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: ) 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:

Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008.