LYMAN L. HUNTLEY
Of good old Revolutionary stock is Lyman L. Huntley descended, and this indicates the antiquity of the name in America. His ancestors were of Scotch-English lineage and came to the new world at an early epoch in the history of America and took up their abode in Connecticut. Amos Huntley, the grandfather of our subject, loyally joined the pioneers when the yoke of oppression became intolerable and fought for the independence and establishment of the republic. Harlo Huntley, the father of our subject, was born in Connecticut and removed to Allegany County, New York, where he married Miss Almira Partridge, who was born in Massachusetts. Two children were born to them in that county, Lyman L. and a daughter. With their family they removed to Erie County, Pennsylvania, and subsequently to Ashtabula County, Ohio, where they resided for ten years. On the expiration of that period they became residents of Pike County, Illinois, where they passed the residue of their lives, each attaining to a ripe old age. The father was a carpenter, and by following that occupation provided for his family. He was a good citizen and an honorable man. His wife was a valued member of the Methodist Church and her training and influence had marked effect over the lives of her twelve children, ten of whom are still living.
Lyman L. Huntley is the eldest of the surviving members of the family. He was born in Allegany County, New York, September 8, 1826, and was educated in the public schools of Illinois and of Ashtabula County, Ohio. At the age of twenty-one he chose as a companion and helpmate on life’s journey Miss Matilda Brown. Three years later, in 1850, he started for California, attracted by the discovery of gold on the Pacific coast. He drove a bull team across the plains and traveled with a company that left St. Joseph, Missouri, with five wagons. Theirs was the first wagon train that reached California by way of the Truckee trail. The party that had preceded them on that route had been attacked by the Indians and they saw the bones of the stock and skeletons of the men that had been eaten by the coyotes. On reaching that locality the party with which Mr. Huntley traveled drove on as rapidly as possible, and when dusk arrived they left the trail and camped half a mile distant. They abandoned their wagons and slept at a distance from them without making fires. When they returned to the wagons in the morning they found everything unmolested. In crossing the desert they stopped at Hell’s Half Acre, and when they were within about seven miles of the Truckee they saw Indians coming toward them on horseback. They feared mischief, but found they belonged to the friendly Oregon tribe; so they camped together on the banks of the Truckee River and tried to catch fish there; but met with poor success. In going through the Truckee canyon the trail crossed the river twenty-nine times in thirty miles, but the river was so high that they could not ford it and they met with great difficulty in keeping along the sides of the steep canyon. The following day Mr. Huntley and another of the party left the company to see if they could kill some kind of game, and about eleven o’clock they ran into a band of about one hundred naked Indians who started in pursuit of them. Mr. Huntley and his companions turned and ran to the top of the ridge, but the Indians ran around and headed them off from the road and they did not get back to the road until sundown, and it was midnight before they overtook their company. As their supply of provisions ran short they were obliged to kill one of the oxen for food; and as they had had no meat for some time three of the men ate too much and was very sick. Thus many hardships and trials were experienced ere they reached the old Donner cabins. The snows and rains had washed great boulders down the mountain and they reached the summit with great difficulty. After getting the wagons up the steep incline the well members of the party had to return for the sick men, who had given up to die, and Mr. Huntley and his companions were obliged to use whips in order to compel them to make an effort to proceed on their journey, otherwise they would have frozen to death! They traveled some miles before camping and ultimately met men coming out to meet emigrants, from whom they purchased seven pounds of flour at a dollar a pound. They had an equally hard time in getting down the mountain side on the California trail, but finally reached camp within four miles of where Nevada City now stands.
Mr. Huntley first engaged in mining on Michigan Bar and on the Cosumne River, where he remained for six weeks, making from five to six dollars per day. He then followed mining near Drytown, in Amador County, with only moderate success and did not save much. In 1853 his wife joined him, having made the journey across the plains accompanied by their little daughter, Estella Jane, who is now the wife of John Hull. Mr. Huntley continued in Amador County until 1857, and then removed to San Joaquin County, where he secured the farm upon which he has since resided. From time to time he added to his land until he was the owner of fourteen hundred acres. More recently he has disposed of this, reserving only one hundred and eighty acres and a good residence. Thus he has put aside the burdens and care of business life and is enjoying a well deserved rest.
In 1896 Mr. Huntley was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who died at the age of sixty-eight years. She had been to him a faithful helpmate on life’s journey, and a kind and indulgent mother. Nine children have been born of their union, all of whom are yet living, as follows: Julia, now the widow of David Dean Hohn and a resident of Sacramento; Frances E., the wife of John F. Warner; Hattie G., the wife of William Boyd, a resident of Spokane, Washington; Laura A., the wife of Thomas Crow, a resident of Calaveras County; Edith, at home; Susie, the wife of John W. Streetwater, of San Francisco; Edwin E., who is married and resides in Stanislaus County; Robert P., who also is married and resides in Stanislaus County; and Jesse H., who is married and makes his home in San Joaquin County.
Mr. Huntley has been a life-long Republican, but has never sought or desired office, preferring to give his attention to his business affairs, in which he has met with very creditable success. His work has been prosecuted along well defined lines of labor and his unflagging industry has added annually to his income until he is now the possessor of a very handsome competence. He is not connected with any church or society, but is widely recognized as a man of sterling worth, and in his upright and useful life has gained not only success but has also won a good name, which is rather to be chosen than great riches.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.