“Poor little Willie”

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Clara Thomas Gault was a special kid. She really loved her little brother William Thomas Gault. In a written history it says,

His sister, Clara Thomas Gault, was not even born when her brother died, however she always refereed to him as her little brother, Poor Little Willie. She must have overheard conversations or been told about his death because she was so clear about what happened. After his death his mother kept one pair of his shoes, a pair of mittens, a scarf, and a small amount of change that he kept in a leather clasp change purse. Those items were very dear to his sister. (They are in the possession of Malcolm Phinney, Clara’s grandson.) She took lilacs from her mother’s bush up to the cemetery on Memorial Day every year just as her mother had always done. She told us it made her sad to think that he was all alone in that plot at Woodside Cemetery and wished he had been buried with his great grandparents, John and Hannah Cole Gammons or transferred to Centre Cemetery in Wareham where his parents were buried.  – Family History Record   ( William was five years old when he passed away). 

This little paragraph sums up the greatest love another can have for a sibling.

 

 

 

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Anna Francisca Heinzman: volunteer, world traveler, Mom

Anna Francisca Heinzmann 1920-1930 (courtesy of John James)

Anna Francisca Heinzman 1920-1930s

Standing in front of a Kodak advertisement and a sign for cigars, with a bobcut and knickers, she looks so… modern. Even almost 100 years later I instantly knew she was progressive. It made me wonder. What was she like?

I mean, not every girl wore “knickers” and rolled stockings in the 1920s. Cultural norms during that time dictated that it was acceptable to wear knickers for sport activities such as golf and hiking, but definitely not for everyday wear.

“The fact that the debate over women and pants was still happening the 1960s tells you that in the 1920s, women wearing pants were likely to raise eyebrows. Even Katharine Hepburn and her newsworthy trousers in the 1930s could not shake the public perception of women strutting around town in what was widely considered men’s clothing” (Vintage Dancer).

A woman wearing knickers (image courtesy of This Old Life).

A woman wearing knickers in the 1920s.  (image courtesy of This Old Life).

Anna, definitely rode “the wave of the future.” She saw a lot of change during her lifetime – and not just in dress lengths short options.

She lived through many events such as:
The use of Model T cars
The 1918 Flu epidemic
WWI
Women’s right to vote
KKK violence
Prohibition
The Great Depression
WWII

Anna Francisca Heinzman was one tough lady.

She was born in Sankt Leon Rot Germany, in 1908.

courtesy of wikipedia

courtesy of wikipedia

click to enlarge

See how you’re related! Click to enlarge

Two years later Her father Ludwig Heinzman, her mother Rosa, and her older brother Gene August Heinzman sailed on a ship named the S.S. Lapland to America. The ship left in Antwerp Belgium, and arrived in Ellis Island New York. My great grandfather Gene remembered the first time he tasted orange marmalade was on the S.S. Lapland. He had never tasted an orange before and thought it was delicious.

Lapland
Luckily, conditions were decent on the ship, even for second and third class passengers.

Washroom on the S.S. lapland Red Star line (image courtesy of Sanitation and Safety of Passenger Vessels (1911)

Washroom on the S.S. Lapland Red Star line (image courtesy of Sanitation and Safety of Passenger Vessels (1911)

Naturalization record of Ludwig, Rosa, Anna, and Gene

Naturalization record of Ludwig, Rosa, Anna, and Gene

Moving from Germany to Las Vegas, New Mexico must have been an enormous change for their family.

Las Vegas, taken in 1910.

Las Vegas, taken in 1910.

The Heinzman family eventually moved and settled in Oakland California.
A few years later Anna met Leslie Calvin Smith and they were married in Oakland on March 14, 1928. She was 19 years old, and Leslie was 23 years old.

According to records Leslie was known for his watercolor paintings and was a postmaster while studying at The California College of the Arts. I would love to see some of his paintings! However, I haven’t been able to find any.

Students painting outside  . CCAC - 1920s-1930s. (photo courtesy of CCAC archived images).

Students painting outside . CCAC – 1920s-1930s. (photo courtesy of CCAC archived images). It is very possible that Leslie Smith would have taken a class similar to this one.

Tragically, the young couple did not last. Leslie died three years later from unknown causes. Anna was left a widow with a young baby by the age of 22.
I can’t even imagine having your husband pass away during the beginning of the Great Depression with a young child.

Five years later in the summer of 1937 she married Harold August Dilberger, an electrical engineer.

Not much is said about her later years, but her obituary in the Alameda Star Times paints Anna Heinzman as a strong, caring, and accomplished lady.

DILBERGER ANN F. 93, of Montclair died Nov. 29th at Piedmont Gardens. She was born in Germany and immigrated to this country in 1910. She had been a resident of Oakland since 1922. Mrs. Dilberger was a homemaker and a small business owner. She also was a volunteer with Children’s Hospital, Republican Women, Campfire Girls, Girl Scouts and Piedmont Community Church. With her late husband, Harold A. Dilberger, she traveled extensively abroad. Loving mother of Lorraine Parmer of Pt. Richmond and Loretta Lawson of Nevada City Also surviving are six grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and her brother, Gene Heinzman of Vallejo. Interment at Mt. View Cemetery. Private services. Memorial donations suggested to Children’s Hospital, 747 52nd Street, Oakland 94609.

What a lady.

Jacob C. See – The stuff legends are made of

Jacob

Jacob “Jake C. See (photo courtesy of James Mahar)

Here is my great-great-great grandpa.
That’s right, three greats.

He is great.

For one thing, he could put any No-Shave November participant to shame.
He really did have amazing beards and mustaches. But, he was so much more than his spectacular facial hair.

See how you're related! Click to enlarge.

See how you’re related! Click to enlarge.

He was a G-E-N-U-I-N-E real American cowboy in California.

According to San Luis Obispo Folklore and History:

Jake C. See was the quintessential American cowboy―a mountain of a man with a wide handle-bar mustache and sparkling, clear eyes; his cheeks and sharp nose were chiseled by decades of wind, rain, and dusty trails until his face became as burnished as the leather boots he wore; he was bow-legged from constant horseback riding, donned a wide-brimmed Stetson hat and a bandana, wore a gun on the hip, and when riding carried a 100 foot riata (lasso rope)―the use if which he was famous for. Con­sidered the “Robin Hood” of the West by friends and the devil incarnate by the rest, in 1880 was eventually arrested and convicted of sheep rustling but served only two years of a four year term in San Quentin Prison after local residents petitioned the governor for his early release. He ran unsuccessfully for Sherriff of San Luis Obispo County in 1918. (Apparently he was the popular choice until a scandal turned voters against him/he was picked up for bootlegging).

1918 poster for

1918 poster for “Jake” See running for Sheriff. (Photo courtesy of James Mahar.)

Not much is found about Jake See’s childhood. However, the little details that have been preserved are priceless. Jake See was an orphan and was adopted while “crossing the Great Plains by covered wagon train on the way to California” (San Luis Obispo Folklore and History: The Life and Times of Jake C. See).His new family settled in the in the California Frontier.  The times were different back then.

San Luis Obispo, 1876 (Photo courtesy of wikipedia)

San Luis Obispo, 1876 (Photo courtesy of wikipedia)

“San Luis Obispo was cow country―a time ruled by cattle ranchers and the cowboy way where the vigilante’s rope and the law of the gun prevailed” (San Luis Obispo Folklore and History: The Life and Times of Jake C. See).

A newspaper clipping from 1886 illustrates how life was different back then. Fights were a common way to settle business.

San Francisco Chronicle, 5 Jan 1886, Tue, Page 8

San Francisco Chronicle, 5 Jan 1886, Tue, Page 8

Not only was Jake accused for grand larceny and served two years for stealing sheep, on June 29, 1889 he was arrested for forgery when he was 44. According to the Sacramento Daily Union” vol. 1, No. 5 30 Jun, Jake See forged notes with MR Duffy amounting to $3,000. That was a lot of money back then!

The Record-Union, 30 Jun 1889, Sun, First Edition

The Record-Union, 30 Jun 1889, Sun, First Edition

Jacob See. Sepia tone print on card (Photo Courtesy of James Mahar)

Jacob See in his younger years. Sepia tone print on card (Photo Courtesy of James Mahar)

Jake See’s stories do not end with sheep rustling and money. In another account of Jake See’s life: Charged With Cutting Timber on Government Lands in Madera, it tells another side of Jake. 
Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 9.38.31 PMJake C. See may have been a colorful person, but some of the legends surrounding his name are allegedly untrue. In my family there is a legend that Jacob See was a horse thief and he was eventually hung for the crime. I am happy to report that Jacob C. See was no horse thief (as far as I can tell). He also was not hanged for a crime. Despite the legends, Jake See died of influenza. He was 73 years old when he passed away.

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Narcissa (Biggs) See. Sepia print on card. (Photo Courtesy of James Mahar).

Narcissa (Biggs) See. Sepia print on card. (Photo Courtesy of James Mahar). She was 13 years old when she married Jake See. He was 17.

Joseph See's poster from when he ran for Sheriff in 1918. Current Sheriff of San Luis Obispo County,CA. Ian Parkenson. (photo courtesy of No1deon of ancestry.com)

Joseph See’s poster from when he ran for Sheriff in 1918. Current Sheriff of San Luis Obispo County,CA. Ian Parkenson. (photo courtesy of No1deon of ancestry.com)

Lysander Gault – A Whaler in the Hawaiian Islands

stereoview photographs of whaling during the time period of Lysander Gault (courtesy of https://pplspcoll.files.wordpress.com).

stereoview photographs of whaling during the time period of Lysander Gault (courtesy of https://pplspcoll.files.wordpress.com).

Cove at Buzzards Bay, Wareham Massachusetts (photo courtesy of Google maps)

It seems that the ocean is in our blood.

It isn’t hard to love the water, especially when your home is nestled against the salty ocean of Massachusetts. That was the the case for Lysander W. Gault. Born November 14, 1824 in Wareham Massachusetts, Lysander grew up near the Atlantic Ocean.

Onset Bay,  Wareham Massachusetts

Onset Bay, Wareham Massachusetts (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

click to enlarge. See how you are related!

click to enlarge. See how you are related!

There is not much information about Lysander’s childhood, but it must have been adventurous growing up with eight other brothers and sisters. He married Hannah Jane Francis November 11, 1861in New Bedford Massachusetts. Lysander was 36 years old, Hannah was 25.

lysander

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It doesn’t say when he began his career, but Lysander was a whaler. He spent much time off the coast of the Pacific – including Hawaii. Immediately I had scenes of Moby Dick swirling through my head when I found out he was a whaler.

“In the mid-1840s, when the industry was at its height, the vast majority of the 600 ships that arrived each year at Oahu and Maui came from the United States.” (Courtesy of http://www.theamericanmenu.com/2014/01/king-kalakaua-of-hawaii.html)

As it turns out, whaling is a very time and labor intensive job. Lysander was often away from his family for years at a time. According to the National Maritime Digital Library, one trip lasted at least two years! “The ships were outfitted with whaling gear and enough provisions to last for a cruise of up to four years” (New Bedford Whaling Museum).

American School, 19th Century Portrait of the New Bedford Whaling Ship John Carver. Unsigned

American School, 19th Century Portrait of the New Bedford Whaling Ship the John Carver. Unsigned

He departed in June of 1875 and returned May 1879. According to Records his ship the John Carver, caught 972 sperm whale and hauled 375 bones.

When I first read the log, I had two questions, “how do you get that many whales onboard a ship?” and “What did they do with the whale fat and bones?”

Before a world of iPads, before a world of electric lights, lighting was very important. Candles and lamps fueled with oil were used.

“When a whale was killed, it was towed to the ship and its blubber, the thick insulating fat under its skin, would be peeled and cut from its carcass in a process known as “flensing.” The blubber was minced into chunks and boiled in large vats on board the whaling ship, producing oil.
The oil taken from whale blubber was packaged in casks and transported back to the whaling ship’s home port (such as New Bedford, Massachusetts, the busiest American whaling port in the mid-1800s). From the ports it would be sold and transported across the country and would find its way into a huge variety of products.

Whale oil, in addition to be used for lubrication and illumination, was also used to manufacture soaps, paint, and varnish. Whale oil was also utilized in some processes used to manufacture textiles and rope.”  Whale bones were the new plastic and used in everything from corsets to piano keys. – (“What Products Were Produced from Whales, Robert McNamara, 19th Century History Expert.)

Corset made with whale parts. (Image courtesy of http://amhistory.si.edu/)

Corset made with whale parts. (Image courtesy of http://amhistory.si.edu/)

 Whaling was usually strenuous, unpleasant work. It was often said that “the stench of processing whales was so strong a whale ship could be smelled over the horizon before it could be seen” (am history).

The good news is that crews were often close knit.

Below are short notes written to Lysander from John A. Coffin who was a Master Mariner with Lysander on the John Carver.

notes exchanged between shipmates - Lysander Gault and John A Coffin. (Courtesy of http://pplspcoll.wordpress.com)

notes exchanged between shipmates – Lysander Gault and John A Coffin. (Courtesy of http://pplspcoll.wordpress.com) click to enlarge.

The notes are short and talk about important things such as, “I have sent a barrel of ale, put it in a safe place.”  Or, “please let Julian have his things when he comes for them.” It is remarkable that such simple everyday notes were able to be preserved for hundreds of years.

Lysander Gault's gravestone

Lysander Gault’s gravestone (courtesy of findagrave.com)

Standing in a small boat while battling tossing waves, trying to take down a massive and extremely powerful creature takes guts. Serious guts.
It was a grisly job that was probably part courage, and part crazy. It was all or nothing.
Yes, it is true whales are especially majestic creatures and should be preserved, but, I also have to remember that was a different time back then. Ideas were different. Life was different.
Although the age of whaling is esentially gone, the stories and lives of whalers such as Lysander Gault will always be remembered.

Plus, its always cool to say that sailing runs in the family.

Joseph Vard Loomis – A Silent Hero

Warning: This is a long post. But if you read through it. It is definitely worth it.

“Vard was really friendly,…not only to the Japanese. When he talked to …farmers, ..he sat and talked for a half-hour or an hour. He really cared about people, ” said Kazuo “Kaz”, a prominent Arroyo Grande farmer.

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Vard in the middle with the first Arroyo Grande Japanese-American baseball team that he coached. (Photo courtesy of Lilian Sakarai and the South County Historical Society, Heritage Press, Volume II number 6, August 2007)

Joseph Vard Loomis, better known as “Vard” is one of those people that is hard to forget. He was described as friendly, personable and loyal by those who knew him. However, what he is likely remembered most for, is his love and kindness to the Japanese-American citizens of Arroyo Grande.

According to The Heritage Press, “The most prominent supporters of Japanese Americans in Arroyo Grande were J. Vard Loomis and his brothers.”

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Loomis brothers – L Clinton, Ivan and Vard Loomis

Background:
Edward Clinton Loomis, (their father) was one of the area’s early ranchers and founded a feed and grain store in 1905. Over time the business grew and by the 1930s, E.C. Loomis and Sons was the main agricultural supplier in San Luis Obispo county.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

During this time period it was clear that “the area’s agriculture was split into two distinct cultures: the largely Caucasian cattle ranchers and dairy farmers, who grew hay and alfalfa and ran their cattle on rolling inland pastures; and the largely Japanese American produce growers, who irrigated labor-intensive vegetables in the fertile coastal valleys. E.C. Loomis and Sons served them both, offering feed and grain to the ranchers and seed, fertilizer and insecticide to the farmers, ” (Heritage Press (Volume II No. 6).

Japanese-American workers tending the fields. (photo courtesy of the Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange  - http://pove.net/our-history/

Japanese-American workers tending the fields. (photo courtesy of the Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange – http://pove.net/our-history/ In the 1940 census, nearly two thirds of the Japanese American workforce had agricultural jobs.

When Edward Clinton Loomis retired, his sons Joseph “Vard,” Clinton “Buster” and Ivan took over the family business.

John Loomis recalled: Every year, the Loomises threw an annual “Japanese picnic” for their Japanese American customers. Families from Santa Maria to Morro Bay attended the gathering. On the day of the picnic Mr. Hayashi would (bring) crates of his own- grown lettuce, mayonnaise and cases of canned shrimp and crab….and mix it all up in large washtubs. They served sirloin steak, bread, beans, crab salads, coffee and soda pop, followed by …ice cream for dessert. Games followed cigars and cigarettes….those Japanese picnics were wonderful. When Kaz Ikeda became a teenager, Juzo Ikeda decided that his eldest son and the other young Nisei (second generation) needed a constructive physical outlet. At the time, baseball was at the height of its popularity, and every town and city had a sandlot team. Juzo decided the Japanese Americans of Arroyo Grande should have one too. He learned that Vard Loomis had played baseball at Stanford and enlisted his help. In 1931, they organized the Arroyo Grande Young Men’s Association baseball team, which Vard coached for ten years, until the internment. Kaz, the catcher*, was “quite a ball- player”, according to his cousin Haruo Hayashi. The team traveled to Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Bakersfield, Fresno and San Jose to play other Nisei teams (second generation Japanese Americans.) Vard drove the team, and wife Gladys often went along. One day, a bus full of African American musicians spotted the Nisei team practicing in an Arroyo Grande park and challenged them to a game. Being the only “white guy” and odd man out, Vard was selected to be the umpire.It was one of the happiest days of his life, he later told his daughter Sandy—filled with laughter and good- natured teasing as each team called him “four-eyes” and “blind” whenever he made an unfavorable call (The Heritage Press, Volume II, No 6, pg. 8).

Most of the truck farms in the area were operated by Issei (or first generation) like Kaz’ father. Juzo Ikeda came to America and had began farming in 1929. Because of his success he was soon leasing forty acres of rich in the Arroyo Grande Valley.

“By the late 1930’s, there were about forty Issei farmers in the area. They formed a growers’ co-op—the Pismo-Oceano Vegetable Exchange—to ship produce to the East Coast”  (The Heritage Press, Volume II No. 6, pg. 8).

The success of the Issei farmers was shattered after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Japanese Internment camps sprang up across the US and Japanese Americans were forced to leave their homes and property. Unfortunately the vast majority of Japanese Americans lost everything during Internment. Because of the California Alien Land Laws, Issei were banned from owning land and lost all rental or lease agreements when WWII started.

Japanese Exclusion Orders of the time period. (Image courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment_of_Japanese_Americans)

Japanese Exclusion Orders of the time period. (Image courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment_of_Japanese_Americans)

Even though there was unfair treatment, the Japanese American citizens stepped up to the challenge. Gladys Loomis (Vard’s Wife) remained absolutely livid at the treatment of her fellow friends. In 1991 she said, “Never once was any disloyalty found in our area. Nearly all of the young men who played on Vard’s Nisei baseball team who were of draft age volunteered immediately. Not one was drafted. Almost all of them worked in military intelli- gence because they were bilingual. Some served in the 442nd Infantry Combat unit (sic), the most decorated American unit of the war.” 

Despite persecution, name-calling and harassment, Vard and his family continued to be friends with Japanese Americans during and after the war.

According to the Heritage Press, “The Loomis’s stood by their Japanese American friends, even though others in the community called them Jap-lovers. Kaz Ikeda’s family had particular reason to feel grateful for Vard Loomis’s help — so much so that Kaz would later name one of his sons after him. At the outbreak of war, Kaz was twenty-three. He had recently graduated from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, and was helping his dad farm the sixty acres that Juzo had purchased in Kaz’ name when he turned twenty-one.

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Kazuo “Kaz” Ikeda with Joseph Vard Loomis

About a month after Pearl Harbor, Kaz was abruptly thrust into the role of head of household. His father broke his neck in an accident involving a run- away team of horses. He was paralyzed and required around-the-clock nursing care at the hospital. When the Wartime Civil Control Administration (WCCA) ordered Japanese Americans to move east of High- way 1, quite a few of the Arroyo Grande farmers had to relocate. Kaz’ family moved across the highway to the Arroyo Grande Japanese- language school.

The Arroyo Grande Japanese American Language School (on the right) when they were first ordered to move. (Image courtesy of the  South County Historical Society - http://216.92.187.150/archives/whats_new/2009/january.htm)

The Arroyo Grande Japanese American Language School (on the right) when they were first ordered to move. (Image courtesy of the South County Historical Society – http://216.92.187.150/archives/whats_new/2009/january.htm)

Then they heard that the exclusion zone would be extended to the middle of the state. Kaz and some other Nisei drove east of Highway 99 looking for a place to rent, but, he recalled, “They didn’t want us out there. We couldn’t find any place to rent, so we decided to stay put.” When they learned they were going to be evicted, the family appealed to the WCCA. Juzo needed long-term nursing that was not available at the makeshift “assembly center” at the Tulare County Fairgrounds, Kaz recalled: “The WCCA told us my dad could remain at the local hospital until adequate facilities could be built at Tulare. And Mother could stay with him. But Mom hardly spoke English and didn’t know how to drive, so I asked if I could take her place. That’s when Vard stepped in and said I could stay at his place as long as I needed to. He didn’t hesitate for a second, but I heard he got a lot of flak from his friends.” Kaz’s mother and brothers went ahead to Tulare, while Kaz stayed with Vard and his wife Gladys and visited his father at the hospital every day. In exchange for the Loomis’ kindness, Kaz offered to babysit their daughter, Sandy. For the next two and a half months, he was the only Japanese American in the area. Gladys Loomis recalled that Kaz’s presence caused the sheriff to search their home for short wave radios, and the young Nisei was once stopped by the police for being alone in a car with a young white woman he was driving her home at Gladys’s request (The Heritage Press, Volume II, No 6, pg. 8).

“According to John Loomis, the uthorities enjoyed exercising their power: Soon after Pearl Harbor, we started having blackouts in Arroyo Grande. Most of the air raid wardens were guys that were 4F. They were quite a rowdy bunch. They would threaten to kill people for not having their lights properly shielded.
“They were mean hombres.”

“Finally, the Tulare Assembly Center’s medical facilities were ready, so Kaz and his father rejoined the family. They were eventually transferred to Gila River, Arizona, where the family cared for Juzo in their barrack until he died in the summer of 1943.” (The Heritage Press, Volume II, No.6)

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Gila River concentration camp, Arizona. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records. Gila River Camp). this concentration camp held over 13,000 inmates, most of whom were from California. This camp was known for its baseball team, the Gila River Eagles, its prolific produce that fed most of the camps, and for being visited by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

During the war, it was also not uncommon to see Japanese property burglarized, and burned. Vard knew this was a possibility, but tried to help the best he could.

During the war, “the Ikeda farm had been rented out to a couple of young Portuguese men. Vard Loomis stopped by regularly to collect the rent, out of which he paid the property taxes. Vard Loomis looked after the The Fukuhara’s 200 acres of choice farmland near Oceano. Their house on Halcyon Road was just about the biggest in town when it was completed in 1941. After Pearl Harbor, the brand-new place be- came a natural target for the resentful and envious. When the Fukuhara’s were interned, they asked Vard and Gladys, then living in a modest little house, to move into their home and keep an eye on their property.

“Vard and his brother Buster leased the Fukuhara acreage and farmed it during their absence. The Loomis brothers also arranged for the evictees to store their personal belongings in a large dehydrator building near their of- fices. Unfortunately, the building was somewhat isolated and easy to break into, so most of the furniture was stolen or vandalized by war’s end.” (The Heritage Press).

After WWII when the Japanese were allowed to return to their homes, only a few people returned to the Arroyo Grande farmlands. The few that did come back, had farms, but did not have the necessary capital to farm. Businesses at the time were not willing to lend credit for the needed supplies and labor to restart their farms.

According to the Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange History, “Once again, it was the Loomis family along with Jack Snyder, the village blacksmith, and Earl Wilkinson of Wilkinson’s Meat Market who helped their Japanese friends by extending them credit [and equipment] when no one else would be of assistance.”

Japanese American farmer, Arroyo Grande (image courtesy of http://pove.net/our-history/).

Japanese American farmer, Arroyo Grande (image courtesy of http://pove.net/our-history/).

Re-establishing farm operations under these challenges wasn’t. They worked with little equipment and supplies, only hiring help when they could afford it.

“Instead the entire family both young and old, joined hands and the families helped one another.  Together they labored long and strenuous hours, many times well into the night, to get themselves back on their feet.” (Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange History).

Although Vard and Gladys Loomis did not receive a medal of honor for their service, many are grateful for their kindness before, during and throughout the war. Vard may not be living any longer, but his example of loving your neighbor as yourself is a testament to future generations like myself .

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If anyone has any personal stories or memories of Vard or Gladys, I would love to hear them.

Sources:

http://www.southcountyhistory.org/Newsletters/august2007.pdf
http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1307&context=moebius
http://sloblogs.thetribunenews.com/slovault/2012/02/japanese-relocation-world-war-ii-week-by-week/
http://pove.net/our-history/
http://216.92.187.150/archives/whats_new/2009/january.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment_of_Japanese_Americans
http://encyclopedia.densho.org/Gila_River/

Aged Man Must Go to Asylum

dewitt2
That title certainly caught my attention while I was researching.

I had stumbled across a clipping from the  Bakersfield Californian Newspaper dated August 6, 1907. My heart dropped. Mental care was oftentimes nothing short of abuse in the 1900s. It is the stuff haunted houses are made of.
According to an article from science museum.org, “Large Victorian public asylums haunt the history of psychiatry. They were hailed as places of refuge for some of society’s supposedly most vulnerable men and women. These buildings were called ‘lunatic asylums’, and later renamed ‘mental hospitals’. They earned a reputation as dehumanizing, prison-like institutions.” Perhaps Dewitt Clinton Biggs was not in a “prison-like institution.” I would like to hope.

 Although it is noteworthy that DeWitt spent his last days suffering from mental illness and was repeatedly admitted to an asylum, it doesn’t define his life. He grew up, married, and had a family of his own. He had at least eight children and supported his family through mining.

The article is attached below. Read on to find out more about his family life.

dewitt

The article says:

The Bakersfield Californian August 06, 1907

AGED MAN MUST GO TO ASYLUM

De Witt Biggs is in County Jail Again.    Parades Street on Saturday Night with Shotgun on His Shoulder

DeWitt Clinton Biggs, and aged man whose mind has been falling for some time past, was locked up in the County Jail yesterday, after having been released only a short time before, and an effort will  now be made to have him re-committed to the asylum for the insane at Stockton.

    Biggs is over 70 years old. He is connected with one of the best families in the county by marriage, but old age has weakened his mental facilities. He is an old inmate of the northern asylum, but was released about two years ago apparently cured.

    The other day, while in one of his tantrums, he was arrested by the local police officers, who thought he was intoxicated. When he appeared in the justice court the next day, however, he appeared to be perfectly sane and was released.

    Saturday night however, he left Tom Owen’s house where he was seen stopping, and imagining that his life was in danger, paraded up and down before the house for some hours, a heavy shotgun on his shoulder, looking for imaginary enemies, who had threatened his life, he said. The next morning he started out on the street, using and old broom for a cane. Finally he arrived at the County Jail, and went inside, saying that he wanted to see some of the prisoners. His condition was recognized by “Doc” Staley and he was locked up in a cell.

It is probable that Biggs will be taken before either Judges Mahon or Bennett tomorrow, and be examined as to his sanity, there seems to be no other way of taking care of him than by this method.

Stockton3

The Stockton California Insane Asylum where DeWitt most likely spent the remainder of his days. DeWitt passed away six months after the newspaper article was written on February 15, 1908. (photo courtesy of http://www.asylumprojects.org/index.php?title=Stockton_State_Hospital)

DeWitt Clinton Biggs was the son of David Biggs.His father married a Scotch-Native American woman named Martha “Patsy” Chisholm.

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dewitt c

DeWitt Clinton Biggs (Courtesy of James Mahar – from Album of Mary King)

A younger DeWitt on the right with wife Mary Martha Busik and most likely their son David (photo courtesy of James Mahar – print. Original from Mrs. Dorothy Biggs)

According to records, Mary Martha Busik /(Busic) was either 13 or 16 years old when she was married DeWitt, who was 35 years old. (25 February 1866, White River, Tulare, California). Although this seems young, it was not uncommon at the time.

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DeWitt on left, friend on the right. Taken approximately 1870. (Courtesy of James Mahar – Print. Possibly with partner in mining venture)

Most likely where DeWitt is buried.  (photo courtesy of Joanne. "This is an unmaintained cemetery on private lands." )

Most likely where DeWitt is buried.
(photo courtesy of Joanne. “This is an unmaintained cemetery on private lands.” )

May you rest in peace DeWitt Clinton Biggs.

So farewell my love until I return

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Joseph Bryant’s original handwriting copied from a letter he wrote to his wife Amanda. (Background embellished for historical feel).

Love letters, ship voyages – a devoted husband that never returns.
It sounds like a Nicholas Sparks book. However, it is so much more.
Our ancestors were real people with real feelings and challenges.

I came across this letter written in 1839 because of a lovely woman named Marcia Messie. She gave my grandmother dozens of pages full of priceless family history. In turn my mother copied the pages and sent them to me. I was so excited.

This information doesn’t belong tucked in a book or in a file cabinet. I feel it is meant to be shared with all of you.

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Click to enlarge

Joseph Bryant was married to Amanda Melvina Fitzalin Gault. Joseph worked on ships and was often away at sea for months at a time. I have the a copy of a letter he sent to Amanda. The family legend has it that was his the last letter he wrote before he died at sea. Although it is true he died at sea (seven days from New Orleans). Thankfully,  this was not his last letter. He died nine years later on the 9th of May 1848. (See New Orleans, Louisiana Death Record Index, 1804-1949 about Joseph Bryant.)

A merchant ship similar to the one Joseph Bryant would have sailed in the 1830s (courtesy of http://forum.woodenboat.com/printthread.php?t=80245&pp=40

A merchant ship similar to the one Joseph Bryant would have sailed in the 1830s (courtesy of http://forum.woodenboat.com/printthread.php?t=80245&pp=40

That does not take away from the heartfelt beauty shown in his handwriting. It is a testament of his loyalty and love for his family.

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Although the handwriting is beautiful it is hard to read and so my wonderful Mother-in-law helped me type it. (Question marks mean we were unsure what was said.) We tried to preserve his original punctuation. (If this version is still hard to read, scroll down to the bold print for the edited version.)

New York May 8th 1839

My Dear

Amanda I have been to the post office untill my feet are sore to finde a letter but have been disapointed every time I got your letter of the 2nd? in the two day and I wrote to you immediately but I have not had any answer from you if you have not got it you had Better see if I did not direct it to Wareham for I was in a grate hurry when I directed and I might have made a mistake and not poot an West Wareham

My dear I have been so much ingaged since I have been hear that I could not come home but I shall come as soon as I get hear again my dear I sail tomorrow for St Thomas and Chayses? and with the blessing of god I shall be back in two or three months my Dear I wrote you that I should send you some thing home but there has not been any vessel hear that was bound to Wareham direct So I will weight untill I come home my Self you wrote me you had some money By? you I will send you Some more which will be enought to last you untill I get thereI hope I have bought a grate quantity of things to take out with me for to sell out there and I hope that I shall do well on this for last voyage I made out well and What I carried? out my dear I want to see you so I cannot hardely think of going without comeing home but I shall be ablidged if you get my other letter you will h? all the particulars my dear keep up good Spirits for I hope to be with you in three months from this day god Bless your sweet? hart a my dear a how I long to see you and little Sis a amanda you must take good care but there is no need of that caution my dear I send you twenty dollar in this letter I would send you more but I do not like to send money in letters but I have two hundred that I wish you had but I dare not send it and you say you have some I hope that you will have enough to last you untill I come home my dear give my love to father and mother and mary and my most sincier thank for there kind to you and little sis and rember me to all the rest of the famely and I must conclud wishing healthe and happiness and I Remain your affectionate husband.

Joseph Bryant

PS my dear I shall wright from St Thomases but I should been more happy if I could heard from you again but there has been some mistake about it or I am shure that I should? I am shure that John he must bare a hand? get marred So fare well my love untill I  return,

JB
The type does help, but I also attempted to post an edited version here

New York May 8th 1839

My Dear

Amanda, I have been to the Post Office untill my feet are sore [trying] to find a letter but have been disapointed every time I got your letter of the (2nd? in two days .) I wrote to you immediately but I have not had any answer from you. If you have not received it you better see if I did not direct it to Wareham; for I was in a great hurry when I directed [it] and I might have made a mistake and not put West Wareham.

My dear I have been so engaged since I have been here that I could not come home.  But I shall come as soon as I get word again.  My dear I sail tomorrow for St Thomas and ? With the blessing of God I shall be back in two or three months. My Dear I wrote you that I should send you some thing home but there has not been any vessel here that was bound to Wareham directly. So, I will waight until I come home myself. You wrote me you had some money? I will send you some more which will be enough to last you until I get there. I hope I have bought a great quantity of things to take out with me  to sell out there and I hope that I shall do well.  On this last voyage I made out well with what I carried. My dear I want to see you so I cannot hardly think of going [out] without coming home. I shall be obliged if you get my other letter you will h? all the particulars. My dear keep up [the] good Spirits for I hope to be with you in three months from this day. God Bless your sweet hart, my dear how I long to see you and little Sis, oh Amanda you must take good care, but there is no need of that caution my dear. I send you twenty dollar[s] in this letter. I would send you more but I do not like to send money in letters. I [do] have two hundred that I wish you had but I dare not send it. You say you have some [so] I hope that you will have enough to last you until I come home. My dear give my love to Father and mother and Mary and my most sincere thanks for theire kind[ness] to you and little Sis. Rember me for all the rest of the family. I must conclude [by] wishing health and happiness. I remain your affectionate husband.

Joseph Bryant

PS my dear I shall write from St Thomas but I should [have] been more happy if I could [have heard] from you again. There has been some mistake about it or I am sure that I should? I am shure that John he must bare a hand? get married So fare well my love until I  return

JB

I do not know how he died, or what he sold on the ship. I do know that he loved his wife.
That’s all that matters.