Helen Alice Beatie, born June 4, 1888, was the first girl born to John and Alice Ellen Hawes Beatie. She and her sisters did all the farm girl chores, but they also had to take over the boy's jobs when they were away, working as harvest crews. First, she rode side-saddle when she was out doing fence inspection, but she finally persuaded her mother it was safer to ride astride; it was allowed, only IF she kept her ankles covered.

When she was sixteen, she went to Stockton to attend the Normal School. She received her teaching certificate in December of 1907 and taught her first year in Sisson (now, Mt. Shasta City) She didn't like teaching, so she worked as a cook in a hospital in Sisson and at various jobs in Redding.

In 1909, she married George Smith Fraser, a Scot who had run away from his apprenticeship to a tailor and had worked his way to Redding by playing his clarinet. He was working as a tailor and playing evenings at a hotel in Redding where they met. They had two children:

John Beatie b. May 24, 1910 d. May 15, 1952
Ruth Helen b. December 20, 1912 m. Edwin Elliot, they had two sons.

Helen and George separated and Helen supported herself and her children with various jobs.
Her brother Dan introduced her to Evart Gritton whose parents, Frederick and Lillian Dykes Gritton brought to him California at the age of six weeks. Evart helped his father ranching and his uncle in a freighting business. In Aptos Evart drove a horse-drawn tank wagon for Standard Oil.

Evart needed a housekeeper for himself and his small son, Fred. This provided a home for Helen and her children. Her earlier experience and training received full use. The arrangement was so ideal that Helen and Evart were married May 11, 1920 and their daughter completed the family:

Phyllis Louise b. December 16, 1920 m. Cartwright Mays they had one son

Evart and Helen worked various ranches in Amador County, attending church and participating in community activities. Both worked on Civil Defense during World War II and were saddened when Evart's son, Fred died on Biak Island in 1944.

In 1951, they built a home in Ione and retired but retirement was not all rest; Evart was Man of the Year in Ione in 1957, Helen remained active in the California Grange and the Farm Bureau, and there was always family. Evart and daughter, Phyllis helped found the Amador County Gauchos, a riding group; Helen manned the chuck-wagon.

After Evart's death in 1958, family, brothers and sisters and their children became more important, though Helen took an apartment, she lived alone. A few months before her death, Helen went to live with daughter Phyllis in Nevada. She died there, January 1, 1984

Source: Shasta Historical Society
February 1996

Biography Index