Ohio to California
Since I started work on this page, I've heard from several
Perry cousins whose existence was previously unknown to me. I
learn something new every day from the many
Perry researchers in our very extended family.
In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, there was a great migration from
East to West in the United States. People packed up and moved, especially to
California, hoping to find better jobs, better climate, better land, or just some
adventure. The migrants sometimes moved as whole family groups but sometimes, one
or two family members would make the trek first, get settled, then
help the relatives who had stayed in the East to come join them.
The Perry family seems to fall into both categories. Some came
individually, while others came as an entire family group. Over a period of more than a
half century, many of the descendants of John and Mary Ann (Smith) Perry left
their homes in Ohio and went to California. Some of these
moves West may have been in response to earlier moves by other family members
and some may not. This page
will attempt to chronicle the times and details of this Perry migration.
First of all, the following children, and their descendants, don't seem
to have come to California, so I'll just mention their names before
continuing on to the ones who did go West:
- David S. Perry
- Mary Elizabeth (Perry) Snyder
- William Perry
- Minerve Perry (died in infancy)
Of those who did travel to "the Golden State", I'll list them in their
order of arrival and give some details:
- Samuel Marshall Perry -
Traveled to San Francisco via the Isthmus of Panama
in 1860, apparently hoping to get involved in the Gold Rush. Returned to
Ohio in 1862. Samuel's diaries from this period were in the hands of his
granddaughter, Virginia (Perry) Culbert (1913-2002), whom I visited in Cayucos, CA, about 1997.
Virginia was a wonderful, hospitable woman who reminded me very much of my
own dear Aunt Libby. She did a lot of research into the origins of
our Perry family in Pennsylvania, and shared it with several of us.
The story of S. M. Perry's travels to and from California is a fascinating one. Samuel
eventually returned to California, settling in Los Angeles in 1875,
along with his wife Harriet Sargent and their children:
After their arrival in L. A., Samuel and Harriet had four more children:
- John Sargent Perry
- Mary Sylvia Clarine Perry
Samuel was a succesful businessman in the wild early days of L. A.
and served on the City Council and the County Board of Supervisors.
He died in L. A. in 1898 and is buried in the Perry family plot in Evergreen
Cemetery there. Many of his descendants are living somewhere in CA.
- Grace Margaret Perry
- Arthur Marshall Perry (Virginia's father)
- Evangeline Perry
- Oliver Hazard Perry
|Virginia Culbert with your Perry chronicler at her home in
Cayucos, April 1999|
- Phebe Ann Perry, or Anna - Moved to L. A. after 1880. She was
in poor health. According to Virginia Culbert, "Annie, who was unmarried,
came to Los Angeles and lived with the family in Los Angeles. She died
in Samuel's house and was buried in the family plot in Los Angeles." The
following obituary appeared 6 Mar 1887 in the Los Angeles Times:
PERRY -- In this city, on March 5, 1887, Anna Perry, of Urbana, O.,
aged 40 years.
Deceased was sister of S. M. Perry, of this city. Funeral from the
residence of S. M. Perry, 535 Aliso avenue, Boyle Heights, on Monday,
at 2 o'clock.
- John Lane Perry - Married Lucinda
"Cindy" Bradley in OH in 1866, then moved
to IN, MO, KS and TX. According to his obituary, he came to CA from TX
in 1900 and settled in Olinda, an oil industry boom town in Orange county
which disappeared from the map many years ago.
The obituary is the only source of a specific year for John and
Cindy's coming to CA. "1900" may be just an approximation. John and Cindy lived
in Olinda until 1919, then moved to Santa Monica where John died in 1925.
Lucinda later moved back to Fullerton where she died at her daughter Fannie's
home in 1943. Their children also moved to Southern California, but not
all at the same time:
- Fannie Perry - Married Jesse Hoyt Willhite about 1892, probably in
Kansas. Their surname frequently appears with only one l, i.e. Wilhite. The 1900 census lists several Willhites on the same page in Humboldt, Kansas,
as Fannie's sister Minnie and her family. I've located information on
Fannie and Jesse's children's birth and death dates, via the California
Death Records sites. If the birth dates and places given for their
daughters Viola and Grace are correct, then Fannie was the first of John
and Cindy's children to come to California, arriving with Jesse
no later than 1898, when their daughter Grace was born. She and Jesse and
their first three children were enumerated in the 1900 census in Santa Paula,
in Ventura county, with Jesse being listed by his middle name, with his
occupation given as "stationary engineer". I've read that this occupation
usually involved working with steam plants or boilers.
The Willhites arrived in Orange county no later than 23 Mar 1905,
when a note in the Fullerton Tribune's gossip column mentioned that
"J. H. Wilhite has moved his family to the oil wells." Jesse worked in the oil fields for
several years. He and Fannie and their family were enumerated in the Olinda oil fields in the 1910 census, but later moved into Fullerton, where they were recorded at 335 E. Commonwealth Avenue in both the 1920 and 1930 censuses. Jesse was listed as a driller in all three censuses, but he eventually went to work as a plumber for the Fullerton high school and junior college. A widowed aunt, Allie Marshall, who is probably Lucinda's sister, was living with them in 1930. By the time of the 1940 census, Jesse had died, and Fannie was living in the same house in Fullerton. Her daughter Julia was living nearby, as were Lucinda and brother David.
I couldn't find an entry for Jesse in the Death
Records, which give 21 January 1958 as the date of Fannie's death. The
records of the
Fullerton First United Methodist Church list Fannie's death as
occurring 22 January 1958.
Fannie and Jesse had the following children:
- Julia Willhite - Born 12 March 1895 in KS, died 24 March 1941 in L. A. county. Married William H. McHenry.
- Viola Willhite - Born 21 September 1896 in KS, died 29 April 1983 in Orange county. Married Glen Evans.
- Grace Willhite - Born 2 October 1898 in CA, died 19 October 1992 in Orange county. Married Archie Ellis.
- Amber Pearl Willhite - Born 2 April 1902 in CA, died 3 July 1947 in Fresno county. Married Carl Johnson.
- Buford "Buster" David Willhite - Born 9 June 1908 in CA, died 10 March 1995 in L. A. county.
- Esther Willhite - Born 4 December 1910 in CA, died 19 December 1997 in Orange county. Married Ives (or possibly Iver) G. Hardy.
- Wanlyn Willhite - Born 12 June 1913 in Orange county, died 10 October 1996 in San Diego county. Married _____ Germain.
- Juanita Willhite - Born Christmas Day 1915 in Orange county.
- Fannie's twin, Frank Perry - Was already living in CA by June 1900 when he returned to
Humboldt, KS, to marry Emma Wakefield. This information was found in
the Humboldt Union newspaper by Hank Thomas. The Wakefield family
was on the same page in the 1900 Humboldt census as the Willhites and Johnsons.
According to Frank and Emma Perry's great granddaughter,
John and Cindy Perry rented the house next door to the Wakefields in Humboldt
and Frank and Emma met while picking apples in their gardens. Emma's dad was
a doctor and wasn't too pleased with his daughter marrying an "oil man". After
Emma died in 1911, Fran's grandmother was sent to Humboldt to live with the
Wakefields for awhile. Frank later married a woman named Mabel who was enumerated along with him and his son Johnny in Texas in the 1920 census. According to his father's obituary, Frank was living
in Tampico, México, but was with John L. Perry in Santa Monica at the
time of his death. Fran says that Frank lived in Tampico while working for
one of the oil companies. Frank had the following children:
- Mildred Perry - Born Jan 1902 in CA, died Nov 2002 in Pasadena, CA. Married Ernst Prickett.
- John Perry - Born 1904 in CA.
- Frances Linda Perry - Born 31 Oct 1905 in Olinda, died 22 Sep 1993 in San Bernardino. Married Alfred Lawrence Kirkhuff.
- Edwin Perry - Died in childhood.
- Franklin Perry - Born 1909 in Santa Barbara, CA, died in 1910.
- Anna Lucinda "Annie" Perry - When the 1900 census was taken, Anna was already in Fullerton, running a boarding house at only 21 years of age. 21 January 1901, she married Walter Ford at the Fullerton Methodist Church. Walter's arrival in the summer of 1899 was documented in the Fullerton Tribune. He was from Kansas. Did Annie and Walter know each other there?
- William Clifford "Cliff" Perry - Was already in Fullerton by July 1900, living at his sister Anna's boarding house. Hank Thomas implies that Cliff and Frank Perry came to CA together to work in the oil fields.1 Cliff returned to Humboldt, KS, in early 1902 and told such glowing stories of the booming Southern California economy that their sister Minnie's husband Frank Johnson accompanied Cliff on his return to CA to look for a job.
- Leroy Hansen "Roy" Perry - May have arrived with his parents in 1900, at age
18. According to the records of the Fullerton Methodist Church, Leroy H. Perry
(age 22) married Belle E. Collins (age 20), both of Fullerton, on 5 Feb 1905.
Witnesses were J.C. Perry (possibly "Clint" Perry) and Effie Johnson. According to
Roy's granddaughter, Marta McKenzie,
Roy was listed along with John and Cindy and his younger brothers David and Ray
in the Federal Census taken 1 July 1900 in Harris county, TX. This establishes the
date after which these five Perrys came to CA.
- David Harrison Perry - Came with John and Lucinda in 1900, at age 12.
- Ray Perry - Same. Was only 10 or 11 years old when his parents came to
- Minnie Olive Perry - John and Cindy's oldest child married Frank Johnson in Humboldt, KS, in 1885. They farmed in Allen county, KS, until 1900 when they had to sell their farm and move into Humboldt. They heard from Cliff about the abundance of good-paying work in the oil fields. Frank went to CA in late 1901 or early 1902 to check out the situation, then returned to KS and brought his family to Olinda in April 1902. Minnie and Frank Johnson's first five children were born in KS:
After their arrival in California,
- Effie Belle Johnson, married Russell Tongier in CA in 1908. Russell was listed as a driller in the oil fields in the 1910 census. His name appeared along with Walter Johnson's in several box scores of the Olinda Oil Wells baseball team. The Tongiers moved to Coffeyville, KS, around 1914, following Frank and Minnie's move (see below). Several Tongiers still live in the Coffeyville area.
- Lois M. Tongier, born in CA 1909.
- Olive Minnie Tongier, born in Olinda 18 Aug 1910, married Johnny Kerr, an infielder who was managed by her uncle Walter in Washington, DC. She returned to CA when Johnny played in the Pacific Coast League and later when Johnny worked for 20th Century Fox. Her descendants live in Southern California.
- Max Tongier, born 10 Aug 1915 in Kansas. Married Betty Keith.
|Here are Max and Betty.
Their daughter in law,
tells us, "They eloped and had no
wedding pictures taken. They even kept their marriage secret from their
families for a while. Sometime around 1984 they were in Eureka Springs,
Arkansas and had this photo made in one of the dress up studios. Betty
said it was as close to a wedding photo as they could get." Thank you,
Suzanne, for sharing the picture, and its story, with us!|
- Walter Perry Johnson,
- Leslie Edwin Johnson,
- Earl Clinton Johnson, and
- Blanche Marie Johnson.
When Walter helped them buy a farm near Coffeyville, Minnie and Frank returned to Kansas in time to be counted there in the 1910 census. The census taker, in a moment of sublime understatement, listed Walter as "ballplayer - Pitcher"! The story of Frank and Minnie's meeting, their life in Kansas and their move to California, as well as of their ancestry, was told in an article in the 1947 Baseball Register. The story of Walter Johnson's early days in California and in Idaho is also told in articles from the 1995 Grandstand Baseball Annual which are available on this site.
- Chester Lane Johnson was born in Olinda on 7 October 1903.
- George A. Perry - No information on when he came to CA. He was living in
Santa Monica at time of his father's death in 1925.
- John Clinton "Clint" Perry - Nothing on his arrival in CA. Clint married an English woman, Ruby Pettit, and was living
in Venice at the time of his father's death in 1925 and his mother's death in 1943. Clint and Ruby's three children,
were born on their ranch in Venice and all moved away from California at an early age. According to June,
- Ralph Clinton Perry,
- George Lewis Perry, and
- June Augusta Perry,
My dad's family had 3 very tall men - over 6' tall and Grandpa Perry (John Lane) was 6' 1". Daddy (John Clinton) was short but my brother Ralph got his height from dad's family - all taller than the men in my mother's family. When we were young children on the ranch Dad's mother [Lucinda] came to live with us at various times and shuttled between several of her children's homes before she died. She was a small woman but could be ferocious whenever she decided to be.
- Sarah Jane "Sally" (Perry) Carey
- As far as we know, never came to CA. Died in
Urbana in 1914. In the picture of Perry brothers and sisters taken at the
1908 reunion, she appeared to be in poor health.
David Carey, died in 1921 after a long, painful battle against skin cancer.
Perhaps my great-grandparents' children didn't wish to move to CA during
their parents' final illnesses. As far as we know, only the following three
of their six children came West:
- Samuel Winans Carey - My grandfather arrived in Santa Monica in October
1921, along with his wife Kate Plank, and their four children:
John and Cindy Perry had invited Sam and Kate Carey to come stay with them
whenever they finally made the big move. I have a
photo of this family upon their arrival in front
of the Perry residence on 24th St. Grandpa had sold his greenhouse in
Urbana, OH, and had accepted a job offer from the Armacost Nursery in West L. A.
All of Sam and Kate's children, as well as their seven grandchildren,
grew up in Southern California.
- George Edward Carey - Arrived in
L. A. with wife Melissa Waldron and three adult children,
in June 1922. I have a photo of this family in front of Jesse
and Fannie Willhite's home in Fullerton which was taken during that same
month. George became an Associate Pastor at the First Methodist Church in L. A.
He has no living descendants.
- William Newton Carey - Arrived
some time after 1921. He died in Santa Monica in either 1925 or 1927.
He and his wife Mary Sager had no children. Uncle Will was a
"railroad engineer", according to Warren Carey.
- James Perry - Never moved to CA, but according to his grandson, Walter Scott, James' son (Walter's uncle),
- Walter Milton Perry,
lived in San Diego during his later years. He was living in Indianapolis
in 1917, and in Tacoma in 1936, so his arrival in CA occurred much later
than any of his Perry cousins. He died in San Diego county in 1955 and
his wife Alice Dexner died there in 1976.
So there you have it. Maybe somebody can fill in some of the blanks
or correct my errors. While a lot of this study is based on official public
documents, I never put 100% faith in any one source. A lot of what you've
just read is my own guesswork. We can't be sure that there was any cause
and effect relationship between one family moving to CA and another following
them. There were a lot of people moving West from all over the U. S. A. in those days!
For more information on the Perry family's coming to California in about 1900, please read:
Thomas, Henry W.,
Walter Johnson, Baseball's Big Train, Phenom Press, 1995, pages 7-8.
- Thomas, Henry W., and Carey, Charles W., "The
California Comet"? -- Walter Johnson in the Golden State, Grandstand
Baseball Annual, 1995, pages 21-23.
This page was last updated 3 Oct 2012.