Gird Family Information

"Tales of Pioneers Girds":  More Wagon Train Stories
Compiled and edited by Teddie Anne Stueber
June 11th, 1999

Henry Harrison  & Martha Stites (LEWIS) GIRD
* NOTE: Martha Stites Lewis is a descendant of William STITES, Humphrey UNDERHILL, Nicholas KNAPP, Peter WILCOX (WILCOCKS), and HALL, THOMPSON, LOCKWOOD Families etc. of Long Island.

I t was nearly dark one evening, and the woman were preparing the evening meal. The children were down by the stream near the wagon camp-site playing there in the sand. As the men began to gather around the fire for supper, they heard the sound of hoof beats. Of course, they hustled the women and children into the wagons, loaded their rifles and waited. The Indians rode into camp and walked around looking into every wagon and box. They took nothing. Then they came to the fire and helped thewmselves to the fresh-cooked meat and other food. When all the food was eaten, they quickly got up and rode away. The pioneers knew that had they resisted, a quite different fate would have been theirs. They discovered later that the wagon train ahead of theirs was completely demolished by Indians.
The wagon train crossed Kit Carson Pass in late September, six months out of St. Louis and well ahead of winter snows. On the west end of the pass they stopped to rest from the trials of the long journey and let the stock recuperate on the feed in the well-watered valley.
On a November day they were experiencing their first California rain; a steady downpour on the horses and cattle,  huddled under trees for shelter; on the covered wagons; on the tent where Martha Gird lay with her new-born daughter, Mary. That night the stream overflowed its banks and invaded the tent. When the water was a foot deep, they carried the mother and child on their bed to higher ground.
Finally it stopped raining and the sun came out. An old miner heard of the new baby and brought his gold-rocker to present to the baby for a cradle. Yes, this baby, Mary Gird, always liked to tell how she was born on November 4, 1853 in a tent, and how she slept in a gold Rocker for a cradle.
The first Gird Ranch was near Hangtown, later renamed Placerville, a booming mining town in 1853. Henry never felt the lure of the mines, but went to farming, raising stock and selling his produce to the miners. One time when he took a load of wheat to town, Martha Gird sent along 15 pounds of butter and 12 dozen eggs. Butter sold for a dollar a pound and eggs a dollar a dozen. Their son, William was born in Hangtown on January 22, 1856. (a dollar in those days was a day's top wages).

Deciding to go further north, they moved to a ranch near Nicholas, in Sutter County.  A third child, Lucy Ellen *, was born here on February 28, 1859. The fall of '61 found them at Calto Lake, Mendicino County where they spent a hard, cold winter. In the spring, they moved down the coast to San Jose. ( Lucy Ellen Gird is my Great Grandmother).

By the Fall of '62, they reached Los Angeles, where they purchased the Cienega Rancho, where they remained nearly 20 years. This ranch was nearly 1000 acres in the Crenshaw, Angeles Vista, La Brea section of modern Los Angeles. ( now the heart of downtown LA. The famous La Breas Tar Pits was on part of their Ranch).  It was then an ideal farming and stock raising location and the family prospered. Two more daughters were born here:  Sarah Ann (called "Sally") on February 24, 1863, and Katie Lenora, born on May 17, 1868.  Sally died Ocotber 23, 1884.  Henry & Martha had another daughter, Carrie Augusta, born July 4, 1866.  She lived only a few months, dying on October 6, 1866.

With the children growing up, they needed a school. Henry Gird became active in organinzing a school district, with the result that a district bearing his name was formed. It is still in existence today.  It was bounded on the south by Vernon, on the east by Los Angeles, on the north by Santa Monica, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.

(All the stories are taken from Gird Family histories and journals written by Gird-Lamb Family; from the "Historical California", a book written about the Early Pioneer Families of California around the turn of this century, and from "History of Northern San Diego County").

Compiled and edited by Teddie Anne Stueber
June 11th, 1999

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