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Emma L. Smith


Posted By: Steven Showers (email)
Date: 2/11/2012 at 21:45:42

Born: 6 Jan. 1852, Illinois or Iowa
Died: 21 April 1930, Mill Valley, California
Married: Henry Jerome Foland, 3. Sept. 1868, Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri
Children: Louis Clare (b. 6 Oct. 1869, Kansas – d. 12 August 1906, Mendocino Co., Ca);
Ida Mabel (b. 11 Sept. 1871, Kansas - d. 22 April 1973, Campbell, Ca.- wife of Edgar Clarence Briggs);
William Herbert (b. 25 Sept. 1873, Kansas - d. 6 Sept. 1898 Mendocino Co.);
Nellie Frances (b. 12 Nov. 1875, Atchinson Co., Kansas – d. 10 May 1959, Eureka, Humboldt Co., Ca.);
Alice Evelyn (b. 27 Nov. 1880, Kansas/California – d. 7 Feb. 1974, Mill Valley, Marin Co., Ca.)

We know little of Emma’s life compared to her father Josiah C. Smith and grandfather Henry F. Smith (see their biographies). She was born just as the family was moving to Iowa, and indeed the various census records give both states as her place of birth. She grew up in Iowa on the family farms outside West Union, and at the age of 10 in 1862 saw her father leave for the Civil War that kept him away three years. Her grandfather Henry F. Smith was nearby in West Union, but he died in 1863, and her uncles seem to have moved on to other places in Iowa and further west. She must have helped her mother with the farm chores and perhaps tended her younger brother William Henry, but the absence of a strong male figure in her life during the time she was becoming a young woman may have been a significant factor in her choice of an older man for marriage.

She chose to marry when she just sixteen to a man apparently the same age as her father (about 45), also born in 1823. No one has yet discovered any connection between Henry J. Foland and Josiah C.Smith that would suggest he was an old family friend or comrade in arms who could have visited the farm in Iowa and become close to the family and Emma. How she ended up in Kansas in 1868 is a mystery as well. She seems to have had the blessing of her father who gave her his family Bible the month she married, so perhaps the couple left Iowa for Kansas and married when they arrived. Did she elope with Henry, perhaps because her mother disapproved? Like so many events discovered in genealogy, we must wonder at the motivations for actions that lack explanations.

Whatever the case with the marriage choice, the Folands set up their home on a Kansas farm, and began to raise a family with the arrival of their son Louis Clare in October of 1869. They started in Jackson County but perhaps moved to Atchinson Co. by the mid 1870s. Over their twelve years in Kansas the family would grow to five children, but the birth place of the last, Alice Evelyn is unclear. Some later census records suggest she was born in Kansas in 1880, but for the actual census taken that year, Henry and Emma’s family had come west and are listed in Santa Ana, California. Alice is not named as she was not yet born since the census was taken before he birth in November.

Why a move to California? Henry might have been in the state in the decade following the Gold Rush since an H.J. Foland is named as a partner on a mining certificate issued on 15 August 1863 for the Bell & Curts G, & S. M,. Co. in Amador County. And his interest in mining seems to have continued since on 20 March 1886 Henry received a land patent from the federal government for 160 acres in Calaveras County (Accession/Serial # CACAAA 053634). This was not a family farm since at this time it appears Henry and Emma were on the other side of the state on the coast in Mendocino. What became of the land is not known, but it seems Henry brought Emma and the family to California in search of new opportunities.

By 1890 the family is on the sparsely populated northern California coast at Whitesboro, Mendocino County, where Henry is listed in the Great Register (of voters), age 64, born in NY, and a farmer by occupation. A Postal Route Map dated 1884, shows Whitesboro just south of Albion (probably no more than 1 mile) and just north of Navarro. On a modern atlas there is a Whitesboro Cove at the mouth of Big Salmon Creek, just south of Albion. Highway 128 follows the old road.

Emma and Henry were still on the coast when their daughter Ida Mabel married Edgar C. Briggs in 1897 (the couple’s photograph was taken at Ft. Bragg). Emma’s brother William Henry Smith visited the family in Whitesboro that year (perhaps for the wedding), and on June 20 he wrote in the autograph book of his niece Ida Mabel:

May your life be ever happiness

And may pleasure be your lot

But don’t forget your

Mother & Father in their

Old age and I will

Remember you when

I am gone

Your Uncle

WH Smith

Emma seems to have given the old family Bible of her father Josiah to Ida Mabel, and perhaps it was part of a wedding present just as her father had given it to her at the time of her marriage. It was probably Ida who added new dates including the birthdays for herself, her husband, and her children.

The Great Register of 1898 for Mendocino County lists Henry Jerome Foland, 68 years old in 1891 (the year of his most recent voter registration), William Herbert Foland, 21 years old in 1894, Louis Clair Foland, 25 years old in 1895, and all have a residence for the Whitesboro Post Office, Albion precinct. But tragedy struck the family that same year when William Herbert was killed in a train accident near Albion on 6 September. According to the 10 Sept. edition of the "Mendocino Beacon"

"A fatal accident occured on the Albion railroad last Tuesday, resulting in the death of a young man named Wm. Folen (sic), Folen was a brakeman, and is some manner he fell under the car and was horribly mangled. Both legs were cut off and his body was almost cut in two. It is said that Folen was intending to shortly quit his position and
get married. The accident happened near the upper woods camps, and was said to have been unavoidable."

How Emma reacted to the death of her younger son can be imagined, but her family carried on, with the marriage of Nellie Frances to Clarence Orion Weatherby in San Francisco 29 Dec. 1898 where they must have spent their honeymoon before they moved to the logging company town of Falk, California just outside of Eureka. Weatherby was a railroad engineer, and over the next decade they had four children Harold Edward (1899- 1956), Leslie Clare (1901-1901), Russell Sydney (1902-1989), Gladys Frances (1907-1994).

About 1900 Emma and Henry were still in Mendocino although they were missed in the census, but Louis is recorded as living in Garberville as a boarder. Ida and her husband Edgar Briggs were still in the north coast area, now living in Bucksport south of Eureka. However, on 29 December 1904 Henry died, age 81, and was buried in the family plot in the Little River Cemetery beside his son William. His side of the pillar with the Foland name states “NOT DEAD BUT SLEEPING.” What Emma intended with this epitaph is not readily apparent, but perhaps she believed death was not the end of existence and that Henry was waiting for her.

Yet another tragedy struck Emma on 12 Aug. 1906 when Louis drowned in another logging accident. He too was interred in the family plot with his brother and father. According to researcher Kathy Moore (granddaughter of Gladys Frances Weatherby), Emma lived for a time in Falk, apparently with her daughter Nellie, and the likely time for this was after the death of Henry or Louis when she would have been alone at Whiteboro.

Emma’s youngest daughter Alice Evelyn had married to George Baker, and the couple moved to Mill Valley in 1906. Alice lived there for the next 68 years and died in Feb. 1974. By the end of her life Emma had moved to Mill Valley with or near Alice, and it was there that she died in 1931. Before her death she had passed on to her children the mementos of her father’s Civil War service and the family Bible.

Her obituary states she died 21 April 1930, age 78 years, 2 months, 15 days. Length of residence at place of death: 5 mo. in Mill Valley; in Calif. 52 or 53 yrs. Informant Mable Briggs. Funeral was held at 3 o'clock at the parlor of Keaton, Dusel and Dowd in Mill Valley. Mrs Foland who resided in Eureka for many years died yesterday at the home of her daughter Mrs. Mable Briggs in Mill Valley. She had been ill for some time. survived by 3 daughters. Mable, Mrs Alice E. Baker of Mill Valley, and Mrs. Nellie Weatherby of Eureka.


Fayette Biographies maintained by Constance Diamond.
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