Being a Respository of the Historical Cemeteries of Humboldt County, California

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Petrolia Pioneer Cemetery: Wright, Lucian Merritt, Jr.


Lucian Merritt, Jr. Lucian Merritt Wright, Jr. was born in 26 June 1854 at Lake Geneva, Walworth County, Wisconsin (1), the fourth child of Lucian Merritt and Lucy Ann Farnsworth Wright. He was born between the time that his father returned from his 49er expedition to California and the family moved west in 1859. Lucian, Jr. was a boy of 5 at the time of this journey (2) and grew up in the Mattole Valley at his family's farm north of Petrolia. Lucian married Alice May Smith, the daughter of William Dayton and Mary Ellen Johnston Smith at Petrolia on 15 October 1882. Together they ranched and raised eleven children in the Mattole:
  1. Georgia May Wright born 14 October 1883 at Petrolia (married George Smith)
  2. Lucy Ellen Wright born 18 March 1885 at Petrolia (married Orson Newton "Budd" Dudley)
  3. Otto Lucian Wright born 15 July 1887 at Petrolia (married Bessie Elinore Stanley)
  4. Kathrine Alice Wright born 31 May 1889 at Petrolia (married 1st Walter Reuben Hunter, was widowed, and married 2nd Dwight Adams)
  5. Amy Wright* born November 1890 at Petrolia (died as a child)
  6. Addie Sonoma Wright born 29 August 1891 at Petrolia (married Norman Eugene Vredenburg)
  7. Anna Vernetta Wright born 18 February 1894 at Petrolia (married Reed Pomeroy Cook)
  8. Lola Lovene Wright born 31 March 1895 at Petrolia (married Richard Williams)
  9. Son Wright* born May 1896 at Petrolia (died at 18 months)
  10. Hazel Idella Wright born May 1897 at Petrolia (married Emmett Louis Tighe)
  11. Viola Consuella Wright born 15 August 1898 in California (married Walter T. Watson)
  12. Dayton Hiram Wright born 8 November 1900 at Petrolia (married Jennie E. Turner)
  13. Mildred Myrtle Wright born 27 July 1902 at Petrolia (married 1st Milton Tufts, married 2nd a man by the name of Angeli)
In 1920, when their children were adults, Lucian and Alice were enumerated on separate censuses: Lucian living with some of the children in the Mattole (3) and Alice living in Eureka with some of the other children(4). By 1930 they were living under one roof again, at 3461 Pine Street in Eureka with four of their daughters: Addie, Viola, divorced daughter Lola Williams with her daughter Alice, and married daughter Mildred Tufts with her husband Milton and their children Garth and Pauline (5).

In 1942 Lucian fell, and fracturing his hip, was bedridden from then until his death on 4 May 1943. He would have been 90 on the 26th of that month. At the time of his death he had 14 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Alice May Smith Wright died on 15 June 1961 and is buried at Ocean View Cemetery in Eureka (6).

*Buried at Petrolia Pioneer Cemetery

I wish to emphasize that the information I publish on this blog is to the best of my knowledge. I do my best to research my subjects as deeply as possible and provide sources as they are available. When misinformation (or, as in the case of some of the sons-in-law of Lucian, the lack of information) is discovered, I welcome corrections and supplemental information. Please feel free to contact me via the comment utility: I will respond with a personal email.


  1. Ferndale Enterprise 7 May 1943 "Lucian Wright Funeral Today"

  2. The Journal of Rosina M. Wright Johnson, 1930 (courtesy Mattole Valley Historical Society)

  3. 1920 United States Federal Census (26 January) Mattole Township, Humboldt, California: Village of Petrolia

  4. 1920 United States Federal Census (17 January) Eureka, Humboldt California: 3442 Little California Street

  5. 1930 United States Federal Census (16 April ) Eureka, Humboldt, California: 3461 Pine Street

  6. Eureka Humboldt Standard 16 June 1961 "Mrs Alice May Wright"

Photographs courtesy from the collection of the Mattole Valley Historical Society

Monday, March 14, 2011

Petrolia Pioneer Cemetery: Wright, Lucian Merritt, Sr. & Lucy Ann Farnsworth

Lucian Merritt, Sr. & Lucy Ann Farnsworth

Lucian Merritt Wright, Sr. was born near Montreal, Quebec (1) in 1813 of Massachusetts-born parents (2). At 22 he left his home in Canada and immigrated to Belvidere, Boone County, Illinois and in the spring of 1836 he went north to settle in Walworth County, Wisconsin, where, according to a history written in 1912, he "owned land north of Duck Lake and he built a kiln and made lime of the best quality(3)." According to the county's website, Walworth County was first settled in 1835, the first families coming "principally from New York state (4)." Lucian married a young woman from New York state "soon after" going to Walworth County, according to his obituary. His wife, Lucy Ann Farnsworth, was born 5 October 1822 in New York (5), the eldest child of Zacheus and Salome Lyon Farnsworth. The earliest record of the Farnsworth family in Walworth County is Zacheus' enumeration in the 1842 Wisconsin State Census (6). Three points of data tell of the Farnsworth's pioneer trek: the birth of daughter Julia in New York in 1836; the family's enumeration on the 1840 census in McHenry County, Illinois (where daughter Adelia was born); and the 1842 Wisconsin State Census which establishes them, as well as Lucian Wright, at Geneva in Walworth County.

How soon after arriving in Wisconsin Lucian married is debatable. Did Lucy marry and leave her family as a 14 year old girl, somehow having formed an attachment with Lucian at some earlier time? Or are we to look at the records rather than Lucian's obituary and surmise that the "soon after" remembered many years later was the relative time of a few years? At any rate, Lucian and Lucy Ann's first child, Marshall, was born 1 June 1844 in Walworth County (see previous blog entry). Their daughter Mary Henrietta was born 28 January 1849, also in Walworth County. Sometime during that year, according to the 1930 memoir of his daughter Rosina Wright Johnson, Lucian conferred "with his wife's uncle Mr. Hiram Lyon" and went west to California (7). Rosina states that he returned later the same year but according to his obituary he stayed "for three years, when fortune favored him, and he returned to Wisconsin for his family." This seems to be the more likely story. Lucy Ann appears as the solitary head of her household on the 1850 census with her two young children. Not to worry, however: the very next households enumerated were those of her siblings and widowed mother (8)!

Lucian, again according to Rosina's memoir "arrived safely home [and] he again engaged in farming and burning of lime from limestone quarried on his farm." Rosina M. was the next child born to Lucian and Lucy Ann in 1852. In 1855 a second son, Lucian Merritt, Jr. was born and in 1857 daughter Lucy Salome was born. In 1859 it was decided the family would immigrate to California and on 8 April of that year the left via wagon train on the overland route. Rosina lists the members of their party in her memoir:
"Lucian Wright, his wife Lucy Ann Wright, son Marshall, past 13, Mary, 10, Rosa, 7, Lucian Jr. nearly 5, Lucy S., 2. And Marcus Baldwin, his wife Esther L. one daughter Ella, nearly 5, a son Richard about 2, and Edward, 8 months. Asa Butler and wife Rosina, the three women being sisters...George Reynolds and wife Susan who were friends, near neighbors and newlyweds and thus took a long wedding journey. Frederick M. Farnsworth, a brother of the three sisters. Mrs. Leman, a widow and sister of Mr. Butler, and Roswell Burt, a widower from Geneva."
Lucian and Lucy Ann's daughter Susan Geneva was born "under the covering of a tent Sept. 5. in Honey Lake Valley in Lassen Co." Family lore states that she was named Susan after the settlement of Susanville, but it should not be forgotten that the family travelled with a good friend named Susan (Mrs. Reynolds). Hiram Lyon met the party on the eastern side of the Coast Range with mules to pack and ride over into Humboldt County. Everyone, including the women and children, rode mule-back and Susan Reynolds "very kindly carried the new baby, little Susan, nearly all the time they were on horseback, thus relieving the mother who was not very strong." The group arrived at Hiram Lyon's place at Cuddeback in October.

The Wrights wintered over at Cuddeback and then preceded to their destination of the Mattole Valley, arriving there on 8 February 1860. On the first of June in that year the family was enumerated on the census at Mattole Township, Lucian being listed as a farmer. Rosina remembered: "There was a school taught by Charley Gillett which the older children attended...there were about twenty families in the valley at the time besides quite a number of bachelor's homes...Mr. Wright soon planted apple trees at the home and some of the trees are still bearing fruit in 1930, and many have eaten of the apples from the Wright orchard. The present generation knows nothing of the privations of the pioneer settlers in the Mattole valley, when Centerville was the nearest post office 20 miles distant, mail being sent by any person coming into the valley."
Lucian Wright's farm was North of present-day Petrolia and the North Fork of the Mattole River, on what is known as the Table. Petrolia Table Cemetery, the new area burial ground is not far from the lands inhabited by the Wright family. On 30 July 1867 Lucian and Lucy's last child was born near Petrolia, a daughter, Lestina May.
Lucian Merritt Wright, Sr. died at Petrolia on 24 December 1886. Lucy Ann and Lestina were enumerated, probably at the family home, on the 1900 and 1910 censuses. Lucy Ann Farnsworth Wright died 3 October 1913 at Petrolia. After her parents died, the home became known as "Tiny's place" as Lestina inherited it and lived there for a long while afterward.

Lucian Merritt and Lucy Ann Farnsworth Wright were true pioneers, not just as early settlers on the wild Lost Coast, but as pioneers to earlier places at earlier times. They are buried in the Petrolia Pioneer Cemetery in a plot with their daughter Lestina, who died on 7 August 1931(9).

The children of Lucian Merritt Wright, Sr. and Lucy Ann Farnsworth Wright:

  1. Marshall Wright* born 1 June 1844, Walworth County, Wisconsin (Married Martha Ann Rudolph*).
  2. Mary Henrietta Wright born 22 January 1849, Walworth County, Wisconsin (Married her second cousin, Elisha Lathrop Whipple). The Whipples lived in Mendocino County.
  3. Rosina M. "Rosy" Wright* born 1852, Wisconsin (Married Darlington Jeffries Johnson*).
  4. Lucian Merritt Wright, Jr.* born 1854, Wisconsin (Married Alice May Smith).
  5. Lucy Salome Wright* born 1857, Wisconsin (Married Elias Sanders Hunter*).
  6. Susan Geneva "Susie" Wright born 5 September 1859, Honey Lake Valley, Lassen County, California (Married Henry Odell Duff).
  7. Lestina May "Tina or Tiny" Wright* born 30 July 1867, Petrolia, Humboldt, California.
*Buried at Petrolia Pioneer Cemetery.
  1. Ferndale Enterprise 24 December 1886 "At Rest"

  2. 1880 United States Federal Census (3 & 4 June) Petrolia Precinct, Humboldt, California

  3. Beckwith, Albert Clayton: "History of Walworth County, Wisconsin" 1912, B.F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana

  4. "About Walworth County" page on Walworth County, Wisconsin's website, accessed 10 March 2011,

  5. Ferndale Enterprise 7 October 1913 "Pioneer Lady of Petrolia Dead"

  6. 1842 Wisconsin State Census (Geneva, Walworth County)

  7. The Journal of Rosina M. Wright Johnson, 1930 (Courtesy Mattole Valley Historical Society)1850 United States Federal Census (27 September) Geneva, Walworth, Wisconsin

  8. Ferndale Enterprise 14 August 1931 "Miss L. Wright Called By Death."
Photographs from the collection of the Mattole Valley Historical Society.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Petrolia Pioneer Cemtery: Wright, Marshall

Marshall & Martha Ann Rudolph

While there is no marked grave for either Marshall Wright or his wife Martha Ann Rudolph Wright, obituaries and death records establish that they are buried at the Petrolia Pioneer Cemetery.

Marshall was born 1 June 1844 in Walworth County, Wisconsin, the eldest child of Lucian Merritt & Lucy Ann Farnsworth Wright. When he was 5 years old Marshall's father went to the goldfields of California, spending 3 years in the west and, according to the journal of Marshall's little sister Rosina Wright Johnson, mining "with some success." In 1859 it was decided the family would immigrate to California and Humboldt County was decided upon as their destination (Marshall's great-uncle Hiram Lyon was already established at Cuddeback). Coming across the plains, they wintered near Hiram and then proceeded to the Mattole River Valley, arriving on 8 February 1860. Marshall would have been 15 years old at the time.
On 22 September 1872 Marshall was married at Petrolia to Martha Ann Rudolph, the daughter of Morgan and Rebecca Donaca Rudolph. Martha Ann was born on 23 June 1853 in Marion County, Oregon. Her family is first recorded in the Mattole Valley about 1866. Marshall and Martha Ann had at least ten children:
  1. Marshall Morgan "Vogue" Wright* born 19 March 1877 at Petrolia
  2. a daughter* born 15 November 1877 at Petrolia (died as a child)
  3. Hiram Wright* born 1878 at Petrolia (died as a child)
  4. Frank Frederick Wright* born 5 March 1879 at Petrolia
  5. Charles Ellsworth "Jack" Wright born May 1880, California (married Vivian Susan Titus)
  6. Martha Maude Wright born 21 March 1882 at Petrolia (married Ellis Hunter)
  7. Adeline Pearl "Addie" Wright born 23 March 1884 at Petrolia (married Otto William Clark)
  8. Chester Wright* born July 1886
  9. Minnie Myrtle Wright born 22 May 1890 at Petrolia (married Charles Clark Rackliff)
  10. Mortimer "Morty" Wright born 31 August 1892 at Petrolia (Morty was married but as of the time of this post's publication I have not discovered the name of his wife).
    Marshall and Martha Ann Rudolph Wright, who had come to the Lost Coast as young pioneers, spent the rest of their lives farming, ranching and raising their large family in the Mattole.
Marshall died on 31 January 1914 at Petrolia of "an extended illness." He was 69 years old.
Marshall's obituary was published in the 3 February 1914 issue of the Ferndale Enterprise (click to enlarge): Martha Ann Rudolph Wright died of influenza on 7 March 1920. Her obituary, from the 9 March 1920 Humboldt Standard:
The Asterisks:*The Petrolia Pioneer Cemetery is officially full and has been designated as a place of historic importance to the community. Though it is full, only a small fraction of the graves that it contains are marked. No records were kept throughout the years, so much is left to conjecture on the whereabouts of specific graves, while obituaries and death records continue to surface that tell us at least who some of the graves may contain. These asterisked children of Marshall and Martha Ann have been confirmed to be buried in the cemetery, though none (except Hiram) with any surviving monument. This was not likely a case of burials with no markers at the time but of wooden or other markers erected either as an economic or aesthetic choice. Weather, fire, earthquakes and vandals have all taken part in the destruction of these fragile markers.
United States Federal Censuses: 1850-1920
Humboldt County California Death Records
Ferndale Enterprise 3 February 1914
Humboldt Standard 9 March 1920
Photographs from the collection of the Mattole Valley Historical Society
The journal of Rosina M. Wright Johnson, courtesy of the Mattole Valley Historical Society