After I wrote about my grandmother in the last blog, I realized I had always connected her with the pioneers. It never occurred to me to wonder why she had a scale-model wagon in her yard. It fit so perfectly with how I saw her. She did love antiques and had had an antique store for a while. She had a beautiful collection of antique glass displayed in the big windows of the sun room. She looked the part, even though she was really a small, rather delicate woman, she had the presence of a someone who could have ridden across the prairies. And loved it.
But she was actually born in California, in Henleysville, in Tehama County, in 1881. She was the youngest of 9 children. By the time she was born, only 6 of the 8 before her were living. Her parents had come to California in 1873, settling in Tehama County,, near the city of Corning. Since the transcontinental railroad had been completed in 1869 they could have come from Iowa on the train. The end of the line in California was in Sacramento. From there, they could have taken a steamboat up the Sacramento River to Corning.
Or perhaps, as happened in my friend Shelley’s family, the women came by train and the father came by wagon with the household goods. So perhaps there was a covered wagon in the family story. All the things I wish I had thought to ask when people were still alive to tell me.
My grandmother’s father, Forrest Meeker Wright, is listed on the California Voter Rolls as a machinist, a merchant, and finally a farmer. The area was known for its olives primarily, but also other fruit and nut trees. I don’t know what he farmed. The area was developing rapidly. In the census of 1900, the family is listed as living in Corning with only two daughters, Katie and Harriet, living at home. Her mother died in 1905 and her father in 1906, both in Corning.
The next chapter of her life opens in Oakland, where she is a young bride and mother, living, it seems, in a new house next to her father-in-law, Benjamin Burroughs. Her daughter Elizabeth Burroughs was born February 25, 1906 in Oakland. But that is another story.