Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nona James

Now, the title of this post would have had a lot of people running for the hills just a few short years ago. This is a trip back in time for me. As many of you know, I was raised listening to people like Nona James. Say what you want, people like Nona could be a terrible enemy or the best friend you ever had. She was from a time, and place, that you have heard me refer to before. A time when a person’s word was their bond, their name was their honor, and a handshake was the best contract that you ever needed.

First, I need to, once again, express my gratitude to “Olmanriver”, who found this article, and was instrumental in getting all of the proper permissions from the family, and the author, Mary Anderson. Mary is now employed by the Redwood Times. I’ve always admired Mary, she was one of those rare few that moved here and tried to find out a little bit about us. I suspect that she found more than she bargained for, but none-the-less she recorded a lot of our history. Many of her books on the local area can be found at the Redwood Times office. She is a very exacting person and leaves little room for flexibility. So when you read something that she writes, it’s very much like she heard or saw it.

Reading this story about Nona reminded me of some of the times that I would visit with her. She lived at the bottom of Oak street in Garberville. I lived at the top, and my mother lived there long after I left to my life of adventure and marriage. Nona often traveled between the James Ranch, on the Bell Springs ridge and the Town House, as the ranchers used to call their places in town.

I was always wise enough to stay on Nona’s good side, and you will understand why, after you read a little about her life. In her older years, she very much looked forward to the company, and she liked to talk. I could always steer her into a good story, or a tale or two. Near the end of her life she was not able to get around much and stories got to be repeated a lot. But, it was like seeing a good movie more than once, it was always interesting.

A friend of mine that worked on a ranch in northern Mendocino told me a story about Nona and her two daughters. He said that he and two other fellows were driving around the hill, and on the other side he could see Nona’s pick-up at the gate, with Nona and her daughters in it. As got around the hill on the other side he noticed that they were still there, he was getting a little concerned as he drove up to the gate on the other side. He said that he could see Nona and her daughters, all talking at the same time. Finally he got out and opened the gate, they drove through and waved “thank-you”, but all three never did stop talking. He just shook his head and went on home. Nona did like to talk.

Back in the Early 1900’s, my grandfather Bill Rathjens owned a service station north of Laytonville, just across the street and a little to the north of the Cal-Fire station. He knew Nona and Harry James well, because his was the first gas station to the south of the Bell springs ridge. He also knew the Drewrys and the Linsers. All of the Bell Springs ranchers bought their gas from my grandfather. And, a quite a few of them bought Kohler Light Plants from him. Grampa Bill was the local Kohler dealer. With out further ado:

Interview by Mary Anderson (September 12, 1984)
Nona James 
Still has the skirt she made, but some years back someone stole a very old violin she had. In fact, it was a Stradivarius. I never played it a day in my life, but my step-dad had it and he got it from Charlie Taylor. He played the violin some. When I was a kid, most of the people played the violin around the country. Country people most all played the violin. They used to like it. 'You see, I'm eighty years old and I was raised right here in this country. My grandfather was the first white man to ever settle in the is community. (James 'Woods)

Of course) you've probably already talked to Mrs. Cook. She thought Frank Asbill told the truth and I knew he was a damned old liar because he killed a friend of mine down in the north end of this town - Mrs. Mayer. He knocked her down the stairs and he went to jail for a couple of years. His uncle settled Covelo. Frank was sure a rowdy young fella. He had it 'in for my step-dad, Noble because he was half Indian. His father was a white man. Him and another fellow went to Washington and they was in on that Mexican fight. So they went to Washington and they got a little gold medal. I gave it to one of my fifth cousins. Albert Noble had that seal from the United States given to him because he was in the Death March, you know. There was over 2,000 died in that march, you know. Mr. Jewett had one (of the medals) and my step-dad's father had one. Lyman Jewett's grandfather had one.

Noble was a young fellow in the U.S. Army and so was, Jewett. When they come out to this country they come out in on ox team. Now Frank Asbill told Mrs. Cook and I say that anybody that would believe Frank Asbill would believe anything and she got mad and she hasn't been back to see me since! Another one she believed was old Sam Piercy. He's Sammy Cush's grandfather) you know. He said the Indian girl come to him and it was raining and he took her in and took good care of her. Hell, he was with my grandfather coming through on horseback to clean out the Indians from this part of the country. Sam Piercy was the leader of the bunch. There was nine or ten of them and they found the Indian encampment out by Benbow up where those red rocks are now that they use for a gravel pit. The Indians used to camp up there when it was wet weather.

When I was a kid, Old Jane Johnson, she had two or three boys" one was Phillip. Old Johnson caught an Indian woman too, but so did my grandfather. He caught an Indian Woman and she buried down here on the flat, old Nellie Wood is. She was Sam Wood's mother. Sam died oh, two-three years ago. She's not buried in the cemetery. You don't think the whites would let an Indian be buried in that cemetery. Ira Tooby used to keep the fence up around the graves down there but it's all gone now. That's down there on Tooby flats.

Lotta, you know, nobody could fine out her age. (Lotta Redoni)

I knew this town when there was only 7 people living here. There was a saloon and they had a post office here. The post office was a little tar shack right where I think Wards is now. Or maybe Sears. Charlie Wood was an uncle of mine and he started the telephone office. He married a Linser girl. I have relatives all over this county.

There wasn't much shooting around here. Lead come too high. Now if you say knifing, I can tell you about the knifings. They'd get drunk in the saloon and the barkeeper would knock em out and throw em out in the street and when they'd come to they'd either be all right or else they'd get up and take to knifing one another. Now in this cemetery over here, they're burying now on top of people that was buried there when I was a kid. The first grave I ever saw there, my grandpa Woods is buried there. Those fir trees down there were little bits of fir when I was a kid. Now they're great big things. But you know the old timers buried about 8 foot deep, hand dug graves and everybody helped dig the graves. Now they only bury them down about four feet - five feet - because if they dig down any further they might dig up an old-timer! I know where people were buried there.

Things sure have changed around here. They sure have. I was sitting down there one day, about ten years ago, in front of Peter Pan, and this young fellow almost knocked me off the sidewalk. The hippies was just starting to come in here then. But I went on into the store and got my stuff. He went on. He just knocked me off the Sidewalk and then called his dog and went on. I came on home and put my stuff away and then went back down there and met him and said, “Young fella, if you ever see me coming again you'd better know I know who you are. I went home and I got my pig sticker with me and if you ever touch me or my car or anything I own again they'll be gathering your guts up from the service station on the north end of town.” Then about five years ago I was walking down the street with my brother-in-low and a fellow went across the street in a right hurry against the traffic and my brother-in-law says, “Well, that fella's in a real hurry.” And I said, “Well, you know what his hurry is? He thinks I got my pig sticker with me.” Right till today, he takes off when he sees me comin. And he's not the only one.

I don't get to visit much anymore. My horse is kind of miserable. (Her horse is her aluminum walker) And then I had another little stroke. But I can still read and I can still laugh. But you ought to have seen me a few years ago. My son-in-law was insisting that I couldn't come home until I got someone to stay with me all the time, but hell, I can't afford that. I went to a rest home (after she had surgery).

When did it first start to get civilized around here? Oh, around 16-20 years ago. Now Stella Harris' house just shakes like hell (in on earthquake). Now, Alice Reed when she was a girl and Jack Stone, when he was here (Lincoln Jack - he married somebody else - I don't know who) but Jack was little bit older and he thought he was a pretty good fella and he was coming across a log and he got fresh with Alice and she knocked him off the log into the gully and damned near killed him. I remember that.

WWI: Well, we had a dance here after they come home. One of the Wallen boys was there - Roy Wallen. Alfred and Emmet Harris were there. They was nine soldiers there in uniform. I had an uncle went too, and he died. The son of the woman that ran the hotel down here at that time, he got killed.

Now in those days, we had a little church down here. Now, I resent that new church. I can't t help it because that cost $130 some thousand dollars and there was only nine people that ever went to that church. There wasn't any Presbyterian Church nor any Catholic church here then. There was just the one church. The ladies all mode a quilt and sold it and raised money to build that first church.

Alice had a mean old father. (Della Womack says her father was mean too. Why were all the men so mean in those days?) Della's a second cousin of mine. We had to be mean in those days. They couldn't have lived in this country if they weren't mean. When my grandfather moved here, he was here for two years before Della's grandfather moved here. He married an Indian woman and raised a whole bunch of half-breed kids, but my grandfather's wife died, so he went back over to Sacramento valley and got a new wife over there, and she was 14 years old when she had her first kid. And then she had kids after that. When she died she had, I guess, 12 or 14 living. She had 17 living babies and two or three that wasn't living. I remember when I was a kid, her telling my mother, "You know I loves your Father,” she said, “but I don't like what he done. He kept me barefooted and pregnant all the time.” But you know she'd have a kid nine months and nine days after the other was born. She lived to be 65 or 70. I can remember Grandma Wood but ,Jim was buried in 1908 or 1909 I think.
Depression? Well, I lived up on the hill and yes, we had depression. I know what it is to go without sugar, to go without stuff. But my mother found her cigarettes boughten. My step-dad found his tobacco. They managed to get that. We had a lot of homemade stuff but I know what it is to grind up wheat and make your flour and all that stuff.

(Women sure used to have to work hard?) Well, if I could do it horseback, I could do it. My mother saw me out in the yard one day. I was stirring up the dishes and thinking about whether I should take them off the stove. We had on old fella staying with it and I happened to have been riding and I thought well I didn't water the corn. So I stopped and turned on the water so it would run down there and went up to the house and I let the horse eat the grass around the garden. It was in the afternoon by that time and the dishes had been boiling about two hours. We were keeping a nephew and neice from Stockton. But they'd had polio and they had tuberculosis and the doctor said get them to a high, dry climate. Well, you know, we didn't have the fog we have nowadays up high. There wasn't any fog but once in a great while. But as they took the timber out towards the coast, the fog would blow in. All that has happened in my time. There wasn't any highway through Garberville. And there wasn't anything at Alderpoint until 1914 when they built up Alderpoint. The railroad built that up and by that time I’d moved from the Eastview place. My dad had died and my mother married my step-dad. We had a big house in Eastview that my dad was building when he died. I remember going out with my mother and we had to go out through Tooby flat and then across Benbow. That was before the Benbows coming there and they were building that big house there at that time, the one that Burt lived in. And then over Reed Mountain. That's where she told me about this bunch of soldiers raping the Indian girls. They'd kill all the men except the ones that run and hide. There was a little camp of Indians there and old Sam Piercy was the head of that bunch that caught the little Indian girls. My grandfather was in with the bunch and he was working with old Hardin. But this bunch broke off from them and old Sam Piercy was a corporal and they was going to clean these Indians out and they cleaned em out all right. But you know, my sympathy was with the Indians and is yet. I remembered what Jane told me. I was a little bit of a kid and I helped old Jane pick the winter groceries - acorns and Huckleberries and all that kind of stuff. Jane lived a little ways over from where we lived and her nieces and nephews used to go to school with my brothers and sisters. They went to Harris school. (Jane was Indian and had a tattoo on her chin) She would work for my mother sometimes and help her with the washing and my mother would give her a little of this and a little of that even though she couldn't afford to, so the old gal wouldn't starve to death cause Mr. Phillips would drink up everything he got. Somebody knifed Mr. Phillips and he died. The Indians would associate with the white people. They couldn't go in a saloon and buy a drink even. I don't know how my grandfather treated his wife, but I imagine he was like the rest of them or he wouldn't have been with them soldering around to clean out the Indians. But old Noble and Hadley went up to Ferndale and they took a team of mules with them and they got these Indian wives. That's where my step-dad came in half-blood Indian. Old Frank Asbill, he just had it in for the Indians. I knew Frank. He come to my place and wanted to borrow two hundred dollars and I told him to get out. He wanted two hundred dollars to print his book with. I read a little bit of the book and I seen he wasn't slanting towards the Indians at all.

Hell, his father settled Covelo and they sure killed a lot of Indians. But now, you can see towards the east side of Covelo, there's a picture of a tomahawk. The Indian women and the kids had to eat the roots out of the ground to make that picture. I used to see that tomahawk on the mountain. The Indians said that white would not dominate that valley as long as the tomahawk was there. And do you know that back 15 years ago at a rodeo, I looked around at the crowd and they were over half bloods and part Indians. I seen the other day where Leslie Dunlap died. He was a white fellow, but his first wife was on Indian woman.

I don't know. I think the hippies are a lot worse than the Indians. What are you coloring up about? Do you have hippie blood in you?

You know, I seen lots of parades. They're all right if you're feeling good and like to get around the crowd. But we don't have the parades like we used to have here downtown. There used to be a lot more to it. Boy, they used to take up almost two blocks, the crowds would.

I was the first one that drove over this Redwood Highway and I probably wouldn't have gone it if my friend hadn't been flagging down at the other end. I'd gone to Laytonville – Ukiah, really - and I was living at the ranch up at Bell Springs and the flagman had everybody stopped there where the road goes up to Bell Springs. And so Rusty said, "Non, would you like to go on the new road? You can make it in your Dodge." I made it, but of course, I was kind of wild when I was younger. I'll tell you, it was a rough rood. I guess that 1917 or 1918. No pavement. In fact, it wasn't even graveled yet. And you didn't meet anyone, I'll tell you. It was 26 miles to the home place after I reached Garberville. But there wasn't no traffic. I met one car the whole way.

I rode straddle the horse. Hell, I was raised with horses. When they were building the railroad through in 1914-15, the teamsters would stop at Eastview and put their horses in our barn and then go in and eat their lunch at my mother's place and I'd climb on their horses and ride the horses out to water. But one time the fellow told me don't get on that horse, it's so mean it'll buck a man off. It wasn’t unusual for a girl to ride horses, but it was unusual to ride straddle like I was allowed to. My dad was quite a bit older than my mother. He had a brother you know that was senator for 18-20 years. He wanted to adopt me and I've often wondered why they didn't give me away to him. I was their fifth child and I often wondered when I was younger why I didn't go live with Uncle Ike after Dad died. I can't stand flowers yet. Can't stand the smell of them because of funerals. Dad was buried up at Harris and we always made a big thing out of funerals and had flowers all over the grave.

Lyman Jewett's mother died in my arms. You know that? She had tuberculosis and she went to hemorrhaging. She was laying on a little old steel cot they had on the porch. She wanted to lay out in the sunshine and I laid her out in the sunshine. So she started bleeding, spitting this blood out and then she said she wanted to go back to her bed, so I lifted her up to take her back to her bed and I got her about halfway back to the bedroom and she died. I was just a girl, so I called for help. Jack, her boy was a year older than me and she had a girl just a year younger than me - Martha, and Lyman was just a little bit of a thing about that high. I always call him little brother because I promised one of his brothers that I'd always help Lyman out.

Well, if I tell all I know about this town, the top will go off. All the old-timers are dying. When I was a kid growing up, big families lived a way out in the country.

I was up in Fortuna during the '64 flood. I was the last car that came through. I had my cousin Ethel Reed with me and she said you're not going across that and I said I'm crossing it right now because half hour from now it won't be crossable. So I was up in Fortuna and I about worked my tail off. My cousin Bunny Wood had a restaurant up there and I worked in it helping to feed the people. They was crowding in there from Pepperwood, and all that country, you know. They come in boats as far as they could come and others walked out and made their way to Fortuna. We had government issue butter and stuff like that One day I was in the grocery store and damn if they didn't have the butter there cut up in pound packages. And I said, you know you're breaking a federal law? I said I put enough of that out to know that’s government issue butter. He was damned careful who he served that butter to after that.

Up at the ranch we had in Northern Mendocino we had a lawsuit over our road when the timber trucks started going through. The dust would get about ten foot deep and flying about 150 yards from our house. So I went and got a good lawyer and filed a lawsuit. My husband had built a fence and when he built a fence, he really built it, but those loggers had blocked up the stream where it run over by that fence and they were taking my water out of my place. But I got em. They didn't know the judge down at Ukiah had hunted down at our place. He didn't know me, but he knew the place. That was Judge Gibson and he was born over close to Covelo. So when their witness got up and swore that was all swampland, he knew damn well they was lying. I told the truth right through. Hell, you know, the loggers would move a fence to get a tree! My mother always put the fence two feet on our side of the line and we kept the fences up good.

There's too many people growing marijuana. I can't smoke that. When it first started coming into the country I went into a place in Laytonville to use the toilet and smoke was coming out under the door of the toilet. Good thing I didn't have bladder trouble then the way I have now! So I went and told the service manager those girls is in there smoking marijuana. I knew the smell. I lived in Los Angeles one winter with a relative of mine and right next door to us there was a board fence but one of the boards was loose and I used to go visit a little Mexican girl there. Her father smokes a cigarette in the morning, and one at noon and one when he went to eat supper and one when he went to bed. I couldn't even stay in that house smelling that smoke. Tobacco smokes almost does me the same way but marijuana smoke is just death to me. I'll puke. When I go in a restaurant and smell it I'll get up and leave.

People are building up the country and taking all the range land and there'll come a hard winter one of these years and what are those people going to live on then. People go out in the country and build big homes and they think they've got everything, but some winter there'll be five feet of snow. I've seen it. I don't just mean for a few days. I mean a five foot fence buried deep so you can't even see where the fence is at. We haven't had that for a long time but. It will come again. It always comes after a dry fall and then it will freeze and freeze but it won't rain or snow and then it will start snowing about the first of the year. It's been two feet deep right there in Garberville. l used to ride mule and take care of Tooby's cattle and that’s the way we got home in the snow. Horse gave out but the mule made it. Snow was over three foot deep. That. was in 1936, I think.

I like people, but I like clean people. I don’t like to smell them and I don’t think you do either. I had over 80 birthday cards on my 80th birthday. I used to know everybody here in Garberville. Now I don’t know hardly anybody. I’d rather be dead than go to a rest home again.

15 comments:

Ernie Branscomb said...

well, I hope that you read the whole thing. I know it was long but I could write a paragraph about every sentence that Nona wrote. There is tons of history in that piece.

I knew all of the places, and who all of the people were. I actually knew most of them personally.

kymkemp.com said...

I loved the line "What you coloring up about? Got hippie blood in you?" What a corker!

I loved hearing the old names roll off the page and into my ears---the the Azbills and the Woods, the Jewett's and the Johnsons.

I've read some of this before but not the whole thing. Thank you.

spyrock said...

i really liked this story and i know she is telling the truth. i like the part about her being friends with my relative maude and how she felt about frank asbill. i liked the part about people having to be mean to survive up there. i know that part well. she is a great character. thanks for sharing her story.

Anonymous said...

Nona had a 25-20 I wanted, it was a model 94 I think with a saddle ring on it to boot. She was asking $20 for it and I struggled for over a year to come up with the money, never did but I still to this day think about that rifle.
I talked with Nona often as maybe Ernie did and she, like many of the old timers always had me mesmerized with the stories that only the elders could tell.
I remember one time I stopped to visit and she was in an uproar. I shuda kept going. She had just got back from the ranch and she said the last time she was there she set several mouse traps and this last time up there the traps were still there but had a mouse in each one. She was so mad at those guys for not cleaning the traps and she told me all about it in her colorful language.

Oregon

olmanriver said...

I have read this interview maybe ten times and I still get a chuckle out of it.
Ernie and I vetted the idea of using the interview online with three of Nona's relatives and got permission.
I believe their comment was that the stories here were kind of tame for Nona stories.

Mary Anderson wrote an unpublished paper on the opening of 101 where she stated that "octogenerian Nona James claimed the right of first passage on the stretch of highway between the Bell Springs cutoff and Garberville. She and her husband, Harry James, had a ranch at Bell Springs and Nona had taken her new Dodge touring car on the Bell Springs Road to Ukiah to get supplies. On her way back to the ranch, she stopped to visit with the flagman stationed at the cutoff to direct the construction traffic and keep the public from venturing down the as yet uncompleted roadway." The flagman asked her if she would like to go home on the new highway and she took the challenge.
"'I made it,' she told me, with the matter of factness that's beyond pride. 'Course, I was younger then. Oh it was a rough road, I'll tell you. No pavement. In fact, it wasn't even gravelled yet. And you didn't meet anyone. No traffic. But it was still 26 miles to the home place after reaching Garberville and there wasn't no traffic there either. I met one car the whole way."

The year would be around 1920, at a time when G'ville had maybe 300 people.

Ernie Branscomb said...

“Sam Cush” that Nona talks about was really Sam MacCush. He was the local beauty shop operator. His beauty shop was in the Thorson’s Variety Store, on the mezzanine, in the north east corner of the building that is now Jacob Garber Square. Sam was very flamboyant and effusive, he was the quintessential Hollywood hairdresser. He had a wall sized picture window in the front of his shop, and when we were kids we would watch him prance around and fluff and pat the ladies hair. It was better than going to the movies. But, the ladies loved him and it was concidered to be a coup to be included in his group of customers.

Sam was from a very old family in the Piercy area. His family was involved in some local skullduggery according to Nona.

Ernie Branscomb said...

The post office that Nona referred to as “a little tar shack right where I think Wards is now. Or maybe Sears.”. is the area just north of the Garberville theatre. The “Wards store” was run by Hardy and Theda Wallan. It was located where Treats Ice cream parlor is now. The “Sears Store” was owned by my wife Janis and I, and it was located where The Bootleg is now.

Ernie Branscomb said...

“WWI: Well, we had a dance here after they come home.”

The place that they probably had their dance would have been in the Wool Growers Association warehouse, which was the warehouse to the old Peter Pan Market, which is the present home of Branscomb Refrigeration. Small world huh?

A few years back, a dear friend of mine, Rae Mathews was in the beginning stages of dementia, but still quite competent, she came into my shop and looked around at the floor and the walls and the ceiling, and said: “you have no idea what memories this building brings back to me, I danced here more than you can ever know.” She is probably the last one to be alive at the time to have danced here. (My office is in the old produce walk-in of Peter pan and that is where I’m typing this comment.

Ross Sherburn said...

Ernie,thanks for the memories. My mom used to get her hair done by "Sammy"for quite a few years!
I also remember Emmit Harris,I think he used to stand out in front of the"store"???
I don't remember Nona,but I do remember Mrs. Hittlebittle,sorry if i didn't spell it correctly??
Those log trucks up on the Bell Springs Road,causing the dust, I think my dad had something to do with that! LOL!

tired olmanriver said...

I am so sorry for being a doofus again and duplicating a paragraph in Ernie's Nona post, from a different source. I just reread the orginal Nona interview post and went Doh! I need a spring break.

Sorry.

Ernie Branscomb said...

OMR
You are the only one that noticed. I was so imgrossed in my trip down memory lane that I just assumed that she was repeating herself.

spyrock said...

i really like the fact that nona stood up for her friend maude and then told what really happened that frank asbill pushed her down the stairs and killed her and that frank asbill was a big ahole and a liar and that his book was full of bull. also, from a woman's point of view of the indian raids where the white men would kill all the indian men and come home with a young wife and all the half breed children their are up there. this makes more sense to me and one of the reasons i wound up here. i met an indian at cloverdale back in 1971 at the foster freeze. he came up to me like he knew me real well and asked me where i had been. he said he was being taken back to covelo. my cousins in ukiah, the four foord brothers look a lot like me. they were uncle guy's grandkids. uncle guy was married 3 times. i think all of them were school teachers. but i think uncle guy maybe had a few more kids in covelo that i'm related to. his son howard let an indian lady live on his land in spyrock back in the day. we were related to some dunlaps and a bunch of other people in covelo. joe never married, frederick had several boys, frank and fred knew bill rathjeans and played cards with him at his gas station. who knows how many indians i'm related to.

spyrock said...

This story was told by Tom Murphy to Dr. Saxton Pope and is related in his 1928 book, "Hunting with the Bow and Arrow." - Beverley Windbigler

In the early days in Humboldt County, there lived an old settler named Pete Bluford, who was a squaw man. He shot a female grizzly with cubs within a quarter of a mile of what are now the town limits of Blocksburg. The beast charged and struck him to the ground. At the same time she ripped open the man's abdomen. Bluford dropped under a fallen tree, where the bear repeatedly assulted him, tearing at his body. By rolling back and forth as the grizzly leaped over the log to reach him from the other side, he escaped further injury. Worried by the hunter's dog, she finally ceased her efforts and wandered off.

The man was able to reach home in spite of a large open wound in his abdomen with protruding intestines. This was roughly sewed together by his friend, Beany Powell. He recovered from the experience and lived many years with the Indians of that locality. As an example of Western humor, it is related that Beany Powell, when sewing up the wound with twine and a sack needle, found a large lump of fat protruding from the incision, of which he was unable to dispose; so he cut it off, tried out the grease in the frying-pan and used it to grease his boots.

Old Bluford became a character in the country. He was, in fact, what is colloquially known as 'an old poison oaker.' This is an individual who sinks so low in the scale of civilization that he lives out in the backwoods or poison oak brush and becomes animal in type. His hair grew to his shoulders, his beard was unkempt, his finger-nails were as long as claws and filthy with dirt. Rags of unknown antiquity partially covered his limbs, vermin infested his body and he stayed with the most degraded remnants of the Indians.

One cold winter they found him dead in his dilapidated cabin. He lay on the dirt floor, his ragged coat over his face, his hands beneath his head, and two house cats lay frozen, one beneath each arm. These old pioneers were strange people and died strange deaths.

spyrock said...

Tom Murphy was married to my grandma grace simmerly nye's cousin etta patton. tom was considered to be one of the finest hunters around in those days. especially bears. tom was friends with saxon pope who was ishi's doctor and the father of modern bowhunting. so i found my ishi connection. tom's wife was the daughter of milo and sarah patton. milo with his brother james ran a 5000 acre ranch for george white at alderpoint. frank asbill in last of the west said that the pattons were known for their horsemanship. of course, frank lived with them as a boy when he went to school. i found a picture of "kink" dick patton wearing his cowboy hat sidesaddle which may have been the style back in those days. kink was dragged to death by his horse.

Aimee said...
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