John Abner Jepson, born February 12, 1846 in China, Maine, was the oldest of six children born to Thomas Watson Jepson and his second wife, Abigail Deane Jepson. The Jepson family had been in Maine before the American Revolution; Thomas started their westward movement--to Iowa. John learned blacksmithing and from an uncle how to be a cobbler; he practised with the tools on Sunday while the family attended Quaker Church.

Angeline Packwood was born September 19, 1841 in Clark County, Indianna. When she was two, she was seriously ill with Scarlet Fever which left her deaf. At age fifteen, she was sent to Iowa City School for the Deaf and graduated at age twenty. They had no speech training for the deaf at that time so all her communication with people was through sign language, though her grand daughter says she could call the cats.

John and Angeline were married June 2, 1870. They lived near Onawa, Iowa; five of their six children were born there:
Henry b. March 25, 1871 d. September 24, 1926 Meridian, CA
Minnie b. March 26, 1873 d. October 27, 1956 Meridian, CA
Ida Laura b. April 2, 1875 d. June 6, 1967 Red Bluff, CA
Benton b. October 13, 1877 d. April 17, 1858 Fremont, CA
Carl b. December 19, 1879 d. January 26, 1939 Pasadena CA
Edith Abbie b. March 28, 1883 d. April 9, 1958 San Jose CA

In 1880, John and Angeline brought their family to California on the Emigrant train. They settled first in Ventura, later going to San Bernardino. Fresno, Dunnigan and finally Shasta County where they lived the next twenty years. Their last child was born in Fresno.

While they were in Dunnigan, Mrs. Nason (the family they worked for) gave Minnie and Ida Each a China head doll; younger brother, Carl left Ida's doll in the barnyard and a cow stepped on it. The family left these nice people and moved to Stillwater Creek in Shasta County. While the family camped along the creek, John returned to Dunnigan to work for Mr. Nason.

John built a home and established a blacksmith shop and a cobbler shop at their Stillwater home using the skills he had learned as a young boy.

The children attended Olive School, near their home, but across Stillwater Creek. When the water was high, John ferried them across on his horse. Sunday School and church services were held in the schoolhouse as well as debating and literary meetings--but dancing was done in private homes.

Money was scarce and work was hard but John and Angeline lived a full life until a short illness led to John's death August 5, 1895.

In spite of being deaf, Angeline was a happy person. All her children could sign, she wrote letters and did beautiful needlework. After John's death, she lived with sons and daughters in their homes in Northern and Southern California. She died in Meridian, May 24, 1930.

Source: Shasta Historical Society - May 1996

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