Updated: Jun 17
Finding my way back to a Genealogy Road trip has been a journey in itself. Having some time for grieving the passing of my mother and my road trip partner and cousin, Linda, I am super grateful that my husband, Jeff agreed to be my travel partner for these trips. At home, his interest in genealogy is only that he is happy to watch a ballgame while I research. When we talked about how it would all work when we traveled we had to figure out how he would spend his time while I researched. He loves traveling and visiting interesting places, but would rather go fishing than sit in a library looking for information on ancestors. I tried to explain that it was a kind of fishing...fishing for information. He wasn't buying that. The first adjustment I needed to make was a better balance between my time in libraries/archives/historical societies and the actual place that my ancestors lived. Then there is the whole visiting cemeteries. We'll have ease into that one.
Jeff and I left on a Friday afternoon and headed East toward Sacramento to take the highway over to Jackson, where we would stay the night. Friday night was spent at Jackson Rancheria. We had a great dinner at the Lone Wolf. I donated some money to the casino slot machines, while Jeff won it back at the Black Jack Tables. That's how it usually goes. It was a nice start to our trip. My head was already full of what treasures I might find in the morning.
Morning came along with some perfect spring weather, which was quite welcome after our very rainy winter. I wonder how my 2-times great grandparents, Richard Summers Hinkson and Mary Frances Sharp dealt with the weather in 1870s. Hopefully, I would get to know how they lived a little better with this visit to Amador County.
My review of current sources I had at home on the Hinksons was what led me back to Amador County. My cousin, Linda and I made the trip to Drytown the last time in about 2019. This was my first time there without her. I missed our routine of having a car ride review together of which ancestors we were focusing on, the energy we would generate from our excitement and of course the part where we would shout out, "Cemetery!" for each random cemetery we saw on the road trip. I did shout out "Cemetery!" once during this trip, but I startled Jeff while he was driving. He looked at me strangely, and I just said, "It's a thing..."
On the ride in to Amador County, we came through Drytown, where the Hinksons first lived when they arrived in California in 1849, which no matter how many times I visit, there just isn't much there beyond the Drytown City Cemetery. We breezed through taking a few pictures, but kept going toward Jackson. Visiting the Drytown City Cemetery would have to wait for another time. I think I've been there three times over the years. You have to have an appointment to get through the gate. Sneaking up the hill from the highway which may or may not have happened in my 20s and 30s is no longer in the cards for my 62 year old body.
Drytown was where Richard Summers Hinkson's mother, Matilda died on March 23, 1851 on her 36th birthday, less than two years after their arrival. Family notes from Patricia Borrold, granddaughter of Richard, indicate that Matilda died from a brain inflammation and that the overland trip and the amount of walking she had done to get from Missouri to California had been too much for her.
Richard's father, Andrew Henry Hinkson continued to raise his family in Drytown after his wife's death. At the time of Matilta's death, Andrew's children included Susan (19 years old) who was already married to John W Boone at the time. She and Boone later divorced and she married Josephus Harrington. Their daughter, Mary Effie had died in 1850 at the age of 16, soon after marrying Jacob Hummel. John Milton (14 years old), Richard S (12 years old), Nelson (11 years old), Andrew (10 years old) and Julia (8 years old) were all left to live life in this new place without their mother. Andrew, the son, who was born on his mother's birthday, turned 10 years old the day she died. He died 9 months later of accidental drowning. Andrew Henry Hinkson, the father lived in Drytown until he was three months shy of 70 years old. The family notes say that he was blind for the last four or five years of his life because of a fire that he fought at the mine. Andrew was respected by the community with a mention in the local history of him quelling the anxiety that arose during some murders and retaliations in 1856.
The Hinkson family were among the first to settle in Drytown. The History of Amador County mentions the Hinksons in Drytown:
In the Autumn a great many families came to Drytown, among whom were the Hinkstons, Boone, lineal descendants of Daniel Boone, Weston, and Richmond families; a family also settled in Mile gulch. Miss Mollie Boone, now Mrs. Frank Henderson, living at Drytown, was born December 2[nd], 1849, on the north side of the creek, then in El Dorado county, Dry Creek being the county line. She was the first white child born in the present limits of the county. - p 229
For more information about what I already have on the Hinksons, see my blog post: Back to the Beginning.
Having a Family Group Sheet is important when going on the road. Knowing the details like timelines, locations and any specifics already known about your ancestors lends to an effective and successful research trip. I use a Family Group Sheet Stack we designed here at CuZens. Adding it as a flipbook to my blog post was super easy.
Why are we off to Amador County when there are so many resources online? The answer to that question can be found in the goals I set for this trip and the fact that not everything is online.
My goals for this road trip are to:
Find the Potosi Mine & Maryland Mine location.
Check out the town of Volcano. See if I can find the location of Richard S and John Milton Hinkson's Livery Stable.
Visit The Amador County Museum
The Potosi Mine
The Potosi Mine was owned by the Hinksons. Forever, I have had a copy of the Potosi Company's Quartz Claim. It has always intrigued me as to where the mine was located. I wondered what it might look like and what it would have been like to work that mine.
Well, I didn't find it on Google maps until I was actually in Amador County, but I gained a better understanding of where it was located. Apparently Potosi Mine and Maryland Mine, which you can see on the claim are right next to each other, are located in El Dorado County rather than Amador County. This is something new I didn't know, so I need to start looking in El Dorado County records as well. The pictures in my mind about what the mine looked like are beginning to change. I thought it was located in the foothills with less trees, but it appears to be right in the forested mountains.
According to the History of Amador County, California: with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men and Pioneers,
the Potosi mine was developed by the Hinksons of Drytown, and for many years was a source of profit, if not of fortune. The wall rock on the east side is here broken off, and for two miles or once Plymouth is reached, the veins are scattered, spreading in some instances to two thousand feet in width. Some mills have been erected and though occasional runs have been made which were profitable, the mines in general proved to be a poor investment. Most of the veins are held by persons too poor to sink on them, the prospects not being profitable enough to induce capitalists to invest. Some of the veins with economical management, may pay for working at the top, and thus pay for testing them. p.159
John Milton Hinkson's Memorial Tribute, which was written by a friend of his tells the story of how Andrew H Hinkson wanted to engage in the mining going on in the area. He bought the Potosi Mine and the Maryland Mine. Upon his death, the sons inherited the mines. John Milton was the oldest son and took on the management of the mines for the family. It also claims that they sold the mines when they moved to Volcano and bought the Livery Stable, which would have made sense, except for the fact that the mines were closer to Volcano than Drytown. It also states that they ran the St George Hotel in Volcano. That was the first I'd heard of this, so further research is needed.
It can be confusing though because news articles from different time periods sometimes have Richard S Hinkson and/or, John Milton Hinkson and/or Andrew Hinkson as owners. In an article in Nevada National Grass Valley, California · Tuesday, March 11, 1856 stated that Milton Adams Hinkson and A C Hinkson, [brothers of Andrew H Hinkson] as owners of the mine.
Milton Adams Hinkson also showed as having property valued at $33,000, while Andrew had property valued at $100 in the 1860 Census. Why was there such a difference in their property values? Was it just how they reported it to the census taker? Perhaps, they all owned the mines and whatever they took out of them belonged to them?
I wonder what the trips back and forth to the mines must have entailed. The movie, Paint Your Wagon with Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin was my absolute favorite when I was a kid. As I'm going through this once rich mother lode country, and think about the Hinksons experience, I can't help but go back to the pictures in my visual memories of when the miners discovered gold when they are burying Pardner's brother.
Ah, but I digress.
When we drove to Volcano from Jackson, the elevation increased from 1217 feet to 2070 feet, the trees started to include the pine trees found in the forests of El Dorado County. When I think about why the Richard Hinkson family ended up moving from Drytown to Volcano, I can't help but notice how much closer to the mines it is. Volcano also was quite a bustling town during the Gold Rush.
They moved to Volcano in 1879. The following year the 1880 US Census was taken when there was a population of about 1380 people. The 53 Native Americans listed outside of the census but considered members to some degree of the town of Volcano, were not included in the 1380. The booming number that was once about 5000 people during the 1850s and the Gold Rush era had been reduced significantly, but was still enough to be home to a Livery Stable with an Express Office.
When we arrived in Volcano, the streets had no cars going through it. There were another couple about our age viewing the historical markers, but other than that, it was a very quiet town. We walked the extent of the main part of town which was very small. Some very old buildings stood along the road including an old general store.
Walking inside the store I was immediately taken back in time. This store was originally opened in 1852 and is the oldest continuously operated store in California. The general store, The Sizemore Country Store, had the counter with the shelves behind it much like it probably had when Richard and Mary Frances Hinkson very likely came to purchase goods. One of my favorite things to do is stand where my ancestors likely stood and have a moment. That was one of those moments.
From 1882 to 1884, Richard was the elected constable of Volcano. The election was initially challenged by his opponent and was presented in Superior Court. A recount occurred and it was found that Richard had won by three votes. Also in 1882, Richard was given a four-year contract to carry mail between Jackson and Volcano. He and his brother, John Milton Hinkson ran a stage line, carried express for Wells Fargo & Co. and had their own express business as well.
In a family tradition shared by G. C. Francis, Jr., it was said that
R. S. Hinkson was, according to tradition, a friend of that controversial figure, Joaquin Murietta, who never 'held-up' the stage when Hinkson was driving. This may have been due to the fact that Richard Hinkson was an excellent marksman, skilled enough to drive nails with a 'six-shooter'.
The fact that in 1853, when Murieta was reportedly captured and killed by Captain Harry Love who brought in his head in a jar filled with alcohol for his bounty, when at the time Richard was 15 years old, leads me to question this story. He may have been a skilled marksman, but he didn't drive a stage at that point and he probably did not encounter Murieta. I imagine this piece of family lore has some thread of truth within it, but this legend is unfortunately, a little less than factual.
The elusive livery stable was apparently sold in a Sheriff's Sale after a court case in which John Milton Hinkson was sued by B. Hultchinsky. The sale was ordered September 16, 1889. By 1885, Richard S Hinkson was already living in Selma, California. One thing the article mentions is that the livery stable was located in lot number 1 in block number 6. That information may prove helpful in locating the actual location of the livery in Volcano.
While finding the exact location of the livery stable did not happen, the search was enjoyable. Finding out more about Volcano and seeing the town as it is now gave me a better sense of the life my Hinkson family lived while there.
For more information about Volcano and its history, visit Amador Gold.
Amador County Museum
The Amador County Historical Society runs this museum and the volunteers were quite gracious when I arrived looking for anything Hinkson. Jeff did the Kennedy Mine Replica Tour next door while I scanned pages from the books the volunteers helped me with. The main book I looked at, the History of Amador County, I've looked at before. I spent more time with the index they provided me and gained additional pages to review.
I also found a photo taken of the Amador County Order of Pioneers meeting on July 4, 1874. This picture could contain Hinksons, but I wouldn't recognize them if it did. It gives a general picture of the people of Amador County's appearances in that era.
Another organization, The Amador Society of California Pioneers, organized September 9, 1877 at Jackson, Amador County, California, required that members were living in California in 1849 and had the objective to,
"cultivate the social virtues of its members, alleviate their sufferings and sickness, secure them a decent burial, and, as far possible, render assistance when needed to their widows and orphans, and also assist in perpetuating the memory of those whose love of enterprise and independence induced them to seek a home in the far West and become the germ of a new and great State."
Included in the list of 72 regular members were John Milton Hinkson, Richard Summers Hinkson and Nelson Cicero Hinkson, all sons of Andrew Henry Hinkson with whom they came to Drytown, Amador County, California in 1849.
Richard Summers Hinkson, the 11 year old boy who crossed the overland trail with his parents and ended up a gold miner in Drytown, then a livery stable owner in Volcano would eventually move to Hanford, Delhi, and Turlock California where he farmed. His children would go on to live in California and raise their families.
His daughter, Ruth Summers Hinkson married Ralph Hudson Convers and they had among many children, my grandmother, Della Evelyn Convers, who married my grandfather, Virgil Crowell. This family of Hinksons produced more descendants than I can count who have strong roots in California. I am proud and honored to be among those descendants who came from brave people who made the journey here in 1849 and forged the frontier.
For my sources, please refer to the Family Group Sheet Stack linked above.
As for the level of success for our first genealogy road trip together, I give tons of credit to Jeff for his patience and can't wait for our next trip! I hope he feels the same way. I think a cemetery visit is in our future. I'll let you know how it goes! Again, it's like fishing, right?
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: www.cuzens.com