Coyan's in northern California - ca. 1850 to 1870

Note the counties of Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Amador, El Dorado, Placer, and Alpine in California. Also of significance are Douglas and Storey counties in Nevada, which are just across the state line from Placer and Alpine county, CA. What do they have in common? Two things: (1) they virtually border one another in this area of California and (2) these counties are where three Coyan brothers - George, Addison, and Wilson Dewey - are documented to have lived in the mid/late 1800's after they migrated from northern Ohio where their parents John and Margaret McKinnon Coyan had raised them.


There is a ship record that shows Theophilis Addison Coyan having arrived in the San Francisco area in 1850. At the time he would have been about 29 years old. This record has always "bothered" me in the sense that Addison does not show up in any other records in California until 1890, when he appears as a registered voter in Placer county. Not only that but Addison was present in the 1850 Ohio census, along with his wife Mary!!

So what gives here? There is without a doubt only ONE person in the U.S. at the time (or any time for that matter) with such a unique name, but he can't be in two places - 2000 miles apart! - at the same time. The only possible explanation I can think of is that shortly after the 1850 census was taken there happened to be at LEAST one other brother who most likely also made this same trip - Addison's younger brother George - "by way of the Isthmus of Panama in 1850" according to a brief account of George's life in "The History of Placer and Nevada counties". Addison's younger brother would have been only 19 years old at that time, so it makes sense that he would have made the trip as well in order to watch out for his brother George and also to "check out" the area of the Gold Rush for himself to see if it held his future as well!

It is apparent - because of numerous deed records I have found for him in Carroll county, Ohio, in the mid 1850 timeframe - that Addison returned shortly after to his home state (probably via a return ship) and did not return to California until the late 1800's. But there is also an abundance of records that show that not only did his brother George remain in this same area of California, but that another of his brothers - Richard Wilson "Dewey" Coyan - settled and raised a family there as well. Thus we have the "California connection" to the Coyan family tree that "survives and thrives" in that same area today!