One Mystery Finally Solved!

During my research I have come across several conflicting stories about  Joe’s early life. Several of these odd-ball tales came out of the woodwork in various obituaries but a handful surfaced while he was still alive.  The range of stories are as follows:

• Joe was born in 1848 in Boston
• He was born in Illinois
• His family was attacked by Indians while traveling to California
• Joe grew up in California amid the 1849 Gold Rush
• As a young boy the family moved to Wisconsin where his father was an Indian trader
• While living in Wisconsin his parents allowed him to live with some nearby Indians

Most of these can be seen as a stretch of the truth, a minor error in time, or as with the Illinois reference the family probably traveled through the state on their way to Wisconsin. But the California connections always confused me. There was no evidence that anyone, especially Joe’s parents, ever made it out to California. Where did those links come from?

"Washington Street, Sonora, Tuolomne County from the City Hotel," Lawrence & Houseworth, publisher, 1866, albumen print, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C., LOT 3544-45, no. 959.

They came from Joe’s maternal grandfather, Bevier Depuy! Traveling nearly 3000 miles from Sullivan County, New York to northern California in late 1849 or early 1850, this blacksmith tried his hand at mining in the area of Sonora, Tuolumne, California. The 59 year-old saw opportunity and took a chance, just like the tens of thousands of other people from around the world. Like most men who sought easy riches in gold, Bevier probably didn’t have much success and soon returned to blacksmithing. Rather than return to New York, he decided to make a life with his second wife and three children amongst the gold fields. He remained in town of Shaws Flat outside of Sonora until his death in 1865.

While there is still more research to be done to expand on Bevier’s life and adventures, the 1849 Gold Rush connection has been solved!

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I LOVE Google Books!!!

I am continually amazed at what I can find online. As a Gen-Xer who grew up with a TRS-80 with cassette tape “programs” operating on a ludicrously small amount of RAM, and who has worked with computers since the late 80s, I am still blown away by the speed in which technology moves.

Books and journals that I never knew existed or that I would have to squint at in a reference library microfiche reader suddenly appear clearly on my computer at midnight or 6 o’clock in the morning.

Through the wonder of Google Books (and Google Scholar) I have found fabulous public domain historic references. In my ongoing search for Joe I have downloaded a book about the history of Paris, Maine to discover more about Joe’s Revolutionary War grandfather; a comprehensive look at the early years of Hudson and St. Croix County, Wisconsin; I can get a sense of the open frontier of Sauk Rapids, Minnesota when Joe’s father moved the family around 1856; and I can better understand the motivations to build Fort Totten on Devil’s Lake in the Dakota Territory (North Dakota) where Joe’s step-father worked in the 1880s. I can even find out what the weather was like on a given month in 1888 at Fort Totten by downloading monthly weather reviews from the US Army Signal Corp!

Wow! Who knew?!

No matter the topic you are researching, take the time to search Google Books, you just might be able to download a long-saught-after old book or find a newer book at your nearby library!

** For those of you who will scoff at my use of Wikipedia links, I am only using them as a general informational source for my readers, not for real research. Don’t worry, Wikipedia footnotes will not be found in my documentation. **