William Ross

Losson Ross Biography

A short biography of Losson Ross, early in his life.
Date: 0 0, 1880

Ross, Losson, Whose portrait appears in this work, was born in Floyd County, Indiana, July 22, 1828. When quite young he, with his parents, moved to Harrison Co., Indiana, where he recieved his education. In 1849 he went to Louisiana, where he remained until the spring of 1850, when he moved, with his parents, to Van Buren Co, Iowa, and there joined a party, on April 5th, and started across the plains for California, arriving at Placerville September 14th, 1850, and carried on in mining for two years, after which he was engaged with Bradley, Burden and Co., which was organized for the purpose of conveying water from the Cosummes river into the dry diggings, to facilitate mining. Here he was engaged for about three years, when he opened up a general merchandise store in Coon Hollow, which business he followed two years. In February, 1857, he came to this county and settled on his present estate, consisting of three hundred acres, where he has since resided. On Sept. 4, 1853, he married, on Clear Creek, El Dorato County, Miss Synda Weeks. She was born May 15, 1833, a native of Beaver Co., Pennsylvania. By this union they have seven children: William D., born in Coon Hollow, El Dorado County, June 30, 1854; Frank, born June 7, 1857; Kemp, Aug. 28,1859; Irvin, December 3, 1861; George, January 10, 1866; Benjamin December 13, 1868; Anna Ella, November 21, 1875.

Losson Ross

A biography on Losson Ross which includes history on the father, William Ross, as well, also a detailed description of the years between leaving Iowa in 1850, and settling in Sonoma county in 1857, with a list of Losson's children, who they married, a
Date: 0 0, 1911

The roll call of pioneer settlers in California shows that the ranks are being gradually depleted, a fact that was brought forcibly to mind when it was announced that Losson Ross had passed away on July 20, 1908. His death closed a career of distinct usefulness in the community with which he had lived for fifty-four years, no one being more highly esteemed or respected in the vicinity of Forestville than was he.

The Ross family originated in the south, William Ross, the father being a native of Tennessee, but when he was quite a young child he was taken by his parents to Indiana, and it was there that he was educated and grew to manhood years on his father's farm. Not only did he become proficient in agriculture, but he also equiped himself in three other lines, gun-making, blacksmithing, and carriage-making, and in Harrison Co., Ind., he established a wagon-making shop that he maintained until the year 1849. He then removed to Iowa and continued working at his trade in Bonaparte for the following five years.

In the meantime two of his sons, Losson and James L., had come to California, and in 1855 he joined them in Placerville, where he continued for two years, at the end of that time coming to Analy township, Sonoma county, and locating on a ranch of one hundred and sixty acres that his two sons mentioned had purchased and deeded to him. This was his home for almost twenty years, or until his death in 1876, when seventy-two old. His first vote was cast for a Whig candidate, and he continued to cast his ballot for the candidates of this party until the formation of the Republican party, which he supported as enthusiastically as he had its predecessor. Personally he was a man of high principles, and throughout his mature years he had been a member and active worker in the Methodist Episcopal Church.

He had a hardy co-laborer and sympathizer in his wife, who before her marriage was Sarah Kay, a native of Virginia, and who died in Analy township at the age of eighty-four years. In her relegious affiliation she was a member of the Adventist Church.

A family of nine children was born to William Ross and his wife, eight becoming citizens of California, but of these only three are now living, as follows: James L., a rancher in Analy township; Jesse, a rancher in San Benito county; and W. T., who owns a ranch in Sonoma county.

Losson Ross was born July 22, 1828, in New Albany, near Corydon, Harrison county Ind., and as a boy he attended the district school near his birthplace. When not in school, he found occupation in his father's wagon-shop, and under his father he learned the wagon and carriage-maker's trade.

After spending a year in Lousiana, he removed with his parents to Bonaparte, Iowa, remaining there until April 5, 1850, when with his brother James L., he set out on the overland journey with ox-teams. The Carson river was reached after a tire-some journey of six months, during which experience he and his wife walked all of the way, with the single exception of one day, when he was ill. When the brothers reached their final destination, the financial outlook was not the brightest, the total sum of their wealth being $1, each one having fifty cents. Their honest appearence was undoubtedly the means of their obtaining credit with which to make the first payment on a claim to a man who was ill and wanted to sell out, in order to return home. This he was enabled to do with the $15 which they paid him for the claim. Their efforts as miners were very satisfactory until the rainy season overtook them, after which they went on to a camp at Diamond Springs.

Some time later, Losson Ross became superintendant of an enterprise to convey water from the Consumne river to the dry diggings, and at that same time advancing some of his personal means to assist the enterprise. After a trail of two and a-half years, the enterprise failed, and Mr. Ross lost not only his wages, but also the money he had invested in the scheme.

Still having faith in the enterprise, however, when a new company was formed he entered its employ as agent and continued in this capacity until 1854. Subsequently, removing to Coon Hollow, Eldorado county, he carried on a lucrative business as general merchant until 1857.

It was in the year just mentioned that Mr. Ross disposed of his store, and with his brother, James L., came to Sonoma county and purchased six hundred acres in Analy township, each owning one half of it. At first Losson Ross followed general farming and stock raising, a line of endeavor in which he was especially successful, but in more recent years he made a speciality of raising fruit and hops, having fifty acres in prunes, pears, peachs and apples of the best varieties, while thirty eight acres were in hops. On a fifty acre tract adjoining the homestead which he owned he also raised large crops, having thirty acres in hops and two acres in prunes. In the management and care of his ranch Mr. Ross applied the principle that what was worth doing at all was worth doing well, and nothing about the ranch would ever suggest that he at any time deviated from this. Labor saving devices were installed as soon as their need became recognized, and amoung the buildings on the ranch he installed a large up-to-date drier. His stock included the best grade of McCellan and Morgan horses, and his large dairy was supplied from Holstein, Durham and Jersey cattle.

In Harrison county, Ind., Losson Ross was first married to Miss Martha Inman, who died a victum of cholera the following year. In Eldorado county, September 4, 1853, he married Miss Sidney Meeks, born in Beaver county, PA., May 15,1833, the daughter of Robert and Sophronia (Baker) Meeks, who came to California in 1852. Mr. and Mrs. Ross became the parents of seven children. William D. leases fifty acres of the old homestead, where he lives with his wife, formerly Hattie Lee, of Forestville; Frank, farming near Santa Rosa, married Miss Annie M. Ayers; Kemp L., owns and manages a ranch in Analy township; Irvine D., living on the home place, chose as his wife Ida, the daughter of D. P. Gardner, of Santa Rosa; George A., who has charge of the home ranch, married Miss Lena L. Bach, and they with their three children, Mervyn F., Edwin and Leonard B., live on the old homestead; Benjamin F., is a rancher in Sonoma county; and Anna E., the wife of Elmer Davis, lives in Clarion county, PA.

Unlike his father in his political belief, Mr. Ross was a Democrat, and an active worker in its ranks, although he was in no sense an office seeker. He was also well known in fraternal circles, being the last survivor of the nine charter members of Lafayette Lodge no. 126, F. & A. M., the lodge having been organized in Sebastopol in 1857. In the work of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which Mr. Ross was a member, he was actively interested, and in the office of steward he served efficiently for many years.

Recollections of Pioneer Days Written by a Pioneer

An autobiography of Sarepta Ann Turner Ross, and her journey to California and early life, written by her in her later days for the Republican, a local newspaper.

This document was scanned on January 4, 2001 by Edward Waage from a faded mimeo.
Date: 12 0, 1914

Reminiscences are always interesting, particularly when they are of the pioneer times of California. Especially interesting to us are those of Sonoma County. Presented herewith are the personal recollections of pioneer days, written by Mrs. Tommy Ross of Green Valley, especially for The Republican in December, 1914. They were written by Mrs. Ross in her own delightful style and will prove well worth reading.

I felt that I wanted to give a brief sketch of my former days, up to the present time. I left Missouri on the 18th of April, 1853, with my parents. We crossed the plains with ox teams in a train of twenty wagons. We reached Nevada in October of the same year, and there we stayed until the following April, on account of the snow, being afraid to venture over the mountains in the winter. We camped on the Carson River, near Ragtown, where we got our supplies. When spring opened we came to Mariposa County, where we stayed until the fall of ‘54 when we moved on to within three miles of Sebastopol, to what Is now known as the Cunningham place.

My father, Jonas Turner, bought 160 acres of land. At that time the most of the land was in Spanish grants. My father bought this land from a man who was living on it, supposing the title to be all right, but in a year or so there came a man by the name of Boman who claimed that he had a grant title to the land, and he proposed to make the settlers pay him or drive them off the land, but one night when he was in his room, some one shot him through the window and killed him. The title was then examined and found to be bogus, so the settlers did not have to pay again for their land. We were all called “settlers” or “squatters” then, and not ranchers, as at the present time.

There were no stores in Sebastopol when I came here, and the place had not even a name. The post office was on the Miller and Walker tract, not far from the old John Walker residence. It was called Bodega Postoffice. The mail was carried by stage from Petaluma. The street that is now called Petaluma avenue was then the main road into Sebastopol from Petaluma, and in fact, the only one.

The store where we went to do our trading was about a half mile further down, a little east of Shaw station. It was kept by a Mr. Davis. The first time I came through Sebastopol I was with my mother and brother, going to Green Valley to visit my uncle, Mr. Michel Gilliam. In those days we had to go on horseback. My brother was riding a mule and I was riding behind him. I was so afraid of falling that I hung on with both hands with all the grip I had. We had ten miles to got so by the time I got there my hands were so cramped that I could scarcely open them.

But oh, what a good time I had when we did got there! My uncle had a log house with two large rooms and a double fire place, that is, a fire place in each room. The older people stayed in one room and gave the children the other. We made candy and popped corn and had such a good time that I soon forgot my hard day's ride.

We did not have saw mills to make lumber for building our houses, so the men had to go into the redwoods and hew out all of the lumber. They would split “clapboards” for the outside of the houses, then take a plane or drawing knife and plane them off. There were no planing mills. Jasper O’Farrell owned O’Farrell hill where there was a large body of redwood timber. He sold the trees standing. The farmers bought them, chopped them down and worked them up into pickets, rails and posts to fence in their land. The most of the fencing south of Sebastopol came out of the O’Farrell redwoods.

At one time there was quite a little village on top of O’Farrell hill, just this side of Freestone, and it was a business place too. Men who were working in the redwoods took their families up there. They built little cabins with fire places made of sticks and mud. There was plenty of wood and people thought in those days that they could not live without a fire place. In the settlement was a blacksmith shop and it was well patronized.

There would be sometimes from twenty-five to thirty teams a day on the road, so it became necessary to have a place where they could get their supplies without going to Petaluma, as that was quite a distance. To meet the demand Ed Newburg started a store at the foot of O’Farrell hill and he did well. A big business, selling groceries and dry goods. He stayed there until the rush of work was over in the redwoods, then he moved to Sebastopol, where he had a store. He afterwards went to Petaluma where he built up a large business. Here he died after some years, leaving his business to his sons. He was an honest man and had hosts of friends in the fifties and sixties.

We people had to buy our dry goods from the small peddlers. They came about once a month with packs on their backs, some with horses packed, and some in wagons. They carried a full assortment of dry goods I assure you.

The first flour mill in this county was run by Mr. Calder. It was just a little way from where our apple show is held, and on the same stream. It was run by water power, and he had no screens to take the seeds out, so every- thing was ground up together, wheat, seeds and all, and I tell you it was very poor flour; but he made good corn meal. Afterward two more mills wore started, one near Valley Ford, and one on Mark West creek, not far from Burk's sanitorim. They were all run by water power.

Sebastopol’s first hotel was built by a Spaniard, Joaquin Carillo. It stood on the corner of Santa Rosa and Petaluma avenue, and was afterwards cut up into several small dwellings. The Analy Hotel is a part of it. He also built a dwelling house which was quite a mansion for that time. It is now the lodging house on Bodega avenue. Joaquin Carillo at one time owned all the land east of Sebastopol and nearly to Santa Rosa. I do not know just where the line was.

The first school that I attended was in Blucher Valley, It was called the Reed school then, but was afterwards moved to the Canfield district and called Canfield School. I was about eight years old at that time. There is but one schoolmate living that I know of, who went to school with me then, and that is Mr. C. Shelton of Stony Point. He and my brother, Thomas, were the largest boys in the school. It was customary for the teacher to treat the pupils on the last day of school. When the day came, while the teacher was gone to get his dinner, the boys shut the door and windows and had the children holding them so that he could not get in. When he came back he wanted to know what it all meant, and when the boys told him he was so angry that he was going to whip the whole school. I think he would have had a hard tussle to get away with the big boys. They kept him out a while, but saw no chance of getting the candy, as he would have been obliged to go about four miles to the store or sixteen miles to Petaluma, and as the boys did not care to wait so long, they decided to let him in.

My parents died in the year 1860, within four months of each other, my mother going first. My home was broken up and I went to live with my uncle, Mich Gilliam, in Green Valley and to go to school at the Oak Grove school. Several of my schoolmates are living who went with me there, but many have been laid away in the quiet churchyard. I often have the privilege of meeting one of my old teachers, Mr. G. M. Sanborn, on the streets of Sebastopol and talking over old school days, and I enjoy telling him that he was the only teacher who ever punished me in school. He made me stand on the floor for not having my spelling lesson. However, I have forgiven him long ago. It was a just punishment. Mr. Sanborn is a man of great integrity and would not do anything that he thought unjust.

Among my schoolmates of that time were the Sebring girls. They came about six miles to school, on horseback. They broke their own horses, knew how to saddle them, and enjoyed their daily rides. Horseback riding was great sport in those days, and we wanted horses with plenty of ginger in them, too, and we did not object to their standing on their hind legs now and then. The old Sebring home was what now is Mrs. Hattie Morans’ place, or the Captain Poole ranch. Mr. Sebring owned a league of land at one time, reaching from the Laguna to the Molino road, being nine miles square.

Mrs. Sarah Gannon, who lives on Bodega avenue, was one of the Sebring girls. The house in which she lives was built in 1860, and she has lived there since she was married. Mrs. Harriet Allen, also of Sebastopol, was a Sebring girl and Mrs. Mary Dewey of Graton, another. Mrs. Louise Davis, who lives on Bodega avenue, was also one of the old Oak Grove crowd. Mrs. Davis and I were orphans, and she lived with the Clyman family. Mr. Clyman owned the land where Graton now stands, and also on the east side of the Green Valley creek. My uncle Gilliam owned on the opposite side, and the old road this side of Graton, which they call South Graton, was the first county road that went from Sebastopol to Green Valley. One of our greatest industries, the hop industry, was started in Green Valley. Mr. Amasa Bushnell was the first man to raise hops in California. He brought the hop roots from New York and planted them in San Mateo county, where Redwood City now stands. They did not do well and he moved them to Sonoma county. He bought land at Vine Hill, where the old Bushnell ranch is still occupied by his only remaining son, John Bushnell, and his daughter, Mrs. Sarah Pitkin. He planted the roots here in 1858. He was shortly after joined by his brother-in-law, Samuel Dows. In 1859 the first exhibit was made at the state fair. A whole hill of hops, poles and all — in those days there were two poles to each hill — was taken, sewed up in burlap and sent. It took first prize. About 1860 Otis Allen came into the partnership. In 1861 they dissolved partnership, Mr. Allen taking the Laguna part. Prices were good in those days, running all the way from a dollar to a dollar and a quarter per pound. When the neighbors saw what success they were having, they followed suit and now we can see what the hop industry is in our state today.

Here I will say a word for the wine industry. About seventy-one or two the Italians began coming into this county. They bought the timber from the farmers to burn into charcoal. In this way the farmers got their land cleared. The country was heavily timbered. Your neighbor might build his house, and it might not be more than a half mile distant, but you could not see it for the large trees. We also had plenty of nice springs and streams, and the old settlers thought they must build their houses near springs so that they might have water. Wells were not thought of, and we would carry water in buckets for all household use and washing. The horses and all of the stock were watered at the streams and it seemed years before people thought of digging wells.

The farmers thought they must plant their orchards and vineyards where it was low and damp or the trees would not grow. They put out just a small orchard and a few grape vines, and the grapes would be so sour you could not eat them. The Italians were very fond of wine, naturally, as they have it in their own country in plenty, so they would come to our ranches and pay us twenty dollars per ton in the vineyard, and then we began to see that there was money in raising grapes.

The first time that I ever saw anyone making wine was in our smokehouse. We all raised our own meat in those days, and cured it in our own smokehouses. We did not do as we do now: run to the market whenever we wanted a bit of meat. We had some Italians burning coal on our place and we also had grapes. They bought some grapes and a large barrel. They put the barrel in their smokehouse and the grapes into the barrel. On Sunday I went in the smokehouse to get some meat for dinner, and lo and behold, there was an Italian in there. He had taken off his boots and was in the barrel tramping grapes. My husband had been at their cabin a few days before and had tasted their wine, and had been telling me how good it was. I called him out to see how it was made, and I had quite a good joke on him.

The first winery that I know of was near Windsor on the old Lehn place. Captain Cooper and Mr. Lehn, the father of William Lehn, who runs a large winery in Forestville at the present time, were the first men to start the wine industry in this county.

The Graton grove of fir trees has grown up in the last thirty or forty years. When I first came to this county there would be once in a while that you would find a large fir growing in the woods, and they would be sometimes a mile apart; but when they began to cut out the madrone and oak, the firs began to come up. It used to be hard to find one suitable for a Christmas tree; but of late there have been thousands cut and shipped to the cities for that purpose.

The first Lawton blackberries that I have any knowledge of being raised in this county were raised by a man named Lawson, just this side of Alton station. He had about an acre of them and he sold the berries at ten cents per pound, and we all thought them something wonderful.

The first bridge that we had across the Laguna was between the old Otis Allen place and Mrs. Hattie Moran’s. It was a place where there were no channels, and the water spread out for quite a long distance, so they just hauled in logs until they could cross over without getting stuck in the mud. It was called the “squatter's bridge”. I do not think our friends would enjoy a ride over it in their autos. It was hard enough work to stay in the wagon with the team drawing us. When the water was high we had to stay at home, so we usually laid in our winter’s supplies beforehand.

We will now come back to our little city of Sebastopol and mention some of the businessmen of early days. They were Ed Newberg, Uncle John Dougherty, Getz and Steits, John Selling, Tom Wilton, Mr. Edwards, Charley Solomon, and genial Joe Morris and Harry Wilson of the old Wilson hotel.

Among the early day carpenters I will mention Uncle Joe Smith. He was a fine workman and was many times called upon to make coffins for people who died. We could not go to the undertaker and got such things then. Uncle Joe Smith made both my mother’s and father’s coffins. Uncle Joe Smith was called “uncle” by almost everybody. It was a common phrase then: “uncle” and “aunt” much more so than it is now. Uncle Joe Smith was the grandfather of Walter Monroe of the First National Bank in Sebastopol.

I have many happy remembrances of my childhood days in Green Valley in the pioneer days. Most of the families are broken up and gone now. The very first settlers who came to Green Valley and settled there were the Churchmans, Gregsons and Marshalls. They came together in 1850. The John Marshall house is the oldest house standing in the valley today. It is west of Graton, not far from the Marshall school house. Other settlers soon followed these leaders. The McChristians, Michel Gilliam and his two sons-in-law, Magee Sullivan and Dave Bowman on the west side of Green Valley creek, and Colonel Clyman, Lancaster Clyman, Mich Ward and Clayton Winkler on the east side. In 1857 the Ross family came in from Calaveras county and bought land where Ross Station now is, and from a half mile to a mile north, east, south and west of the present station. There were four brothers and their father and mother. Uncle Jimmy Ross is the only surviving member of the family, and he is quite spry for a man of eighty-three. He still lives on his old home place near Ross Station.

About 1866 a man by the name of Forrester built a small house and started a saloon in Forestville, about where the Odd Fellows’ Hall now stands. Mr. Faudre also started a chair factory and made those rawhide bottomed chairs which are now called the old homestead chairs. Then a man by the name of Bump started a general merchandise store, Mr. John Oliver came and started a blacksmith shop, and from then on Forestville grew until it is now the terminus of the Petaluma and Santa Rosa Electric railway.

The place where we lived in Mariposa county was in a mining district. We lived near a small town called Snellings. You would have needed a fortune to get what you really had to have in the way of groceries, so the miners depended upon the Chinamen to carry their supplies from Stockton, a distance of perhaps a hundred miles. The Chinamen would go in bands of from fifteen to twenty and sometimes more, carrying their loads in baskets which were hung from the ends of a pole across the shoulder. The baskets were about the size of a large hop basket and filled as full as they could possibly get them.

It was very hot and dry in the part of Mariposa county where we lived. The road to the mines ran near our house, and the poor Chinamen would stop for water, and one day while they were getting water, we heard a little chicken peeping, and went out to see. of course, where they were. They had them in one of the baskets and the little things were almost overcome with the heat. They had poured water on them to cool them off, and had nearly drowned them. Chickens were a rare article in those days. If you bought hens, you paid two or three dollars each for them. The Chinese had brought some from China that they called Shanghais, and they were big, long-legged fellows I tell you. We had one rooster that could stand on the ground and eat off the top of a flour barrel. You may think this a fish story, but it is a chicken story and a true one.

The horses that they had in the fifties were Spanish horses and they were very small and wild. All they were used for was riding and packing. The immigrants that came into the state usually brought a few American mules and horses with them; but it was several years before they began using mule teams for hauling freight. When they did, they built wagons with long beds and put from four to eight mules to each wagon. They called them “prairie schooners”. These teams stopped the Chinese freight and they began washing for a living. They did the washing in all of the towns for many years.

When we were moving from Mariposa to Sonoma county, when we reached Stockton, we saw tomatoes. They were the first that we had ever seen, and they were quite a curiosity to us, and we thought them queer things to eat.

We arrived in Blucher Valley in the fall of ‘56, and in the spring, about the first of April, we began getting wild strawberries. We would find patches where the ground would be red with them. Wild blackberries were plentiful also, but cultivated fruit was almost unknown. Later a man by the name of Easly started the first nursery in this section of the country. He went to San Jose to get his supplies. He had all kinds of flowers and fruits, and we did not know what it was to have a coddling moth, or a scale bug, or any kind of a pest to mar the fruit.

Mr. Easly’s used to be a great resort for young people on Sundays. They would go there to eat strawberries and cream and the young men would buy bouquets for their best girls and pay from fifty cents to two dollars for them. The young ladies were more proud of their bouquets than they would have been of $20 pieces.

Quite a few of the old settlers had dairy ranches in the Bodega and Tomales country, and some of them are the capitalists of today. Others had stock ranches in the hills beyond Guerneville. My father was one of those. The land out there was government land, and any one could go out there and stake off as much as he wanted to use, put a brush fence around it, and have the use of it until it came in on the market. The feed was abundant, wild oats growing as high as a man’s head. The stock kept fat the year around. My father had about forty head of dairy cows which he would bring in from the mountains in the spring, with their calves, and milk through the summer. When they began to fall in their milk, he would mark and brand the calves, and drive them all back to the mountains. They had to cross the Russian River, and as there were no bridges, they often had to wait until they could ford, on account of the high water.

When I was a child, people did their cooking in the fireplaces. They had an iron rod across the fire place, and chains with hooks at the ends hanging from the rod. These were to hang the kettles on. Then they had what they called Dutch ovens. In these they baked bread, pies., cakes, etc. My mother sold butter enough to buy her first cook stove. She and my brother took the butter from Blucher Valley, where we had our home, to Petaluma, with an ox team, sixteen miles.

In those days there was not much market for cattle, and I have known parties to drive them to Oregon to find a market. Two of my cousins, Mayer Sullivan and Dave Bowman, drove a herd of their cattle to Oregon in 1863. Two of my brothers went with them to help drive.

When I was twelve years old we went to Mendocino county, to Little Lake Valley. It was a new country, and the land was very rich, burr clover growing plentifully all over. It looked very much as the alfalfa fields look now in the Turlock country. People had just begun making homes there, so the neighbors were quite a distance apart. Very few of the farmers had fenced their land. There was one man who owned a large herd of cattle and let them run from one end of the valley to the other, so that it was not safe to go walking, as the cattle were wild and dangerous. But I, having no one to play with at home, got lonely and begged my sister to let me go and spend a night with some children of our neighbors. My sister was afraid on account of the cattle, but I assured her that I was not afraid, so she consented and I started merrily out. When I had gone about half the distance, I saw some of the cattle coming right toward me. I stopped and let them come as close as I thought I ought to, then I took off my bonnet and waved it at them, and they turned and ran the other way as fast as they could go, while I was making tracks as fast as I could go in the direction of our neighbor's ranch. I started about 4 o’clock the next day and I looked well for the cattle before starting. I did not see anything of them, but you may be sure I did not let any grass grow under my feet, and I made up my mind that I had better stay at home rather than risk my life for company.

I stayed with my sister’s family in Mendocino county until the following fall, when my brother came and took me back to Sonoma county to go to school, as there were no schools in that vicinity at that time. My brother brought a saddle horse and I was to ride home. In those days we had to ford all the streams, as there were no bridges. When we reached Healdsburg we had to ford the Russian River, of course, and my brother said to me, “Now, let your horse have his head and don't try to guide him and he will take you over all right.” My pony being small, he soon began to swim, but only a few strokes, when he got his footing and came out all right, except for the wetting I got. I went up with an ox team and came back on horseback, so you see our way of traveling was not so easy nor so fast as it is nowadays. The Little Lake valley is now called Willits. It took its name from a man of the name of Willits, who lived there. It was not called Willits, though, until the railroad went through.

When I reached home I went to live with my oldest sister, and entered the Blucher valley school. The school house was located on the main road that goes from Sebastopol to Petaluma just this side of the Blucher creek bridge. The lot is there, just as it was. There used to be a lone oak tree that stood near the house, and I think it is still there. When I went to this school my sister lived where Mrs. Fredericks lives now. Not in the same house, but on the very same spot of land in a small house.

Among my schoolmates in the Blucher school I had a girl friend whom I thought as much of as I did of my own sister. She was one of the most lovable girls I ever knew. Her name was Mary Jane Miller. She afterwards became the wife of Samuel Berry, who was one of our businessmen of Sebastopol. She was the mother of Clyde Berry, one of our electric car conductors.

At that time we did not have public money to run our schools with, and we had to pay our tuition by subscription, so we did not get as much schooling as we would have liked.

The Methodist people had a camp ground about a half mile south of our school on the other side of Calder creek, where they held their annual camp meeting. People would come for miles to that meeting, it being the only one in the county. When the camp meetings were over the grounds were used for barbecues and picnics. We would have the Santa Rosa brass band to play, and some of the lawyers to speak on political subjects. There were Judge Pressley, Judge Hoag, Judge Thomas and perhaps some others whose names I have forgotten. We would have a great long table and everyone brought their lunch and put it on this table. All were welcome to eat as much as they could, for there was always plenty and to spare.

I will now tell how we young people used to enjoy ourselves. We had what we called play parties. Some of the young men would got the consent of a neighbor to have a party at his house. The young people were all invited. We played games until 12 o’clock, when we had a supper, then played until morning. Having no music we would sing, using our melodious voices to play by, and when morning came we were off for home, a weary crowd; but we were young and gay and did not mind losing sleep so long as we were happy. Strange as it may seem, in a few nights we were ready for the same performance again. I remember one party in particular. Two young men of Sebastopol went to the livery stable and hired a spring wagon, a three-seater, and went around to pick up all the girls they could find. There were nine or ten of us at last, and we went merrily to the party. In the morning, when we started for home, the boys proposed to take the farthest girl first, then drop the rest off as they came back. This girl lived near Pleasant Hill. She was sitting beside the driver. She told us that she was going to push him out of the wagon. We told her not to do such a foolish thing, but she kept on until she succeeded, and when he went out of course the lines went, too. Fortunately, the horses were not badly frightened, but began going a little faster. One of the boys on the back seat jumped out and ran to catch them, and called to the girl, “Put on the brakes, Betty.” Betty was the name of the girl who did the awful deed. Just before we came to a steep hill, the young man got hold of the off line, bringing the horses around quickly and spilling us girls out, but it happened that none of us was seriously hurt. One of my feet was injured and one of the girls had her hand slightly hurt. The story got out and was a joke for some time, and “Put on the brakes, Betty,” was a favorite byword for a long, long time after.

About this time I went to live with the Ward family of Green Valley. I lived with them about two years. This was in the time of the rebellion and everything that we had to buy was very high, so we had to economize. We used barley and wheat to make our coffee, and very little sugar, as these were the principal articles we had to buy, besides clothing. Both wool and cotton clothing being expensive, we did more patching and wore our clothes a good bit longer, not changing every time a now style came in. It was while living here that I attended the Oak Grove school, trying to got all the education I could. I finally, however, found the man of my choice, and was married on December 15, 1864, to the youngest of the Ross brothers, of whom I have spoken in my previous letters. In those times weddings were the occasions for jolly times. We were married at the home of my husband’s father, and the ceremony was performed by the Rev. Cameron, whose name is familiar to all of the oldest pioneers of this section. The wedding breakfast was a wedding dinner of all the good things that could be thought of. Mother Ross was a very fine cook, and this occasion was of special interest to her, being her youngest boy's wedding, so of course there was nothing too good for him. After dinner the wedding party, seven in number, started for Petaluma, six of us in a spring wagon, and one of my brothers on horseback. It was quite late in the afternoon when we started, and the roads were very bad, and we got stuck in the mud. Well, we all had to pile out and it took some three hours to get the wagon out. It all happened about a half mile this side of the old Washoe House, which was kept as a hotel at that time. It was seven o’clock when at last we reached there, so we concluded to stop over night and go on to Petaluma next morning; but in the morning it was raining, so we concluded to return home. My husband and I lived on our home place at Ross Station, near Forestville, for forty-two years. We had four sons and four daughters, all living and having families of their own now. Our first house was burned down about six years after our marriage; then we built another on the same spot, using the chimney of the old house, which still stood, and which continued to stand and give good service until the recent earthquake, when it went down. The house still stands, however.

I will say a few parting words for our little city of Sebastopol. It is becoming one of the most attractive towns this side of the bay, for climate, location, etc. People from other towns in the county appreciate Sebastopol, and find homes here. J. P. Stanley, who was a resident of Santa Rosa for thirty-one years, has built a beautiful little home on Calder's hill, where he expects to enjoy the remainder of his life. He goes back and forth for his business in Santa Rosa. He says that he lives in Santa Rosa and sleeps in Sebastopol. We also proudly claim Luther Burbank as belonging partly to Sebastopol, as he has his experimental grounds here and he spends much of his time with us. His grounds have crept on and on, quite up to our silent city of the dead, and all of us old timers, who have watched with interest his work through so many years, and who are fast slipping over the great divide, are happy to know that his beautiful flowers are always blooming near our last resting place.

I will now say that I hope my dear friends have enjoyed reading these old time letters as much as I have enjoyed writing them.

Forestville's Ross Family From 1857

Short history covering William Ross and Sarah Kay and the spread of their children in California.
Date: 9 0, 2002

There are some good resources on the history of the Ross family here in Sonoma County, in the various Sonoma County History books of 1880, 1911, 1926 and 1936, along with land deeds to be found at the county recorder's office, a genealogy and a short history of the immigrating family, compiled in 1957, and donated by one of the descendants of "Tommy" Ross, and a wonderful pioneer's history, published in Santa Rosa's "The Republican" newspaper in the early nineteen hundreds, written by the wife of Tommy Ross, Sarepta Turner, who had walked across the plains herself, as a small child, with her family, during the early 1850's.

William Ross, his wife and family moved to Iowa from Indiana, about 1849, and in the spring of 1850, two of his sons, James L. and Losson, went across the plains to California, for the gold rush. Their father, William and the rest of the family joined them there in the gold country in 1855, and in January of 1857, they all came to Sonoma County and settled in Green Valley, in Analy township, just a mile or so south of where the town of Forestville would later form. The roads called Ross road, Ross Station road, and Ross Branch road, are in the area where the family ranches were.

Losson Ross purchased the first property, 600 acres, from Josiah Moren, January 24, 1857, for $2700. Further purchases in the next three years by family members included lands from such locally famous names as Julio Carrillo, and John B.R.Cooper, although his deeds were signed by his lawyer, Jasper O' Farrell, also locally famous. The land that Losson's family settled can still be seen west of Gravenstein Hwy, going uphill towards Forestville, from Mom's Apple Pie, the home was by the old arched sign which reads "El Molino Rancho", which is still there.

A compiled genealogy, done by a descendant of "Tommy" Ross, gives a short history of the immigrating couple and the names of the children of William Ross and his wife, Sarah Kay, who married in Indiana on Dec. 4, 1821. It reads in part:

"William Ross, son of John and Sarah Ross (of Scotch ancestry) was born in Tennessee. While he was still a young child, his parents moved to Indiana, where they were amoung the early settlers of that section. William became proficient as an agriculturist. He also learned the gunmaker's trade, blacksmithing, and carraige making. In 1821, he married Miss Sarah Kay, daughter of John and Janett Kay, a native of Virginia. They set up housekeeping in Harrison Co., Indiana, and William carried on farming and blacksmithing as a means of supporting his family...all of the children of William and Sarah Ross were born on the homestead in Harrison County..... In 1849 the family moved to Bonaparte, Van Buren County, Iowa, where William carried on in his trade of blacksmith and wagon-maker. Coming to California in 1855, he joined his sons in Eldorado County. Two years later, he located on a 100 acre ranch in Analy township, Sonoma County, which his sons purchased and deeded to him..... He was a member and active worker in the Methodist Episcopal Church. His wife was a devout member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church."

William Ross, March 6,1803-August 24,1874, and his wife Sarah Kay, Feb. 26,1802-Nov.22,1884, had the following children: Elizabeth, 1822-1848, married Thomas Williams; John K., 1824-1901, married Sarah Lewis; Hester 1826-1901, married William Miller; Losson, 1829-1908, married Sarah Meeks; James L., 1830-1919, married Sophronia Martin Coon; Jesse, 1832-1914, married Mary Herrington; Ellen, 1834-1901, married Delaney Gilbert; Mary J., 1836-1888, married first Mr. Stephens, then Noah Turner; William Thomas, known as "Tommy" Ross, 1842-1906, married Sarepta Turner. Elizabeth, was the only child of William and Sarah,who didn't come to California, as she died several years before they moved.

In Harrison county, Ind., Losson Ross was first married to Miss Martha Inman, who died a victum of cholera the following year. In Eldorado county, September 4, 1853, he married Miss Sidney Meeks, born in Beaver county, PA., May 15,1833, the daughter of Robert and Sophronia (Baker) Meeks, who came to California in 1852. Mr. and Mrs. Ross became the parents of seven children. William D. leases fifty acres of the old homestead, where he lives with his wife, formerly Hattie Lee, of Forestville; Frank, farming near Santa Rosa, married Miss Annie M. Ayers; Kemp L., owns and manages a ranch in Analy township; Irvine D., living on the home place, chose as his wife Ida, the daughter of D. P. Gardner, of Santa Rosa; George A., who has charge of the home ranch, married Miss Lena L. Bach, and they with their three children, Mervyn F., Edwin and Leonard B., live on the old homestead; Benjamin F., is a rancher in Sonoma county; and Anna E., the wife of Elmer Davis, lives in Clarion county, PA.

William Thomas Ross, who was known as "Tommy" Ross, was born in 1842, in Harrison County, Ind., and came by ox team and wagon train, walking across the great plains to California in the summer of 1855. He stayed with his parents in Calaveras county for two years before moving to Analy township, Sonoma County, in 1857. The land he purchased in what was called Green Valley, is now on Ross Station Road. The "Electric" train, which ran from Sebastopol to Forestville had a station right there, and this is where he and his wife raised their eight children. Tommy, May 22, 1842-April 5, 1906, married Sarepta Ann Turner, Oct. 10, 1848-Feb. 3, 1923, on 15th of December, 1864.

Sarepta was born in Missouri and at age five, leaving on April 18, 1853 with her parents, came by ox team and covered wagon as far as Nevada where they spent the winter. In April of 1854, they came to Mariposa county, and then on to Sonma county, settling near Sebastopol. Her parents were Jonas Turner, born in Tenn. Jan 17, 1812-died Aug. 12, 1860, and Lewhettie Gilliam, born in Missouri, Nov. 24, 1819-died April 15, 1860. Both her parents are buried in the Gilliam Cemetery near Graton. The Gilliam Cemetery at that time was the property of Sarepta's maternal uncle, Mitch Gilliam.