This is a transcript of an item written by Howard Sherfick. The "Favored Land" is Lost River Township, Martin County, but all individuals mentioned here have ties to Dubois and Orange Counties. This is of special personal interest to me because the focus of this story, Samuel Jones Green, is my second great grandfather. The name of Thomas Tredway, also a second great grandfather, appears here as well...Charlie Tredway
(Additional notes by Mary Lou Doty 'mld')
(Additional notes by Mary Lou Doty 'mld')
According to family legend, one of our ancestors, Samuel J. Green, my great-grandfather, as a young man was a Forty-Niner in the gold rush to California. Many colorful stories of that venture have been told; but if Old Sam kept a journal of his experiences, it has escaped us.
In January of 1848, gold was discovered in the tail race of John Sutter's sawmill on the South Fork of the American River at a place called Sutter's Fort, now Sacramento, California. The following year, the rush was on. The California Trail carried the vast majority of the Forty-Niners who went west in search of gold.
An Irishman of this era by the name of Green should have been Catholic; and indeed he was, according to George Green. Of James Green's wife we know even less, not even her name, when, or where she was born. She bore her husband three sons whom she refused to raise in his faith. She died before December 24, 1847, as noted in James Green's land transaction of that date. Besides Samuel, they had William G. and David Green.
Grandfather George Green spoke to me of many things and people. He surely knew his grandfather's name, but I didn't have the presence of mind to ask. I never heard him speak of his father's trip west. Odd. In fact, he spoke little of his father's family, probably because his mother died when he was six years old, when he came largely under the care and influence of his mother's family, the Winingers, of whom he spoke often and with high regard.
Mary Ann Bell's parents were John J. Bell and wife, Margaret Noble. They were great-great-grandparents, also buried in Green Cemetery. Dad says the Bells were emotional, musically inclined, and given to hospitality. Anyone, friend, neighbor, or stranger, was welcome to eat at their table or sleep in a bed at their house.
Catherine and Samuel Wininger were brother and sister. Samuel and Mary Ann Bell Wininger were parents of Susan Wininger, first wife of Samuel S. Sherfick. Susan was the mother of Everett Sherfick, my father. Samuel and Catherine Wininger Green (our ancestors - mld) were the parents of George Green, who was father of my mother. It's not like I'm my own grandpa, as the song goes. Samuel and Catherine were brother and sister; George Wininger and Susan (Wininger) Sherfick, later married to James A. Ragsdale, were first cousins; Everett Sherfick and Anna Bryan Green were second cousins.
I must be a third cousin to me since we have common great-great-grandparents, John Wininger and his wife, Sarah Rutherford Wininger (also our ancestors - mld). We are short one set of great grandparents.
Samuel Wininger's parents were John Wininger and Sarah Rutherford. John was born ca. 1805 and died 1847. He was a large landowner. He is thought to have drowned fording Lost River during flood. It is not known where he is buried. His father was William Wininger of Hawkins County, Tennessee, who moved to Dubois County, Indiana. William's father was John Alexander Wininger, born ca. 1750 in Alsace, Germany, or Pennsylvania. The first record of him was in Rockbridge County, Virginia, where he owned land; then to Hawkins County, Tennessee, where he was listed as a landowner. He then moved to Orange County, Indiana, and is thought to be buried in Cane Creek Cemetery, southwest of French Lick. John Alexander Wininger was a soldier in the War for American Independence.
Let us not forget the Rutherfords on both sides of White River. A civil township was named for them in Martin County, and why not? They owned a large part of it. Sarah Rutherford, who married John Wininger, had a brother, Ezekiel Rutherford, who married John Wininger's sister, Sarah Wininger. Brothers and sisters married brothers and sisters.
We wish we had a good story to tell about Samuel's trip to the gold fields. Since we have but a few facts, we will speculate. Mother claimed, and we believe, William, "Uncle Golden," made the trip west with his brother for the following reasons: Sam was only seventeen years old in 1849, a tender age for such adventure alone. His monicker, "Golden," would give credence to the theory that the precious metal had somehow touched his life. William had no family commitment. We don't know when he was married (5-10-1852 to Mary Hendrixson - mld), but we know his first child was born in 1856, making his marriage about 1854, giving him time to make the trip and be back by then; and the name Sitka has a western flavor.
It was exciting times, the populace was on the move. Martin County had been settled hardly forty years. Indiana had been a state only thirty-three years, but the new land was being filled up and many folks were becoming restless. No doubt William and Samuel, being young bucks full of vim and vigor, dreamed of high adventure and wealth in the newly discovered gold fields.
We will treat this expedition as a joint venture by the two brothers. Their grubstake was assured from their share of their father's goods. They wouldn't have to pick blackberries or snare rabbits to eat on the way. They surely left in early spring in order to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains before winter set in, usually by late September. They may have taken a stagecoach to St. Louis, a paddle wheeler up the Missouri River to about where Kansas City now is, joined a wagon train to arrive late fall or early winter.
Did they pan for gold, work underground, or do other work to support the miners? We don't know. About fifty thousand crowded the gold fields. Many were killed by accident or through strife. Some died from sickness. Some prospered, and a few became wealthy. Not a few engaged in riotous living. The brothers probably accumulated what wealth they could and took care of what came their way. Whatever the fortunes of the emigrants to the gold fields, most of them stayed, enough for California to become a state in 1850.
Life would have been hard, at best, in the gold fields. The Green brothers didn't stay long. Samuel would marry a neighbor girl back home, April 14, 1853, (Catherine Wininger - mld). With travel time taking up most of a year, they couldn't have stayed long in California. At some point, their wanderlust was cured and they realized easy gain of great wealth was in doubt. Sam owned a patch of ground far away. Perhaps memories of childhood sweethearts influenced their thinking. Like the prodigal son of long ago, Uncle Golden and Grandpappy Sam came to their senses, and return they would. Sam's treasure chest wasn't full, but they wouldn't have to care for swine or eat their fare on the way home. With their inheritance intact and perhaps a little added, they started home.
The wash of the waves on the hull, and the slap of the wind in the sails, may have lulled them to sleep as they sang "Home, Home on the Range," but their dreams were of more favored land. Their father would be dead; but if he had any way of knowing, he would have welcomed them back to the hills and valleys of Martin County, Indiana.
P.S. William Green may have stayed longer in the gold fields than Samuel.
October 27, 1993
Transcript Courtesy of Cathy Clark, Also Descended From Samuel Jones Green