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Santa Cruz County History - People
My Early Childhood Memories: Part One
Edited by Keith and Dee Kraft
My earliest recollection is of our home in Whitley County, Indiana, fifteen miles from Ft. Wayne, a log house of three rooms. There was a large fireplace in the front room, a bed for father and mother, ... the three children slept in a trundle bed which was drawn out from under the large bed. I remember the big iron kettle that hung in the fireplace. Mother used to bake in it sometimes.
Grandfather Anthony lived a short distance down the road in a two story frame house. The house had a lightning rod on it which I thought was very wonderful. It was in this house that Johnny Appleseed spent many nights curled up on the floor before the fireplace. He never would sleep in a bed. During the night he called out as the hours passed -"One more hour gone forever and all is well." He would not accept money so Grandmother Anthony baked bread for him in exchange for apple seeds which were brought to California. They were planted in a nursery by Grandfather Anthony. He raised, grafted and sold apple trees; [he] also raised the locust trees that bordered Locust Street. [Santa Cruz]
Uncle Elihu crossed the plains to California in 1847. He made several visits to Indiana to see the relatives. He gave lectures on California. Each time they had more of the California fever. Uncle E. always told us about his little girl, Louisa.
Grandfather Asa Anthony was the first to start with his family in 1855. Accompanying him were Uncle George Anthony and family, Uncle Burnett  and family, and neighbors which brought the number up to about fifty.
I never can forget the morning they drove by our house in covered wagons drawn by oxen. I stood by mother and held to her dress as she bade her folks goodby. She felt she would never see them again, as there was great danger from Indian attacks on settlers crossing the plains.
Grandfather Anthony was captain of the company. He carried a good supply of medical herbs gathered in Indiana and was the doctor for the whole train. During the trip the train was delayed a few weeks on account of Grandmother Anthony having the typhoid fever. Grandfather’s good care brought her through.
Many amusing incidents of the trip were told. At one time they passed a place where a train of immigrants had been massacred the night before. They camped a little past this scene for the night. While making camp an Indian came up and made some demands of them. Grandfather had the women stay in the wagons. When the Indian inquired for the squaws, Grandfather told him they had the smallpox. The Indians immediately left without molesting them.
Another time a squaw came into the camp minus everything in the way of clothing. Grandmother Anthony said, "Oh father get my apron quickly." It was handed to the squaw and she tied it on her back. Grandmother called, "Get her another." They did and this one was tied on in front.
One day an Indian came into their camp and demanded flour. Grandfather gave him the flour in a sack. He was so surprised that he could have the sack, that he asked, "Sack too?" That expression was used by the folks in the train as a byword.
One morning when Uncle Burnett went to yolk his oxen to the wagon, he found one of the oxen dead. He yoked the milk cow with the remaining ox and came through to California. The cow was sold for a good price. They made the trip without any very serious mishap.
The following year, in 1856, my father had the California fever. The farm was sold and everything we had was bidden off at auction. A large crowd gathered and the auctioneer stood on a box and bid off the things. The money received was placed in a red knitted stocking that mother had made. I felt badly to see the goods going and thought we would have nothing left but the red stocking with the money.
Uncle David Pringle  and family came from Iowa to our place and my father brought them to California. We went to New York by rail and took the steamer from there to Aspinwall.  Took the train crossing the isthmus on its second trip. We were traveling at a great rate of speed due to a drunken engineer. In a swampy section something happened to the train we were in, and the one following us ran on top of our train and telescoped it.
The Pringle family (father, mother and three sons) and Charley and Mary  escaped without injury. My father was caught in the wreck and had his leg broken in two places. Mother’s lower jaw was broken in two places and my ankles were cut. An iron rod ran almost through one, and the other was cut all around. In pulling me out, my mother caused the injury to my feet. I was insensible and was not given long to live. She stopped a passing doctor and asked him to look at her child. He said he had no time for dying children.
Mother said she must have had strength given her to pull my father and me from the wreckage. Mother and Aunt Amanda put water on my face and revived me, just for a few minutes, long enough for me to say, "Mother, may I be buried right by the side of you?" Mother answered, 'Yes, my dear child, you may be buried by me." Then I lapsed into unconsciousness again. Mother was going about with a broken jaw. Aunt Amanda remarked that mother was badly hurt. She replied, 'No, I’m not hurt." We got out just in time as the cars collapsed and killed instantly the people who could not get out. There were sixty people killed outright. The wounded and dying were gathered up and taken to Aspinwall. The ones who were not expected to live were taken to a hospital. We, with others were taken to the Railroad House. It was a two story building.
The Pringles with Mary and Charley bade us goodby as they never expected to see us again, as it was such a sickly place. They had to come on to California as there was no place for them to stay. It was a very sad parting. I shall never forget Charlie as he stood there with the tears rolling down his face. He said, 'I’ll never see any of you again."
We were cared for by two native nurses, Mary and Elizabeth. Doctors and nurses did all in their power to help us.
My father’s leg was set. He suffered a great deal. When he recovered one leg was shorter than the other. Poor mother endured much pain. Her jaw was set, but in the hurry of everything, it was not done correctly and the teeth did not meet. The doctors said it must be broken over. Mother objected, but they did it anyway. She had to stay in bed. It was very difficult for her to eat as she could not open her jaws.
There were two doctors that attended us. One was Dr. Redfern whom I remember well. Both the wounds in my ankles filled with proud flesh.  The doctors came every morning. I would crawl away and hide and the nurses would help me. The doctors said they would take me to Monkey Hill if I did not let them treat me. That was where the dead were buried.
When the doctors found me they would bribe me with small change to have my wounds treated. One held me and the other one burned the proud flesh with caustic. It was so painful that I did some loud screaming.
The nurses wore bandannas in folds over their foreheads. One day I told the doctor that my money was all gone. He said he would show me where it was. He pulled a fold of the nurses bandannas and my money fell out on the floor. They were angry but did not deny it.
There were a great many deaths among the victims of the accident, and they were hurriedly buried on Monkey Hill.
There was a young lady named Maggie who was so bruised that her face was black. I said to mother one day that Maggie looked like a darkey. Mother said "Why you poor child, your face looks just the same as hers." I asked the nurse for a mirror. When I saw my face, I cried and cried. Mother said that showed that I was naturally vain.
Everything was done for our comfort that could be done. We could get anything that we wanted at the expense of the R.R. Company.
I was soon able to go about on my hands and knees and not have to stay in bed as Mother and Pa did. I used to go to the kitchen with the nurses and there I ate bananas cooked in many ways; [and] other native dishes which agreed with me.
As soon as my father and I were able to go about on crutches, we went for a walk to the hospital to see the sick and wounded. When we returned I ran to mother and said, 'We were not hurt a bit."
In our trips about the town I remember seeing coconut and banana trees and tropical plants. Among articles we got at the store were a large type testament and a fancy purse.
We gained steadily until we were able to come on to California on the George Law. It was an old boat. The name was changed to Golden State and it was sunk on the following trip.
It was a very sad sight to see the people at the dock in San Francisco who had come to meet friends and relatives, and were told that they had died in Aspinwall.
I remember seeing a man who came to meet his sweetheart who was to come on the boat, and he was told that she was among the dead. It was sad indeed to see how badly this young man felt.
Copyright 1996 Keith and Dee Kraft. Reproduced by permission of the editors, Keith and Dee Kraft. Photographs courtesy of Keith and Dee Kraft.
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