I forget sometimes, that California is a land of immigrants, just as the U.S. is. And that unless you’re a Miwok or have roots with Serra’s crew, you’re not going to find anyone here prior to 1850. Possibly not much prior to 1870.
So I’ve got James Marryatt, who turns up here in the rough and tumble West sometime in the mid- to late 1860s, with no papers — he ran away from home in Jamaica when he was 7, or at least so he said — and hooks up with this Clarence King fellow who went on to be the first head of the U.S. Geological Survey. If it weren’t for him and his Fortieth Parallel Survey and his subsequent writings, I wouldn’t have a clue about James.
So he ended up here with a story right out of an adventure tale. Brought back a bride from Maryland who gave birth in Nevada. I’m sure they meant to get to San Francisco first.
Then there are the Bouldses and all their grown children and spouses, who came here a half century later or so. One the daughter of a Virginia-born slave; the other the illegitimate child of a white Jewish man and the black family maid; he and his wife (!) raised him … and maybe gave him his name? Or maybe not? Heck if I can find Ras Boulds before the 1900 census, though I know he was born in Texas around the 1860s. He made up a birthday; maybe he made up his name too? (Ah… maybe I should look in his last census, 1930. Maybe some clues might lie there.)