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Next: Chapter 4 • Contents • Previous: Chapter 2
Phoebe Wilson Lovine Hogan
Born March 15, 1886, in Merced Falls, California. Tribe Chumhunchee. Phoebe’s father was Frank (Hooky) Wilson, born about 1840 near Bear Valley, Mariposa County, California. His only relative mentioned was a sister (Calpeen). As the custom goes, when a person died his name was dead, never mentioned except as someone’s aunt, uncle, or brother. Hooky was a great hunter, was Captain of his tribe. He operated a threshing machine rig some years in Merced County. He died in 1919.
Phoebe’s mother, known as Marguerite, her Indian name was Yo Wo' Ko' Chee, was born 1856, near Coulterville, California. She was very active in Indian affairs and ceremonies, and was a Captain. She died in 1930, and was buried in Madera, California.
There were four sons, John, Frank, Montana, and Westley. (The last one,) Westley has made his home in Yosemite since 1927. There were six daughters, Elizabeth, Olrena, Bess, Sophia, June, and Phoebe. Only three from this family remain living today. June lives in Capitola, California, Westley and Phoebe in Yosemite.
When the family was very young, they lived near Merced Falls, California, where some worked in the woolen mills and flour mills in order to make a living. Phoebe went to school in Merced Falls to the eighth grade. She had to quit at thirteen to work and help support the family. She actually started to work and helped at the age of ten, by washing dishes for Mrs. J. Barrett in Merced Falls, and helped with the housework. Barretts ran a resort and stopping place for stages and freight wagons. At the age of thirteen she cooked for thirty-five men, for Mr. Kelsey who was a fig grower near Merced Falls. The work was too hard, so she had to quit. The pay was fifteen dollars per month. During her teens she had a good time with her family and young friends, went to picnics, church meetings, and dances at Snelling and Hornitos.
January 12, 1906, Phoebe married Perl E. Lovine, (white) who was working on the Yosemite Valley railroad between Merced and El Portal, California. He also worked the historic Stage Company, for Kenney and Coffman, and later the Yosemite Park Company at Kenneyville in Yosemite Valley. He was born November 18, 1889, in Indiana. He and Phoebe separated and he left for parts unknown.
There were five children from this marriage. Pearl was born June 16, 1907, in Merced Falls, California. She died in 1954, after an operation. She married Nicholas Brochini, and they had four children: Evelyn, Laurance, John, and Edward. And a second marriage was to Jim Rust: they had three children: Joan Marie, Beverly Ann, and James Calvin.
Evelyn was born August 1, 1909, in Madera, California. She married Doctor Shoemaker of San Francisco, California, September 2, 1939. The Doctor practiced in St. Joseph Hospital. Evelyn was a nurse. They had no children. Doctor Shoemaker died, in 1960 from a heart attack.
Mary J. was born 1916, in Madera, California. She married a man by the name of William Skipper, who was in the Navy, and lived in Florida for some years. Later he was assigned to some branch of the service in Washington, D. C. They separated for some reason not mentioned. They had one daughter, Barbara Lee, (Dolly). Mary J. has returned to California to be near her mother. Her daughter, Barbara Lee, Phoebe’s granddaughter, married Robert Norman Kester, Jr., of Canoga Park, California. They have three children, Kenneth Duane, Norman James, and Karen Darlene.
A son Kenneth was born June 6, 1911, in Madera, California. He married Alice Geary, of Idaho. They had three daughters: Arlene, Carol, and Sharon. Kenneth is an electrician, and they have made their home in Fresno, California.
A son Allen E. was born June 17, 1913, in Madera, California. He attended Sherman Indian School, in Riverside, California, the Riverside Junior College, and State Teachers College. He was a teacher at the Stewart Indian School in Nevada. He was a famous ball player, and received many prizes and ribbons for his outstanding record. He married Eloese, a Spanish American from Arizona.
During World War II he was commissioned a First Lieutenant in the Infantry. He was killed in battle, March 27, 1945, near Boppard, Germany. He was buried in the United States Military Cemetery, in St. Avold, France, with full military honors. He received a number of medals, including the Purple Heart for valor.
In 1930, Phoebe married Clarence L. Hogan, of the Mariposa tribe. This marriage lasted only seven years, as Clarence got into trouble with his family and assaulted his wife Phoebe, for some reason (perhaps too much "Fire Water"). He was taken before the U. S. Commissioner in Yosemite and was ordered to leave the Park until such time as lie could straighten himself out and not cause any more trouble. He made his home in Mariposa, until his death, in 1965.
Phoebe moved to Yosemite in 1927, from Madera, California, and made her home first in the Old Indian Village. Later, in 1931, she moved to a new cabin in the New Indian Village, west of the Yosemite Lodge. She worked steadily for the Yosemite Park and Curry Company, in the laundry and dry cleaning plant. She said her first pay was three dollars per day. It took steady work to make a living, but it was good, and the family lived well all through the depression. She worked hard and held her job. She was a guiding influence, and acted as Captain to the others in the village. She helped the other Indians that did not fare so well, during the lean years.
The "new" Indian Village was built by the Park Service in 1931. There were 15 cabins built under rental fee. This was a wonderful improvement over the old shanties and bark huts, and many odd shelters which characterized the old village. The Indians enjoyed this new way of living, with piped water, and a rest room in the circle of cabins. Here the families reared their children and sent them to the local school. The men worked for the National Park Service and the Yosemite Park and Curry Company. Some of the women made baskets and worked at the museum giving demonstrations, making acorn meal, and cakes.
The population in 1927, was around one hundred; in the past few years it has dwindled to some thirty odd.
Phoebe, a guiding influence, has tried to hold together the few remaining families, and cooperated with the "powers that be." She has been concerned about their living conditions, which need some improvements. I hope the Park will be able to provide better living conditions for these people. Phoebe in her 80th year is alert and interested in the Park welfare, as well as the people who live and work there.
My contacts and visits with her in the past few years were most interesting, and helpful to me in writing up the short history of these people.
There has been much concern and controversy between the park superintendents, and the director’s office of the National Park Service in Washington, as to the welfare of the local Indians. The long acceptance of their presence there has established a vested right to residence in Yosemite, which after all was the original home of these Yosemites. It is only fitting and proper that these good people who live here be given permanent homes. It has been written, and recorded many times in the history of our State and Government, "treatment of our Indians is one of the blackest marks against our government." True, but National Park Service is not the Indian Office.
There is no question but that the living conditions in our present Indian Village should be improved. For the older ones, who wish to remain to live out their lives where sentiment and customs are uppermost in their minds, their homes should be made modern for these people that struggled through many years and low standards of living. The good members who work for the Park should be given modern housing along with our regular employees. Much more could be written about this. It is hoped that the Park Service will do all it can for these deserving people. The U. S. Indian Bureau might find funds to, improve the houses?
Born 1841, a full-blooded Yosemite. Maria was the grand-daughter of the Old Yosemite Chief Teneiya. She was one of the seventy-two Indians who were forced to leave Yosemite Valley at the insistence of Major James D. Savage, in March, 1851.
Her first husband was a full-blooded Yosemite Indian; they had a large family and she left four living daughters when she died. Four sons, Leandro, Cruz, Pietro, and Angelo all met a tragic death in their early lives. Her daughter Mary was a full-blood.
Her second husband was a Mexican whose name was Lebrado; they had three children, Andrea, Francisco, and Grace. The four daughters living at her death were Mary, Grace, Frances, and Andrea.
Much has been written about Maria. It might interest the reader to read "The Return of the Last Survivor," by Mrs. H. J. Taylor, Yosemite Nature Notes.
In the early 1920’s Carl P. Russell, Yosemite National Park Naturalist, first "discovered" Maria as the last of the original Yosemite Indians, and led Mrs. H. J. Taylor to write two small books about Maria.
Park Naturalist Harwell in 1934, made a visit to the daughters of Maria, near Bear Creek, Mariposa County; he reported, "Mary was living with her sister Frances Avilla, who was caring for her, as her mind was failing, only able to mumble a few words, but was able to walk despite her eighty or more years. Frances explained that Mary was the daughter of "Old Indian Bob," who lived near Nipinnawassee. Mary did not know how many children in their family, she thought about ten. Mary’s last husband was Jim Leonard."
Grace Anchor, a sister of Mary and Frances, lived nearby, she married a Swiss German who was employed in Yosemite Park as a powder man on road and trail work.
Mary Lebrado’s Cabin at Bear Creek
During this visit Mr. Harwell and party visited the grave of Maria, in the neatly kept cemetery on top of the hill near the Anchor’s cabin. The following inscription on a card of the undertaking firm was at the head of her grave, "Maria Ydaretes died, April 14, 1931."
Lebrado operated a pack train at Bear Creek. He was a small Mexican who came here from Bodie, California. He raised a large family of Mexicans. When his wife died, he moved in with the Indians and lived with Maria.
It will be noted that many Indian families took on Spanish or Mexican names upon their association with these people.
Maria told Mrs. H. J. Taylor, that two or three weeks after the Chief (Teneiya) was stoned to death, the halfbreed, Tom Hutchings, brought Teneiya’s bones to the South Fork, in a buckskin, and according to their custom a three-day funeral was held. She said, "We give Teneiya nice funeral, much Indians come, much cry, dance, sing, no sit, no eat, three days sing, dance all time, then burn bones, and made ashes go."
According to Maria Lebrado in 1930, "The sole surviving full-blooded Yosemites were herself, a daughter, a nephew; all of the others deceased long years ago."
Maria’s last visit to the Valley were full of memories. Emotionally she lived over the tragic events of her life, events that have long since passed into cold, historical data.
His birth and early life unknown. He was one of the Chiefs of the Yosemites. He was the father of Johnny Wilson. He died, 1885, buried in the Yosemite cemetery.
Susie was a Yosemite Indian, born in Yosemite, age unknown. Her husband was Captain Sam. Old Captain Sam was employed by Camp Curry, and the Sentinel Hotel, to supply them with fish for the tourists’ meals. Susie died 1904, and was buried in the Yosemite cemetery.
Born March 20, 1856. Yosemite tribe. Her father had no white name, was one of the Chiefs who lived in the valley before white men came. Louisa’s brother was Pete Hilliard. It is reported perhaps Louisa lived most of her early life in Yosemite. She was about 100 years old when she died in 1952.
Born 1857, near Mono Lake, California. A Piute. His wife was Mary. A sister was Sally Ann. They had three sons; Frank lives in Sonora, California, where he worked for the lumber company for some time. Roland died some years ago. John, no record at this time.
Charlie was a wood cutter for Yosemite National Park many years. He was the first to operate a power saw. He cut many cords of wood for the Park. When he became too old, and was no longer wanted as a wood cutter, he died, about 1930, and was buried in Coulterville, California.
Born in 1880, near Mariposa, California. His father was Captain of the tribe. He married Maggie (Tabuce) and lived and worked in Yosemite many years. He died in 1960, and was buried in the Catholic cemetery in Mariposa, California.
Born in 1860, near Bridgeport, California. He had two wives, Louisa and Leanna, who were sisters. Between them they had ten children. Four of them became permanent residents in Yosemite Indian Village by marriage to local Yosemite Indians.
Tom was not a medicine man but it was claimed he could heal through the spirit. It was recorded that he made the remark once, about the Giant Yellow pine in the Yosemite Valley, that there would be some connection with his death, that he would die when the tree died; this prophecy came true.
Tom had many friends among both Indians and whites. When a young man, he was a rider for a large cattle ranch near Bridgeport, California. He was industrious, bought land and cattle, raised grain and potatoes, also raised fine horses to sell and trade. His first home ranch was in Bloody Canyon, not far from Mono Lake.
The family would usually travel across the mountains to Yosemite Valley in summer to gather acorns and trade with the Yosemite Indians, and of course always get in the gambling games, and feasts of the tribe, always returning to his home ranch in the fall before the storms closed the high mountain passes.
Tom’s family had plenty to eat, which wasn’t so with some of the other Indians. He raised wheat and took it to Bishop, to get it ground into flour. When he killed a beef he would supply meat to the needy neighbors.
When the Los Angeles Water Aqueduct took over all the water rights in that area, Tom was forced to sell out, as there would be no water to use for his crops. He moved to Coleville, California, where he bought land, and made his home until his death in 1938.
His wife Leanna, nearly 100 years old, and now totally blind and very feeble, is living on this property.
Louisa died, January 14, 1956, and was buried in the Yosemite cemetery. Children by Louisa were: Lena, Lucy, Alice, Sara, Harry, and Mack. By Leanna: Tom had Agnes, Lillian, Maime, and Ida. Of all these children only one remains living today, Agnes Castro, who lived in Yosemite until their retirement end of 1965. They now live in Mariposa, California.
Reports are that approximately seventy-five children and grandchildren were born to this family, some of whom we know very little about.
Born in 1870, near Bridgeport, California, a Piute. Her father was Joaquin Sam, or Kosana. Maggie lived near Bridgeport until her mother died, then went to live with her father near Mono Lake. Her family made many trips over the mountains to Yosemite to gather acorns, and trade with the Yosemites.
At Mono Lake they collected the pupa of a certain fly which breeds on the shores of Mono Lake. With this Ka-cha-vee and acorns they lived well.
On one trip crossing the mountains her father’s horse was frightened, and threw him on a rock. Some Indians picked him up and brought him to Yosemite Valley. They thought he was dead. The story of "Kosana" as it was told, is that late in the fall of 1875, a small group of Indians from the Mono Lake Country had crossed the Sierra, to gather acorns. When they had finished, they started their return trip over the high pass, but were forced to turn back because of a heavy snow storm. Among this group was an old man named Kosana, a medicine man, more than 80 years old, and not strong. He died after the exposure and the strenuous trip into the Valley. His followers set up camp near the site of the present park museum where they built their u-ma-cha, with canvas and long slabs of incense cedar bark.
Some white men made a fine coffin for the deceased Kosana, he was buried just south of the large rock that is seen near the southeast corner of the Yosemite Museum.
Kosana had a young daughter at the time of his death, who was none other than "Ta-bu-ce" or Maggie, as she was known by her many friends in later years. Ta-bu-ce is an Indian name meaning "grass nut" the name her mother gave her.
Maggie had three husbands: first was Jack Lundy, second Billy Williams, and third Dan Howard. She had two sons: Willie Mike Williams, and Simon Slim Lundy.
After Maggie was married, she and her oldest son William, her sister’s daughter May Tom, age 14, and some others went up the Yosemite Falls trail, and camped somewhere in the upper Indian Canyon. This was after an Indian Festival. Maggie, after much dancing, was tired and went to sleep early. A high wind storm came up and blew down a large pine tree. Her niece May Tom was killed by this fallen tree. Maggie had her collar bone broken, her ankles and feet badly injured, and the bones in her right leg fractured. Her sister took her daughter to the Valley, and left Maggie for dead beneath the tree all night. The next day Charlie Dick and other Indians came for her. She doesn’t remember what happened during that long night. A doctor in the Valley set the bones. All summer she lay in a cast, barely able to move her right hand to shoo away the flies. In the fall she was able to walk a little. She never fully recovered from this, always walking with a decided limp.
Maggie lived many years in Yosemite Valley, and was well known by many park visitors; for some years she was employed by the park museum to give demonstrations, making acorn meal and mush. She made many "Hikis," baskets, and sold them to visitors.
Death came to her January 25, 1947, and she was buried at Bishop, California, Too much snow at Mono Lake prevented the burial there, her preferred resting place.
Born May 8, 1868, in Yosemite. Her mother was May Dick, a full-blooded Yosemite Indian. Charlie Dick was her brother. Sally was a beautiful Indian girl, when she was young she married a rich miner by the name of Stegeman. He took her to San Francisco, where they lived at the Palace Hotel. They had a carriage, and all the fine clothes she wanted, but soon she tired of all this life, and one night she ran away and returned to Yosemite, her old home.
Stegeman thought enough of her to follow her and returned to the Valley. Here he found employment in the Post Office, and was in charge of the express office.
One day Sally Ann rifled the Express Company till, took the bills and left the silver, wrapped the ten, twenty, and fifty dollar bills around her wrist, and went to the store. She bought many things. Angelo Cavagnaro was the store keeper. He was thoughtful enough to charge her double for everything, and of course turned the money back to Stegeman, her husband.
Sally married Johnny Brown after Stegeman died. She was full of life, and talkative. They lived in the Valley some years. Johnny Brown said, "She all the time running away, no stay home, no good." He beat her for running away but to no avail.
Later she went to Coulterville and married Johnny Castagetto, who ran a fruit and vegetable pack train to supply camps and stores around the County. They had a daughter named Marorie; it was reported she had been seriously ill, but recovered, and is now making her home with her uncle Frank in Sonora, California.
Sally Ann related one of her worst experiences. When the U.S. soldiers came to the Valley, about 1906, they set fire to her cabin and all her belongings, when they destroyed the early than Village, which was located on the Military headquarters site where the Yosemite Lodge now stands. The Indians fled in the night, and it took some of them a long time to get back.
Sally Ann died, April 10, 1932, and was buried in the Yosemite Valley cemetery.
Born in 1870, in El Capitan Meadow, in Yosemite Valley. He was half Yosemite, and half Chinese. Lived most of his life in Yosemite. He did many kinds of work. He was intelligent and versatile. He helped to survey the property of Bridgeport Tom’s homestead in Bloody Canyon, when the latter first entered that region for farming. He worked for Yosemite National Park, ad the Yosemite Park Company, first drove a freight team, and later trucks, bringing in supplies to the Valley from the railroad station at El Portal. He also drove stage to and from the station.
Pete’s first wife was Lula Rube. After her death, he married Emma Oliver, from the Yosemite tribe, about 1925. He had one daughter, Yolanda, born January 12, 1901. Reports of his other children all died of consumption, perhaps in their teens, no other record of this.
Pete’s sister, named Jessie Branson, had four children: Bert, Fred, Hiram, and Dorothy.
Pete died, 1934, and was buried in the Yosemite Valley Cemetery.
Born about 1880, on the upper Chowchilla, Mariposa County. Belonged to the Ah-hom-et tribe.
It is reported he was welcomed by the tribe, as he was first-born of a noted Chief. His early youth was spent among the Indians, and he learned to speak three dialects perfectly, namely Chuc-chance, Ah-hom-eta, and Mono.
At an early age he was converted to the Christian faith, and was taken by a priest to a Catholic school where he learned to read and write English. He served the priests in Merced and Coulterville as altar boy for many years.
On attaining manhood he went to Yosemite Valley, and became a picturesque guide. His proficiency in English and his many weird Indian stories made him much sought after. His proficiency in Indian, Spanish, and English caused him to be called as an interpreter in many noted murder cases in Mariposa and Fresno Counties.
Francisco took a Chuc-chance woman for wife, and she, Susan, survived him. He was a noted Indian dancer, and had more beads, shells, feathers, etc., to use at tribal dances than any of the tribe. He was always the leader in all festivities, and had great command over the members of his tribe, even the Captains and Medicinemen, answered his commands. He was a good musician, and every holiday he with his guitar, and Najo Figaro with his violin, furnished old time music to the younger generation of their tribe, to trip the light fantastic a la American, and many is the white man that took first steps in dancing under old Francisco’s instructions.
He was an inveterate gambler, would quite a job anytime, and travel fifty miles to join in the Indian handgame.
Francisco died in Madera, California, after a severe stomache ailment. He was buried in the Catholic cemetery, in Merced, California. In the absence of a priest the Indian burial ceremonies were observed. About twenty Indians were present to perform the last rites. Many whites were present, and showed marked respect by their behavior while the weird ceremonies were in progress.
It was by great pleasure to know and ride herd on dude parties, with this fine character, in 1918, when we were Yosemite Guides. (JWB)
Born June 14, 1881, near Mariposa, California. His father was (white). His mother, Betty Hogan Seton. His wife was Anna Priest, who is living near Midpines, California. They had seven children: Bert, Oliver, Ralph, Joe, Francis, Lillian and Berdie. Ed was a guide and packer for Yosemite Park Company in Yosemite Valley for many years. Their home is near Midpines. Edward died, January 2, 1941, and was buried in the Hern cemetery, near Midpines.
[Editor’s note: aka Lucy Brown, great-granddaughter Alice Roosevelt Wilson in a cradle basket, c. 1903. Alice is the daughter of Billy Wilson and Elizabeth George—DEA]
Born 1834, near Mariposa, California. A nephew of Maria Lebrado. Had no known family. He lived and worked in the Park many years. He was involved in a fight and killed another Indian, and for this he had to serve ten years in San Quentin Prison. Years later, about 1928, some unknown assailant killed him, and his body was found by a hiker under an overhanging rock in the upper end of the Yosemite Valley. He was buried in the Indian cemetery at the foot of Lebrado Mountain, near Midpines, Mariposa County. Tom was one of the original Yosemite Indians, when white men discovered the Valley, in 1851.
Born 1885, near Mono Lake, California. A Piute. Daughter of Bridgeport Tom. Her mother was Louisa.
In the early days the family came across the mountains to Yosemite Valley to gather acorns, and visit with the Yosemite tribe. Lucy made friends with the whites, and worked for a number of the park families. Lucy was a famous basket maker; she made the largest basket ever made in Yosemite, which is in the park museum.
She married John Telles, in 1912, and they lived most of their married life in Yosemite Valley. They had one son John, (Jr.).
Her first marriage was to Jack Parker, a Piute. They had one son, Lloyd Parker. Her grandmother was Susie Sam. Grandfather was Captain Sam.
Lucy died, February 21, 1955, and was buried in Mariposa, California.
Born May 16, 1893, in Shafter, Texas. A Mexican. He came to California about 1912. At Mono Lake, he heard some men tell about some beautiful girls on the other side of the mountains. He started looking for them. He met Bridgeport Tom, and asked him where all the pretty girls were. Tom said, "I have beautiful daughters, they are over the mountains in Yosemite." So John set out for Yosemite, and soon met Lucy Tom, and they married. They lived in Yosemite, and El Portal for a while. In 1915 he worked for Mr. Wm. Sell, at the Lost Arrow Camp. In 1927, he started work for the National Park Service, and then for the Yosemite Park and Curry Company as janitor at the Yosemite Lodge.
They had one son John (Jr.) born in 1920. He served in World War II. He married Helen Polkenhorn, from Northfork, California. They had two children, David and Gerald. Gerald worked for the Park Sanitation Department. David served in the U. S. Army.
John (Jr.) was killed in 1952, when he was struck on his head with a bottle, by his wife, in a family quarrel. John drank to excess at times.
John’s wife, Lucy, died in 1955, and he soon thereafter moved to Fresno, California. There he married Mrs. Epefania, a Mexican, with a son and a daughter, and they live happily together. John is a very friendly fellow, and a good worker, and neighbor.
But bad luck came to his grandson David. October 1963, in Yosemite Valley, David was arrested for the rape murder of Mrs. June Elaine Leonard, age 19. The arraignment took place before U. S. Commissioner Gene J. Ottonello, some 24 hours after the body of Mrs. Leonard was found beaten and strangled, and left almost nude in a wooded area 100 yards off the roadway across from Camp Ground 4, in Yosemite Valley.
Telles, a soldier who was on leave before reassignment to Fort Devens, Mass., waived a preliminary hearing on the charges of first degree murder, and forcible rape. He was taken first to the Stanislaus County Jail in Modesto, pending transportation to Sacramento, California, for trial.
Mrs. Leonard, the mother of an 8-month old son, Clarence (Jr.), was beaten on the face and head. F. B. I. officers said Telles struck and beat her in her car, in which they had been riding. Her body was then dragged to the spot where a woman, a camper in the park, discovered it while on a stroll some 36 hours later.
The victim’s husband, a wood cutter for a contractor who supplies firewood to the Yosemite Park and Curry Company told the F. B. I. he last saw his wife Wednesday.
On January 11, 1965, David Telles, the accused murderer, hanged himself in a jail cell in Sacramento, only hours before he was to stand trial for the fatal beating of the teenaged girl. Sheriff’s deputies said he was found dangling from a noose fashioned from his own socks, and tied to an overhead ventilator.
Born May 22, 1885, in Bear Valley, Mariposa County. His father was Henry, his mother Mary Ann. He had one sister, Mrs. Laura Howard, of Clovis, California. His wife was Grace. They had one daughter, Ella Mae; a son David who died of valley fever some years ago.
Castro lived and worked in Yosemite many years, on road and trail crews. In later years he worked for the State Highway Department as laborer, on Highway 140. He died August 1963, and was buried in the Mariposa Catholic Cemetery.
Born April 26, 1901, near Mariposa, California. Worked and lived in Yosemite Valley a number of years, on road and trail crews. He now makes his home in Mariposa, California.
Born November 30, 1903, in Bear Valley, Mariposa County. We was a brother of Castro Johnson. All through his school years hee played baseball and became quite famous, playing in some big teams. He lived and worked in Yosemite some years, on road and trail crews. From reports he had no family of his own.
Born near Mariposa, California. He had no wife or children. He was killed by a truck accident in 1925, near Mariposa, on the canyon road.
The following news story by May S. Corcoran, October 1926, may be of interest to our readers, and will give the particulars of this accident. "Eli Johnson, a full-blooded Indian, met death by a truck accident, while working on the Mariposa canyon road. The truck brakes gave out, and truck went over the bank. Eli’s friend, Charlie Thompson, a white youth was riding on back of the loaded truck. Eli rushed to Charlie and threw him off just as the truck went over, Eli must have jumped then, but his head struck a rock.
There was much "goings on" about the religious rites between Chief Neyo, and May Law, as to the outcome of Charlie Thompson. Chief Neyo was much wrought up about the white men taking Eli, but May Law faced Neyo, and said, "No, Neyo, white men did not take Eli, God took him and God knows why. Finally Neyo gave his word, "Eli say go, you go." Eli was given a fall Indian burial service; Mrs. Marguerite Wilson conducted the Indian burial services."
Neyo Figeroa was Chief of the Mariposa tribe. He was born in Bear Valley in 1850, and died in 1926.
Born 1888 near El Portal, California. He was a stepson of Johnny Wilson. His wife was Lena Brown, a sister of Joe Rube. They had one son, Billy (Jr.) born in 1923.
Billy (Sr.) was a well-known guide for Kenney and Coffman, and later for the Yosemite Park Company. He was a colorful character, and guided many notables over the trails in Yosemite. He was an expert horseman, and able to meet any emergency in the mountains. He was a keen tracker; I recall one day when we lost our horses in the Tuolumne Canyon, Billy found and followed those tracks over smooth granite, finding our stock hiding up in the rocks on the canyon bench.
"Fire Water" got the best of some Indians. Sometime in the late 1920’s trouble was brewing in the Rancheria of El Portal, and as usual fighting and drinking went on for sometime. The women and children tried to get away by crossing on a dangerous cable car that passed across the Merced River. While they were trying to escape some drunken Indian shook the cable, and upset the car, throwing out the three children and one woman. The children were drowned, the woman was pulled out of the water and revived.
Soon after this episode, Billy (Sr.) was found shot to death near the apple orchard in Indian Flat. A certain well-known Indian was questioned by the County Officers, but no proof of evidence was found that he committed this crime. So again, "Fire Water" was bad medicine. Billy, and the children were buried in the Indian cemetery near El Portal, California.
Born, date unknown, perhaps in Yosemite. She was one of the last full-blooded Indians of the Yosemite tribe. Her husband was Bill Brown or Mono Brown as he was called. Lucy was a cousin of Maria Lebrado. She was in the Yosemite Valley when it was discovered in 1851. Lucy was the oldest of six generations of the Brown family, many of whom lived most of their lives in Yosemite. Both Lucy and Bill are buried in the Yosemite cemetery.
Susie was born, December 1869, near a stage station along the Merced River, Mariposa County. Her father Jim Laurance, a white man, came from Missouri. He worked in the gold mines, sawmills, road camps, and railroad around Mariposa County most of the time. They lived in Yosemite and Wawona part of the time.
Susie married Archie Leonard about 1891; they lived in Wawona much of their time while Archie was a Scout and Ranger for the Army Troops and for the National Park Service. There were fourteen children from this marriage; some died in infancy. At this writing there are four sons living, Henry in Madera, Archie in Angeles Camp, Tom in Ahwahnee, and John on the old homestead near Usona, and works in Yosemite for the National Park Service. There are two daughters living, Mae Esclante in Los Angeles, California, and Violet Cabezut in Atwater, California.
The old Usona homestead was taken up by Archie Leonard many years ago and remains in the family to this day.
Susie died in 1947, and was buried in the family cemetery, where eight members have been buried; they are Fanny, Illa, Lucinda, Jim, Frank, Jim Laurance, Susie, and Archie.
Born January 8, 1898, on the Chowchilla district, near Mariposa, California. His father was Archie Leonard. His mother was Susie. John worked for Yosemite National Park many years and lived most of his life in or near Yosemite. He had no family of his own. In winter he lives on the old homestead, near Usona, California.
Born 1891, near Bull Creek, Mariposa, California. His sister was Lena Brown Wilson. Joe was a Veteran of World War I. He worked and lived in Yosemite many years. He was an expert horseman, and packer. He packed for the Park Trail crews. He died, 1954, and was buried in Mariposa, California.
Born 1891, in Madera, California. Tribe Chuckchance; his father and mother unknown. He married Alice Tom; they had four children: Oscar, Frances, Gladys, and Norman. Fremont worked in the Park on labor crews for some years.
There was a second marriage to Eleanor Gibbs, and they had two daughters and two sons by this union. Some years later he met with a fatal accident when he was run over by a tractor trying to repair it.
Born 1899, near Mono Lake, a Piute. Daughter of Bridgeport Tom. Her mother was Louisa Tom. She came to Yosemite with her family many years, to gather acorns and trade with the Yosemites. Alice worked for some of the Yosemite families, doing housework and cooking. She was well liked by all the people in Yosemite. Alice married Fremont James, and they had four children.
Her second marriage was to Westley Wilson. They lived in Yosemite. Alice died June 10, 1959, and was buried in Mariposa, California.
Born 1890, in Bear Valley, Mariposa County. His father was Henry Johnson, his mother Mary Ann. Harry married Sarah Tom in 1921. They had two daughters, Velda and Norma Jean. Lorraine was a stepdaughter. Velda lives near Midpines. Norma Jean lives in Malone, Nevada. They had two sons, Burleigh and Jay. Both were in the U.S. Army. Burleigh is now in Nevada. Jay works for the Park, on Insect Control crews.
Harry worked many years for the Park, on labor crews, road maintenance, and trail crews, and part time in the Park warehouse. He met with a fatal accident in 1958, when he fell in the Yosemite Creek and drowned. He was buried in the Mariposa cemetery.
Harry served in World War I, with the 20th Engineers in France.
Born March 17, 1904, near Mariposa, California. A grandson of Maria Lebrado. His father was white. His mother was Grace Lebrado. Jim’s first wife was Mary Walker, from Northfork, and his second wife was Pearl Lovine. They had one son, James who at last report was in the Navy. There were two daughters, Joan who married Ronald Wilson, Beverly, married Charles Hibpsham, they had two sons, and one daughter: Steven, Ray, and Roberta. Joan had two daughters and one son.
Jim’s third wife was Veltha Jones. From reports there had been trouble in the family, and during an argument she committed suicide by shooting herself.
Jim lived and worked in Yosemite Valley many years. He worked for the National Park Service, and for road contractors in and out of Yosemite. He now makes his home near Bear Creek, near Mariposa, California.
Born, date not known, near Bear Creek, Mariposa County. He was a handsome halfbreed. His wife was Emma Oliver. They had five children. Fred lived and worked in Yosemite on labor crews, and was a guide in the Park for some time.
He met his death in a mine near El Portal. He was carrying dynamite caps in a box on his waist; it was thought he may have been smoking, and this accidentally set off the charge which blasted his abdomen. He lived several days after the accident.
Born April 11, 1883, near Mariposa, California. She is the daughter of Jack Oliver. Her first husband was Fred Beale, and
Ranger John Wegner recalled an incident in 1914, when he assisted Fred Beale in recovering the body of their young son who fell off a plank bridge across Indian Creek. Water had to be diverted in Indian Creek to get the body out of a tangle of roots at the foot of a small waterfall.
A young daughter died of tuberculosis in Yosemite, about 1930. These two children and Fred were buried in the Indian Cemetery, near Bear Creek, California.
Born October 9, 1894, in Merced Falls, California. He went to the Sherman Indian School, in Riverside, California. He lived in Merced Falls and in Madera, California, the early part of his life. Jack lived and worked in Yosemite for some years. In 1942 he had an accident on the Four Mile trail, in Yosemite, when a rock rolled on him, and this may have been the beginning of his illness. He died January 13, 1944, from a heart attack.
His father was Frank Wilson. His mother was Marguerite Wilson.
Born 1895, near Bull Creek, Mariposa County. His father Was Austin, an old-time Indian. His mother was Emma, daughter of Captain Jim. He had one sister Ada Martinez, who died about eight years ago. He had one nephew, George Warne and two nieces, Mable Riddle and Alfretta Converse.
Louis worked in Yosemite many years and was a packer for the Park Service trail crews. He was an expert horseman and a number one hand. He now lives in Bagby, California, and works for the Schilling cattle ranch.
Born 1900, in Merced Falls, California. Attended school in the Sherman Indian School. His father was Frank Wilson; his mother was Marguerite Wilson.
Westley lived and worked in Merced Falls during his early life in the woolen mills and flour mills. After moving to Yosemite he worked for the Park, and the Yosemite Park and Curry Company.
He married Alice James, and they lived in the Yosemite Indian Village. After Alice’s death, he remained in the Indian Village, and at the present time lives near his sister Phoebe.
Johnny was born about 1860, perhaps at Rancheria Flat near El Portal. He was married first to Sally Ann Dick. His second wife was Lena Brown, and they had four children - Chris, Virgil, Alves, and Hazel. Johnny was one of the last Indian burial ceremonies in Yosemite Valley which took place during his funeral. Chris Brown and Lizzie, last surviving Nutchu, performed the Indian rites at the burial 1934.
Born August 18, 1898, in Yosemite. He was the son of Johnny Brown; his mother was Lena Brown. He lived in and around Yosemite and El Portal, also Bull Creek. His disposition was somewhat troublesome, and "fire water" did not improve it. He had a stroke about five years ago which crippled him, and he died from this condition.
Born 1903, near El Portal, California. Son of Johnny Brown, mother Lena. As a boy he learned the dances and chants and tribal rituals. He was appointed "runner" or messenger for his tribe, he was called "Chief" by whites because he was chief of song and dance for his tribe. Tape recordings of his Songs and Chants are in the museum.
He worked for the Park Service, at the Museum, giving demonstrations of Indian dances. He had no "Chief" status with the Indians, though they all were admiring of him because he was able to fool the whites at the Museum. So much "material" was demanded of him that he gleefully made some of it up. He would pretend he knew no English, and sometimes Phoebe would "translate" for him. But one day she got fed up and said, "Ask him - he speaks white man’s language," and he was very put out with her, for giving him away. Phoebe admired and was fond of him, and lost a good friend when he died.
Lee mee’s Indian name translated meant "ripple on the water"; this was given to him by Calpene, a medicine woman of the Miwok tribe. His name Chris was bestowed by Chris Jorgensen, famed Yosemite artist.
Chris was a cousin of Phoebe Hogan, as his grandmother and Phoebe’s mother were sisters. He lived most of his life in Yosemite and Mariposa. He died, November 14, 1956, and was buried in Mariposa, California.
Born March 12, 1907, in El Portal, California. Son of Johnny Brown. He had no family of his own. Worked for Yosemite National Park as a packer for some years. In later years
Indian Field Days, 1920
Born September 22, 1899, near Bear Valley, Mariposa County. His father was Dave Hogan, half white, his mother was Emma Priest, half white, of Mariposa.
His wife Hazel, who was raised by John and Lucy Telles, died in 1944. They had a son and two daughters. Delbert, the son, died in 1944. Helen married a man by the name of Coats, and they had three children, Jack, Alveta, and Lisa. Henry worked for the Yosemite National Park sanitation crew for many years. They own a home near Whispering Pines, Mariposa County. His wife Hazel was born 1909, near Mono Lake, her last name unknown. John and Lucy Telles gave her their name. In 1944 she met a tragic death by some unknown assailants near San Francisco. Her body was severely battered and thrown out in the bushes in a lonely spot. No reason was found for their heinous crime.
Born January 2, 1907, near Bear Valley, Mariposa County. He was the son of Dave Hogan, half white, his mother was Emma Priest, of Midpines. He married Phoebe Wilson Lovine, in 1931. They lived in Yosemite Indian Village. Clarence, worked for the Park, on road and trail crews.
He was unfortunate and became addicted to liquor, and under its influence he was quarrelsome. In one of these spells he fought with his family and wife, doing bodily injury to his wife. He was cited before the U.S. Commissioner and given a suspended sentence if he would give up "fire water" and cause no more trouble. He left the Park after this trouble and made his home in Mariposa.
He had a daughter from an early marriage, her name is Mrs. Margaret Acequero [Editor’s note: Oceguera—DEA] , and she now has a large family and lives near Gabbs, Nevada.
Clarence died, July 22, 1965, and was buried in the Hern Cemetery, near Mariposa, California.
Born October 2, 1904, near Mariposa, California. A son of Dave Hogan. He married Louise Valenzuela, and they had one daughter who now lives in Santa Clara.
Roy worked in Yosemite for the road maintenance and lived in the Indian Village some time. He was killed when his car went out of control and turned over the grade near Mariposa, some twenty years ago.
Born May 31, 1927, in Yosemite Valley. Her father was Henry B., and her mother Hazel. She married Jack Coats of Idaho. Their home is in Mariposa. They have three children: Jack, Alveta, and Lisa. Helen was employed at the Yosemite Hospital as a nurses aid.
Born 1901. in Mariposa, California. His father Tiburcio Fortunado Castro, was a barber and had a shop in Mariposa many years. He came to Mariposa with the influx of miners in the early gold rush days.
Stanley first worked for the Yosemite National Park in 1917, on the Pole Line between El Portal and Yosemite Valley. Then for a few years he was employed by the Yosemite Park Company, servicing equipment in the garage. In, 19291 he started work for the National Park Road Maintenance and later became foreman-in-charge at Wawona.
He married Agnes Tom, in 1921, and they had three children: Charlie, Patsy, and Roberta. They made their home in the Indian Village and Wawona.
Patsy, born 1932, lives in Mariposa, California. Roberta, born 1941, is a Registered Nurse, graduated from the Kaiser School, 1963. Charlie, born in Yosemite, works in Yosemite National Park Service Blister Rust and Insect Control work in the Park.
Stanley told about his job working for the State Road Department near Mono Lake, in 1921, while building the new grade between Mono Lake and Bridgeport. Mules and horses were used on this job. Agnes, his wife, cooked for sixty men. It was a rough job, with a minimum of conveniences.
Castro and Agnes retired December 1965, and moved to Mariposa, California.
Born July 4, 1899, in Bodie, California. A Piute. Her father was Bridgeport Tom, her mother was Leanna.
Agnes lived with her family near Mono Lake most of her young life, except in summer, when the family came over the mountains to Yosemite to gather acorns and trade with the Yosemites. She married Stanley Castro, in 1921. They had three
Home of "Captain Dick" (Ruando Dick), Father of Sally Ann
Her mother Leanna is very old, could be 100 or more, and lives near Coleville, California. Her grandmother was Susie Sam, her grandfather on her mother’s side was Captain Sam. There is a tape recording on Susie Sam in the Yosemite Museum.
Agnes is now the oldest of the Piutes who came to Yosemite many year ago. She is well known and respected by all the old-timers.
Born 1902, near Mono Lake. A Piute. His father was Jack Parker, his mother Lucy Tom. His wife was Virginia Murphy, of Mono Lake. They had three sons. Ralph lives and works in Yosemite for the Road Department. Clarence died about three years ago in an automobile accident. Kenneth lives in Bootjack; near Mariposa; his wife is Dorothy Bolton and they have three children.
Lloyd has lived and worked in Yosemite Valley most of his life, on road and trail crews, and at this date he is making his home in the Indian Village.
Born May 25, 1906, near Bull Creek, Mariposa County. He belonged to the Mariposa tribe. He is the grandson of Maria Lebrado. His father was George Rhoan, his mother was Candelaria. Alvin attended school at Greenville Indian School, in Plumas County, and the Sherman Indian School in Riverside, California.
He married Amy Harrison of Mono Lake, a Piute, in 1930. hey had four children. Joe is in the U. S. Air Corps. Patrick is in the Air Transport Service U.S. Army. George lives in Fresno, California. Beatress married to Jim Phillips.
His wife, Amy Harrison, was born January 29, 1910, near Mono Lake; her mother was Ida Tom.
Alvin has lived and worked most of his life in Yosemite Park, in the road department and now is Operator General. They live in Wawona. Amy worked at the Wawona Hotel. Alvin retired in 1965, now making their home near Mariposa.
Born 1906, in Mariposa, California, a member of the Mariposa tribe. His father was Jack Oliver, half white. His mother as Ella Johnson, half white. His wife was Hazel Brown. They had five children: Mary Jane, Margaret, Barbara, Jack, and Robert. Two of these, Mary Jane and Margaret met a tragic death; they were drowned in the Merced River near El Portal while trying to cross in the cable car, while a family fight was going on in the Rancheria. The children were thrown out of the car into the rushing water of the Merced River.
Some years later Hazel met with an untimely death. She was beaten up by some unknown men, and died from the injuries, reason of the crime was unknown.
Nelson worked in Yosemite a number of years on labor crews, wood cutting, and road maintenance, now making his home in Mariposa, California.
Born November 8, 1903, near El Portal, California. He was the son of Fred and Emma Beale. His wife is Lila Oliver; they had two daughters, Freda and Alilene.
Frazier worked and lived in Yosemite for a number of years on the labor and carpenter crews. Later moved near Oakland, California, where he was employed by the Southern Pacific Railroad, as a machinist.
Born November 16, 1902, near El Portal, California. Son of Fred and Emma Beale. He was in World War II, contracted T. B., was in Walla Walla, Washington, hospital for awhile, was discharged. His whereabouts not known at this time. He had no family of his own.
Born January 14, 1908, near El Portal, California, the son of Fred and Emma Beale. His wife was Irene Harrison. They now live near Oakland, where he operated an auto wrecking yard. In his early years he worked in Yosemite National Park, on trail and road crews.
Born December 12, 1909, near El Portal, California. The daughter of Fred and Emma Beale. She married George Warren. She met death by choking on a piece of meat. They lived in Los Angeles for some time. George worked for the Park Service for a number of years and lived in the Indian Village.
Born September 16, 1917, near El Portal, California. The daughter of Fred and Emma. She married a man by the name of Soldado. They had three or four children. They live in El Monte, California.
Born 1906, in Madera, California. Italian. Worked in the lumber mill, was a planer and sawyer. His wife was Pearl Lovine daughter of Phoebe. They had four children: Laurence, Edward, John, and Evelyn. He died of cancer of the lung, February 14, 1933, and was buried in the Catholic cemetery in Madera, California.
Born December 4, 1924, in Madera, California. His father was Nicholas (Sr.), his mother was Pearl Lovine. He married Florence Watson, from Idaho. They had five children: Linda, Robert, John, Daniel, and Debra.
Nicholas served in the Army during the World War II. He has worked for Yosemite National Park on light and heavy duty trucks. They lived in the Indian Village some years. Now Disposal Plant operator at El Portal. Their home is in Midpines, California.
Born February 19, 1927, in Madera, California. Father was Nicholas (Sr.); his mother, Pearl Lovine. He attended school in Madera, Phoenix Indian School in Arizona, and at Northfork, California. He married Ann Hall, who worked in the National Park office. They live in Yosemite Valley.
Laurance has worked up in the National Park Service and is doing a fine job, in the Road Maintenance Department.
Born November 29, 1930, in Madera, California. Father was Nicholas, his mother, Pearl Lovine. He married Patsy Castro. They have three children: Tony, Marino, and John (Jr.). They live and own a home near Mariposa. He has worked on road contract work near Sierra City, California, for some time.
Born May 19, 1929, in Madera, California. Her father was Nicholas Brochini; her mother was Pearl Lovine Brochini. She is a granddaughter of Phoebe. Separated from her husband, Evelyn has been working for the Yosemite Park and Curry Company, in the Housekeeping Camp, and lives with her grandmother part time. She is well liked by her supervisor and is a good steady worker. She has one son, Mike Brochini, 17 years old. One daughter, Yvone Coleman, age 14.
Born near Blue Mound, Kansas, date unknown. His father was white. He married Emma Priest Hogan, of the Mariposa tribe. They had one son, Richard. Lee worked for Yosemite National Park on road maintenance for some time, in the early 1930’s. He died, January 17, 1951, and was buried in the Hern Cemetery, near Midpines, California.
Born 1924. His father was Lee Lemaster. His mother was Emma Priest. He married Velda Johnson. They lived in Yosemite. They had three children: Donald, Gale, and Bonnie. Richard worked for the Park on labor crews for some years. He was killed in an auto accident near Oakhurst, California, April 1, 1951.
Born near Usona, in Mariposa County, date unknown. White. He married Lorraine Johnson, a granddaughter of Bridgeport Tom, and they had one daughter Gloria and one son Billie. Wilson worked in Yosemite on road maintenance and wood cutting for some time. It was reported some years ago he had gone to Saudi Arabia.
Paul lived and worked in Yosemite during his early years, on road maintenance. He married Lorraine Chapman; they had no children. A few years ago he transfer[r]ed to Sequoia National Park, on road maintenance.
Born May 19, 1916, near Mono Lake, California. His father was Fremont James; his mother Alice (Tom) James. He attended school in Yosemite. He married Veltha Jones, from Awaik, Nevada. They had one son George who was killed in an auto accident. Oscar lived and worked in Yosemite Park many years on labor crews.
Born June 6, 1918. The daughter of Fremont and Alice James. She died of T. B. in an Arizona hospital some years ago. It was reported a few kind local Yosemite women gathered enough money to send Alice to Arizona to see Frances, who turned over, looked at her mother, said, "I knew you’d come," and died.
Born September 2, 1923, in Yosemite the son of Fremont and Alice James. He attended the-local school, and lived all his life here. He has been working for the Park Service on road maintenance, heavy-duty operator. They had six sons. His wife Pauline has been working for the Yosemite Park and Curry Company, part time during the summer seasons.
Born, date unknown, near Mono Lake, the daughter of Fremont and Alice James. She died in Mono County some years ago.
Born March 2, 1930, in Yosemite Valley, the son of Lloyd and Virginia Parker. He attended Yosemite school and Stewart Indian School, in Stewart, Nevada.
Ralph married Julia Domingues, May 16, 1948, in El Portal, California, making their home in the Yosemite Indian Village. He had two daughters and two sons.
Ralph is employed by the Yosemite National Park Road Maintenance heavy equipment operator.
Ralph’s grandmother was Lucy Telles, grandfather Jack Parker, Piute. His great grandmother, Louisa Tom, a Yosemite or Miwok. Great grandfather was Bridgeport Tom. His great-great grandmother was Susie Sam a Yosemite or Miwok. His great-great grandfather was Captain Sam, Piute.
Born March 8, 1929, in Graton, California. She came to Yosemite in 1948. Her father was Mexican; her mother a full-blooded Pomo Indian.
Julia went to school seven years in public school and five years to the Carson Indian School in Stewart, Nevada.
She married Ralph L. Parker, a Yosemite Indian, May 16, 1948, in El Portal, California. They have two daughters and two sons. Their names are: Virginia, Lucy, Louis, and Allan.
Julia is continuing the custom of making Indian baskets and gives demonstrations to the park visitors in the museum garden each day in the summer. This is sponsored by the Yosemite Naturalist Division. This craft is almost a lost art among the present day Indians. She demonstrates the technique of weaving coiled baskets, and also of preparing acorn meal and cakes. Julia’s work has proven very popular with the Yosemite visitors, and has aided greatly in telling the story of the Yosemite Indians. In 1965, Julia was employed by the Yosemite Park and Curry Company, to manage the Pohono Shop, which specializes in handling Indian items.
Julia’s father was Frank Ralph Domingues who died in 1933 and was buried in Santa Rosa, California. Her mother, Lily Pete Domingues, died in 1934, and was buried in Santa Rosa. She had two brothers, Frank and William, and two sisters, Mary Lou and Madeline.
In a recent news item dated March 1966, Byron Nishkian, formerly a Yosemite Winter Club president, now USSA president, recently attended the F I S Nordic Championships in Oslo. He took as a gift to the Norwegian Ski Association a magnificent Indian basket woven by Julia Parker. Mrs. Parker devoted some 350 hours to the basket’s creation, weaving it from native grasses. Mrs. Parker refused any reimbursement and was pleased that she could contribute a part of our country’s heritage to our friends in Norway.
These biographical sketches are not complete because countless numbers of Indian blood have died or left the Yosemite Region since I first joined the Yosemite Ranger service in 1921. However, they may be of value to future historians, and should be preserved.
John W. Bingaman
District Park Ranger (Retired)
Yosemite National Park, California
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