Elizabeth Wisdom Rhoads Hamrick

Hamrick's of California 1850

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Pioneer Woman
Elizabeth Wisdom Rhoads Hamrick

Elizabeth Wisdom Rhoads was born September 16, 1826, and is my great great grandmother, a true pioneer woman of the West. She was born in Mercer, Missouri and married Jesse Calvert Hamrick by 1847. Within 3 years of marriage she would have 2 young children and with one on the way, she left Missouri to go west with her husband who had caught Gold Fever!

In the Spring of 1850 the Hamrick's joined other family's, loaded their wagons with essentials and hitched up their oxen to the farm wagon, covered the top with canvas and set out for California, following the wagon ruts of the previous years 49'ers. Elizabeth rode most of the way, as she was with child, and her two young children, JimEd and Lavina were too young to walk the 1000 plus miles. They encountered all the usual trail challeneges, forging rivers, spring runoff, encounters with Native Americans, locating grass for the cattle and fresh meat to eat. Elizabeth washed their clothes in the streams, and baked bread over an open pit fire, ever watchful for snakes or other dangers lurking just outside the ring of fire.

There was happiness around the campfire also, the children were a source of joy and happiness, laughing at their young childrens antics the way parents do today, and anticipating the gold that awaited their arrival in California, they were afterall,  "Going to See the Elephant".
It took them a long while to get to California, but eventually they did land at a place they refered to as the  "Forks of the Cosumnes River" which we have come to know as Yeomet, a Miwok village on the river that was a bustling gold camp in the Fall of 1850. Family tradition tells us that the 'minute they landed at the Forks, Elizabeth gave birth and named her daughter Cosumnes California Hamrick' she would grow up to be known as Cosy and at the age of 14 marry, Francis Asbury McMurry.

Elizabeth now had three young children under the age of 3, and it would be her job to create a home for them while Jesse provided the means to feed them all.
After staying in Yeomet for awhile they moved up to a fertile valley, called the Jackson Valley, right on the Jackson stream and while Jesse panned for gold, Elizabeth cared for her children, cooked and cleaned, mended and sewed, sweat and persevered. They built a home and prospered, and by  1870 their net worth was in the thousands, Jesse became involved in all things civic, including the school, politics and civic organizations.

Then their world came crashing down around them, when the government of California gave their homesteaded land in Jackson Valley, back to the Native Americans, in a first of a kind decision to remove the homesteaders from land they had worked for more than 20 years and give it to the native tribes. This would of been devastating to the family.
The Hamrick's and all the other settlers of the Jackson Valley would have to move, and it effected them tremendously. Jesse and Elizabeth carried on the family responsibilites and she took out homestead papers for a large tract several miles away, off of what is now called Ridge Road, and opened the Hamrick Toll Road, operating it successfully for years. The Hamrick ditch also carried water to the entire area, and does still today. Hamrick Grade Road still exists in 2005 as well. The homestead is now a vineyard and is owned by another family, their house in exactly the same high spot overlooking the property as the Hamrick's built their home.
Elizabeth persevered, making another home for her children, some of whom now had married and moved on to begin their own families and homes.

Hamrick Homestead c 1890

When Elizabeth died her obitiuary was published on the front page of the Calaveras newspaper, and stated she was a most honored woman and good woman of the 49er era. Her family owned much to her, the love and caring and perseverance she showed modeled excellent motherly care so that all her children became loving, caring individuals as well. To date I have collected hundreds of descendants of Elizabeth, a woman of outstanding pioneer stock.

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