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Almira <I>Heath</I> VanMatre

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Almira Heath VanMatre

Birth
New Hampshire, USA
Death
13 Oct 1910 (aged 81)
Berkeley, Alameda County, California, USA
Burial
Weaverville, Trinity County, California, USA Add to Map
Plot
Section M, Row G, Grave 2
Memorial ID
View Source
ALMIRA HEATH VAN MATRE
By Betty Gillespie Pollack
Copyright August 2005
Permission to reproduce with credit granted

ALMIRA HEATH was born on January 30, 1829 according to 1940-1950s records of Nettie Wolcott/Nettie Glover. She was born in Conway NH, the fifth child of Chandler Graham Heath and Lydia Wyman Heath. As a teenager she moved with her family to the frontier in Waldwick, Iowa Co., WI, before Wisconsin was a state. There she met and married Peter Van Meter (in WI records)/ Van Matre (in CA records) on May 8, 1846 according to her living descendants or 1847 according to Wolcott/Glover.

Almira's life is a fascinating story of a true California pioneer woman, since she and her husband Peter Van Matre were one of the first five families to settle in Weaverville, Trinity County CA in 1852. Their story was written up by two grand daughters (Anita Van Matre Shuford and Loda Van Matre Foster) in the Trinity County Historical Society's, Trinity 1961 Yearbook, Weaverville CA. The Van Matres are still one of the major families in Trinity County in 2005. The Jake Jackson Museum/ Trinity County Historical Society has a file several inches thick on the Van Matres. An additional source for this biography is my personal conversations in Nov. 2004 and June 2005 with Evelyn Heath Grant, an 86 year old descendant of Almira's brother Kimble. She knew several of Almira's descendants. Finally, I researched documents naming Peter Van Meter/Van Matre during my visit to the Nevada County Historical Society in Grass Valley CA. Grass Valley is about four miles from Rough and Ready.

Almira and Peter Van Matre had two children in Iowa Co, WI (George and Morris) before traveling to California. Almira's grand children report that Peter first went to California over the Platte River route with a 44 horse team wagon party headed by Captain A. A. Townsend in 1849. They settled in a place which was named Rough and Ready after them. Fascinated by this and in hopes of finding out if Almira's father, Chandler Graham Heath may have traveled to California with his son-in-law Peter, I went to Rough and Ready to learn more.

In brief, according to documents at the Nevada County Historical Society in Grass Valley, Nevada Co. CA, Peter struck it rich and returned to Mineral Point/Waldwick Wisconsin in summer 1850 with Capt. Townsend to bring more men back to work their claim. When they returned to Rough and Ready over the Platte River route early in 1851 with a party of about 40, they found the town overrun with other miners.

The following are quotes from some of those accounts.

According to an account written in 1856: “The first settlers in the vicinity of the town [Rough and Ready] were Capt. A. A. Townsend and Rev Mr. Pope, of Iowa; Putman and Carpenter, of New York; and Peter Vanmetre (sic), Holt, Colgrove, Hardy, Dunn and Richards, of Wisconsin. This company of men crossed the plains together, and arrived at the place now called Rough and Ready, on the 9th of September 1849. The company styled themselves the˜Rough and Ready Company" in honor of Capt. Townsend, who served under Gen. [Zachary] Taylor, [who was known as Old Rough and Ready] with much honor, in the Winnebago war. They not infrequently realized from three to six hundred dollars per day from the labor of three men. Sixteen hands were employed in the company, and, in the Blue and Red ravines, they averaged, for six weeks, a pound of gold to the handle. They kept a monopoly of the whole region for several months.
Contributor: Anthony Townsend (49162587) • [email protected]
ALMIRA HEATH VAN MATRE
By Betty Gillespie Pollack
Copyright August 2005
Permission to reproduce with credit granted

ALMIRA HEATH was born on January 30, 1829 according to 1940-1950s records of Nettie Wolcott/Nettie Glover. She was born in Conway NH, the fifth child of Chandler Graham Heath and Lydia Wyman Heath. As a teenager she moved with her family to the frontier in Waldwick, Iowa Co., WI, before Wisconsin was a state. There she met and married Peter Van Meter (in WI records)/ Van Matre (in CA records) on May 8, 1846 according to her living descendants or 1847 according to Wolcott/Glover.

Almira's life is a fascinating story of a true California pioneer woman, since she and her husband Peter Van Matre were one of the first five families to settle in Weaverville, Trinity County CA in 1852. Their story was written up by two grand daughters (Anita Van Matre Shuford and Loda Van Matre Foster) in the Trinity County Historical Society's, Trinity 1961 Yearbook, Weaverville CA. The Van Matres are still one of the major families in Trinity County in 2005. The Jake Jackson Museum/ Trinity County Historical Society has a file several inches thick on the Van Matres. An additional source for this biography is my personal conversations in Nov. 2004 and June 2005 with Evelyn Heath Grant, an 86 year old descendant of Almira's brother Kimble. She knew several of Almira's descendants. Finally, I researched documents naming Peter Van Meter/Van Matre during my visit to the Nevada County Historical Society in Grass Valley CA. Grass Valley is about four miles from Rough and Ready.

Almira and Peter Van Matre had two children in Iowa Co, WI (George and Morris) before traveling to California. Almira's grand children report that Peter first went to California over the Platte River route with a 44 horse team wagon party headed by Captain A. A. Townsend in 1849. They settled in a place which was named Rough and Ready after them. Fascinated by this and in hopes of finding out if Almira's father, Chandler Graham Heath may have traveled to California with his son-in-law Peter, I went to Rough and Ready to learn more.

In brief, according to documents at the Nevada County Historical Society in Grass Valley, Nevada Co. CA, Peter struck it rich and returned to Mineral Point/Waldwick Wisconsin in summer 1850 with Capt. Townsend to bring more men back to work their claim. When they returned to Rough and Ready over the Platte River route early in 1851 with a party of about 40, they found the town overrun with other miners.

The following are quotes from some of those accounts.

According to an account written in 1856: “The first settlers in the vicinity of the town [Rough and Ready] were Capt. A. A. Townsend and Rev Mr. Pope, of Iowa; Putman and Carpenter, of New York; and Peter Vanmetre (sic), Holt, Colgrove, Hardy, Dunn and Richards, of Wisconsin. This company of men crossed the plains together, and arrived at the place now called Rough and Ready, on the 9th of September 1849. The company styled themselves the˜Rough and Ready Company" in honor of Capt. Townsend, who served under Gen. [Zachary] Taylor, [who was known as Old Rough and Ready] with much honor, in the Winnebago war. They not infrequently realized from three to six hundred dollars per day from the labor of three men. Sixteen hands were employed in the company, and, in the Blue and Red ravines, they averaged, for six weeks, a pound of gold to the handle. They kept a monopoly of the whole region for several months.
Contributor: Anthony Townsend (49162587) • [email protected]


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