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Matthew Ezra Ormsby (1827 - 1903)

Matthew Ezra Ormsby
Born in Harrisville, Mercer County, Pennsylvaniamap
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married 2 Dec 1872 [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in San Diego, Californiamap
Profile last modified | Created 8 Dec 2012
This page has been accessed 377 times.


Matthew Ezra Ormsby was born June 17, 1827 in Harrisville, Butler County, Pennsylvania; died July 10, 1903 in San Diego, California. He married (1) Augusta Abigail Bradford after 1855; died 1871 in Bonsall, California. He married (2) Margaret Elizabeth "Belle" Huston on December 2, 1872, born Sept 1844 in Berleson, Texas; died 1902 in San Diego, California. Belle and Matthew Ormsby are buried in the San Marcos cemetery. [1]

Ezra was named after his father who had died earlier the same year. He was reared in the vicinity of Pittsburgh and studied both and law and medicine, although he did not practice either profession.

In 1849 at the age of 22, he joined the gold rush emigrants to California, making the trip by boat and hiking across the Isthmus of Panama. He joined his two older brothers Dr. John S. Ormsby and Major William Ormsby who were in business in Sacramento, operating a private mint and stage line. During 1853 Matthew drove one of the stages in the mail and passenger line operated by his brother William, between Sacramento and Marysville.

About 1855 he returned to his family home in Pittsburgh. Shortly thereafter he attended a southern academy where he met and married Augusta Abigail Bradford of Alabama. They settled in the Brazos River region of Texas and engaged in the cattle business. He joined the Confederate army with a commission in the commissary department, and was with the Army of General Robert E. Lee which surrendered at Appomattox in 1865.

In May 1868, Matthew and his family joined an emigrant wagon train organized in Northwest Arkansas and made the overland trip to Southern California. The Indians knew the wagon train was too strong and did not attack. They wanted to trade for horses and talked through an interpreter. The threat of attack was ever present though, causing the wagon train to "circle the wagons" many times.

According to a diary of this journey, they traveled North through the Indian Territory to Abilene, Kansas, turned back to the old Santa Fe trail, followed this to Albuquerque, New Mexico, then down the Rio Grande River and took the old Butterfield Stage Route (Southern trail) from Los Cruses, New Mexico to Southern California via Apache Pass, Tucson, Gila River, Fort Yuma, Warner's Ranch and Temecula. The wagon train followed the old Butterfield Stage route north having to double team the oxen to pull some of the steep grades around Warner's Ranch. The train divided up at Warner's Ranch, some going to San Diego area and others going north.

The Ormsby family traveled northwest to Temecula, then turned north to Lake Elsinore where they camped. While camped in Temescal Canyon, just south of Corona, a rancher wanted to trade his ranch for oxen. As the oxen were exhausted from the long trip over the desert, the trade was made and Matthew and Augusta settled into their small adobe house awaiting the birth of their fifth son. John William Ormsby was born October 10, 1869 in Temescal Canyon near the Butterfield Stage Station.

In 1870, the family settled for a brief time on Rancho Monserate, a large Spanish Land Grant on the San Luis Rey River east of Oceanside. It was there Augusta taught school in one of the first schools in northern San Diego County. In 1871 Matthew and Augusta moved to a farm at Mount Fairview (Bonsall). Augusta died in childbirth that year at the age of 34.

Children of Matthew Ormsby and Augusta Bradford:

(i) Libby Ormsby, born in 1857 in the Brazos river region of Texas.

(ii) Ezra Ormsby, born in 1857 in the Brazos river region of Texas.

(iii) Celest Ormsby, born in 1864 in Texas.

(iv) Elect Ormsby, born in 1867 in Texas.

(v) John William Ormsby, born on October 10, 1869 in Temescal Canyon.

In December 1872 Matthew Ezra Ormsby remarried, taking as his second wife Margaret Elizabeth Huston of Berleson, Texas. She and her three nephews, Walter, William and John Huston had come west in the same wagon train in 1868.

Seven children were born to them and all were reared at Mount Fairview (Bonsall) where Ormsby farmed and operated a small General Merchandise store. In 1878 he served on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

Children of Matthew Ormsby and Margaret Huston:

(i) Leander Oliver Ormsby.

(ii) Anna Eliza Ormsby.

(iii) Lemuel Matthew Ormsby.

(iv) Edward Jerome Ormsby.

(v) Margaret Belle Ormsby, born June 13, 1882 in San Diego, California; died June 29, 1936. Married Melville Delmar Allen, born 1883 in Missouri, died 1943.

(vi) Milton Christy Ormsby.

(vii) Wilton Christopher Ormsby.

Matthew and Margaret Ormsby were buried in Isaac Frazee's private cemetery under the oak trees near the creek where Castle Creek Golf Course is located today. When the property was bought for a golf course they asked that the graves be moved, so Matthew and Margaret were moved to the San Marcos cemetery.

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  • Jon Cunnyngham - Click the Changes tab for the details of edits by Jon and others.
  1. Entered by Jon Cunnyngham, Dec 8, 2012

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