and Amanda Rhoads
given by Donna Crow
Daniel Rhoads, farmer, California immigrant, rescuer, gold miner,
cattle king, pioneer in irrigation in the Tulare Basin, and banker was
one of California earliest settlers.
He was active in starting the first school and Methodist
Episcopal Church South in the Lemoore area.
worked for the nearby Grimes and Sinclair ranch.
He wrote in the Statement of Daniel Rhoads of Kingston Fresno
County that, "while I was at Sinclair's news came to the Fort
that a party of emigrants were in the mountains, 'snowed in' and
destitute of food." Traveling
single file through the snow, Daniel made one trip into the mountains to
help rescue the survivors of the Donner Party.
He said in the statement that, "Glover and myself were the
weakest of the party suffering greatly from exhaustion caused by
deprivation of food and want of sleep."
worked for Briggs and Burris at Galt and in June 1847, the family moved
to the Consumes River and the following October to Sonoma for the
winter. In 1848 Daniel and
family returned to Sacramento, and was there when gold was discovered at
Sutter's Mill. For the next
two years he mined on the American River.
Leaving there they returned to Missouri in 1850. They family
returned to California and located near Gilroy where Daniel purchased a
2,400-acre stock ranch. During
a drought in 1857 he drove his stock across the Coast Range to the lower
Kings River, but the family did not move there until sometime in the
early 1860's. Amanda's
brothers, Jonathan and Justin Esrey settled near Lemoore when Daniel
Rhoads took his stock to that area.
history of the family is reflected in a collection of Rhoads and Esrey
The letters bring life to a long-ago time in California history, a time
ought not be forgotten,"
writes to his father-in-law, Jesse Esrey, in Missouri, and tells of his
trip crossing the plains to California and helping rescue members of the
Donner party. Daniel also
tells the family in Missouri that he and Amanda have a son the letter
that is simply dated Spring 1847.
We've a fine young son born the 4 day of November.
Amanda calls him for her father and her brother Jesse Esrey."
One of the first letters to have an address on it for Daniel and
Amanda in California is from Elvira Shackelford and is addressed:
and Amanda Rhoads
Dear Sister, I avail myself of the present opportunity of writing you a
line to let you know that we are still remembered with the living.
I should be truly fond to see you once more. I have undergone
much suffering since you left. I
suffered most tormenting pain from toothache and having one extracted
fractured the jawbone. It
has healed several times at intervals and given me great distress.
I have rathered feared at times an affection of the brain from
its side effect. I had a son born in April 1847 and called its name
John. It only lived about
four weeks until it pleased the Lord to remove it from this vale of
tears. It died of hives.
My husband was sick in the past winter.
His attack was something like winter fever.
He recovered and is now tolerable well.
Eliza Jane is stout and hearty.
The past winter has very mild and unusually sickly.
Mother is now quite relieved and under the influence of medicine.
Doctor Dyer is attending to her and thinks he can affect a cure.
Her disease is complicated inflammation of the spleen and an
affection of the liver so that callous appearing tumor about her left
breast slightly enlarges at times, and gives her some pain after taking
a cold. Your loving sister while life lasts, Elvira Shackelford"
wrote the next letter in the collection to Amanda's parents Jessie and
Hannah Esrey in Missouri dated June 28, 1849. In the letter
Daniel lets them know that their little boy, Jesse, has passed away, he
also says that they have only received one letter from Amanda's parents
since leaving Missouri and asks for more mail.
Daniel writes that they have a new baby boy called Alexander.
Parents, Again I take my pen in hand to let you know that we are all
well that are yet living. It
pleased the lord to take from us a smiling little boy.
He died April the 28. He
took a chill in the morning and died in the afternoon.
Daniel goes on to say that, " Father and Turner Elder are
going to start the 5 of July for the Salt Lake.
We had a very cold winter last winter.
The people are coming in very fast and shipping from every
quarter of the globe. When
you get this letter write immediately and send it by water.
We have received but one letter since we left.
If any one of our
folks come out this fall we may probably return home in the year 1850.
We call our baby Alexander and nothing more at present but
remains your loving children."
Children, I avail myself of the privilege of writing you a line at this
time. This leaves us all
well with the fond hope that you are well and that you have escaped all
the perils of the way. I
received your letters from Saint Louis and New Orleans acquainting me
with the fact that you were unable to sell your drafts for any premium.
I spoke to Mr. Woollard about the premium on his draught and he
said he would pay it back to me. You
did not sate whether E. M. Ryland paid you the one half percent
according to the tenor of the letter of James S. Lightener or not.
If he did you would still lose one half per cent on $2300 and odd
arriving back in California in 1851 Daniel moves near what later would
become Gilroy and in a letter to Jesse Esrey dated February 28,
1852 he talks about farming he says in this letter:" Every body
in this part of the country is going to farming largely.
I am trying to fence a small field although I am weak
handed". He had cut his hand clearing brush on the overland
trip and it had become infected and had taken a long time to heal.
He says Joe House has built a good dobby house and is
fencing land. Daniel
says, "I brought land off a Spanish grant and got a warrantee
deed for it. Justin and Jonathan came down from the mines last October.
They made their home at my house.
They are going to start to the mines tomorrow day.
Wages are from 2 to 4 dollars a day . . .. Joseph House's wife
has a young daughter born December the 1st.
Name is Sarah Jane… At this time I was finishing this letter
John Rhoads drove up to the door with him brought a letter from you for
me which relieved us very much to hear that you were all well and able.
For all your allowance you did not tell us any thing about the
boys that started across the plains whether they got home or not.
John Rhoads wife is dead. Her
request on her death bed was that she wanted me to take her 3 youngest
children and the girl and raise them."
The letter is signed AM D Rhoads
1853 Amanda wrote to tell her parents that their son Alexander has
passed away. It is dated March the 3rd, 1853 and is from Daniel and
avail myself of the present opportunity of penning you a few lines in
relation to our misfortune. We have lost our little boy Alexander.
He died February the 26. He
was taken with a slow fever and tremendous aching of the bones.
We gave him pills and then we gave the second time.
It was to no effect. His
fever still grew on him. We
then got a doctor. He sid
it was the bilious fever and that he was not dangerous.
He gave him medicine but done no good.
His fever continued. After
being sick about 10 days he lost the use of his left side, leg and arm.
He was confined to his bed 19 days.
He died with a cramp. He
had cramps 22 hours and attended with spasms.
The suffering of this poor child during these 22 hours was beyond
comprehension the doctor sed there was water collected on the brain.
When he died he went easy and left us with the smiles of heaven
on his countenance. He is
gone and left us to mourn for him but a very few days."
the letter Daniel goes on to says that he has not seen Justin and
Jonathan for 12 months, but heard from them about three weeks ago and
they are in good health. He
says they heard from Cosunmes that all are well and Misses Gun has
another young daughter. She
says that Daniel's health wasn't good the past winter but all are in
reasonable good health at present.
The letter includes prices in California flour is 7 to 10 dollars
per hundred pounds; beef cattle are worth 30 to 35 dollars per head and
in the mines they sell for 70 to 80 dollars per head.
Hogs are 25 cents per pound and the letter is signed Daniel
Rhoads and Amanda Rhoads.
a letter addressed to them in Gilroy on
Esrey says," Your father is here came here 12th of last
October last. He sold
his farm for $2500 to Dr. Ruffin.
Isaac, your father and Thomas and family I suppose will leave
about Tuesday next. Thomas
I should think will in all probability reach California."
is still in the stock business in 1853 and writes to his father-in-law
asking about stock prices. This letter to Daniel from Jesse Esrey is
dated June 6th 1853 from Richmond Mo. Jesse
gives Daniel the prices of 2, 3 and 4-year-old cattle, horses and mules
that Daniel had requested. Jesse
also tells him that Thomas Esrey married Sarah Winset a few days since.
writes to her father on December the 26, 1853 from Gilroy.
says, ' I avail myself of the present opportunity of writing you a line
letting you know that we are yet in the land of the living and hope that
these few lines may find you in the enjoyment of health.
We are all well and doing the best we know how.
We are living in a little mud house and have a little something
to eat. We have a few hogs
and some old cows. They are
out gathering grass. I
don't have to gather it for them."
In this letter she tells them about her new baby, " The
babe's name is Mary. She is
6months old. Her weight is
11 pounds and a half. She
is fat and hearty. They
have two girls Sarah is two years old.
She goes on to say," Thomas Rhoads was drowned in
the Humboldt. As I wrote to
you before his wife and her sister is living with us."
And that letter is signed Amanda
a letter to her brothers, Niles and Septer in Missouri postmarked
Gilroy, California April the 13th, 1856 Amanda writes quite a
bit about the artesian wells in San Jose.
of Amanda's brothers Justin and Jonathon have settled in the Lemoore
this September 16, 1857 letter to Niles in Missouri from Justin in Kings
River, Fresno, County Justin writes that Dan Rhoads' stock is in Kings
Myself and Jonathan are living in Kings River.
We offered to make this our home as long as we stay in this
county. There is scarcely
any settlement here but a great deal of stock.
It is good grass country and well adapted to raising stock and
fit for nothing else. … We
have got out cattle here. Dan
Rhoads stock is here also."
Esrey, Amanda's brother wrote in a letter to Niles Esrey in Missouri
from Fresno County California Nov. 1858 Justin wrote that
Jonathan saw Daniel Rhoads and family there.
came from San Jose last week. Daniel
Rhoads and family were well. Isaac
Rhoads had returned from Frazers River Gold mine. … He is going to
live down at Rhoads Gilroy place next month… We have lately had
trouble with the Indians in our section of country, but the whole fault
is with the Indian Department, as they have not done their duty. The
Indians killed some of our cattle and we drove them off and put them on
the Fresno Reservation. Did
not kill any Indians."
January 17th 1859 Johathan wrote to Niles in Missouri from
California. Jonathan told the family in Missouri that he had not heard
from Daniel and Amana for about two months since he left the Gilroy
area. He also tells of the
conditions of the county at that time.
I have not heard from Daniel and Amanda since I left there, which is
about two months . . . We are going to make a garden this year.
We make the fence out of logs, limbs and brush.
I undertook to make some short rails today, for that purpose.
I made one hundred and forty out of worse timber that ever grew
in the Horseshoe Bend. The
maul handle was big and cramped my fingers and hurt my wrist, but it
hurt my feelings worse and my headaches yet.
But there is one thing certain we are not going to have our sheep
lying about in the brush any longer."
a letter to Septer in Missouri from Justin in
Kings River dated July 16, 1859
I was down at San Jose in the month of June stopping with Daniel and
Amanda. They were in good
health. In short all our
relatives in this country are well."
He tells Septer about the country and tells him which are the
best routes to come, " I suppose that you will take the mail
steamer as that is the best." Me
and Jonathan are very busy in putting up hay.
When we get that done the most of our summer work will be done.
If you will come to California we will be of all the assistance
in our power. We have got a
good stock ranch as we could desire, but it is a lonesome place to live.
This country is filling up very fast and I think will be a
desirable country to live in after a while.
But I want you to use your own judgment about coming to this
country. If you are coming
at the season that you're, take the Panama route."
another letter from Justin Esrey to his brother Niles Esrey in Missouri
dated August, 1859 Kings River, Fresno County.
Justin says that Daniel Rhoads was at Kings County for a few
Me and Jonathan are well. Daniel
Rhoads was up here a few days ago.
He and family are well. There
is many a grizzly bear in this part of the country.
They have killed many hogs and a few cattle the last month.
They are dangerous to hunt.
They sometimes kill persons, when wounded, if they can catch
first letter with a return address of Kingston is from Justin Esrey in
California to Niles Esrey in Missouri.
A United States Post Office had been established there the
previous November. The date
is Sept. 1, 1860
I had a letter from Mr. Daniel Rhoads a few days ago.
They were all well."
goes on to describe the country as being a hard one to live in as so
many of the people leave in pursuit of gold and stay until they have
spent all their money looking for gold. He says they are doing
well with the stock business,but that it is not a good country to live
in and talks of selling out and returning to Missouri. Daniel
moved his cattle to Tulare Lake in Kings County during a drought because
that was the only place in California where enough water could be found
for the cattle. Amanda and the children lived in San Jose area while an
adobe was being built so the children could go to school.
raised cattle and farmed there for many years and then moved to San
Francisco where he was worked for a bank.
He died Dec. 4, 1895 in San Francisco, Ca.
He sat down to dinner and began to say the blessing and passed
away. He was 75 years old.
Daniel was taken back to Lemoore and buried in the family vault.
He was president of the Bank of Lemoore at the time of his death
and had been vice president of the Bank of Hanford.
He was a member of the Visalia Division of Territorial Pioneers,
Mexican War Veterans, and Society of California Pioneers.
Children of Daniel and Amanda:
Rhoads, "Relief of the Donner Party, 1873,"Bancroft
Library, Berkeley, California. Original manuscript.
Stpehen P., "Daniel and Amanda Rhoads: History of the Rhoads
Cemetery", The Lemoore Advance, April 18, 2002.
Stephen P., The Rhoads-Esrey Letters 1846-1873, Kings River Press.
Judy, Uncle Dan's Adobe, The Lemoore Advance, August 28, 1997.
A.M. History of the State of California and Biographical Record of
the San Joaquin Valley California, The
Chapman Publishing Company Chicago 1905.
Donald J. The family of James Patterson 1758-1838.
Robert &James, The Merrit's Tradition.
Norma Baldwin, Historic Cosumnes and the Slough House Pioneer
Cemetery, , National Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids