Feb 102011

The first page of this memo was typed up elsewhere. But I found the whole original document. Here is Bertha May (Gillespie) Rhodes’ remembrances of her family stories. Read all 3 pages.

Bertha May (Gillespie) Rhodes 1909

Sometime before the revolutionary war, there were three brothers, by the name of Gillespie came to the U.S. from Scotland and settled in Virginia, the date of their landing does not seem to be known, but all people of the name of Gillespie, whom I have met, tell the same story of the three brothers so I presume it is true. My father William Moore Gillespie was born in Wheeling, West Virginia Sept. 16, 1826. His folks moved to Pennsylvania then on to Ohio. There are no family records of his family and I am only writing this as I remember him telling it to me when I was a child. His parents Hue (possible Hugh) Gillespie and Martha Kimberly had seven children. William M. and Elizabeth twins, Margaret, John, James, Mary and Needham. His father died when quite a young man, probably in his early 40’s, and Elizabeth did when quite young. Father said he and she ran and climbed on sacks of grain to look out of a window to watch the first train that ran from Columbus to Cincinnati and she fell and broke her neck. After the death of his father, his two brothers, John and James were Bound Boys. He stayed with his mother being the eldest and helped her run a mill of some kind. I do not know what was made but he always said his mother ran it in the day time and he run it at night. Consequently, he always like to be up and doing at night. He had a fairly good education for that day and age, he always led the singing school, was a general leader in all the young people’s activities.
When gold was discovered in Cal in 1849 he joined one of the first from Ohio and came to Cal. There were 100 men in their company, no women or children. They had mule teams and saddle horses. They left Ohio, March 4, 1849 and crossed the Calif line July 4, which was considered a very quick trip for those days. Contrary to other records which may be found, he always told me, there was not a [casualty] in their company.
As I said before, he had always been use to night work and he hated to cook, so when they were making up their camp routine of work, he traded with other men who did not want to do guard duty and preferred to cook. So father stood guard every night and it was also his duty to find the river crossings and guide the train across all rivers. He had a very fine saddle horse which would swim any river, but in crossing the Platt River he had difficulty in finding a landing place on the far side of the river and the current was so strong it took he and horse down the stream and they were both nearly drowned. But they got out and found a suitable place to get the wagons up the bank then he had to swim back and lead the train across.
He said they had no trouble with Indians and only once were they threatened with. He said is was a clear night the moon was just coming up when he saw something dodge up and down and presently he would see another object and that kept up for quite a while but the Indians, which it proved to be did not attack them. Said that was the nearest he ever came to an Indian fight. Then he slept during the day. So said he didn’t get to see as much of the country as he night otherwise.
He said once they met a tribe of Indians and they had a white girl with them. She wanted the captain to take her on with them, but he said no, he didn’t dare to do it because he knew if he did there would be trouble with the Indians. Said the girl had a fine pony and she could sure ride it. Said for several days she would ride to the train and follow a while then ride back to the Indians.
When they got to Nevada, they went by they way of the Carson sink and into Cal. He was at San Andreas and Mariposa and all that country, Sacramento and finally to Petaluma, which at that time was the Metropolis of the state. There he met my mother Caroline Malisse [ not Miranda?] Leffingwell, more of that later.

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