Westward Expansion

The 1800s saw a massive westward expansion across the territory owned by the United States. My family participated in this movement along with the millions of others.



Isaac Vanderwalker was born in Saratoga, Saratoga County, New York in 1819. As a young man, he moved with his parents to Jay, Essex County, New York where the family established a saw mill. There Isaac married Clarinda Stokes in 1845. They, along with several of Isaac’s siblings, then relocated to Marquette, Michigan in the early 1850s to dabble in the mining industry. That must not have worked out too well, because in 1856 the Vanderwalkers had moved to Austin, Mower County, Minnesota. Isaac spent the next several years in Moscow, Mower County farming the land. There, daughter Agnes was born in February of 1861. Unfortunately, Clarinda died in childbirth, leaving the infant and her five older siblings motherless. When the Civil War broke out a few months later, Isaac left Minnesota trusting Agnes to neighbors John and Mary Call and leaving the older children to fend for themselves with the help of other nearby relatives. Upon his return in 1865, he married Carrie Smith. In 1878 he made his final move to Alta Vista in Lincoln County, Minnesota to farm.

John Call was born in 1822 in Scotland and immigrated to the United States as a young man. In 1844 he married Mary Fulton in Providence, Rhode Island. They too were drawn to the West and by 1857 were living in Mower County, Minnesota. In 1861 he and Mary took in tiny Agnes Vanderwalker and gave her their surname. Opportunity soon called when the transcontinental railroad was built and the branch to Santa Rosa, California was completed in 1870. That year John uprooted his family and moved to Mendocino Township, Sonoma County, California where he established his shoemaking business.

John E. Congleton was born in Chautauqua, New York in 1816. He joined the U.S. Army in 1834 and soon found himself at Fort Jesup, Louisiana. In 1836 he married Almira Almy in Natchitoches, Louisiana, about 20 miles from the Fort. They then proceed to relocate to Arkansas in 1839, Missouri in 1842, Tennessee in 1845, and back to Missouri in 1950 (presumably with the Army) before joining his ‘49er brother, Aden C. Congleton, in Rough and Ready, California in 1852. The saw mill that John then established in Gold Rush country apparently did not work out, so in 1858 he relocated with his family to Petaluma, California where he made his living as a drayman.

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