Rhoads Family Descendants of Amanda Esrey and Daniel Rhoads


Speech given by Ellen Rosa, Western Rhoads Family Historian, on April 21, 2002 at the Rhoads Family Cemetery Dedication Lemoore, California

Good afternoon friends,

            I've come today to honor the pioneers that were buried here, and to honor you living, caring people who have gathered here.

            I wish to thank the members of the Lower Kings River Historical Society who have made my dream come true of making this little cemetery into the proper shrine in memory of the pioneers buried here.  These pioneers are our California historic treasures.

            I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the members of the Buckner family who have preserved and cared for the Dan Rhoads' adobe for all these years.  Ti took me some time to get it straight in my head that Buckner family taking care of this museum are not Rhoadses.  There was once a Rhoads married to a Buckner, but these Buckners are related to the Buckner side of that family.  God bless them for keeping the adobe for posterity so we can visit it now.

            You are probably wondering why a stranger has come into your midst trying to tell you about your people.  They are my people too.  I am descended from Daniel's younger sister Catherine Foster Rhoads, and the cousin who came with me today (Jessie) is descended from Sarah Rhoads, also a younger sister of Daniel.  Our mothers Kittie and Jessie Sheldon visited and kept contact with Dr. Earl Rhoads and his sister Ethel Rhoads Farmer, and all of their cousins descending from Daniel Rhoads.  William Baldwin Rhoads was a twin brother of Sarah Rhoads, Grandmother of Jessie Grimshaw Saner.  Jessie's father was one of Sarah Rhoads's sons, Frederick M. Grimshaw.  Carrie Lowry Dickerson and her daughter Lucille Dickenson Cox, and her daughter, Frances Cox Wing have been a great source of information about Christina Forster Patterson's descendants who have lived and died in Kings Co. area.

            I have corresponded with Charles Granville Follett, Frances Lane Willianson, Alice Clawson, Sarah Phillips Rassier, Helen Phillips Barns, George W. White, Ruth Villi, Naomi Floyd and several other directly giving me family history.  Dan and Amanda's letters to Jessie Esrey in Missouri and pages of information from the Esrey book have helped me weave the story of the Rhoads family.

            Daniel Rhoads was born in Illinois, Dec. 7, 1821; Amanda was also born in Illinois four years later, Feb 22, 1825.  The Rhoads, Esreys, and some of the Forsters went from Kentucky to Illinois/Iowa in 1820.  Several Forster sisters married Parkers and

moved to what became Illinois and Iowa-- the others followed.  Thomas Rhoads and Elizabeth Forster married in Kentucky in 1813 and had several children that died before they had Polly and Forster were born.  John P. Rhoads and his twin Nancy were also born in Kentucky, in October of 1818.  Thomas and his brother Jacob moved to Illinois, across the river from the Parkers while that area was still a big territory.

            Daniel and Amanda grew up in Illinois near each other, and married when Dan was 22 and Amanda was 18 years old, Oct. 5, 1843.  A baby named Alexander was born to them in 1845.  Evidently this baby did not live more than 2 years.  I find no record of him when his brother " Jessie Esrey Rhoads was born in California Nov. 4, 1847.  Little " Jessie" died April 28, 1848.  In Amanda's letter to her father June 24, 1849 she states, " We call our new baby Alexander. "  ????? Do we have 2 Alexanders in our cemeteries in Slough House besides Little Jessie?  ?????  Another letter states that Amanda was 4 months pregnant in 1846? ?????

            We shall go back to Illinois and 1845.  I have been told that Daniel was one of the first and most interested of the Rhoads family in going to California.  At least a year and half went into planning and preparing for the trip to California.  Daniel, Amanda, Baby Alexander Rhoads and James, Justin and Jonathan Esrey, Amanda's brothers, came as one family unit with one wagon.  I don't know how many horses, oxen, etch.  They started out with 51 inter-related family member left Missouri together April 26, 1846.  14 were brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of Thomas and Elizabeth Rhoads.

            All the families who made up the Rhoads and Donner Party wagon trains gathered at the same place on the west side of the Missouri River, before they started out on the trail to Oregon and California.  All the children played together and everyone got acquainted.  George Donner asked Thomas Rhoads if Thomas would be, "Wagon Master" for his group.  Thomas Rhoads told him, " No, I have 51 people in my own family group to try to keep together, I can not handle anymore."  The people in the Rhoads family group thought everyone camped there were Donners, so after that on the trail, whenever they saw anyone who was camped there, they called them Donners.  This fact has caused us historians a lot of confusion!!!!!!  Many of the Rhoads family members said that we were part of the Donner Party but we were not.  We were 2 weeks ahead of them all the way.  Thomas's sons helped rescue the Donner Party members, John and Daniel going on the rescue trips.  The rest helped prepare the food and hides used for snowshoes, etc. from Jan. to the end of March 1847.  Daniel injured his hand on the trip to California.  The wound became infected and Daniel was in no condition to go on the rescue mission, but he went to on the 1st mission and was, "as weak as the Donners" when he reached the stranded people.  He gave this information to Bancroft later.  John went on 3 rescue missions, got pneumonia, and was wakened the rest of his life.  He died very young.      

            The Rhoads family party split west of Fort Bridger.  Thos. Sr., Elizabeth, Lucinda, Caleb, & 2 of Forster Rhoads little daughters, and Polly Rhoads & her husband Turner Elder and their 4 children and Jonathan & Christina Forster Patterson and their 9 children joined the Grover family party and went south down Webber Canyon in Utah, rested 10 days on the south end of the Great Salt Lake.  They then went west across the desert to the Ruby Mt.  Then Northwest to Wells, Nev., then West on the Humbolt River on the Ca. Trail the rest of the Rhoads family Party traveled the Oregon- Ca. Trail into Fort Hall, then turned South on the Mary's River, etc.  I have searched and researched these two parts of the Rhoads family trip west trying to find out which way Catherine came.  I did not know for sure until a year ago when Bernie Rhoades found Catherine's initials on a rock on the Northern route.

            This sounds like this is going to be a long winded speech- sorry about that!  To tell Dan's story I have to tell part of the story of the rest of the family.  John and Dan came out of the mountains Oct. 1, 1846.  John and Daniel worked for ranchers on the North side of the American River between Johnson Ranch and Sutter's Fort, from Nov. 1846 to Aug. 1847.  The Esrey boys stayed with Amanda and Daniel.  John's brothers-in-laws, Robert and Mathew Fannin, cousin Joe House and brother, Thos. Rhoads, Jr. joined the "army" to fight against Mexico.  Father Thomas, Elizabeth and the rest of the family group traveled south to Sutter's Fort.  Sutter sent the " Rest of the Family" to Dry Creek where Galt is now located.

            Mother Rhoads and Mrs. Powell discovered gold in Dry Creek when they did their laundry.  The gold discovery played an important part of the lives of all the Rhoadses.  The gold was discovered when the "highwater" receded and women saw the creek bottom.  Thomas took a sample to Sutter, told him to mine all he wanted, bring a share to him and keep quiet.  This the Rhoads family did.  Gold was discovered at Marshall's Mill and publicized in early 1848.  Then everything went crazy in California.

            Catherine and Sarah married two owners of the Sheldon Grant in March of 1847.  Thomas' son-in-law, Jared Dixon Sheldon, husband of Catherine, gave Thomas a piece of land on his grant.  Thomas and his single sons looked around for another source of gold and found a ranch source southeast of the present town of Folsom.  I don't think they mined at Mormon Island at all.  Daniel may have- Daniel tithed some gold to San Brannan,  Brannan collected tithes for the Mormon Church from everyone who mined at Mormon Island.   The Rhoads men mined at "Rhoads Diggings".    That is where all their gold came from.

            Daniel started mining as soon as he could after finishing his work for Sinclair.  He filled the false bottom of his wagon with gold dust.  This gold he took to Gilroy and bought land and cattle and stated his empire in California. 

            During his stay in Sacramento Co. 1847-1850.  Amanda bore and buried 2 baby boys.  Daniel, Amanda, the Esrey boys and the 2 House boys moved to Gilroy and were living there when their baby girl Sarah, was born March 21, 1851.

            Thomas Rhoads, the two younger children, Lucinda and Caleb & granddaughters, daughters of Forster Rhoads went back to Missouri in 1849.

            Brothers George and Henry Rhoads worked for Catherine's husband, Jared D. Sheldon, and Sarah's husband, William Daylor, until both of these men died in 1850 and 1851.

            John's wife, Matilda Fanning Rhoads, died Feb. 15, 1852.  It was Matilda's wish that her little ones be taken to Amanda to raise.  John took Mathew, aged 7 years, Andrew Jackson, and James K. Polk Rhoads, aged 4 years. And baby William, 3 mos. Old and 12 yr. Old Mary Elizabeth to Gilroy to Daniel and Amanda.  Mary Elizabeth was supposed to help Mandy take care of the babies.  John married again in 1852, and went to Gilroy and brought home little William.  The others stayed with Dan and Amanda.

            June 12, 1853 baby Mary was born.  Dan's brother, Thos. Jr. Rhoads went back to Missouri as soon as he was released from his army service.  He was on his way back to Ca. in 1853, with his wife, Mary Mathews Rhoads, their baby, Josephine, his sister-in-law, Sarah Mathews and a wagon train, when he drowned in the Humboldt River about 100 miles east of the "The Sink".  Sarah, Mary, and Josephine came on to Ca. with the wagon train and went to Gilroy and lived with Dan and Amanda the rest of the year.  Amanda was like mother hen- she spread out her arms like a mother hen spreads her wings over all who were in need of help.  Dan's family was her family and she loved everybody and everybody loved her.  There were 1st cousins.  Elizabeth and Hannah Forster were sisters.  Mary Elizabeth Rhoads, John's daughter, married when she was 14, and moved back to the Cosumnes River area.

            Within a couple of years, Sarah Mathews married Dan's brother, George, and moved out.  Mary Mathews Rhoads married Dorson Willson and moved into " Old Gilroy" with her daughter Josephine.  Henry Rhoads married Jane Goode a neighbor to John Roads, across the Cosumnes River.  They moved to the Lemoore, Hanford area.  George and Sarah also moved to Kings Co. John William Rhoads was born to Dan and Amanda in 1856.  Daniel followed in 1858. 

             A severe drought in California caused Dan to look for another place to live.  I don't know the year George and Henry moved to Kings. Co.   It could have been them who influenced Dan to look toward Kings Co. for a place to Live.  George and Sarah's 1st baby-Jasper- was born in 1857.  Henry and Jane's baby Ellen was about the same time.  Dan and Amanda's baby Elvira was born in San Jose in 1863.  This tells me that Amanda and the children stayed din San Jose while Dan and the other men searched for another place to settle.  Granville Follett told me that Dan did not move into the adobe until 1866.  The plaque says 1856.  ????  Elvire was born in San Jose in 1863.  Young Daniel drowned in the Kings River in 1864. 

            The family that moved into the adobe was: children of Dan Amanda: Sarah, Mary, John Elvira and perhaps Daniel; John's children; Mathew, Andrew Jackson, and James K. Polk Rhoads.  The adult Rhoads brothers: William, Isaac, Foster: and the three Esrey brothers, James, Justin and Jonathan.  The House cousins Joe and Ezekiel remained in Gilroy.  The Rhoads School was made either before they moved in or soon after.

            My story of the family has brought Daniel and Amanda to the year 1866.  I will turn their story over to descendants of Dan and Amanda with a few minutes after I've told you what I have learned about the rest of the people buried here.

            William Baldwin Rhoads, brother of Daniel, twin of Sarah Rhoads live here, worked here and died here of pneumonia Jan. 4, 1898.  His twin, Sarah caught the pneumonia from him and died here of pneumonia Jan. 11, 1898.  Catherine and Sarah came to Lemoore to see their sick brother.  Catherine took Sarah's body back by train to Stockton where her son Fredrick met the train.  She is buried in the Grimshaw plot in the Slough House Pioneer Cemetery.

            Justin Esrey, brother of Amanda lived here, worked here and died here June 5, 1900.  Justin Esrey and William Rhoads did not marry.

Nancy Schooler  Winsett: wife of Robert Winsett: mother of Sarah Ann, Nicholas, Thomas E. and Dennis "Denny" Winsett.  Grandmother of Chas. Grandville Follett. Born in Tennessee Sept. 10, 1813.  died in Lemoore Nov. 5, 1899.

Robert Winsett: ? Thomas Winsett, son of Robert and Nancy died Nov. 5, 1901, Nicholas and his wife Mary Shackleford Winsett are here.

            Sara Rhoads Phillips: oldest daughter of Dan and Amanda.  Sara grew up here at the adobe.  She married John Fisher Phillips.  They lived and worked here and raised 7 children.  Four are buried here.  They are; Jessie Daniel, James Thomas, Rose Bell, and Edward.

            James Thomas Phillips wife, Mary L. Tobin and their baby Gideon Tobin Phillips, along with Mary's children by a former marriage, Sarah and Gideon Tobin.

            Thomas Benjamin Rhoads: son of George and Sarah Rhoads died when less than 2 years of age. 

            My blessings on all gathered here- alive and those who have already passed over. 


Note- Elizabeth Rhoads is not here, she is in the Lemoore Cem. Buried beside her best friend Jan Goode Rhoads- Henry Rhoads wife.  Granville Follett found her grave there with tombstone.