A letter by Wade Hays from California

So, I wasn’t planning a new post, but I just spent 15 minutes typing a new letter from the Draper Manuscripts, then about an hour looking up details of the man’s family. This is why research can be so cumbersome. You start off on one task, then get sidetracked. It happens to all of us, even those who keep telling themselves, “the people are dead, what does it matter!” Alas, another hour I will never get back. However, the search turned up a little interesting information.

A little backtrack–most of the information about Daniel Boone is contained in an collection known as the Lyman Draper Manuscripts. These are a massive group of documents, letters, and interviews collected during the 19th century. Anyways, in the winter of 2016, I discovered our local library owns a set of the microfilm, and I dove into its depths in search of the original interview and letters from Daniel Boone’s son, Nathan Boone. What I discovered is a trove of family letters, memories, and other such history that I have been slowly reading and transcribing for use at the historic site where I work. I set out to discover if there is mention of family gossip concerning Nathan Boone’s family, as little is known outside his military career. I was beyond excited to find so many letters from family members and some even discuss Nathan and his family, as well as other details concerning life in Missouri before 1900.

Back to the letter I transcribed. The letter is from a Wade Hays (1828-ca 1912), grandson of Daniel Boone’s daughter Susannah Boone Hays. It’s typewritten and dated 1889. He gives a little biographical info, stating he and a few others moved to California in 1849 and met up with another Boone, Alphonso, a cousin to Wade’s father, William. This puts the Boone family right in the middle of one of our most exciting events, the California Gold Rush. Delving into a paper trail on Ancestry, I learn that Wade is not out for gold, but rather he buys land, lots of land, and raises cattle, then farms. He is successful enough to be worth $12,000 in real estate and $3,000 in personal assets in 1870, a time when many people were experiencing huge losses following the Civil War.

He and his wife, Mary Susan, have 4 children, but none of them have any children, so the line dies out. I have not found graves for any other than a son, Van E. Hays, who died at age 9 in 1874. The family lived in Los Angeles, so it’s likely with little family to claim the bodies, they may have been cremated or buried in unmarked graves. Fannie was the youngest child and the last to die in 1965, 20 years after her sister, Ida died, and about 30 years following her parents. So goes another lost history.




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