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Possible Josha Jones    Mother's last letter   Prospect Cemetery   Why use the Staats name?  Getting to the gold fields   Evelyn's record of Gaylord Wight's memories 1    E
velyn Beckman's notes on Joshau and Simon Krewson  Wagons to California  new

Possible Joshua Jones
I have been trying to find the ancestry of Joshua Jones and Hannah Vansant, who are the parents of Rebecca Jones who married Simon Krewson in 1779. One possibility among the many Joneses in Pennsylvania at the time is a descendant of Malachi Jones.

Generation No. 1
1. REVEREND MALACHI JONES was born 1651 in Wales, and died 26 March 1729 in Abington PA buried in church graveyard. He married MARY // 1681 in Wales. She was born in Wales, and died in PA. buried in church graveyard.
Reverend Malachi Jones, founder of the Abington and Downingtron branches of the Jones family of
Pennslyvania, was born in Wales about 1651. He entered the ministry at an early age, and is reported to have been in London, though there is little proof of this. He married Mary // about 1681-2.
During the first decade of the 18th century, large numbers of Welsh left their native land, for America and settled mainly in Pennsylvania. Among the new colonists were several families named Jones.
Doubtless some were relatives of the Reverend Malachi and possibly, through their influence and other outgoing families, he was persuaded about 1714 to emigrate to Pennslyvania, settling in Abington, fourteen miles north of Philadelphia. In September 1714, Mr Jones was received into fellowship by the Presbytery of Philadelphia, which had been organized eight years and numbered eleven ministries. During that year a church organization was perfected at Abington with Reverend Malachi Jones as Pastor. The first Presbyterian Church or Great Valley Church was organized in 1714 and the Reverend Malachi Jones officiated as Pastor till 1720. This church is about twenty miles, in the air line from Abington and Mr Jones no doubt officiated in both congregations.
25 August ,1719 Reverend Mr. Jones deeded to certain trustees for ten shilliungs in silver, one half acre of land to "build a house of worship thereon and bury the dead. " On this ground the congregation erected a log building, said to have been the first place of public worship possessed by the Presbyterian denomination. The Reverend Malachi Jones was buried in the graveyard of the church he founded and his tombstone, a large flat slab supported upon four pieces of brick, is still to be seen there bearing the following inscription:
Here is the body of the Reverend Malachi Jones who departed this life March ye 26 in the year of 1729
Aealis Suae 78. He was the first minister of this place Dum Nihi, Vita Fuit Tibi Christi Fidelis ut is Sum . At the foot of the stone is the grave of the Reverend Mr Jones,s granddaughter Mary, also that of her husband, the Reverend Richard Treat . Treat was the second Pastor of Abington church, who died 29 November 1779, after a ministery of fifty years. (Note; Mary,s parents were Mary Jones and Abendego Thomas , who had a total of six children. )
The Jones and Parry families had a close relationship since Elizabeth, Martha and Malachi married Parry,s.
Church he founded 1714 to 1720
Children of MALACHI JONES and MARY // are:
1. BENJAMIN JONES, b. March 1682/83, Wales; d. 10 November 1748, Abington PA.
2. ANN JONES, b. 1686; d. 7 January 1754, Abington PA.
3. MARY JONES, b. 1688.
4. MALACHI JONES, 2ND, b. 1695, Wales; d. 1754, Pennslyvannia.
5. ELIZABETH JONES, b. Bef. 1700, Wales probably prior to 1700; m. DAVID PARRY, 6 January 1728/29, Probably Abington Pa..
6. JOSHUA JONES, b. Bef. 1700, Wales probably prior to 1700; m. HANNAH GIVEN, 6 September 1735, Pennslyvania.
7. MARTHA JONES, b. Bef. 1700, Wales probably prior to 1700; m. JOHN PARRY, 5 November 1729, Pennslyvania.
Generation No. 2
BENJAMIN JONES (MALACHI) was born March 1682/83 in Wales, and died 10 November 1748 in Abington PA. He married KATHARINE CRUSAN 12 October 1717 in Pennslyvania. She died in Pennslyvania.
1. MALACHI JONES, b. 29 March 1719, Montgomery County PA..
2. ELIZABETH JONES, b. 22 April 1721, Montgomery County PA..
3. JAMES JONES, b. 10 March 1722/23, Montgomery County PA..
4. BENJAMIN JONES, 2ND, b. 20 September 1725, Montgomery County PA..
5. MARY JONES, b. 1 October 1727, Montgomery County PA..
6. JOSHUA JONES, b. 23 April 1732, Montgomery County PA..
7. HENRY JONES, b. 27 October 1734, Montgomery County PA..
8. KATHARIN JONES, b. 27 March 1737, Montgomery County PA..
9. JOHN JONES, b. 2 August 1739, Montgomery County PA..
10. ANN JONES, b. 8 August 1741, Montgomery County PA.; d. 7 January 1754; m. DAVID EVANS.

Is this the Joshua Jones that married Hannah Vansant? I have not found a Hannah Vansant of the right age yet, let alone a marriage with a daughter Rebecca.

Mother's last letter
This letter was amongst the papers of Grandpa Wight. It is a letter from OC and SE Krewson (Grandma Wight's parents) mailed from Kearney May 16 1927. On the envelop is written 'Mother's last letter'.

Dear Clarence & Vira
Well this fine day we thot to drop you a line and let you know we are all right, weather fine, have had plenty of rain, no bad storm near here, tho near Scotsbluff and the west part of Nebr had some damage from wind last week, and a great deal of damage through Texas and Oklahoma Missouri Kansas same in Ill near Chicago hit, and flood is bad along the Mississippi, and the Missouri is over its banks at some places at Omaha and Blair Neb. We hear that crops around here is a little late but look pretty good. The rains soaked the ground in good shape. The cold spell we had ten days or two weeks ago got the most of our fruit, but our garden is coming on nice. We are well as usual, Vida is feeling better than a while ago, all the rest are well as far as I know. Well Saturday morning the door of the City National closed, the clipping will explain. It was a surprise, it caught us with $90. Tho we have $65 in the Farmers bank, which will help us along. And we hear that Kirk & Ogalvie’s bank doors were closed Saturday morning at Gibbon. And the Bliss bank at Elmcreek closed Saturday morning. Leta says Elwin done the most of has business with the other bank at Elmcreek. You will say this surly is a letter of calamities, but if the Examiner (Elwin’s newspaper) gets the business as they hope to It wont be so bad – but time will tell how it comes out.
Mr. Nelson is still living but very low.
Hoping you folks are well and busy putting in wheat and will soon hear from you,
With Love
O.C. S.E. Krewson

Prospect Cemetery
Prospect Cemetery, Wells County, Union Township, Indiana is on Counry Road 900 N, east of County Road 100 W. “The land for Prospect Cemetery was donated by Leif Osborn (Levi). The original Prospect Church, erected of hand-hewn logs, was located on the east side of the cemetery. The present Church site lies across the road from the cemetery and the first person buried therein was the infant son of John Scott in 1838. Others buried there include all the charter members of the Church, a young Indian boy and a Negro slave girl. Data was submitted by Scott Jones and Jerry Dowty.”
The Wells County, Indiana Family History 1837-1992 (WC 977.272 WE) states “On December 22, 1853, an acre of land was purchased from Levi Osborn …The Prospect Cemetery now covers the entire acre and every charter members is buried there.”
The Evening News-Banner centennial edition states "Union towship was the last township to be organized ... not open for settlement until 1845, having been a part of the Miami Indian Reservation."
The Osborns and Krewsons buried here are:
Krewson,- 1860
Krewson, Charles 1882
Krewson, Floyd 1915
Krewson, Margaret Ellen 1914
Krewson Margaret L 1896 (gggrandmother)
Krewson Mary Ellen 1932
Krewson Orlon J. 1885
Krewson Roscoe 1897
Krewson Simon 1863 (gggrandfather)
Krewson Thomas G. 1911
Krewson Zera 1915
Osborn Albina 1904
Osborn Beulah B. 1952
Osborn Catherine 1914 (gggrandmother)
Osborn Charles 1976
Osborn Charles Curtis 1936
Osborn Clifford C. 1942
Osborn E.H. 1928
Osborn Elias E. 1944
Osborn Esta Earl 1994
Osborn Harold Dwight 1974
Osborn Hettie 1943
Osborn Ida M. 1944
Osborn Jacob W. 1923
Osborn Jennifer Ann 1976
Osborn John H. 1988
Osborn Joseph M. 1913
Osborn Kimsey E. 1878
Osborn Leita A. 1975
Osborn Levi 1918 (gggrandfather)
Osborn Minnie L. 1948
Osborn Paul L. 1995
Osborn Paulina L. 1926
Osborn Terry C. 1955
Osborn Velma L. 1997
Osborn Vernie P. -
Osborn W. Marion 1979
Osborn William W. 1938
Osborne Bessie 1938
Osborne Chester 1953
Osburn Mary Ethel 1985
Osburn Willis W. 1970
Information gathered on the cemetery by C. Brubaker and Minnie Kinnerk

Why use the Staats name?
I received an email from someone who found my site and noticed that I might have information on his family (Staats). I found some in Warren Cruise's book and sent it to him. The question he was trying to solve was why the sons of Jan Pietersen Van Husum took the name Staats as a surname when they were adults. To get your bearings, one of his daughters (Neeltje Jans) married an very early Krewson ancestor (Garret Dircksen Croesen) and so is a very, very great grandmother. Here is Jan and Elsje's family:

Jan Pietersen Van Husum 1605/07 – 1675, probably buried in Brooklyn. There is documentation no of first marriage (Elsje) so probably married in the Netherlands.
Elsje maiden name not recorded. Died 1647/49 and probably buried in Manhattan.
Children of this marriage:
Pieter Jans Staats (married Annetje Jans Van Dyke – children: John, Elsje, Pieter, Abraham, Neeltje, Annetje, Agnetje, Isaac, Jacob)
Neeltje Jans (married Garret Dircksen Croesen – children: Derrick, Elsje, Hendrick, Catharine, Annetje)
Jan Jans Staats (married Annetje Pieters Praa – children: Jan Elsjen, Neeltje, Anneke, Aeltje, Geertrud)
Annetje Jans (married John Vincent – children: Cornelius, Maritje, Magdalena)
Ruth Jans (no record of marriage)
Children of second marriage to Grietie Jans Van Groningen:
Elsje Jans
Sara Jans
No children of third marriage to Elsia, widow of Frederick Jansen

After a long discussion of all the documentation (or lack of it) for Jan Pietersen, Warren Cruise turns to Elsje: “There is little factual information on Elsje.” “There has been genealogical debate for years about the Staats family name and how it originated in America. We know the name existed in the Netherlands. The big mystery, of course, is why did Elsje's two sons, Pieter and Jan, use the Staats name? We may have an answer to that. But first, let's discuss this whole combination of names and where they seem to fit in. All of the children of Jan and Elsje used the Jans patronymic, which meant that they were all sons or daughers of Jan. There was Pieter Jans, Neeltje Jans, Jan Jans, Annetje Jans, and Ruth Jans. Pieter Jans later became Pieter Jansen or Johnson, perhaps by English language influence.
The two sons, Pieter and Jan, also used the name Staats. By the time we get to the third generation, most of the family had dropped the Jans patronymic and were using the Staats name entirely.
Adriana Goedbloed Krosen, daughter-in-law of General Kroesen, may have the answer to this. Adriana stated that in the 1600s and perhaps even today in some circumstances, if a branch of a family had no male heirs to carry on the family name, and the only living descendant was female, then that remaining individual could pass the name of her family on to her sons to perpetuate the name. I mentioned this possibility to William B. Bogardus, who wrote to Professor Willem Th. W. Frijhoff of the Free University in Amsterdam, and here are portions of his reply.”

Indeed, it was not impossible at all – at least until the first half of the 17th century, but occasionally even beyond – that children took their mother's family name. There are some famous cases of families changing their family name from one generation to another, even among the patriciate. That was the case, e.g., of the descendants of the wealthy 16th-century Rotterdam ship-builder Arent Ysbrantsz (a patronym, no existing family name), three branches of which were called Kievit, after their material grandmother (!) Kievit, and one branch Bisschip, after the name of the first wife of Arent's son – the interesting point being that even the children born from this son's second marriage and hence from another mother (called Van Baerle) were given the family name of the first mother, already deceased at their birth, with whom they had no famiy relation at all! That confusing 'matrilinear' system is one of the pitfalls of early Dutch genealogy which former American (and other) genealogists did not realized.
In the Staats case, it seems possible that the mother really transmitted her name to her children. Such transmissions may have several reasons, the wish to distinguish children from their homonyms within or outside the family being the most common one. 'Staats' or Statius was in the Netherlands, the everyday form or abbreviation of the Christian name 'Eustathius' or Eustache – not a really common name, but not inexistant either. Did you find the first name somewhere in the genealogy? Mother Elsje could well have had a father or a (paternal or maternal) grandfather called Eustache (Staats).
As for the Van Husum name: Husum being a small town in Holstein (formerly under Danish rule, present-day Northern Germany), this is perhaps not yet a real family name but only a geographic indication in order to mark off Jan Pieterse (which was one of the most common combinations of Christian names) from his homonyms. If that holds true, father Jan Pieterse could have had himself ancestors with the name Eustathius, and have transmitted this patronym (coming from another generation) as a family name to his children in a later stage. Eusthius was not a really uncommon name in Germany either.” end of quoted reply

Cruise continues: “Although there are no known written records confirming that this transpired in this family, I firmly believe that this is exactly what happened. There was no other reason of Elsje's two sons to use the Staats name, and it did exactly what Elsje wanted, continue the Staats name in America for many years. We own our gratitude to Adriana Goedbloed Kroesen for resolving the dilemma and to Professor Frijhoff for verifying this this was probable and giving us the name Eustathius.
Nevertheless, remaining strictly by what is authenticated, we can only refer to Elsje as 'Elsje' since we have no other recorded name. We can only list the name of her female children as Neeltje Jans or Annetje Jans. We can, however, list the two sons as Rieter Jans Staats and Jan Jans Staats since they officially used those names in America several times and are documented. Now we know, perhaps, why they did this. I have not researched any of the Staats families in the Netherlands, but it would be interesting to follow through on the name Eustathius and see where it takes us.
There were several Staats in America, and one of the first mentioned in New Netherland was Abraham Staats who was a young surgeon from Amsterdam, commissioned by the West India company to serve a six-year sabbatical in Albany, He arrived there in 1642, some four years after Elsje had been in America.
Abraham did appear occasionally in New Amsterdam on behalf of the West India Company, the first time in 1647, and gained considerable prominence in the upstate New York area, serving as magistrate in Albany in 1657, 1661, and 1662. He is listed as an inhabitant of New York taking the oath of allegiance required by the British in October of 1664. After a very distinguished career, he lived out the remainder of his life in Albany and was the progenitor of the Staats families in that region. No records have been found to indicate any relationship between Abraham and Elsje, although it is certainly possible, but I have no proof at this time.
Elsje died in Manhattan between the dates of 1648 and 1652 and was undoubtedly buried there. She only spent ten or twelve years living in America, and during that interim, had experience some difficult times.

Getting to the gold fields
Simon Krewson went the the California gold fields twice, by ship around the Horn and overland. Here is a description of such trips:
“People traveling by ship had a choice between two routes. They could travel from the East Coast to Panama and cross the jungle to catch a boat to California on the other side. Travelers who took the longer route sailed around Cape Horn at the tip of South America.
The Journey Around Cape Horn
Many traveled from the east coast of the United States around Cape Horn at the southern most tip of South American and up to California.
The trip could take from three to six months and cost form $100 to $300 dollars. It was a difficult trip with rough storms, seasickness and a lack of fresh water, fruit and vegetables. They ate salt preserved meats, fish, dried beans, rice and potatoes. One of recipes was lobscouse, a hash made of salted meat, potatoes and sea biscuits or dried bread softened with water. To flavor bad tasting water they added molasses, vinegar and spices. This was called switchel. In general the food was awful. After a few weeks the fresh food was gone. One passenger described two bugs for every bean and wormy moldy bread.
Advertisements for ship tickets promised luxury accommodations and hours of carefree pleasure. Many travelers ended up on Whaling ships with people crammed in where the blubber and oil were once carried some were so crowded people had to sleep standing up. More than 500 ships set out for California in 1849. Many gold seekers from Europe took this route once they had landed in New York or Boston.
By Sea, through Panama and by sea again
The route through Panama was faster but more expensive. It cost between $200 and $400 dollars. Forty-niners who traveled to Panama and crossed the Jungle to the Pacific Ocean. Traveling through the jungle meant insects, poisonous snakes, and diseases such as yellow fever malaria or cholera. When they arrived at the Pacific Ocean the travelers often found the ships to San Francisco were full. They may have had to wait days, weeks or months for a ship or pay a bribe to get on a ship leaving sooner. The boats leaving Panama City were very crowded. They "were filled to crammation" as one ships captain said. If they did not have to wait to long for their boat to San Francisco this route could take a little over a month.
Many ships had whole crews head off the the Gold Rush leaving them abandoned in the harbor. These ships were dragged up on land and turned into buildings on land.
Winter storms made it difficult to travel over land and many chose to travel by sea. Between 1848 and 1849 762 ships left Eastern ports for San Francisco. This made San Francisco the third most important port in the Nation after New York and Boston.”

Evelyn's record of Gaylord Wight's memories 1
I asked my father, Gaylord Wight, to supply me with accounts of some of his early memories. His recollections are vivid and accurate for, like his father, he has always been a great observer and remembers events extraordinarily well.
At the end of a busy day he would dictate extemporaneously into a tape recorder. He mailed the tapes from Regina to Colorado where I transcribed them. It has been a fascinating and joyful task. E.B.

There was a rural area about six or eight miles west of Ossian, Indiana, called Prospect, and the crossroads at that juncture was called Prospect Corner. One of the first settlers was Levi Osborn, who in 1848 acquired a quarter-section of land a quarter of a mile south of Prospect Corner. He had emigrated from Ohio and in 1850 he returned to marry his sweetheart, Catherine Ashburn, and brought her to Indiana where they made their home.
Their first baby was a boy, born in 1851, and the next child, Sarah Elizabeth, was born in 1853. She was my grandmother. They had six other children as well, the last being Aunt Anna born in 1873.
A half mile east of Prospect Corner, on the soulth side of the road, there was soon built a log church with a cemetery situated on the same property. The log church was replaced in 1862 with a much better church built of lumber, and it was erected on the north side of the road across from the cemetery.
The quarter-section to the north-east of Prospect Church was the Krewson homestead. Simon Krewson and his wife. Margaret, lived there. One of their children was my grandfather, Orson Clark Krewson. He was born in 1851, their fifth child. Like his father, he had red hair and, as men, both wore red beards.
Besides being a farmer, Simon Krewson followed blacksmithing as a trade. He was a very good blacksmith and was also a specialist at wheelwright work, wherein he could replace the iron tire on a wagon wheel if it should get loose or broken.
“Lib” Osborn and Clark Krewson were married in 1874 and made their home on the Krewson place. One day when my mother was just a baby, they paid a visit to the Osborn family and along toward the close of the day they gathered their children together and loaded into the buffy for the drive home. Soon after they left, a bad electrical storm came up. They were most anxious to get home so as not to get wet, particularly so the baby wouldn't get wet. They would naturally drive straight into the barn for shelter as soon as they got there. The Osborns, knowing that, were watching from their windows. About the time that the young Krewson family would nicely make it home, the Osborns observed a terrific bolt of lightning strike the barn and set it afire. In a few minutes it was all ablaze. Elias and Will Osborn, Lib's brothers, struck out afoot as fast as they could go across the fields.
Most fortunately, the Krewsons were not in the barn. As they were about to turn in at the lane, their neighbour on the east side of the road had invited them in to get the baby indoors at once, and the family was safe. That was in 1879.
In 1880, Orson Clark Krewson migrated his family to Nebraska where they farmed about one mile south and two miles west of Gibbon. Their first residence for a short while was very near the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad which ran east and west. When my mother was about two or three years old, she was playing on the track when a train came along. She started to run down the track, hesitated, and at last ran off the track just in time. My grandmother, watching helplessly, was very very frightened, and they soon moved to their own homestead three quarters of a mile south, where they built a house and a barn. The Krewsons lived in that house for many years. In fact, I was born in that house.
When Orson Clark Krewson was making plans to leave Indiana someone asked him, “Don't you feel kind of bad to leave home?” He replied, “I'm not leaving hime, I'm going home!” As it turned out he didn't return to Indiana for ten years when he made a visit in 1890 to the Prospect community. There was no town there, but many people came from miles around in their buggies and wagons to attend Prospect Church. It was a Methodist Church and according to the custom of those days the men sat on one side of the church and the women sat on the other side. (I guess they could pay attention to the sermon better that way. At any rate, that was the custom.)
It was 1890 and a new belfry had just been built on top of Prospect Church. It was planned that O.C. Krewson should be the one to first ring the bell. That was quite an honour. The bell, however, wasn't installed until very late at night, and my grandfather had to catch the morning train for Nebraska. In due course the bell was mounted and O.C. Krewson was the first to ring it officially.
The church bell that preceded it and which was probably mounted on a post until the belfry was built, was given to Orson Clark Krewson as a keepsake. He took the smaller bell to Nebraska and mounted it between the two east legs of his windmill tower and it was used to call the men to dinner. The windmill tower, made of 4x4 wood scantlings, was located a little ways west of their house. (Their milkhouse was under the windmill tower and in it was a water tank for keeping the milk and cream cool. The overflow from the tank ran down to the barn to water the stock and hogs. Grandma Krewson was a specialist at making butter and she knew better than to let the cream get very sour.)
In 1912 the lumber structure of Prospect Church was replaced with a brick church. A large square brick belfry is attached and that building stands today and it is believed that the bell that Grandpa Krewson rang in 1890 is the same bell that is there now in that brick belfry. It is interesting to note the the east stained glass window is dedicated to the memory of Mr. and Mrs. Levi Osborn. They are buried in Prospect Cemetery in the same row of graves and very close to Simon Krewson and his wife, Margaret.
The Krewsons retired from the farm in 1918 and moved to Kearney, Nebraska. His son, Elwin Krewson, spotted it at a farm sale, bought it, and he and his wife, Vida, brought it to Canada to give to my mother. It was mounted on a post on their farm on section 28, and remained there as long as they lived there. When they retired toYellow Grass, I removed the bell so it wouldn't be lost again.
In 1967, I gave the bell to my niece, Mildred Wilberts and her husband, Henry, who were hosts for the first Wight Family Reunion.
(to be continued in later site updates)

Evelyn Beckman's notes on Joshau and Simon Krewson
Joshua Krewson ~1779-1864
Dates of birth and death have not been authenticated but Joshua Krewson lived to be 85 years of age. His first wife bore him three sons, Daniel Anderson, Joshua, and Simon, the latter being the father of Orson Clark Krewson. Joshua's second wife was a widow, Mrs. Moon, called “Granny”, who died about 1857. In 1860 O.C. Krewson attended his father's marriage to his third wife, a maiden lady, Mary McBride, who survived him.
Joshua Krewson had some brothers and sisters. Two of the sisters were named Mary Tisdale and Nancy Hunt. Joshua K. was a cabinet-maker by trade. A stiff back saw used by him was presented to Gaylord Clark Wight in 1927, a gift by Orson Clark Krewson, along with a powder horn used by Joshua Krewson in the War of 1812-14.
Joshua Krewson's father was one of eight brothers, all of whom served in the Revolutionary War. One of these uncles named Derrick, was the daredevil of them all. He used to delight in tormenting a neighbor's ram which would butt his hat placed on the end of a stick protruding through a rail fence. The ram finally broke its neck when Derrick crouched behind a stump in front of which he held a flat rock which the ram struck.
Joshua K. died at the home of his son, Simon, near Ossian, Indiana, and is buried in Prospect Cemetery. His grave is regularly decorated each year.
Simon Krewson ? – 1865
The third son of Joshua Krewson, Simon, was likely born in Ohio. He married Margaret L. Gilkison, daughter of Thomas Gilkison. Simon died in 1865 in the prime of life while Joshua, his father, died in 1864 at the age of 83. Simon served in the Civil War on the Union side and died of an illness, likely contracted in the service near the close of the war.
Simon was a blacksmith by trade and on coming west to Indiana when a young man, he applied at a blacksmith shop for a job. He was refused. With prospects not very bright, and he contemplating what he should do, a customer came in with a wheel to be fixed. The blacksmith would not attempt it as he said it was too difficult and he lacked facilities. Simon spoke up and said he would like a chance to fix it. He did, and got the job as a result.
Simon went to California about 1856 during the gold rush. He brought home with him an Indian bow taken from an Indian who threatened his life. It happened that while walking, Simon saw an Indian lurking behind a tree about to draw his bow. Simon aimed his horse pistol but it refused to go off. The Indian shot but missed his target and before he could aim another arrow Simon rushed upon him, struck him with the butt of his horse pistol and left him for dead.
Another item Simon brought from California was a conch shell, which blows like a coronet. It was used to call the family to dinner, as it could be heard for a great distance. His grand-daughter, Elvira (Krewson) Wight, relied on the conch shell to perform that task for many years when she and her husband, Clarence, farmed in southern Saskatchewan.
Simon Krewson made three trips to California. The first trip was by ocean around the south end of South America. The last two were overland. He wrote some letters to his two daughters and his wife while he was on those trips, which he commenced in 1848-49.
He lies buried in Prospect Cemetery, near Ossian, Indiana. His wife Margaret, who died in 1895, lies buried beside him. The emblem of the Mason's Lodge appears on his tombstone.
- by Evelyn Wight Beckman for Wight Family Reunion July 1970

Wagons to California
We know that Simon Krewson went to California 3 times during the gold rush but there are no stories I know of about him have any gold or gold claim to work. Maybe he did but I begin to doubt it. There were other ways to make money during the gold rush.
He was a blacksmith and wheelwright and those skills were probably in great demand in the gold fields. It was clear in other gold rushes (Yukon, Australian) that the people who came back rich were mostly the merchants and the tradesman rather than the actual miners. A few miners made a fortune and the rest made a modest return. He could have done fairly well with a blacksmith business. There would have been plenty of work and high prices.
Alternatively he may have been someone who was hired by a wagon train because of his skills and having been to California before. Or perhaps both blacksmithing and wagon train employee on the same trip – he did seem a very bold and resourceful man (what I would call a 'chancer').
I ran across a description of the trials of wagon train travel to California. It is not necessarily the route Simon took or the years, but it gives a flavour of the trip.
Chasing a Golden Dream: The Story of the California Trail by Michael N. Landon, Archivist, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
What distinguished the California trail from all other overland emigrant trails can be summed up in a single word -- gold. The January 1848 discovery of gold at Sutter's mill on the American River would firmly establish the California trail and also directly impact all other trails that led emigrants to the great American West. Although emigrant companies had arrived in California prior to the great gold rush, the full story of the California Trail occurred after 1848, as the allure of wealth caused hundreds of thousands to surmount incredible obstacles while following routes to the Golden State.
The Establishment of the California Trail
As early as 1841 the Bidwell-Bartleson company arrived in California after abandoning wagons in present-day northeastern Nevada and after an almost desperate crossing of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. After arriving in California, one company member, Joseph C. Chiles, returned east in 1842, organized another company, and set out for California in 1843. Near Fort Bridger the Chiles company enlisted mountain man Joseph Walker as a guide. As they continued west, the shortage of provisions became a critical problem, causing Chiles and Walker to split the company into two groups. Chiles led one group of packers along the Oregon Trail to Fort Boise then turned southwest, crossed into present-day California, and eventually reached Sutter's Fort. Walker led the remainder of the company with the wagons, west toward California. With provisions almost exhausted and their draft animals failing, they abandoned the wagons near Owens Lake, made a December crossing of the Sierra Nevada, and descended into the San Joaquin Valley. Less than two months later, and farther north on the Carson River, Colonel John C. Frémont led his exploring company in a winter crossing of the Sierra Nevada. To this point, no one had successfully brought wagons over the seemingly insurmountable obstacle to wagon traffic -- the towering Sierra Nevada mountain range.
The Stevens-Murphy party of 1844 finally proved that wagons could successfully negotiate the Sierra Nevada, although the company barely averted disaster after almost becoming snowbound before reaching the safety of the San Joaquin Valley. These early companies demonstrated the feasibility of overland travel to California and by 1845 the route of the main California trail was known, although some published guides, such as Lansford W. Hastings' Emigrants' Guide to Oregon and California proved less than reliable. Hastings, the promoter, convinced the Donner-Reed party to attempt his cutoff on the California trail, a decision that ended in tragedy and unimaginable human suffering when they became trapped by snow in the Sierra Nevada in the winter of 1846. In 1847, acting under orders from General Stephen Watts Kearney, Mormon Battalion veterans traveled east as part of a contingent of escorts for John C. Frémont, who was to be court-martialed. In their eastbound trek over the Sierra Nevada, they found and interred the remains of many who perished in the Donner Party.
Until recently, contributions of the Mormon Battalion in establishing portions of the California Trail have been overlooked. In 1847 and 1848 Mormon Battalion veterans, after being discharged in California from their U. S. military service in the Mexican War, helped establish important sections of the California Trail including the Carson route, sometimes called the Mormon-Carson Emigrant Trail; Hensley's Salt Lake Cutoff; and the southern route from the Salt Lake Valley to the Spanish Trail.
The Impact of the Gold Rush on the California Trail
Although many emigrants helped blaze the California Trail during the 1840s, it is important to note that the total emigration on the California, Mormon, and Oregon trails for the entire period from 1841 to 1848 did not equal the number that would flood just the California trail in the single year of 1849, estimated to be at least 25,000. Emigrant totals for subsequent years, such as 1850 and 1852 would even eclipse the impressive numbers of 1849. From 1849 and continuing for two decades, the California Trail carried hundreds of thousands to the Golden state. It is estimated that the number of emigrants traveling the trail in 1849 and 1850 numbered nearly 75,000, completely overwhelming all available resources. The numbers dropped dramatically in 1851 no doubt partly caused by reports of overland trail difficulties that became known to those still in the east. In 1852 the numbers swelled again, with more than 50,000 emigrants headed west, most for California although an estimated five to ten thousand were Latter-day Saints traveling only as far as the Great Salt Lake Valley. Although subsequent years saw fewer numbers of emigrants, the California Trail continued to serve as an important transportation route to California, serving increasingly diverse economic interests that included mail and stage service, freighting operations, and cattle drives.
The California Trail and its Variants
As all California-bound emigrants wanted to arrive at their destination as quickly as possible, it did not take long before cutoffs and alternate routes began to appear. By 1855 almost all the variants to the California Trail were established, each with its own compelling story. What constituted the actual California Trail? For many emigrants the California Trail started at the Missouri, followed the Platte River, and continued on to South Pass, essentially the same route as the Oregon and Mormon trails. After leaving South Pass, the trail headed toward Fort Bridger, where the emigrant faced the choice of continuing to Salt Lake City or traveling to Fort Hall. Many southern emigrants followed the Cherokee Trail along the Arkansas River, north up the front range of the Rockies, then west connecting with the main California Trail at Hams Fork or Fort Bridger.
Of those who left from the Missouri River and followed the Platte, at least two thirds chose the Fort Hall route. It was apparent that travelers could turn toward Fort Hall long before reaching Fort Bridger, thus saving valuable time. Soon the Sublette Cutoff became the route of choice saving the emigrant five days travel compared to those who continued on to Salt Lake City. Also, with the establishment of the Hudspeth Cutoff in 1849, those traveling the Sublette Cutoff did not need to travel as far as Fort Hall. The 1859 opening of the Lander Road gave emigrants an additional route option if they did not want to take the Sublette Cutoff.
Many of those who chose to continue to Salt Lake City, did so because they needed to re-provision, replace their stock, or because they were so far behind they could not traverse the Sierra Nevada before winter's onset. Once emigrants arrived in Salt Lake City, they could choose one of three routes out of the city, the discredited Hastings Cutoff around the south end of the Great Salt Lake and across the salt flats; the southern route to the Spanish Trail and on to southern California, and from there north to the gold fields; or the most popular of the three, Hensley's Salt Lake Cutoff.
In 1848, returning eastbound Mormon Battalion veterans learned about the Salt Lake Cutoff from those who blazed it, mountain man Samuel J. Hensley and his company of packers. Heavily used during the gold rush years, it headed north from Salt Lake City, roughly followed the bench along the Wasatch Mountains, rounded the north end of the Great Salt Lake, and finally connected near the City of Rocks with the main California Trail in present-day southern Idaho.
From the City of Rocks, the California Trail continued to Goose Creek and Thousand Springs Valley, eventually reaching and following the Humboldt River until it crossed the forty mile desert of the Carson Sink in what is today Nevada. After crossing the sink, emigrants still had to traverse the Sierra Nevada mountains. The difficulty of the mountain crossing created a number of variants to the California Trail and at least five significant routes eventually were blazed over the Sierra Nevada. Most took the Carson or Donner-Truckee routes, but the Lassen, Noble, and Beckworth routes were also used. Variants to many of these mountain crossings also existed, such as the Georgetown trail and Big Trees Road on the Carson route.
It is important to recognize the difficulties of the last stretch from either Fort Hall or Salt Lake City to California. Alkali water, burning deserts, the seemingly insurmountable Sierra Nevada, worries about Indian hostilities, provisions, and ever-weakening draft animals, made this portion of the California Trail a true gauntlet.
The California Trail Experience
After surviving the long and arduous journey on the California Trail, the emigrant finally and gratefully arrived in California's San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys. Fortunately, much knowledge about the trail experience has been preserved in the journals, letters, and reminiscences of those who traveled it. For many it was the only time in their lives that they kept a record of their daily activities. In doing so, they appeared to understand that they were participating in an extraordinary event that required them to leave some record of their participation.
The fear, excitement, frustration, tragedy, monotony, sense of accomplishment, and even joyful moments of these hopeful California-bound emigrants are found in their writings. Along with their descriptions of departing for and arriving in California, the diarists described disease, major landmarks, decisions about which route to take, company dissensions, their provisions or lack of them, condition of their stock and wagons, accidents, and countless other adventures. Hostile encounters with Indian tribes, a fear often expressed in journal entries, did not occur frequently. Actually, many encounters proved beneficial to the westbound emigrant, who often received assistance from the various tribes encountered on the trail.
A sampling of these journal entries illustrates the importance of these surviving accounts to our understanding of the California Trail experience. For example, Gordon Cone and another unknown diarist recorded their feelings just as they were about to depart for the goldfields.
“May 25th at noon we found that all things were ready, and we took up our line of march for the far off Country, feeling to some extent the magnitude of our undertakeing -- Altho the distance is great, the privations perhaps numerous, and dangers of the way, (for our journey lies through the Indian Country, and they are hostile to the whites) which no doubt are also numerous, present a barrier to the reflections; still, throwing ourselves on the mercy, an reflections; and protection of God, we are willing to meet these difuculties, and hope to overcome them, and accomplish our object --
We left Pittsburgh on the 15h March 1849 on board the Steamer Consignee bound for St Josephs our intended starting point which we reached on the 31st of the same month in high spirits and full of expectations. we found a thriving and business young town full of strangers from every part of the Union destined on the same Journey as ourselves, we consequently found accomodations difficult to obtain and then of inferior quality.”
Once the decision to make the trip was cast, the trials of the journey began. One major difficulty facing those on the California trail was the scourge of cholera, which stalked the trail from 1849 through at least the mid-1850s. Diarists invariably wrote about its impact on everyone who traveled west. Alphonse B. Day's description of a company member's death and Ezekial B. Headley's grave-counting are representative of what the gold rush emigrants experienced during the cholera epidemic.
“Sunday 26 travelled 2 miles & was compelled to stop as william Fisher was sick of Cholera Notice he he was verry sik & bout one oclock the same day died this was the trying time on us as it was unexpected to all.
W 11 seen 3 graves
T 12 seen 6 graves
F 13 Passed the big Simahaw and Seen 5 graves
S 14 Seen 11 graves And came in the[- - - - - ]Territory
S 15 Crosseed big 150[- - - ]Blue and so Seen 7 graves joes
S 16 Seen no graves crossed Cotton wood Branch
M 17 Seen 2 graves and had to he[- - - ]frost[- -]s m[- - - - ]”
The magnitude of the Cholera scourge had a sobering effect on California bound emigrants. After seeing so many graves in the early part of his journey to California, Edward Jackson wrote:
“O do not leave my bones here. If possible let them lay at home, if not here, let it be California. The idea of the plains is horrible! I now see my journey in its true light & if I am permitted to record, the pages of my journal will tell a fearful tale.”
Surviving the ravages of disease was, of course, a greater concern than many trail challenges. However, even the choice of route could have serious consequences for those on the California Trail. Due to the experience of the Donner Party, cutoffs were viewed with some suspicion. For example, on 27 June 1852 after reaching the Sublette Cutoff, Cyrus Phillips and his traveling companions decided against taking it, opting instead to continue toward the Salt Lake Valley.
“Sunday June 27th Having a poor place to Lay up we concluded to travel to day -- started @ 3-OC. & Took the Old road knowing more about it than the cut off -- Travelled 9 miles to the Dry Sandy this stream is usually dry -- but we found plenty to day -- stoped for dinner without grass -- There is nothing but barren sandy sage Plains -- no grass but in this country only on the small streams -- Turned to the right before reaching the little Sandy & camped about 2 miles above the ford. Sage &willows on this stream & very little Grass -- Some Mexicans came to our camp. We supposed they were thievs & that they would try to steal our stock but we saw them no more -- The streams on this side of the mountains are much warmer and mudier than on the other. The best of roads to day.”
Serious discussions about the choice of a route often indicated growing divisions within companies traveling west, with some emigrants finding the pace of travel too slow. In the race to make it to the gold fields, companies often dissolved as the monotony of the journey began to take its toll. Cyrus Phillips described such difficulties as his company approached the Salt Lake Valley. Many other companies had dissolved long before they made it that far. On 3 July 1852 Phillips recorded:
“-- For the last 10 days there has been a great deel of dissatisfaction in our company & some private talk about a division @ Salt Lake which I have no doubt will be done from the fact of some having a severe quarrel this evening immediately after arriving in camp -- Some wished a division here but did not get it -- I am as anxious as any for a division thinking it will benefit all -- In fact some are so disagreeable & insulting that I will go no[-]farther with them.”
Many diarists commented on the religious and social culture they encountered in Salt Lake, often colored by the prevailing opinions of the time regarding the Latter-day Saints. Diarist Edward Jackson who stayed in Salt Lake City from July 24-31 wrote, "Both the prophets & elders speeches were rantings malignant & hostile to our government & administration & the people in the West. . . . They are the most ignorant class of people I ever met with." Later, in a somewhat contradictory entry he noted, "In the evening they had a dance, but I was prevented from going by fatigue; but altogether this has been one of the happiest days of my journey."
Like emigrant relations with Mormons, emigrant-Indian relations were equally varied. Emigrant F.F. Keith wrote of his encounter with Pawnee along the Platte:
“Tues May 21 frs
left the bottom and traveled on the bluffs saw a number of the Pawnee Indians they are at war with the Sioux are friendly with us.”

There was tremendous complexity in white-Indian interaction, with the most hostile encounters found in the Great Basin. Emigrants opinions of Great Basin tribes helped fuel the difficulties that only became more severe throughout the 1850s and early 1860s, finally resulting in the Pyramid Lake War in 1860 and the Bear River Massacre in 1863.
An example of the difficulties encountered by emigrants and Great Basin tribes is noted in the diary of F.F. Keith in an entry much different than the one he earlier recorded about the Pawnee.
"Mon morning the Indians stole more horses from a train just below us and killed one man and scalped him their chief came riding near the camp when they fired upon him putting three balls through him before he fell about 40 men then pursued them to the mountains but could do nothing with them as the horses of the Indians are fresh while the emigrants are nearly worn out".
These Great Basin Indians were often encountered along the brackish waters of the Humboldt River. The river vanished into the Humboldt Sink, making the desert crossing the next obstacle. Of the experience David Wooster wrote:
“July 1st[1850]
We took a supply of water for about ten miles only, and thirty of us started across what we found to be a second desert. We found it twenty-eight miles. Our horses lay down several times; some of the men could get no farther, but waited six miles back, till water could be brought. . .my canteen was empty the first seven miles, and never did human being suffer more than myself; but I got through without stopping, half dead.”

After the desert the emigrant faced that final hurdle, the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Regarding the experience of crossing the Sierra Nevada, semi-literate Anson Clark perhaps summarized it best:
“We travlid up the montin on snow and that didnt feall well to a fellow that was barfootid. It felt rather Cold and my feat aked with the Cold. When we got on top of the mountain it was the potis[prettiest]seanry that I ever saw in my lif. Hear we struk the south fork of the american river. The very head of it hear was a little lak and it was very Clar and Cold. Thar was fish but I had lost my hooks and lines so I Codent ketch any of them. Hear was timbor of all kinds of the fir kind and whar I was I cod[could]sea wone montan below a nother and Coverd with timber and it was the purtis[prettiest]seanry I Ever saw. This sit[sight]pad[paid]me for my hardship. Hear I was 15 mills from hangton and nothin to eat and 25 sents in Cash.”
The sum of these experiences were often described by the gold-seeking emigrant as "seeing the elephant." Noted trail historian Merrill J. Mattes wrote that the "emigrants weren't talking about woolly mammoths or genuine circus-type elephants. They were talking about one particular elephant, the Elephant, an imaginary beast of fearsome dimensions which, according to Niles Searls, was “but another name for going to California." The image of the Elephant appeared in many aspects of trail life as recorded by emigrant diarists.
Regarding his sleeping arrangements, Cyrus E. Phillips wrote "I expect to see part of the Elephant to night when I wrap myself in blankets for the first time and sleep on the floor." James Tolles used the unique gold rush image about the elephant when faced with a river ford. "I drove our team and while wading through it appeared to me much like seeing the Elephant." He later noted "seeing the elephant" under difficult travel conditions. "The man and cattle have been almost suffocated with dust to day. It begins to look a little Elephantish along these digins."
All of these California Trail experiences of course ended when the emigrants finally arrived in California's Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. Their arrival in California's gold fields meant they had truly "seen the elephant." Many expressed their feelings about the safe completion of their long journey. Regarding the long-awaited arrival in California, a tired but grateful Stillman Churchill wrote:
“I will not attempt to picture to you my feelings when once on the Sacramento after being on the road 6 months from Boston & 2 weeks from Branville to Missouri Since[-]nearly 42 months from there to Mr Lawsons on the river Mr Davises coming first which are called Ranchero usually Ranch.”
Stillman Churchill, like thousands of others, had his own motivations for making the great trek on the California Trail. The story of their experiences, which many of them fortunately recorded, continues as a rich literary legacy.
The Legacy of the California Trail
The California Trail ended with the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, but its impact continued long after wagon travel ceased. The late historian John D. Unruh, Jr. pointed out that, "The emigration experience was ever changing; each travel year evidenced distinctive patterns, unique dramas of triumph and tragedy, new contributions to the mosaic of western development." This western development was tied to the unique American concept of Manifest Destiny, a vision that dictated the boundaries of the American nation should extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. The discovery of gold not only reinforced the nation's belief in Manifest Destiny, it had an immediate and long-term impact on those who headed for California to mine the precious metal.
The process of leaving families and homes, passing through countless experiences on the California Trail, and struggling to make good in the gamble of the gold fields, forever changed the hundreds of thousands who trailed west to California. For many, a return to a pre-gold rush lifestyle seemed far too tame and constraining. Historian J. S. Holiday noted
“Like soldiers home from far places, the goldseekers came back with new ideas and changed values. Remembering the pace of life in California, the ease of obtaining credit from merchants, the anonymity which assured freedom to act as one wished, they resented old-fashioned rules of business and hometown curiosity and gossip. In California cities and mining camps they had learned to accept what once they would have judged unacceptable, and some had behaved in ways they knew would be judged harshly by relatives and neighbors.”
For many, that transformation of values, the entertaining of new ideas and possibilities, began on the California Trail. Traveling to California, by whatever means, was certainly part of the gold rush experience. That historic gold rush helped fuel the rapid economic development of the nation and increased the sectional tensions between the northern and southern states that eventually resulted in the tragedy of the Civil War. So many came west on the California Trail that California's entry as a state in the Union became a national issue within two years of the gold discovery. The Compromise of 1850, which allowed California to enter as a free state, delayed but did not ultimately prevent the onset of that great conflict.
The sheer number who traveled the California Trail also increased the desire to make the dream of a transcontinental railroad a reality. Two decades after the great California gold rush began, the railroad was finally completed. The monumental engineering feat of the transcontinental railroad completed a process that the California Trail and other western trails began -- the integration of the west into the American nation.
While the railroad effectively ended the era of covered wagon travel, the California Trail continues to live through the words of those who traveled it. By reliving their experiences, we gain a perspective that gives us a greater understanding of ourselves and our own challenges. Because so many Americans view the covered wagon pioneer as part of their national heritage, the California, as well as other historic trails will continue to serve as symbols of American culture and will always form part of the mystique of the great American West.