Gail Fiorini-Jenner

As It Was Contributor

Gail Fiorini-Jenner of Etna, California, is a writer and teacher married to fourth-generation cattle rancher Doug Jenner. They have three children, seven grandchildren and live on the original homestead.  Her first novel Across the Sweet Grass Hills, won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of JeffersonThe State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.  She co-authored Historic Inns & Eateries in the State of Jefferson, featuring 30 locations and their recipes. Fiorini-Jenner has placed in several writing contests: The Jack London Novel Contest; The William Faulkner Story Contest; The Writer's Digest Inspirational Story and Screenplay Contests. She appeared on History Channel's  How the States Got Their Shapes,  and NPR's West Coast Live. She also writes for Jefferson Backroads.  

During the early 1850s, five gold mining settlements sprang up in Northern California’s Trinity County, including Minersville, Ridgeville, Sebastopol, Diggerville, and the Bates and Van Matre Ranch.

Years later, Ethel Porter recollected traveling at three years of age in 1892 with her father to the Altoon quicksilver mine at elevation 6,800 feet in the Northern California Trinity Alps.

In 1923, Miss Mary E. Dickey took her students to see the fair in Sacramento. A group of six adults and nine children set out in September from the Kenyon School in Siskiyou County, Calif., in Mr. Bibbens’   screenside vehicle, an early type of van.

There’s a Western legend about how the “Last Kangaroo Court” in Trinity County, Calif., was held in Hayfork in September 1906 to teach a stranger a lesson.

For 20 years, until 1931, Mark and Ada Merrill had a traveling tent show that featured two bears, two Shetland ponies, sheep, monkeys and dogs.  They were a very enterprising couple.

Charles Nentzel was a year old in 1833 when his family immigrated to America from Bavaria.  He grew up in New York, assisted his father as a blacksmith, and became a jeweler’s apprentice.

Emigrating from Iowa with his family by covered wagon in 1859, Hiram Leonard Niles lived in Boise, Idaho, and Sonoma County, Calif., before marrying and settling down in Shasta County.

For many years, Dr. Charles Pius practiced medicine in Yreka, Calif.

In 1852, eight-year-old William J. Bidwell emigrated with his family from Wisconsin to California. They first settled at Horsetown in Shasta County. The father, John Bidwell, mined during the winter of 1852, became a blacksmith and wagon maker, and in 1858 moved the family to a 160-acre farm in western Shasta County.

Replacing ferries by bridges increased travel and accessibility in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

In 1909, Charles D. Willson obtained the first use-permit from the Crater National Forest and built a small hotel on 10.4 acres at Rocky Point on the northwest shore of Upper Klamath Lake.

On Feb. 27, 1940, 2.5 inches of rain fell in six hours in Redding, Calif.  The following day, rising flood waters closed three bridges leading out of town, including the north end of the newly constructed Market Street bridge, the east approach to the Free Bridge, and both approaches to the Diestelhorst Bridge.

Until 1859, foot trails were the only way in and out of Siskiyou County, Calif.  Regional tribes, including the Shasta, Karuk, Modoc, Pit, and Wintu, had forged the trails, with the exception of some opened by the Hudson’s Bay Co.

Eleanor Halverson was only 9 years old when her mother died on the family’s Klamath River ranch.  The young girl assumed the duties of running the household, including caring for her 5-year-old brother, Charlie.

The arrival of the railroad to the remote Butte Valley of Siskiyou County, Calif., brought a burgeoning population with it.  A box factory opened in 1911, followed soon by several sawmills and moulding mills.  Electricity arrived the same year.

The early settlers of Yreka quickly learned to fear fire and its catastrophic effects.

William D. Mathews Sr. was born in Fort Jones, Calif., to Israel S. and Ann Mathews—both early pioneers of Siskiyou County.  William’s father was one of the earliest pioneers to enter Scott Valley.

It wasn’t easy to establish a newspaper in the early days of the gold rush.

Beginning in early 1853, a group of men in Yreka, Calif., began organizing an Order of Odd Fellows lodge. The lofty principles of the Odd Fellows were “love [sic] friendship and truth” through “benevolence and charity … That charity that will grasp a distressed brother’s hand …(and)… warm into life his sinking and feinting [sic] spirits … infuse new hopes, fresh courage, and inspire him to go forth and renew the battle of life …”

First established in 1871, the Bogus School in Siskiyou County, Calif., has closed and reopened several times. Saleen Heckle was an early teacher during the 1899-1900 term.

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