BY LILLIAN M. GIBSON WINTER, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA
Categories: Arkansa to California, 1884
A letter written by Lillian Gibson Winter.....
My grandfather Joseph Gibson was born in Kingston, Arkansas, 1813. [further research indicates that he was most likely born in Tennessee, 1813] He married, but his first wife passed (Mary Elizabeth Mashburn d. 1849/1850) leaving him with several children, my father, George L. Gibson being one of the youngest. My grandmother, Mary Ann Johnston, was born in Tennessee and came to Kingston to live. Her first husband Mr. James Basham, passed on and left her with four small children, my mother Margaret being the eldest.
These two families were united by the marriage of my father's father [Joseph Gibson] to my mother's mother [Mary Ann Johston Basham].
When my father, George Lafayette Gibson, was twelve years old, the Civil War broke out and he was called to the Southern Army, since he lived in the south. He served four years and on June 8, 1865, received parole at Shreveport LA. George served the entire war in Company D of the 27th Arkansas Infantry.(May I express my gratitude here for the fact that my father was never critical of the North, nor bitter, but always taught us that Lncoln was right and the greatest President we ever had and that if Lincoln had lived, the condition of the south would have been very different.) When he returned home, he married my mother, Margaret Basham, and settled in a small cottage near my grandfathers home. This home was a large two story log house built with a large open porch, both sides open, separating the living quarters from the kitchen, each section having its on huge fireplace. My mother had five childern, James, Thomas, Lola, Lillian and Joseph. After the first two, James and Thomas were born in the small cottage, for some reason the family moved to Texas where Lola was born.
After they came back to the cottage, I was born. Grandmother broke her arm so the family moved into the big house with my grandfather, where Joseph was born. A little clear stream flowed across the property near the house. At that time refrigeration was unknown but a spring house, with two floors, was built over a bubbling spring. The lower part had no floor. Our milk, vegetables and all perishable foods were put in closed containers and lowered into the water for preservation. On the second floor was stored sacks of wheat and shelled corn, to be hauled to kingston later for grinding into flour and meal. There were rows of gooseberries, strawberry beds, sweet potatoes, fruit trees and vegetables.
Several black walnut trees and chinquapins, a form of chestnut, provided us with nuancets. The sugar cane was fed between two wooden rollers and the juice coming from it was boiled down and formed our sorghum, unrefined syrup. The little stream had a black slate bed. A substance like chalk washed down from the mountains. It was soft, brillant in color, red, yellow, etc. We children loved to gather there and draw pictures on the dry spots of slate.
My mother's brother, John P.Basham, lived in Missouri. His wife's mother was very frail as was my grandmother who was troubled with that broken arm. My grand- father had two daughters who had married and gone to California by wagon train. They urged us to come also. When Joseph, my brother, was one month old, thirty relatives gathered together, met in Purdy, Missouri, chartered a railroad car, bringing nothing but personal belongings and started for California. This was 1884. At the time the
terminal was at soledad, just south of Salinas in Monterey County. This was late fall of 1884. Big wagons met us at Soledad and there the group divided, going in several directions. Our family of five children with parents and grand-parents, making a family of nine, reached Indian Valley, Monterey County, where one of grandfathers daughters lived.
We bought a home there and stayed a few years. We four older childern
trudged two and one half miles through the dust to the county school. Later we moved from there to San Felipe and Gilroy near Holister.
Here Lola began to prepare to be a teacher and went to San Jose to study.
After she received her certificate, she worked as an assistant to the principal at San Felipe. She also taughtin Hames Valley, Monterey County. After I received my certificate, we both taught in San Lucas in their two room school.
The grandparents having passed on, we were now a family of five.. Joseph wasat home but James and Thomas were married.
(the family owned approximately 900 acres and raised cattle, grain and
tobacco. Also timber was sold for $ .25 per tree and included chinquapin, walnut, filbert, pecan, rose wood and cherry wood.)
This ends Lillians version of living in Madison County, Ar and the trip from Arkansa to California.