Jeremiah Ryan Memorial

SCV - Jerry Ryan Memorial
Camp 1804 genealogist Bill Lee speaking.

This was last Saturday on April 25, at Calvary Cemetery on Belmont Avenue, Fresno, California.
Jerry Ryan and his father were railroad builders in Houston, Texas. Before the Civil War they built the railroad across Cuba. Before the Civil War he married in Texas, and When Texas seceded in 1861, Jerry joined Waul’s Texas Legion. Waul’s became a trans-Mississippi unit in the Army of Tennessee, as did many regiments from Arkansas, Louisiana and other Texas regiments.
Early in the war Jerry was captured at the battle called Shiloh, and sent to Rock Island, the Union prisoner camp, Illinois. He was part of a prisoner exchange and either returned to Texas or returned to another Confederate unit. After the war he continued railroad work, and was working on railroad in Oregon. He came to Fresno to build the railroad there in 1873. Ryan was first section foreman for the Southern Pacific in this locality and by his industry and shrewdness soon accumulated enough money to start him in the hotel business.
In 1874 he ceased the railroad business and remained in Fresno. He was most likely a member of the Price Camp of Confederate Veterans, as other notable members were Doctor Muex, Doctor Henry Hopkins, and others. One other was a Confederate he had met at Rock Island, Illinois and exchanged with him. That was Fresno’s first County Sheriff, J. D. Collins. They became life-long friends and died a year apart, Ryan in 1909, Collins in 1910.
The memorial was hosted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans local General Tyree Harris Bell Camp #1804. General Bell probably knew Collins and Ryan also, as he farmed in what is now Clovis and Sanger, and is buried at Bethel Cemetery in Sanger. The Sons of Confederate Veterans genealogical organization is dedicated to preserving the memory of Confederates and their history.

SCV - Jerry Ryan Memorial marker

THE DOC ~ Revised Edition
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Print ISBN: 978-1-626941-44-1

Timothy J. Desmond
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Borden Station

Pictures from Phone camera 198

It is one of the towns that Catherine Rehart had written that “faded away.” It was so named in 1872 by Leland Stanford as he visited the Central Pacific railroad construction at the switch of the line near Avenue 12 at Cottonwood Creek and the later Highway 99. During the visit, Stanford had been hosted by Dr. Joseph Borden. The location was the Alabama colony which was founded in 1868 in what was still Fresno County. The name Arcola was not to be. Two years later in 1874, Borden was on the ballot as a choice for the new Fresno County Seat.
When one reads the accounts of the history of the place, there is also the Chinese community and the Borden Chinese Cemetery. There is much history at this link:
My affinity for the place comes from the family stories of farming there. The Justice family had migrated from Lawrence County Tennessee to Fresno County in 1928, then to Borden in early 1930s. The town had long since vanished, but there was still a packing shed on the switch on the east side of the tracks. My grandmother Winona told me of packing peaches there. I had visited several times the farm on Avenue 12 of a great uncle Allen Roberts and great aunt Sadie Justice Roberts. Other Justices owned or leased land there.
Mom told me of living on the west side of the highway 99, near the Casa Grande Motel. Her sister Sarah Zoe Justice Todd painted a picture of the tank house and tree. Long lost, the painting looked something like this one.

Art - Tankhouse at Borden 2013

Another sister, Opal Florene Justice Root and her husband “Pete” farmed cotton there.
If there is a photograph of the Borden Station building, it has not been found. The station building was destroyed in a fire.
Lost in much of the conversation are the histories of the folks who established the Alabama Colony after the Civil War. Many were Confederate veterans. As supposed that they were seeking a new life in a new state, a new county, a fresh start, one wonders if they wanted to diminish their past as Confederate soldiers. Local historians gloss over this, as if it is not important. In 2005, the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ local General Tyree Harris Bell Camp 1804 conducted a memorial event at the grave of Joseph Borden. He is buried at Arbor Vitae Cemetery. He was a Sergeant and then became 1st Lieutenant in Company D of the 5th Alabama Infantry. There are ten other Confederates buried at Arbor Vitae, and there may be others. Another Alabama Colony rancher, George Mordecai was a Private in the 2nd Richmond Howitzers of Virginia. He is buried on his private property and home on Madera Avenue just south of Cottonwood Creek.
There is much construction going on now at Borden. The “High Speed Rail” project is going ahead. And while there are still political, financial and logic arguments over the “train to nowhere” I was amazed, as many others, that the starting place is at Borden. It may be fitting that Borden Station may have a resurrection.
By the way, before it was demolished I photographed the brick building that was a landmark for many years. Do any of you railroad experts know what these buildings housed along the rail line? They were typical along Southern Pacific tracks.

Pictures from Phone camera 197

Timothy J. Desmond
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Memorial 5

Art - Kearney Mansion Jan 2010 cropped
Only four weeks left. Again, it’s getting short here. While the “Gold Rush” had a beginning of migrations to California, there were men coming from all areas from the eastern states, north and south, and from global locations. Other early farmers or names in the area were Hildreth, Daulton, Castro, Firebaugh, Chapman, Helm, Johnson, Faymonville, Savage, Heiskell, as well as Miller and Lux. Many were ex-miners.
When Millerton was still the Fresno County seat there was a civilian fight that had to be quelled by the US Army in the area. The state of California had the famous “California One Hundred” battalion that went to the east coast as a Union volunteers.

The war occurred before Fresno was a town. There were further folks coming after the war from both northern and southern states. There were veterans farming here before the City of Fresno was formed in 1872 on Easterby farm land.

Fresno County had the Alabama colony north of the San Joaquin River on Cottonwood Creek near present day Highway 99 and Avenue 12 in the present Madera County.[ Madera County was formed in 1893 from the northern portion of Fresno County.] Of the family names of that era are Borden, Mordecai, Dixon, Holmes, Reading, Sledge, Chapman, Friedlander. I mentioned Ryan in Fresno, and there were the three doctors, Hopkins, Maupin and Meux. The old Ryan Hotel in Fresno was built by Confederate Civil War Veteran Ryan.

Timothy J. Desmond
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Memorial 4

Andrew Firebaugh Marker Memorial Day 2013 is approaching and many of us will be going to certain memorial events around the area. Fresno County has had its share of veterans and one that stands out is an early pioneer named Andrew Firebaugh. Many west side folks and City of Firebaugh residents in particular know of his history. From his migration from Virginia to Texas, being a recruit in the army there that went into Monterey during the Mexican war made him a veteran of two flags, Texas and United States. His later migration to California is no less remarkable and he was a member of Major James Savage’s regiment that was the first to enter and discover Yosemite Valley in modern history.
Andrew Firebaugh’s burial place in the foothills east of Clovis, California, is worthy of a visit on Memorial Day as he is a true old veteran of a remarkable era. I doubt any will look up his place of rest. The grave site is on private property, and visible from Tollhouse road and about a mile from Humphreys Station. The remarkable thing, also, is that the grave site is marked on the USGS topographic map titled Humphreys Station Quadrangle. However, if one goes to any memorial on that day, one honors all of the veterans.
Timothy J. Desmond
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Memorial 3

Willis Elmer and Winona Gladys Yeager Justice

Many of us have attended Veterans Day memorials and Memorial Day events at our local cemeteries. My earliest memory is of going on a sunny May Memorial Day afternoon with my grandmother. She picked white Gardenias off of her own shrubs and we went to my grandfather’s grave site. He was a World War I veteran. While I can call myself a native Californian, she was born in Alabama. They migrated to Fresno in 1928. They had rented the Egger’s ranch, south of the current Fresno Yosemite International Airport.
I thank Fresno County Historical Society for printing a memorial event invitation in their latest issue of Ash Tree Echo, Vol.48, Issue 1, March 2013. They do not have an “online” publication, but can be followed on Facebook at!/FresnoGenealogy
Timothy J. Desmond
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