LEAVES FROM THE PAST: FORT MILLER

by

June English



 
HOME

FRESNO COUNTY

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There is a tale that she and Mrs. Carroll were overwhelmed by the Indian women and taken to the river. Mrs. McKenzie escaped, but Mrs. Carroll was stripped of her clothing and vigorously rubbed to see if the whiteness of her skin would come off!


James was sent with the army to fight in the Indian wars in Oregon and northern California. Annie, with her two children, William and Mary Jane, stayed at the fort. James McKenzie was discharged from the army in 1858. On June 4, 1859, James applied to the court for citizenship which was granted to him. He surely earned the right to become a citizen of this country. The McKenzies located a ranch above Fort Miller and stocked the ranch with cattle and sheep.


James died on January 1, 1864 (historical record). He left his wife and three children: William H. McKenzie, who became a very wealthy man through real estate, banking, ranching and oil; Mary Jane who married John Hoxie; and Edward P., who was a storekeeper at what is now Friant until his death in 1888. William married John Hoxie's sister, Carrie, and the McKenzies and the Hoxies were double-tied by marriage. Their separate plot at the eastern part of the cemetery also tells the sad story of small children who were born and lost but a short time later.


There are descendants and much of the land which now surrounds Millerton Lake is still owned by the McKenzies.


More than a year after James' death, his widow Anne, married Judge Charles Hart on February 18, 1865. Mrs. McKenzie was living in Millerton with her children and her neighbor, the Judge, administered the McKenzie estate.


Charles Augustus Hart was born in Geneva, New York on November 7, 1820. His father, Truman Hart, was a well-known banker of western New York. He represented his district in the state legislature for several terms. His mother was Susan Carpenter, also a native of New York state.


Charles Hart was a highly educated man for the time. He was civil engineer and surveyor. Then he decided to study law and practiced after four years of study in the state of New York. After that, and prior to his coming to California, he was a commission merchant dealing in hides, wool and leather. In 1848, he joined a party of 48 men from New England and they proceeded to Brazos, Texas, by steamer. Another source says he came through Mexico, but whichever route he took it was a dangerous journey and he survived all the perils of the trail and arrived at Hill's Ferry, Merced County, on August 7, 1849. He was one of the fortunate few that made any money in the gold fields. Many old records indicated that he never lost his interest in mining. Frequently, he grubstaked a promising claim.


He wrote a letter to his family after a short time in the Southern Mines telling them that this "God-forsaken country" was fit only for Indians and never for a white man. He was sure that when the gold was exhausted the white men would desert this country and the Indians could have it back!


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