Historical Notes 1866-1872

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The Civil War was over and Margaret Hays with her four children had returned to Jackson County to try to take up their lives on the farm that she and Upton had lived on and she had been forced to abandon in the fall of 1863. There was nothing left of the farm, the houses and outbuildings, even the fences had been torn down or carried away and their young orchard destroyed. It might have been unendurable but the neighbors, friends and relatives welcomed her back and saw that she was helped and supported, even though some had suffered as much as she had. She was 30 years old and a widow. Her son John was 12 years old and had to take on the man’s role, plowing with a borrowed team of oxen that were too large for him to handle alone. The neighborhood men built her a log cabin on the foundation of her old kitchen, a very small place for a family of five.

The probate of Upton Hays’ estate was a long drawn out affair which involved a lawsuit and was not settled until 1872. Samuel Hays, Upton’s brother, who owned the adjacent farm, had taken over part of the farm and sold off some of the property. Margaret hoped that by staying in Jackson county she would be able to protect her children’s interest in Upton’s estate. She wanted to join her mother in Mariposa county, California but still had her life interest in the dower land which had been conferred on her at the time of her marriage in 1852.

Life was difficult during the Reconstruction years. As John plowed and took care of the heavy work on the farm, and sometimes hired out to other farmers, Margaret and her daughters put in a garden to feed the family and one summer the older girls sold milk and butter, which clothed the family. Fortunately the farm was large enough to support the family, although she had to borrow money which took her several years to pay off. Taxes were very high on her land and she felt that she was still being punished for her husband’s actions as a Confederate officer during the Civil War. Margaret managed the farm and baked and sold cakes and pies for the neighborhood.

Confederate supporters , like Margaret’s Aunt and Uncle, Judge James Yager and Mary Berry Yager, were a great deal poorer after the end of the Civil War. The Yagers had $11,000 in property and $8000 personal estate in 1860. In 1870 they claimed no property and had a personal estate of $500. In contrast to Judge Yager, John B. Wornall who was a neighbor of Margaret Hays, had , in 1860, property worth $26,000 and personal estate of $9990. In 1870 he had property worth $250,000 and personal estate of $10,000. His brick mansion, built before the war, was not damaged and is now a museum owned by the Jackson county Historical Society.

Margaret Hays’, listed under Upton Hays in 1860, had $7531 in property and $2100 person estate, then in 1870 she claimed no property and had $500 personal estate. Upton’s brother, Amazon Hays, who claimed $4000 and $2000 in 1860, had $800 and $2000 in 1870. Although he did not fight for the Confederacy, he was exiled from Jackson County in 1863. Linville Hays, another brother, who had been exiled out of the state in 1863 then joined the Confederate Army in 1864, claimed $5460 and $6000 in 1860, then in 1870 he claimed only $383 and $386. On the other hand, Samuel Hays, another brother, claimed $4000 and $4000 in 1860. He was not exiled during the war and farmed Margaret’s land during the war. In 1870 he claimed $30,000 and $1200.

In the late 1860’s plans were made for a Confederate cemetery and in 1871 Upton Hays’ remains were brought from Newton Co., Missouri and interred there along with many of Jackson County’s fallen Confederate soldiers. His grave, marked with a small headstone bearing his name, is near the base of the Confederate Monument in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Samuel Hays died in 1872 and there was a partial settlement of Upton Hays’ estate. Margaret received some money from the settlement and bought tickets for her family on a housekeeping car, a boxcar outfitted with a stove and sleeping accommodations, for California. She went to live with her mother and brother, Andrew Jackson Watts, on the ranch at Pea Ridge, Mariposa County. In 1873, her oldest daughter, Mary Elizabeth married Thomas Lee Moutrey and the young couple moved to a farm near Plainsburg, Merced County. Margaret, her mother, brothers and her other children moved to Tulare County, California about that time and homesteaded a farm on the edge of Tulare Lake, now in Kings County near where her Uncle Dick (Richard C.) Berry had bought a farm in 1864 on Mussel Slough.

In 1876, Margaret’s mother Elizabeth Berry Watts died and in 1877 she married William B. Overstreet, an acquaintance from Missouri. Her children married; Elfleda to James Kimble Apperson in 1878, Jane Upton to Joel Andrew Whiteside in 1881 and John Nathan to Lillie B. Mills in 1882 and after her death to Mary Jeanette Smally in 1907.

Claude Colwell Overstreet born in California in 1878 married Grace Shirley Huston.

Relatives who had moved to or came with Margaret to California or in the following years were:

Richard C. Berry and his second wife, Rebecca Hamilton, bought a farm at nearby Mussel Slough in 1865.

John S. Watts, John S. Watts, Jr., Cleon Bolivar Watts, Dewitt Clinton Watts and probably Jesse Yocum came by wagon train to California in 1849. Jesse Yocum returned to Missouri. John S. Watts, Jr. remained in California until he moved to Nevada then Oregon and onto Utah about 1883. Cleon Bolivar Watts bought a farm near Uncle Dick Berry on Mussel Slough then moved to Utah around 1890. Dewitt Clinton Watts remained in California then moved to Utah about 1873. Andrew Jackson Watts remained in California and had a farm near Margaret in Kings Co.

Rev. Cornelius Yager
, Elizabeth Watts cousin and brother-in-law, and his children migrated to California in 1852 and lived in Contra Costa Co. in 1860 and later in Fresno, Fresno County, California.

Elizabeth Ewing Berry Yocum Watts migrated to California by wagon train in 1852.

Upton’s nephew Alfred Boone Hays. He and his wife, Martha S. Collins, a niece of Upton’s, migrated in about 1878 and had a farm nearby in Lemoore Township.

Amazon Scholl Hays, Upton’s nephew, may have lived with Margaret and William Overstreet before settling in Fresno, Fresno Co., California sometime after 1880.

James C. McMurtry, Upton’s nephew and his wife, Sarah Anna Berry, Margaret’s cousin, lived in Modoc Co. for a while (1880), possibly with cousin Preston Hays, then moved their family to Tollhouse, Fresno Co., California before 1900.

Nancy Berry Craghead , Margaret’s cousin, moved to Academy, Fresno Co., California with husband James W. Craghead in about 1880.

Matthew Berry Yocum, Margaret’s nephew , lived in Hanford, Kings County in 1880.

Dewitt Clinton Watts, Margaret’s brother, had moved to Juab Co., Utah before 1880 and two of his children, Cora Alice and John H. Watts came to live with her in the late 1890’s.

Van, Wade and Preston Hays, Upton’s cousins, migrated to California before 1860. They lived in Contra Costa Co., Modoc Co. and Alameda Co.

Agnes McMurtry, Upton’s niece, moved to Kings Co., California after her mother’s death and married Peter Louis Utz in 1891. Louis Utz had lived on the Hays’ farm in Missouri and had followed the family to California.

Simeon Francis Gashwiler, Margaret’s cousin, had migrated to San Francisco, California by 1880.

William T. Burton, Margaret’s cousin, had migrated to California in the late 1850’s and lived with the Watts in Mariposa.

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Letters Section 1866-1872
Read a letter by clicking on a letter number in the history, or in index to the right.
To read an Historical Notes footnote click on designated number.

Click to read:

Letters 71-78:

Letters 79-85:

INDEX of Letters & Correspondents from 1866 - 1872
People Index