Lisa Gioia

As It Was Contributor

Lisa Gioia is the director of the Siskiyou County Museum in Yreka, California. She is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with a B.A. in anthropology (1997), a Master’s Degree in History with a minor in public history (2008). She specialized in oral histories. Her projects include: gathering life stories for the university’s Oral History Research Center, archaeological research for the Public Lands Institute and Lake Mead National Recreation Center and conducting historical research for the United States Forest Service’s Middle Kyle Canyon project in Southern Nevada. Prior to becoming the Museum director, Lisa taught anthropology and history at various colleges in the west. She is author of “Showgirls in Las Vegas”, one of the Images in America series by Arcadia Publishing.

Judge John Grider arrived in Siskiyou County in 1888 to visit his mother in Scott Valley.

No one knew the exact age of Sargent Sambo, but the aged Indian was coherent when interviewed in 1961 by Northern California newspapers.  He said “Sambo” was his father’s name and “Sargent” came from a soldier, but his Indian name was Ah Kee Ah Humpy.

Pioneers were a hardy folk and proud of their heritage.  Their legacy lives strongly in descendants in many of the small, rural communities of Northern California.  In Siskiyou County, children and grandchildren of pioneers who settled in communities such as Yreka, Dunsmuir, McCloud, Happy Camp, and Fort Jones, dedicated themselves to preserving and sharing their heritage by forming the Siskiyou County Historical Society.

When an 81-year-old Chinese man, Henry Dorsey “Tee” Franklin, died in 1940, he left the bulk of his estate in stocks and property to the City of Yreka, Calif., and its American Legion Post.  Franklin made money from various pursuits during his life, including running supplies to the Army during the Modoc War of 1871-1872.

There are many kinds of poets, but few the likes of high-rolling gambler Robert Shelley, also known as Diamond Spike.  Shelley wrote a narrative poem in 1941 titled “Playing the Field: autobiography of an all American racketeer” that relates his adventures in the company of gamblers, prostitutes, and gangsters.

During the heyday of the gold rush, the towns of Northern California teemed with men seeking relief from their day’s labor.  Bartenders in the numerous saloons lining the streets needed a hook to bring in business as they competed for the coin of the pleasure seekers.  Hence, the hurdy-gurdy girl was born.