Geo. Washington Grinstead (1827-1909)

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About Geo. Washington Grinstead (1827-1909)

George Washington Grinstead was the third child, second son, of Elizabeth Maston (Clompton) and Jesse Crump Grinstead. He was born in Madison County, KY and moved with his parents to Callaway County, MO in 1828. The family then moved to Pettis County, MO in 1833.

On Tuesday, May 7, 1850 he left Pettis County for CA in a wagon train outfitted and bossed by Rev. D. Samuel Mattias Ayers. They were accompanied by neighbors, friends and relatives. They arrived at the first diggings in CA, September 16, 1850, at Hangtown. The Rev. Dr. Ayers was the historian of the trip and wrote letters to his wife.

After three days of travel, they had passed through the Pawnee Nation of Indians, had cross the Kansas River, and were camped overnight in the Pottowatimie Nation, all five wagons and 18 men. After three weeks they were about 300 miles on their way. The fourth week, they made an additional 150 miles and by now there were seven wagons in the train.

On June 21, 1850, the wagon train was camped at Ft. Laramie. About half of the people going to CA and OR had died before reaching this place, although Ayers' train had lost only one man. Their cattle were in excellent condition. In 46 days they had traveled 800 miles and all had walked most of the trip. At Ft. Laramie there was a name of all who had passed. Listed were about 700 wagons and 32,000 men. George Grinstead had a severe attack of diarrhea before arriving at Ft. Laramie but had recovered and was on foot again.

On July 11, 1850 they were camped in Pacific Spring and were fairly well over the Rocky Mountains, but the grass was poor and the roads gravelly and hard so their oxen were considerably injured, so they decided to go about 50 miles out of their way to Salt Lake where the camping sites and grass were better and where they could restock supplies. Abner Grinstead had a severe attack of mountain fever before reaching Salt Lake but recovered. George Grinstead had a similar attack but recovered at Salt Lake where they camped on July 27, 1850. Salt Lake was settled by Mormons on July 27, 1847 and only three years later had a population of 12-15,000. Flour cost $25.00 per 100 pounds, bacon was 25 cents a pound, butter was 50 cents, and sugar 50-75 cents per pound Soat cost 50 cents.

They decided to take Hasting's cut-off which reduced the distance to Sacramento to about 500 miles as compared to 800 miles on the old route. Their company now consisted of only four wagons. At Carson River, about 200 miles before they reached CA, they sold out their train and paid $26.00 a piece plus board to complete the trip with a passenger train.

On the 18th of October 1850 they reached Hangtown, the first diggings in CA. Everyone was disappointed with CA. The mines were failing and the ex-farmers were discouraged. The land was filled with poverty stricken people. After working all winter, George, Henry and Abner Grinstead and others worked their way back to Pettis County where they had started the previous year.

On January 24, 1854 George Washington Grinstead married Susan Virginia Pocahontas Sacra, second child and only daughter of Mary D. Bacon and Walker Sacra, spelled Sacrey on their wedding certificate.

A granddaughter, Geneieve Grinstead, remembers that settlers to Pettis County, MO chose timber land over prairie land because they thought crops would grow better and that they needed the timber. In the winter months, at least two of the boys were constantly at work with an axe, the buck saw and the cross-cut to obtain the vast amount of wood needed for the fireplaces. Fireplace ashes were saved and rain water was collected and funneled to produce lye to remove corn hulls from lye (hominy).

They kept sheep and carded the wool and dyed with juice from walnut hulls ("linsey woolsey") to make woolen "jeans." They used teas of oxen for clearing the timber and teams of mules for plowing (walking plows) and yoked oxen for clearing timber. In 1880 they needed more land and moved to Johnson County. This home burned so they moved to a smaller farm in Henry County near Windsor.

George W. Grinstead and Susan Sacra raised 10 children.

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Geo. Washington Grinstead (1827-1909)'s Timeline

April 23, 1827
Madison County, Kentucky, United States
Age 34
August 2, 1869
Age 42
Pettis County, Missouri, United States
November 1, 1909
Age 82
Windsor, Henry County, Missouri, United States