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.