[This marker is composed of several panels]Origin of the Name of Cathey's ValleyIn 1739, the Catheys immigrated from Clones, Ireland to America. Andrew D. Cathey a native of North Carolina, his wife Mary Mariah Deaver and their seven children were the first settlers of Cathey's Valley. Their eighth son John was believed to be the first white baby born in the valley.
By 1849, during the gold rush, Andrew, (age 45) son Daniel and son-in-law Benjamin Wills made their first trek west to the mine fields. In 1851, Andrew returned to Arkansas where he formed an oxen drawn train of 30 wagons and 32 head of livestock.
In April of 1852, Andrew Cathey was chosen captain, and the party started their journey west from Benton, Arkansas. While en route they witnessed the aftermath of the infamous Oatman Massacre. The train arrived in Indian Gulch in October 1852. The family lived in tents on Burns Creek near Indian Gulch where they mined and sold milk to the miners.
About 1854 Andrew purchased the Evans and Hill Louisiana Ranch known as "Vallecita" meaning "Little Valley". His sons and son-in-law Wills became large landholders in the area. Engaging in farming and livestock raising; hence, it became known as Cathey's Valley.
The Catheys donated land for the Methodist Episcopal Church South, established in 1856 and the schoolhouse in 1879. The cemetery was established in 1858. Beginning in 1875, annual arbor camp meetings were held for two weeks on the Wills Campground under the oak trees, near Owens Creek. Families came in wagons from Plainsburg, Le Grand and surrounding areas. Chinese cooks prepared their meals. This was an occasion for young people to meet and court.
When Daniel Wills and son Alex, two of the families former black slaves were freed, they walked to California, upon their arrival, they stated "We have come to be with our people".
[Horizontal panel below the left panel:]
Wagon Train PartyIn 1852 the party traveled the Southern route, ferried the Colorado River by disassembling their wagons and building rafts.Capt. Andrew and Mary Cathey
Children: Nathan · James · William · Daniel - came in 1849 · Sarah · John, born in Catheys Valley · McCurdy
Benjamin and Amanda Wills
Children: George and Mary
William and Mary Lewis Wills
Married by the Colorado River
Joined party in Texas
Harris C. and Eliza Rowland
James and Susan Rowland
John B. and Francis Hammonds
Donahoe Family -Baby Timielia born in route at Indian town Minielia, N.M.
Green Berry Nixon Vandegrift
Hayes Family Left baby buried by Rio Grand N.M.
Turned back at Oatman Massacre aftermath scene
History of Cathey's ValleyIn earlier years the Miwuk Indians spent their winters here in the valley. Different tribes journeyed to the Pacific Coast to trade. Bedrock mortars and stone pestles have been found in the creek beds. Occasionally obsidian arrowheads and colored beads are known to surface after a rainfall.
During the Mariposa Indian War 1850-1851, a garrison of Mariposa Battalion soldiers (awaiting orders) were stationed at the stone fort on Mariposa Creek at the southern end of Bull Run Canyon.
Twelve quartz veins were in the valley, some miners used arrastras to crush the ore. In the early 1900's Artie and Virgil Givens operated a stamp mill located on Owens Creek. Cathey's Valley was known to miners for the fruits and grain grown here. The miners enjoyed bull, bear and cock fights.
In the 1860's, Chinese laborers earned twenty-five cents per rod (sixteen feet) to build the native rock fence boundaries which are still seen criss crossing the hillsides. About 1870 other settlers came to farm from the Azores and mainland Europe.
Cathey's Valley Post Office was established in 1879, Emma Wills was the first postmaster. Prior to 1879 mail came around the Horn by boat to Stockton, California and then by stagecoach or freight wagons to the mines. By 1882 the name of the post office was erroneously changed to "Cathay" until 1964 when the citizens petitioned for the change back to "Cathey's Valley."
In 1880 an International Organization of Good Templars (I.O.G.T.) Lodge was formed. In 1883 there was a Dickerson Store. During the early 1900's a small group of citizens published the "Cathey Cackler" newspaper. Most social and political events took place in their homes or the schoolhouse before the community hall was built.
Cathey Mountain is 3 miles north of here, Cathey Pond is near Indian Gulch.