You never know where your next hints to those family records will come from.
Last week one of my “cousins” posted a link to an Obituary on Facebook. I didn’t know the person who had died, an Earl McKee, but figured it was probably some shirttail relation, so I read through his obituary. The article spoke of two books that Earl had written, “Echoes of Blossom Peak” and “Echoes of Three Rivers”.
What a delightful find. Earl McKee was a robust story teller and a fountain of information in regards to that area of California that figured so significantly in our family’s history. These books had been published in 2013. I would probably never have heard about then if it wasn’t for making a connection through this blog with “cousin” Lonna on my Marsh Line.
I was able to get the first book on Amazon as an ebook, also ordered two more for gifts. It is so exciting to read a book that talks about people you knew, or have heard their names while growing up. The Loverins, the Maxons, the Busbys, the Cahoons and of course the Blossoms.
My sister who is doing the research on this line will love perusing this published work. Happy birthday, Madeleine!
Depending on whether you are a Clough or a Blossom will probably determine how you may perceive this story.
What we knew.
Julia Marsh (age 19) was living in the Benjamin Clough household in Hamburg, Erie county, New York in 1850. Benjamin’s son, 24 year old Orson was also living at home at that time.¹
Less then a year later, Orson Clough and Julia Marsh were married on 29 October 1851.² This may have been “making the best of a bad situation”, for their first child, William (Billy) Clough was born less then one month later on 23 November 1851.
Orson and Julia’s daughter Ida May(Mae) was born 29 December 1854 in either California or Illinois.
In 1855 William is staying with his grandparents in Hamburg, New York.
In 1860 Evelyn Clough is born and that same year Julia is living with Ira Blossom in Scotsburg, Fresno county California as listed in the 1860 census.
The new Twist.
What Elmer McKee Jr. writes in his book is the story told by a descendant of Julia and Ira Blossom, a William Holden.
While Orson and Julia where married and living in Hamburg, New York “with their three children”, Ira who lived in the same area met and became “smitten” with Julia. Orson did not “take kindly to Ira’s attentions toward his wife”, and supposedly moved to California to get away from Ira, but Ira followed them out to California.
The paper trail is a little spotty on collaborating this story. Julia and Orson’s daughter, Ida May, has her birthplace listed in most instances as California but in a couple of early census Illinois is listed. Orson’s Clough’s parents, brother and sisters families all moved out to DuPage Illinois sometime between 1855 and 1860.
William Holden told the author that Julia left the children with Orson when she took off with Ira. Yet we do not have Orson together with the children in the 1860 census in California. Daughter Ida May in 1860 is living with an Almira Surface in Ione, Amador county California. A brother to Billy and Ida is named Fred according to William Holden, I do find a Fred Cluff in another household in Volcano, a mining community in Amador county. Fred is listed as having been born in California. Billy is living with his uncle Benjamin Clough Jr. (misspelled as Cloes in the census) in DuPage, Illinois. So where is Orson? Chasing after his errant wife? Or working as an Engineer for some mining company elsewhere? Three children and a possible newborn infant, mother off with another man and the father and infant not accounted for. Hmmmm?
Happy ending for Orson. By the 1880 census Orson is back in Volcano and married to a Jenna Herbert with a blended family of children from Jenna’s first marriage along with her and Orson’s children.
Julia and Ira Blossom settled in the hills above Visalia as one of the first settlers in the area.
Family days in the Sequoia’s
There are some colorful people in the Clough/Marsh/Blossom family and many lived a lot of their lives up in the hills east of Visalia along the Kaweah River on the way to the Sequoia’s and Mineral King. The Putnams also had property there and a canyon bears their name. My family talked often of the days of taking the cattle to the summer pastures up at Three Rivers. My brother as a young man hunted and packed into the Mineral King. My great aunts all spent time on horses and hunted and fished the back country areas that the author speaks about in his book. I remember swimming (actually more like splashing around) in the Kaweah River at Terminus beach.
Here are a couple of family photo’s from some of their treks.
Franklin Pass entrance, Sequoia National Park, Aunt Blanche (no hat), Ike (Ira Putnam) second from the right.
Ira B. (ike) Punam at Quinn Ranger Station
Ready for the Rodeo
Lloyd, Dorothy, Eunice (Babe) and Ike Putnam about 1937.
If you have interest in the history and stories of this beautiful area in California I would encourage you to find a copy of this book.³
¹1850; US Federal Census, Place: Hamburg, Erie, New York; Roll: M432_498; Page: 56A; Image: 116
²Marriages from Buffalo Newspapers 1811-1884
³Echos of Blossom Peak, Cowboys Horsemen, and History of Three Rivers by Elmer A. McKee Jr. published 2013.