Sixth Generation


688. Thomas Gillham Kirkpatrick was born on 3 November 1823 in Bond Co., Illinois. He died on 7 May 1907 at the age of 83 in Ashcroft, British Columbia, Canada.


Thomas Gillham Kirkpatrick was born 3 November 1823 in Bond County, Illinois, and he died 7 May 1907 in Ashcroft, British Columbia, Canada. As a young man he married on 24 March 1847 in Grant County, Wisconsin, to Esther Jane Stiles, daughter of Reuben and Eliza Stiles, who was born ca. 1832 in Michigan and died in 1851.
In 1849 came news of the discovery of gold in California. Thomas was one who was fired by gold fever. He told his story to his son Samuel, who wrote it down as nearly as possible as it was told to him.

"...Eventually I was married, and during our second year of married life, [came] the startling news of the great Gold rush to California and of course I was set on going. My wife objected, but I promised to come back in two years with a fortune, or send money for her to join me in California. She finally gave in, but nearly broke her heart when we parted, and so I left this beautiful young woman and a handsome baby boy behind, never to see them again. O dear God, why did I do it?

"Well we eventually got rolling, about a hundred strong, with 60 wagons, mostly 4 horse teams, some had oxen. There was 12 women and about the same number of children. There was nothing but hardships from the start to finish. There was sickness and death, there were rivers to cross, some could be forded, others where the stock had to swim, and we had to build rafts to take our wagons and supplies across. There were prairies where there was no wood to cook with, there were desert like plains where there was no water, there were mountains to climb, mountain passes where the snow laid nearly all summer, and there were no roads. Indians were numerous. Though they did not attack our train, they did worry us. On many occasions they watched from nearby hills as our train went by. Many trains had gone ahead of us, so their track was easy enough to follow, but there were several routes. The Northern trail led to Oregon. Well all went well till we reached the fork where one route led south, then there was a split in opinions. The southern trail was said to be better traveling, but much longer so a vote was taken, and a small party including one of the assistant wagon bosses voted to go south. The others said we better keep plugging on over the shortest route as we were far behind our schedule now. So our party was split. But the party I was with, all reached California. We did meet many people who became discouraged and turned back. All the way from Missouri to the mountains we met them every day or so. I sent letters by some of them to my wife.

"Well, when we finally reached California, we were too late for the gold, as all the good ground was taken, and hundreds of claims were staked that were no good. Those that got good ground were taking out millions of dollars worth of gold. Hundreds of men were working for wages, while thousands were in the hills hunting for gold. New towns were springing up in a dozen places, and the big demand was for lumber. That was my chance, there was lots of good timber and plenty of water for power, so I got busy on a saw mill, and by early fall I was operating at full capacity, and really coining money. The climate was ideal. I was elated, the world seemed bright, my future was assured, and I was happy, so began to make plans to get my wife and son to California. I kept on trying to get a letter through to her, but there was no organized mail service. Many letters started on their way East. Some went by boat to Panama where freight was being toted across the Isthmus from the Atlantic, where hundreds of boats were bringing freight from all parts of the states, and during all this time I never got one word from home. I decided, I would have to make the trip East so I made all arrangements for a man to run my business, and the Bank that had opened up, to handle the finances, and made enquiries as to the best and quickest way to make the trip.

"Then suddenly a letter arrived, a letter that was to change my whole life, from a respected business man, to an outcast, a ruined man. I opened the letter. It was not from my wife, but from the old Mason [his father-in-law]. It started off, 'Dear Tom, your wife is dead.' That was all I could read. I got up and walked. My eyes were flooded with tears. It was night time. I walked towards the mountains, I never knew where I went or how far. It was nearly morning when I got home. I had tried all night to think, to hope there was some mistake, yet I knew it must be true.

"It brought my bright happy world crashing down on me. I was ruined, my plans, my hopes, were all blasted forever. What was I to do? Where could I go? I had to leave California, with all my happy dreams behind. I had to go somewhere, anywhere, to try and forget the past, so I sold out everything I had for the best offer for cash...

"Yes, I had to go, so I headed north for Oregon, on foot. I had my rifle and a small pack sack. I took my time. I spent months in the mountains. I found an empty trappers cabin and made it my headquarters till spring, then I wandered on. In early summer I arrived at what is now Portland, Oregon. It was a thriving community. Business men, men of all trades and professions, farmers, laborers, they were all settling here, and the crying need was lumber. Small boats plying up and down the coast brought what lumber that was to be had but they must [have] more. When they found I was a Millman they called a meeting, and made me offers. They would furnish all the help I needed, the farmers would haul the logs, and they would take their pay in lumber later on. Well it seemed to me that it was my duty to go ahead with this mill, not for myself, but those honest hard working people that needed the lumber. I knew the timber was good and very plentiful, so I agreed, and we went to work. Some forty odd men turned out the next day, many first class carpenters, and that mill was erected in short order. I also got a planer from San Francisco, and so the huge water wheel began to roll. We turned out the finest dressed fir lumber any man ever saw. It was taken right from the planer and hauled away, and in due course all my bills were paid off. Then the money started rolling in, but it didn't last long.

"A tall and distinguished looking man called on me and we had a long talk. He was a lumber baron from the East. He made a fortune in lumber and was now looking for a new field of operation. He asked if I would be interested in selling my business. I told him I hadn't given it much thought, but every man will sell at a price. 'Perhaps you could make me an offer and see how our opinions compare in regards to value.' he said 'I have been here several days and looked the situation over and am prepared to make you an offer that I think is fair to both of us.' Then he made his offer, which seemed to me to be outrageously high, so I said, 'Give me the rest of the day to think it over.' So I went back to work and tried to think. Money was no object, as I had more California Gold in pack than I wished to lug around. In regards to the future, there was no future for me. I knew 99 men out of a hundred would have refused the offer, as it was a chance of a lifetime. Thousands of acres of the finest fir in the world lined the Oregon coast, yet my feet were beginning to itch. I had that old urge to move on, so I went over after supper and accepted his offer, providing it was not in gold, so he paid me in paper currency on the First National Bank. Then I walked out a free man, with my eyes turned to the mountains in the east. I did not wait for morning. With my rifle and pack sack, I headed east in the moonlight. It was tough going but I made it through in time where I could look down on the beautiful country that is the Yakima-Winatchi fruit belt. The country was new but there was a few farms producing wonderful crops. One man had all his land in hay and grain, as he had a contract with the US Army, who were all mounted, and had over a thousand horses at their post in Oregon, and was looking for a man to haul the hay and barley from Yakima, Wash. to the Dalles, Oregon. He made me a good offer, so looked around and found that mules could be bought and there were many heavy wagons that came in overland from the East. So with 6 mules and 2 wagons, I was in business again. This was a very interesting life. I soon had more than I could handle, and had to hire a man. Well I followed this life for a couple of years, then I thought perhaps it was about time to file on a piece of ground, so I went into the foot hills for several days, and found a dandy spot, with a stream of water for irrigation. I picked a spot for a house, a barn, a chicken house and other buildings. I would get cattle, horses and chickens, a garden and fields of hay and grain. So I went back to Yakima and when I got there, I found several hundred people congregated around the shopping centre of the one street. They all seemed excited. I thought it meant disaster of some kind. I thought an Indian War or perhaps international trouble, but when I reached the centre of the crowd where a man in buckskin garb was doing the talking, I became excited too. He was a Canadian trapper who was well acquainted with the country from the Oregon to the interior of British Columbia. He was telling of the fabulously rich gold strike in the Caribou country of BC, on tributaries of the Fraser River, some four to five hundred miles from the coast. Well it didn't take me long to sell out to the man that worked for me. I bought a dozen horses and equipment and loaded them with supplies and I was ready to go. A great many men from the Yakima Valley made the same move, and within a week we were moving. We hired the trapper as guide. The Army Commander at the Dalles sent a detachment to escort us through to the Canadian border, as this was Nez Perce Indian country and they were known to be very hostile to the whites...And so I left the United States of America, along with my citizenship to that nation, never to return."

By the early 1860's, Thomas was in business once again at Cook's Ferry (now Spence's Bridge) on the Thompson River in British Columbia. Here he and his second wife had a son in 1863. She was an Indian from the Spatsum Indian Reserve. Family tradition states that she was not well and before her son was a year old, she returned to her people on the Spatsum Reserve, leaving her son with Thomas. Her name is not known.

About 1866, Thomas took a third wife, a "fine young woman from further up the valley, the Snapah Reserve...They were united according to tribal custom, by appearing before old Chief Chin Chin, who was dressed in his official garb. His frilled buckskin jacket was decorated with bear claws, porcupine quills and eagle feathers. His cap was of skunk skin decorated with the tails of flying squirrels, the skull of a redheaded woodpecker and a rattlesnake skin band." By this wife, whose name we also do not know, Thomas had another son. But shortly after the birth of this son, she died.

Thomas married a fourth time to Emma Barr, whose Indian name was Quimetco. She had both Indian and Scottish ancestry. She was the daughter of Jimmy Barr, who was the factor at Fort Kamloops. Thomas and Emma had eight children. Emma died in 1892 in Ashcroft, British Columbia.

Thomas ran a ferry across the Thompson River for many years and when there was talk of a bridge, he seized the opportunity. He sold his holdings in the ferry, bought a farm in Venables Valley and built a sawmill to cut the lumber for the bridge. The bridge was built by Thomas Spence and the name of the town was changed from Cook's Ferry to Spence's Bridge. Thomas ran the mill for many years, with people coming from all up and down the Caribou Road to buy from it.

In 1886, Thomas built a small general store in Ashcroft, British Columbia. In 1888 he sold the store and bought land in Highland Valley. There he started an orchard and grew small fruits. After Emma died in 1892, Thomas sold his holdings in Highland Valley and Venables Valley.

Thomas was a vigorous man even in later years, as a note found in the Ashcroft (B.C.) Journal, November 4, 1899, testifies: "Mr. T. G. Kirkpatrick, age 71, on being requested to assist to load cattle at 11 o'clock at night flatly refused. As an excuse for his refusal he said he had been in the saddle for two days." After an adventurous and active life, Thomas spent his last years in Ashcroft, British Columbia, where he died on 7 May 1907. He had attained 83 years, 6 months and 4 days of life.

Thomas Gillham Kirkpatrick and Esther Jane Stiles were married on 24 March 1847 in Grant Co., Wisconsin.134 Esther Jane Stiles, daughter of Reuben Stiles and Eliza ???, was born about 1832 in Michigan. She died in 1851 at the age of 19 in Wisconsin.

Thomas Gillham Kirkpatrick and Esther Jane Stiles had the following children:

1550

i.

Name Unknown Kirkpatrick was born in 1850.

Thomas Gillham Kirkpatrick and 2nd Wife UnknownTGK were married in 1863. 2nd Wife UnknownTGK was born (date unknown).

Thomas Gillham Kirkpatrick and 2nd Wife UnknownTGK had the following children:

+1551

i.

William Valentine Kirkpatrick.

Thomas Gillham Kirkpatrick and 3rd Wife UnknownTGK were married in 1867. 3rd Wife UnknownTGK was born (date unknown).

Thomas Gillham Kirkpatrick and 3rd Wife UnknownTGK had the following children:

+1552

i.

James Douglas Kirkpatrick.

Thomas Gillham Kirkpatrick and Emma Barr were married before 1870 in Cook's Ferry, British Columbia, Canada. Emma Barr, daughter of Jimmy Barr, died in 1892 in Ashcroft, British Columbia, Canada. She was also known as Quimetco.

Thomas Gillham Kirkpatrick and Emma Barr had the following children:

1553

i.

John Grant Kirkpatrick was born on 26 February 1871 in Cook's Ferry, British Columbia, Canada.

+1554

ii.

Ida Isabella Kirkpatrick.

+1555

iii.

Mary Rhoda Kirkpatrick.

+1556

iv.

Litta Kirkpatrick.

1557

v.

Frank Kirkpatrick was born on 17 November 1880 in Venables Valley, British Columbia, Canada.

1558

vi.

Samuel D. Kirkpatrick was born on 24 November 1883 in Venables Valley, British Columbia, Canada. He died on 15 April 1966 at the age of 82 in Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada.4

+1559

vii.

Thomas G. Kirkpatrick.

1560

viii.

Syrene Kirkpatrick was born between 1889 and 1890 in Highland Valley, British Columbia, Canada.