The Olds Brothers

“A story of Luther Olds and his brothers written by a Great Grandson of Luther Olds”
Leonard E. Olds

Leonard E. Olds of Sandy, Utah, contacted me a few years,ago as he had seen the web site, and told me that in 2003 he wrote a semi-fictionalized story of Luther and his brothers, as told by Luther himself. Leonard has very generously sent me a copy of this fascinating story and has given me permission to reproduce some excerpts here, mainly about Luther, Isaac and Harriet. Leonard published a second edition in December 2010.

The story covers four periods in the life of the Olds brothers:

Battle Creek, Michigan 1822-1849

Placerville, California 1849-1851

Carson Valley, Nevada 1852-1881

Inyou, California 1882

Luther writes: “for me personally, the most important event of 1853 was the arrival of Isham and Mathilda Parsons with their three daughters, Emma, my future bride Mary Melvina, and Harriet ages 20, 15, and 10 respectively. Their arrival was a dramatic event requiring celebrating since there were only a total of 10 or 12 females in all of the Valley at that time.

Al Squires eventually began courting Emma, and they were married the following year. Note that in 1855 the ladies in the Valley increased from 15 to 19 bringing the female/male ratio up to one out of 100.” “The Parsons family (Isham Parsons, 57, Mathilda Evens Parsons, 52, Emma Catherine Parsons, 20, Mary Melvina Parsons, 15, Harriet L. Parsons, 10, George W. Parsons, 8), lived in Fredricksburgh at the southern end of Carson Valley in 1853.”

“And in September 1857 my beautiful baby Cordelia was born to Mary and me. A few months later we got word that Mary’s father, Isham Parsons died in Middleton, California near Placerville. We invited Mary’s 57 year old mother, Mathilda, her 15 year old sister Harriet, and 13 year brother George to come stay with us.”

“After the trial and hanging, I rode to my ranch under guard to pack my things and tell Mary goodbye. It really was hard leaving her since she was three months along with our future son Isaac. But I left her in care of my close friend Isaac Gandy who had been staying with us whenever he got home from his traveling salesman’s job. Calvin Austin, my brother David, and I then all headed up to the Meadows safely in California territory. Gandy came with us to see us off.”

“Meanwhile my little son Isaac was born on December 9, 1858, and we spent a happy Christmas together again with our family now consisting of Mary and myself with our children Cordelia and Ike and Mary’s mother and brother and sister. My closest friend, Isaac Gandy, was still living with us in our hotel and we named our son after him. Isaac Gandy and Mary’s sister Hattie became very close and wound up marrying each other the following summer. But Gandy was a born salesman and looked for a better selling area in the up and coming Carson City area where he moved his family.”

After the tragic death of daughter Cordelia, Luther and Mary divorced. “Mary moved up to Carson City to live with her sister Hattie and Isaac Gandy who were expecting their first child. I began to work hard trying to raise the money to pay Mary’s alimony. I finally gave her $50 toward it and offered to have her work for me in my emigrant way station for $75 a month. This lasted from October 1863 until January 1864, after which she filed suit for complete payment and Ike Gandy and I were forced to start selling some of our land.”

I finally decided that we needed to move the last of our horses to brother David’s ranch in Round Valley, Bishop, California and I scheduled a trip in May of 1882. Of course it’s to be expected that I’m pretty blue over the closure of our Carson Valley operations and I unwisely took a bottle with me in the buggy I drove to David’s. And the rest is, as they say, “History.”

Read more about the Olds brothers here.

Luther drowned when his buggy tipped over into an irrigation ditch on his way to visit his brother David in Bishop, California. Luther’s obituary can be read here, courtesy of Christine Craigo.

* Luther Canyon (Fay Canyon) is located 10 miles south of Genoa, Nevada and named after Ira M. Luther, who ran a sawmill there from 1858-1865. After 1865, the canyon came to be known as Horse Thief Canyon because of the “business”  of John and  Lute Olds, owners of the next ranch south. Read more about Luther Canyon here.