Across the plains to Oregon- 1850
SURNAMES: WINLOCK, GRANT
born in Oneida County, New York, June 2, 1830. His parents,
Marmaduke and Mary (Winlock) Coil, were of Scotch descent, both of whom died
before Alexander was more than ten years old. This left a family of four
children to do the best they could for themselves. Alexander lived in the
neighborhood until he was fifteen years old, when he went into Herkimer County,
where he stayed two years and a half, and from there he went into Alleghany
County, and attended the Alfred Academy for two years and a half. In 1849 he,
with another man, took a threshing-machine from New York into Wisconsin, and
followed the business there until fall, when they moved it into Illinois and
worked at threshing in that State for a while. In the spring of 1850 he started
across the plains for Oregon. He joined a party of about thirty wagons at Des
Moines, Iowa, who started together with their families, but before the journey
was completed they dropped off and scattered in different directions, so that
only about five wagons went into Oregon, after being on the road about five
months. Mr. Coil remained in Oregon that winter, and the next spring struck out
for the mines on the Klamath River, where Yreka now stands. He remained in that
locality until the winter of 1852-53, when he started from the Sailor Diggings,
in Jackson County, to the coast. A party of twelve persons was made up, which
was the first company that made the trip successfully, on account of the Indians
being so troublesome.
After a severe trip, meeting with many hardships, eleven of the party got safely through, where seven of them stayed that winter, while the others went down the coast to Humboldt Bay. Mr. Coil remained with those who stayed, and while spending their time there that winter their provisions gave out, and for six weeks they had to live on elk meat. They were also short of ammunition, which they had to keep in reserve to protect themselves from the Indians who were molesting them at different intervals. Finally a schooner landed where they were, and left them with provisions, and thus relieved them of their monotonous diet of elk meat. This encampment was the first starting of the town of Crescent City, Del Norte County, Oregon. Mr. Coil remained in that locality about five years, trying to get the country settled up. He was doing a little of everything, part of the time farming, together with fighting Indians. From there he went to the Sacramento Valley, California, where he had a brother, and stayed there two years in the stock business. He then went to the Nevada and Reise Rivers, in Nevada County, and spent two years prospecting, mining, and teaming. From there he went back to Humboldt Bay, and went into the mountains, where he bought about 2,900 acres, on Eel River, and went into the sheep business. He had an average of 3,000 sheep during his residence there of twelve years, which proved to be a profitable business. He sold his ranch in the mountains, moved to this valley, and bought his present place in 1884, consisting of fifty acres of choice land. It was at that time nearly all grain land, with only five acres set out in trees. At the present time he has twenty-five acres in orchard, of which 500 trees are five years old, and 2,000 four years old. In 1885 he built his fine residence, which, together with other improvements put on the place, makes it one of the finest in the valley.
Mr. Coil was
married, February 26, 1871, to Priscilla W. Grant, a native of New York, who,
with her parents, in 1851 came across the plains to California when she was five
months old. Her father's name was Bunnel P. Grant. Mr. and Mrs. Coil have one
daughter, Olive L. Coil, who was born in Humboldt, September 16, 1876.
Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.
SANTA CLARA COUNTY BIOGRAPHY PROJECT