Tag: History

Lake County History, Chapter 131: The Clear Lake Sea Serpent

The author of the tale was a local fisherman of unqualified veracity. He told this reporter, “I saw an unusual commotion in the lake. It was a couple of hundred yards from shore. I first attributed the sight to a large school of fish… Then a monstrous head, followed by a long, snaky neck attached to an enormous log-like body tapering to a pointed tail, came into view. It raced through and over the water for a distance of approximately 100 feet. This creature had large bulbous eyes, extended nostrils, a mouth similar in shape to a crocodile, and well-filled with teeth. The body seemed devoid of scales and fins. It was, apparently, propelled forward by an undulating motion of the muscular caudal appendage. I estimated this monster was between sixty and seventy feet in length…at least somewhat longer than the Scotch specimen. It would probably weigh about ten tons on the hoof.”

Lake County History, Chapter 130: The Blacksmith

The Blacksmith’s place of business was a single-story frame building with a big wide door in front and a few dusty windows on each side that only the spiders called home. The floor was heavy planking. A strong magnet could, in the space of five minutes of attention, draw up a bushel of broken nails from the floor and around the forge where pieces of coal or coke were scattered. There was no gas or electricity. The forge was fired with coal or coke and his light came from a coal-oil lamp.

Lake County History, Chapter 127: The Con Man

This story is about a confidence scheme that nearly succeeded. Hide-binders are not unique to Lake County. They were here before, and they will come again. What makes this tale so intriguing was that this con-man, had he succeeded in his nefarious plans, Clear Lake and the land around the lake would have been in the hands of one person, Mr. I.N. Chapman.

Memories of the Mayacamas Mountains: The Story of Adams Springs, Loch Lomond, and the Prather Family

Where once stood a kitchen, only an old stove remains. It lays on the ground, flopped on its side, once-white enamel slowly rusting to grey-brown. Sheet metal and tin scatter across the grounds, holding back the scotch broom and blackberry bushes. Bedsprings jauntily poke out of the creekbed, sagged and twisted. Among the debris, a thick piece of handblown glass dating from the turn of the 20th century sits, only a small slice of what once was a gallon jug. The winter sun barely pokes through the hazy sky. It doesn’t look like the map Steve Prather had scribbled on the bottom of a 24 pack of 7-Up a week earlier. His map had squares on it, marking houses and the location of the spring. I look at the torn piece of cardboard in my hand one more time, then look up. There’s nothing here.

Lake County History, Chapter 106: Beautiful Ladies, Part 1

Thank goodness the ladies today are not under the same courtship pressures as they were in the 1880s. The playing field between men and women is more level.
In Victorian times it was a matter of social survival for a woman of 1900 to look beautiful without showing any of the signs of powder and paint make-up. How did they do it? An article by Marilyn Johnson of Lake County gives us some of the answers as to how the magic was wrought.

Lake County History, Chapter 101: The Bartlett Springs Fire, Part 1

20 September 1934, the Lake County Bee reported Bartlett Springs Resort was destroyed by fire. It was a bad fire. Fifty buildings were torched. Only the heroic efforts of hundreds of CCC boys, called to battle the blaze, kept the mountains around the Resort from burning.
The Resort was above Nice, northwest, and twelve miles from Clear Lake. The road to that forlorn memory twists and turns like a peripatetic snake. To reach Bartlett Springs, the intrepid traveler must climb into Lake County’s higher mountains to an altitude of nearly forty-five hundred feet. He must pass over Bartlett Mountain’s summit at about four thousand feet. He will pass Pinnacle Rock and then Little Pinnacle on his left; both also close to four thousand high. Finally, as the road runs beside the South Fork of Bartlett Creek, the traveler may heave a sigh of relief. The last stretch to the springs levels out.
Once there, the traveler will be in the center of what once were some of the most important mineral springs in Lake County.

Lake County History, Chapter 100: Aunt Hester’s “Medicine”

“The pools at Seigler Springs are inside a great building. There is a warm pool, a cool pool, and a hot. It is the fashion to enter the warm, then the hot, and finish up in the cold. Stone steps lead down into the water. Every person seems to be having a relaxing time. There is a group of men in one corner. They are discussing bear fighting and cockfighting. Another group is enthusiastically looking forward to a boxing exhibition to be given at Harbin Springs nearby. The ladies chat about needlepoint, babies, and the impossible task of keeping domestic servants. With the lowered voices, they talk about the interesting fact that the waters of Witter Springs are supposed to cure a social disease. ‘Well,’ I tell Aunt Hester, ‘When you consider that most of us know someone, who has gone there… Well, it certainly opens the room for conjecture.’ “

Lake County History, Chapter 97: A Perilous Beginning

This next cheerful travelogue may lighten your spirits. The author, Marilyn Johnson, took everything in easy stride, including her slightly inebriated Aunt Hester. Ms. Johnson’s description deserves recognition, if for no other reason than she takes us back to that day as if we made the trip with her. Her marvelous incite and awareness of things around her, and her ability to impart her impressions with the written word is almost too fine. The reader might have the sneaking suspicion Ms. Johnson fabricated this tale. It is too perfect. Whether a genuine experience or a work of fiction, Kudos to Ms. Johnson.

Lake County History, Chapter 96: Coming Home

Lilly’s tour through the West in America covered her with money, and Lake County was already becoming known as a good wine country. She met Freddie Gebbard, a wealthy American playboy and man about town. Handsome Freddie lavished the beautiful Lilly with attention. They wanted to be married, but divorce was not possible.
Unable to divorce Edward Gantry, a Belfast shipping merchant, Lilly purchased the Guenoc Ranch in Lake County to live with Freddie, her real love. She ignored the scandal, and since California was known for its liberal views, California is where Lilly set her sights.

Lake County History, Chapter 96: Coming Home

Lilly’s tour through the West in America covered her with money, and Lake County was already becoming known as a good wine country. She met Freddie Gebbard, a wealthy American playboy and man about town. Handsome Freddie lavished the beautiful Lilly with attention. They wanted to be married, but divorce was not possible.
Unable to divorce Edward Gantry, a Belfast shipping merchant, Lilly purchased the Guenoc Ranch in Lake County to live with Freddie, her real love. She ignored the scandal, and since California was known for its liberal views, California is where Lilly set her sights.

Lake County History Chapter 94: The Dashiell Affair

One story about a Confederate sympathizer is typical of the hard feelings that remained after the Civil War. The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reported on what happened to southern sympathizers in Lake County.

On the 20th of April, 1865, six days after Lincoln was assassinated, a company of soldiers, dispatched from Fort Wright and under the command of Captain Charles Douglas, were given orders to arrest any ‘Johnny Rebs’ that expressed glee at the news of the assassination. They took the road into Potter Valley on 1 June, to receive written complaints from residents that heard any expressions of glee over the assassination. Ranchers, loyal to the Union, reported such expressions they heard from certain of their neighbors, and, upon receiving the report, the soldiers took off to arrest the culprits.’

Lake County History Chapter 93: Putting Meat on the Table

Supplying meat for the table by hunting and trapping was essential for the poor folks of Lake County. The Enderling children, poorer than most, set their traps on the way to school. In the afternoon, when school was out, it was the duty of the three Enderling children to collect the snared rabbits and small animals that had been caught in the traps. They were provisions for the table’s dinner.

Lake County History Chapter 89: Home is the Hero

“They kept us at the picket line all night. We were taken into the Union lines in the morning, and, to my great surprise and gratefulness, I knew the first man I met. He was a doctor that had been sent to the Confederate prison with my men and me. The doctor had been exchanged a short time before I escaped. We were sent to General Meade’s headquarters.”

Lake County History Chapter 88: Free at Last

“There was a house close by that was a poor man’s house. ‘Hide away,’ I told my friend. ‘I will go up to the house and find out where we are.’ I went to the fence and called the man up. He called back, ‘What do you want?’ I told him, ‘I am on leave, and I am lost. I belong to a South Carolina regiment, and I want to find a way back to camp.’ He asked, ‘What way are you traveling?’ I said, ‘I’m going north.’ He said, ‘If you go four miles farther in the direction you are heading, you will be in the Union lines. Davis’ brigade is three miles south of here.’ ‘Much obliged,’ I said ‘Good night.’”

Lake County History Chapter 86: The Tunnel

The second man with me was a Lieutenant. He and I stopped our escape and pulled out of the tunnel. We were ready to stampede up the stairs again to escape punishment for our attempt to escape. I told him, ‘I am going out no matter the outcry from the guards. Will you go with me?’ He said, ‘I have no food to take with us.’ I told him, ‘I have plenty, and I will give you half.’ Upon my saying this, instantly, he entered the tunnel and was gone.”

A History of the 1918 Spanish Influenza in Lake County

Weekly newspapers, the Lake County Bee and the Clear Lake Press, both published in Lakeport, the Kelseyville Sun and the Lower Lake Bulletin, kept Lake County’s estimated 5500 residents informed with the hard news and the social news columns.
Lake County’s day to day life unfolds in the antique social media. Routine reports of property sales, cattlemen in town on business, and relatives visiting each other are interspersed with flu cases and flu deaths. Red Cross volunteers reported on making clothing for soldiers in combat and for European refugees, and on making gauze anti-flu masks.

The newspapers convey a sense of Lake County fighting influenza on its own. Relatives, friends, neighbors and nurses cared for patients at home. Overwhelmed caregivers begged for volunteer nurses. Doctors like Walter Fearn, Henry Stipp, J.B. Baker, county health officer Murdock Craig and Calistoga’s Walter Blodgett coped with the crisis as best they could.
Local newspapers printed Surgeon General Rupert Blue’s “Advice on Flu” that recommended avoiding crowds, covering coughs and sneezes, getting fresh air, eating wholesome food, and wearing masks.

In October Dr. Craig advised people to avoid public gatherings for a week. Although the moving picture show, churches services and schools closed for few days, some folks doubted the need for concern.

The Lake County Bee scoffed, “There is no epidemic of influenza here, nor of anything else unless it is fright. The Board of Health acted on the theory that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that a majority of the people of Lakeport wanted them to take the action they did.”
The social news tells the other side of the story. People came to Lake County from cities to avoid the influenza. Social customs changed as small unostentatious weddings and outdoor funerals became the norm. Masks became fashionable.

Lake County History Chapter 85: Rat Hell

My Company was surrendered to the Rebels by my Commander, Col. Strait. We had been fighting near Rome, Georgia, during the first part of 1863. For a short time after our capture, we were kept in Rome. Then, for another short period, we were marched to Atlanta. After this, we were taken to the large Confederate building where Union prisoners were kept. After being held for more than a year in Libby Prison, I made my escape on February 9, 1864.

Lake County History Chapter 84: Brazilian Stars and Bars

After arriving in Lake County in 1865, McLean went to South America with his wife and children, along with two other men. In 1866, they crossed the Andes Mountains and started up the ‘California Colony’ on the Parana River, seventy miles above Rosario, Cordoba, or what was known as the Entre Rios Province, in Argentina. McLean received $10,000 from the Argentine government along with a large section of land. He colonized the land by inducing fifty American copperhead families to join him.

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