Today marks the 151st anniversary of the creation of Lassen County. It was the culmination of the Sagebrush War that finally started the process. In the simplest terms the conflict also known as the Boundary War was the result of John C. Fremont’s selection in 1850 of the 120th Meridian for California’s eastern boundary. The problem was no one knew where that was, and assumed it followed the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In the late 1850s, with the settlement of the Honey Lake Valley, officials of both California and Nevada saw the uncollected tax dollars waiting to be had. Tensions escalated wherein an armed conflict on February 15, 1863 from the two states took place at Roop’s Fort, also known as Fort Defiance. In the end a truce was called when both sides agreed to conduct a boundary line survey to locate the 120th Meridian, in which it was determined the majority of the Honey Lake Valley was located in California. Thus, began the process to create a new California county. A detailed account of the Sagebrush War can be found in the Lassen County Almanac.
Many people may not realize but the original proposed name for Lassen County, was Byers County. So who was Byers, and why was he to be honored? In 1858, James Davis Byers (1825-1902) purchased some property along Baxter Creek near Janesville. However, he remained a Quincy resident for sometime. In February 1863, Byers served as a Plumas County Deputy Sheriff, and played a significant role in the Sagebrush War. The final result of that conflict led to the creation of Lassen County the following year. Plumas County Assemblyman Robert A. Clark introduced the legislation to create the new county. Clark proposed to name it Byers County, but Byers declined. Byers suggested that it should be named after Peter Lassen, and thus the Lassen name was applied to the new county.
More about Byers in a later post, though by 1880 he was one of the ten wealthiest people in Lassen County.