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.  

By 1852, mining in the Klamath River region attracted nearly a thousand miners. Most moved on as easy gold played out, but a number settled along the rivers.  One such settlement was Somes Bar at the confluence of the Klamath and Salmon Rivers in Siskiyou County.

Residents of Sawyers Bar built a Catholic Church of locally produced lumber in 1855 on a sloping bench above the North Fork of the Salmon River.  A six-foot wooden cross that stands in front was the only item that originally distinguished it from the area’s other buildings.

One of Siskiyou County’s early pioneers was James L. Freaner, who came West after serving as a soldier and reporter during the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. 

A cannon boomed a salute each day to the Indian fighters and Civil War veterans attending the Southern Oregon Soldiers and Sailors reunion in Grants Pass in June, 1906.  At the encampment, some of the old soldiers may have shared stories about the thundering brass cannon in earlier days.

Each year, Yreka’s Siskiyou Golden Fair celebrates summer, promoting the county’s agricultural, industrial, commercial, mineral and cultural resources and achievements.

Born in Quartz Valley in 1883, James M. Allen served Siskiyou County most of his life.

Hawkinsville, Calif., is just north of Yreka, but its history includes cultural customs born in Portugal’s Azores Islands in the 14th century.

Capt. Bradford Ripley Alden was the third commander to take charge of remote Fort Jones in Northern California’s Scott Valley.  He marched Company E, 4th Infantry from Fort Vancouver to Yreka in 37 days, better time than he had anticipated.  He later wrote, “Yreka turned out its enterprising population…to see the Captain from Vancouver and his company march through town.”

California’s 14,162-foot Mount Shasta has always inspired stories of the supernatural, ranging from talking bears, fairies and flying saucers to a hidden city occupied by beings from the lost continent of Lemuria.

The Salmon River in Siskiyou County, Calif., earned a reputation during the California Gold Rush as “the richest little river in America.” Mining continued in the Salmon and other Northern California rivers after much of the Sierra Mother Lode had played out.

Marion Raymond “Ray” Laird was born in 1894 at Laird’s Landing in Siskiyou County.  His grandfather and family emigrated west in 1862 in covered wagons.  Laird’s father, Charles, was only four and rode the entire way bareback. Family lore has it that a band of Indians wanted to trade for the boy, thinking he would make a fine warrior.

Historically, Fort Crook refers to two early forts, both named in honor of Civil War Gen. George Crook.

Located along the deep canyon of the Upper Sacramento River, Dunsmuir, Calif., was an important railroad depot, first for the Central Pacific, and later the Southern Pacific Railroad.  Dunsmuir winters can be heavy and hard, with snows that compromise the railroads.

During the Modoc War of 1872-73 that pitted Captain Jack’s small Modoc band against some 1,000 Army troops and artillery at the lava beds stronghold near Northern California’s Tule Lake, a Modoc woman fled with two babies.  Unable to make her escape carrying both children, she abandoned one on the battlefield.

The mining community of Deadwood, located on the old road that connected Scott Valley to Yreka, Calif., only 10 miles from Fort Jones, was an important town from 1851 to 1861.  The California-Oregon stage line stopped there until 1886.  Deadwood, Cherry, Indian, French, and McAdam creeks all yielded significant amounts of placer gold during the early years of the gold rush and later to dredging.

Beaver once were so abundant in the Scott Valley in Siskiyou County, Calif., that it was known for a time as Beaver Valley.  The rodent’s numbers were decimated during the early days of settlement.

Miss Mary Timmons was a favorite teacher in the 1880's at the Big Springs School in Siskiyou County, Calif.  Since housing was scarce, it was customary for unmarried female teachers to board with a family during the school year.  Mary and her sister both boarded with the Buckner family at the White Mountain Ranch.

Eli and Mary Ann Barnum and six children crossed the plains in 1859 to California. They branched off the Applegate Trail toward Yreka and stopped at some hand-hewn watering troughs fed by springs. A dilapidated building nearby became the family home for the next 10 years. While living there, the couple’s seventh child, Winfield Scott, was born. The couple lost three more children in infancy.

Gertrude Price Wardlow, who moved with her husband to Weed, Calif., in 1920, described the part of town where African-Americans lived as a snow-covered mountainous area known as Railroad Avenue.

Relations between whites and Native American tribes throughout Northern California and Southern Oregon were rarely easy, and for many years, devastating for native peoples.  After gold was discovered in 1851 near today’s Yreka, Calif., hostility and violence grew.

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