Woodland Daily Democrat (Woodland, CA) May 30, 1922, Page 7
Fannie Hatcher, Yoloan Since 1868, Describes Perilous Western Trip
(Written by Mrs. R. U. Waldraven.
The golden sunset of life, whose course began in Missouri in 1833, is being finished in quietness and peace in beautiful California. Cared for by loving ministrations of sons and daughters, the western slope is characterized by the same quiet but helpful benediction that is bestowed upon those who have "kept the faith."
This life from the first reads like a romance from a story book. The first chapter begain [sic] in her young girlhood in an old log fashioned school house in Linn county, Missouri. The teacher, William Hatcher, 21 years of age, was a specialist in all grades, though specialists and grades were then an unknown quantity. The pupils' ages varied from four to 25 years; the curriculum was the three R's; the teacher's most promising and satisfying pupil was Sarah Frances Mullins; the deportment was 100, her conduct irresistible, and at the close of the term, March 27, 1849, the young teacher married the little curly haired Frances, at the mature age of 16 years, and they lived happily ever afterwards.
The call of the Golden West, the lure of gold, the wander-lust of adventure, called to thousands in those days, and William Hatcher and his young wife heard the call. Books were few; the Bible and dictionary, Mr. Hatcher studied regularly. Such few books on the West as he could secure, stories of trappers and hunters, companionship with members of the Boone family were a constant delight, and in the spring of 1852 with his wife and 17-months-old son, he began the long overland task across the plains, via the Santa Fe trail. Mr. Hatcher paid his way by driving five yoke of oxen and Mrs. Hatcher helped by doing her share of the cooking for the emigrants.
In the caravan were ten wagons which were joined by others later on. The daily dangers, cares and privations of most caravans were theirs. Ministering to the sick, pointing the dying to that "better country," and burying those that died were labors of every day. Such hardships as attacks by Indians and wolves, thirst cholera, mountain fever, smallpox, and having their stock die of starvation or thirst, they experienced for five long months. Let "Aunt Fannie," as she is familiarly called, tell the story hersef [sic].
"By the time we reached Labonte stream, the cholera and smallpox broke out among the emigrants. In our train Grandma Pockman took the cholera and in the evening her son brought in some deer meat which her husband partook of and that night he took the cholera and died the next evening in great pain. After his burial his grown up daughter, Harriet, took the cholera and died within a few days. Grandma Pockman recovered and she, with her sons, and daughters, continued the journey with us to California."
"I remember yet with a breaking heart, the father and ten children, the youngest an infant in an elder sister's arms, weeping for the wife and mother they had just buried in a shallow grave by the trail and, with breaking hearts as they went on, turning back to look at the lonely grave they were leaving forever. New graves made by the preceding caravan were passed hourly; sometimes eight or ten a day were buried. Guards were stationed every night for protection from the Indians, and to prevent animals from tearing open the new graves. Very often we found graves torn open by hungry wolves and coyotes."
"Once we passed an old tent by the wayside, and someone stopped to investigate. They saw inside three dead bodies of men that had died of the plague. We did not stop there long. When Mr. Hatcher took his turn guarding, I had to sleep alone in the wagon with my baby. We never knew whether either of us would be alive when daylight came. What with the pestilence and Indians, too, it kept us stirred up. They couldn't fire guns at night at the wolves, or the camp would think they were being attacked by Indians."
"We passed through one section where there wasn't a stick for fires, and buffalo chips were our only fuel for over 700 miles. After crossing the desert, one of our oxen gave out and would not go any farther. One of the men from California who came to meet the emigrants so as to buy the worn out oxen, offered us $5 for our ox that could not travel any farther, so we let him have the ox for that amount and we traveled on with the rest of the train. The man that bought our ox rested and fed him up. In three days he passed us with the ox, among others, on his way to California, where they were worth about $100 each. We paid $175 for a cow shortly after we arrived from the man we drove for, using her most of the way in the team, and was offered $200, but we would not sell her. We sold milk from her for a good price. When an ox would give out in our team, we would yoke up some young heifers or steers to the wagon, and they would look back and bawl for their mothers."
"As we neared California, men came to meet us selling vegetables, and we were glad to get them. A fifty pound sack of flour tied to each end of a pole and carried across a Chinaman's shoulders 40 miles sold for $35. At Jackson for a while it was a dollar a pound, the roads being so bad in winter they could not use a team. We paid $7 for a small piece of bacon; onions were a dollar each. One dollar's worth of potatoes made enough for one meal for our little family."
"When we got to California we noticed how soft and sweet the voices of the people were, while the voices of the emigrants were coarse and harsh from yelling at the oxen so much. We spent the first winter at Ione Valley and raised a garden and got a good price for all we raised. In the fall of 1853 we moved to Yolo county, two miles north of Yolo. We bought 160 acres of land for $750 and named it the Missouri ranch. There were only 15 women, 32 children and 1000 men in Yolo county when we came here, and I am the only woman among the women who is living now."
Mr. and Mrs. Hatcher lived together the pure, simple life of those who love and fear God, with the Bible as their guide. Here, except the eldest child, their seven children were born and raised. Four children preceded them to the better land. Uncle Billie Hatcher died July 24, 1913, and was buried in the quiet church yard of Mary's Chapel Cemetery, near their home. Aunt Fannie is in her 89th year, and she celebrated her 88th birthday October 24, 1921. Many of her friends came to call on her. She and her husband celebrated their golden wedding anniversary March 27, 1899, when over 200 neighbors ate dinner together under the trees in the yard. Here ten years later they celebrated their 60th anniversary in a more quiet way with their children, grandchildren and relatives. Uncle Billie and Aunt Fannie have done much to help build up this great country. Their home has been an abiding place for the ministers of gospel. They began to serve the Lord in their youth and have done all they could [to] promote His cause.