Wednesday, December 31, 2008

News from the Distant Past...












Yreka, North Residential Area, circa 1899


At this writing the New Year, 2009, is imminent! Often at the end of a calendar year reflections and remembrances are made. This historical post will focus on random happenings that have made the news in our rich and varied past.

1862:

W.W. Coryell and Bailey have opened a butcher shop next door to the Yreka House. We wish them success. June 18, 1862.

Wells, Fargo, & Co. Express office will move to-day to the building adjoining the Franco-American on Miner St., opposite Fourth. The Post Office will be removed to the corner of Third and Miner. September 27, 1862.

1864:

At three o'clock yesterday the telegraph reported that it was snowing and blowing at Yreka. This may be considered the latest news by telegraph, as the wire was down between Jacksonville and Marysville, making the fourth break since Tuesday. May, 6, 1864.

1870:
Great preparations are being made for the fair next week. More horses are training for the races than ever! October 5, 1870.

1881:

Yreka. The stage from Oregon was robbed this morning at 2 o'clock about ten miles north of here. Only one robber was seen, who stopped the driver. No passengers were on board. He took nine mail sacks and the express box. The latter contained only a small amount, but the mail probably had considerable. The officers are in pursuit.
September 2, 1881.

1883:

While Mrs. H. McKay, a school mistress, was on her way to school about eight miles from Yreka, Monday, she was fiercely attacked by an infuriated steer in an open field. Being of great courage and quick perception she saw that her only safety lay in promptly taking the bull by the horns, which she did, and succeeded in warding off his attack until help came. February 22, 1883.

1884:

Yreka. It has been raining all day, with snow from four to five feet deep on the high mountains. The Klamath river is up about five feet, with prospects of a great freshet, unless the weather turns cold. January 8, 1884.

Yreka, July 25th.~The slaughter house of the City Market was burned again about 12 o'clock last night for the fourth time in three years. It was the work of incendiaries. The citizens are much excited and fear another incendiary crusade like that of 1882. July 26, 1884.
1897:

Counterfeit five-dollar pieces are being circulated in Siskiyou county, two of which, at least, are reported to have come from Scott valley. A drummer brought one over from Etna last week. The piece is a little darker color than Uncle Sam's money, and is about the right weight. There is no mint brand, but otherwise it is a good imitation of "honest" money.
February 27, 1897.

1899:

Fred Meamber, the popular and handsome proprietor of the Yreka Bottling Works, left yesterday for a business trip along the railroad.

Chas. A. Henry of Henley, who was shot through the fleshy part of the arm last week, is recovering rapidly under the treatment of Dr. Poole.

The Yreka Social Club will give a dancing party next Friday night, January 20, at the Peters and DeWitt hall. This will be a private affair for the members only.

January 18, 1899.

Compiled by Claudia A. East

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

St. Joseph Catholic Church ~ 1875








Sitting across the street from the Siskiyou County Courthouse at 314 Fourth Street one finds this sturdy and well known icon in Yreka, The St. Joseph Catholic Church.

The information provided about this church was provided by folks from the church, and the actual researcher or author of the material provided is unknown. Our thanks is given to those who provide historical information for all to share!

The Catholic Church in Yreka has a substantial history, local tradition indicates that the first services held in Yreka likely were held in 1853, for the local miners working here. In 1855 two young priests were appointed by the San Francisco Diocese to serve Yreka, they were Father James Cassin, and Father Thomas Cody from Ireland. These first services provided by the priests were held in a little unidentified building on Yama Street. At the same time a larger church was being built west of the Catholic Cemetery located on the east side of Yreka. The little frame church was completed in 1855 and was the first Roman Catholic Church building in Yreka.

Repeated flooding of Yreka Creek provided the incentive to build a stronger, safer church and a new building was erected on the southeast corner of Fourth and Lane Streets away from the regular flood zone. This building was dedicated in 1867, however, a mere four years later in 1871, fire broke out in town ravaging many sections of Yreka and both the new church and parish house was destroyed.

Another four years passed and eventually arrangements were complete for a new replacement church to be built. The cornerstone of St. Joseph's Catholic Church pictured above was laid in September of 1876. A parish hall was built in 1950 that sits just to the north of the church, and in 1955 an addition to the structure was added.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church is truly one of Yreka's landmarks of history! For those that have a copy of our book, Yreka, Images of America a image from 1885 can be found on page 69. A view of the interior alter section from approximately 1900 can also be viewed.

Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Yreka in Winter





Winter has arrived in Yreka. However, as of this writing during the first week of December, 2008 we have had little rain and no snow this winter. However, this is not always the case. Many years we have had considerable snow and often it arrives all at once!

The image of "snowballs" on trees in Yreka on the left is of a postcard mailed around 1930, and the image was likely taken a few years prior. It is believed that this is an image of Fourth Street near Miner, before it was "widened". The building on the right side is where Dave's Clock's are now along with Edward Jones that sits on the corner of Miner and Fourth. The structures on the left were torn down during the street renovation in the early 1930s.

This month in the Yreka City Newsletter (one finds the newsletter with their city utility bill...) they present interesting information about snow in Yreka obtained from the Siskiyou County Museum archives. There is an interesting photo in the newsletter from a snowstorm in the early 1900s of Miner Street. They present information about "snow shoveling" in the infamous 1901 snow storm that dumped 6 or 7 feet of snow within two days. Within a week, wages for shoveling snow went from $1 an hour to $2.50 an hour. These were incredible wages considering the 1901 yearly household income in the United States averaged $750 a year!

Many times when heavy snowfall has occurred all at once, it often is followed by heavy rains ~ and very quickly Yreka finds itself in the midst of a flood. The above mentioned 1901 heavy snow storm did just that and the ensuing rains flooded Yreka Creek and significant damage to the train station, railroad tracks, homes, and businesses came to our residents. If a copy of the 1976 Siskiyou Pioneer is in your home library one can view some of the devastation from the 1901 storm on pages 51, 29, and 27.

Just a few years ago, either in 2003 or 2004 we had a snowfall of 3 feet in a very short time. It brought mobility within town to a grinding halt. With our past history of snowfall and then rain, Yreka is sure to experience more of the same in the future.

Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

Answers to Yreka's History Mysteries?








This will be a very different post from others in this blog. This time I am presenting some of my little Yreka "mysteries", and hope some of you may know the answers, or at least part of them! If you know the answers or have information that might prove helpful to my queries, please post a response! Even if you don't know a response would be great!

Little "mystery" # 1:
  • The image above is of a group of unidentified men standing on the corner of Miner and Third Streets, right in front of what was then, The Siskiyou County Bank. Behind them and to the right is currently where the Masonic Lodge resides. This image was taken before the current lodge was built in the mid 1920's. The streets do not appear to be paved and that jibes with the date estimate. There is also a buggy in the background. The mystery are the men in the image. Can anyone identify them? Or even venture a guess?
Little "mystery" #2:
  • When the original courthouse was "expanded and remodeled" in 1896-7, a cupola was added to the top of the structure. While researching this topic, it has been clearly shown that the cupola was still on the courthouse in 1915. In 1927 the cupola shows on fire maps, and seems to be in a photo from the newspaper in 1931 during fire ladder practice. By 1939 the cupola is clearly gone from photos. Searching newspapers I haven't been able to find the date the cupola was torn down. Do you know the answer to this little mystery of mine? Or, do you have dated photos that show the cupola that is different from my information? If you do, please post a comment and let me know! thanks.

Little "mystery" #3:

  • The canons that once graced Yreka City Hall are gone. In 1913 a City Hall was built on North Main Street (currently part of the parking lot area of Miner's Inn) and in the front of the building were two small canons that stood on either side of the entrance at the top of a small flight of steps. These canons were reportedly canons that had been used in the Modoc Indian War. (If you have a copy of our book, Yreka from the Images of America Series, you will find a photo on page 80.) The building was torn down in 1976, and the canons ... well what happened to them? The museum doesn't have them. Do you know?

If you can even venture a guess, or pose a mystery in return ~ I welcome your comments!

Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Otho A. Bennett Home 1894








Photo copyright:

Claudia A. East, 2006



Sitting on the corner of 340 North Oregon and Howard Streets in Yreka, California is this most interesting victorian with many gables! The home was built in 1894 and the resident was Otho A. Bennett and his wife Nellie who were married in 1890. Mr. Bennett was born in 1861 in Indiana and in 1900 his occupation while residing in Yreka according to the U. S. Census was listed as "contractor and builder".

It is not clear to this author when Mr. Bennett arrived or departed from Yreka, but during the years he lived here he was clearly a busy man! Among notable buildings he was either the contractor or builder for here in town, are the Parr-Steele House (See an image and read about the house here: Parr-Steel House.) and our beautiful (yet hidden) 1897 Siskiyou County Courthouse North and South Wing Additions. (You can see an image and read a post of the courthouse here: Siskiyou County Courthouse.) Mr. Bennett won the contract to build the wings on the courthouse in July of 1896. It is mentioned in a 1953 article from the Siskiyou Pioneer that Mr. Bennett was an active member of the Yreka City Council in 1902.

This lovely home shows on Sanborn Fire Maps first in 1897, so the posted date of construction as 1896 is likely very accurate. In 1897 the map shows the front porch configuration of the home very much as it is seen today in this image above. The home has remained basically the same with some slight changes and additions (from the maps it appears changes were made mostly by enlarging areas at the rear of the home).

If one drives through our National Historic District along Third Street, be sure and take a jaunt around a few blocks west of Third Street to find many other historic homes. The Otho A. Bennett Home can be found just a block away!

Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008.






Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yesterday ~ and Today!















What do these two buildings have in common?
Well, they are the same structure, or at least what remains. The photo at the right is one of the structure taken in 2008, The Yreka Motel and Trailer Park, located at 336 North Main Street, Yreka, CA. The black and white photo is an image of the home when it belonged to the Churchill family, in a time that graced a much "slower" Main Street in Yreka in 1897. The Churchill family has been a prominent local family and lineage goes back to some of the first pioneers in our area. This lovely victorian building served as a home until about the mid to late 1920's. It may have served a dual purpose during part of this time in the 20's, but maps in 1927 show the building to be "lodgings".

In 1939 the maps are still showing the building serving as "lodgings", and in addition, there was a small apartment building to the rear with four additional apartments. This author has not yet researched the actual date the home changed from a residence to a "lodging" or from a "lodging" to a motel and trailer park, but it is an educated guess that the motel appeared sometime after the early 1930's. The road right in front (our Main Street) was once the mighty Highway 99 and all the travelers who traveled through our area drove right by this location. It was in 1933-34 era that Highway 99 was widened and improved through Yreka. This establishment is listed as a motel and trailer park in the 1939 city directory, so it is clear it changed to a motel within that 10 year period. By 1948 the Yreka Motel and Trailer Park was very active and a first class concern! A lovely 1948 image of the Yreka Motel and Trailer Park is viewable at the U. C. Davis Special Collections ~ Photographs at their website.

(http://www.lib.ucdavis.edu/dept/specol/manu-collections/photographs/index.php?collection=eastman) Search for "Yreka" once the Eastman Collection is visible.

At some time after 1948 this beautiful building had a fire and the top floor burned and was never rebuilt and the building "modernized". The building once sat in a perfect location to be a host to travelers. In the late 1940s trailer travel was a booming business with young families as well as others following World War II. During this era highways went through towns and cities for access to services rather than avoiding them as we do today in an effort to reduce travel time.

This building has served as a motel and trailer park for many years, in addition it also served dual purpose as a bus station for Trailways in the 1960's or 1970s. It would be lovely if this once grand lady could be revitalized to her former glory.
Copyright, Claudia A. East, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Greenhorn School










Photo copyright:
Claudia A. East, 2007.


The Greenhorn School District was first established in 1859. The photo above is the last school building that was used in the local Greenhorn District. This building stands near the Grange Building on the south entrance to Greenhorn Park in Yreka. The building clearly appears to be a old school building and the red color gives it a certain kind of dignity, however, there isn't any visible marker telling of its history that one sees when driving by. In the 1970's the building was used as a club house for the local "Trailriders" organization. It appears to still be in use today, but it is not obvious what group or organization is utilizing the building.

The original school building (unfortunately, no longer in existence) was first built near where Greenhorn Creek and Yreka Creek met. This location isn't any visible any longer as changes to Yreka Creek and Greenhorn have been made due to freeway construction and flood control.

It is interesting to learn that the Greenhorn area was considered to be a separate community from Yreka for some time. In 1868 the Greenhorn School District was merged with the Yreka School District, only to re-establish its own district again in 1878. It apparently continued to function as a separate district until 1927 when Greenhorn District combined with part of the former Rose School District. (The small Rose School District was actually just up Greenhorn Road about 3 miles straight up from Interstate 5. There is nothing left of the building that once stood for Rose School District, and according to records it began around 1901 and functioned about 15 years.) It wasn't until 1951 that the Greenhorn District was fully absorbed into the Yreka Union School District permanently.


Up through the 1950s it was not uncommon for small schools to be located throughout the county and countryside. Rapid transportation and good roads were not always available. Children usually attended schools relatively close to their homes even in rural areas for accessibility.

The Siskiyou County Office of Education has a wonderful addition to their website providing historical school information. There are many photographs that are very interesting. You can access the information here: http://www.sisnet.ssku.k12.ca.us/users/imcftp/public_html/schoolhistfirstpage.html

Click on the Historical Resources lists and one can find a page listing the names of all schools former and current within the county. One can spend hours surfing their offerings! Give it a try!

* Information for this post was gleaned from the History of The Schools of Siskiyou County, Compiled and Edited by Stanley J. Balfrey, published by the Siskiyou County Schools.

Copyright: Claudia A. East

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hugo Miller Building 1880 ~ Improved Order of Red Men






The first building that stood at this spot located at 217 West Miner Street, Yreka, CA was first gutted by fire in 1862 and then completely destroyed in the "Great Fire" of 1871, it had served as a saloon. The Arcade Saloon has local folklore about Lotta Crabtree beginning her singing career here entertaining the miners. In 1880 Hugo Miller, a Hardware Merchant, built and operated a store here. Mr. Miller sold stoves, tin and hardware, mining and farming implements according to the 1885 Yreka Directory. The second story, history has told us, was specifically designed to be used as a lodge hall by the Improved Order of Red Men. Today this building is referred to both as The Hugo Miller Building and "Red Man Hall".


The Improved Order of Red Men is a fraternal organization that has its roots in our national history... beginning around1765 and decended from the Sons of Liberty ~ the "Indians" that carefully planned and executed the Boston Tea Party. The original members were patriots and worked "underground" to promote American freedom. The Red Men patterned their society to conform to the basic heirarchy of the Iroquois Confederacy and the democratic governing body the Iroquois enjoyed according to their current website. (Located at: http://www.redmen.org/ ) It is explained that "legally" the Improved Order of Red Men is a patriotic order actually chartered by Congress.


This wonderful building standing in our National Historic Commercial District was restored perhaps in the 1970's by a Mr. Del Hasselvander. The bricks were scraped and sanded to their original condition and the building was repaired and reinforced according to Noonan's book, Yreka's West Miner Street, self-published in 1976. It is mentioned that the stairway door viewed in the front of the building is original and has been preserved for all to enjoy.

Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The "Union Church" ~ abt. 1855






The white building with the bell tower (also white) was the Union Church ~ founded between 1854 and 1855 in Yreka. If one is familiar with the scene in the photo, (actually the corner of Lane and Fourth Streets) the Episcopal Church with its pointed bell tower can be seen at the right, and the edge of the Catholic Church can be seen just at the left of the photo. This photo is dated circa 1880. The spot where the Union Church once stood is now home to Girdner's Funeral Home.

The Union Church has a unique little history and detailed information can be found in the publication, Methodism in Yreka 1852 - 1980 Compiled, Edited and Authored by Verna Bray Tyrer and Harland McDonald, 1980.

It was 1852 and Yreka was a fledgling town home to miners and a few businessmen who served their needs. One of the first churches in Yreka was located on the corner of Miner and Oregon Streets where the fire station now stands, it began as a simple log cabin and was the first Methodist Episcopal Church in Yreka. Within two years the small log cabin meeting place for the congregation became too small. At this time there were mostly men in town, but the few women who were here were determined to achieve their goals! According to the authors of Methodism in Yreka, three women stood out to initiate a proper place of worship. It is recorded that this new church that was to be built was not sectarian, but a true cooperative effort. There is noted a Mrs. Callahan who was a Catholic, a Mrs. Lowry, a Methodist; and a Mrs. Arnold a Presbyterian who spearheaded the task to go out and find funds for a new church!

The property was purchased on the northeast corner of Oregon and Lane Streets and soon building commenced. At this time there were no saw mills in the area so the building was made from timber located nearby. The siding and finishing lumber was planed by hand. It is reported that the church measured about 80 by 30 feet. Even a large proper bell was purchased on the east coast and transported to Yreka and installed in the steeple. The construction began in 1854 and the new Union Church was officially dedicated on March 10, 1855. The total cost was reported to have been $10,000.

It is not clear to this writer when the Union Church became the Methodist-Episcopal Church officially, but it appears that the building served with the name "Union" until 1898. In 1898 it was disassembled carefully and a new M.E. Church was built on the site.
Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Butcher Hill Cemetery ~ 1850s








Photos copyright: Claudia East, 2008.

Butcher Hill Cemetery, also known as Foothill Cemetery, is located at the foot of Butcher Hill in the northeast section near the city of Yreka. There is no longer a sign for the cemetery, and it is not kept up, in the summer months the weeds grow tall and obscures many of the gravestones. There is still a gate of sorts and a rickety fence around the area. We are told that the name of Butcher Hill derives its name from a slaughterhouse that was located in the area during the early days of Yreka.


The earliest marker found to date reported appears to have been for a Harvey Newton, dated March 1855 and the last burial known for this graveyard was in 1940, many of the later graves being those of "paupers". Walking through this old cemetery is akin to taking a walk in the past... the history of the markers and information found can give one insight to a bit of what life was once like. One can often find names, birth and death dates, occupations, religious preference, ethnicity, and status in the community when viewing the grave markers and surrounding area. In some instances one might even find information such as survivors, or may describe the sentiment loved ones placed on their passing.


In the photos above the first photo on the far left is a overview from near the top area of the cemetery hill looking west. The second photo of the tree and two posts by the fence is the entrance area from Foothill Road. The third photo and on the left is a photo of the gravestone of John H. Thompson "kiled" from a cave in along the bank of a river or stream in 1860, and the marker states it was placed by his friends. The photo on the right is of a gravestone for a Thomas Ball, born 1806 and died in 1857. The bottom photo of the rounded small headstone is for a man named Thomas E. Purcell Born in 1859 and Died in 1908. These are just a few of the markers standing or fallen that are nearly lost in the weeds and dirt.


Local websites that provide information to genealogists, historians, and generally interested folks often provide detailed information. Butcher Hill Cemetery (aka Foothill Cemetery) is listed online and can be found at Siskiyous Cemetery Central: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~casiskiy/Cemeteries/ButcherHill/butcherhill.htm


Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cummins ~ Forrest House abt. 1854










Photo copyright Claudia East, 2008


Pictured above is one of the first homes built on Third Street, according to information provided in the book Houses That Talk by Fred J. Meamber and R. Bernice Soule Meamber published in 1986. In this home lived one of Yreka's civic leaders who helped to organize our city's first government. Dr. J. Lytle Cummins lived here with his wife, Olive and their daughter Mary. They first moved to Yreka in 1852 hailing from Ohio. Dr. Cummins was one of the first physicians in town to serve the needs of Yrekans. According to the Meambers, in their book, Dr. Cummins was involved in quite a "scandal" in 1861 ~ apparently while his wife and daughter were in Ohio visiting sick relatives the doctor left town suddenly. . .with a young lady! There is a newspaper account in the Yreka Journal of the whereabouts of Dr. Cummins in 1889, some 28 years later, and apparently Dr. Cummins was discovered homeless and friendless in San Francisco.


In 1893 the home was sold to Joseph Forrest, a local shoemaker. It was Mr. Forrest who had the roof line of the house rebuilt to a steeper pitch than it was originally seen to accommodate a stronger snow load ~ this is the roof line we view in the photo above. Mr. Forrest owned and operated a shop where he made boots and shoes for families in Yreka for 45 years. His shop is reported to have been located at 108 West Miner Street.

Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Frank Grisez Home ~ 1904







This lovely victorian sits proudly within a wonderfully treed neighborhood at 511 Butte Street in Yreka. It stands amidst many other fine homes in this historic quarter. It was originally built in 1904 by Ferninand Grisez, a local "capitalist" as a wedding gift to his son, Frank. Ferninand's stately brick home sits directly next door and to the west.

It was mentioned in a broadcast once shown by the Yreka Community Television, that when this home was built the local newspaper made an amusing comment about Butte Street ~ apparently there were so many newlyweds that lived on Butte Street at the time the editor thought they should rename the street to "Honeymoon Avenue".

Frank Grisez and his bride, Mary lived in this house for only 3 years or so and then they moved to Ashland, Oregon. Frank earned his living as a surveyor and as a Civil Engineer. Frank Grisez was born in 1864 and died at 47 years in October of 1912 while living in Ashland, Oregon.

At a "Home Tour" (viewed on Yreka Community Television) in 2002 the owners of this home reported that in 1905 the assessed value for this home was $1,100 and the property tax bill for the year was $17.60. The home is in lovely condition today and the owners, among other things, have completely refurbished the floors in the home to the original tongue and groove pine.

If the opportunity presents itself to drive down Butte Street, just back of the Siskiyou County Courthouse Square, be sure and take this short "tour" and enjoy the lovely homes on this street!
Copyright 2008, Claudia East.

Friday, September 12, 2008

To Be Demolished.... Siskiyou County Courthouse from 1800's


Top: Siskiyou County Court House and Hall of Records, circa 1915.
Bottom: The "old" Siskiyou County Court House, as viewed today from the back side.


Sitting behind the large rectangular front of the Court House today is both our 1856 "original" and 1897 wing additions to the building. The larger building one sees when going to the Court House today at the front entrance was built in 1953-54 and actually "swallowed" the original Hall of Records viewed in the image at the top left. Our historic building that sits behind the bigger box-like structure has served the County of Siskiyou in a long and distinguished career. A majority of major happenings throughout our county either happened within or near these walls or were discussed here by many of the well known historical figures from Siskiyou County.

According to the Siskiyou Daily News on Friday, September 5, 2008 the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors approved an application to the State Court Administrator to use funds to demolish the old courthouse and build a 8,000 square foot addition to the newer portion of the Court House (The 1953-54 addition). Along with the "old" Court House, the Sheriff's Office along with the old jail (seen at the right in the photo above) and the cement construction "annex" building that sits along Butte Street will also be demolished. You can read the complete news account from the Siskiyou Daily News Here: http://www.siskiyoudaily.com/news/x802006351/Old-Siskiyou-County-courthouse-to-be-demolished

Another note of historical interest will happen by the end of September 2008, the management responsibility and title to the County Court House will be transferred to the California State Judicial Council to meet the mandate requirements of the Trial Court Facilities Act of 2002.

The "newer" (big box like structure) section of the Court House built in 1953-54 will be remodeled. The buildings are older and reported to be in need of updating for security and growth. However, it is a very sad day for historians, preservationists and the citizens of Siskiyou to realize that our beautiful Court House and once lovely "public square" will be no more. Our original Court House is one of the oldest in the State of California and is nearly alone in its status because unlike many others near to this age, it has never suffered a fire. It is too bad the county can't agree to an alternative for the new addition needed to be placed on a dirt parking lot or something else near or next to the existing Court House to help save this structure. If you have never walked around the block of our "public square" it is time to walk that walk and gaze at part of the history that formed our county before it is gone!

You can find additional information and pictures of the Court House in our book, Yreka, Images of America on pages 82, 83, 84, 85, and 86. You can also revisit a earlier post from May 6, 2008 in this blog that shows an image of the original 1856 section of the Court House.



Monday, September 8, 2008

Yreka ~ a view from 1897









Photo from the Overland Monthly 1897 showing south side of West Miner Street in Yreka. (The Weekly Journal was on the corner of Miner and Oregon Streets.)


It was 1897 and Robert J. Nixon publisher and editor of the Yreka Journal wrote a long article on the history of Siskiyou County and its wealth in gold for the February issue of the Overland Monthly magazine. Nixon included a number of wonderful photos of Yreka in his article as well as photos of neighboring towns in Siskiyou.

Below is an excerpt from this article and in the words of Robert J. Nixon:

Yreka 1897

"The new mining camp grew in population until in a few years it contained more than five thousand inhabitants. The buildings, as in the greater number of mining camps, were irregularly constructed, with narrow streets, the main street, leading to the Yreka flats and familiarly known as Miner street, still bearing traces of this irregularity. With many characteristics of a mining camp, this little town nestling among the hills of Siskiyou possesses a natural beauty that endears it to its inhabitants until they feel that there is no place like Yreka. The flats where the gold was first discovered have now been worked out and are covered with shafts, tunnels, and prospect holes. The town itself has settled down to a place of some two thousand inhabitants, with numerous substantial business houses and beautiful residences, becoming the principal town of a county larger than some States. Once only, in 1871, was the place visited by a disastrous fire, and at that time was all but destroyed. It was soon rebuilt in a more substantial manner.


When the Southern Pacific railroad extended its line northward from Redding, Yreka was left to one side about six miles. With commendable pluck the citizens set about forming a joint stock company for the purpose of building a railroad of their own to connect with the main line, and the little engine can now be seen making its daily trips over the hill east of town to connect with the Southern Pacific line at Montague. Nearly every property owner in the town owns stock in this little road and takes pride in the fact that each year since it has been built it has more than paid running expenses.

Yreka has three churches, Episcopal, Catholic, and Methodist, a free public library, a cozy theater, three hotels, and other attractions that testify to the soundness of the place. The court house in course of construction is acknowledged by all who have seen it to be unsurpassed in its architectural beauty by any public building in the State. For years this town was the home station of the California and Oregon and Idaho stage line."


For other views through the years of Miner Street in Yreka one may find them in our book, Yreka, Images of America on pages 35, 33, 30, 38, 45, 52, 116, and 124.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Smith & Rosenburg / Morrison & Lash Building




















Photos Copyright Claudia East, 2008


Located on West Miner Street at 219, 221, and 223 resides this wonderful building that has been a landmark since the second story was added in 1896. Orignally there were other buildings in this location and the first were damaged in a 1862 fire, and later rebuilt only to be almost totalled in the big fire of 1871. Once again they were rebuilt in 1875. The buildings hosted a number of businesses during this time serving as a dry goods store, a commercial hotel, as well as a fruit, nut, vegetable and candy store. Looking at old fire maps one can determine that from 1885 up through 1890 one of the sections of these buildings was home to a General Store, the store on the west side of the building had a variety of businesses during that time with a tailor, a "lunch" store, and a real estate office.


It was in 1896 that Morrison and Lash purchased this building (which was actually two seperate buildings with a shared wall) and added the upper story to both sections. In Archie Noonan's book (thesis) self-published in 1976 titled, Yreka's West Miner Street he explains that in October 1896 the newspaper, the Yreka Journal described this new addition as having "two sets of offices built especially for lawyers and doctors." The building was reported to have "two handsome bay windows extending three feet over the sidewalk."


A local billiard parlor, "Con Brown's" resided on the lower floor in this building for many years, sometimes one can still hear local folks refer to Con Brown's Place. Currently "The Book Store" (Trans Book Company) has been in this location since 1974 and Lalo's Restaurant has been in this location for almost as long.
Copyright Claudia East, 2008.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Baptist Church ~ 1948







Photo copyright Claudia East 2008



Sitting at the corner of Yama and North Oregon Streets in Yreka nestled among mostly beautiful victorian and historical houses one will find the First Baptist Church, a simple but strong appearing cement block building. At first one might wonder ~ why this architecture, why not something more complementary to the surroundings? A peek into the timeline may answer some of the questions!

It was on July 27, 1947 that the founding of this church began with the first meeting of this congregation. Ground breaking ceremonies for the church above were held on October 17, 1948 and the church was dedicated on December 4, 1949. The first regular minister was a Rev. E. Halcrow. In September of 1972 the church held 25th anniversary ceremonies and the Siskiyou Daily News ran a short article and photo on September 6, 1972 regarding this event.

Concrete block construction had been around since since early 1900s, but it was in the 1940s that concrete block construction took a "leap"... technology in producing these concrete blocks was improved by new patents and builders and architects were looking for more efficient ways to build inexpensively and a the same time improve fireproofing and insulation. Concrete slab floors were also becoming more accepted and the concrete block construction lent itself well to this technique. It was "post war" (WWII) and having things new and modern was absolutely high on many lists! At this time one must remember that victorian architecture was 50 years old and definitely out of style. (Today it would be early 1960 construction that would hit that mark.) Many towns, cities, and people were eager to embrace the newer more youthful look of new construction. Whether or not these were some of the reasons the First Baptist Church took on this appearance is not known to this author, but it is an "educated" guess.

Copyright Claudia East, 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

City Apartment Building & Franco American Hotel



Photos Copyright Claudia East, 2008.


The Photo on the left is an apartment building owned by the City of Yreka, located just off the corner of North and Third Streets. (Close to the back of the Franco American Hotel) The photo on the right is the back of the current Franco American Hotel just around the back of the apartment house on the left.


So, what do these buildings have to do with each other? Well, they were once connected and part of the Franco American Hotel! The apartment building was once part of the kitchen and was connected to the Dining Room on the first floor, the second floor had hotel rooms. I am not exactly sure when this portion of the building was added to the Franco, but in Robert Noonan's book (thesis), Yreka's West Miner Street self-published in 1976 he reports that in 1899 the dining area was enlarged and a new two story brick dining room with additional suites of sleeping rooms upstairs. He also mentions in passing that this section of the building was "recently" (in 1976) moved northward and now serves as an apartment house. This section of the hotel, actually seems to appear on fire maps with rooms on the second floor in 1897. However, the plans may have been made and construction underway for a finish date of 1899.

It is interesting to note that in 1939 this area of the hotel still had rooms on the top floor, but the bottom floor was sectioned into two parts, one serving as a card room and the other as the Southern Pacific Stage for railroad passengers. The old dining room which actually is in the photo on the right, turned into a saloon.


If one looks carefully at the photo of the back of the old hotel, one can see that the bricks on the back of the building are of different construction, and are actually pulling away from the building. This is where the two buildings used to connect. When they moved the building they also turned it 90 degrees from this location as it originally was "in line" with the Franco American Dining Room.


Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Erickson & James Garage









Photo by Claudia East, 2008

The building above can be seen from Main Street in Yreka, right near the corner of Yama and Main (221 North Main St.); today it serves as the "James Place Annex" and is filled with wonderful antiques as an addition to their lovely mansion that sits directly west of the building. (One can see a tiny portion of the roof and the distinctive blue color scheme.) Many of our local "old-timers" remember this building as the Erickson & James Garage and straight in front was a small service station where one could fill up the tank of their auto as they cruised down Highway 99 in Yreka. Those of you that have access or a copy to our book, Yreka, Images of America can see what this actually looked like in its heyday on page 41.

The garage was originally constructed in 1924 by the former owner of the Fry/James House, Donald Montgomery and within two years he sold it to Daggett & Moore, another historical business that was well known. This was touted as a "fireproof" garage and original dimensions were broadcast in the newspaper as being 125 feet long and 70 feet wide. Large garages of this type were in demand for winter storage of automobiles (as anti-freeze was not readily available) in addition to automobile repair and the like. Having a garage at one's home was not necessarily the norm in the 1920's. In 1939 the building became the Erickson and James Garage. The company provided sales and service for Pontiac, Buick, and GMC automobiles. The garage closed in 1968. Later it reopened as the James Place Annex.

A walk around this building both inside and out one can quickly imagine how it appeared to the weary traveler or the local folks ~ it was well kept and had a good business! It probably didn't hurt that it was nearly right next to the famous Yreka Inn during that time.

Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Fry / "James Place" House











Photo copyright by Don East, 2002.


This beautiful home located at the corner of Third and Yama Streets in Yreka has stood here since 1899 when Charles B. Fry had it constructed by local builder J. H. Ranous. There is a good deal of history about this particular lot of land and who lived there along with other local history available in the excellent publication, Houses That Talk by Fred J. Meamber and R. Bernice Soule Meamber published in 1986. One bit of information that is quite interesting is that there was a home located on this spot and originally Fry was going to have the house remodeled, and then he decided to tear it down and build new. (The house that was there was disassembled and moved to 419 Third Street, the Ackerman House. Information is in a May post in this blog ~ F. S. Ackerman House.)

The Fry's owned this house until about 1924 and sold it to a Donald Montgomery who owned it for only two years. During the years of the first half of the century various folks rented the house or the property changed hands. At one time it was even divided into four apartments. In 1967, however, the home became the property of the Alden James Family. In 1971 the lovely old home was turned into a antique store and has been known as the "James Place" ever since. It has become a true icon for Yreka.

If traveling or living in Yreka it is a pleasure to go to the James Place and not only look at the lovely antiques for sale, but to examine the building. The entry is lovely with a staircase that is large and ornate and it just invites one to climb the stairs and see what is up above!

If you have a copy of our book, Yreka, Images of America you will find another image of this home on page 59, along with additional historical information. On page 57 you will discover an image of the Ackerman house that once stood on this corner before the Fry House was built!

Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fairgrounds and Yreka City Park










Photos by Claudia East, Copyright 2008.

The current Yreka City Park at the corner of Miner and Gold Streets in Yreka has a delightful, and perhaps to some, a surprising history! Originally this parcel of land was used as the "Fairgrounds" when fairs and similar events were held in Yreka. Viewing old fire maps it can be seen that around 1900 there were corrals located just about where the park entrance is seen above. In addition, during that time, empty store fronts would also be used for displays of fair entries. Estimated to have been in 1910, a large Agricultural Hall was built at the corner of Center and Fourth Street (currently where the parking lot is for Siskiyou Title) and displays were also shown there.

Later in the 1920s the county set aside money to have the fairgrounds at the current site of the Siskiyou Golden Fair. There was a horse race track in the area and it was a HUGE event to have horse races for many, many years. It was one of the highlights of the "fair"! At the time the Fairgrounds known to this generation was underway, the "Fairgrounds" on Gold and Miner Streets turned into Yreka's Athletic Park. (The stories of the fund raising for the city park is another story...)


However, it was on August 10, 1921 that an article appears in the Yreka Journal explaining about an "Archway Going Up for Fair Ground" ~ this archway is what we see in this photo. The Journal description does give some information that was in the original design, but the actual finished item was a bit less in overall size. Below is a portion of the article written about this archway. Please read on, there are some very interesting facts!

An excerpt from the Yreka Journal, page 1, August 10, 1921:
"The fair ground entrance on the corner of Gold and Miner is progressing nicely. It will be in the form of a quarter circle, with a cobble stone wall three feet high, and a lawn fence wire four feet higher, and two cobble stones at each side of the center arch, the arch to be made of the building stone exhibited in an arch at the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915. The stone having been gotten out in the Marble Mountain country and various sections of the county by Mr. J. B. Russell; who also polished the stone and went to San Francisco and built the notable arch that attracted universal attention and took the gold medal for the largest and best stone exhibit from any state or county. It is made up of marble, gray and black granite, onyx, jade, red rock sandstone, rhodennite, and various other stone....The first top stone will be engraved "SISKIYOU," above this is a coping and above that is a top pile on which will be chiseled, "YREKA PARK 1921."

The next time a visit to the park is in order, be sure and stop and an examine this interesting structure and think about the history behind its origins! It is actually made up of stones from throughout the county of Siskiyou! For those that have a copy of our book, Yreka, Images of America you can view a photo of the J. B. Russell Marble and Granite Works that was once located at 404 Second Street (now Broadway) on page 34, and another image of the archway on page 89.

Claudia A. East, Copyright, 2008.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Yreka's Carnegie Library ~ 1915




The view to the left is a current photo of the former Carnegie Library that served Yreka for 55 years. It currently houses the Yreka Police Department, but the outward front of the structure looks just like historic images, although an addition was made to the rear of the building in later years. This wonderful building has stood in the same place since 1915 ~ at 415 Miner Street.

The Carnegie Library "story" is a interesting one if you aren't familiar with Andrew Carnegie and his wonderful gifts to the American people. Carnegie immigrated from Scotland with his parents as a small child and is often regarded as the quintessential self-made man, he was one of the richest men in the world at the height of his success. He built Pittsburgh's Carnegie Steel Company along with several other steel companies. As a child he learned to love to read and became self-educated because he was able to borrow books, this eventually lead him into one of his many interests in philanthropy and education. One of his notable projects was providing grants to cities (often focusing on smaller communities) for Library buildings. His grants were clever in many ways, they not only provided money for the buildings but part of the grant requirements were that the city or community had to submit or earn a portion of the money needed, as in purchasing the land and books, etc. It gave the communities a great resource and the incentive to make it work!

According to information from the files of the Siskiyou County Library, on March 14, 1913, a letter with a promise of $8,000, from the Carnegie Corporation to pay for a building to house a public library was received in Yreka. In June of 1913 the City of Yreka acquired property on Miner Street for this new library. The Yreka Improvement Club donated $100 to be applied to the purchase of the lot, at a later time the Yreka Improvement Club donated additional funds. Many of these local funds were raised by giving dances, card parties and the like. It is noted in this information that on October 21, 1915 the Grand Opening of the Yreka Carnegie Library occurred.

It may be of interest to note that this Carnegie Library was not Yreka's only Library! There were several early libraries, including the Yreka Ladies' Library Association in 1857, and the Siskiyou County Library established around 1910. For many years there were two libraries serving the community. The Siskiyou County Library and the Yreka Carnegie Library was merged (consolidation agreement) into one institution officially in 1968.

There is a 1915 photo of this building in our Yreka, Images of America book on page 63, and another on page 124 showing the building in the background during a drill exercise of the 10th Regiment of the California State Guard in 1942. There are other photos of the Siskiyou County Library on pages 64, 65 and 66 in the book as well.
Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Warrens Building 1930 ~ 1966




The Warrens Building is the largest building directly in the center of this image. For those of you not familiar with a 1930-ish view of Yreka the building took an entire block from the corner of Miner Street and Broadway (formerly Second St.) to Center Street. Immediately to the left of the Warrens Bulding is the Montgomery Ward Building, and next to it the Broadway Theatre. If one looks carefully a view of the Masonic Lodge second story can be seen in the photo and the white building next to it is the "remodeled" (for the date) Franco-American Hotel on Miner Street.


The Siskiyou News
ran an article about this new and exciting building in the paper on January 11, 1930. It was touted as being "Among Best in California". It was a two story building with offices on the second story and on the ground floor the north end of the building (at the corner of Miner and Broadway (then Second Street) was the new home for the First National Bank, and at the other end of the building on the ground floor was the Post Office. There were additional spaces for rent along the frontage of Broadway on the ground floor.


The concrete building was erected at a cost of more than $200,000 ~ not a amount to sneeze at during the depression! The newspaper describes the interior of both the Post Office, "furnished in oak and modern in every detail" as well as describing the types of fixtures and accommodations that will be available. The First National Bank was described as being "ornately furnished with marble wainscoting, tile floors and walnut woodwork". It also was to have a feature never before on the Pacific Coast! This was a "York night depository" where patrons could leave deposits and they would be safe.


On February 11, 1966 fire broke out in the upstairs of this building and it was damaged beyond repair. Sadly it is gone and today is a small bank on a portion of the lot along with parking on what was a icon of Yreka. This was once a wonderful example of Art Deco design that graced our little town.


For those of you with copies of our book Yreka, Images of America by Arcadia Publishing you will find a nice photo image of this building on page 41, it will give you a real sense of how the business street once appeared to residents and patrons alike.
Copyright: Claudia East, 2008.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Broadway Theatre 1930




It was on January 16, 1930 that The Siskiyou News ran an article announcing that there was to be a new theatre in Yreka! It was advertised to be "equal to any theater in the larger cities and superior of any now in northern California or southern Oregon." It was also announced that the cost was expected to be $70,000.

Bernice M. Warrens (sister to Victor E. Warrens, financial investor and builder of Yreka's once famous Warrens Building) was the owner of the theatre and she leased the proposed theatre to a Walter H. Leverette of Medford who was the owner of a chain of theaters operating in Southern Oregon.

It was reported that construction would begin no later than March 1st and it was expected that the Grand Opening would be June 1, 1930. The Theatre would be called the "Broadway". The expected seating capacity was to be approximately 1,000 people. It was designed not only to show movies, but had a full stage complement. The floor was carpeted in the "finest of carpeting" and a large foyer and well appointed rest rooms would be included. It also was to have a box office located on the sidewalk in a small booth as was the general custom of the day. Over the street it was planned for a huge electric sign to be suspended bearing the word Broadway!

It may be of interest to note that originally the building had a Moorish design, very popular at the time ~ but before long the exterior was rennovated to a more "modern" Art Deco design and the once familiar large neon sign that read Broadway (partially viewed in image above) appeared. In our book, Yreka, Images of America one can see the original view of the building on page 43. Additionally, sometime between 1929 and 1933 the name of the road that is in front of the theatre was changed from Second Street to Broadway.

The Broadway was changed sometime in the late 1970's (to my fuzzy recollection) to the Broadway Twin when multi-plex theatres became the more profitable way to run the business.
Copyright: Claudia East, 2008

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bella Union Saloon & Grace Hospital




The former Bella Union Saloon and former Grace Hospital were located where the two story building viewed at the center of the photograph is at 325 West Miner Street, Yreka. The Bella Union was a local "watering hole" in 1852 and Charles Iunker and a Louis Rapi became the owners in 1859. Iunker also operated a brewery on Oregon Street. In 1861 the former Bella Union building was replaced by a two story residence and provided space on the ground floor for businesses. ~ This information is provided on a plaque placed on the wall of the building.

It is curious to note, however, that earlier pictures of this section of buildings there isn't a noticable two story building... whether it was later rebuilt, burned in a fire, or what is not clear to this author. It may appear further research is in order.

It is known, however, that in late 1916 this building on the top floor became the Grace Hospital. It was in 1916 when the county high school burned to the ground and the students were relocated for the remainder of the year to the building on Oregon Street known as The Mount Shasta Hospital (built by H. B. Gillis, and currently known as the DeClerk Offices). The Siskiyou News dated October 19, 1916 ran an article on page one about this new Grace Hospital. Apparently a Dr. G. W. Hathaway decided to open this hospital to fill a need since the Mount Shasta Hospital was given to the high school.
The article describes the accommodations for this new 12 room hospital. It had an operating room as well as maternity room which both faced Miner Street, as well as a "optical dark room" and two wards for men and two wards for women as well as private rooms. There was also a large sun room, nurses room, Dr. Hathaway's office, reception room and living rooms. The newspaper article described the new hospital as "a model of convenience". The hospital was expected to be opened about November 1, 1916.

It was not uncommon for small hospitals to be available, Yreka may have had three or four in operation at one time in addition to the county hospital. Many times a doctor would open their own hospital for the treatment of their private patients. Small hospitals like this were not uncommon up through the 1950's. During the 1960's many small hospitals found it difficult to obtain expensive equipment and laboratories and many were merged into community hospitals, county hospitals, and larger private hospitals.

Today the lower portion of this building is home to a shop that caters to health care workers and their "scrubs". A portion of the ground floor is home to the Miner Street Arthouse.
Copyright: Claudia East, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

"The Journal Residence" Robert Nixon Home Circa 1860

Research notes on the exact building date of this Yreka home is uncertain. The property on which it stands was owned by at least 2 different persons prior to Robert Nixon purchasing the property and other structures may have been on this ground. The house as viewed above is a current view of the home, and the original structure was likely built between 1856 and 1860.

It was in 1866 that the home became the property of Robert Nixon, Jr. and it remained in his family for the next 47 years as reported in the book, Houses That Talk by Fred and Bernice Meamber, published in 1986.

Robert Nixon, Jr. is reportedly a direct ancestor of former President Richard M. Nixon, but specific information about this relationship has not been researched by this author. However, Robert Nixon arrived in Yreka in 1855 and worked for a local printer, he left and moved to Oregon and San Francisco returning to Yreka permanently in 1861. He purchased the Yreka Journal (newspaper) and published the first Republican paper north of Marysville according to Wells' History of Siskiyou County, published in 1881. Nixon was very civic and politically minded and was always eager to refute views by his Democratic counterparts. Robert Nixon, Jr. died in 1908. He is buried at the Yreka Evergreen Cemetery.

The home has changed over the years, but if Nixon were alive today, he would likely recognize it! Originally the window in the second story at the front of the house was pointed in the gothic style and the front windows below were flush with the walls. Rennovations were made according to Meamber research in 1889 and the bay windows on the sides of the home were added in 1895. The home has had an unusual number of residents from owners to renters, but it still stands as a symbol of the early days of Yreka. This proud home stands in the National Historic District at 325 Third Street, Yreka, California.
Copyright: Claudia A. East 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hudson B. Gillis Home ~ 1895

Pictured above is the Hudson B. Gillis Home built in 1895. The photo in the image above appeared in a magazine article dated May, 1897. This lovely victorian stands at the corner of North Oregon and Yama Streets in Yreka, California. The home has had some changes and updating throughout the years, but largely looks much the same today as in the photo, however mature trees and plants currently grace the yard. In this image the streets are not yet paved, but if you notice at the far right a power pole can be seen. By 1897 Yreka had electrical service and by 1898 telephone service!

Hudson B. Gillis was born in 1842 in New York State, but his family moved to Iowa in 1849 and Hudson was raised there. He attended the Iowa Wesleyan University of Mount Pleasant, Iowa and graduated from a study in Law in June of 1869. In the fall of that same year he came west to California. He continued his law studies in Sacramento and following moved to Yreka. While in Yreka he continued to study law under Judge E. Steele and was admitted to the Siskiyou Bar in 1871. It was in the fall of this same year he married Anna M. Reynolds in Yreka and established his home and his own successful law practice. In 1875 he became the District Attorney, and he was a active and dedicated Master Mason, holding the honor of Worthy Master. Gillis was active in political affairs as well as holding many local interests. Hudson B. Gillis died on 1 May, 1907.

As of this writing the "Gillis Mansion" is currently for sale, it has been operating as a Bed and Breakfast but other than that has been a private home since it was built. During mid-century the building was "updated" with asbestos shingle siding, a popular surface put on the exterior of buildings to provide additional insulation, some fireproofing, and the ability to provide years of service without additional painting. During the 1990s the owners lovingly removed the siding and restored the buildings exterior to its original beauty. The interior of the house has a great deal of its original charm, hosting a beautiful curved staircase at the foyer entrance to the home. The home boasts a total of 7,562 square feet of living space in three stories, with most of that being original footage.

You can learn a bit more about this wonderful Yreka home in our book, Yreka, Images of America Series from Arcadia Publishing. You will find it on page 56.
Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ley Station ~ Yreka Fire Dept. 1931

(Photo copyright and courtesy of Don East)



Above is a current view of the Yreka Fire Department, Ley Station. It is located at the southwest corner of Oregon and Miner Streets in Yreka, California.

The section on the left as seen above is the original structure of the Ley Station built in 1931. The middle section was built in more modern times. The smaller section on the far right and only slightly visible was added since the millenium and houses a delightful small museum that showcases the Fire Stations, their history, and Fire Fighters from Yreka. It is definitely worth a trip to see the displays and memorabilia on display!

The Ley Station was built to honor Major Horace V. Ley, a former city attorney and fire chief. Major Ley fought in the Great World War (WWI) and reportedly charged into machine gun fire to lead others in battle. He was a hero of the 115th Engineers, a banker, attorney, and local Fire Chief. The story of his ultimate fight with cancer was lost in April of 1930 as reported by the Modesto News Herald on April 28, 1930. However, true to his heroic deeds Major Ley left his home in Yreka to find care in a sanitarium just outside of San Francisco in the town of San Anselmo. He had five weeks of treatment and then the Major "knew". He asked his wife who stood by his side to bring him back home. He reportedly said, "I want to die at home. In the Siskiyous. By Mt. Shasta."

By the time arrangements were made to bring him home he was riddled with pain and only semi-conscious. He was carried onboard a private airplane at the Oakland Airport. The trip home was a true battle. There were fierce winds and heavy rains that impeded the flight. They landed at Redding and were 100 miles short of their goal. The pilot grimly told his passengers they "would make it" ~ the rest of the journey was apparently terrifying flying through the very stormy weather and through the mountain pass in a small aircraft. Finally they made it to Yreka and the Major was "home". The newspaper report does not indicate exactly what time they arrived in Yreka that day, but that evening at 10 o'clock Major Ley died. But, he made it home!

It is an amazing story of dedication and bravery by all the persons involved, Major Ley, his wife, and the pilot! The story may appear a bit grim to some, but to this author it is a peek into the past and why Ley was chosen to have a new beautiful Fire Station named in his honor.

For those of you with a copy of our book, Yreka, Images of America by Arcadia Publishing, you can compare the image above with a early view of the Fire Station as seen on page 101.
Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Charles A. Larison Home 1890


Located on the corner of North and North Oregon Streets in Yreka sits the Charles A. Larison Home that was originally built in 1890. Charles A. Larison was a dentist and had his practice here in Yreka. At the turn of the century his offices were located in the upstairs of the Siskiyou County Bank Building (also known as the Guilbert Building) located at 216 Miner Street. Dr. Larison was born about 1859 in California and in 1883 married Dora Peters in Yreka. It is mentioned in the 1976 Siskiyou Pioneer [a publication of the Siskiyou County Historical Society] on page 55 that Charles A. Larison was also a local photographer in the 1890's. He was in his early 50's when he died and left his widow and at least two children at home.

This house has changed only a little during its nearly 120 year life... maps that show the "footprint" of the home the year it was built shows a nearly flat front and some porches on the back of the home not visible in the image above. By 1897 the house changed to the appearance as seen in the image above. The front south corner of the house was angled off and additional space was created by making rooms out of the old porches in the back and additing additional porch space. Sometime between 1908 and 1927 bay windows were added on the south side of the home.

Today this fine structure serves as apartment dwellings. The image seen above was taken from a magazine article written in 1897 and the Larison home was one of Yreka's "showcase" structures.
Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Siskiyou County Seat ~ Yreka 1915

Siskiyou County and the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition

In 1915 Siskiyou County participated in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco by promoting our agriculture, minerals, climate, transportation, forests, homestead land offerings, and a host of other assets to the world. In 1915 we were growing and local business was booming! What is viewed above is the cover to a brochure published by the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition Commission of Siskiyou, California and written by Harold French. Within this brochure many areas of the county are covered in the 36 pages ~ included are many photos of farming, mining, town scenes and the like.

Below is a transcription from page 31 of "Yreka, the County-Seat":

"Yreka, the county-seat, is a beautiful city of two thousand inhabitants, situated at the terminus of the Yreka railroad, on the line of the great State Highway and in the valley of Yreka Creek near the junction of Greenhorn Gulch, the famous placer camp of the fifties. The civic pride of its people is manifested by its beautiful homes, its miles of cement walks, its splendidly paved streets, lined with venerable locusts, walnut and poplar trees, its up-to-date county buildings, the new public library, the concrete Agricultural Hall and the excellent High School. Its leading bank boasts of a million dollars in assets and commercially Yreka supplies a large area with mining and other supplies.

Progressive improvement and social organizations promote the betterment of this community in many ways, such as the conducting of a Chautauqua annually and other activities for popular instruction and entertainment."

An interesting sideline about this brochure ~ in approximately the 1950s a box of these brochures (new and untouched) were found in the county's holdings and they were sold for 50 cents each to raise money for the county museum. Occasionally one will surface at a yard sale or on ebay.
Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Witherill & Winckler Building abt. 1859

















Standing at the southern corner of Miner and Oregon Streets is a wonderful brick building that you see in the photos. Originally the building had six arches across the brick front... the building has seen some changes during its life, but the general feel and appearance remain fairly true to its original design. In its service to the citizens of Yreka this building has hosted two different business suites nearly since the beginning!


Early in its life, the eastern half of the building was occupied by a tin shop according to Noonan's research publication of 1976, Yreka's West Miner Street Buildings, Blocks 200 - 300, 1851 - 1900. The west half of the building was known as the Winckler Building and the east half as the Witherill building. Adolph Winckler operated a grocery and general merchandise store here in the 1860s. In June of 1871 an advertisement appears in the Yreka Journal notifying that a "Brick Store is For Sale". The ad reads: "The large and centrally located brick store, on the south side of Miner Street, between Turnverein Hall and Winckler's store, will be sold at a bargain." [Referring to the Witherill building portion.] Another notice in the newspaper in 1877 speaks to the upgrading in the Witherill building and local builder E. Ranous was installing new shelves!


It was in 1883 the building became the location of the Yreka-Journal Weekly Newspaper. The older image above shows the Journal there when the image was taken around 1905. The newspaper served at this location until about 1915 when the Siskiyou News bought the building. The News utilized this space until 1941. Following that the building served many variety of businesses and even as a warehouse for a time.


Fortunately this building did not suffer much damage during the great 1871 fire that ravaged most of the business district, according to records the loss because of the fire was only $100.


The image with the Coca-Cola sign is a view of how the building appears today.
Copyright: Claudia East, 2008.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

DeWitt and Peters Building 1897-98




Currently standing on the corner of Miner and North Oregon Streets, The DeWitt and Peters Building broke ground in the fall of 1897 and the building was completed in 1898 at a cost less than $7,000. Prior to this building being constructed a portion of the lot was vacant and the east half of the lot was occupied by the old Yreka Brewery owned by G. H. Peters. In the 1850s the original Yreka Bakery stood on the west half of this lot on Miner and Oregon Streets according to research conducted by Robert Noonan in 1976 in his publication Yreka's West Miner Street Buildings, Blocks 200 - 300, 1851 - 1900.


The Yreka Journal on September 24, 1897 ran an article on this "new" building designed by Architect, G. W. Cooper. They described the layout of the building to have two new stores on the bottom floor, and a large assembly hall (rented by the Knights of Pythias and other orders...) and offices on the second story. "Mr. DeWitt of the Bee Hive store will occupy the corner and Peters will rent the other portion of the building downstairs." The building was also described as having a large cement cellar to be built in connection with the original cellar once used by the Yreka Brewery on the back portion of the lot. It was also stressed that there would be sidewalk elevators for "lowering and raising goods when wanted." In addition, the paper pointed out that the upper story would likely not be finished until spring as the cold weather might damage the plastering.


The exterior of the building is from red sand stone taken from a quarry at Little Shasta, according to a news article from the Yreka Journal ~ it was the first time this stone was utilized for building purposes in the area. According to further Noonan research (see above) a Mr. Ed Armstrong was in charge of the masonry, and the roof was constructed by the Iunker Brothers.


Today this fine building still stands and is proudly owned by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks as a lodge. The photo above shows the building as it was in about 1905. Today the lower portion of the building is covered with board and batten siding to conceal the large windows.
You might wish to look at the SketchupbyDawn Blog for the August 14, 2008 post, he has a nice 3-D drawing of the original building. You can link here or check out the Blogs I am watching on the side panel: http://sketchupbydawn.blogspot.com/


For those of you with our book, Yreka, Images of America by Arcadia Publishing you can find other images with this building in the photos on pages 35, 52,and 115.

Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008.