NILES FAMILY NARRATIVE
Two Niles children are buried in the Gualala Cemetery. “Baby” Niles, who has a surviving headstone, was born to Rufus Niles and Emily Barry of Gualala, on 18 March 1883. The child died shortly after birth on 12 May 1883. During the cemetery restoration efforts, a depression in the ground without a headstone was discovered adjacent to “Baby Niles.” It is presumed that this is the final resting place of Annie Rebecka Niles who was born about 17 January 1892, and died 10 November 1892. A burial permit found in Mendocino County archives shows that Annie was buried in the Gualala Cemetery.
The father of “Baby” and Annie Niles, Rufus Niles, was born in February 1852 in Nova Scotia. While port records were not kept between the United States and Canada at the time of his immigration, Rufus became a naturalized citizen on 20 December 1883, likely emigrating from Nova Scotia around 1875. He briefly lived in San Francisco before moving to Gualala.
How Rufus Niles met his wife Emily Barry is a mystery, but nonetheless, newspapers near and far reported with great excitement that Rufus Niles had taken a bride. The couple was married in San Francisco on 15 November 1880. They toured Northern California on their honeymoon, before making their home on the coast.
Emily Barry (also known as Emma Berry) was the daughter of James Barry and MaryAnn Freeman, who migrated from Kentucky, via Missouri. Emily was born around 1858, and spent her childhood in Conn Valley, a small community in Napa County, north-west of Lake Hennessey, just over the mountains from Napa Valley’s famed Silverado Trail. Emily’s father died in 1875, and the family seemed to have split up. The 1880 Census, recorded just prior to the marriage of Rufus and Emily, show that MaryAnn had remarried to Edward Goodwin, and had Emily’s younger siblings living with her, but Emily is not recorded as living in the household. There were a few years of flux for the family between the death of James and MaryAnn’s second marriage. Emily may have taken a position as a housekeeper or nanny in another household or was possibly living with unknown relatives.
After their marriage, the couple made their home in Gualala, where Rufus worked for the Gualala Mill and ran the Gualala Ferry. Local lore states that he would keep “one eye tipped toward the riverbank from where people signaled by a wave of their hats when they were ready to go.” Rufus attempted to sell the Ferry in 1887, and almost drowned the following year when his ferry line got stuck and he got caught in the current trying to untangle himself. Rufus operated the Gualala Ferry until the first wooden bridge was installed over the river in 1892. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Alameda County.
Rufus died in Alameda County in 1907. His wife Emily lived there until her death in 1925.
In total, the Niles family had eight children:
Earl Niles was born 6 September 1881 in Gualala, Mendocino County, California. He died on 20 May 1882 in Gualala, Mendocino County, California. He is buried in the Saint Helena Cemetery, in Saint Helena, Napa County, California. An article in the Mendocino Coast Beacon detailed that Earl Niles died of congestion of the brain at the age of 8 months, and 11 days.
Baby Niles was born 18 March 1883 and died 12 May 1883, he is buried in the Gualala Cemetery.
Edward Winchester Niles was born 15 September 1884 in Gualala, Mendocino County, California. Edward served in the United States Navy, discharging at Mare Island on 7 December 1906. He married Jennie Lola Womeldorf, and they lived in Colton, San Bernardino County, California. They had no children. Edward died on 30 December 1963, he is buried at the Montecito Cemetery in Colton.
Grace Niles was born during the month of June 1888 in Gualala, Mendocino County, California. She worked as a waitress and never married. Grace died 24 May 1963 in Alameda County, California. She is buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, with her mother and other siblings.
Amy Niles was born during the month of September 1889 in Gualala, Mendocino County, California. She was married to George Schales, and had one son, Frances. Amy died in 1914 and is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, with her mother and siblings.
Annie Rebecka Niles. Based on the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Emma Berry had another child that was born and died before 1900. Annie Rebecka Niles was buried in the Gualala Cemetery. The burial permit details that the child was 9 months and 24 days old and died on 10 November 1892.
Lewis Rogers Niles was born in Alameda County, California on 8 May 1894. He worked in the shipyards in the Bay Area and later as a fireman on a ferry boat. He married Alta L. Hunt Elrod, and was a stepfather to her son, Robert. Lewis died on 20 October 1960 and is buried at Eastlawn Memorial Park in Sacramento, California.
Rufus “Rookie” Niles was born in Alameda County, California on 23 July 1901. He married Elsie “Billie” Moss. He worked as a PBX Installer for Pacific Bell for over 40 years. Rufus died on 1 October 1990 at home in Castella, Shasta County, California. His ashes were scattered at sea. He had no children.
Research compiled by Kelly Richardson, Anchored Genealogy