The Tracy Family History
strange, strange stories
The Moons are a sickly bunch, afflicted with many maladies. At the top of the list is asthma. They are constantly moving, leading a “Gypsy life,” trying to find a healthy place to live. In the frontier days, Paskenta was a good place for those with asthma.
Paskenta is really not a town. It is just, there. Yet, the strangest stories I have come across have come out of Paskenta. I guess this is why mother and I have grown to like it so much and always visit it our trips to Red Bluff.
We start now with George Wm. Moon and Elizabeth Josephine Moon Howell. (Photos above)
To refresh your memory, both came over in the wagon train after being burned out of Missouri, Geo. Wm., at age 9-10, and Elizabeth, at age 14-15. They would have walked 2,000 miles. (My father spent quite a bit of time visiting, and staying with cousins in Paskenta. That would have been these two families and their children.)
There are only 2 living descendants of Geo. Wm. today. On Elizabeth’s side, through marriage to the Howell’s, there are a lot of kin around. From all sides of the family we get the same story, that the two were brother and sister.
I have heard this from everyone that I have talked to, including the historians. They all should know. They mention the fact, very casually, because it is common knowledge passed down through the generations.
Yet, the official records are very clear. Geo. Wm. was Archibald’s son by his first wife. Elizabeth, was Archibald’s younger sister by 22 years. She shows up on the census with her father being Thomas Moon, Archibald’s father. Elizabeth is born in 1849, and Archibald does not get married until 4 years later. So he could not be Elizabeth’s father. Thus, Elizabeth was Geo. Wm.’s aunt.
I assume that Geo. Wm. and family "got by" alright, being a sheep rancher. Elizabeth, on the other hand, does better than alright. She is married to Jim Howell, the sheep baron. They are very wealthy and have vast land holdings.
There was only 4-5 years difference in ages, so it is reasonable for the family to think of them as brother and sister. Because they survived together under "Order No. 11," did they bond and think of themselves as brother and sister? Or, for some unknown reason, did they both play a charade, letting it be known that they were brother and sister?
And that is my story, or rather, my question?
The "not related" Moon Cousins?
When doing research you often times come up with confusing, strange, even conflicting stories. This research was bewildering.
A few months ago I was visiting Aunt Florence in Red Bluff. Looking through the local newspaper, I came across an article about 90-year-old Grandma Moon who had recently moved from Corning to live with her daughter, Donna, in Red Bluff.
The name is the same and the area is the same, so I suspected that we are connected.
It was a long shot, but much research is long shots. I call her and find out they live just a few blocks away. I go over and have a discussion with the two. (The operative word is “interrogation.”)
They told me that almost nothing is known of their family history. Because, as far back as they could go was to their father who was orphaned in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
I mentioned Elizabeth Cleek and her daughter Betty Trainor. She states flatly, “We are not related.”
I had breakfast with Elizabeth Cleek and her daughter Betty Trainor, the only two living descendants of Geo. Wm. Moon. I mentioned my meeting with grandma Moon. They state, “They are adopted. We are not related.” End of pursuing that story... almost.
It would appear that the only one who had any knowledge about the adopted father’s history was Donna’s brother. He is not easy to contact, as he is a Seventh Day Adventist Missionary in Africa. He is in the country only briefly, at times.
For some reason I do not understand, I decide to give Grandma Moon and Donna a copy of my draft on the Moon Line. This takes up some time and some expense, which is foolish when one considers there is no down the road benefit. I still figure the name is the same and the area is the same. I guess I figured the book would make its way to the missionary and he might be able to see if there was any connection with my people. This was a very long shot when you consider I had to communicate with a man who was half way round the world in Africa preaching to the headhunters, I assume.
The book makes its way to the missionary's daughter who lives in Northern California. She is thrilled and saddened by her families' story and sends me several pages of family genealogy and history. What she writes sounds more than vaguely familiar. She enjoys communicating with a long-lost cousin.
I am confused by her letter. Everything sounds familiar, but can not be because we are not related. I send her a rambling reply explaining that we are not related. The book she has read is not her families story, it is mine.
I am visiting my cousin Millie, at the book store in downtown Red Bluff and walk out the door. Standing there is Donna. She tells me that she is taking 90-year-old Elizabeth Cleek somewhere. I am totally confused. Why is she taking Elizabeth Cleek somewhere when there is no family connection?
It took me some time to figure out that the adoption was by Geo. Wm. Moon and his wife Emma. What everyone told me is that there was an adoption, thus no relation. What they did not tell me is that they were still family.
the "earthquake Moons"
In the nick of time the missionary returns
from Africa. We met a few days ago at Grandma Moon's house in Red Bluff. At
best, the knowledge of the family is sketchy.
As far back as we can go is to the father whose last name was Christensen. The family is of Scandinavian descent. The boy is named Henry. It would appear that the father worked on a tugboat in the San Francisco Bay.
Apparently when the earthquake hit, the father and son were on the boat. The boys is severely injured with both legs broken. The boy, no more than 3-years-old, winds up in the hospital. He remembers his mother visiting just once while in the hospital.
After recovering from his injuries he was sent to an orphanage. There he would linger for 5 more years until Emma Moon comes into the picture.
She needed help on the farm. (Remember, it was a small family for the day, one boy and two girls.) So, she packs off to San Francisco to get another kid. Everyone in the family is quick to point out that it was Emma’s idea. “George had nothing to do with it.”
She comes back to Paskenta with Henry Christensen. Strangely, today there are only two living descendants of Geo. Wm. and Emma, but many from the earthquake family. There never was a legal adoption, but apparently that was not unusual for the time. Henry becomes part of the family and takes on the name of Moon, by which his descendants still are known by today.
When grown, Henry would make many attempts to find his parents. Despite his efforts nothing was ever learned of the parents, or any contact made. The parents simply disappeared off the face of the earth.
Henry grows up as part of the family, marries Marie Karo, a Norwegian girl from a local Paskenta farm.
The following information was provided by Kathleen Moon Dirksen, which I have condensed:
The adopted boy, Henry Moon, and his wife grandma Marie Moon, had 5 children: Edward, Jim, Reathel, Donna and Verna. Ed and Jim each had only girls. So the Moon name ended there.
The adopted boy, Henry, died in1988, and is buried at the Paskenta cemetery, which is filled with our people.
Edward Moon, the missionary, chooses as a career to be a nurse. He met his wife, Irene Poelstra, while in nursing school. In 1960 they head off to Nigeria to do missionary work. The family has been associated with Nigeria ever since. In his career, Ed would teach nursing and farming in Nigeria, all part of his missionary calling. Their children would be raised more Nigerian than American.
On 30 October 1960 the first child is born, Jeanene Louise Bamidele Ogioma Moon. (I told you they were Nigerian.) A year and a half later is born Laura Lee Ayodele Igioma Moon. To this day, she goes by her Yoruba name, Ayo. She is Ayo Moon, of New York City. Ayo works with her husband in his graphic arts company, TODA, in Manhattan.
Kathleen Moon is born one year and two weeks after Jeanene. Her name is Kathleen Lynelle Adjoke Chioma Moon. They each have a Yoruba name and an Ibo name, the two main tribes in southern Nigeria. (I would like to look at the kids names on official documents: driver's license, Social Security cards, etc...)
The family lived between America and Nigeria over the years.
The parents took in a 15-year-old “house girl” whose parents and sister died. As appears to be the tradition among our people they adopt her, unofficially. So the adoptees become adoptors and we add one more adoptee to our list. Her name is Janet Adaramola Ola.
It was not always fun times. It is a turbulent country with civil wars. Rarely does Ed take to the road without encountering dead bodies or those injured in automobile accidents. His nursing skills are used constantly. Many a time he comes home with blood on his clothes after helping an injured motorists.
Ed adapts quickly to the new culture. After being in Nigeria three months he learns the language and speaks with fluency.
One of the daughters is... Speaking of my sister, Janet,...she married a Nigerian Pastor in 1975. They adopted a boy from a relative, and then had four girls.
Jeanene Moon works in L.A. as an Office Administrator. She is divorced and has one 14-year-old son, Eric Lehl.
Kathleen, the one who provided this information, is a nurse living in Hayward, CA. She works two days a week at UC Davis, here in Sacramento. She marries Lon Dirksen in 1995. They have no children.
Ed’s brother, Jim Moon, joined the army and then became a machinist. He had two daughters, Crystal and Theresa. Crystal is married and lives in Corning. She has 2 children, Levi, who goes hunting every year with us in the Paskenta hills. (Kathleen, her father and family) She is remarried.
Theresa married an Italian fellow and lives and works in Northern California near the Oregon border...the town of Weed, I think?
Reathel Moon had 3 children: Floyd, Brian and Julie. Floyd is married to his second wife, Kathy, and lives in Corning with her daughter. His last name is Householder. Reathel died of a heart attack in 1998. Brian also lives in Corning with his wife and 3 children.
Julie Moon married a Mexican man who spoke no English. She learned Spanish. They had two boys and are no longer together. These two boys live in the Corning area and have children of their own. Julie died of Cervical Cancer very recently.
Donna Moon married Gilbert Gates and had one daughter, Dawnetta. Dawn married a Navy man and lives in San Diego with her 3 children. Gilbert died of lung cancer and Donna remarried a Fran Early.
Verna Moon adopted a girl born to her sister Reathel. The girl's name is Kim. Kim lives in Napa Valley. Verna married and has two children, Robert and Sharon. Robert lives in Corning and Sharon lives in Oklahoma. Verna divorced. She remarried Jim Jones. He had two boys, Jim Jr. and Jeff. They live in Oregon with their families. Together, Verna and Jim Jones had one child, Kristine. She is now married and has two sons. She lives in the Walnut Creek area (CA).
One of the family told me there are over 100 relatives, most live in Northern California.
This is the family gathering at Grandma Moon's house in Red Bluff about a year ago (2003). Ed Moon the missionary. To his left is his daughter, Dawnette Gates with her daughter, Katie, in lap. To Ed's right is his grandson, Eric. In the wheelchair is Grandma Moon, (since passed on), wife of Henry, the adopted boy who started this clan. To her left is her daughter, Donna. I do not know who the other woman is.
That is the story of our cousins, which until a short time ago I never knew existed. I told them bluntly, “If I don’t get you in the family history, you will have no heritage at all.”
They are not blood relatives...but cousins by earthquake.
This is the second strange story to come out of Paskenta, but not the strangest. That story comes in the next chapter.
Footnote: So that our Earthquake Moons know exactly where they fit in the family I give the following explanation: George Wm. Moon and wife, Emma, adopt the boy, Henry, who takes on the Moon name. George Wm. probably loses his mother due to her early death. Archibald Moon, George's father, then remarries Martha Wallace. Martha now becomes the adoptive mother to George Wm., which puts all of you Earthquake Moons into her illustrious heritage. Thus, this family history comes to you by way of double adoption. Think of it as being like double chocolate cake.
My family history web site has 79 chapters. If you would like to know more about the other chapters then go to my Home Page www.thetracyfamilyhistory.net