Eugenia Clapp was born September 27, 1833 in Milford, Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada. Her father was Hiram Clapp and her mother was Rhoda Striker. Eugenia’s grandfather Sampson Striker was a Loyalist who strongly supported the British monarchy during the American Revolution serving as a Sergeant in Delaney’s Corp, he moved to Canada with his family after the war’s end. Eugenia, or Jane as she was commonly known, moved with her parents to Wisconsin sometime before 1854. It was in Wisconsin that Jane married Roswell Graves on August 18, 1857 in Wyocena, Columbia County, Wisconsin, she was 23 and he was 20 years old.
Roswell was born in Pennsylvania to Roswell Graves and Mary Ann Betts, the Graves family were Patriots during the Revolutionary War. Roswell’s paternal great-grandfather (also named Roswell Graves) died in the Old Sugar House British Prison in New York City in 1776, having been taken prisoner in the Battle of Long Island. His maternal great-grandfather Andrew Betts served as a Corporal in the Pennsylvania Militia. Two families who stood on opposite sides of the War of Independence melding with the marriage of Jane and Roswell. It must have made for interesting discussions around their family table.
Two years after they were married, Roswell was ordained a Methodist Preacher and served in local churches in Wisconsin and Iowa. In 1864 Jane and Roswell moved with their three young children to California. We don’t know what prompted this move from Iowa to wild, unsettled, wide-open California. They settled first in Solano County and it was here their 4th child was born in 1865. Two years later they moved from Solano County to Walnut Grove in Sacramento County where their 5th child was born in 1867, at this time Roswell changed from Methodism to Congregationalism. A year later they were in Contra Costa County where their 6th child was born in 1868, and in 1872 they were in Battle Creek in Tehama County where their 7th and final child was born.
Tehama County was sparsely populated, ranching country at this time. An article in the Sacramento Daily Union in November 1872 mentioned the north winds in Tehama County saying, “Those winds are the curse of this country. They make war against all living things. They blow the life out of the weak and the evil spirit into the strong”. It was in this country that Jane would make a home for her family on the South side of Battle Creek.
There were a few other families and ranches nearby, but the area in and around Battle Creek had experienced some troubles with the local Indians and was still a very wild and unsettled area. In 1866 Marie Dersch was killed by Indians a few miles north of Battle Creek on the Nobles Immigrant Trail and not long after that, the home of Simon and Arzilla Darrah was burned down at what is now the Darrah Springs Fish Hatchery. Jane’s knowledge of this recent history must have added to her discomfort of living in a small shack along the creek.
Just a short time after Jane’s daughter Bertha May was born in Battle Creek on August 24, 1872, the entire family came down with ague, pronounced āʹgyo͞o, it is an illness related to malaria with chills and fevers. The isolation and illness proved to be too much for Jane and their time in Tehama County was short-lived, within six months Jane and Roswell moved their family to Redding in Shasta County.
During this time in Redding, Roswell Graves performed the first wedding ceremony in Shasta County in June 1873 for a couple who traveled down from Weaverville (near the area mentioned in Cemetery Addict). Jane and Roswell spent the remainder of their time in Shasta County, serving at The Little Shasta Church near present-day Yreka. After Roswell’s death in 1883 Jane moved with her daughter Ella to Washington State where she died in 1912 at the age of 78.
Eugenia is one of the forgotten pioneers of California, moving with her husband and children across Northern California, she supported her husband as he brought the Gospel to the miners, loggers, and ranchers in the wilderness areas. Jane lived in Solano, Sacramento, Alameda, San Francisco, Tehama, Shasta, and Siskiyou Counties. She lived in areas where there were floods, earthquakes, Indian attacks, and disease. She lived at a time when women had very little resources to fall back on and in places where she had very little support from friends and no family to lean against. Through it all she kept her family together and provided for her children in the best way she could. Roswell was my 1st cousin 4x removed.
Roswell and Eugenia Graves
Photo and some information from the website of Faye West