Trailblazer Vol

Notes on Family History

by Donna Crow


My Grandmother on my mother's side of the family was a great storyteller and on long winter evening she used to tell us the stories she had heard as girl about the Donner Party and how they were rescued. Her great, great, great, grandfather Daniel Rhoads was a member of the  Rescue Party and helped bring out the first survivors from the snow bound camps. The  stories were handed down from generation to generation and relatives used to come and stay  with us just to heard Grandma Campbell talk about Daniel Rhoads and  the Donner Party Rescue.  In the early years she always talked about Uncle Dan Rhoads, as she called him even though he was her grandfather, walking up the mountain on snowshoes, to save a group of people who had gotten caught in an early snowstorm in the Seirra Mountains by Truckee, California.  In later years she always started with the trial and how John Rhoads had testified and lost. 

The Rhoads family family wagon train had come over the mountains just ahead of the Donner Party even at times traveling along with them on the same roads, but Grandma Campbell said that the Rhoads Parties traveled faster and made it over the mountains to Sutter�s Fort before winter set in.   Somewhere along the route to California   Thomas Rhoads decided to split the party and his party took the Hasting Cutoff and Daniel and John Rhoads went to Fort Hall and took the California trail from there.  They were to meet up where the Humbolt River and the Hastings Cutoff joined.  Daniel  and John were first to make if over the pass and went back looking for their father, not finding him they traveled on to Johnson�s Ranch arriving there on October 1, 1846. Grandma Campbell   said that Uncle Dan did not find his father at Johnson�s Ranch and organized supplies and set off back up the mountain to find him.  Daniel and John Rhoads found him near Bear Valley nearly out of supplies.  The rest of the Rhoads Party made it into Johnson�s Ranch on Oct. 20, 1846 .

She said that Daniel worked at Sutter�s Fort with the Indian workers and keep the fort running while most of the men   had to go to Los Angles with Fremont�s California Battalion. 

My grandmother Lena Campbell was born near Lemoore, California on July 18, 1894 on the "Island Place".(a place where the Esrey family settled)  Her parents were Sarah Josephine Kieffer Esrey and Jessie Esrey Jr.  Her grandparents were George Kieffer and Mary Rhoads a daughter of Amanda and Daniel Rhoads.  And her greatgrandparents on her mother�s side were Daniel and Amanda Rhoads who settled in Kings County and built the second adobe house in California. She was one of  the first King's County Librarians and kept a library in her home for local people to come and check out books. 

Grandma Campbell was the the third child in a family of four girls and one son.  Her sisters were Edith , Ann (Nan), Irene and her brother was Glenn.

On December 26, 1914 she married my grandfather Elvan Yell Campbell at Hanford, California.  His family had come to Californnia in April of 1849  from Missouri. They traveled along the Southern Route to California. 

Grandpa Campbell was a tall thin Scot man with yellowed hair and light blue eyes, who always had a pipe in his mouth. Grandma Campbell was barely over five foot tall with dark hair and blue eyes.  When the two of them talked about their ancestors coming across the trail to California from Missouri the stories seemed almost alike until they got to the Sierra Mountains.  He always said that the indians ran off all the horses and his family had to walk into California. 

Samuel Barton Campbell, (grandpa Campbell�s grandfather) was the eldest child of John and Phebe  Campbell and was born July 2, 1809 in Tennessee.  Samuel married Elizabeth Gan who died during the delivery of twin girls.  Shortly after he and his sons struck out for California in 1849.  His sons were John Campbell, Reuben Gan Campbell, William O. Jennings Campbell, Nicholas Bryles G. Campbell, Joseph Green Cambell and Joshua Gan Campbell, and his two brothers, Reuben C. and John A. Cambell on a wagon train .  The party left from St. Joseph Missouri  and followed the Platte River.  Near Chimmey Rock in Morrill County, Nebraska John Campbell the eldest son was accidently killed and buried there.  He came to his death by the accidental discharge of his gun while riding with a friend on June 21, 1849. He was 18 years old. 

Samuel Campbell came to San Joaquin County, California where he married Cynthia Ann Hitchcock .  Cynthia was 29 and Samuel was  43 on October 4, 1852 when they were married in a double ceremoney with Cynthia�s sister, Lydia Hitchcock  and John Pool.   The families moved near Centerville, Tulare Countu, Ca. where Samuel and John each ran a ferry  across the Kings River.  They were living in the middle of Indian settlements with only a few white women in the area.   Indian uprisings forced the Campbells to over to Bodega Bay  taking two orphaned indian boys with them.  One of the boys decided to head back to his villlage.  The family later moved to Point Arena.  Samuel farmed, raised sheep and owned forested lands.  He purchased a claim in 1862 on the land adjoining Point Area harbor and for many years he and his older sons supported the family by loading ships using small boats.  Samuel and Cynthia  moved to Texas  they settled in the Huffstuttle  area in Young County Texas.  The children from the first family stayed in Point Arena except for Joshua Gan Campbell.  Nicholas and Joseph were married and remained at Point Area.    Reuben settled down south at Lompoc in Santa Barbara County.

Grandpa Campbell�s brother had gone to school in San Francisco studying to be a school teacher.  He was there in 1906 during the San Francisco earthquake.  He was able to get a team of horses and a wagon and drove all the way to Point Area with them.  After going back to San Francisco and returning the horses and team and finishing school he took a job as a school teacher in Kings County.  He rode a bicycle all the way from Point Arena to his new job in Kings County.  Grampa Campbell said that it was easy being that it was all downhill from Point Arena.

His mother died shortly after his was born and his father married the local school teacher.

It was through Grandpa Campbell that we learned about the Rhoads family history.  He loved to talk about the old pioneers, how they traveled to California, where they settled, who they married and he generally kept track of both the Campbell and the Rhoads side of the family.  He was interested in the Carson Pass and took us up through  the mountains to travel over the pass a couple of times telling us were the old graves were and the story of the Thomas Rhoads wagon train to SLC about 1849. It was much later that I figured out that the Campbells were not on the Rhoad's wagon train.  He was a good storyteller but forgot to say it was Grandma Campbell�s family not his that was the first wagon train to travel east over the Carson Pass. Grandpa Thomas Rhoads left from Sacramento City on July 14th, 1849.   He was 55 years old and had been called back to Salt Lake City by Brigham Young.  The Mormons in California had been told to come back to SLC and bring their gold with them.   Thomas and his two younger children Caleb and Lucinda went with him.  From the Hangtown area they went on down the Mormon Trail to the present Hy 88 and then over the Carson Pass to Genoa and on a angle to Fallon (Rag Town) and then they went straight ahead to cut off part of the 40 mile desert.. By going that way and telling travelers going west to follow that route and mapping out the way for them they helped open the Carson Pass. 

  In the early 1950's we moved to Morris Road east of Crows Landing.  Gertie and Roy Crow had bought a house in town (Crows Landing) and we rented the old ranch house and land around it.  There were about seven acres of old walnut trees by the Orestimba Creek.  In the fall we used pick the walnuts and sell them for school things.  The house was built by Benjamin F. "Frank" Crow a son of Lewis Crow of Oakdale, Benjamin had been raised by Uncle Ben Crow and Aunt Emma Crow of Crows Landing who lived off river road to the east by the creek. 

The house had a foyer when you went in the front door, the staircase to the upstairs, with a close under the stairs.  There were two doors one to the left went into a bedroom and the one straight ahead went into the large living room.  Off to the right was another bedroom and bathroom, and straight ahead was the dinning room and straight ahead was the kitchen.  Both the dinning room and the kitchen had doors that opened on each side out to large porches.  The porch on the west side of the house or left went into the milk house and the doors to the east side or right side went out to the outdoor kitchen or canning kitchen that was used in the summer.

The foyer had a beautiful old tiffany lamp on an oak table with a mirror/hat rack over it.  The foyer also held a very uncomfortable wooden settee with storage space under the seat.  The seat opened up and there was a box area there to store things.  I only remember books being stored there.  The stairway was cherry wood and it had two landings before you came to the top.

The living room had a very old fireplace and floor furnace that had been added later. after the .  It had very high ceilings and in each corner of the top of the room was a container of liquid fire extinguisher.  One did go off one day and  sprayed out over the room in a fan shape.  We had to rush to clean up the liquid before it did any damage to the furniture.

The dinning room had a large table of my mother's and chairs that were in the house.  The room had an interesting china cabinet that opened in the kitchen and in the dinning room.  It was not a large room, but had four doors, one to the kitchen, one from the living room, and one each side to go out to the side porches.  An old milk house with  a slate floor was on the west side of the kitchen.  On the east side there were two windows, but only one on the west side.   The canning kitchen was on that porch and during the summer months we used the outside stove to do all our canning.

The kitchen had posts under it to hold it up, as it hung out about seven feet above the walnut orchard.  It seems like maybe at one time it was on the ground, but flooding from Orestimba Creek had washed the ground out from underneath it.  One old timer came by and told us that the kitchen and dinning rooms were the first two rooms built and where the family lived until the rest of the house was built.  Some said It was built with  lumber that had been salvaged from the San Joaquin River.