847, Deere, anticipating a dissolution of his partnership with Andrus a month later, invited Tate to become a partner in a new plow factory. Tate accepted. He signed an agreement with Deere June 19, 1847. Upon Tate’s recommendation, the factory was located in Moline, Ill. Tate singlehandedly supervised the construction of the factory while Deere arranged to move his family to Moline. The families even lived together the first year! It was a subsequent plow factory partnership of Tate’s with the Bufords that was located in Rock Island, which is near Moline, Ill.]
The firm name was Deere, Tate and Co. Shortly after, a Mr. Gould bought an interest and the name was changed to Deere, Tate, and Gould. At about this time, the factory was moved to Moline, Illinois, where a better site and more adequate water power could be procured. [the factory started in Moline and was never moved]. Mr. Deere and his family and the Tates were always the best of friends and spent much time together and the son, whom the girls delighted in calling "Charlie Dear," was often with them. However, my grandfather was of a very independent nature and liked to carry out his own ideas. He valued John Deere as a friend and respected him as a business associate, but it was inevitable that occasions should arise when he would disagree with him in matters of business detail. No matter how right Mr. Deere may have been (and time has shown him to have been a good business man) what my grandfather wanted was to direct things himself and the position of junior partner and less stockholder did not long satisfy him. Accordingly, in 1865, he sold his interests in the business to Mr. Deere and severed his relations with the firm. [Actually, their partnership ended February 13, 1852.]
During the years my grandfather was associated in business with Mr. Deere, great changes had taken place in his family life. In 1857 [on May 30] my grandmother died after having been for sometime a semi-invalid. Her two older children, William and Barbara, had left the home some time before. Barbara married Marshall Keyes and they, with their little son, Hamilton, had removed to California about 1854 [actually, Marshall moved to California in the fall of 1850, joining William, who had moved there in 1846 – driving a team for Kellogg in a famous overland trip that year]. Here they had taken up government land in the first range of mountains at the head of Knights Valley, about thirteen miles north of Calistoga [William McDonnell had received a government land grant for his service in Company A of Fremont’s Batallion in the Mexican War].
So wild was the country at that time that theirs [maybe William’s, but not Barbara’s] was the first wagon to be driven through it. They did not stop in the valley where level land could have been had for the taking, but, attracted by the abundance of water in the clear mountain streams, set their stakes in the rolling hills and proceeded to make a home [the land is privately owned and virtually unchanged as of 2004]. They were soon joined by Barbara's brother, William, [as stated, he came first, in 1846] who took up the adjoining homestead. He married Eleanor Graves who, as a child, was a member of the ill-fated Donnor party [also 1846] and one of the few to survive its horrors.
Thus, my mother was left with her father to care for the invalid mother. This was truly a labor of love and occupied her time and thought through the years of her young womanhood. As long as my mother lived there was a special tone of voice in which she said "my mother", which spoke of the deepest love and devotion. Nor was she alone in this. In my grandfather's diary he expresses his great sorrow in the loss of his "dear Ann" and tells in detail the symptoms and failing strength of each of "the last 109 days of the life of my beloved wife." She was a very devout Methodist of the old school and my mother was brought up in that religion. I still have her hymnal [in the possession of Duncan descendant Kirk Reid in Napa as of 2011] and some other books of a religious nature which were highly prized by my mother.
Two or three [actually five] years after the death of my grandmother, my grandfather began taking an interest in a widow [divorcee] by the name of Margaret [Rathbun] Howard, who had a young daughter, Emma. This was very displeasing to my mother who could not bear to see her own mother so quickly supplanted. My mother's hearing had begun to fail, and about this time she made several trips to New York seeking relief from a condition which was to grow gradually worse until, in later years, she became almost entirely deaf. I think it was on one of these visits to New York that she became acquainted with her cousin,
Annie McNiel, the daughter of her mother's sister, and the two became great friends. Finding that her father was planning to marry Mrs. Howard and further, that he had agreed to stand the expense of educating her daughter, Emma, my mother made plans to leave home. She felt an added sense of injury in that no great sum of money had ever been spent on her education, though her father was financially well able to have given her such advantages. I do not know that he had actually refused her the money but, at least, such was her feeling in the crisis. Letters had been received from California especially from her brother, William, inviting her to visit them, so having persuaded Annie McNiel to accompany her, in the year 1861 [actually January 1862] my mother went to New York and there set sail for Panama, thence across the isthmus and by boat to San Francisco, where she was met by some member of the family and taken to the "ranch" as we have always called it. Annie McNiel accompanied her to her brother's home. She afterward married a neighbor, a Mr. Hutton but lived only a few years.
To the town bred fastidious Eastern girl, life on the ranch seemed very rough and primitive, although the only specific incident I can recall having heard her mention was the fact that her sister Barbara's little daughter, Mary Ann, was wearing black panties and she lost no time in making her white ones of flour sacks with lace trimming!
By this time there were several children in the Keyes and McDonnell homes. Hamilton and Mary Ann at Keyes, and Charley, Ann, and Mary at the McDonnells. The two families lived in the greatest harmony and their association meant a great deal in this new land where neighbors were few and roads almost entirely lacking. A journey to town was quite an event and when a trip as far as Napa was undertaken it meant staying at least one night, sometimes longer, before returning and although they often stayed with hospitable friends, notably a family named Guesford living just on the edge of town, it was sometimes more convenient to stop at Napa Hotel, where there was a handsome man named [David] Fairfield behind the desk. This young man was quick to note the sparkling brown eyes and vivacious manner of the newly arrived Eastern girl and soon managed to make her acquaintance and gain her permission to call upon her at her brother's home. With a smart livery team, he covered the distance between Napa and the ranch in the shortest possible time and so successfully pressed his suit that in the following year, 1862, on the second of June, they were married [actually it was more than two years after Ann arrived; their marriage certificate certifies they were wed June 9, 1864]. It was in the original cabin built on the Keyes place, home of her sister, Barbara, that my mother chose to be married. As I remember it, it was a tumble down ruin, covered completely with old fashioned pink climbing roses and used as a sort of tool shed, but always my mother's eyes rested upon it with fond remembrance of that far away time when romance came into her life.
That same year, 1862 [that Ann migrated], word came to my mother from Illinois that her father had married Mrs. Howard [indeed, it was January 30, 1862, only a couple weeks after Ann’s departure]. In 1865 he sold his interests in the [Buford] plow factory and was for a short time owner of a wagon factory [actually, that was in between the Deere factory and the Buford factory partnerships], but this he soon disposed of and retired from business. At this time, he became interested in oil painting and, considering his age and lack of training, did some rather remarkable work [over a dozen major works recorded in his diary], mostly copies [of masters’ works], in this medium. I have always regarded my grandfather Tate as a man of unusual, natural ability and talents. In his diary, which he kept religiously all his life, he shows a remarkable interest in, and understanding of a great variety of subjects. Not only was he a thoroughly competent machinist, having a knowledge of physics, mathematics, etc. necessary to his trade, but he was equally interested in art, poetry, history, astronomy; in fact, every branch of learning. His complete diary [actually, about a dozen volumes spanning decades], copied by him in 1879 from the original books, is now in the possession of the John Deere Company [Deere Archives in East Moline, Ill.] and I have been assured by them that it is not only an interesting but also a "valuable historical" volume.
For a short time after my parents were married they made their home at the Napa Hotel where my father was employed. This soon proved unsatisfactory and they looked about for a more suitable home. My father's brother, Charles, had in the meantime arrived in California and located in Eureka, where he urged them to join him. This they did and there, in 1863, my oldest brother was born. In those days it was not necessary to employ a doctor at childbirth and several of the neighbor women were in attendance. To their horror the birth proved to be a "breach presentation" and the beautiful healthy baby was strangled at birth while my poor mother suffered untold agony and the helpless women stood wringing their hands in despair. The boy was named Charles after the uncle with whom they were living.
Uncle Charley kept a rooming house for men, with a saloon attached. My mother, always a "teetotaler" and a strict Methodist, hated the place and after the birth and loss of her baby, insisted upon leaving it.Eureka was then and for many years after quite an isolated spot. It could be reached from the outside world only by boat; and across the mouth of the harbor, Humbol[d]t Bay, was a treacherous sand bar. At times the waves rolled so high across this bar that no ship could pass it and often vessels waited outside the harbour for as much as four or five days waiting a chance to cross. On one occasion, when my mother was on board a ship crossing the bar in a comparatively quiet sea, a sudden wave, tossing high above the deck, lifted the chair in which she was sitting, and carried her, chair and all, to the opposite side of the deck, depositing her safe, but terrified, just inside the railing. Mother was impatient, insisting that they return to Napa, so my father found employment on the railroad, running from Vallejo to Napa, a post which he kept for several years. Here their second child, Robert, was born. [actually, Robert was born June 1, 1866, in Eureka]. Of him it was said that he was so beautiful that strangers came from miles around just to see him; but alas, soon after the birth of the third child, Mary Alice, when he was about two years old, he died, I think, of diphtheria. Mary was a very delicate child having some trouble of the sciatic nerve which prevented the use of her legs and caused a weakness in her back. She was two years old before she could stand and had already learned to talk. One day when my rather returned from his "run" (he spent only every other night at home) he found her standing by a chair. She patted her little legs and cried, "See, Papa, see."
About this time Mattie was born, then two years later, Katie, neither of whom lived beyond their second year. Little Katie died of a combination of measles and whooping cough. I can not say what caused Mattie's death. Perhaps I never heard mother say. These were hard, trying times for my mother. Bearing and losing her babies so rapidly, the only remaining one being delicate and requiring extra care, made a heavy burden for her. Unused as she had been to hard labor, she undertook all the housework and care of the children, keeping them immaculate in white clothes. My father, being away so much at night, left her with the care and responsibility of tne family the greater part of the time. During this time, too, my father met with quite a serious accident. While coupling cars, he stepped between two cars to drop in the coupling pin and was caught and crushed quite severely. It was sometime before he recovered from this injury. In fact, my mother felt that he was never quite so strong afterward.
About 1870 my father decided to try farming. Accordingly, he gave up his position and, going a few miles up the creek from the McDonnell ranch, took up a homestead and moved mother and little Mary up there. Here, in [July] 1872, my brother Will was born. That year [and very week], too, grandpa Tate, having rented his home in Illinois, came out and took up land adjoining. In grandpa's diary, he tells of meeting "Ann and her nine days old boy at the home of Mrs. Hall, who was the mother of Sarah, Hamilton Keyes’ wife, where she had been confined; so evidently Will was not, strictly speaking, born on the ranch. Grandpa's wife, whom he refers to in the diary as "M", stayed in San Francisco while he proceeded to make a home in the wilderness. He stayed with Aunt Barbara and Uncle Will each for a time until my mother was again able to take charge of the household, then took up his abode with her while building his own house. At the time of grandpa's arrival, Uncle Keyes was just beginning a new house to replace the original cabin, or "hovel", as grandpa calls it, which had served them until now. Grandpa gives us a very contemptuous description of the "hovel"; rough boards, slats, whitewash, etc., not being his idea of the way to build a house. The new house, built by Uncle Keyes, which is the one I remember - the plain - was large and roomy and very homelike. It was burned years after I had left the ranch. Grandpa's own home, which I remember well as the later home of Hamilton Keyes and family, was a neat cottage type well built and very attractive. He always had a lovely garden.
I was born November 27, 1875, in Calistoga. It was a long drive to the ranch with several streams to ford and at that season sometimes, the water too deep to cross. My mother's confinements were apt to be hard, so it was considered best to rent a house in Calistoga and be prepared to stay there as long as necessary. Once, when I was quite a small child, I could not understand why the company found it so amusing when I explained to a caller that I was born in Calistoga while my mother was there "on a visit." I, too, was a very delicate baby. Grandpa, in his diary, says "Poor little Emily, I fear they will never raise her". When I was not quite two years old, my brother Albert was born [October 20, 1877]. This time it was decided to take the chance of staying on the ranch and although my father rode a horse "Old Whitey", to his death in order to get a doctor, all went well and the baby, strong and healthy and "so homely my father would not own him," arrived safely.
I don’t remember much of our life on the ranch at this time as I was so young when we left it to go to the mines. A toll road was built to the Geysers which ran close by the house and toll was collected at the bridge over our creek, so I have a dim recollection of the stages stopping there and the older children, on rare occasions, being taken to the Geysers. Much as I longed to go, I was considered too young and must have been, for, according to grandpa's diary, I was only two and a half years old when, in May 1878, my father sold the ranch for $2,500 and, loading all his household goods into a heavy wagon, driven by one John McFarlane and his family into a lighter one which he drove himself, started for Heyden Hill, Lassen County, where he had acquired an interest in a gold mine. Once more his hopes were high and fortune beckoned.
Although too much of a rolling stone to be a "good provider," being often "broke" and always generous my father was loved by all. A kinder nor more sympathetic heart never beat. It was an axiom in the family that "all were rich when David had money in his pocket." Perhaps it was a natural consequence that my mother, having the care and providing for the family on her mind should be just a little inclined to believe more in looking out for one's own interests and not allowing oneself to be imposed upon. she had a keen mind and a caustic wit and although her increasing deafness barred her from general conversation, none could best her in quickness of retort and aptness of repartee.
My sister Mary, or May as she was always called, was our little mother. Will was a quiet, gentle little boy and gave little trouble to anyone; but Albert and I were mischievous, causing her many an anxious moment. My mother was not sympathetic with the small wants of children and as she could not hear our chatter, we soon learned to go to May with all our demands. In those days it was usually considered best for small children to sleep with an older person, so, as Mama could not hear us, it seemed quite suitable that we should both sleep with our older sister, one on each side, and many nights she rose and changed her gown, wet on both sides. I was her pride and joy always, and she was never so happy as when she dressed me in a fresh white dress, curled my hair and tied it with a pretty ribbon. However love blinded she may have been, to her I was always the prettiest and smartest little sister in the world. And I think something of this feeling was with her as long as she lived.
I have no personal memory of that journey to the north. We camped along the way and progress must have been slow. One evening camp was made beside a newly cut field of hay. Albert and I were fed and put down to sleep beside a large haycock while supper was being prepared and beds made for the rest of the family. Suddenly the whole pile of hay slid over, covering the two sleeping babies completely. With frantic haste, all worked to uncover us before we should smother, not daring to use pitch forks fo fear of striking us. We were finally rescued: Albert choking and black in the face; I not so much affected. In due time, we arrived at our destination and took possession of our new home, a log cabin of, I think, two rooms. May and Will went to school in a cabin a short distance away.
I played with other children on the hill, Albert being still too young to take part in our games. There was a tiny brook running passed our house and the older children delighted in making miniature water wheels which fascinated me to watch. Another favorite occupation was to go to the mine dumps and, breaking up the large pieces of ore, look for small bits of gold which we sometimes found and treasured. One day, returning from such an expedition, I was crossing a shaft on a plank when I stumbled and fell. Fortunately, I retained my hold on the plank but ran a large nail, a spike, I think, into the fleshy part of my leg. The other children helped me to limp home where I was promptly put to bed and a thick slab of salt pork applied to the wound. It soon healed and there were no ill effects although I still have a small round scar to show where the nail went in.
I have often heard that the sense of smell is most potent in recalling to mind memories of things almost forgotten. In my case, the odor of a "good cigar" brings to this day, a feeling of joyous holiday times. I am walking the streets of our little mountain town of Adin, my hand firmly clasped in that of my beloved "Papa." It is the 4th of July. Flags are flying, the band playing stirring music, and the sidewalks have been freshly sprinkled. We enter the cool inviting store (general) where jars of stick candy are enticingly displayed. I think Papa usually smoked a pipe and the cigar was as much a holiday treat to him as the wonderful stick candy was to me. So always, that particular fragrant smoke has brought back to me the happy holiday spirit of that day when I was not more than five years old.
The climate in our little settlement on the hill was very severe. Heavy snows fell and for several months each winter we were completely shut away from the outside world. Our one storekeeper planned to lay in store sufficient to last us all till spring, but sometimes one or another commodity would be exhausted and housekeepers were obligated to use ingenuity in planning meals. One winter the sugar supply ran completely out. Papa bought the store's entire supply of "rock candy," a delicious confection of pure white crystals of sugar adhering to strings which had been dipped into it while it was in a melted state, much as the old fashioned candles were made. This candy was used to sweeten the coffee at meal time, which seemed to the younger members of the family a terrible waste of good sweets.
Our log house was not very weather tight. It had a ceiling of cloth tacked to the rafters and sometimes before the fire was built in the morning and while we children lay snug in our beds, Papa mounted the table and, with a small shovel, removed through an opening in the ceiling left for the purpose, a wash tub full of snow that had sifted in during the night. During one severe blizzard, there was no hay to be had and the domestic cattle suffered severely. Our old cow was turned out to shift for herself and would come to the window of the house where we were all "storm stayed," lowing pitifully for food. Brother Will could not bear to hear her and gradually fed her, through the window, all the contents of our straw bed ticks so that we slept without mattresses until the storm abated and a fresh supply could be obtained for both man and beast.
"Snow sports" as they would now be called, were enjoyed by all the grown-ups on the hills. The men made crude toboggans, one was long enough to hold, I should think, as many as twenty people seated closely one behind another. The long slope of the hill and the "flat" beyond made a natural slide and what excitement to watch them go dashing down, one after another, sometimes to continue far out over the "flat," sometimes to strike an obstruction or "slew" sidewise and all take a grand spill in a snow-bank. "Snowshoes" were used by the more agile ones and were of the same type as now called "skis." But it was not though[t] possible for women and girls to use them. For one thing, the heavy skirts worn by members of the "weaker" sex would have made it most difficult, and surely no female would have considered wearing anything resembling "pants."
My father's mine, in which other members of the family, Uncle Will [McDonnell] and his sons Charley and Henry especially were also interested, was called the "Don't Care Mine." It was located on a very rich vein of ore from which the adjoining company (I can not remember the name of that mine) had taken an enormous amount of gold. The vein continued through the "Don't Care Mine" claim and for a time the working paid well.
The family were all highly elated. My father, on a visit to Napa, drove a "team of spanking blacks" attached to a light buggy, received the congratulations of former friends and acquaintances and considered his financial worries over. Soon after his return, however, the men encountered a break in the vein. Ore did not yield enough to pay expenses. New shafts were sunk, new tunnels dug, all available resources were used in a vain attempt to find the pay streak, but to no avail. Finally, they gave it up and once more loading family and goods into the wagon we returned to Napa, sadder and poorer than when we left.
This must have been in 1881, when I was six years old. I have just two memories of that "trek.” One was that the chicken pies provided for lunch on the first day proved to have been made of tainted meat and, to my great disappointment, were thrown away. The other was a game Albert and I played when we were camped by the roadside. Putting an oar against the side of an old fashioned square telegraph pole and pounding a fist on the opposite side, produced a deliciously terrifying roar and, shouting, "Bears, Bears," we ran, pretending to be terribly frightened.
Flowers were scarce on "the hill" and I had forgotten how beautiful they could be. When red roses appeared, I was so excited I almost fell out of the wagon. Albert was equally entranced with the sight of wonderful windmills going round.
In Napa I first started to school. Always ambitious for her children, my mother sought the best for us and May was entered in the preparatory department of Napa College while I accompanied her to the kindergarten connected with the same school. How I loved the pretty colored papers, the gay beads and the wools which we were taught to fashion into mats and woven pictures. But our affairs did not prosper. Papa failed to find permanent employment and soon we moved to the other side of town - away from the college and here I entered the South Public School in the lowest grade, then called the eighth.
The house we rented faced one side of a public square called "the Common." Here the boys of the neighborhood played ball and cows belonging to the neighbors were tied out to feed. We had a large lot surrounded by large acacia trees. Just across the Common was the school house and on another side was a two-story house behind a row of old pine trees where lived a family by the name of Duncan. Ruth was a class or two above me in school but I sometimes went over to her house to play after school. She was a quiet, gentle girl with large brown eyes. I admired her very much but was quick to run and hide if her big brother Frank came home from school while I was there. I thought he looked terribly cross and was quite afraid of him!
While we were living in this house, Papa was called suddenly to Eureka by the death of Uncle Charlie, whose business was left in a very muddled state. He had still been running the boarding place but had expanded it into an amusement resort called" South Park" and had gradually added a race track with boarding stables, a base ball field, a roller skating rink, a rifle range, and open air band stand. he was not a good business manager, however, and at the time of his death, the debts were overwhelming. So Papa left us in Napa and went to Eureka to try to salvage something from the estate.
It must have been a thin time at home. Mamma and the older children planted a vegetable garden and with a cow, we eked out a living. May took up a sewing machine agency, but was not very successful. During the fruit season she found work in an apple drying plant and there met and became engaged to Gilmore Duncan, although she was only sixteen years old. Despairing of settling Uncle Charlie's estate in a reasonable length of time, Papa at last sent for us to join him in Eureka and we went to live at South Park.
How poor Mamma hated the place. Papa was still keeping it going, trying to make it pay until it could be disposed of and the debts liquidated. We had baseball Sundays and holidays, races with the attendant betting and drinking, and all the noisy, boisterous crowds who frequent such a place. Our living quarters were directly behind the saloon, just a hall between, and it had been the custom for "ladies" to be served in our parlor. This was very distressing to Mamma who could only try to keep her children away from it all, as much as possible. The place was still a men's boarding house and kitchen help was kept to do the cooking. We had a half-breed Indian girl and Mamma was terribly worried when May showed a tendency to treat her as a friend and equal.
The Duncan family had by this time, 1885, moved to Campbell and when Gilmore wrote that he was coming to claim his bride, I think it was somewhat of a relief to Mamma to give her consent to the marriage. Although she was but seventeen, too young to be married, the surroundings were not suitable for a young girl. So they were married and left immediately for the Duncan family home in Campbell.
I missed my "big sister" very much. Although I had often rebelled at sitting still until my curls were dry, they seemed much more desirable than the plain braid I must now endure. Mamma was always interested in dressing me becomingly but drew the line at curling my hair.
Albert and I went to a public school not far from home for a while, but the teacher, Miss Pratt, was very severe and after we had been several times punished by having the backs, not the palms, of our hands beaten with a ruler, we were moved to a private school kept by a widow with two children. I have forgotten her name. She was absolutely without discipline and her little boy was a "holy terror." I don't remember learning anything in that school but crocheting. I made myself a crocheted petticoat of red and blue wool and at Christmas time made a pair of mats for Kay and "wristors" for Gilmore. The latter were reversible, red on one end for every day, and white on the other for Sundays.
Our elders were having a hard time I now realize. Papa with finances and Mamma with uncongenial surroundings, but Albert and I were having lots of fun. He roamed over the place, which was now pretty well run down and gone to seed, enjoying the quiet days when we had everything to ourselves, as well as the gala days, when there was a crowd. Sometimes we were allowed to stay up in the evenings when there was a dance in the rink and even have some of the "oyster supper." Days when there were horse races or baseball games were exciting, especially if the band played. But other days we enjoyed fishing for perch in the various sloughs that ran up nearly to the back of the house, or going to the wharf with a homemade crab net to try our luck at crabbing.
Once we got into a peck of trouble by going out on the slough in an abandoned watering trough with two little girls by the name of Smith who lived near. Fortunately, we were discovered before our boat capsized and no damage was done, but as it was nearly Christmas, we were kept pretty miserable for several days. We were assured that such bad children never got Christmas presents, but subsequent events proved that they did.
We had a succession of cooks, at least two being Chinese. One was Charlie, who was distinguished by having two thumbs on each hand. The other was Ah Hoy. I think he was with us at the time the Chinese were driven out of Eureka. The Chinese were having one of their tong wars and by mistake had shot and killed a prominent citizen. This aroused the townspeople and they decided they had had enough of the Chinese people. So they issued a warning that any Chinamen found in Eureka after a certain time would be hung. They erected a scaffold in the center of town to show their intentions of carrying out the threat and how the poor Chinese did scatter!
They left their homes, gathered up what they could carry of goods and chattels and rushed to the wharf to take the first boat available. Someone took me down to see them and I never forgot the sight. Men, women, and children with bags, bundles and baskets, all crowded together and chattering in excitement and fear. Afterward, we went through the deserted Chinatown, where we saw big pots of rice ready to eat left standing, cupboards with dishes. Chinese "heavens" gay with gilt paper and peacock feathers on the walls. Every one took something as a souvenir and for years we had several little china tea cups and spoons, relics of the occasion. I don't know whether there are Chinese in Eureka now or not, but I inquired about it years later and was told they had never returned.
I guess I did not see much of my brother Will at this time. He was older and was not so free to do as he pleased as we two younger ones. One thing I know, he had to make up the room for the men who lodged in the wing of the house used for this purpose. I have since felt that he may have, in this way, contracted the disease which caused his death. There was one man who sat at his window a great deal of the time so that I often saw him, and remembering his looks and his constant coughing, I am sure he was far gone with tuberculosis which was not then regarded as a contagious disease and no precautions were taken to guard against it. About this time, Will took a severe cold, caused, my mother thought, by an unusually long swim in the cold waters of the bay. Being at a suseptible age and having to make the bed and otherwise care for this man's room, it is easy to see how he became infected, although no one realized it at the time.
At last my father disposed of the property, the estate was settled and creditors satisfied, but with nothing left over, so it was a question of what to do next. We left Eureka and went to our old refuge "the ranch" until something could be arranged. Of course there had been great changes here, too. Grandpa Tate had sold his place to Hamilton Keyes and moved to San Francisco where he had bought a home on  Post Street. Hamilton had three children: Johnny, Charles and Mattie. Mary Ann Keyes, always called Molly, had married Dr. Scott, a very handsome and highly educated man and they had a daughter, Stella. Their two little boys died in infancy. They lived in Alameda as Dr. Scott was then principal of Alameda High School, but always spent vacation time at the ranch.
At Uncle Will McDonnells, the older children were grown. Ann and Charlie never married and spent their entire time in the old home. Mary had married Lester Greene and lived on a river farm near Sacramento. They had two daughters and one son, who came to spend vacations at their grandfather's ranch, too. Left at home [McDonnells] were Henry, Nell [Eleanor}, and Lou [Louisa], the latter about my age. The younger generation had somewhat taken over the business of running the two places and a feeling of almost unfriendliness seemed to have sprung up where there had been such a harmonious atmosphere before. I was too young to let it spoil my fun, but I could feel it in the air. However, we did not stay long at this time as word came from the city of grandpa Tate's death and both my parents went down at once leaving we three children only until "things were settled."
When the will was read it was found that my grandfather had left his entire estate to his widow, not even mentioning my mother. As he had always been an affectionate father and there was no reason for him to ignore her, it was felt that this must be due to influence during his old age and illness. There had never been a friendly feeling between my mother and her stepmother and now there was a decided break. Mr. Burnett undertook to have the will set aside. As it seemed probable this would take some time, the family was moved to San Francisco. We rented a cheap little place on the wrong side of Market Street and Albert and I went to school on Golden Gate Avenue.
I don't think Will went to school. He wanted to help the family finances and worked for a while in a picture frame factory. But he was still coughing and the confinement and close air of the factory made him worse so he was taken to a doctor who ordered him out of the city and if possible, to a drier climate. Mary and Gilmore were living in Shandon then and although they had only a little two room house they offered to take him and do the best they could for him, so he was sent down there.
It was at the Golden Gate Avenue school that I suffered so over my shoes. I was wearing a pair that had been bought for me in the country and there was no money to buy others. They were heavy lace shoes, like a boys, and all the other girls had soft kid ones with buttons. Maybe it did no good, anyway, I never forgot it.
I don't know how long it was, probably a year, but at last the will was set aside and the property divided according to law. Mother got several thousand dollars and the Post Street home at the death of her stepmother, who had a "life lease" on it. END