OLMSTED FAMILY NARRATIVE
Lucinda Ann Harden was born in March 1836 in Illinois. She and her parents, Absalom Benton “A.B.” Harden and Delilah Ashcraft, and her four siblings migrated to Benton County, Oregon, leaving St. Joseph, Missouri on 17 May 1847. Lucinda’s father, who served as the First Sargeant of the wagon company, kept a journal of the trip, and drew extensive maps which are now located in a collection at the Oregon Historical Society. His journal contains few details about the Harden family but tells of the challenges they encountered along the Oregon Trail. When, on 15 September 1847, the trail became very difficult, AB Harden was forced to abandon his wagon. He took five horses, his wife and children, and some provisions and the family rode on horseback until they reached the Rickeryall Valley of Oregon on 22 September 1847. AB Harden then left the family and went back for his wagon and cattle, most of which had been lost.
The family stayed in Oregon for a few years, buying property and having two more children. AB Harden’s journal describes life for the family, weather, farming his property, hunting, and the differences between Missouri and Oregon. His journal ends in March of 1849. After the birth of her last child in 1851, Delilah died, and the family migrated to Santa Clara County, California. Lucinda’s father remarried to a woman named Rosanna and had another child. The Olmsted family members were living together in 1852, but appear to have disbanded sometime thereafter.
By 1860, Lucinda is married to Cornelius Wickwire Olmsted of New York. A search of records in the San Francisco Bay Area did not produce a marriage record for the couple, but it is estimated that they were wed around 1856 in California. The couple, along with Lucinda’s younger brother Peter, lived in the household of Elam Brown, a very prominent and successful businessman who is credited with the founding of Livermore, California. There, Cornelius worked as a laborer and Lucinda as a house servant.
The couple migrated to the north coast by the mid 1860’s, where they first lived in Point Arena, Cornelius working as a Road Supervisor for the County of Mendocino, a Notary, and later Justice of the Peace. By 1880, they had moved to Gualala, and were living with Nathan Daniels (also buried in the Gualala Cemetery) on his land north of Gualala. In 1883, Nathan purchased another 157 acres adjacent to the property they lived on, and immediately granted CW Olmsted fifty percent undivided ownership in the property for $1,000.
On the morning of 25 August 1897, Nathan Daniels did not rise for the day at his usual time. Someone living in the household had been sent to check on him and found him dead. Nathan’s death was ruled a suicide, the result of ingesting carbonic acid found in his closet. After his death, Cornelius Olmsted produced a will purportedly written by Nathan Daniels in 1870, which left any land he owned anywhere in the world to Cornelius and Lucinda Olmsted. Ironically, at the time said will was written, Nathan Daniels did not own any land. Cornelius granted the land to Gualala resident Robert Tait for $3,395 and he, along with Lucinda, moved to Point Arena. Lucinda’s sister also lived with the couple around 1900.
Lucinda died on 5 February 1901, and was buried in the Gualala Cemetery alongside Nathan Daniels. No official record of her death was found. However, she does appear on a Mendocino County Death Index with the same death date of 5 February 1901. A burial permit was located which lists the cause of death as pulmonary tuberculosis. The marker at Lucinda’s grave is unique to the cemetery. It consists of a piece of metal affixed to a redwood backing with hand-painted black lettering.
The financial situation of the Olmsteds remains somewhat of a mystery. Cornelius held numerous civil jobs with the County of Mendocino, ran what appears to have been a prosperous farm with Nathan Daniels, and sold the property for a handsome sum. However, shortly after Lucinda’s death he began making numerous claims on the County indigent fund. By 1902 the County of Mendocino had started to reject his claims, and requested he move to the County Farm if he was unable to care for himself. Cornelius died at the County Farm on 13 January 1904 and is buried in the Point Arena Oddfellows Cemetery.
Research compiled by Kelly Richardson, APR, AG, Anchored Genealogy