During the late 1800s, one branch of our family tree migrated from the American South to Texas, and then to California.
The Henrys were part of an extended family network living in the mountainous north-eastern corner of Georgia.
James and Margaret Henry
James Henry had eight children, by two wives. His first wife died three weeks after giving birth to their son Cicero. On her deathbed, she gave Cicero to her sister Margaret to raise.
James and Margaret (Allison) Henry (1836–1919?) married in 1865.
James’ son, Cicero Patrick Henry (1861–1916), was born as the Civil War was breaking out, and would have been about three years old in the summer of 1864 when General Sherman led an invasion of Georgia that passed through this area.
The story passed down through the family says that as news of Sherman’s advance reached them, James and Margaret packed their children and essential possessions onto a wagon and fled the area. After the battle receded, with Sherman’s troops marching south to Atlanta, the family returned to the farm, unsure whether or not it had been ravaged by the Union troops. The apocryphal family story records that as the wagon approached and it became clear that they had not incurred any damage, Margaret, not fond of agricultural life, sighed “damn, they didn’t burn the house.”
In the following years, James, Margaret, “and what children she had”, moved to McGregor, Texas.
Around the turn of the century, the family posed for a photograph.
Cicero worked as a teacher in Texas for a time, and then at some point (around 1890?), he moved to Live Oak, California, a small town about 10 miles north of Yuba City, or 50 miles north of Sacramento.
There Cicero met and married Jennie Luther. The Luther family are believed to have been local farmers. They also posed for a formal family photograph around the turn of the century.
The Four Henry Girls
Circero and Jennie had four daughters: Olive Violet (1895), Esther M. (1897-1992), Alma J. (1900), and Jessie Vera (1901).
Each of the four daughters married and raised two children in the Sacramento Valley, producing one grandson followed by seven granddaughters. In 1934, Olive recorded the birth dates, weddings, and children of her and her sisters families to be shared with a Henry cousin back in Georgia. (More recent letters from cousins in California indicate that the next generation included at least 14 great-grandchildren.)
But only the first of these grandchildren had been born when Cicero and Jennie both died, six weeks apart, in December 1916 and January 1917.
The older daughters, already married, quarreled in the wake of their parents’ death. Olive and her husband Harry took in the younger daughters Alma and Jessie, at least until Alma married a few months later. It seems that Esther and Olive disagreed about how to handle their parents’ estate, and the two sisters remained estranged decades later.
The La Montes
In 1915, Olive married Herbert La Monte, generally known as Harry, or “Monte”.
They had two children, Harry, also called Monte (b. 1916), and Jane (b. 1917).
Sometime around 1920, they moved from the Live Oak / Yuba City area, heading south to Santa Barbara, where they lived for the rest of their lives.