In November 1897, the Colonial Irrigation Company of the Honey Lake Valley, part of the Standish Colony operation began work on the controversial Colony Dam on the Susan River, near that community. The construction of the dam outraged their neighbors downstream in the Tule District, who claimed it obstructed their water flow and riparian rights. The Tule folks took the matter to court and not only asked for an injunction, but demanded the $12,000 dam be removed as a nuisance. Lewis Brubeck, who owned the Smith place in the Tules (now the Fleming Unit of Fish & Game), also filed a separate lawsuit against the Company in 1898, as the waters of the river had been diverted, never reaching his property. The Brubeck verdict was important to the Tule people, for while Brubeck only received a damage award of $750, the court placed a restraining order against the Company, preventing the Company from irrigating any other lands until Brubeck’s lands were thoroughly irrigated.
This post is rather brief today, since I do not have that much information about this early business at Standish. To me this is one of those pictures that one could use your wildest imaginations. After all, who would ever thought of combining the Standish Livery Stable and the Standish Meat Market in the same building. Seems rather suspicious to me.
Datura was an interesting little wide spot in the road east of present day Standish. Its existence came into being first as a stage stop in the 1890s and also referred to as Four Corners or Cain’s Corner. For a brief time, it appeared that it actually might be a substantial outpost. By 1894, William Henry Harrison Fuller opened a store there. On May 11, 1895 the Datura Post Office was established with Fuller serving as the first and only postmaster. George M. Cain followed suit and opened a livery stable where stage coaches could change horses. The newly formed Honey Lake School built their first school at Datura.
During 1897/98 the Honey Lake Valley Colonial Club held their meetings at Datura to formulate the plans for their utopian community of Standish. On April 21, 1899, the Datura Post Office closed and its operations moved to Standish. As Standish developed, Datura slipped into oblivion.
The building was originally a Forester’s Lodge. It was quite common in that era, to construct a two-story building. The second story used as a hall/lodge room, while the first floor was rented out for commercial interests to pay for the building, but maintenance as well. The building soon evolved into the Standish Hall Association.
Susanville merchant Charlie Emerson was quite the entreprenuer. Shortly after the lodge building was constructed, Emerson opened his second general merchandise at this location. In 1928, Bill Lewis took over Emerson’s and renamed it the Standish Supply Company. Lewis was succeeded by Claude Heard. When Heard relocated to Litchfield, Neil Winchell took over the store, and it became Neil’s Mercantile. In one of those moments, its almost hard to believe but Neil’s has been closed for some thirty years now.
In 1910, the Nevada Sugar Company of Fallon, Nevada came courting Honey Lake Valley farmers in the Standish district, as well those homesteaders on the east side of Honey Lake to plant sugar beets. One of the reasons, was the Nevada Sugar Company was in the midst of constructing a $600,000 factory at Fallon.
As an enticement the company stated it would build a second factory at Standish if production was successful and needed transportation facilities. In 1912, with the announcement of Fernley & Lassen Railroad to be constructed through this section of the Honey Lake Valley solved that transportation issue.
It should be noted that in 1911 was the first irrigation season of the Standish Water Company’s pumping plant on Honey Lake’s eastern shore. In that year they provided water for 1,000 acres that was planted in sugar beets, with the Nevada Sugar Company providing the seed. No one locally knew anything about growing sugar beets, but they learned quickly. One of the biggest problems encountered with beet production was the amount of labor required. The problem was compounded as there was a local labor shortage, and then there were those who did not want to work in beet fields. To alleviate the problem 25 Japanese laborers were brought in to assist. Their tenure was brief, even though it was reported they worked twice as fast at a cheaper price.
There were two other problems that ended the experiment. First there was not an adequate water supply and the beets were substandard. It was not only a problem locally, but in Fallon as well for in 1917 the beet factory there closed.
For a time, Standish was a very prosperous community in the Honey Lake Valley. Not only did it have numerous businesses, but a hotel, and a creamery, too. Everything was so good, in fact, that it even had its own financial institution.
In 1892, the Bank of Lassen County was established in Susanville, the first of its kind in Lassen County. In the spring of 1915, the bank announced it was going to open its first branch in Standish. However, it encountered some delays, especially with the installation of big safe, inside the Wrede Hotel, where the branch office would be located. On August 30, 1915, the branch opened with W.H. “Wally” Fulton, as the manager. Fulton had a long association with the financial institution, and equally important was well-known in the Standish region, having been married to Kathryn Mapes. The Standish Branch operated for ten years, closing its doors on December 31, 1925.
Wally Fulton later moved to Susanville and in 1933 became the City’s Treasurer. He remained in that position until his untimely death in 1941 by suicide. He used a gun in the city vault, and waited until the noon whistle from the Fruit Growers mill to mute the sound of the gun shot.
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In the 1890s, the Associated Colonies of New York was established to create utopian communities in the West, Standish would be there second development. It was their belief that people living in the East wanted to escape from large industrialized cities where corporations were in control. Those same people, they concurred, sought independence, would work for themselves and own their own homes. Each “colony” was designed using the philosophical beliefs of Myles Standish and the economic structure promoted by LDS leader, Brigham Young. In 1897, the Standish townsite was laid out, and its founders stated growth would be slow, not a boom and bust cycle. Things did not work out well, and it went bankrupt in 1901. After that the town really started to grow.
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The school district was created on January 5, 1906. That summer the Wilbur Brothers constructed a $1,300 schoolhouse. On July 1, 1951, the residents of the Bridgeport, Soldier Bridge and Standish School Districts agreed to consolidate and form the Shaffer Union School District. The Standish School was subsequently closed.
It should be noted the Wilbur Brothers also built the Honey Lake and Missouri Bend schools, and all three are similar in design. Honey Lake school has been converted into a residence and no longer recognizable. Missouri Bend is still intact, and for awhile it has been used as a private school.
While it is nearly a month away, mark your calendar for a brief, but exhilarating early afternoon tour to get you into the spirit of things.
You will be introduced to some of Lassen’s eccentric permanent residents. Of course, one has to pay a pilgrimage to the one and only “Count” who died in 1662. That is not a typo and the marker was placed by unknown parties back in the 1930s.
Stay tuned for the details.
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On a recent trip to Standish, to see if the gossip was true that work on the demolition of Neil’s Mercantile was underway. Suffice to say, it was not true, but discussions have been in the works for the past few years. Continue reading Standish Hall Association→