The Ogan Brothers ~ Westward HO!

John Ogan (1776-1837) and Mary “Polly” Douglass (1780-1838) are my paternal 3rd Great Grandparents. John was born in Virginia, and he moved to Silver Creek, Madison County, Kentucky in 1797. Here is where he met and married Mary, and they had 9 children 5 sons and 4 daughters. The family then moved to Midway, Boone County, Missouri in 1816.

Three of my 2nd Great Uncles were renowned hunters of their day in Boone County. James Simeral (born May 12, 1815) had a large score of trophies to his credit due to his steady hand and unerring eye, he was also very serviceable in ridding his township of wolves which made it almost impossible for any of the settlers to raise lambs or pigs, because this area was over run by them. His older brothers Irving Thomas (born October 15 Oct 1804) and John Martin (born 31 January 1812) killed about one hundred of the wolves and by this means gave the herds and flocks in the area the ability to live in safety. They also brought down deer and wild turkeys and frequently carried home the carcass of a bear to replenish the larders of the settlement, while they added to the comfort of their cabins with the pelts. James and Irving, assisted in founding the civil, educational and social institutions of both Boone and Linn Counties.

Another brother, the first-born of the family was named Alexander Marion (born August 16, 1799) who married Sally Austin (1806-1878), while John married Lucy Ann Harris (1810-1877) and James married Elizabeth Berry Harris (1817-1906) the sister of Lucy.

James, Alexander and John decided to make the long and difficult trek out west to California. They were not going to find gold but to find what they had heard to be “a land flowing with milk and honey”. They left Linn County Missouri in the spring of 1852 with their families in “horse drawn wagons”. They had a total of 24 children that accompanied them, with the 25th child, Sierra Nevada, being born while passing through the Sierra Mountains in Nevada.

Once the decision to make the trip was cast, the trials of the journey began. One major difficulty facing those on the California trail was the scourge of cholera, which stalked the trail from 1849 through at least the mid-1850s. Another difficulty was acquiring the pioneer’s typical outfit which usually consisted of one or two small, sturdy farm wagons outfitted with bows and a canvas cover, six to ten head of oxen along with chains and yokes or harnesses to attach them to the wagons. For traveling about 2,000 miles over rough terrain the wagons used were typically as small and as light as would do the job, approximately half the size of the larger Conestoga wagons used for freight. The typical cost of enough food for four people for six months was about $150. The cost of other supplies, livestock, wagons etc. per person could easily double this cost. This was a large expense for the three brothers and their large families. With a total of 31 people, the cost was about $2250 for the trip. Because the wagons swayed and bumped so much, the majority of the travelers walked most of the way. They typically traveled 11 miles per day and it took anywhere from 5 to 6 months to reach their destination. They arrived in San Jose, Santa Clara County, California in the early fall of 1852.

The brothers each bought 160 acres of an old Spanish land grant, and they found that the land was rich and perfect for planting grain. John and Lucy lived in San Jose until their deaths. Lucy died in 1877 at the age of 67, and John died on June 17, 1893, at the age of 81. Alexander and Sally sold their acreage in San Jose and moved to Berryessa, California where Sally died in 1878 at the age of 72, and Alexander died on May 5, 1874, at the age of 74. Last but not least, in 1869 James moved his family from the San Jose area by wagon to Carpinteria, California located just east of Santa Barbara. Elizabeth died in 1906 at the age of 87 and James died on February 4, 1900, at the age of 84.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.