Matthew Berry Yocum (born 25 April 1847, died after 1920) travelled from Cass County, Missouri to California after his graduation from McGee College.  His father, Matthew Yocum,was a son of Elizabeth Ewing Berry Yocum Watts and his mother was Martha Moore Yocum.  He seems to have gone back to Missouri after this journey,but returned to California and spent the remainder of his life there, first in Hanford, Kings Co., near his Aunt Margaret Hays Overstreet and later as a traveling salesman,spending his last years in San Francisco. This diary and the accompanying letters by his relatives were found among the papers of Margaret Hays Overstreet.

Further History:
Berry Yocum was a nephew of Margaret Watts Hays and a grandson of Elizabeth Berry Watts. Elizabeth Watts married her first husband, Thomas C. Yocum, in Washington Co., Kentucky in 1814. They had three known children, Berry R. Yocum, Matthew Yocum and Jesse Yocum. Matthew Yocum married Martha Thurman Moore in Jackson Co., Missouri in 1842. Berry’s brother, Travis G. Yocum was born in 1844 and Berry was born in 1847. Matthew Yocum died about the time when Berry was born. Martha married Clayton Bane in 1848, and Clayton raised the two boys as his own sons. The Banes had five children; Louisa Elizabeth born in 1849, John C. Bane born in 1858, William S. Bane born in 1862, Sterling Price Bane born in 1864 and Edith B. Bane born in 1867.

Clayton Bane was well on his way to becoming a prosperous farmer when the Civil War began in 1861. The Bane farm was near Belton, Cass Co., Missouri and conflicts between Unionists and Confederates caused turmoil and destruction during the Civil War years. Berry's brother Travis joined the Confederate Army and was killed in the Battle of Corinth, Mississippi in 1861. The family had to leave the farm in about 1863 and while they were gone the houses were vandalized and destroyed and all the fruit trees were taken away to Kansas. Clayton, who had not been involved in the rebellion, joined the Confederate Army and did not return to the farm until 1866. Times were very difficult as the family tried to rebuild and produce enough food to survive. Most of the returning people put up small log cabins for their families while they struggled to produce crops. Through hard work Clayton was able to regain some measure of affluence and was able to send Berry to McGee College.

Berry's trip to California in 1872 is detailed in the Diary below,
but there is little information about his later life. It seems he returned to Missouri after visiting his Grandmother Watts and brought back the funds that Margaret Watts Hays used to take her family to California. He worked in the Silver mines in Alta, Utah Territory and then returned to California where he lived in Hanford, Kings Co. near his Aunt Margaret Hays Overstreet. where he worked as a farmer and lived in a hotel. He became a traveling salesman and my grandmother remembered him visiting the farm in Merced Co., California. She described him as a “dapper little man” who “looked like a walking jewelry store”. In 1920, at the age of 72,  he was living in San Francisco, California, working as a salesman in a department store.


The Diary: M. B. Yocum

High Blue

Cass Co.Mo.

You art so near and yet so far!              April 23,1872

                                                     Kansas City

I have my ticket to San Francisco and we start at 11 o'clock. Now we drive. Nothing to be seen on this part of the road.

Wednesday 24th  We now take breakfast in Hamberg, Mo. Near the Iowa line, pass through the western part of Iowa to Omaha where we take dinner and change cars. Here we meet with a great many going through to S.F. both ladies and gentlemen. Here we strike our first Indians, Jackson about 100 miles west of Omaha. About 20 Pawnees with their bows and arrows. Squaws with their pawpusies strapped across their backs, very hard looking creatures. The night passed off very pleasantly, we saw nothing of course to amount to anything in the night, slept most of the time.

Thursday 25th  McPherson 277m  We see our first antelope and prarie dogs. I can see the dogs and owls sitting on the same mounds often. They will sit up there in 10 steps of the train and it running. Sidney 414 miles  we came to snow drifts and nice green grass growing by the side of it that stock could live nicily. 423 miles Brownson we are now getting into the pine and cedar on the bluffs of the north Platt River. I now discover the Rocky Mountains at Archer 508 miles. From here they look as I expected to see them. Thursday night we passed Sherman the summit of the R.M.

Friday Morning 26th  We are now decending the R.M. will soon be to Green River. We can now see antelope by the thousands, hird after hird with hundreds in a hird. Nothing else to be seen except sage brush and mountains. We left the P. dogs when we left the planes. From Green River we meet the Chinus men every 6 miles working on the road. They are a hard looking set to be called humans with their broad bottom shoes & hats like baskets (or more so). At Piedmont 937 miles we saw a band of Indians coming down out of the mountains regular Indian style with their ponies packed. Squaws riding on the packs draging their tent poles on behind. It is guite comical to see them. We are now getting down into the valies of Utah where the snow is drifted from 1 to 30 feet deep and the grass green right by and a variety of flowers though wild they are very pretty. After leaving the barren planes and "snow capped mountains" it seems that new life has entered into the hearts of all and when the mighty iron horse ceases to pull with all this grandeur, velscity, and power, they are out gathering bouguets and beholding the beauties of nature.

We are now beholding the beautiful scenery between Omaha and Salt Lake. The hanging rocks, thousands in fact high, hanging over the track. It is grand and pecular but looks very dangerous, next comes the echo canyon which is delightful, but I dont fancy going through so many tunnels. Then comes the Devils slide which is a strange looking sight, two thin rocks about four feet apart setting on edge running for thousands of feet up the side of the mountain on the south. The scenery is beautiful now, I can look off to my right and see it snowing jest on the mountain top and the sum shining warm and nice where we are. Men plowing & sowing, trees in bloom.  I (or even a good writer) might attempt to describe the grandeur of the scenery in this part but they would fail to do so.

I am now happy to say we are driving swiftly on the last half of the road. We passed the 1000 mile tree some time ago and are now gliding along by the side of the great Salt Lake, 40 miles north of Salt Lake City. This is 6 oclock Friday.

Saturday morning 27th  We are now in Nevada in the Humbolt Mountains, nothing very grand as yet. At Elco we saw quite a number of Indians.

9 oclock Sat. mor. the scenery is quite good here, high mountains whose tops tower toward the heavens & covered with snow & ever greens (pine and cedar trees), the rocks are very pecular, all kins colors, shapes, & sizes.  12 oclock Sat. brings us into the hot springs country. We can see the smoke boiling up on each side of the road hundreds of feet high from the looks of them it seems as though the shell of this our old foot stool is very thin in this part.

Sunday morning 28th  We are now winding our way through the Sierra Nevada mountains. There are very heavy pineries through this part & very steep mountains. Snow is from 1 to 40 feet deep, snow shed over most of the road which makes it very disagreeable on account of not seeing much. You can see two rivers, one running west and another coming into it from the southwest & the former has a greenish cast, the latter a yelloish, they look as though they are little branches although said to be considerable streams. It is such an enormous distance down to them, makes them look so small. There is just room enough on the side of the mountain for the track.  If the train was to happen to run off it would go for thousands of feet which is almost perpindicular. It looks very dangerous as well as very grand. I am very happy to say we are at last in to the vally of California which extends to Sacramento, the land is level and nice through here but not very rich.

We are now in sight of Sacramento, every one is delighted. The flower gardins so very nice. Wheat and oats heading out and everything looks green and nice. We stopped but a short time in Sacramento. We then started for San Francisco. I concluded to stop at Stocton for a day or two. I stayed there till Monday evening. Enjoyed myself very much, drove out Monday with the propreator of the hotel who was acquainted. Stocton is a gay place of about 10,000 in habitants. We drove over most of the nicest streets in south town, then we drove over to the lunatic assilum which has the finest grounds that I ever saw, the finest shrubry, nicest flowers, most fruit and the greatest varieties of all. Fig trees, century plants which is the greatest curosity I ever saw, palm trees, peper trees & everything that could be thought of.  Then we drove over to the city Garden which is in the South West town which is beautiful.  There are some beautiful residences in this place. I am delighted with the flowers which everyone seems to take great pride in growing in their yards and gardens. I like the country close around this place better than anywhere I have seen as yet, but havent seen much.

The court house square, which has about 4 acres in it, is perfectly splendid. They keep a man in there whose business is to mow and keep things in order. There is an artesian well in the yard which is said to be 180 feet deep, it is the finest one I ever saw. It is quite a curiosity to me to see the water boiling up and the cause of which not being visable and then to see the Gold fish swimming around in the clear water is delightful. Cactus growing from six to ten feet high.

I have a stop over ticket and will not go on to San Francisco for a while, will leave this place for Mariposa this evening at 7 oclock. I stay tonight in Merced about 60 miles southeast of Stocton, thence to Mariposa about 55 miles east by stage. A great portion of the way up and down mountains, a fearful rough road. I reached Mariposa about 4 oclock in the evening Tuesday. Then I had to go about 7 miles south to get to my Grandmothers whom I hadnt seen since I was three years old. I got there about sundown, of course Grandma didnt know me. My uncle knew me who left the same time Grandma did and he didnt know I had any idea I was coming to California. He said he knew me by my eyes. I have been here ever since with my relatives.

Today that is May 7 my Uncle & I went out prospecting for gold, we found some specimins. My first mining. We visited some Indian camps & an Indian grave yard which was quite a curiosity to see so many beads of different colors & sizes all scattered on the graves. I picked up several, could have picked up half a bushel.

May 19  Attended a Methodist meeting, there is a vast difference between the customs of our state and California. 

May 20  I start on a visit to the great Yosemity Vallie which is about 50 miles from Mariposa, right through the mountains. The first day I only travelled 25 miles beyond Mar., I was alone.  The next morning, 21th, I got into the halfway house and they told me there was a party of 14 consisting of Ladies and gentlemen 2 hours ahead accompanied by two guides and if I could overtake them before I reached the snow I was all right but if I didnt it was dangerous for the snow was melting very fast and the trail would be very hard to follow. However I concluded to risk it and struck out about 5 miles from the halfway house.

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Read letters to Berry Yocum

Diary of a Train Journey 1872