Friday, October 19, 2018

The Real Story of the Famous Blue Gravel Mine

A wagon hitched to two horses hauling a load of supplies to the Blue Gravel mine. Date unknown. (Public Domain)

The Blue Gravel mine is situated on the Rancho Buena Ventura land grant in Redding on a tributary of Canyon Creek. It was named due to the bluish gravel waste generated by the men who extracted the lucrative gold ore from this placer claim. At a later date, the placer mine was transformed into a quartz mine by men digging shafts and tunnels. The Blue Gravel mine was also known as the Covell mine. Miners located the Blue Gravel mine in 1910, the original owner of this mine was a capitalist by the name of Jacob Henry Brush.

Jacob Henry Brush was born to Albert Brush and Julia (Birchard) Brush on July 9, 1833 in North Salem, New York, where he was raised and he became well-educated. He was a lifelong banker. Then in 1856, he relocated to Osage in Mitchell County, Iowa. This is where Jacob met Julia Augusta Buckmaster and they began courting each other. They eventually married and settled there.

Jacob Henry Brush and Julia Augusta (Buckmaster) Brush had the following children born to them: Anna Brush, Frank A. Brush, Mame Brush, and Irving H. Brush. These children were born between the years: 1865 and 1879, respectively. They were a were a wealthy first class family. Jacob uprooted his family from Osage, and ventured west to California in 1885, where they settled at Santa Rosa in Sonoma County. Then in 1886, Jacob established the Santa Rosa National Bank. He owned and operated this bank, and it became a family operated business. Brush, eventually, hired his son Frank to be the cashier there.

During the interim, Jacob H. Brush began traveling north to Redding, to familiarize himself with the northern California area. It wasn't until June 12, 1899, when Jacob purchased land in the Westwood Addition of Redding from Clinton C. Crosby. Nearly two years later, Brush purchased additional land in that subdivision on May 23, 1901 from W.W. Hendrick. Then Jacob and his wife purchased the remaining property in the Westwood subdivision on March 16, 1908, from W.F. Arams.

Around 1910, Jacob H. Brush acquired the Blue Gravel mine property on the Rancho Beuna Ventura land grant. The exact date he acquired this property is not known. The research I completed for this article yielded no results through the records at the Shasta County Recorder’s Office in Redding. A search through our mining records at my work, Shasta Historical Society, yielded no results as well. The Westwood Addition property was purchased before the Blue Gravel mining property was acquired by Brush.

It was Jacob’s son Frank who lived with his wife, Lena, and their eight children in Santa Rosa. His father eventually promoted him from cashier to part owner of the bank. Later on, Frank A. Brush hired his son Howard to become his secretary at the Santa Rosa National Bank. It was Mame Brush who married Edson C. Merritt and they produced a son by the name of Clifford Merritt, during their union together. Due to unknown reasons, Clifford lived with his grandparents, Jacob H. Brush and Julia (Buckmaster) Brush in Santa Rosa. The 1910 U.S. Census records Clifford Merritt at the age of fourteen. 

The genealogy of the family is important to present here due to the following account which was presented in a 1966 Covered Wagon article titled, Twice Told Tales III. The Blue Gravel Mine, published by the Shasta Historical Society about an unidentified person who falsely represented the Santa Rosa National Bank in Redding: “… the Covell’s arrived at the mine one day to find a stranger busy in the area. He informed them casually that he was the nephew of Frank A. Brush in charge of the Santa Rosa National Bank, and that he was going to work the mine. He added that he was inexperienced in mining and asked them to find some miners to assist him in the work. He said he would divide the takings, share and share alike. The Covell brothers hired themselves on this basis, saying nothing of the report that they already had taken thousands of dollars out of the mine.

Clearly, the man in the above reference was not Clifford Merritt who was the biological nephew of Frank A. Brush, but a stranger who has never been identified. Clifford Merritt would have been a young teenager at the time. As for the Covell family, they consisted of three siblings: James F. Covell, Albert B. Covell and Charles Covell who worked as miners. James was the eldest of the siblings who lived at home with his brother Albert, and their aged mother Sophronia Covell in the Bells precinct of Redding. The youngest brother Charles lived with his wife, Nellie, in their own home with their six children in the same precinct according to the 1910 U.S. Census.

However, no official contract was signed between the Covell party and the Santa Rosa National Bank allowing them to operate the Blue Gravel mine. There was another man involved with the Covell family named George H. Cochran (sometimes referred to as George M. Cochran) who also showed an interest in the mining property. The 1910 U.S. Census records him being employed as a pound master. Cochran was married to his wife, Mary, and they had five children living with them at their home on Placer Street in Redding. The Covell party began sluicing its ground as they extracted $1,200 worth of gold per day. Most of the money was spent in Redding on groceries and other supplies they needed.

Jacob H. Brush and his family learned of these gold strikes on their property through state wide media coverage, which warranted an investigation of their property as they hired an investigator who went to Redding to investigate the reports. Then on, July 4, 1911 Jacob H. Brush made a visit to his property in Redding. Brush found the same evidence his investigator did. It’s unknown if the Covell party made contact with Brush at that time.

The Westwood Addition property belonging to J.H. Brush and the Blue Gravel mine property on the Reading land grant was granted to the Santa Rosa National Bank in a deed by Brush himself on February 1, 1912. A few days after the property was deeded over to the bank, the following article appeared in the San Francisco Call newspaper on February 6, 1912:


(Special to the Call) 

Redding, Feb 5, four miners who are said to have washed out $2,500 worth within the city limits of Redding during the last three months were stopped today by a restraining order issued by the superior court upon the application of F.A. Brush, cashier of the Santa Rosa National Bank who owns the ground in the southern suburb. The miners quit work four months ago upon the demand of Brush but under advice since they obtained they think they have a right to work the ground. The question of title will be settled in court Saturday. The ground is said to be very rich, though this was not revealed until the results of the prospectors’ work became known.” (SIC)

Yet, the Sacramento Daily Union newspaper heralded a slightly different story on February 6, 1912:


Special to the Union. 

   Redding, Shasta County, Feb 5, Standing guard armed with rifles J.F. Covell, Albert Covell, Charles Covell, and George M. Cochrane, alleged jumpers of a mining claim adjacent to the western limits of the city, refused to allow those claiming ownership to approach within the boundaries of the claim. Attorney Tillotson acting for Frank Brush who owns a large acreage which is believed to be include the disputed ground, obtained a restraining order this afternoon from Judge Barber ordering the Covells and Cochrane to appear in superior court Saturday and show cause why they should not be dispossessed. Sheriff Montgomery served the order this afternoon. The ground in dispute is alleged to be rich and the owner, and Frank Brush, is president of the Santa Rosa National Bank. It is reported that well known mining men are behind the attempt to work the ground by force if necessary. Charles H. Braynard, attorney for the Covells and Cochrane, claims the boundaries of the old Reading Grant do not, include disputed mining ground and that his clients have rights by location. Brush has surveyors in the field running lines to ascertain the boundaries of the grant. The question of ownership hinges on the boundaries." (SIC)

Then on, February 19, 1912, the Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding printed the following article:


Judge, Barber this afternoon gave decision in the mining case – First National Bank of Santa Rosa against Covell brothers and others. He found that there was merit in the demurrer interposed by Judge Carr, counsel for the defendants, but he would not dismiss the restraining order. That would remain in full force and effect until next Wednesday, by which time, the court intimated, counsel for the bank W.D. Tillotson and T.W. H Shanahan, may submit a new complaint or amend the old one. The decision was on technical points. The effct is that the court still refuses to permit the Covell brothers or the bank to work the rich diggings that were recently struck on the ground in dispute.” (SIC)

The Santa Rosa National Bank charged the Covell family and Cochran with illegal mining while they sued them for $5,000 in damages. It was Judge Joseph E. Barber who presided over the case. As noted above the Covell party was represented by their lawyers Charles H. Braynard and Judge Francis Carr while the Santa Rosa National Bank was represented by their lawyers Williard D. Tillotson and Senator T.W. H. Shanahan. The case drew a large audience of spectators at the courthouse in Redding. It became headline news. Then on, January 29, 1913, the Courier-Free Press newspaper heralded the following article:


   Judge J.E. Barber this morning rendered his decision in the superior court in the locally famous case of the Santa Rosa National Bank against Covell brothers – J.F. Covell, Albert Covell and Charles Covell. Judge Barber gave judgement to favor of the bank but did not allow it any damages. The defendants are to pay all the costs of the action. In disallowing the defendants, the Covell brothers are to pay all the costs of the action, and, as the trial was a long one, the sum will be considerable. George Cochran, who was also a defendant, was absolved from any liability on account of costs. 

   The Santa Rosa National Bank sued for $4,100 damages, alleging that it had established that the Covells had sold that much gold that they had mined from its ground. The chief issue in the suit was to establish title to the disputed ground on which rich placer diggings had been struck. The trial was a long one. The action was begun on February 5, 1912; when the bank filed its complaint. Several weeks passed before the case came to trial, though the case had many innings in court before the trial properly opened. There was a restraining order to argue up and down, demurrers to argue, complaints to amend and all the infinitude of attorney’s technicalities to dispose of before the case came to the show-down of evidence.
   The trial opened before Judge Barber on April 29, 1912. The establishment of corners and lines drew out a lot of evidence. For instance, Charles Dozier, the surveyor, was on the stand for a week. Other surveyors were likewise on the stand, seemingly a very long time. On June 3 the trial was adjourned for the summer vacation. A second hitch was taken on September 10. Three days later the trial ended, so far as taking evidence was concerned, the attorneys being allowed almost a month to submit their briefs.
   The Santa Rosa National Bank based its claim to the ground on the survey of the Reading grant. Attorneys and the maps were all wrong. The corner stakes were all askew, and nothing on the records was correct. Indeed, nobody in the western part of Redding had a good title to his property, they said. The Covell brothers, it will be remembered struck rich placers almost within the city limits of Redding the winter before last. They mined gold in considerable quantity in a gulch west of town and were selling in Redding by the bootleg full nearly every week, before anybody knew what was up. 
   When the Covells good fortune became public they were congratulated. Nobody begrudged them their good fortune. Nobody knew how much gold they took out in a few weeks, further than that it was a considerable sum. When the word of their good fortune reached the ears of the Santa Rosa National Bank, for banks have ears that hear the jingle of gold. The bank, through its president Mr. Brush, owned land in the Reading grant, adjoining Redding. It sent an agent up here, and he found that the Covells were mining on the bank’s ground. The Covells claimed they were not mining on the bank’s ground. A restraining order put a stop to all the mining, until the differences could be settled judicially.
   The settlement was reached today when Judge J.E. Barber, after carefully reviewing the evidence, decided that the disputed mining ground belonged to the Santa Rosa National Bank.” (SIC)

Eventually, the property jumpers relocated from the Redding area, with the exception of Sophronia Covell who died in Redding on November 18, 1910. She is buried in Redding Memorial Park. Jacob H. Brush remained president of the Santa Rosa National Bank until his death on March 6, 1919 at Santa Rosa. At that time media reports claimed that the Blue Gravel mine would be sold, but the bank held onto the title.

Above: the Blue Gravel mine. Circa 1930s. (Public Domain)

In the interim, the Santa Rosa National Bank received many offers for this lucrative mining property. However, the mine became dormant from 1913 to 1922. In 1922, they leased it to a miner named James Murray. Through their attorney, Williard D. Tillotson on February 5, 1922 a notice of non-liability was notarized by the Santa Rosa National Bank stating the following terms of their property:

Further notice is hearby given that the undersigned will not be responsible for the work and labor being done and performed in or upon in connection with said property, and particularly in connection with the mining operation now being done or carried on upon said premises by or under direction of James Murray, and it will not be responsible for any materials furnished or used upon said premises or in connection with work, inter, and improvements being made, done, or performed thereon.

Murray continued mining operations at the Blue Gravel mine which yielded lucrative results and he  sunk a shaft into the ground 75 feet deep transforming the property from a placer mine to a quartz mine. In 1922, the Blue Gravel mine's production assayed at a high value and it began to yield a total of $20,000 in gold ore. Clearly, the Santa Rosa National Bank had no interest in pursuing mining activities, but they knew their land in Redding on the Reading land grant was valuable.

It was Henry P. Hilliard who was the receiver for the Santa Rosa National Bank and they eventually sold the Blue Gravel mine to the St. Edal Company for $4,000 on December 20, 1921. The St. Edal Company was a California based corporation who became interested in the Blue Gravel mine. After the St. Edal Company acquired the mine, full-fledged mining operations continued where Murray left off. A payment of $3,500 of the initial four thousand dollar agreement would be due on or before January 15, 1922.

The St. Edal Company sold the Blue Gravel mine to Mrs. Grace (Welsh) Elliot of Los Angeles on October 15, 1923. Elliot acquired 416.85 acres of mining land in the City of Redding. Elliot had no intentions of mining the property which entered the mine into a period of dormancy. On December 10, 1927, Elliot sold the mine to the City of Redding when they purchased the property for the construction of Benton Airfield, now Benton Airport.

A large amount of land in the Shasta View Addition of eastern Redding, was combined with Blue Gravel property, in the above deed, which was recorded on December 22, 1927. On that same day, the Courier-Free Press newspaper noted that the property was purchased by the City of Redding for a total of $85,000. When the deal was completed the City of Redding became the first and only city in the United States to own a gold mine. Redding still claims that honor.

In September of 1934, the mine was leased by the City of Redding to Holton Cochran, a son of George H. Cochran the former partner of the Covell family. Holton followed in his father's foot steps in operating the famous mining property. Holton Cochran introduced a new method to the mine by operating a gasoline shovel.

The gasoline shovel drastically changed the landscape of the mining site. During this era, the City of Redding was earning ten percent of the royalties from the mine they owned. Cochran earned the rest. In November of 1934, the mine produced a total of $399.93, in gold from the gasoline shovel operations.

Above: L-R: Elois Cochran, Cody Elias Stowe and Holton Cochran pose for a photograph at the Blue Gravel mine with an ore car. This photograph was taken in 1934. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

The City of Redding terminated the lease held by Holton Cochran in January of 1938, and then the lease to the Blue Gravel mine was then reissued to Jacob C. Larsen and his brother J.S. Larsen of Sacramento. The Larsen siblings discovered a new vein of quartz at the mining site. About $3,000 worth of exploration and development occurred at the Blue Gravel mine that year by the Larsen brothers. They probed the mining property for future shafts and tunnels as well. The lease to the Blue Gravel mine was granted to them for another twenty-five years by the City of Redding, however, the city could terminate the lease at any time.

Jacob C. Larsen brought in new partners in 1941 to assist with financial backing of his Blue Gravel mining activities. The first load of ore assayed at $750.00. Production at the mine continued until January 20, 1942, when the lease to the mine was terminated by the City of Redding. Due to the first World War, the mine laid abandoned, and the City of Redding leased it to various people over the years until 1958 when the city stopped leasing the mine.

Presently, the Blue Gravel mine includes the stanchions of it's former twenty ton stamp mill. The openings of the mine have been plugged by the City of Redding. It was the City of Redding who transformed this mining property into a hiking trail called the Blue Gravel Mine Trail. There is parking available for the trail at the corner of Placer Street and Buena Ventura Boulevard. The trail is an easy 1.75 mile hike one-way, take some time with your family to explore this trail’s history. There are water fountains available, dogs are permitted but must be kept on a leash and there are benches available for sitting.

Above: the entrance to the Blue Gravel Mine Trail from the intersection of Placer Road and Beunaventura BLVD. This picture was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 16, 2018.

Above: on the left is a tributary of  Canyon Creek which channels itself near the Blue Gravel Mine Trail on the right. This picture was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 16, 2018.

Above: the new marker dedicating the history of the Blue Gravel Mine. It was dedicated in 2018 as a historic site by the City of Redding, Shasta Historical Society and the Turtle Bay Exploration Park. The stanchions of the stamp mill are seen in the distance to the right. This picture was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 16, 2018.

Above: now you can read about the history of the Blue Gravel mine when you're out exercising along the Blue Gravel Mine Trail in Redding. This picture was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 16, 2018.

Above: old roads leading to and from the Blue Gravel mine are still in existence today. This is one of them near the stamp mill site. This picture was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 16, 2018.

Above: another old road is barely visible in the landscape near the Blue Gravel mine. This picture was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 16, 2018.

Above: Looking down a the stanchions of the Blue Gravel mine twenty ton stamp mill.  The stanchions are the foundation of a stamp mill. This picture was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 16, 2018.

Above: the stanchions of the twenty ton stamp mill are towering high above the grass along the Blue Gravel Mine Trail in Redding. The historic stanchions are tagged with graffiti. This picture was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 16, 2018.

Above: the stanchions of the twenty ton stamp mill. A close-up. The historic stanchions are tagged with graffiti. This picture was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 16, 2018.


1880 U.S. Census

1900 U.S. Census

1910 U.S. Census

Old River Channel Gives Up $500 A Week In Gold - The Mariposa Gazette newspaper of Mariposa, July 29, 1911

Santa Rosan In Gold Streak - The Press Democrat newspaper of Santa Rosa, August 3, 1911

National Bank Gets Offers For Its Gold Mine - The Press Democrat newspaper of Santa Rosa, August 4, 1911

Miners Barred From Digging Gold In City - The San Francisco Call newspaper of San Francisco, February 6, 1912

Rifles Flash In Property Dispute - The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper of Sacramento, February 6, 1912

Valuable Land Is Involved In Suit - The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper of Sacramento, February 14, 1912

Restraining Order Holds --- New Complain Must Be Submitted - The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, February 19, 1912

Continues Restraining Order - The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper of Sacramento, March 10, 1912

To Try Gravel Cases - The Morning Union newspaper of Grass Valley, September 11, 1912

Santa Rosa National Bank Wins Suit Against The Covells - The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, January 29, 1913

Who's Who On The Pacific Coast A Biographical Compilation Of Notable Living Contemporaries West Of The Rocky Mountains, edited by Franklin Harper. Harper Publishing Company of Los Angeles, ©1913. Page 77.

Death Thursday Of Aged Banker, Jacob H. Brush - The Press Democrat newspaper of Santa Rosa, March 7, 1919

Aviation Field Is Property of City - The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, December 22, 1927

Gasoline Shovel To Be Operated This Fall At Blue Gravel Mine - The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, September 18, 1934

More Gold Sent To Mint From City's Mine - The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, November 16, 1934

Colorful History Of Blue Gravel, The Only Gold Mine Owned By City, Is Related - The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, February 27, 1935

Leasers Of City's Blue Gravel Get 25 Years More - The Shasta Dial newspaper of Redding, January 6, 1938

Shasta County, California A History by Rosena Giles, published by Biobooks, ©1949.

Twice Told Tales III. The Blue Gravel Mine - The Covered Wagon, 1966. Published by Shasta Historical Society.

622. VF - Blue Gravel mine, Flat Creek, Gold Leaf file on file at the Shasta Historical Society in Redding.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Historic Dersch Homestead

An upper torso photograph of a man identified as Doctor Solomon Dodge Baker, M.D. (Public Domain)

Solomon Dodge Baker was a native of Washington County, Ohio, who was born on April 16, 1825, to Doctor Isaac Baker and his wife Suzanne (Morgan) Baker. Solomon was their eleventh child born to them. His parents had a total of thirteen children. His father relocated from Ohio with his family in 1827 to Bloomington, Iowa where they settled on one hundred and sixty acres of land. This is where Solomon was raised and he became well-educated on his path to become a physician, like his father was.

Solomon was attracted to California by the reports of the California Gold Rush which lured him west in 1850 from Bloomington, Iowa, at the age of twenty-five. His father’s family appears on the 1850 U.S. Census. Apparently, Solomon missed the enumeration of the 1850 U.S. Census upon his arrival in Shasta County, that year, since his district was already recorded. Baker took up squatter rights on a portion of a Mexican land grant which was located on the east side of the Sacramento River called the Rancho Buena De Briesgau. This is when Baker established a popular hotel and a stopping place on the Nobles Emigrant Trail at Bear Creek.

The Nobles Emigrant Trail was a well-traveled route for emigrants, and during that year he was elected as a Justice of the Peace. Baker is recorded on the 1852 California State Census working as a miner at the age of twenty-seven, his name appears as S.D. Baker. Baker marries Sarah Davison and their first child Nancy was born to them on a trip to Indiana in 1856. After the birth of their daughter, the Baker family returned to their Bear Creek property, where Baker purchased 62 ½ cents an acre of the Rancho Buena De Briesgau land grant. The Baker property consisted of 160 acres of land.

The 1860 U.S. Census records his occupation as a physician. Local residents affectionately called Solomon, “Doc” Baker. The above document claims that Baker was thirty-four years of age, while his wife Sarah is listed at age twenty-four, and their daughter Nancy is listed as age six. Then in 1861, Baker received a land patent for his Bear Creek property, and he decided to sell it.

A Bavarian immigrant by the name of George F. Dersch, was naturalized as an American citizen in the Shasta County District Court at Shasta on July 13, 1860; a year later he purchased the 160 acre Bear Creek property of Doctor Solomon D. Baker after learning that the property was for sell.

“Doc” Baker intended to relocate to some new property he had purchased in Shasta County, as my research shows, which is proven by a Declaration of Homestead dated March 27, 1862. The homestead property was described as the following, “the east half of the south east quarter of section No. 15 and the west half of the south west quarter of section No. 14, township 31 north range No. 2 east Mt. Diablo Meridian and containing 160 acres more.” In this document, Baker claimed that he intended to relocate there with his family. The section numbers on the above document are reversed, but I’m not positive if they were ever corrected. This new homestead was located about four miles north-east of Shingletown.

A search for an Abandonment of Homestead yielded zero results in my research to this property, it’s not known if one was produced or if he had sold the property to another party before relocating his family to Virginia City, Storey County, Nevada. In Storey County, Baker changed his profession and became a grocer. Solomon lived there the rest of his life with his family. After the birth of his daughter Nancy, his wife Sarah (Davison) Baker bore him four more children. Sarah (Davison) Baker died in Storey County, Nevada in 1878, and then Solomon remarried in 1879 to Margaret Passage. The Shasta County pioneer, Doctor Soloman Dodge Baker died in Storey County, Nevada on June 16, 1902.

George Dersch intended to farm the (Old) “Doc” Baker place on Bear Creek and he began growing crops. The soil on the property was well cultivated. George Dersch and his wife Anna Maria (Kemmelmier) Dersch had two children Frederick Dersch and Anna Dersch. George’s younger brother Frederick Dersch also lived with them and he was partially blind.

Above: The Dersch homestead on Bear Creek. Date unknown. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

The Dersch homestead was raided by Native Americans on Saturday, January 31, 1863, as the Indians stole their cattle, horses, harnesses, clothing and other provisions they owned. The Dersch family was not at home when the raid was made. There were no explanation given to the family as to why their home was attacked. The Dersch family was gone from their residence when the raid was carried out, but it would not be the last one on the Dersch property. Eventually, the Indians became hostile towards other settlers in Shasta County as the following events transpired in September of 1864…

On September 9th, tragedy struck the residence of Arkansas Jones when his wife Helenor M. Jones was murdered by Indians during a raid. Their home was located four miles from Copper City, on the Copper City road. The Jones' were personal friends of the David Graves family who lived in Copper City, and their eight year old daughter was visiting them that day.

Around 10:00 a.m., Helenor began complaining of a head ache and she went to lie down on her bed, leaving the girl alone. All of a sudden, six or eight hostile Indians broke into their house. The Indians found her inside her home lying down in bed, and with no remorse, they shot three or four arrows which punctured into her body and left deep wounds. The hostile Indians then shot her with a pistol, and she was also beaten with a club. All of this transpired while her husband was out hunting at the time of her murder. The Graves daughter escaped the property and found a hide out. She survived the attack.

Another tragedy occurred on September 10th, on Cow Creek eight miles from Millville at the ranch of William L. Allen. His wife Catherine Allen and two of their young children were brutally murdered by Indians. Catherine sustained injuries from a bullet which was discharged from a rifle which caused her death, and after she died her throat had been slashed with a knife. Two of their children were brutally clubbed to death, and a third child sustained the same type of beating. However, the third child survived the cruel attack.

While the atrocities garnered media attention, local residents lived in fear of the Indians, and they eventually requested military assistance from Fort Reading. The commanding officers of the military fort denied them military assistance because they were not given military orders to assist the settlers at that time. After that, Shasta County residents established volunteer groups to exterminate the Indians. These groups were organized in Millville and Copper City. These volunteer groups killed countless Indians who were not involved in the two massacres, and the death toll of the Native Americans climbed.

Two years later on Wednesday, August 22, 1866, the local Indians continued their hostile attack’s against the Dersch family when another raid was made by them that day at the Dersch homestead. This time the entire family was home with the exception of George Dersch, who was at Klotz Mill in Shingletown getting a load of lumber to bring home. The following information is gleaned from the Shasta Courier newspaper on Saturday, August 25, 1866:

INDIAN RAID – Mr. Dodge, of Shingletown, informs us on Wednesday a party of Indians visited the place of Mr. George Dersch, on Bear Creek, in this county, and proceeded to plunder the house. Mr. Dersch was absent at the time; but Mrs. Dersch and children were in the garden. Hearing a noise, and suspecting the cause, Mrs. Dersch hurried towards the house, and was met by one of the savages and shot, the ball entering her right side. The red devils then robbed the house of everything it contained of value, and escaped to the hills. We have not learned weather Mrs. Dersch’s wound is dangerous or not.

P.S. – Since the above was put in type we learn that Mrs. Dersch was first shot in the right side, the ball going clear through. She then started to run away, when she was shot in the back, the ball coming out in front. – It is supposed the wounds will prove fatal.” (SIC)

It was Ezekial T. Thatcher, a family friend and neighbor, who stopped by for a visit just after the horrible tragedy took place. Thatcher was told that George Dersch went to the Klotz Mill in Shingletown and he immediately jumped on his horse and galloped off to notify him. On his way out he notified a doctor named William N. Guptill, a Millville resident, who was the nearest physician to them. Doctor Guptill hi-tailed it out to the Dersch homestead to treat Anna’s injuries that day, but the worst was expected to come.

It was Doctor Guptill who wrote the following correspondence to the Red Bluff Independent which was originally dated August 24, 1866, but it wasn’t printed in their newspaper until August 29, 1866:

Millville – August 24, 1866

 Editor Independent – Mrs. George Dersch residing at the crossing of Bear Creek, about four miles above Parkville, in this county, was shot by Indians on the 22d inst., about 2 o’ clock in the afternoon. I was called to attend her, and found her in an arbor in the orchard, about two hundred yards below the house. On examination, I found two gunshot wounds in the abdomen; one entering about two inches above the umbilicus, passing out at the right side, while the other entered on a line with the first, more to the left, passing out on the left of the spine. The intestines protruded, she died about 8 o’ clock.

Upon questioning her I elicited as follows: she was making soap at the leach at the rear of the house, when she saw two Indians with their guns resting on the fence and pointing at her; they fired immediately, and you know the rest. She says the Indians were both well dressed in checkered shirts and hats. They plundered the house of everything they could find, including $60 in coin, and two fine rifles.

Yours respectfully,

Wm. N. Guptill, M.D.” (SIC)

Above: Doctor William Neil Guptill, M.D., was a native of Maine born about 1814, died unknown. He was also a Justice of the Peace who held an inquisition upon the body of Catherine Allen and he was the one who treated Mrs. Anna Marie (Kemmelmier) Dersch. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

The Shasta Courier followed up with an article on Saturday, September 1, 1866 stating the following account:

INDIANS OVERTAKEN AND KILLED – On the anoucement of the murder of Mrs. Dersch, on Bear Creek, last week, Mr. Klotz, of Klotz mill, raised a party of eight men and started in pursuit of the Indian murderers. Getting on the track, Klotz trailed the savages over the hills and ravines, until last Wednesday evening at which time he over-took them on Antelope Creek, about two miles above the Antelope mills, in Tehama County. On coming in sight of the red skins Klotz and his men fired a volley, which killed four of them, and wounded three more, who unfortunately escaped into the thick underbrush. A feather bed-tick, blankets and articles of wearing apparel found in their camp have been identified as belonging to the Dersch family, and proves conclusively that they were the murderers of Mrs. Dersch. It is to be regretted that any of the red devils escaped.” (SIC)

The man identified as Mr. Klotz in the above newspaper article is Rudolph Klotz who owned and operated the Klotz Mill, a water-powered saw mill on Millseat Creek at Shingletown. The above article failed to report the events leading up to the murder of Anna Maria (Kemmelmier) Dersch, and those facts are presented below:

A few months prior to the murder of Anna Maria (Kemmelmier) Dersch, her husband George Dersch hired three tenants on the Dersch homestead as farm hands to assist with the employment of several Indians who appeared to be friendly towards the Dersch family, even though other Indians had raided their house and property in 1863. Then one day, three Indians were punished by a severe whipping from the Dersch tenants for stealing potatoes during a potato harvest on the property. Automatically, the Indians were banished from their Bear Creek property. Due to the above events the Indians retaliated against the Dersch family on August 22, 1866. Anna Maria (Kemmelmier) Dersch was buried in the Parkville Pioneer Cemetery at the age of thirty-five years old.

The 1870 U.S. Census records George Dersch at age thirty-nine, his occupation is a farmer with a value of real estate of $2,000 and a value of personal estate at $2,000. George’s eldest child Frederick Dersch was listed at age fourteen, his occupation was driving team, and his daughter Anna was listed at age ten. George’s brother Frederick Dersch was listed at age thirty-seven, his occupation is a farm laborer. A tenant by the name of Lebon Aubushon was living with them as well at the age of thirty-three; his value of personal estate was listed at $100. Its possible Lebon was one of the tenants who whipped the Native Americans the day of the potato harvest.

On February 6, 1877, George Dersch remarried to Bridgett Moylan in Redding and George brought her to his Bear Creek property where the family remained living until George F. Dersch died on October 1, 1900. He is buried in the Parkville Pioneer Cemetery, next to his beloved first wife, Anna Maria (Kemmelmier) Dersh. His second wife out-lived George another four years. She moved to Sacramento where she died April 6, 1904. Her body was returned to Shasta County where she was interred in the Shasta Catholic Cemetery.

The Dersch Homestead became California Historical Landmark Number 120 when it was designated on March 31, 1933. The Dersch house was destroyed by fire in 1934 and it was rebuilt that same year. The only remaining structure on the Dersch Homestead is the barn. A historic plaque was placed at the Dersch Homestead by the State Department of Parks and Recreation, Shasta Historical Society, Hollis Moss Fund, and the Trinitarianus Chapter #62, E Clampus Vitus on May 15, 1999.

Above: this house was built in 1934 after the original Dersch home was destroyed by fire. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 10, 2018

Above:  this plaque was placed at the Dersch Homestead by the State Department of Parks and Recreation, Shasta Historical Society, Hollis Moss Fund, and the Trinitarianus Chapter #62, E Clampus Vitus on May 15, 1999. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 10, 2018

Above: a portion of the historic Dersch homestead. A barn in the background. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 10, 2018

Above: Bear Creek runs near the property, an older bridge which is out of service appears over the creek. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 10, 2018.

Above, L-R: the headstones of George F. Dersch and his wife Anna Maria (Kemmelmier) Dersch. They are interred into the historic Parkville Pioneer Cemetery, located on Parkville Road. Note: there are two headstones for Anna. One of them spells her given name as "Annie". The writing etched into her headstone's give her name, death date, and the following sentence, "Wife of George Dersch, was killed by Indians on Bear Creek." She was also a native of Bavaria. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 10, 2018.

Above: the headstone of George F. Dersch, husband of Anna Maria (Kemmelmier) Dersch. He was born on March 28, 1832. He was interred into the Parkville Pioneer Cemetery. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 10, 2018.

Above: "Anna Maria (Kemmelmier) Dersch" headstone number one. The is the closest headstone to the grave of George F. Dersch. She was interred into the Parkville Pioneer Cemetery. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 10, 2018.

Above: "Annie Maria (Kemmelmier) Dersch" headstone number two. This is the farthest lot from the headstone of George F. Dersch. She was interred at the Parkville Pioneer Cemetery. It's not known why there are two headstone's in her memory. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 10, 2018.

Above: the road to the left is Dersch Road which takes travelers past the historic Dersch homestead. It is named in honor for the Dersch family. This is the stopping point for Parkville Road at Dersch Road. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 10, 2018.


1850 U.S. Census

1852 California State Census

1860 U.S. Census

Solomon D. Baker, Declaration of Homestead dated March 27, 1862

Coroner’s Inquest Report – Mrs. William Allen dated September 10, 1864

Coroner’s Inquest Report - Helenor M. Jones dated September 21, 1864

Horrible Massacre By Indians - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, September 10, 1864

Another Indian Murder - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, September 17, 1864

Our Indian Difficulties - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, September 17, 1864

Volunteers -  The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, September 24, 1864

More Indians Killed - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, October 8, 1864

Indian Raid - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, August 25, 1866

Correspondence - The Red Bluff Independent newspaper of Red Bluff, August 29, 1866

Indians Overtaken and Killed - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, September 1, 1866

Death of Mrs. Dersch - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, September 1, 1866

The Settler’s Vengeance - The Red Bluff Independent newspaper of Red Bluff, September 5, 1866

1867 California Voters Registration

1870 U.S. Census

1880 U.S. Census

BP-005.1 Baker, Solomon Dodge Pioneer Plaque File on file at Shasta Historical Society

The Good Old Times In McClean County, Illinois written by Dr. E. Duis. Published by Bloomington. ©1874 pages 206-207.

DP-009 Dersch, George Pioneer Plaque File on file at Shasta Historical Society.

Our Storied Landmarks – Shasta County, California, written by May H. Southern, published by Balakshin Printing Company, ©1942.

Shasta Historical Society Pioneer Record - George Dersch, dated: March 23, 1943

Shasta County, California A History by Rosena Giles, published by Biobooks, ©1949.

Our Pioneers - The Dersches by Beverly Steele, Ridge Rider News newspaper of Shingletown, January 4, 1993

Our Pioneers - The Dersches Part II by Beverly Steele, Ridge Rider News newspaper of Shingletown, January 11, 1993

Our Pioneers - The Dersches Part III by Beverly  Steele, Ridge Rider News newspaper of Shingletown (no date)

Wintu Trails by Helen Steadman Hogue. Published by Shasta Historical Society ©1977. Printed by Redding Printing Company Inc.,