Friday, August 28, 2009

George Emerson, Forty Niner




Carrie (Batchelder) Allen wearing the gold nugget
surrounded by her descendants, early 1950s



George Emerson’s parents were from New Hampshire, raised in Milford and removing to South Boston, Massachusetts sometime soon after their marriage in 1810. George was born in 1817, and married Mary Esther Younger in 1845. He was listed as a “boot and shoe worker.” This young family had two babies by the time gold was found in California in 1848.

Like many young men of the time, the call to go west and find his fortune hit George Emerson. He joined the New England and California Trading and Mining Company, which was headed by Herman H. Greene and Samuel Whitmarsh. 100 young fortune seekers paid $300 for a share in the corporation. $300 must have been quite a grand sum in those days. It seemed that every available New England ship was recruited to bring young miners to San Francisco that year. The New England and California Trading and Mining Company purchased the ship “Leonore”, which had been built in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Before leaving Boston on February 3, 1849 the miners attended a special religious service at the Tremont Temple, and the Reverend Edward Beecher (brother to the authoress Harriet Beecher Stowe of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” fame) preached to them about morality. He admonished them to bring their good New England values with them as they traveled into the wilderness. After an uneventful voyage the "Leonore" reached San Francisco on July 5th. History books record the adventure as a bust, with no gold found and the ship "Leonore" was abandoned in San Francisco harbor.

Somehow George Emerson found his way home, because by 1851 he was back in Boston, and had fathered a third child. He eventually had eight children, and named the youngest, a daughter, Leonore. George became a Boston police officer, stationed at Field’s Corner. He died in 1890 at Dorchester, Massachusetts.

And what was his legacy? Well, at least one gold nugget was passed along in the family. His second child was Mary Katharine Emerson, who married George E. Batchelder in Chichester, New Hampshire in 1869. Their second daughter, Carrie Maude, born in 1872, wore the gold nugget on a chain around her neck, until she was quite elderly. According to a family story, it was going to be sold to finance her last years in a retirement home in Rowley, Massachusetts, but a son sold it and took an extended vacation to Florida.

And what happened to the ship “Leonore”? Hundreds of ships were abandoned in San Francisco in the wake of the 1849 Gold Rush. Many became “ghost ships.” Many were scuttled for landfill. The “Leonore” became a whaler and eventually hauled timber. The ‘49er George Emerson named his youngest daughter after her, and granddaughter Carrie named her eldest daughter Leonore, too. My great aunt Leonore (we called her Lena) was told that she was named after the covered wagon that took her ancestor west. It was only when George’s name was found on the passenger list of the New England and California Trading and Mining Company that we all found out the truth behind the gold rush myth!


Emerson Family Tree showing the girls named Leonore:

Gen. 1. Romanus Emerson, b. 1 Sep. 1782 in Townsend, Massachusetts, raised in Hancock, New Hampshire, d. 10 Oct 1852 in South Boston, married on 22 Nov. 1810 in Boston to Jemima Burnham b. 9 May 1783 in Milford, New Hampshire, and died 5 Aug. 1868

Gen. 2. Son, George Emerson, b. 11 Jul. 1817 in South Boston, and d. 11 Jan 1890 in Dorchester, married on 11 Aug. 1845 to Mary Esther Younger, daughter of Levi Younger and Catherine Plummer Jones, b. 17 Feb. 1826 d. after 1910. Children of George and Esther (Eight born in Dorchester and South Boston):

Gen. 3. Child #2. Mary Katherine Emerson, b. 25 Dec. 1847 in South Boston, d. 23 Apr. 1932 in Roxbury, m. on 28 Oct. 1869 in Chichester, New Hampshire to George E. Batchelder, b. 8 Oct. 1848, d. 28 Jul 1914 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was the son of George E. Batchelder and Abigail M. Locke of Chichester, New Hampshire. (Nine children born in Chichester and Boston)

Gen. 4. Child # 2. Carrie Maude Batchelder b. 22 Sep. 1872 in Chichester, d. 21 Jan 1963 in Rowley, Massachusetts, m. on 1 Nov. 1892 in Essex, Massachusetts to Joseph Elmer Allen. He was the son of Joseph Gilman Allen and Sarah Burnham Mears, b. 24 Sep 1870 in Essex, d. 12 Mar 1932 at the Masonic Home in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. (Five children born in Boston, Cambridge and Dorchester)

Gen. 5. Child #1. LEONORE Carrie Allen, b. 20 Mar. 1894 in Boston, d. Jan 1973 in Stamford, Connecticut, m. 1. on 29 Dec 1912 in Essex, Massachusetts to Waldo Emerson Cooper, m. 2. after 1920 to Thomas J. McCormack.

Also in Gen. 4. Child #8. LEONORE Emerson b. 28 Jan 1865 in Boston, d. 3 Mar 1944 in Los Angeles, California, m. on 17 Jun. 1903 at Boston to John Milton Earl Morrill. He was the son of John Langley Morrill and Elmina L. Mansfield, b. 8 Aug. 1857 in Middleton, Connecticut. And so it appears that "Leonore" went to California twice!

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Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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