1. TO CALIFORNIA
... in search of gold. R.A. Worstell, Gaylord’s son.
Gaylord Worstell was born during the midst of the Civil War. His father, Thomas Worstell, had two older brothers, James and Henry. These three men were of military age with major decisions to make. Jane Worstell Bradford, Gaylord’s youngest sister, often told the story of her father’s decision at this time. Someone jotted down the story as it was related.
My father and three other men started to Calif. about 1864 from Ohio in a wagon and two oxen. A disagreement arose and they sawed the wagon in two – each two men taking an ox and half wagon. They got there and stayed 7 years. Allie and Gaylord were little boys and my mother lived with her mother near Tappan, O. 8 years difference between Gaylord and Emerson. My father returned home via Cape Horn to New York City and home via train to Ohio.
This family history repeated by Avis Worstell Kaub, granddaughter of Thomas Worstell, says that two brothers, Thomas and Henry, set out in the wagon, and that both brothers successfully made it to California, but not together. Reference to this California trip is made in a letter written August 21, 1939, by Dr. Gaylord to his family back east on the occasion of his visit with family and friends in Berkeley and San Francisco. The family took him sightseeing and Gaylord wrote, “It was not necessary for me to tell them, when on the Golden Gate Bridge, that Father and Uncle Henry sailed in under us about March 21, 1863.” Gaylord’s year fits the facts a little better and there are only 6 years difference between Gaylord and the next child. Betty Jane Briney, daughter of Gaylord’s sister Jane, said she heard the story told many times. Her mother was adventurous herself and loved family and family stories, but about ‘sailing in’ Betty Jane says, “No, Gaylord was confused. They took the wagons to California, then had to arrange for passage home by ship.” Judging from the birth date of Henry’s third child, Grant, who was born in August 1863, and Thomas’s second child, who was born in July, and assuming that the March date for arrival in San Francisco is about correct, they left in late December or early January. Had they not heard of the Donner Party, or did not know their wives were pregnant?
This story was further enhanced by Peg Ploss, a descendant of Henry, in relating the story as it had been handed down in her family.
Four men, including Henry, started out together to search for gold. Henry and his companion(s) struck silver. On their return home with a wagonload of silver, they stopped in St. Louis to have it assayed. While there they got robbed; however, there was enough silver left by the robbers to make a Masonic ring and a few other pieces of jewelry.
Peg is the current owner of the Masonic ring to which she referred.
Gaylord’s parents were Thomas Pittis Worstell and Isabel Crumley. The name Crumley was originally Cromwell. The Cromwells who were ancestors of the Crumleys were Royalists, men who supported Charles I, monarch from 1629 to 1640, during the time of conflict between Charles I, the Parliament, and Oliver Cromwell. At one point, Charles was held captive by the forces of Cromwell and escaped to Carisbooke Castle in the Isle of Wight, where the Pittis family (Chapter 4) was able to be of service. On another occasion, Charles fled to Scotland and the Scots turned him over to the Parliament, who sentenced him to death. During the civil war, Cromwell made many enemies, but in overthrowing King Charles and ruling as dictator, Royalists were persona non grata, so the Royalist Cromwells fled to County Tyrone, Ireland, and changed their name to Crumley. Information concerning the origin of the Crumley name came from Miriam Bartmess, granddaughter of Thomas Worstell. Another member of the family said the Crumleys were from Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Thomas Worstell and Isabel were married on March 31, 1861, in Tappan, Harrison County, Ohio, at Isabel’s home. The Rev. Samuel Patterson, a well-known minister in the area, performed the ceremony. Both of these young people were children of medical doctors. Isabel’s father, Dr. James Crumley, “studied medicine at Edinburgh, Scotland, before he came to America to become perhaps Tappan’s first doctor, although the town was called Franklin then,” wrote Frank McGuire, grandson of Henry. Dr. Crumley and his wife, the former Jane Noble, acquired three lots in Tappan, but contemporary records do not indicate they built on any of them. Dr. Crumley died in 1851, when Isabel was only 11.
Richard Allen Worstell, Gaylord’s son, wrote the following about his father, Gaylord:
Born of poor parents, extremely poor in worldly goods, on a small acreage near Tappan, Ohio on July 25th, 1863, he [Gaylord] was the second of eleven children, nine boys and two girls. They raised a little broom corn and worked for neighbors in the fall, did what ever they could to keep the family together. Finding it difficult to get along and with other members of the family coming on his father got the itch to go to California in search of gold.
Tom and Belle’s first child, Alpheus, who was called Allie by his family, was born July 27, 1862. Whether Tom knew there were more children ‘coming on,’ or finding work to get started in life seemed impossible in Harrison County, his “itch to go to California in search of gold” came rather early in his married life. Alpheus wouldn’t have been more than six months old. Jane Crumley, widow of Dr. Crumley, agreed to accept her daughter and little boy into her home. This is not an uncommon circumstance at any time in history, but the reasons Isabel found herself in this situation might be found among the politics, war, and economic climate of the country, as well as in the great expectations in California. Would any of these reasons make a man leave his family and set out on such a long difficult journey, in the winter, with a wagon and a team of oxen?
The 1860’s were a time of great political divisions in the country. Many Ohioans were abolitionists. They helped slaves across the Ohio River and established stops on the Underground Railroad into Canada. One such stop was Oberlin, Lorai County, Ohio. The following magazine item serves to highlight the social environment surrounding the Worstell family at the time of their venture, and has the added interest of being about a black man named John Price, whose surname is that of a white family closely tied to early Worstells.
News of Price’s capture spread rapidly through Oberlin. Before the day was out, hundreds of college students and townsfolk, white and black, were pounding down the road toward Wellington, guns in hand. The rescuers pushed their way into Price’s room, tore him from the hands of his captors, and passed him bodily downstairs over the shoulders of men who filled the stairwell.
A crowd that had gathered outside the hotel broke into a cheer. Someone jumped onto a box and cried, “The moment a slave touches Ohio soil he is free, and all the South combined cannot carry him back if we say no!” The Freedom Givers, Reader’s Digest March 2001.
Many communities sponsored great rallies with Frederick Douglass as speaker. Frederick Douglass was the son of a white man and a slave woman. His owner sent him to live with the brother of his son-in-law, Thomas Auld, whose wife taught Frederick to read without her husband’s knowledge. Through many trials and tribulations he became a lecturer for the anti-slavery movement here and in Britain, where he raised money to purchase his freedom. He spoke, wrote, edited and published anti-slavery views. After the war, he was appointed to various government jobs, but not to the high-level jobs he had been promised for his political support. The name Pitts is an obsolete spelling, from which the name Pittis is derived. The following story was discovered when research on the Pittis name was being done. This news item was found in the bound volumes of news clippings in the Harrison County Library in Cadiz, Ohio. The marriage of Frederick Douglass occurred well after the Civil War, but it illustrates a charitable view of race that was held by many Ohio citizens. The book, Love Across Color Lines, by Maria Diedrich, details the enduring relationship between Frederick Douglass and Ottilie Assing, a German woman of Jewish heritage. Only scant mention is given to Helen Pitts, as it is spelled in the book. Ottilie was heartbroken and died within a few years after returning to Germany.
From the CADIZ REPUBLICAN 31 January 1884
Marriage of Fred Douglass
Washington D. C., Jan. 24. – Frederick Douglass was married here to night to a white woman named Helen M. Pittis. She is a native of Troy, N. Y., and is quite highly connected socially. She is an attractive woman and finely educated. Miss Pittis has been for some time employed in Douglas’s office as a copyist. The wedding was very quiet, only four persons being present to witness the ceremony. The affair has caused a sensation in social affairs. It is said to be a real love match and has a romantic story connected with it. Considerable indignation is expressed among swell society circles.
The above is a brief announcement of an affair that has caused a ripple of sensation all over the country. Frederick Douglass is as well known, historically, as any other man in this country. He has been a widower for several years past. He is quite wealthy, owning a beautiful mansion in Washington, and at present holds the position of Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia.
Many stories have been set afloat in regard to his extreme age and the youthfulness of his new wife. Mr. Douglass says of himself that his age is sixty-three years, and that his bride is forty-six. His colored friends are vexed that he didn’t marry a colored wife, and there are white folks equally indignant. The bride is old enough to know what she is doing. She is no spring chicken, and if she and Fredrick are both satisfied, and happy the rest of the world should not grieve, over much. If he is young and vigorous, why, it is all right, and if he is old and tottering on the verge of the grave, and wealthy, why of course it’s all right.
Political sentiment ran high and at one election when Franklin Township (Tappan area) reported a Free Soil majority, one of the politicians of Cadiz said, “If it had not been for that damned town of Deersville the county would have gone Whig.” The political platform of the Whig party in the 1700’s consisted primarily of opposition to royalty and rule of Great Britain. By 1800 the party had become less prominant and by 1850 it was disintegrating; the members could not agree on a solution to the slavery problem. The new Republican Party was first a coalition of anti-slavery groups, but later drew into its ranks former Whigs, Federalists, and the National Republicans of Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams. In 1854 they formally organized the party over the single issue of the nonextension of slavery into the newly formed states. Formerly a Whig, Abraham Lincoln joined the Republican Party in 1856. The Free Soil party was also against the extension of slavery, but in earlier years it also wanted to do away with corrupt corporations and reform the tax system; they, too, later joined the Republican Party. The Tappan area was even more anti-slavery than its Whig neighbors. If Franklin Township was divided, so was the country. It took three ballots for the Republican Party to nominate Lincoln. Northern Democrats nominated Senator Stephen Douglas, Southern Democrats chose Vice-President John Breckinridge, and a fourth party, Constitutional Union, ran Senator John Bell. President Lincoln won the electoral vote 180 to the 123 that his opponents received. Although Lincoln won a plurality of the popular vote, more Americans voted against him than for him; 1,865,593 for A. Lincoln and 2,823,975 for all others.
Southern sympathizers during the Civil War, who were called Copperheads, were led by a man named Clement Vallandigham. Vallandigham was the leader of the Peace Democrats, and they often demonstrated their support for the Southern view. Even supporters for the war were divided: some would fight to save the Union only, others made the destruction of the institution of slavery their goal.
After Ft. Sumpter fell, the North raised more volunteers than the government could equip. During the course of the war, 2,000 men served from Harrison County alone. In ten presidential calls for soldiers, Ohio always exceeded its quota. A three month enrollment in the Ohio Militia was completed by Thomas P. Worstell, and having fulfilled his commitment, Thomas mustered out. James, the eldest brother and single, fulfilled his three months commitment and then volunteered for the 69th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry in Tennessee.
The South began to draft men in the spring of 1862. This undoubtedly led people to believe that President Lincoln would announce a similar draft of men between the ages of 20 and 45, and this he did the following March, for terms of three years. Soon worrisome reports of incidents about a renegade Southern cavalry unit led by an officer by the name of John Hunt Morgan were being circulated. Morgan’s unit was making raids through Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. From a book on Carroll and Harrison Counties comes the following story of an encounter between the town of Moorefield, about 10 miles south of Tappan, and Morgan’s Raiders. While it took place in the summer of 1863, it serves to show the reality of the threat. Keep in mind that the all time high population of Tappan, known as Franklin at the time, was 171. Neither Tappan nor Moorefield exist as towns today; only their cemeteries are left to mark their passing.
Morgan’s Raiders at Moorefield
Gen. John Morgan, the famous rebel cavalry raider, invaded sections of Harrison County during the Civil war days ... This story of the raid through Harrison County was written and preserved in a pamphlet form in 1894, and a copy deposited in the corner-stone of the present courthouse of this county:
On a bright and beautiful day in July, 1863, the peace and quiet of our little village was disturbed by the anticipated invasion of rebel forces numbering five or six hundred mounted cavalrymen, under command of the noted rebel Gen. John Morgan. The air was full of rumors of the great destruction of property along the line of march and the alarm for the safety of family and property became intense. This feeling of insecurity was somewhat increased when M. J. Brown and John Robinson of Cadiz, driving a spirited team, rushed through here to discover, if possible, the line of march the rebels were likely to take. In about an hour or perhaps less, they returned, furiously driving Jehulike, announcing that the rebels were coming this way and would be with us in a short time.
Very soon thereafter we discovered the bridge over Big Stillwater on fire and a few minutes later another smoke looming up about one-half mile east, indicated that the other covered bridge over Little Stillwater (or Bogge Fork) was also being consumed.
About this time many laughable incidents occurred that did not seem so funny at the time; men hiding their valuables in the most unthought of places, secreting their horses in thickets and deep hollows; women and children running hither and thither with their trinkets trying to find some secure place to hide them being so excited that they forgot where they placed them and had to be reminded by their neighbors who chanced to observe where they put them, where to look for them. A few would-be-generals on horseback were riding our village street, giving spicy directions as to what others should do, or where to go. A thing they soon found out when the advanced guard of Morgan’s force came galloping into town, putting them to flight and quite an exciting race occurred through our streets, accompanied with a rebel yell “Halt, Halt!” Some were immediately captured and their horses taken; others did not have time to obey orders and got away, doing some exceedingly fast riding to accomplish the feat. Very soon after this race the main force entered our town and took complete possession of the streets, stables and every house that had been vacated by the occupants. They did not disturb or forcibly enter any house where the family stayed at home. They seemed to be a hungry set and freely solicited every house for provisions of every description; some of them exhibited abnormal appetites for pound cake and preserves. After cleaning up all the previously prepared provisions in the town they quietly sought rest and sleep, seemingly as unconcerned as though the Union forces in pursuit were a hundred miles back instead of three or four. Morgan himself occupied the parlor bed at the Mills Hotel and seemed to be taking a refreshing sleep while his body guard, with their revolvers lying on chairs at their sides, or on the bed where Morgan was sleeping, occupied the time in reading the news with which they seemed to be well provided. When Morgan arose from the bed he walked to the front door, stepped out on the pavement, cast his eyes down the street, then turned and walked up the street unattended; later the order was given to mount and their march eastward continued, taking the road to New Athens, accompanied by escorts drafted into service as guides across the country. The Union forces under Shackleford having been delayed by the destruction of the bridges, did not get into town in full force until after night, when hungry soldiers had again to be fed and right nobly did our women work, cooking and serving food until after midnight. A greater number of the Union forces pushed on after Morgan, but a portion remained over night, probably as a reminder to us that the war was still going on! Stragglers continued coming into town the following day, but by evening quiet again reigned supreme and the war was over so far as our town was concerned.
Morgan and his Confederates were later captured in Columbiana County, just north of Jefferson County, at a place called Buffington Island. Morgan escaped in November, but was killed a year later in Tennessee. They had destroyed $500,000 worth of property in Ohio.
Thomas, Henry, and their families could not have overlooked news like this. Henry had a daughter, age 2, and a second infant daughter; Thomas had a newborn son. Thomas’s wife would deliver their second child in July the following year; Henry’s wife would deliver their third child in August. By the time of Morgan’s raids, James Worstell, Thomas’ brother, and the 69th Regiment Ohio, had weathered two major battles and would see many more.
Another issue tied up with the slavery issue was that of the Homestead Act. Southerners had opposed it, but when the south seceded in 1861, the homestead law was passed in 1862. This act attracted many settlers to the west, causing a labor shortage and lower land prices. Anyone over 21 and head of a family, whether citizen or alien, could obtain title to 160 acres of public land if he lived on the land for five years and improved it. It was advertised across America and in Europe. However, the best land in a state went to the agricultural colleges and the railroads, while much of the land required irrigation. Furthermore, recently developed machines made 160 acres uneconomical. In the 1860’s, it was not the gold rush that took most settlers to California, but the land rush.
The United States economy was unstable at the time the Worstell brothers made their decision. Taxes were heavy on property and corporations, liquor and tobacco. Although unpopular and temporary, the first income tax was passed in 1863. These were the final years of “wildcat banking,” when bank-notes were issued, then to became worthless when the banks could not redeem them. In 1863-64 the government passed the National Bank Act to create National Banks that would be allowed to issue bank notes guaranteed by the United States and to provide a national currency. Inflation grew and the cost of living rose sharply.
Henry and Thomas made their decision. Which if any of the aforementioned factors, the war, a possible homestead, or the poor economy, did they take into consideration? Or was it truly their desire for gold? In any case, it would be as much as three years before Henry returned and nearly six years before Thomas returned.
Gaylord writes in his letter home, “My memory runs back to the old days when Mother would borrow old Doll, a brown ‘beast’ of Uncle Joe, and she, Allie, and I would ride over to grandpaps and stay over night. They lived then in an old log house that stood on the road just below the gate. Ah! me and Ah! my — so long ago.” Gaylord, born July 19,1863, was only six or younger during this time and his older brother Alpheus, just one year older