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JUST LIKE OLD TIMES - False report muddles history of local men

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 28, 2015 at 3:49 PM

Speaking of the California Gold Rush last week, I'm reminded of some other young men connected with it in what appears to have been a false report. We have to begin by remembering that there was no instant news reporting in the 19th century and that much of what passed for news was either rumor or convoluted facts.

The Norwalk Experiment newspaper of Aug. 10, 1952, reported that William, George and Charles Raymond had been murdered in May 1852 while en route to Oregon. They were sons of Alanson Raymond of Sherman Township. I took this report as true until I found in the Norwalk Reflector of March 20, 1855, a news item reprinted from the Sacramento Union newspaper concerning two brothers named Raymond who arrived in Placerville from Carson Valley. They had told the man who told the newspaper reporter that their father lived about two miles from Monroeville in Huron County. The man who reported this story was one Thomas Knott of Ripley Township in Huron County.

When I investigated this with some original research I found that William, George and Charles were in fact sons of Alanson and Elizabeth Young Raymond, of Sherman Township. The family farm was on the northwest corner of Section Line 30 and Sherman-Norwich Roads in the south part of Sherman.

The published Raymond family history reveals that George in fact returned to Ohio and married Frances Bloomer of Sherman; Charles survived until 1891; and William also married eventually and died in 1894. The family history compiler says that William didn't go with his brothers, but another brother Daniel did go. Daniel died in Hartford, Conn. in 1910.

Proof of the trio being Daniel, Charles and George is offered by a letter dated Aug. 22, 1852, from Elizabeth Young Raymond to her sons. Mother Raymond says in part: "... we have reason to believe you are in the land of the living. We had your deaths in the newspapers as being murdered by the Indians and you must guess how we felt, for I cannot describe." She also inquires as to whether their dog made it through to Oregon, and how did their team (horses, I presume) stand the journey.

I presume that the Raymond brothers in California in 1855 are two of the same Raymond brothers who went to Oregon in 1852. The story from the Sacramento paper deals with these Raymonds walking across the snow-covered mountains to Placerville in three and a half days, part of the time on snow shoes with the snow five to six feet deep. Two nights they had to camp without a fire due to wet matches and with nothing to eat. They were leading 15 mules, 12 of which froze on the trip.

Their trip highlighted the need for manned public shelters along the route with assistance for those who needed it, such as the Raymond brothers. Of course, the story doesn't tell us why they attempted the trip in the first place in such miserable weather conditions.

All in all, making the trip west to Oregon or California in those early times was no day at the beach. Meanwhile, Alanson and Elizabeth Raymond stayed at home on their farm and died there in 1877. Their burial place can be seen in the Sherman Township Cemetery on Heyman Road.

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