Historical Notes 1866-1872
can be read in full from the index at the right. (The Letters
and their footnotes, and Index are up. People Index page is
currently under construction.)
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
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
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
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
in the dower land which had been conferred on her at the time of her marriage
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
(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
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.
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
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.
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
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
Amazon Scholl Hays, Upton’s nephew, may have lived with Margaret
and William Overstreet before settling in Fresno, Fresno Co., California
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
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.