The Tracy Family History
the Tracy - Wiltsey Line


Myron M. Tracy, man of mystery, and Matilda Knabb Wiltsey Tracy

    To follow the Tracy line you need a program to understand all of the players. We start with Jacob W. Knabb, who was born 28 January 1795 and died 18 January 1864. He was married but we don't know anything more except that there were the following children: Sarah A., born 23 November 1820; Mary, born 15 November 1822; E.P., born 12 August 1827; H.M., and Matilda. That is all the information we have at this point except for Matilda.
    Matilda Knabb was born 17 February 1834.

    She married Adolphus Wiltsey on 1 June 1851. His father was Jacob Wiltsey, born 28 January 1795. Adolphus was born 27 January 1839. They had the following children: Curtis (Alonzo) Adolphus, born 5 March 1855 and died 18 February 1860; Angelina Maria (Auntie Reed), born 7 September 1857; Enoch P., born 4 February 1865; James Henry, born 26 February 1867; Jacob, of which we only have his date of death being 4 October 1853.
    Adolphus Wiltsey dies 28 December 1870. Adolphus and Matilda were married 19 years and had 5 children. Matilda then marries Myron Tracy on 12 October 1871 (family records, however, official records show marriage on 3 November 1871 in Springfield, Illinois). They have a son Alva Tracy (Granddad Tracy), born 17 August 1872 (The family ssays in Galesburg, Illinois.) The 5 Wiltsey children now become Granddad Tracy's 1/2 brothers and 1/2 sister.
    Myron Tracy, with a partner, owns some land in Texas. The two go to Texas to sell the land but only the partner returns. The partner tells the story that they sold the land and divided up the money. Myron was to stay in Texas for awhile and the partner returned home. Myron Tracy is never heard from again.
    The family tries everything possible to find out what happened to Myron Tracy. They even hired a private detective agency to investigate, but with no results. They always believed that the partner had murdered Myron for his share of the money.
    I tried to find out the name of the detective agency and get the records, but without any success. I got hold of the land records for Texas covering those years and could not find any land transactions for any Tracy, let alone a Myron Tracy.
Granddad Alva Tracy, believed his father to be an irresponsible person who simply abandoned his family. Virtually nothing is known about Myron Tracy: When, or where he was born, parents, brothers and sisters, nothing. Granddad Alva, said he was a house painter by profession. Auntie Reed said that Myron told her he was four years older than her mother, which means he was born in 1830.
    Myron and Matilda get married. Granddad Alva is born shortly thereafter. Myron disappears and then on 5 June 1876, when Granddad Alva is three years old, his mother, Matilda, dies. She is 42 years old. Family traditions say she died of a broken heart.
    You will remember that Granddad Alva has four 1/2 brothers and one 1/2 sister. The 1/2 sister, Angelina Maria (Auntie Reed) is now 19 years old and she becomes Granddad Alva's surrogate mother.
    Granddad's new mother marries a William Strode on 12 October 1873. So Granddad also has a new father. They had one child, Jim Strode, and that is all the children Auntie Reed will have. William Strode disappears from the picture somewhere along the line. He probably died, as divorce was uncommon in those days. Then she marries a man named Reed. Nothing is known of him and he also disappears from the picture somewhere along the line. Again, we must assume that he died.
    So now Auntie Reed is raising Granddad Alva Tracy, her own son Jim Strode (I don't have a birth date on him but estimate he was two years younger than Alva.), and her brothers, the Wiltseys. As mother said, "She had them all."
    My mother, who is was 86 years of age and in reasonably good health at the time this story was written (year 2003), knew Auntie Reed quite well. We are now getting down to the generations where mother knew most of the characters.
(Note: My mother passed away in December of 2003).

 Auntie Reed and what is believed to be one of her husbands. But, which one is not known: Is it Strode, or is it Reed?
At a very young age of 19, she would take over the raising of her brothers, her son, and her ½ brother, Granddad Alva Tracy.


Granddad Alva Tracy as a baby and an adult.


(Left) Henry Wiltsey, his wife, Nettie, and baby, Ethel.

(Right) 3rd from left is Jim Strode, Auntie Reed’s son. 4th from left is his girlfriend. I love the expression on the face of the girl to the left. This must be the Strode version of the Mona Lisa. Can you figure out the reason for the half-smile?

(Left) Henry Wiltsey and brother, Enoch, 1/2 brothers to Granddad Tracy.

Auntie Reed and part of the brood she raised. Photo taken in California when they had all reached middle age.
Standing (L to R): Granddad Alva Tracy and his ½ brother, Henry Wiltsey. Sitting: ½ brother Enoch Wiltsey and Auntie Reed.

    Mother says this photo does Auntie Reed a disservice. She has a stern look on her face. In reality, she was a very warm and friendly person.   

    I told you earlier that in the frontier days almost everyone did farm work. What I am about to tell you may sound strange for today, but it was not unusual for the1800s.
    Granddad told me that he worked hard, very hard as a child. At the age of 12 he decides to go on his own. He doesn't run away from home but simply leaves home and starts doing farm work. According to the custom of the day he received room and board, plus a daily wage. He has by this time only a third grade education, which was considered sufficient for the day. Being able to do the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, he becomes a voracious reader and will eventually educate himself far beyond a third grade level.
    Eventually, at the age of 18, he winds up in California in the area of Red Bluff. Like Uncle Billy, he likes California and tells his family to come out to God's country. And that they do, leaving, I believe, Iowa, and coming to California, also to the Red Bluff area.
    Granddad Tracy will live in this area for the next 72 years. Auntie Reed will settle in Chico. By this time she has become a nurse working in peoples' homes. She will invest her money wisely in apartment houses and becomes well off financially.
    Somewhere along the line, Granddad gets a job as a forest ranger with the government. This will be his life long career. He will eventually retire with a government pension, which will supply him with a good income even during the Great     Depression. He would buy a new Dodge car every year.
    On 4 May 1898 he married Minnie May Elam at Hunter. As you will recall, Minnie was the first born of the Elam children. Aunt Hattie, from whom I got most of the family history, was the last of the 10 children and nearly 20 years younger than Minnie. Again, this was normal for the times.
    Granddad buys property in the mountains 20 miles west of Red Bluff and builds a house. This he called Saddle Camp. A short distance away was a higher mountain, Tom Head, on which sat the fire lookout station. Then, as now, this area has serious potential for forest fires and must be monitored constantly during the summer.
   Minnie, my Grandma Tracy, doesn't spend much time at Saddle Camp. Throughout their long marriage she spends most of her time in Red Bluff. She can not take the air at the high altitude of Saddle Camp. Neither can her sister Hattie, nor sisters Mag and Mary, both of whom will spend their lives living in the San Francisco Bay area at sea level. Their father is an Elam. The Elams can not live at altitude.
    They will have two children: Austin Alva, my father, born 19 January 1899 and aunt Beulah, born 19 January 1900.
Austin is a sickly child, afflicted with polio and unable to walk the first few years of his life. The doctor says, "Not to worry. The day will come that he will start walking." And one day, just like that, he starts walking.
    He doesn't have a name for his first few years. He is simply called "Baby" or "Boy." The proudest day of his life is when it was decided to give him a name. He now ran around to everyone proudly announcing that he was then to be called "Austin!"
    Throughout his life he was plagued with mental illness. As a teenager he would spend a year in the Loma Linda Psychiatric Hospital in Los Angeles. Then, as now, the Seventh Day Adventist Church runs this hospital. Mom said with some dismay, "I don't know how much it cost Granddad Tracy!" This experience would have a profound effect on Austin Tracy.
    He developed the idea that his mental illness could be cured by diet. A far advanced idea for its day. In his early years he would watch his diet carefully, shunning tobacco and alcohol.
    Austin, and Beulah, were raised during the summer months at Saddle Camp, which was not only a ranger station but a vacation spot for the wealthy of California. Wrigley, the chewing gum magnet, would vacation at Saddle Camp and become a close friend with Granddad Tracy.   
    Wrigley owned timber and mining property in the area. Some were in partnership with Granddad Tracy. Everyone in those days had a gold mine. Remember that gold mining was mainly in the mountains of Northern California. Mom's dad had two gold mines. Few of the miners ever found gold, but that didn't stop anyone from trying.
    Wrigley and his wife would vacation at Saddle Camp, which not only afforded them a holiday but also allowed him to look after his investments in the area.

UPDATED, September 2007, from Tracey Saucy, Salem, Oregon--
    I thought you might be interested to know that William Strode did die, but not before Maria married a second time to the man Reed.
    I am researching burials in Cloverdale Cemetery, south of Salem, OR. William Strode, son of Levi and Samantha (Vaughn) Strode, married Mariah Wiltsey (Mariah/Maria Angeline Wiltsey) on 12 Oct 1873. They are enumerated in Kelly, Warren Co., Illinois in 1860 and1870. In 1880 they are found in Middle Fork, Ringgold Co., Illinois, with 5-year-old son, James L., along with Alva Tracy, and Henry Wiltsey.
    At some point they must have divorced, as William is enumerated in Brooks, OR in 1900 with his second wife, Hettie. William and Hettie were divorced in 1913 or 1915, and William died in Salem, OR on 29 February 1916. His death certificate lists the informant as J. L. Strode of Chico. CA.

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