History and Genealogy Research

The Cathey Family and their Descendants
by Thomas Hilk
(see also Cathey Family by Betty Cathey McRee )

Andrew Dever Cathey, Daniel his son,  and son in-law Benjamin Wills came to
California in 1849. After taking a good look around, they found California  to
their liking. Andrew and Benjamin returned to Arkansas. In 1852, they started
on their trip to California from Fort Smith, Arkansas, with a wagon train of
about 20 wagons. Most of the people on the original wagon train were related in
one way or another. Andrew was elected Captain of the wagons train, and as they
traveled more wagons joined them.

We are very lucky to have part of a journal done by John Boyd Hamond and stories
by Sarah Cathey and Nathan (Nat) Cathey.  Sarah was a young girl of about 10
when the family left Arkansas, and she had to walk most of the way to
California.  In her story she was intrigued by all the discarded items left by
parties that had past over they trail before them.  One item she picked up was a
like new brass candle stick, which she carried to California.

Nat, who was 18, had the job of  driving  a wagon pulled by a team of oxen. In
his story he tells about seeing  a wagon where the Oatman family were massacred
by Indians. All were killed, except two little girls who were captured by the
Indians and a little boy who was left for dead. One of the girls died in
captivity and the other was sold to the Mohaves. The boy that survived was
instrumental in rescuing his sister, and she later  wrote a book about the

He also tells about taking the wagons apart to make them into rafts, so they
could cross the Rio Grand, and then having to put them back together to continue
the journey.

One serious incident was when the party's water, which was  stored in wooden
barrels began to get low. Orders were issued that no more water could be given
to the animals and that only one or two swallows could be given to people; then
only when there was a real  need. It had been days upon days since a stream had
been crossed,  and the trail they were on was through the middle of a huge
valley. The mountains were so far away they could not be seen through the haze.
In the middle of the next afternoon when nearly all had given up hope of finding
water, one of the teamsters at the head of the train suddenly noticed his oxen
raising there heads and sniffing the apparently dry air. All the other wagons
and loose stock followed the lead  oxen team and after what seemed a long time,
the teamster could see a knoll at the top of a mound of big boulders resting
over a large rock basin almost full of fresh water, far more than enough to
refill all the barrels and to water the stock.

The family finally arrived at Indian Gulch after a 9 month journey, the Catheys
lived in tents and wagons for two years, selling milk from their herd and
working in the mines. Daniel Cathey, Andrews oldest son who stayed in California
when they returned to Arkansas, joined the family at Indian Gulch.

In the year 1854 Andrew and Benjamin Wills purchased the Louisiana Ranch from
George Evans and Jacob Hill for $1,500. The Louisiana Ranch was known as
Valleita (little valley), but after the  purchase, it became Cathey's Valley.
The property was divide between Andrew Cathey and his son in-law Benjamin Wills.
Both men built their permanent homes there.

A little Genealogy of Andrew and Mary Cathey and some of their descendants.

Andrew Cathey was born 1804, in North Carolina, the son of Daniel Cathey and
Jemima Oliver Hyatt. Andrew  married Mary Mariah Deaver in the year1828 in North
Carolina; they had eight children.

Mary Mariah was born in Illinois, the daughter of Nathaniel Deaver and Arabella
Jemima Gray,  after her father died she was raised by her uncles families in
North Carolina. Her mother remarried and became one of the first white women in
Texas. The town of Brenham, Texas is on some of the land Mary's mother owned.

Andrew died in 1886 and Mary Mariah in 1892, both lived to be 81 years old and
they are buried in the Cathey's Valley Cemetery.

Their oldest child, Jemima Amanda married Benjamin Wills; they had 10 children.
George Carlisle married Usibbie Laird, Mary Frances married Hiram Cornett, Sarah
married Thomas R. Givens, Susan  married  Samuel Givens, Eva married Thomas
Givens Pool, a nephew of Thomas and Samuel; Virginia   married  Dr. Harvey
Castle, Sophronia married James Price; Jessie married Samuel Cornell and Emma
never married.

Daniel Cathey never  married. Nathan Lucius  Cathey married Mary Ann Wilkinson,
but they had no children. William Pearson Cathey married Louisa  Duncan Palmer,
they  had four children. Walter Scott of Jerseydale and Betty  Cathey McRee of
Chowchilla are descendants of this line. Sarah Melvina married a cousin of
Benjamin Wills, James Wills; her  second marriage was Joseph Thompson.  She had
four children. Andrew McCurdy Cathey married Ellen Caroline Young, no children.
James Newton Cathey never married. John Wisenor Cathey never  married, he died
at a very young age and he was the only child of Andrew and Mary  Cathey  to be
born in California. He might well have been the first child born in Cathey's
Valley, January 4, 1855.

In research of the Cathey Family and descendant I have found they owned a
considerable amount of Cathey's Valley. From the Bull Run Ranch  to the
Houlihans place on Bear Creek with many ranches in-between.   Andrew gave land
to the community for the School, Church and the Cemetery. The home place of
Andrew is stilled owned by a great-great-great granddaughter of Andrew Cathey,
Judy Westfall Huffman.



posted May 9, 2001