This William Cathey was the son of Andrew D. Cathey who died in North Carolina in 1808. Andrew was a common name, passed down through many generations in the Cathey family. Up in North Carolina, about ten miles west of Salisbury, fourteen families made up what was known in the late 1700's as the "Cathey Settlement." There the patriarch of the Cathey settlement, James, operated a mill and had a land grant of 3,752 acres. It is hard for us to imagine the oversight of such a broad span of land. An interesting story comes out of this settlement of how the westward pull hit the Cathey Settlement. Not only had one of them named William migrated to North Georgia, but one named Andrew "went west" in his young manhood.
One of the Cathey men, descendant of James Cathey, not to be confused with a son of William and Elizabeth Cathey by the very same name, decided to go west. Andrew Dever Cathey, this one born in 1804 in Buncombe County, NC, died in California (date unknown to this writer). When the California Gold Rush occurred in 1849, this Andrew Cathey, his son Daniel and son-in-law, Benjamin Wills left Fort Smith Arkansas, where the family had moved earlier from North Carolina, and made an exploratory trip. They went by river boat from Ft. Smith, Arkansas to New Orleans. They got ship's passage to Panama, and boarded another ship there to go to San Francisco. Once on the west coast, they took a stage to Indian Gulch in Mariposa County, California. Andrew mined for gold for two years in California. He must have been rather successful, for he returned to Ft. Smith, Arkansas in 1851 to load up his family on a wagon train bound for California overland.
It took about two years for the wagon train of twenty families to make the long trek from Arkansas to California. A diary of the journey tells of the route they took, the hardships they faced, and the challenges to find food and especially water through much desert terrain. They took along a large number of cattle, which they kept intact by riding herd on them with horses. The cows provided milk for families in the wagon train. They also sold milk to others they met along the way and thus earned some "traveling" money. The entourage arrived at their destination on October 27, 1852.
They named the place they settled in Mariposa County, California "Cathey's Valley" after the leader of the wagon train that had brought them safely from Fort Smith, Arkansas, their hero, Andrew D. Cathey.
In that California valley, Andrew purchased a ranch for $1,500 from a Mr. Evans. Andrew and his wife, Mary, helped to establish a church, a school and a cemetery on land they donated for those purposes. Their sons, too, purchased land and settled their families in that vicinity. In Cathey's Valley, even in this era, a celebration is held at Christmas time in the restored little one-room schoolhouse. At other times during the year, the pioneer settlers of Cathey's Valley are honored for their hard work, civic responsibility, and entrepreneurship.
A large stone monument in the little town records the history of the Andrew D. Cathey family and their settlement there in 1852. Some of the trees and vineyards set out by Andrew Cathey long ago are still intact. The little schoolhouse has been restored by the Cathey's Valley Historical Society.
Whether this Andrew Dever Cathey who went to California is a brother to the William Cathey who settled near Blairsville prior to 1840 is unknown by this writer. However, since William and Elizabeth named one of their sons William Dever Cathy (1809-1882), we can believe the westward-moving Andrew Dever Cathey was indeed related to William Cathey of Union County.
The California Catheys have a monument to the family's civic contributions in a valley named for them in Mariposa County. On Island Colonsay, Scotland, the Standing Stone marks the place where the clan leader of MacFie (anglicized to Cathey) was killed in a battle in 1623. There certainly are not monuments on historical spots in every place the Cathey Clan members dispersed. But the more accounts we hear about them, the more we can see that they were solid, hard-working citizens wherever they settled.
c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published February 5, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.