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Gassaway gang in California
Posted by: Karen (ID *****7169) Date: January 22, 2005 at 02:56:29
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From an old message on this forum: "Does anyone out there have anything on the Gassaway's in Placer County,Calif. between 1850-1900? The Gassaway Gang, Melinda Gassaway, Robbers Roost. The gang held up stagecoach's."

I decided to start a new thread about this, in the hope that someone out there might be interested or could tell me more about the Gassaway gang and where to find information about them. I recently found out that my great-great grandfather James F. Shuler was involved with the Gassaways. In 1864 he (J.F. Shuler) was sentenced to 10 years in San Quentin for highway robbery. At the same time, "U.T. Gassaway" (no age given) was also sentenced to 10 years, "U.S. Gassaway" (age 61) sentenced to 6 years, and Charles Gassaway (age 19) sentenced to 3 years. The other man involved in the same robbery, James A. Stores, escaped before the trial but was later recaptured, obtained a change of venue, then was tried & acquitted.

I recently obtained my gg-grandfather's prison file from the California State Archives, also looked in the 1864 Oroville, CA newspaper on microfilm, and found some newspaper articles describing the stagecoach robbery, etc. Including information about the Gassaway gang, we have posted these articles online at

More information about the "Gassaway gang" from online sources: from a message on this forum, "The Gassaway Gang may have been headquartered at the Golden Gate Hotel in Clipper Gap. It was owned by a U.S. Gassaway (Same as Upton Gassaway? who's wife was Melinda -- Data from Placer County Historical Society)."

"Directory for the County of Placer for the year 1861," lists Golden Gate Hotel, owner Upton S. Gassaway (see ).

In the 1860 Census, Upton S. Gassaway was listed as a farmer in Placer Co, CA, holding real estate worth $1000 and a personal estate worth $400. He must have suddenly gotten a lot of gold from somewhere, for soon after this he apparently purchased the Golden Gate Hotel in Clipper Gap.

Two websites show "Robbers Roost" near Clipper Gap (Placer County, CA) where the Gassaway Gang committed some of their holdups. It says that Malinda (whom they say was Upton's daughter; she was actually his wife) would signal the gang with a mirror when a stagecoach was coming (see and ).

Upton S. GASSAWAY was apparently a Colonel from Kentucky (per his daughter's 1854 marriage record in Placer County). Was "Colonel" just an honorary title, or was he actually a military Colonel during the Mexican-American War (1846-1847)?

Upton S. GASSAWAY (Sr.)'s middle name was probably Sheridan, and that's why he gave the name Upton SHERIDAN when he was arrested. His oldest son was Orpheus Sheridan GASSAWAY. Upton GASSAWAY Jr.'s middle name was apparently Thaddeus (per 1890 voter's list of Placer County, CA)

Upton Sheridan GASSAWAY's daughter Nellie was probably the "Mrs. Nelly JOHNSTON" who was with the Gassaway Gang when they were arrested in 1864. Nellie had a twin sister named either Ada or Ann.

1860 Census, Township #3; Placer County, California (date: 12 June 1860)
Post Office: Nealsburg; p.593; dwelling #357; family #348:
Upton S. GASAWAY; age 52; male; occupation: Farmer; value of real estate: $1000; value of personal estate: $400; birthplace: Ky.
Malinda GASAWAY; age 45; female; birthplace: Ky.
Cephas GASAWAY; age 22; male; birthplace: Mo.
Upton GASAWAY; age 19; male; birthplace: Mo.
Charles GASAWAY; age 14; male; birthplace: Mo.


1870 Census, Grass Valley, Nevada County, California:
GASSAWAY, Upton S.; age 63; occupation: Carpenter; birthplace: KY
GASSAWAY, Malana; age 56; occupation: Keeping House; birthplace: KY
GASSAWAY, Orpheus S., age 34; occupation: Miner; birthplace: MO
GASSAWAY, Ada Lyman (twin), age 27; At Home; birthplace: MO
GASSAWAY, Nellie Churchill (twin), age 27; At Home; birthplace: MO
LYMAN, Abby, age 15,
LYMAN, Arthur S., age 14,
LYMAN, Ida, age 13

1870 Census, San Rafael Township, Marin County, California (date: 1 July 1870)
Post Office: San Quentin; p.41 (p.33 of 68 on's census images online); dwelling #305; family #309; institution: State Penitentiary (Convicts):
GASSOWAY, U.T.; age 29; male; white; occupation: Miner; birthplace: Missouri
(next to James F. SHULER's name...see )

1870 Census, near Martinez, Contra Costa County, CA:
GASSAWAY, Charles, age 24, occupation: Farmer, birthplace: MO
GASSAWAY, Anna, age 16, occupation: Keeping House, birthplace: TX
GASSAWAY, Mary E., age 5months; birthplace: CA


1880 Census, Riley, El Dorado County, CA:
GASSAWAY, U.S. (head of family), age 74; occupation: Gold mining; birthplace: KY; father's birthplace: MD; mother's birthplace: VA
GASSAWAY, Melinda (wife), age 67; occupation: Keeping house; birthplace: KY; father's birthplace: KY; mother's birthplace: KY
GASSAWAY, O.S. (son), age 44; occupation: Gold mining; birthplace: MO; father's birthplace: KY; mother's birthplace: KY
GASSAWAY, U.T. (son), age 37; occupation: Gold mining; birthplace: MO; father's birthplace: KY; mother's birthplace: KY
NATTRESS, Nellie (daughter), age 35; birthplace: MO; father's birthplace: KY; mother's birthplace: KY
NATTRESS, Thos. (son-in-law); age 32; occupation: Gold mining; birthplace: WI; father's birthplace: England; mother's birthplace: England
NATTRESS, Arthur (grand son); age 22; occupation: Gold mining; birthplace: CA; father's birthplace: WI; mother's birthplace: MO


1890 Voter's list for Placer County, CA: includes the names of Orpheus Sheridan GASSAWAY and Upton Thaddeus GASSAWAY (see )


The LDS Church genealogy website ( has Upton S. GASSAWAY, born 1806/1807 in Barren Co, KY, married Melinda WHITE on 23 Mar 1834 in Lewis Co, MO. Children: 1) Orpheus L. GASSAWAY b. 1835/1836 in Lewis Co, MO; 2) Ada Lyman GASSAWAY b. 1842/1843 in Lewis Co, MO; 3) Nellie Churchill GASSAWAY b. 1842/1843 in Lewis Co, MO; 4) Abby Lyman GASSAWAY b. 1854/1855 in Lewis Co, MO; 5) Arthur L. GASSAWAY b. 1855/1856 in Lewis Co, MO; 6) Ida GASSAWAY b. 1856/1857 in Lewis Co, MO.

[The list of their children is incomplete since it leaves out Upton Jr. and Charles. The eldest son, Orpheus, was listed as Cephas in the 1860 census and as Orpheus L. on the LDS site (because of a misinterpretation of the handwriting), but his name was actually Orpheus Sheridan Gassaway. The two daughters, Ada and Nellie, were twins; however, I think Lyman and Churchill were not their middle names, but were actually their married names. Apparently they had moved back in with their parents by the time of the 1870 Census. Nellie later married Thomas NATTRESS. Children #4, 5, and 6 (as listed in the LDS website) were actually listed under the surname LYMAN in the 1870 census. They were not Upton S. GASSAWAY's children, they were actually his grandchildren...children of his daughter Ada (or Ann?) who married Charles D. LYMAN in 1854 in Placer County, CA at the home of "Col. U.S. Gassaway." according to the Placer County website at ].

Could anyone tell me more about these Gassaways? Were they involved with the secret society "Knights of the Golden Circle" who were committing robberies in order to raise funds for the Confederacy ?? Any information greatly appreciated.

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