John W. Phillips (1800-1862) and his wife, Eliza Trewarthe (1812-?), with their children, Joseph, Lucretia and Simon, emigrated to America from England. The date, location of departure and port of entry is unknown to me at this time. It is recorded that the family was living in Iowa County in the State of Wisconsin in 1840.
The lure of gold appears to have beckoned John as he traveled overland with sons Joseph and Simon and daughter Lucretia, all seventeen years or older, to the California mines in 1849. He did not take the remainder of his family as Eliza is listed in the 1850 U.S. Census as living in Shelby County, Indiana with the remaining children. It is assumed that on his first trip he traveled to Mariposa County. In 1851 John made a trip back east and returned with his family to Mariposa County in the Merced River area where he established a ferry and store at Phillips' Ferry. It was located on the Mariposa and Merced county line near Merced Falls.
The following is an extract from Sam Ward in the Gold Rush edited by Carvel Collins, Stanford University Press, 1940. The person speaking is Sam Ward, who lived and worked at Belt's Ferry which was located a short distance down river from Phillip's Ferry. Belt's Ferry was a popular crossing of the Merced River on the road from Stockton to Mariposa.
"....I strolled up one afternoon to the opposition 'ranch' and made a 'reconnaissance' of its improvements in one of which they excelled us: this was the attraction of a rosy damsel behind the bar, who proved to be the daughter of the principal proprietor--a grey-eyed Englishman named Phillips, who bore a rotound resemblance in person, face, and even 'strabismus' to the learned and ingenious Professor Mapes. I broke the ice by ordering a bottle of porter --price one dollar--and wound up by extracting from the landlord the good-natured and candid avowal that the dullness of the locality was quite discouraging....."
"I took a look at the ferry; its fastenings, ropes, etc, were new and convenient, but the steepness of the descent on either bank comforted me with the inference that nothing short of a deluge could render its competition formidable. After this inspection of 'the elephant,' I no longer felt a pang when an occasional team strayed from our crossing. Several wagoners, who had tried it for the novelty of the thing, returned to us on their way down. They liked our crossing best. Wilson (Phillips' partner) was a surly ferryman, whilst our boys were always 'piert' and obliging: old man Phillips was a descent body, and his daughter good to look at, but the cut was steep, and they were always jolly, etc."
The following is a text footnote to the above extract:
"John Phillips arrived at the mines in 1849, having come overland. He is said to have made a trip east in 1851 to bring his family to the Merced. Although he seems ultimately to have been successful with his ferry and store, about a year after the establishment he found it necessary--surely in part because of Sam Ward's taboo--to mortgage for $1,400 his half-interest in Phillips' Ferry and all of his rights to an adjacent one hundred sixty acres on the south side of the Merced with a large tent and frame house thereon."
Financial matters must have improved as later, John Phillips, with partners, purchased Belt's Ferry when it went into financial difficulties. About 1856, the name of the crossing at Belt's Ferry was changed to Merced Falls when a post office was established. Interesting, the first postmaster was Charles Murray, who had been a partner in Phillips' Ferry.
As a resident of Mariposa County, John Phillips was concerned with the marauding and killing by the renowned bandit, Joaquin Murietta. It is highly likely that he had many occasions to meet or cross paths with Joaquin in the operation of Phillips' Ferry. On April 20, 1853, John Phillips was one of the county residents to put his signature on the famous "Mariposa Petition" urging the California Assembly to form the "California Rangers." Here is a typed copy of the "Mariposa Petition" taken from a copy on display in the Mariposa County History Museum:
"To the Honorable Members of the Legislature of California now in session."
"The undersigned citizens of California residing in Mariposa County would respectfully represent that during the past three months many good citizens residing in this County, and it's neighboring Counties have been visited by the notorius murderer and robber Joaquin and numerous other murderers and robbers equally courageous and daring endeavoring as it would seem toacquire the highest honor for villany and Racality, without fear of apprehension and trial in our Courts of Justice."
"At times during this period many good citizens have associated themselves in Companies to aid the officers in discharging their duty of arresting and bringing to trial those who might be accused of crimes and if found Guilty in trail punished according to the letter and Spirit of the law, and by that means later action from committing similar offenses. With this object in mind, many good citizens have wasted their time, increased expenses and risked their lives without the promise of reward and without success in their laudible undertaking."
"Believing as we do that in this emergency the law is insufficient to afford protection to life and life's property."
"We, therefore ???? ???? and ???? ???? respectfully petition our representatives ???? ???? and assembly now at ???? to pass a special act immediately or at least before ???? (?=illegible words) adjournment of the present session, authorizing some private person to organize a Company of twenty-five good horsemen well armed and equipped and when organized to be called the California Rangers and be required to traverse this County and other Counties in the State for the purpose aforesaid for such length of time and to receive such compensation from the State Treasury as our said Representatives in madness and frustration may deem right and just."
"Dated at Mariposa 20th of April 1853"
Forty-six signatures were listed on this page including (can be viewed at Mariposa History Center)
/s/ John Phillips /s/ T.W.T. Young (he married John Phillips' daughter)
The California Rangers were organized under the leadership of Capt. Harry Love and, after quite a bit of trouble, succeeded in tracking down Joaquin Murietta.
In 1852, John and Eliza's daughter, Lucretia, married T.W.T. Young of Agua Fria. Mr. Young also operated a ferry crossing on the Merced River. It was located below old Belt's Ferry.
In the 1860 U.S. Census, John and Eliza Phillips are listed as living in Hornitas with John's occupation listed as "hotel keeper." Here the family listing also included their youngest daughter, Teresa Salome, born in 1843. Teresa S. Phillips was my great grandmother.
In the 1870 U.S. Census, Eliza Phillips is listed as a widow. The Stockton Daily Independent newspaper reports that John Phillips died in Hornitas on October 20, 1862. The cause and place of burial is not known.
The records in the Mariposa County Recorder's office indicate that on July 16, 1867, the widow, Eliza Phillips, was remarried to Reuben Hail of Merced County. The marriage must not have lasted long, as soon she is again listed as Eliza Phillips. Mr. Hail is buried in the Plainsburg Cemetery, Merced County without Eliza whose date of death and burial location is not known to me.
John and Eliza's youngest child, Teresa Salome (1843-1914) grew up in Hornitas and married , at a very early age, Gilbert Negus. They had four sons, Gilbert, Eugene, John and Edwin and one daughter, Eliza. The children John and Eliza must have died at a young age as they are not found in later records. Mr. Negus died in 1870, and Teresa, a young widow with three sons, was soon remarried to Elsworth Benton Jolley (1844-1932) who was living in Snelling with his parents and brother's family.
Written by: Glenn Burghardt
Photographs are available for Eliza Trewarthe Phillips
Teresa Salome Phillips Jolley
Sons Gilbert and Eugene Negus
Elsworth Benton Jolley
TO MARIPOSA COUNTY FAMILY CHRONICLES