I have had a busy last few months with a planned trip to California and then an unplanned trip to North Dakota. The purpose of our California trip was to attend our 40th high school reunion and a cruise with some of our high school friends. The trip to North Dakota was to attend the funeral of my uncle. On our way home from our high school reunion, we made a side trip to the San Jose, California area and went on a "geo-hunt" to find several of the landmarks that are significant in the history of the Frampton Irish. So the theme of this blog is the "Californians."
Settlement in Frampton Township started in 1816 and the Irish kept steadily arriving through the 1830s. There was some out migration by a few families that only stayed long enough to develop their farm and perhaps get out with a few dollars/pounds in their pockets. However, there would not be a significant out migration until around 1840, and that movement would influence many others to follow to California. But the first journey to California would be a somewhat "leap-frog" movement involving two other locations first.
The first out migration to be made from Frampton was to Upper Canada (Ontario) to an area around today’s Toronto. James Gugins and Jane Ann Kell had lived in Ste. Marie de Beauce from their marriage in 1819 to around 1830. Jane Ann Kell was the daughter of Frampton residents Thomas Kell and Ann Colpitts. Around 1830 they moved to a place called Tossoronto in Simcoe County in Upper Canada (Ontario). So as of that time, friends and relatives of Frampton settlers were now living in Ontario. This couple may have ultimately been the first in a chain migration to the area around Toronto.
The next significant out migration was in 1840. Margaret Murphy (daughter of Martin Murphy) was married to Thomas Kell, Jr. in 1828. One source says that Thomas Kell, Jr. and his family went to a place near Toronto and were there for two years. One of their children (Martin Kell) was reportedly born in Ontario in 1840. So it makes sense that the first place in Ontario that they went to was probably where his sister Jane Ann Kell lived with her husband James Gugins. Thomas Kell, Jr.’s youngest brother George Kell also made this journey and would ultimately make his home in Scott Township, Ontario. Another Frampton Irish family, Kieran Horan and Winnifred Daly also went to Ontario in about 1840 and settled in Albion Township of Peel County.
In 1841, Martin Murphy and his family left Frampton for an area in Ontario. It seems that their first stop must have been the area around Toronto where his daughter was residing. Traveling with the Martin Murphy group also were James Enright, Thomas Enright, Mary Enright, William Martin, Dennis Martin, Patrick Martin, James Miller, John Sullivan, Robert Sullivan, Mary Sullivan, and Michael Sullivan.
In 1836, the U.S. Congress passed a bill to make the "Platte Purchase." The "Platte Purchase" was land bought from the Sac and Fox Indians. The price paid was $2,500 in cash, an interpreter, a blacksmith and a grindstone. The lands purchased were in Missouri and bounded on the west by the Missouri River and on the north by the boundary with what would become Iowa. This added to Missouri an area the size of the State of Delaware and the land was known to be extraordinarily fertile. The Congress intended to open these lands to white settlers after the Indians had been removed. Apparently word spread to many parts of North America about the possibility of taking up such fertile lands at a reasonable cost. It was a "land rush" that predated the famous Oklahoma land rush by sixty years. Platte soon became the second most populous county in Missouri (second only to St. Louis). The area of the "Platte Purchase" includes the following counties: Atchinson, Nodaway, Holt, Andrew, Buchanan, and Platte. The major city of the area would become St. Joseph, Missouri.
Apparently word of the rich lands of the "Platte Purchase" reached all the way to Canada. Soon the Martin Murphy group would leave Ontario (probably in late 1841) and travel to Atchinson County, Missouri and found a community called "Irish Grove" near the town of Tarkio. There is some indication that the Martin Murphy, Jr. family and the Thomas Kell, Jr. family would not follow to Holt County until 1842. There is also indication that the Patrick Neville and Catherine Kelly family were also present as three of there children, Martin, Anna, and Michael were born in Tarkio, Missouri in 1841, 1842 and 1847, respectively. However, this family would return to Frampton.
By the time the Martin Murphy group arrived in "Platte" much of the land was already taken up and it sounds as if conditions were somewhat crowded. But the "Platte" area (especially St. Joseph) was becoming the gateway to the west with the start of the Oregon Trail. There was a great deal of information available about what might lie beyond the great plains. Martin Murphy and his group joined a wagon train in 1844 to ultimately go to California. His group would be the first to successfully take wagons over the Sierra Nevada mountains into California. Perhaps all of "Irish Grove" left in this wagon train except the Thomas Kell family and the Enrights.
To make a long story short, the Martin Murphy party arrived in California December 13, 1844. They somehow got word (maybe by pony express) to the Kells and Enrights about California. The Thomas Kell party with the Enrights in tow, left Missouri by a wagon train that was sixty wagons strong on May 11, 1846 and arrived at Martin Murphy, Jr’s. home on the Consumnes River (near Sacramento) on October 11, 1846.
The great California "gold rush" occurred in 1849 and California became a state in 1850. New routes to California would be developed for shipping around Cape Horn and a short cut across the Isthmus of Panama and then by ship up the Pacific coast to San Francisco. The Murphys would do well with the grants of land they received from the Mexican government that were later honored by the U.S. when California became a state. The produce and livestock from their "ranchos" would feed many miners in the gold fields. There "ranchos" were in the Santa Clara (San Jose) area of California. Dennis Martin would acquire a rather large land grant that included forests of redwood trees. He built a sawmill and would become prosperous providing lumber for building the houses in the growing city of San Francisco.
In 1849, Martin Murphy’s daughter Johannah Murphy Fitzgerald’s husband Patrick Fitzgerald died in Frampton. In 1851, Martin Murphy sent his son Bernard Murphy back to Frampton to bring his daughter Johannah and her child back to California. Bernard traveled by ship via the Isthmus of Panama. One can only imagine the glorious stories Bernard must have told the people of Frampton about their great adventure across a continent and all about the verdant and rich lands of California. He probably added that it never snows in San Jose. He may have mentioned that Dennis Martin had plenty of jobs for everyone too. Before departing for California, Bernard Murphy married Catherine O’Toole. So the "Fitzgerald party" left Frampton in 1851. The party included Johannah Murphy Fitzgerald and her eight children, Bernard Murphy and his new bride Catherine O’Toole, Catherine’ brothers Willam O’Toole and Lawrence O’Toole, John Franklin, James and John Fitzgerald (sons of Walter Fitzgerald and Bridget Whelan), and John Sinnott and Elizabeth Bulger and their children. But this time they did not travel by covered wagon. Rather they went by ship to the Isthmus of Panama and boarded the ship Oregon and they sailed up the Pacific coast, arriving in San Francisco on June 19, 1851. The Fitzgeralds and the O’Tooles settled on farms in Gilroy, California. The Sinnotts lived closer to their Murphy relatives in the San Jose area. John Franklin moved to the settlement that would become known as Searsville. He probably first worked for Dennis Martin at his saw mill.
Apparently a group left for California later that year. As Patrick Sullivan and Bridget Madigan and their family reportedly arrived in San Francisco on January 2, 1852. Also in this party were probably Bridget’s parents Daniel Madigan and his wife Ann Henley and their daughter Mary Madigan and their daughter Catherine Madigan and her husband Andrew Redmond and their family, Thomas Nash, Michael Walsh and Elizabeth Martin and their family, Patrick Duff, Mary Doyle Hennessy, Walter Fitzgerald and Bridget Whelan and their family, and Robert Kell and Rosanna Burton and their family. The Sullivans settled in San Jose Township. The Madigans settled in the Santa Clara area. Thomas Nash went to San Ramon, California. The Walshs went to the Searsville/Woodside area where they were near Elizabeth’s father William Martin and brother Dennis Martin. Patrick Duff and Mary Doyle Hennessy were married at St. Denis church (founded by Dennis Martin) in Searsville and they resided in that area. The Fitzgeralds joined their family members in Gilroy. Likewise, the Kells did the same in San Jose.
The out migration to California was not yet finished. James O’Connor (brother of my great great grandmother) and Mary Kell and their family left Frampton for California in 1853 and they went to Gilroy. Clement Murphy and Mary O’Toole and their family went to Gilroy in 1855. John, Eliza, Henry, and John O’Toole would all be in Gilroy by the 1860 U.S. Census. In 1856, John Mills went to Searsville, California where he and John Franklin bought some land from Dennis Martin. John R. Doyle also went to Searsville in 1856 and appeared in the 1860 U.S. census in the household of fellow Frampton Irish Maurice Doyle in San Mateo County. John Doyle returned to Frampton in 1862 where he would operate the store for many years, perhaps telling the tales of his adventures in California. Patrick Lawlor was in Searsville in the 1860 U.S. Census. Patrick Jordan was in the Santa Clara area by 1869 and was later joined by his brothers Moses and John Jordan. Nicholas Devereux was in the Santa Clara area by 1870. Michael Duff was in the San Mateo area by 1871 where he was partners with Murtha Doyle in a general merchandise store in Menlo Park.
So the Frampton Irish contributed greatly to the Irish population of the San Francisco bay area. There may have been other Frampton Irish in the area I have yet to identify. They would certainly make a mark on the history of the area. The Murphy family would be millionaires by the 1880s owning ranchos that stretched from the San Francisco bay south to San Luis Obispo. They were the benefactors of Santa Clara University. Several Murphy men served in elected offices at the local and state level. Unfortunately, Dennis Martin’s fortunes in California were not sustained. There were problems with the title to some of his lands that originated as Mexican grants. Around 1859, the court ruled that the 1,500 acres of land that held his mills, orchards, barns, and the St. Denis church were not his and the Supreme Court of California issued a writ of ejectment. Dennis Martin’s lands and the lands where the town of Searsville were situated where Stanford University stands today. In 1876, Leland Stanford began acquiring and blocking up about 8,000 acres and a reservoir would be constructed in 1891 that would inundate the town of Searsville.
So the San Mateo and Santa Clara County areas of California are rich in the history of the Frampton Irish. In our "geo-hunt" we found several monuments that commemorate this history. California State Historic Monument #338 is the Mission Santa Clara. It sits on the campus of Santa Clara University and was undoubtedly the site of many baptisms, weddings and burials of the Frampton Irish. The monument narrative is as follows:
Santa Clara, the first mission to honor a woman, Clare of Assisi, as its patron saint, was founded nearby on the Guadalupe River on January 12, 1777. It once had the largest Indian population of any California mission. Floods and earthquake led to successive relocations. Its fifth church was dedicated on this site in 1825. In 1851 Santa Clara College was established in the old mission buildings.
Finding the monument for St. Denis church and cemetery was not so easy. It was found along Sand Hill Rd. near a country club parking lot just north of the boundary of Stanford University. I might not have found it if not for a man parked along the parking lot who was looking up into the bushes. I looked at what he was looking at and there was the monument. The narrative is as follows:
One half mile south of this site stood the first church in San Mateo County dedicated in 1853 by Catholic Archbishop Joseph S. Alemany. He named it after St. Denis to honor the founder, Denis Martin, pioneer lumberman and farmer, who also established a cemetery nearby. Worshippers knelt here until the 1870s, when a church was erected in Menlo Park. This plaque was erected by Stanford University in cooperation with the San Mateo Historical Association and the Church of the Nativity, Menlo Park.
Not far from the St. Denis monument on the way to Woodside was California State Historic Monument #474, site of the former village of Searsville. The narrative is as follows:
Here stood the lumberman’s village of Searsville whose first settler, John Sears, came in 1854. Across the road westerly from this monument stood a hotel, the school, store, blacksmith shop and dwellings more to the southeast, some on the site of the present lake and others overlooking it. Buildings were removed in 1891, as water rose behind the new dam.
Unfortunately, there is no mention that much of Searsville’s early population were Irish people who came from Frampton, Quebec. In fact, Dennis Martin was residing in the area of Searsville as early as 1846, eight years before John Sears.
There are at least three California State Monuments that commemorate the Murphy family. A monument (#680, Murphy’s Ranch) is located near the site of Martin Murphy, Jr’s. first home along the Consumnes River near Stockton, California. Another monument (#275 Murphys) commemorates a small town that grew up around a store in the gold country that was owned by the Murphy brothers. The third monument (#644, Martin Murphy home and estate) is found in Sunnyvale, California (near San Jose). It is located in the Martin Murphy, Jr. Historic Park and the narrative is as follows:
Martin Murphy, Jr. arrived in California with his family in 1844 in the first wagon train to cross the Sierra Nevada. The founder of Sunnyvale, he constructed here his prefabricated lumber house, brought around the Horn in 1849. Members of the Murphy family lived here continuously until 1953, when the property was acquired by the City of Sunnyvale. The house was destroyed by fire in 1961. In Martin Murphy, Jr. historic park.
But perhaps the best monument to the legacy of the Murphys and the Frampton Irish that moved to California is the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum. The museum building’s facade is designed to replicate the look of the home that Martin Murphy, Jr. had built in 1849. It contains exhibits and artifacts of the Murphy family. It also tells the story of the history of Sunnyvale. We enjoyed a wonderful tour conducted for us by the association president. If you are interested in more information about this museum, see their website at http://www.heritageparkmuseum.org Also I found out that a DVD production entitled Forgotten Journey, The Stephens, Townsend, Murphy Saga is available at www.forgottenjourneyprod.com That website has some informative inofrmation about the Murphy journey and the DVD is available through the site.