Born ca. 1808 in Cabarrus County NC, Elizabeth is the daughter of Jonah and Mary Garmon Love. She likely lived much of her childhood life on family land along Rocky River below Reed’s gold mine. Dated 2 Jan 1830, she married George W. Petray in Cabarrus County. Bondman was George Wm. Barker and James G. Spears served as witness. Born 9 Jul 1811, he is the son of John Jacob and Catherine Carriker Petray. The 1830 Cabarrus County census enumerates George and wife living next to William H. Taylor. George is listed aged 15-20 and Elizabeth aged 20-30.
In or around the year 1838 a large migration of people from Cabarrus and Montgomery Counties left by wagon for Arkansas. Others, including Elizabeth’s sister Mary removed earlier to KY and IL where by 1850 moved once more to settle in Pope County AR. Along with a brother and sister and other cousins, Elizabeth and her family headed west. The family settled in Pope County just east of present day Russellville. From records in that county, we know that George, his father, and several other family members made the trip west. Dated 16 Oct 1845, the loose estate papers for Jacob Petray read in part:
“. . . that the deceased [Jacob Petray] died without a will and that he has left six heirs to wit: Daniel D. Petray, George W. Petray, Sarah Teeter wife of Martin A. Teeter, Mary McEver wife of Brice McEver, & Prudy Catherine Teeter, Malinda Elizabeth Teeter, James Teeter, Martha Teeter, the children of Elizabeth Teeter deceased formerly Elizabeth Petray and John Jefferson Darnel child & heir of Susan Darnel formerly Susan Petray.”
The admission in 29 Dec 1845 of Texas as a new state precipitated complex events leading to the Mexican War. On 1 Jul 1846, Jonah A. Petray, William S. Petray, and others from Pope County enlisted for service in the Arkansas mounted regiment under the lead of General John E. Wool. Returning home by way of ship during the summer of 1847, the men set their adventures aside and resumed their life of farming. Much later, and many miles since traveled, Montgomery County NC native Silas Monroe Shinn tells of life during the war. He also tells of another adventure.
Gold was discovered in California. The following is paraphrased from Silas M. Shinn’s personal account entitled Crossing the Plains. In April of 1849, 153 men and 53 wagons rendezvoused at Fort Smith. Instead of taking the grid locked sea-land route through Panama, the men decided to cross the plains. Teams of 3-4 men each were each required to possess one wagon carrying at least 2000 pounds, four head of horses or oxen, 2 saddle horses and 50 dollars contributed to a common fund. The wagons headed across the plains through lands controlled at first by friendly Chocktaw Indians. The grass was plentiful from Ft. Smith to Sante Fe. Silas boasts of his skill in catching fish. And a panther was shot whose meat was not equally enjoyed by all. They “layed by” each Sunday. The wagon train included one Presbyterian and two Methodist preachers.
Reaching Sante Fe, they turned south and traveled the east side of the mountains. At Albuquerque, they built a boat and ferried across the Rio Grande before continuing southward. Silas adventured up a stream in hunt of doves. Sighting a bird, he heard hoofs shuffling to his side and turned in time to see an Indian. And looking beyond him, there were yet two hundred more armed and prepared to do bodily harm. Choosing an approach of least provocation, Silas presented his hand and said: “Howdy –do!” The Indian returned with “How-do” and then they continued the conversation in Spanish. The Indian turned out to be the “Great Chief Geronimo.” After meeting with the leader of the wagon train, and learning that the men were only passing through and had no intentions of staying on this land, the chief assured the men safe passage. Traveling a total of three hundred miles along the Rio Grande, the men then turned west across unknown lands that would carry them across the mountains.
Passing through Arizona they went north along the Gila to a point where it joins the Colorado River. By this time, many teams had lost wagons and beast and the group began to fragment. Dr. Cagle joined another team while Silas Shinn, “G. W. Petray, A. H. Coulter, and Neely Cruthers” decided to head through Sand Diego on foot. Crossing the Colorado River by raft, they twice encountered troublesome Indians. They went through lands of sand dune with water hidden just beneath the surface. And then crossing the mountains near San Diego, the four men happened upon a U. S. surveying party heading towards Yuma to lay off our border with Mexico. Silas tells of his disdain with troubles related to G. W. Petray’s love of food. At San Diego, they sold guns and horses and purchased transportation upon a steamer to San Francisco.
On 3 Nov 1849, the team reached Sacramento City. George W. Petray had a falling out with the owner of the wagon, at which point he pleaded with Silas and the others to “Stick with him.” But after accusing Silas of stealing a piece of bacon, it appears that our George W. Petray was left to fend on his own. The story told by Silas continues. They travel to, through, and beyond gold country. Silas eventually settled in Healdsburg, Somoma County CA. He made several trips back to Pope County. On one of these trips late in life, he attended a family reunion in Russellville where he met his brother Thomas J. Shinn who had traveled from North Carolina. Upon his trip back home, Thomas J. Shinn sadly died on the train.
Gone to California
While George W. Petray was tromping around our Ameircan west, where was his wife Elizabeth and just who were his children? The 1850 Pope County census enumerates the family as follows:
34 Elizabeth Petray NCThis record indicates George and Elizabeth left Cabarrus County NC shortly after the 1830 census. The census also lists members of both the Cagle and Coulter families. Both are indicated to have roots in Carolina. There is one other entry in Pope County that really makes me wonder:
19 Ransom A. Petray IL
10 Mary A. Petray AR
05 Parthena Petray AR
21 Jonah A. Petray ILKnowing Elizabeth’s father is Jonah A. Love, could this be the married child of George W. and Elizabeth Love Petray?
21 Eliza J. Petray MO
01 Martha M. Petray AR
Elizabeth and children do not appear in Pope County census records beyond 1850. Dated 8 Nov 1873, Elizabeth Petray of “Ventura County CA” appoints her brother James W. Love power of attorney in settling her share of the estate of their father Jonah Love (9-163, Stanly County NC). Recorded in her home state, this document indicates Elizabeth removed to be with her husband in California.
The children of George W. and Elizabeth Love Petray are:
A. Ransom Alexander Petray
Born 9 Jul 1831, Ransom married first 3 Feb 1859 Martha J. Darnell in Pope County AR. Born 20 Mar 1842, she is the daughter of Coke Berry and Elizabeth Darnell. She died 30 Jan 1863 and is buried at Oakmound Cemetery in Sonoma County. R. A. Petray married second 22 Feb 1865 Nancy Jane Faught in Santa Rosa CA. Born ca. 1838, she died 24 Aog 1904 and is buried at Oakmound Cemetery. Ransom Alexander Petray died 12 Nov 1906 and he too is buried at Oakmound.
B. Mary A. Petray
Born ca. 1840, Mary is enumerated living with her mother in the 1850 census.
C. Parthena Petray
Born ca. 1845, Parthena married 21 Apr 1865 Benjamin F. Bonnell in Sonoma County CA. The 1880 San Benito County census enumerates Parthen and family. As follows, the record also records our Elizabeth Love Petray:45 Benj. Bonnell MO Tinner
35 Parthenia Bonnell (wife) AR
16 William Bonnell (son) CA
13 Lizzie Bonnell (dau) CA
12 Dora Bonnell (dau) CA
10 Mattie Bonnell (dau) CA
07 Frank Bonnell (son) CA
72 Elizabeth Petray (mother) NC
Within a year of the 1880 census, Mary Love Petray died on 18 Mar 1881. She is buried at Shiloh Cemetery in Sonoma County CA. George W. Petray died 12 Jul 1883 and is also buried at Shiloh.
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