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.  

Mining along Greenhorn Creek south of Yreka, Calif., was very rich from the 1850’s into the early 1900’s.  It has been estimated that a five-mile stretch produced $11 million worth of gold during that time.

While mining continued into the 1860’s and beyond along the Klamath River, gold bearing quartz wasn’t discovered until the 1870’s in Rocky Gulch and the hills west of Henley in Siskiyou County. The best known of these quartz mines was the Jillson, owned by the Hazel Gold Mining Co.

In 1856, George Wohlfert emigrated from Germany to California, making his way to California and traveling north to Petersburg on the South Fork of Salmon River.

Even today people ask how Greenhorn Creek, an early mining district south of Yreka, Calif., got its name.

Some women came West seeking a husband during the California Gold Rush.

Giuseppe “Joe” Mancini was born in Casino, Italy, in 1879.  He became a shoemaker and, after joining the Italian army to serve his mandatory one-year service, left in 1902 for America.  Mancini’s wife, Carolina Cosentino, and their 4-month-old baby boy remained in Italy.

Recently discovered chrome deposits gained importance as European tank production increased the demand for steel during World War I.  The demand continued to grow when the United States entered the war in 1917, creating job opportunities for miners in Northern California.

It’s hard to imagine having to tote groceries home, especially in winter, in a little red wagon.  But that is what Al Capovilla did every Saturday when his grandmother, Gusippina Bombini, went shopping downtown.

Life during World War II, even in rural Siskiyou County, Calif., was filled with sacrifices.  For the Italian immigrants who had settled in the area years before the war, it was especially trying.

Siskiyou settlers depended heavily on wagon construction and associated foundries.  Louis Fafa built the wagon and furniture factory in Etna, which was expanded in 1877 by F.W. Frantz & Albert Wallis.  In addition to wagons and wheels, the company supplied wood products, including doors, sashes and mouldings.

There once was a town named Manila five miles west of Gazelle, Calif., in Siskiyou County.

The physical history of Northern California’s coastal redwood region is linked to the human populations that have interacted with it, from pre-contact times to the present.

Sawmills in the early days of north-central Siskiyou County numbered in the dozens. Some operated for only months and others for many years.  Today there are few traces left.

In 1868, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors received a petition to establish a school district south of Yreka. The May 5 board minutes stated, “In the matter of application of Perry Cram and others for establishing a new school district, Petition granted.”  The board named G.K. Godfrey as superintendent. 

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.

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