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Back to the Beginning

Updated: Jun 17, 2023

Where I Fell in Love with my Family's History

My love of genealogy and family history was first sparked by a trip with my first cousin Linda to a dusty little graveyard called Drytown City Cemetery on a rolling California hill in Drytown, Amador County, California 40 years ago. At 23 years old, I followed my cousin up the hill from the road to this tiny section of the cemetery surrounded by a wrought iron fence that held the remains of ancestors of whom I had known nothing about before then. I saw for the very first time, where our Great Grandparents, Ralph Hudson Convers and Ruth Hinkson Convers were buried; where our two-times Great Grandparents, Richard Summers Hinkson and Mary Frances Sharp Hinkson's graves were located; and the graves of our three-times Great Grandparents, Andrew Henry Hinkson and Matilda Willets Summers Hinkson. See list of all members of Hinkson Family buried in the Drytown City Cemetery in the Hinkson Family Members buried in Drytown City Cemetery.

This journey through my family's stories and the generations of my people has continued since that day in Drytown. Linda and I researched for hundreds of hours since then and it was always the best fun. We traveled to the East Coast to learn more about where our family first came to America and enjoyed every moment of it. Even the New Jersey Turnpike Adventure and the haunted cemetery in Connecticut will always be remembered. Yikes. Those are stories for another day.

Living in California, far away from where many of our lines trace back to made travel an epic event we would have to plan for every couple of years. In 2020, Linda very sadly passed away. Our plans for travel together ended too. Traveling without her feels a little empty, but I want to get back to doing what I love. I am starting close to home, here in California.

I live in Northern California and within a day's drive to many of the places where my ancestors lived. Linda and I have been to all of these places before, but I want to go back and dig a little deeper. So I am starting with Drytown in Amador County, where it all began for my grandmother, Della Convers Crowell's family line. First I'll review the information I already have, then visit the locations in California where my ancestors first came to live. I'm excited to begin this part of my genealogy search and intend to chronicle the journey and share what I find along the way.

Information we have collected so far.

1850 U S Census Record, Consumnes River, California. Source:

The Hinkson Family had been among the early gold miners who came to California as it was first becoming a state. My Hinkson ancestors came originally to mine for gold in 1849 along with the nearly 100,000 people who came looking for opportunity, whether it was hitting the mother lode or becoming one of the merchants who profited from the miners' discoveries. Their overland journey started in Washington County, Missouri on April 3, 1849. Crossing the plains took six months arriving in Grass Valley, California on September 20, 1849. They stayed there for four weeks, left for Sacramento arriving there in October of that same year. They left Sacramento on November 1, 1849 and made it to Drytown two weeks later on November 15, 1849. According to his daughter's account from Linda's early genealogical notes, John Milton Hinkson paid $4 to use a cross-cut saw. He built a cabin for J. W. Boone, his brother-in-law and his sister Susan. She was expecting a baby and that may have been why they needed a house built first. The daughter wrote that John Milton also built a house for his father, Andrew H Hinkson. John Milton was about 13 years old that year. It seems more likely that the whole family was involved. The family consisted of

  • Andrew Henry Hinkson, father, born June 19, 1806 in St. Genevieve, Missouri

  • Matilda Summers Hinkson, mother, born March 23, 1815 in Harroldsburg Kentucky


  • Susan P Hinkson born May 2, 1832 in Missouri

  • Mary E Hinkson born September 20, 1934 in Missouri

  • John Milton Hinkson born December 31, 1836 in Missouri

  • Richard Summers Hinkson born July 14, 1838 in Missouri

  • Nelson Cicero Hinkson born December 27, 1839 in Missouri

  • Andrew Henry Hinkson born March 23, 1841 in Missouri

  • Julia J Hinkson born November 2, 1842 in Missouri

The U. S. Census Record for 1850 for "on the Consumnes River" gives a snapshot of who the Hinkson family was living near and among during that year, or at least on September 16, 1850, the date the Census was taken. The 8 page Census Record showed a total of 335 individuals, 321 of them male and 14 of them female. There were 17 children under the age of 18, which does not include Andrew H Hinkson' daughter, Mary E Hinkson who was 15 years old. She was already married to Jacob Hummell by that time.

There were 9 families consisting of 38 individuals who lived among the rest of the men, mostly miners who were there on their own. A couple, The Hoits appeared to have taken in the Hutchinson children. Elizabeth Weaver continued the journey to California with her 3 young children after her husband was killed during an ambush in Humboldt County. The remaining families included Alvord, Moore, Cook, Traver and Fugitt. The Hinksons lived among those with the following occupations:

  • Miners (42)

  • Ranchers (10)

  • Traders (4)

  • Farmer (6)

  • Merchant (4)

  • Physician (3)

  • Laborers (4)

  • Teamsters (2)

  • Grocer (1) - This was Jacob Hummell, Mary E Hinkson's husband.

  • Carpenter (1)

  • Ferrymen (2)

  • Herdsmen (2)

  • Cooks (2).

The people on that Census Record came from many places, including 27 different states (77% of the people) and 8 different countries (23% of the people). Of those, the largest concentrations came from New York with 18%, followed by 13% from Ohio and 9% from Virginia. Only 5% came from Missouri, from where the Hinkson Family moved.

My focus right now is on my 2 times great grandfather, Richard Summers Hinkson. He was my paternal grandmother, Della Convers Crowell's grandfather, and son of Andrew Henry Hinkson and Matilda Willets Summers Hinkson.

Andrew Henry Hinkson and his family came to California in 1849, lived in Drytown, Amador County, California and were apparently prosperous in their Quartz mining endeavors. A newspaper article published in 1857 showed they had taken out $60,000 worth of gold, which is roughly the same as $2 Million dollars in 2023.

Drytown, 1866. Source: By Unknown author -, Public Domain,

Source: GenealogyBank THE PACIFIC. Thursday, Jun 28, 1866 San Francisco, CA Page: 2

My 2-times great grandfather, Richard Summers Hinkson, son of Andrew H Hinkson came to California when he was about 11 years old. Early on he engaged in his family's business of Quartz mining. He married Mary Frances Sharp in 1868 when he was 30 years old and she was 18. They started a family in Drytown where they had their first 5 daughters, Mary E, Susan, Julia, Jessie and Sarah Kathryn. In 1879, they moved to Volcano, California where Richard owned a Livery Stable with his brother John Milton. Three children were born in Volcano, Ruth Summers (my great grandmother), Andrew Budd and Hilda.

Source: Author: Jesse D Mason Title: History of Amador County, California, with illustrations and biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers Publisher: Oakland, Cal., Thompson & West Subject (keywords, tags): Amador County (Calif.) -- History; Amador County (Calif.) -- Biography

In 1887, the family moved to Selma, Fresno County, California where sons John and Richard were born. Robert Louis and Eva the last of their children were born in Hanford California. Soon after, the family moved to Snelling, Merced County, California and then Turlock California. There are also records of them living in Delhi which is close to Turlock and Cressey which is a little further out. Richard engaged in Grain farming toward the latter part of his life.

My Great Granduncle, Howard Hinkson Convers, Richard and Mary's grandson described them in his book, That Convers Kid from Turlock. "Grandfather was a fairly large man with a white beard and smiling blue eyes. Grandmother looked a lot like my Mom, but one could see that she was quite a bit older. I soon found out that Grandmother gave the orders around there and that no one disputed ever, and that her orders applied to me as well...Grandmother didn't smile a whole lot, but she was kind to everyone and she treated everyone with courtesy and respect. I never heard anyone dispute her authority. There were times when things were discussed and the order amended, but there was no bickering with Grandmother...Grandfather never entered into any of the decisions of the household. His boys would tell him what they were doing and how the schedule was planned [regarding the rye

Richard Summers Hinkson with his granddaughter, Patricia Barrold and his daughter, Hilda Hinkson Barrold Bell. Source: That Convers Kid from Turlock by Howard Convers.

harvest]. He never disagreed with any of their routines for they all knew what to do and how to do it." My Uncle Howard was a great story teller and I always loved listening to the tales of his life. Having this description of Richard and Mary Frances Hinkson is such a gift. Howard passed away in 2004 at the age of 101.

L - R Mary Frances Sharp, Ruth Summers Hinkson and her husband, Ralph Hudson Convers. Source: That Convers Kid from Turlock by Howard Hinkson Convers.

There is a story about Richard S Hinkson in the History of Amador County, CA Thompson & West 1881.

Here is the excerpt:

R. S. Hinkson and J. M. Hinkson [Richard's brother] Are natives of Washington county, Missouri, where they resided until 1849, when they crossed the plains with the extensive family of that name, with their connections by marriage, the Boones. [Richard's sister, Susan married Daniel Boone's grandson, John W Boone]. They located at Drytown, on the north side of the creek, in what was soon after El Dorado county, Dry creek being the dividing line. Few families have been better known than the Hinksons. They were the first to open and develop the Potosi mine. The elderly Hinkson [Andrew H Hinkson] did more perhaps, to restrain and calm the anger of the people during the terrible affair of August, 1855, than any other man, his age and reputation being appreciated by the honest, though hasty miners [Referring to a racially charged retaliation by White citizens against Mexican citizens by multiple lynchings after murders occurred]. The two sons whose names are at the head of this article, came to Volcano in 1879, and engaged in the livery business, which they are still carrying on. They run a stage line to Jackson and also have a mail contract between Jackson and Volcano, and also carry the express for Wells Fargo & Co, and do an express business on their own account. They both have families residing in Volcano. The Hinksons are reckoned among the solid, reliable men of the county. - end of excerpt.

I am very proud of my 2 times great grandparents, Richard Summers Hinkson and Mary Frances Sharp. For a look at his Family Group Sheet, timeline and research notes, see the PDF below. All sources for my research can be found there. For more information on how you can get a template of this Family Group Sheet for your own use, click on button below.

Next up in this Family History Adventure is take a day trip to Amador County. I will let you know how it goes!


Robin Stewart is the founder of CuZens Genealogy. She is a retired teacher and school administrator and lives with her family in California. She has been researching genealogy since 1983. Her passion has always included the pursuit and preservation of family history and designing creative digital solutions for organizing information.

For more information about CuZens Genealogy visit:



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