(written about 1930)

The History of Evelyn's and Helen's Maternal Grandmothers


For over two hundred years the French Huguenots were persecuted for their religious beliefs and it did not come to an end until the year 1762 when a new ruler came to the throne of France and put a stop to it and allowed the Hugenots to worship their religion in their own way and belief, but it was in 1787 before the persecution was entirely at an end.

Sometime after 1762 Monsieur Geraud (pronounced Gero), a French Huguenot, with his wife and family emigrated to America. [Both Giraud and Gerow are alternate spellings of the Geraud surname, which is common in the French city of La Rochelle.] They settled in the State of New York. Grandpa Geraud followed farming as his occupation. When their children grew up, one of his daughters, Tamar Geraud, married a man named John Francis Drake, a descendent of Sir Francis Drake. Grandpa and Grandma Drake lived on the American side of Niagara Falls and kept a large hotel, or hostelry as they were called in those days. They raised a large family of children, mostly girls. Grandpa Drake was an ardent Mason and the Lodge of Masons met in the banquet room of the hotel and one night, Betsy, one of the girls in a spirit of girlish mischief hid in the closed in the hall and heard and saw everything the Masons did. When her father found it out his wrath was something terrible, for in those days children were raised to fear and respect their parents. He laid the matter before the members at their next meeting and they settled it by making her a member in order to keep their secrets, so Aunt Betsy became a Mason in good standing.

In 1817 one of the daughters, Nancy, sixteen years old, was married to James Smith, a sergeant in the regular army. Two children were born to them, a girl and a boy. In a few years she was left a widow. She took her children and moved to Burlington, Racine County, Wisconsin, where some of her relatives lived and there raised her family. When her daughter Frances Maria grew to womanhood, she married in 1848 a man named William Toombs, an Englishman whose people had emigrated to America and settled in Burlington. On April 3, 1849 a little girl was born to them named Ellen Julia (the mother of Gertie and Curtis Forbes).

When the gold excitement started in 1848 Grandpa Toombs did not start but he started in 1849 for California with a company of men. It took them six months to make the trip across the plains and Grandpa Toombs and his party landed in Placerville (Hangtown), El Dorado County in January 1850. Grandpa Toombs always stood on the side of justice and right in those pioneer days and as every man had a nickname, his was "Honest Billy". Mrs. Toombs joined her husband in January, 1852 when he was mining in a camp in "Coonhollow". When the men heard that Honest Billy's wife was to come on the stage that day, they gathered from far and near to see her and when she stepped out of the stage, they took off their hats and cheered and they took little Ellen in their arms and passed her from man to man until everyone had held her before her feet touched the ground.

Grandpa Toombs mined in Coonhollow until after their daughter Sarah was born, when they moved then from one mining camp to another until they finally moved in 1861 to White Rock Canyon, and lived there until they passed away in April 1892.

When their daughter Sarah was seventeen years old in 1870, she was married to a man named Michael Sexton. Four children were born to them, two boys and two girls. One girl, little Frances, died when she was two years old. When the other girl, Nellie grew up she was married in June 1893, to Harrison McBeth, whose people were pioneers of Coloma, El Dorado Co., where gold was discovered in 1848.

Grandpa and Grandma McBeth make their home in Placerville, where they have raised a family of three boys, who have grown up to be steady, industrious boys and all are happily married. As the McBeths have no girls, it breaks the line of Maternal Grandmothers, there being six in all in America.

  • Grandmas Geraud and Drake in 1700
  • Grandmas Smith, Toombs and Sexton in 1800
  • Grandma McBeth in 1900

This is written for my little great grand nieces, Evelyn Bernice McBeth and Helen Mae McBeth, daughter of Lawrence, and of William McBeth and for Roy McBeths daughter if he should have one.


Aunt Mary Swansborough



To continue the narrative of the Grandmothers. Grandpa and Grandma Toombs moved from Placerville, El Dorado Co., Calif to White Rock Canyon in 1860 and followed mining for a few years then bought a ranch and on the ranch raised their family of five children, three girls and two boys. Ellen the oldest girl was a school teacher and taught for ten years in El Dorado Co, then she married a man named James Forbes. Sarah the second girl is the Grandma Sexton of the former narrative. Mary the youngest girl married Thos Swansborough in 1880. As they have no children their name dies with them. The oldest boy William L. Toombs grew to manhood on the ranch and married a neighbor girl, Miss Mary Hassler, who had come over from Germany with her mother and brothers when she was a little child. They raised a family of six children, three girls and three boys. Charles Francis called Frank grew up and when a young man bought the ranch making three generations of Toombs men who have owned the ranch, Grandpa Toombs, William L. Toombs and Frank, son of William L. Toombs. Frank follows fruit raising and today is one of the most successful fruit growers in El Dorado Co. Frank married Miss Mabel Larson of the Camino district and they make their home on the ranch. They have no children.

Agnes the oldest girl moved with her parents to Alameda and there married Mr. Harvey Spence, a building contractor. Three lovely girls were born to them but one has passed on to her heavenly home. Their home is at Danville, Contra Costa Co., Calif.

Edgar the second boy has a prune ranch in Gilroy and also has a cabinet shop in Gilroy. He married Miss Mae Cunha and they have one lovely little girl.

Ruby the second girl married Leo Critchlow and they make their home in Monterey where he owns a marine shop. They have a family of three fine little boys and are doing well.

Mary (Minnie) the youngest girl married Henry Carty who owns a chain of grocery stores in Hollywood. They make their home in Hollywood and have a lovely little girl and boy. They are doing well.

Thomas the youngest boy grew up in Alameda and married Miss Eugenia Dungan. He is a machinist and is working for his brother-in-law, Leo Critchlow. Thomas has two sweet little children, a boy and a girl but the little boy has passed on to his heavenly home.

William and Mary Toombs have nine grandchildren and are very proud of them. All people mentioned in the narrative are the descendants of the Maternal Grandmothers down to Grandmas Sexton and McBeth who are the Grandmothers of Helen Mae and Evelyn McBeth.

Charles Toombs, the youngest son of Grandpa and Grandma Toombs married Miss Carrie Rodemark and they have one son, Albert who is married to Miss Susie. They have a family of nice little children and own a ranch near Placerville.


By Aunt Mary Swansborough


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