The Tracy Family History
The Moon Line
Uncle Billy, "the Bear Flagger"
These are the six Moon generations ending with the three Tracy brothers: Al, Will and Jim
Thomas Moon married Lusany Sadie Proctor. Thomas has a brother, William C. Moon (Uncle Billy)
Thomas and Lusany have a son...
Archibald Moon who married, first, Emaline (Emmaline) Lester. They have one son only, George Wm. Moon. Archibald marries a second time to Martha Melvina Wallace. They have a daughter...
Lousannie Jane Moon (Lusany and Lousannie are pronounced the same.) She marries William Brazell Elam. They have a daughter...
Minnie May Elam who marries Alva Tracy. They have a son...
Austin Alva Tracy who married Mary Winifred Linton. They have three sons...
Alva Austin, Wilbur Linton and James Edward Tracy
As far back as I can go on the Moon line is to my 3rd great-grandfather, Thomas Moon, born in Tennessee in 1805-06. He had one known brother, William C. Moon.
Thomas married Lusany Sadie Proctor in Cole Co., Missouri, on 25 April 1826. Lusany was born in Kentucky in 1804/05. Her parents were Benjamin Proctor and Susannah Shirley.
Now a little bit about the customs in Missouri in those days. Children rarely left their parents until they came of age, 21. There were strict customs of courtship. Weddings were held at 1:00 p.m. at the residency of the bride’s father. Men did not marry until they had a home for their bride.
Thomas was in Cooper Co. by the birth of his first child, Archibald, on 10 March 1827. This was near the present town of Sedalia. Archibald was my 2nd great-grandfather.
County research is somewhat confusing. As the first settlers moved into Missouri there were a few counties which covered large areas. As more immigrants arrived the larger counties would be divided into smaller counties. Cooper County would eventually be broken up into 15 smaller counties. (This was the pattern used by our ancestors before Missouri, in the colonial times.)
Thomas Moon shows up on the 1830 census of Cooper Co.
He was one of the first settlers into Benton Co. According to the county history, Thomas, along with three other men came with live stock, in 1832, expecting to winter them on the rich bottom grasses. A sever winter met them and much of the stock perished. It is recorded that Thomas came from Cooper Co. into Benton Co. He was named a judge in the naming of William Township. (Whatever that means?)
In 1839-40, he acquired 360 acres in 5 purchases.
He shows up in the 1840, and 1850 census of Benton Co., Williams Township.
Here is the 1850 census listing names of those in the
household, age, and nativity:
Nick P 20
Mary A 18
(Or Millissia) 14
Thomas N 7
James Polk 5
Thomas is listed as born in Tennessee and Lucinda in Kentucky. All children were born in Missouri. On different documents, Lusany is also listed as Lucinda and Lusana. She signs her name with Lusany (her X mark) Moon. The “X” would indicate she could neither read nor write. On her marriage records she is listed as Lusany. So, that is what I will call her.
In 1851, Thomas started selling off property. The deeds list him as a resident of Benton Co., with the last deed listing him as a resident of Henry Co.
On 16 October 1857, Thomas and Lusany sign a deed. We will pick them up a little later as they become part of American history.
Marriage Recorded, added
I certify that on the 25th day of April 1826 that William Walker Justice of the Peace Joined Thomas moon_Lucany Proctor in the bands of Matrimony under my hand__William Walker JP_ Recorded on 1 May 1826 Issac Harrison (Co. Recorder?)
Signature of Thomas Moon. I have a hobby of handwriting analysis, which I will refer to from time to time. Interpretation: This is probably the signature of Thomas. It looks like he also wrote his wife’s name, although it is probably her “X”! Thomas is very intelligent with a high IQ. He has a sharp, critical mind which can quickly determine cause and effect relationships. It is also a clever mind. This is a very good signature.
William C. Moon
Known as “Moon,” “Old Moon,” “Uncle Billy,” he was the brother to Thomas Moon. Uncle Billy was born in Tennessee on 15 September 1809. The eminent historian, Hubert Howe Bancroft, lists him as one of Californian’s 66 original pioneers. He was a mountain man and a famous hunter.
In 1840, an American living in the San Joaquin Valley of California, named Dr. John Marsh, began sending a series of letters to his friends in Missouri extolling the virtues of California. These letters were printed in the newspapers throughout the frontier and created immigration fever.
500 people signed a pledge to meet at Sapling Grove, now Kansas, on 9 May 1841, with wagons ready to make the trip to the “Promised Land.” On the day of destiny, only one man showed up. That man was a 21-year-old Yankee schoolteacher named John Bidwell. Having just been swindled out of his land he decided to head for California.
Eventually, 69 people were hustled up for the journey. All they knew is that California lay west. They soon were joined by a band of Catholic missionaries and an experienced mountain man and guide. On May 19, the wagons started rolling.
Somewhere along the way, the Catholics and 32 of the band cut off for Oregon, and a few more turned around and went back home. The remaining 32 kept going for California. They almost didn’t make it. It was a harrowing journey.
They would arrive at Dr. Marsh’s house in California on 4 November 1841 after a six-month ordeal, and go down in history as the Bartleson-Bidwell Immigration Party. They were the first overland immigration party to California.
Bidwell would make money in the gold fields and invest in land becoming a wealthy farmer. He was a Congressman during the Civil War and founded the town of Chico. Knowing most of the early pioneers in California personally, and with an excellent memory, he would become an invaluable source for early California history.
Two men arrived at Sapling Grove too late to catch the Bidwell wagon train. They then went to Abiquiu, New Mexico, not far from Taos, to join another immigration company that was forming. This would be the Workman-Rowland Party.
This company was made up with some men that were rumored to be planning a Texas style take over of New Mexico. The Mexican authorities were aware of these rumors. Being politically incorrect, these Americans decided that it would be a good thing to get out of the country. Included were some traders and trappers who had been living in Santa Fe and Taos for a number of years, 15 of whom were recruited in Santa Fe, Moon being one of them. Strangely, there was also a group of scientist who wanted to make a study of the land.
One member of the party was Benjamin Wilson, who was going to California in hopes of restoring his health. A mountain would be named after him. Then they put an observatory on top of the mountain and called it Mt. Wilson Observatory.
In all, there were 40 immigrants, 20 of who were Americans. The rest of the party was made up of Mexicans, some women. It is possible that some of the men returned to Missouri before starting the journey. They probably visited relatives and outfitted for the trip.
They left in the first week of September. This allowed them to escape the heat of the summer. This was their route: across the southwest corner of Colorado-northwest, crossing the Colorado River-two more rivers, the Green and Sevier-south along side Sevier and Virgin rivers-then crossing the Mojave Desert-through Cajon Pass-to the San Gabriel Mission.
In the words of one historian, the trip was "uneventful."
They arrived at the San Diego Old Mission in early November (10th or 14th?). This was the second immigration company to California. It was the first to Southern California. (Technically it was the first wagon train to California. The Bidwell Party started out as a wagon train but abandoned their wagons along the way. Then, they literally straggled into California.)
Only Workman and Rowland had any intentions of staying in California.
There were other Americans who had entered California before. Some were trappers and others just people getting off ships. Most looked around and left. A few stayed. However, these were the first two organized immigration companies to go to California.
A Few Words About Mountain Men
By nature they were independent, adventurous, with a dislike of authority. Most were illiterate. Uncle Billy always signed his name with an '”X”.
They did not work alone against the wilderness and the Indians as you see in the movies. In order to survive they had to be very smart and organized. They worked in brigades with trappers being at the end of the chain. There was a large support group who took care of the camp, etc. Trappers loved their life. None got rich. The mortality rate was high. At one time there were over 130 trappers in New Mexico. A year later only 16 were left alive.
Beaver hats were enormously popular in Europe, but by the mid-1830's the beaver were trapped out and the fashion changed to silk hats.
An Indian wife was a status symbol. For two horses and a rifle you could buy the prettiest girl in a tribe. However, you had to compete with the Indian braves for the hand of a squaw. With an Indian wife, the trapper would be welcome into Indian society and have a base of operation. It wasn't unusual for a trapper at rendezvous to spend his entire year’s earnings just on his Indian wife.
California in 1841
Mexican control was confined to a narrow strip of land along the sea from San Diego in the South to Sonoma, a short distance from San Francisco, in the North.
There were hundreds of large cattle ranches, which supplied the world with valuable hides and tallow. The hides (California banknotes) and tallow were taken to the waiting ships in old wooden ox carts like you see in the movies. There were no ports for the ships. Everybody had to improvise a port whenever needed. They would load up a rowboat, go out to the ship and unload. It was a primitive way of doing things but it got the job done.
Ships from all over the world first dropped anchor at Monterey, which was the official customs house for all of California. Here they had to pay duties and get permission to ply the coast and do business. (I do not think any of the duty money ever made its way back to the central government in Mexico City.) Most ships were American from the Eastern States, mainly out of Boston. The profits for the ship owners were immense!
Strangely, the Californians (Californios) manufactured nothing for themselves. Example: Tallow would be shipped to Boston, made into candles, shipped back to California and sold to the very people who supplied the tallow in the first place. They didn't even make a product as simple as a candle.
Trading hides and tallow, the Californios would go aboard ship where a shop was set up, and buy virtually any product from anywhere in the world.
There were only 100 to 150 white foreigners in California. The Ranch owners were generous to the newcomers to a fault. Always welcoming them into their homes, giving whatever they had in food and terrible wine, never accepting payment.
Nothing was known of the interior. The Mexican authorities were desperate to get white settlers into this vast unknown wilderness.
Richard Henry Dana
The world's eyes would be drawn to California a few years before the gold rush in a most unusual way. It is a story few people know.
In 1831, a 16-year-old boy named Richard Henry Dana entered Harvard. A 16-year-old student at Harvard was not unusual in those days. He came from a distinguished upper class family: A very distinguished family. His grandfather was a delegate to the Continental Congress as well as being this countries first Ambassador to Russia. His father was a poet, a man of letters. It was a very very upper class family. His father believed that America should be run by a monarchy.
School went well for the first two years then young Dana contracted measles, which caused him to have problems with his eyes. The weakening of his eyes forced him out of school.
He came up with a rather strange solution to regain his health. He decided to sign aboard a trading ship, as a common seaman, for a two-year voyage plying the waters off California. His distinguished, very very upper class family was stunned. Here was a boy born to privilege giving it all up for two years of sheer hell.
In 1834, now 19 years old, Richard Henry Dana set sail. This would be the end of our story except for the fact that he kept a daily diary. His diary would make him famous.
Dana spoke Spanish, so the ship captain made him his interpreter. Each day he wrote of the sea, the land, and the people of California. He wrote of California being a fascinating land with great potential.
After the voyage he returned to Harvard, graduating head of his class in 1837 then entered law school. In 1840 he set up a law practice in Boston, dealing mostly with maritime cases. That same year he published his diary.
It became an instant best seller, being published not only in the United States but also in England. The story goes that the first day it was on the market in Liverpool, 2000 sailors purchased the book. The British Royal Navy gave every sailor a copy. Sailors carried the book, and it’s story of the sea and this enchanting unknown land, throughout the world. Some say it is the greatest book ever written about the sea. It is certainly a very good book on early California. When gold was discovered a few short years later it was not in some unheard of place but that exotic land of…California!
Although a successful lawyer for the rest of his life, Dana would say that his great success "…was a boys work…"
Never out of print in 160 years, still a good read: Two Years Before the Mast.
It was in this world of Richard Henry Dana that Uncle Billy entered in November of 1841.
The Famous Moon House
Like most early California trappers, Moon made his way to Sutter's Fort. After a couple of years he started to look for a place to settle. There was one place nobody wanted to settle. That was Yerba Buena, now called San Francisco. It was a marshy, windy, miserable place.
There are several different drawings done of Sutter’s Fort over a period of years. I have chosen this one because it is a sketching done in 1849, by J. W. Revere, U S Navy. This is what it looked like when Uncle Billy worked and lived at the fort. The artist comes back into our story.
“Nearly everybody who came to California,” wrote John Bidwell,
(who stayed on at the Fort to help Sutter) “made it a point to reach Sutter’s
Fort. Sutter was one of the most liberal and hospitable of men. Everybody was
welcome –one man or a hundred, it was all the same.”
In 1844, Moon, along with a few others from the Workman-Rowland Party, left Sutter's Fort, making their way north and settled along the Sacramento River. In Frontier America rivers were your highways. You always established your home and farms along a river. He first built an adobe house on the west side of the river bank, high enough to escape the flooding.
Then, nobody is sure of the exact year, he started building a wooden house. In the very early days of Northern California, next to Sutter's Fort, the Moon house was probably the most famous. Henry L. Ford ("…a good man of strong prejudice.") helped in building this dwelling and would be Moon's partner for several years.
The house was made of seasoned timber using large oak trees that abound on the property. It was probably built with wooden nails.
A contemporary describes the house
"Probably this was the first timber house in all of Tehama County. The Moon house was built of oak logs, hewed and squared to form the exterior and partitions. Over the log sidewalls were placed clapboards, shaved with drawing knives. Oak shakes, fashioned by hand, formed the roof. The building was 20 by 40, two stories high with four sleeping rooms on the upper floor and two rooms on the lower floor, one of which was the store and barroom, the other the kitchen and dining room. The upper floor was of heavy oak clapboard surfaced to smoothness, while the lower floor was of genuine oak puncheon. At either end of the structure was a chimney of brick with two fireplaces on each floor." A traveler records in his diary dated 17 November 1850 that he slept on the lower flower of this "new unfinished house… The floor overhead was very open and the upper rooms occupied by the mechanics employed on the house.."
I believe I read somewhere else that the house did have a basement.
For the next few decades everything came
together at the Moon House. It was a meeting place, hotel, stagecoach stop,
paddleboat landing, post office, bar, court, store, ferry and etc.…
In 1845, Moon accompanied his neighbors on a trip to Monterey where they obtained Mexican land grants for the land they had settled. Moon didn't bother asking for a land grant as he considered the document worthless, didn't think it would hold up in court.
Technically, to qualify for a Mexican land grant you had to become a Mexican citizen, join the Catholic Church, and marry a Mexican woman. These requirements were not always strictly enforced. The settlers on the east bank of the river got their land grants and those on the west: Moon, Merritt, and Ford, became squatters. Apparently they had no problems from the Mexican authorities. Eventually, in 1852, Moon would obtain title to his ranch under a California possessory act.
In the late part of 1845, Moon would also be involved in the first civilized manufacturing venture in the county. Moon, along with Peter Lassen, and Ezkiel Merritt, took what has been described as a large, rickety canoe, 20 miles up a tributary of the Sacramento River where they quarried grindstones. (Another version says that they put the stones on pack mules and hauled them to the Sacramento River where they then loaded them into the canoe.)
They loaded the canoe to within 6 inches of sinking, then came down the Sacramento River selling the grindstones along the way. (Remember, the settlers lived on the banks of the river.) They landed at Sutter’s Fort and went as far as San Francisco.
Apparently, the venture was not too successful as they returned with some stones and had to dump them. The tributary they quarried was called by its Indian name, Capay. But to this day it is called Stony Creek or Grindstone Creek. Twenty years ago, two of these stones still existed in a little town in Northern California called Milford. I recently wrote to the local historian and was given the name and address of the owner on these historical artifacts. I wrote the man, but received no reply. I guess he is not an historian.
For 20 years I have completely misunderstood what happened to the grindstone quarry after our famous ancestor paddled his own canoe. I assumed that it remained in its primeval state guarded by the Indians, antelope, beavers, and etc. until I planned to rediscover it for history sake.
I recently discovered that the site was a thriving commercial quarry for many years, although now abandoned. As it was out of the way of my usual historical trekkings, I have not been to the site.
For those of you who are adventurous, I can give you directions on how to get close, then let us hope there are some locals who can direct you to the site as it exists today.
You take I-5 to Willows. Then go east on 162, about 20 miles to the town of Elk Creek. Now go south about 12 miles on Rd 306 to a bridge on your left that crosses Stony Creek and connects with Rd 303 on the east bank. Mother says that the original bridge was built by her brother, Uncle Gordon. However, she believes that bridge has been replaced by a new one.
I think that the quarry site is on the east side of the creek close to the bridge. If you are lucky, you might find a local who can guide you to the site. Make sure you have a map because it looks very much like the land that Uncle Billy first entered.
LITERARY NOTE: My writing style is an informal mixture of genealogy method and standard literary writing. To those of you who are not familiar with the liberalism of genealogy research, note taking and writing, some of the sentences may seem awkward. Example: John Jones born (or b) 1 January 1900, instead of John Jones was born January 1, 1900. Also, all source quotations are verbatim, including actual original errors of grammar, spelling and punctuation.
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