A Year In Mill Valley

Miner 49’er


I don’t know how many times my mother has mentioned that there’s a 49’er in our family (that’s the gold type, not the football type). This year Nathaniel’s class did a project on the California Gold Rush, and so I had him call up Granny Weez and ask her to tell him what she knew. In the interest of putting it down somewhere for posterity, here is what she sent him:

“Gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California. That is not too far from you, Nathaniel.

John Hogan went from Belfast, Maine, to California to dig for gold in 1849.

He drove a stage coach from Maine to Missippi. He went by boat to Nicaragua. He went by rowboat to San Francisco (that’s the story at least). He found gold, and invested in apple orchards in Oregon or Washington.

He returned East in the last 1800s or early 1900s. My mother Ada J. Mahoney, was a very young girl and remembered meeting him, and that he was planning to go to New York City to see the Wild Bill Hickok’s Wild West Show at Madison Square Garden (ref, ref). One tale has it that he had a horse named “Sweet Marie” in one of the first Kentucky Derby races. Marie was the name of my mother’s older sister (Marie Louise Mahoney).

John Hogan was the Great Uncle of Ada Dowling Mahoney (my Grandmother). The Dowlings were shipwrights from Belfast, Ireland. Maine (then part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony) was the source of pine masts for the sailing ships. Certain trees were marked as the “King’s Pines” meaning that no one except King George’s representatives could cut them. The Dowlings and others liked being far away from the King’s rule in Ireland and founded what is now Belfast, Maine. The were boat builders, ship captains, pilots and stayed on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. One Dowling — Captain John Dowling — was lost at sea in a big storm in the 1920s, between Boston and Portland. Your Uncle Chris has the middle name “Dowling”.

Ada J. Mahoney Horgan, your Great Grandmother, was the daughter of Ada Dowling Mahoney, and John Hogan was her Great Uncle. That means you go back to John Hogan via:
– Your Father: Frank Leahy
– Your Grandmother (me): Louise Horgan Leahy
– Your Great Grandmother (my Mother): Ada J. Mahoney Horgan
– Your Great Great Grandmother (my Grandmother): Ada Dowling Mahoney
– Your Great Great Great Great Uncle: John Hogan

Hope this helps with your class, and is not too confusing.
Love, Granny Weez”

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