Tag Archives: Native American

Frederick West Lander

Worth the segment alone dealing with the Nobles Trail.
Frederick Lander was part of several expeditions of the 1850s to locate a route for a Pacific Railroad. There would be many turn of events during this time period, among them the nation’s civil war. When Lander arrived in the Smoke Creek/Honey Lake area, it just happened with the outbreak of the Pyramid Lake War of 1860, and there were several contributing events in the Honey Lake Valley that had a bearing. Lander was caught in the middle. He did keep an excellent account of those activities, which were published by the Desert Research Institute in 1993 with Joy Cleland as editor.

On a side note, even though he died in 1862, one hundred and thirty three years his estate funded a re-photographic survey of Eagle Lake; where in using photographs of the early 1900s, Desert Research Institute went back to those sites to photograph and examine the changes.


The Summer Solstice Tour

Sunrise Chamber, 2015

Were you aware that the Belfast petroglyph site also serves as ancient observatory?  This event only occurs on the morning of the summer solstice when the sun enters a chamber highlighting a variety of glyphs, among other things. It is quite the sight to see.

sunrise chamber
The sunrise chamber.

Last year we had a small delegation that made the trek. This is an early morning excursion and I mean early as we gather at 5 a.m. to make the trek. In preparation attendees receive in advance John Rudolph’s paper, “An Ancient Solar Observatory.” If there is enough interest we can make the trip again this year. Please let me know. One final note the solstice occurs on Wednesday, June 21.

On Tuesday, June 20, I will send an email with all the details.  However, if it is overcast there is no sense in going.

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Old Lucy

Old Lucy
Old Lucy

On September 29, 1929 Old Lucy a colorful character on the streets of Susanville passed away, purportedly at the age of 125. While she best known as Old Lucy, she also had another Anglo name, Sally Norman. Dubbed a “picturesque” Native American of the era, she was a familiar sight as she ambled about Susanville, bundled up in numerous clothes, walking with the aid of a stick. People who knew her back in the 1870s considered her old back then. While her age was exaggerated when she died, documents placed her age at around 100. Whether she was born in the Honey Lake Valley is not known, though there accounts that she recalled when Peter Lassen came to valley. In addition, it is stated she was part of the Maidu tribe.


Tommy Tucker Cave

Sacramento Bee, August 21, 1951

As a rule, I I avoid Native American sites due to their sensitivity. However, some sites are well known and are routinely visited by many, and that is the case of Tommy Tucker Cave, It was a significant archaeological site excavated by archaeologists from the University of California from 1949 to 1951. The cave is located 200 feet above the Honey Lake  Valley floor. It was named for Thomas “Tommy” Tucker (1895-1918), a Madiu from Big Meadows (Lake Almanor), and the second person from Lassen County to die in World War I. One can read Francis Riddell’s complete report here.


Indian Basket History

Indian Baskets549
Cover page of Viola Roseberry’s book. Remember to click to enlarge the photograph.

Susanville resident Viola Roseberry (1860-1936) had a special fondness of Native American heritage and that of their basketry. She possessed a large basket collection. In 1915, the collection was displayed at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco. To coincide with the exhibit she published a book, Illustrated History of Indian Baskets and Plates made by California Indians and Many Other Tribes. Book had a price of 50 cents.

The cover picture is of Lena Peconum who has numerous descendants in this area. Viola wrote stories behind the baskets, such as one Maidu woman Comanche, who at the time was believed to be the oldest Maidu weaver, approaching 100 years of age, and residing in Genesee Valley, Plumas County.

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Roxie Peconum

Roxie Peconum, 1954

The Peconom family is one of the better known Maidu families. If you noticed that I highlighted the name in bold, there is a reason. The family name has been misspelled for years with a um instead of the proper om. Of course, the name spelling was brought to light, during the proposed name change  of the first branch of Willard Creek to Roxie Peconum Creek to commemorate Roxie Yoanna Peconum (1851-1958), well-known member of the Maidu tribe, who gathered roots and berries in the region.  However, some thought the name should be for the Peconom family, and not an individual family member. If it was to be the latter, the name should be Yoanna Creek for Roxie. Whatever the case may be, on February 11, 1993  U.S. Board of Geographic Names approved the name change to Roxie Peconum Creek.


A Marysville Merchant

Big Meadows Maidu Camp, 1887. Courtesy of the National Park Service
Big Meadows [now Lake Almanor] Maidu Camp, 1887. Courtesy of the National Park Service
If there was a text book history of Lassen County, N.D. Rideout name would probably not show up, and if it did it would be an obscure footnote.  Yet, this Marysville merchant did exercise some influence on the region, especially when he became an investor in a short line railroad known as the Northern California. When T.B. Walker’s Red River Lumber Company began acquisition of timberland in Northern California, the two men became acquainted. After all, Walker was in need of a railroad to access his holdings, and Rideout owned one. In 1906, Rideout and Walker reached an agreement wherein the Northern California Railroad would build a line from Red Bluff to Fall River Mills, where Walker intended to build his first sawmill in California. However, in 1907, Rideout abruptly died, and everything came to a halt.

However, Rideout, also left a bit of legacy behind as he had an interest in photography. He was amateur photographer, long before cameras were common place. In 1887, he took several photographs including the one above, and also one of Drakesbad.


Milford’s Potato War

Claude Wemple's historical map of the Milford region, shows not only the location of the Potato War, but numerous other sites.
Claude Wemple’s historical map of the Milford region, shows not only the location of the Potato War, but numerous other sites.

Who knew that the almighty spud would be the cause of conflict? It all began in October 1857 when a band of Washo Indians visited William Morehead’s potato patch, some two miles northwest of Milford. When confronted by Morehead and others the Washo became belligerent and this did not go over well with the residents of the Milford district. The locals received re-enforcements from the California state arsenal, volunteer fighters from Sierra Valley, and a band of Piutes. During the skirmish several Washo were killed and many wounded. In the aftermath, the Washo withdrew from the lower end of Honey Lake Valley and never ventured north of Long Valley. Again, the residents petitioned for a permanent military fort after the Potato War, only to be ignored, again and again.

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Lassen Park – Butte Lake

Butte Lake, circa 1920. Roy Sifford, of Drakesbad fame wrote: "The sign of the Manitou which means the sign of God. The shadows in the water made a long arrows which the Indians thought that was a sign of the Great Spirit (Manitou) or God gave them. Courtesy of the Sifford Collection.
Butte Lake, circa 1920. Roy Sifford, of Drakesbad fame wrote: “The sign of the Manitou which means the sign of God. The shadows in the water made a long arrows which the Indians thought that was a sign of the Great Spirit (Manitou) or God gave them. Courtesy of the Sifford Collection.

This lake in the northeast portion of  Lassen Park was originally referred as Black Butte Lake and Lake Bidwell. J.S. Diller named it Lake Bidwell in honor of General John Bidwell who came to California in 1841 and founded the town of Chico. The official name dates back to 1883 and no doubt received its name from two surrounding landmarks, Cinder Butte and Black Butte.

The French Canadian trappers of the Hudson Bay Company introduced the term “butte” to Western Americana. It was used to designate a landmark for an isolated peak, but not high or large enough to be a mountain.

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