OLD CALIFORNIANS To Celebrate Important Event At The Banquet Board

Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Information

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Old Californians

source:  MANSFIELD EVENING NEWS:  18 February 1890, Vol. 5, No. 296


Submitted by Amy




A Reunion and Banquet of Three Survivors of a Party of Nine Who Left Mansfield for the Land of Gold Forty Years Ago To-morrow

Forty years ago to-day nine young men of Mansfield made preparations to go overland to California and on the eve of their departure they gave a supper and dance at the old Wiler House.  To-night the survivors have a supper to celebrate the event.  The nine Mansfielders who started for California Feb. 19, 1850, were Fred Walter, Philip Wentz, Joe Leuthner, Adam Matthes (George's father), Louis Vonhof, Louis Remy, Ludwig Wolfarth, Louis Krabill and a man by the name of Rohring.  They went to Sandusky on the S.&M.;  then to Cincinnati on the Mad River and Little Miami Roads;  then down the Ohio and up the Mississippi by steamer to St. Louis.  They took with them but one wagon and one set of harness.  From St. Louis they went to Independence, Mo., where they procured another outfit and nine mules.  An overland party of 195 men with 49 wagons was organized.  In this party were four messes from Richland County besides the nine men whose names have already been given.  These four messes were as follows:  William Reubenthal, Lorenzo Reubenthal, Young Reubenthal and William Berringer;  second, John T. Myers, James Larimer, William Roseman and another whose name is not remembered;  third, Michael Keiser, John Doll, William Crouse and an old man from Pennsylvania;  fourth, four men from Washington Township, among them a man by the name of McKee.  There were also men from Ashland and Crawford Counties and from all parts of Ohio.  The McKee already spoken of was elected captain of the train started for the land of gold April 10.  After three or four days out the men got into a wrangle about who should drive ahead and the party divided.  The Richland County men stuck together and they made up a train of 19 wagons.  The messes took turns in driving ahead and the captain were selected from the leading mess.  His duty was to go ahead and select camping grounds, and to appoint the sentinels for the camp, four to serve until midnight and four from then till morning.  The train followed the old Fremont trail as far as South Pass, the highest altitude in the Rockies crossed by this party.  The Richland County party had already subdivided until there were but nine wagons in the train with which the Mansfield men were connected.  Some had gone by the way of Salt Lake.  The Mansfield party followed Surplet's Cut-off which shortened the distance through the mountains but soon led back to the Fremont trail.  At Green River the company had its first accident.  The river was high and could not be forded.  A raft was constructed of cottonwood logs and Joe Leuthner swam the river with a cord and pulled a rope over and the raft was floated back and forth across the river with a rope at each end.  The men and wagons were ferried across and the mules had to swim.  On the last trip was a wagon filled with supplies belonging to an Ashland mess.  William Crouse and William Roseman were on the raft.  It upset and Roseman was drowned.  It was the only accident that occurred during the entire trip.  This train went down the Humboldt river to the Sink and there the party divided every mess for itself.  The mess in which Fred Walters traveled was composed of himself, Louis Remy, Joe Leuthner and Philip Wentz.  The other five men went by themselves.  The wagons had been deserted for now the great 40-mile desert was to be crossed.  Walter's crowd started across the desert at 4 o'clock in the afternoon and reached the Carson river at 8 o'clock the next morning.  It was remarkable speed at that time to cross the great American Sahara where Fremont crossed it although it is not near so wide as it is farther south.  The government and emigrant wagons that had been deserted by those who attempted to haul them across the desert were landmarks for those who crossed in '50.  But some would wander from the most direct trail, get lost and travel for two or three days before they reached water and fertile land again if they did not perish in their bewilderment.  The Mansfield crowd having divided, they never met again until they reached Hangtown, now Placerville, California, El Dorado County.  Mr. Walter and his companion arrived there July 10.  Mr. Vonhof and his companions arrived soon after.  Then the Mansfield party divided, some going north and others into the mines.  The only survivors are Fred Walter, Louis Vonhof and Ludwig Wolfarth and on this, the fortieth anniversary of their departure for California, they gave a supper to-night at the Grand Central to a number of Mansfielders who went to the land of gold the same year.  Among them are J.B. Netscher, Samuel Robinson, Joseph Reahes, William Niman, Eckles McCoy, of this city;  Peter Cromer and William Ferguson, who were in an Ashland Crowd in the train with the nine Mansfielders;  Jacob Huffman, of Savannah, and Enoch Van Niman, of Jeromesville, who were also in the train.  The feast will be a sumptuous affair, as has already been mentioned in the NEWS.

Mr. Netscher's party had a difficult experience.  They left Mansfield March 18, 1850, drove to Norwalk and then to Black River on sleds.  The ice on the lake had not yet broken up and from Black River they drove on the ice to Buffalo.  Then by rail to New York from which place they went to Panama by steamer, crossed the Isthmus and then went up the Pacific to San Francisco.  July 4 the boat's crew celebrated by getting drunk and on the next day the ship was wrecked off the Mexican coast.  All were rescued but one sailor.  They walked across the desert to the nearest port from whence they finished their journey aboard ship, reaching San Francisco about the middle of July. 

At the supper to-night reminiscences of these old days will be related by the survivors.  Some who have been invited cannot attend on account of infirmities of old age, but those who will be present will refresh each other's memories by tales of the trail, the camp and pioneer life in California.

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