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James Nathaniel Burroughs WYATT (1831-1911)
Source:  Thomas J. Gregory.  1913.  History of Yolo County, California.  Historic Record Co., Los Angeles, CA.

(Boldface added by transcriber.)

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JAMES N.B. WYATT

The era immediately following the discovery of gold witnessed the arrival in California of thousands of eager young Argonauts and none among them was more hopeful than James N.B. Wyatt.  While the result of that trip was not an immmediate settlement in the west as a permanent home, the fascinations of the country were so great that later, after he had married and was earning a comfortable livelihood in Missouri, he gave up everything there in order that he might identify himself with the upbuilding of the west.  Born in Boone county, Mo., February 5, 1831, he had started with an expedition May 2, 1850, and had furnished his quota of supplies necessary for the long journey across the plains.  After crossing the Missouri river at St. Joseph the emigrant train followed the trail along the south side of the Platte river.

The worst disaster in connection with the expedition was the outbreak of cholera.  Five wagons abandoned the train and the ranks of the remainder were reduced by frequent deaths.  In the hope of out-traveling the disease the worn-out teams were pushed forward long after darkness had veiled the earth.  Finally they reached the mountains and were able to secure pure fresh water, which immediately stopped the trouble and from that time no trace of cholera appeared to give new alarm to the emigrants.  Unfortunately, after the cholera disappeared there was a scarcity of provisions. 

Thousands of miles from any habitation they found themselves reduced to a small supply of dried apples and jerked meat.  The emigrants became emaciated and one man was unable to leave the wagon.  The cattle had been worked so hard and fed so little that they were unfit for food, the hide and bones presenting no at-

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traction even for starving men.  For fourteen days they subsisted on apples and meat.  Other wagons were so reduced in supplies that they could not help the sufferers.  On one occasion Mr. Wyatt saw a man throw away a bacon rind.  With the eagerness of a hawk for a young chicken he picked up the discarded rind and eagerly swallowed it.  In the search for food he came to a camp and begged for something for the sick man in the wagon, but was told that a pound of flour would cost him $2, and this sum he was obliged to pay, both for flour and for bacon, at a station three hundred miles from Salt Lake.  At another trading post he was able to buy the same supplies for $1 per pound.

During the entire journey the fear of Indian attacks never left them.  At one place some Indians climbed into the wagons to search for food, but of course found nothing.  At one of the fords on the Humboldt river they showed considerable hostility, and there in 1852 they massacred a whole train of men and women carrying off two boys and four girls. 

Sometimes the emigrants quarreled among themselves, but the only outbreak with serious consequences occurred when Frank Shepherd  was killed by another emigrant, who like himself came from Ohio. The last three days of the journey were extremely trying, for the course of the worn-out oxen and emaciated men took them through sage brush where water was poor, where alkali was on every side, and where dead horses and cattle could be seen at frequent intervals on the road.  The journey ended in the Sacramento valley September 15, 1850, and soon afterward at Coloma, Eldorado (sic) county, Mr. Wyatt met an uncle, Rev. Thomas Thompson, who was the first Christian preacher in that region.

The first sojourn of the young Missourian in California was marked by an experience with mining around Coloma and with ranch pursuits at Napa as an employee of John Stickter.  On leaving Coloma he went to San Francisco and there took passage for Panama on the Golden Gate, a ship that on its next voyage burned at sea, causing a total loss of passengers.  Mr. Wyatt reached Missouri in safety and at once took up farming pursuits.  Soon afterward he married Ann Williams, by whom he had the following-named children: M. Oscar, Frank M., Clarence E., Virginia (Mrs. Reuben B. Nissen), Flora E., Ella M., Emma L., May D. and Lulu B.

In 1864 the family crossed the plains and settled in Sonoma county.  During 1875 they moved to Maine Prairie in Solano county. In 1893 Mr. Wyatt was engaged to take charge of the interests of his son-in-law, R.B. Nissen, who owned a ranch near Capay, Yolo county.  Eventually he established a home at Winters and there, May 12, 1911, his life of usefulness came to an end. 

Fraternally he held membership with the Ancient Order of United Workmen.  In religion he was connected with the Christian Church.

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Politically he believed in Republican principles, but went further in his beliefs than did his party, for he included prohibition in his proposed ideal platform.

The eldest son of J.N.B. Wyatt is Dr. M.O. Wyatt, now president of the First National Bank of Winters.  By his marriage to Lulu Shelford, of Cloverdale, he has four children, Roy, Fred, Erna, and Velma.  The second son, Frank M. Wyatt, who married Miss Nelia Shelford, of Cloverdale, formerly conducted a mercantile business at Winters, but is now secretary and a director of the First National Bank of Winters.  The third son, Clarence E., who married Priscilla Hall, is engaged in the jewelry business at Winters.  All of the daughters are married except the youngest, Miss Lulu, who is assistant postmaster at Winters.  Virginia is the widow of R.B. Nissen, who was a well-known and highly respected citizen of Yolo county; she had four children, Clarence, Claude, Babe (deceased), and FrankFlora married T.E. McFall, an undertaker at Winters; their family includes the following-named children: Charles (deceased), Carl, Walter, Alfred, Edgar (deceased), Claudia, Stella and Edith. Ella M. Wyatt married L.E. Sturgill, of Oakland, Cal., and they had two children, Frank (deceased) and Jessie. Emma L. is the widow of the late Dr. G.S. Conner of St. Helena, and May D. married A.L. Marshall and resides at Winters. The widow of J.N.B. Wyatt resides at her old home in Winters and now at the age of seventy-two years she finds enjoyment in her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Family Group Sheet of J.N.B. WYATT & Sarah Ann WILLIAMS
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