Since I had gotten all the material I could from Ancestry on my grandmother, Hattie Wright, I had to turn to my real world sources. First, I opened the box of family momentos which my mother left me. I thought I had looked through it, but I found things which I had never seen, like the picture Aunt Florence drew of my mother about 100 years ago. Literally. I also found the letters from my grandfather Burroughs from the Philippines in the Spanish-American War in 1900. And a good letter from my great-Aunt Etta on Burroughs history.
By this time I wanted to go to California to see what I could find in Corning, where my grandmother was born, raised, and met my grandfather. My cousins live near Sacramento, which is about two hours south. Kevin was kind enough to host me and drive me up there. He also gave me an account he had from great-Aunt Edna, which filled in more of the Burroughs story. And, wonderfully, the letters from Hattie to Willis before they were married. I have just skimmed them, but they are a wonderful resource.
His brother and my cousin, John, came to dinner, bringing his collection of family memorabilia. Now I have a wealth of information to assimilate.
Today we went to Corning. It was a day when it was easy to understand why people would move to California. The broad central valley was filled with fruit trees in bloom. The rivers had dropped below flood stage and everything was green and growing. There still seems to be good land open sprinkled with small towns.
I went to the Tehama County Courthouse in Red Bluff and found the recording of the deed showing Forrest Meeker Wright bought 120 acres in Henleyville, a bit northwest of Corning. The assessor’s office had a map of the metes and bounds description. We set off to find it. But there are no roads near where it had to be. But it was enough to see the area.
Even now it feels way out in the country. Hard to imagine back in the horse and buggy days that going into Corning would be almost a day trip. I did find in one letter that Hattie took the train up to Red Bluff to have her wedding dress made. By that time downtown Corning had become quite elegant, all spruced up by the promoter of the Maywood land development. The fine hotel next to the railroad depot has lost its second story and the palm trees in front. But Corning is still a nice small town. And the center of olive production in California.
We also visited the cemetery, which has beautiful views. We found Willis and Hattie side by side in the family plot, with my Aunt Harriet right there too. Kevin has already reserved his site under the tree.
I have a much clearer picture of Hattie’s early life. It has not changed so much up there. Still one of the great agricultural areas of the country, with beautiful orchards and the wide open spaces of cattle ranches. Fed by rivers from the Sierras in the distance.