Lavinia Ellen McMahan, Daughter Mrs. Anna Y. Reed
Birth Place: New Albany, Ind.
Pioneer Father: Tilghman Clarke
Birth Place: Baltimore, MD
Date of Arrival in California: —
Pioneer Mother: Jane Lewis Clarke
Birth Place: North California
Date of Arrival in California: —
Remarks: Mrs. McMahan arrived in California April 2nd, 1851 via the Isthmus.
The subject of this sketch Mrs. Ellen L. J. McMahan was born in New Albany, Indiana June 19th 1823. She was the third of a family of nine children. Her father Tilghman Clarke was a native of Baltimore, Md. Her mother Jane Lewis Clarke was a native of Maryland. In 1808 her parents moved to Indiana locating in Floyd County. Mrs. McMahan was twice married. On June 20, 1841 she was married to John B. Yount a native of CapeGirardeau Co. Miss. Of six children but there are none living. George N. Yount of Trinity Co. Mrs. Anna Y. Reed and Mrs. Hattie Lamont of S. F. a son John B. Yount died 1858. Mr. Yount Sr. was a steamboat engineer and was for many years employed in that capacity on the Mississippi River. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Yount lived near St. Louis. The discovery of gold in California turned a strong tide of emigration toward the Pacific Coast. Mr. and Mrs. Yount decided to join the multitude and seek their fortune in the new El Dorado. Mr. Yount left St. Louis May 1850 crossing the plains and arrived at Sutter’s Fort August 15th . After deciding to make California his home. Mr. Yount returned for his family. They did not follow the trail of 1849 behind slow moving teams of oxen. Their route was none the less perilous and their journey marked by extraordinary privations and hardships. They left New Orleans Feb. 13th 1851 accompanied by their two children George and Anna and a nephew John T. Yount. They boarded the steamer Falcon bound for Cuba, transferring to the George Laws en route to the Isthmus. They had for travelling [sic] companions Mr. and Mrs. Scoofey. Upon their arrival at Chagres the entire party embarked on smallboats. Each boat was poled up the river by two natives almost nude. The rain fell in torents but no stop was made until morning. A landing was then made at a point where there was no protection from the rain or sun except that afforded by stretching canvas over poles driven in the ground. They paid $1.00 per hour for the privilege of lying down in a tent. After a rest of two hours the tedious journey was resumed. When the day dawned they were in the midst of a most beautiful country, and the warm rays of sun soon dried their clothing. They had plenty of food that they had brought with them so they landed, prepared their breakfast. The morning meal was heartily enjoyed. As Mr. Scoofey spoke Spanish they found no difficulty in securing supplies. After a rest the journey was resumed and no halt made until evening when they reached a native village and occupied a cabin with with a dirt floor. Mr. Kelsey, Mr. Bradley, and Mr. Yount slept in hammocks on the lower floor while the rest of the party ascended to the second story by means of notches or steps cut in a pole about a foot in diameter. They breakfasted early the next morning and returned to the boats. They reached Gorgona 3pm and remained all night . The next morning they mounted mules and continued on their journey to Panama. They arrived at 9pm. After a search of two hours they found quarters . The Scoofeys’ had tickets for the first steamer but the Younts did not and were compelled to wait. They visited many places of interest during a wait of five days. They then boarded a new steamer, the Pacific Union. A terrible storm was encountered in the Gulf of Tehantepec. The vessel shipped a great deal of water and the engineer was sick in bed. Mr. Yount told the captain that he was an engineer and volunteered his services. He was called at 11 o’clock at night and went direct to the engine room and remained in charge until the steamer reached Acapules where it was put in good condition. Mr. Yount doing the work. They remained there five days receiving every courtesy from the grateful passengers who felt that they were endebted [sic] to Mr. Yount for their lives. The boys saw for the first time a cock and bull fight. Mr. Y. bought a rooster for each of them and some hens for Mrs. Y. This was the beginning of an important poultry industry which she started afterwards in El Dorado County. The party reached S.F. Apr. 1851 proceded [sic] Benecia thence to Napa Creek by boat. After reaching Napa Creek by boat. After reaching Napa Mr. C.W. Clarke who was a brother of Mr. Yount’s and a friend named Vines met them with teams and conveyed them to the Vines home. They remained about two weeks waiting for the water of Napa Creek to subside when they proceeded to the home of George C. Yount, uncle of John Yount who came to California in 1832. They remained with G.C.Y. until Feb. 1852 when Mr. Clarke advised them to go to Big Canon El Dorado County. Where Mr. C. lived. There was a great excitement among the mines when it was learned that there was a baby two months old in the camp. On Sunday all the miners for miles around congregated at Pekin to see the baby. As they all wanted to appear at their best there was quite a demand at Mr. Clarks store for calico shirts. His stock was soon exhausted. The miners would not be satisfied until the baby was taken to the store for exhibition. All shouted for joy and many shed tears. A few years later March 20, 1857 he died of whooping cough. The little fellow Cransford occupied a large place in the hearts of the miners and was greatly mourned when he died. On October 6th 1857 an event occurred which overwhelmed the family with grief. Some time previous an old broken down tramp incurably afflicted with sore eyes, penniless homeless and without friends appealed to Mr. Yount for assistance. Mr. Yount’s sympathies were deeply touched. He gave the man a home and treated his eyes, but the man was ungrateful for all this kindness, and in a short time proved untrustworthy, so Mr. Yount told him he must go his way as he could care for him no longer. The ungrateful friend waylaid and assassinated his benefactor and Mrs. Yount who went to his assistance was forced to a desperate struggle before assistance arrived. Four months and half later a son was born and named for his father.
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