Captain Isaac Graham
by Michael F. Kinsella
Captain Isaac Graham - Time line biography of his life that was written by Mr. Kinsella. The pages use to be available on the internet at another location and are no longer there. I have created these pages because Isaac was a true California hero worth knowing. I once played Isaac at the Everygreen Cemetery in Santa Cruz on May 1st, 1999. - Floyd D. P. Øydegaard
Catherine was obviously distraught over the loss of her child. She was also obviously angry with Isaac for leaving for San Jose only one day after their child had died. It is also true that Isaac Graham, while distraught over the death of his child, was a much older and experienced person than his young wife. She, on the other hand, surely felt betrayed by his lack of concern for her grief. Catherine's sister had been staying with her for a week, and gave to her sister, Mary Ann Bennett, a small box containing the remains of their child, asking her to take the box to their mother. Whatever the true reasons as to her leaving him, Catherine was gone. She had as accomplices in her escape her brother, Jackson Bennett and a ranch hand, John Palmer.
Catherine made her escape disguised as a male, boarding the ship, Emily Browne, destined for San Francisco. She was later accused of fleeing Captain Graham for infidelity, which the fact that she shared a cabin for a short time on board the Emily Browne, with Thomas Fallon, the future first Mayor of San Jose, didn't help the tongues of those interested in the case, from waging about certain outcomes arising from marriage infidelity. Upon arriving home and finding his wife, family and gold, gone from his Natividad ranch, Isaac Graham, understandably, lost his temper. He first went to the sheriff, and with the law and a warrant to search, went to Mother Bennett's home looking for his family and the missing gold. Upon searching the home, the only thing the men found was the box Catherine's sister Mary Ann had carried the remains of the baby inside. Graham told the sheriff that he last saw the box inside his locked trunk where he kept his gold. Mary Ann Bennett was arrested, however, later acquitted of the theft charge.
Catherine then boarded a ship bound for Hawaii, still with the Graham ranch employee, John Palmer, who curiously enough, died upon the ship entering the Oahu harbor. There for a time, Catherine would occupy herself learning kanaka, a native language. Reportedly, Catherine became concerned that Isaac would find her there. And so decided to board ship again, this time she was bound for Oregon. Catherine eventually made her way to the home of Mrs. Williams', in Oregon City.
Isaac Graham, upon recognizing that he would get no sympathy from any of the Bennett clan, put up a reward for information leading to the whereabouts of his runaway wife. By this time the ordeal between Catherine Bennett Graham and her husband Isaac was a very public affair. With many people coming up with there own personal conclusions regarding who was right and who was wrong. While there were those who blamed Catherine for being an accused adulteress. There were also those who knew Isaac Graham's temper and blamed him, imagining every possibility that fact might indicate. Also, some people seemed to think that Isaac was showing more attention looking for his stolen gold, then showing concern over the loss of his children. However, it will be shown later that Isaac cared deeply for his children. Going to very far lengths to show that he wanted the children with him. With his anger rising every day that Catherine was gone. Isaac continued to be outspoken regarding how he felt about his wife and her family. Again, he took a trip to the Bennett's home.
This time things became even cooler then the first time, and all who witnessed the confrontation saw that things could quickly get out of hand, especially regarding Isaac's son Jesse, who showed absolute scorn toward the Bennett family. Isaac again attempted to get information about the whereabouts of his family and the gold, yet, again he was told absolutely nothing, which only accomplished rising his state of uncontrolled anger regarding the Bennett's. Isaac's clearly shown anger did not go unnoticed by Jesse Graham, nor the authorities who rightly saw what was to prove true, when they placed a bond on him in an attempt to keep the peace between the now family feud. Graham, along with an Oregon citizen by the name of, John Cox, traveled to Oregon upon finding out from an informant where Catherine was living. He and Cox arrived in Oregon City and after tailing Catherine for a couple of days, preceded to Mrs. William's home and on
February 21, 1851
After the death of Thomas J. Farnham, Eliza W. Farnham (WOOD) Farnham's widow and their two children came to Santa Cruz on, to take up the hands-on operation of El Rancho La Libertad. One of her first visitors to pay his respect was her former husband's friend, Captain Isaac Graham. Often times in history seemingly insignificant events will later be seen to have had a major impact on momentous changes in culture, or society. And it was with Isaac Graham assistance in Thomas Jefferson Farnham's attaining property in Santa Cruz, that would bring the Widow Farnham to Santa Cruz and in turn, she would go on to make history during the next decade and a half, that would contribute greatly in bringing women's rights and abolition to the United States slavery laws.
Eliza wrote about her visit with Isaac Graham on that day, "....had a visit from one of the notabilities of old California-no less a personage than Captain Graham, who with his rifle at his back, and shoes down at heal, presented in his exterior a curious mixture of the hunter and the man of leisure."