The Tracy Family History
In 1935, an erratic and unstable 35-year-old Austin Alva Tracy married a 17- year-old Mary Winifred Linton. This was my father and mother. (The Linton line is rather extensive so it will be covered in a separate book.) When describing Austin, mother said he was "odd."
He would get up from dinner and walk out the door, disappearing for three weeks at a time, and then returning wearing the same clothes, shoes, hat, and same haircut (no long or disheveled hair) as when he left. He never made any attempt to explain where he had been or why he had left. No one, including my mother, asked any questions. This will show you the complexity of the mind of my father.
In the pictures above, Austin stands to the left. Again it is difficult to see his face. Standing next to him is Oscar, a Wiltsey descendent. At the end is Beulah. Mother had been frustrated all of her life because she never could take a good picture, not even a formal portrait. What pictures exist don't look like her. This is the best we could come up with and I think a good one. She is 31 years old in this photo.
When they got married, Austin was running cattle out of Hunter, which was 8 to 9 miles from Saddle Camp. Everyone ran cattle out of Hunter. All you had to do was brand the cattle and let them free-range. They would take care of themselves. At the end of the season the cattle would be gathered, making sure the right ones went to the proper owners. They were sold to buyers and the caves kept for the next season. Austin ran a herd of 200 cattle.
Once they were married, he then went into the logging business and ran a "Gypo" outfit out of Quincy. A "Gypo" outfit was a small independent logging operation.
To this couple was born three sons: Alva Austin, born 24 June 1936 at Red Bluff; Wilbur Linton, born 19 November at Red Bluff; and me the youngest, James Edward, born 25 March 1940, also at Red Bluff.
Whenever people say they have never heard the name "Alva" before, we always reply by saying, Thomas (Alva) Edison.
Alva went by the name Al. Wilbur went by the name Wilbur. I went by the name of Jimmy because that is what everybody called me, and that is what I assumed my name was. Then, when I was sixteen I found out my name was James.
For the few years my parents were married they didn't live in one place very long. All mom recalls is that, "We bounced around a lot."
The most fun place for us kids was Saddle Camp. Granddad Tracy told us that if we sprinkled salt on the tails of the deer that they would stop so we could pet them. So we would run around all day chasing deer with salt shakers. Granddad would allow the does and fawns to come on to the property because they were safe. But, he would chase off the bucks. They were too dangerous for us children to be around.
Wilbur was utterly fearless. The deer would walk under the porch. One day when he was with mom and Granddad a deer walked under the porch. Will decided to take it for a ride and jumped on its back. It scared the deer nearly to death. Mom and Granddad would remember this story for the rest of their lives.
At Hunter one time, Wilbur was with Grandma and out on the porch. Grandma had given him bread and milk to eat, and she noticed he kept putting his hand down to feed some thing. So she went out to see what he was feeding. He was feeding a rattlesnake!
Remarkably, the marriage would last for 5 years. Before I was born Austin would leave his family, relatives, and friends. A deeply bitter man he would disappear into the mountains and have little contact with his previous world for the next 26 years.
Mother was now on her own with three little kids to raise. Austin would send money for awhile but she would never see him again.
To support herself and growing family, she, horror of all horrors, took up the job of waitress. In those days this was considered to be the lowest of all jobs. The family considered that she had dishonored them. She would be a waitress for the rest of her life making a good living, a very good living.
She would work in various restaurants around Red Bluff and during the war years she worked at Richardsons Hot Springs in Chico. Chico was 40 miles from Red Bluff. Of all the waitress jobs she had this would be the most unusual.
It was a world class resort catering only to the elite of the world. What made it so popular (Mom said the place was always packed.) was the fact that it was one of the few respectable resorts in the world that did not discriminate against Jews.
Before the war, the wealthy Jews from Europe would vacation at Richardsons Hot Springs. During the war, the Jewish visitors from Europe ceased to exist, but others poured in from the East Coast.
It was an adult's only resort. The clientele would take two or three rooms for themselves and three or four rooms for their luggage!
Mom would waitress the Rockerfellers. They took several tables for dinner and would keep her constantly busy. "Mary would you take this note over to my wife?" "Mary would you take my reply to my husband?"
The tips were fabulous! (She made $100 a night playing slot machines.)
Mom lived at the resort 24 hours a day 7 days a week. She put us up with Maud who had a farm and took care of the county children.
Mother is now 86 years old and still can not understand why these wealthy people would come from all over the country to a place that was nowhere, and then sit around and do nothing.
But it allowed the financial rulers of the world the opportunity to spend a few days getting away from the high-class society that they lived in. At Richardsons Springs they could all be bums. The Rockerfellers would come to dinner in baggy clothes and slippers. So did the other clientele. For awhile they could act like normal people.
A year ago, mother reached up in the cupboard to get a container of spice and remarked, “He wanted to marry me.”
Before mom moved to Richardsons Springs a man named Ed Schilling moved into the Red Bluff area. Everyone knows the family. Look at your spices. They are Schilling. He was from an extremely wealthy family.
He had used his inheritance to go into the cattle business, with his brother, in Texas. He prospered. Then he went through a bitter divorce and his brother died. Whenever she discussed the subject, mom always said that he was deeply affected by his brother’s death. He wanted to get out of Texas. Really, he wanted to get out of the world. So, he did the next best thing. He moved to Hunter, where he ran cattle and horses out of Hunter and Cottonwood. He chose to live a primitive life with no running water or indoor plumbing. The only thing that stood out in his life style was the fanciest car money could buy.
When asked how they met mom replied that the place was so small that everyone knew one another. Schilling courted mom for a number of years. He even took her and her girlfriend up to Oregon for a two-week vacation. (It was the fanciest car she ever drove.) He was 20 years older, and even had a son mother’s age. But, so was Austin, as would be her third husband, Ed Espinosa.
Money never meant anything to mom. He wanted to marry her but she did not want to have the world given to her on a silver platter. So she kept saying "No."
She should have thought of her poor destitute children!
Recently I told the story of my mother and Ed Schilling to my Aunt Arla.
She replied, "Was he the one who lived out west of Red Bluff?"
"He had a crush one me. I would not date him."
Granddad and Grandma Tracy, Alva and Wilbur at Saddle Camp.
Granddad Tracy, Alva, Wilbur and Jimmy
The Hunter clan gathering for Christmas diner.
“On the tongue of the wagon: Ed, moms (Aunt Hattie) friend; Uncle Al (Aunt Mary’s husband) & Norman (My brother killed in WW II). Standing: Uncle Alva; Uncle Bud (my father). Rest I’m not sure - but the girl sitting on the wagon with head leaning on hand is me. I’ve always wondered who the two boys sitting next to me were...I think it must be Alva and Wilbur. Barely discernable in front of Uncle Al and Aunt Hattie’s friend, Ed, is “Blackie”, Aunt Mary’s dog.”
–Cousin Gerry Slocum
Same day at Hunter: Mother sitting front row center on Uncle Elijah's lap. Dog is "Blackie."
ANOTHER SNAKE STORY: At Hunter when Wilbur was little he
followed a snake into the wilderness and was lost for three days. Austin used
his best hunting dog, Trailer, to find him. Wilbur held onto the dog collar and
followed Trailer back home. To this day Wilbur is afraid of snakes.
PS -- So am I!
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