Nicholas McNamara

Nicholas McNamara, one of the first businessmen to set foot in Crescent City, arrived here on March 12, 1853. McNamara was born on February 10, 1829, in Dungarvin County, located in Waterford, Ireland.

He was naturalized on April 12, 1858, in San Francisco.

McNamara and his brother, Mark, built the ‘American Hotel’ seven years after their arrival in Crescent City. McNamara also was half owner of the ‘Point Saint George Dairy Ranch’ with a man named Mr. Emetsburg.

The ‘American Hotel’ was the second in Crescent City, with the first The Del Norte being built by Major Ward Bradford. McNamara was the hotel’s proprietor until his death on May 15, 1893.

McNamara married Margaret Driscoll in San Francisco in about 1859. She was born March 21, 1840, in County Cork, Ireland.

According to a Crescent City census taken on July 19, 1870, McNamara was no slouch when it came to fathering children either. McNamara had 12 children with Margaret.

There were four boys, one of whom died young and nine girls. Two of the girls Rose and Margaret were twins.

From 1869 to 1877, McNamara was the Crescent City’s road overseer, kind of like a transportation director in current cities. Between 1880 and 1892, he was the county supervisor for District 1.

McNamara also was a school trustee at the time of his death.  Margaret died in Crescent City at 74, on Sept. 23, 1914, outliving Nicholas by 10 years.


Gold Bluff as its Name Implies

Gold Bluffs boasts the perfect name for the beaches near Orick, along the coast of what would become Prairie Creek State Park. Gold digs along the Trinity River in the 1850s attracted prospectors to the stretch between the river’s mouth and Klamath City, according to historical information from the National Parks Service.

The fine blend of gold and sand, though, proved too well mixed together to easily separate. Businessmen took a new interest in the site during the Civil War, as gold fetched top prices.

When the tides allowed, miners would load bags of the gold-sand onto mules who would carry them off the beach before waves crashed in again. Operations ended with the war’s end.

Reports vary on whether waves washed the treasure in from the ocean’s depths or stripped it from the shore’s bluffs. The California Geneology and History Archives, an online database, describes the early success in collecting gold from the region.

But that source, too, notes a decline in discovery and a difficulty in separating the sand and gold mix that would fool later prospectors.

“The accounts of the gold found in those olden days read like a romantic story from the times of the Spanish conquest,” states an archive entry on the 1850s reports of gold discoveries.

The Doctors

The last horse and buggy doctor in Del Norte County was Dr. Ernest Maxwell Fine. Whether delivering a baby, setting a broken bone, or administering medicine, he was always on-call.

With no doctor in the area at the time, he moved to Del Norte County in 1899 to help the sick. He was the only doctor in the area from Smith River to Orick.

“He wanted to be some place where people really needed him,” said Mrs. Murdock Roeder.

Dr. Fine’s first office was on the corner of Third and J streets, which contained a hospital room and a combined office, laboratory, waiting room. An old motto hung on the wall in his office that read: “Nature is the Best Remedy.”

No hospital existed in the county at that time. He often performed amputation of patients on a kitchen table.

Mrs. George Berry said, “If a patient never paid him, he still answered the next call to their home with as much gladness to serve.”

Dr. Fine traveled on a bicycle, in which he used to come to Crescent City. He began using a horse and buggy.

He invested in a Harley Davidson to make short house calls and for trips to work. Fine was his own mechanic performing operations on the engine.

In 1905 he purchased a Ford Roadster, one of the first cars in Del Norte County.  The red, one-seat vehicle carried a four-cylinder engine.

Later, Dr. Fine moved his practice to the corner of Third and E streets, where he created a five- room hospital called the Dr. Fine Hospital.  In 1927, the hospital burned down, and Dr. Fine retired.

When the stock market crashed, he lost his savings and began practicing again. He shared a joint waiting room with another doctor above Endert’s Drug Store with his own examination and x-ray room.

Dr. Fine died on September 30, 1939. high blood pressure and hard work was the cause of death. A Catholic Cemetery is his final resting place.

Two other physicians early to Del Norte County affected the growth of the area positively. Drs. Gustave H. and Anna R. Douglas had a hand in the development of the Klamath Bridge, the growth of the county and the health of early families in the area.

Gustave Douglas moved to Del Norte County from Portland, Oregon, in 1920 at the age of 57. Gustave had intended to retire, but busied himself with civic affairs in the southern end of the county.

He was elected as state representative of Siskiyou and Del Norte counties two years later. Immediately he began working to replace the old ferry across Klamath River with a bridge.

Although he died of a sudden heart attack in 1923 the day before the final approval of his bill by the Senate, a rider was attached to the bill, and approved, to name the structure “The Douglas Memorial Bridge.” After his death, Douglas’ wife, Anna, taught school in Del Norte County.

She also served as county superintendent for a year, until her health forced her to retire. She was born in Horicon, Wisconsin on March 29, 1869, and graduated from Normal School at Winona, Minnesota, in 1899.

A few years later, she received her degree from Northwestern University at Evanston, Illnois, to practice medicine. After she graduated, she and Gustave, who she had married by that time, went to the Jordan Valley in Oregon, built a drug store and practiced medicine.

At the time, some of their patients required the physicians to travel 20 miles to treat them. The two doctors also set up a hospital in Grants Pass that accommodated area mine workers.

Anna outlived her husband by 28 years. Both are buried in Sacramento.

James Andrew Jackson McVay

James Andrew Jackson McVay was born in 1834 in Indiana. In 1850 at the age of 16 he joined a wagon train and came west with his wife and child.

On the long trip west, his wife and child both died of the fever. When he arrived in Del Norte County, he settled in Smith River.

He acquired land and established his ranch. In 1858, James A. J. McVay married Lucinda Bledsoe, the daughter of Anthony Jennings Bledsoe Sr. and the sister of Anthony J. Bledsoe Jr., the noted Del Norte County historian.

James and Lucinda had four children, two sons, Nathaniel Green and Asa, and two daughters Ella and Lillian.The children were raised on the ranch and didn’t receive very much formal education.

In 1880, at the age of 15, Nathaniel left home to work on a ranch in Humboldt County, near Ferndale. He remained there for nearly a year, during which time he learned the carpentry trade and became very proficient at it.

Next, Nathaniel went to work in the logging camps. His first job was pulling rigging.

He was a hard worker and rapidly advanced to higher positions with more re-sponsibility. Then he suffered a serious accident and couldn’t work in the logging camps any longer.

Nathaniel had to return to Crescent City.

For the next four years, Nathaniel worked in Crescent City as a clerk and bookkeeper. He became very proficient at bookkeeping and knowledgeable of the total operation of a business.

He felt competent to have his own business, so he purchased a general merchandise store at Smith River in partnership with C. F. Goodrich. Nathaniel conducted the business for 18 months and the store was very successful.

Nathaniel became bored with the business so he sold his share of the business to his partner. Nathaniel married Lucile Bolt in December 1890.

Then Nathaniel went back to his real love, carpentry. He worked for the next four years in Smith River and Wedderburn, Oregon. There he had complete control of the contracts he worked on.

Nathaniel then spent five months in Seattle where he worked at constructing railroad bridges in the construction yards of the Northern Pacific Railway. He returned to Crescent City to accept a position with the Crescent City Mill and Transportation Company.

After driving a team for a year he was put in charge of their extensive transportation yards, a position which he filled for two and a half years.

In 1902 Nathaniel McVay was nominated on the Democratic ticket for the office of auditor and recorder of Del Norte County. Nathaniel was elected and took over the office in January 1903.

He was repeatedly re-elected auditor and recorder and held the position for 40 years. Nathaniel Green McVay died on March 20, 1942.

He was still in office at the time of his death.

The State of Driver’s Education Today

Everywhere I turn I see that the media is down on “teen” drivers. I don’t get it. Driving has not change all that much since Henry Ford dropped an engine in a wooden frame and scared the crap out of all the horse and buggy types in town.

What has changed is how driving class is taught. It has gone to ‘Hell in Model-T’ just like the rest of the school system.

As far as I am concerned it is the parent’s responsibility to teach their child how to properly operate a motor vehicle. The problem is that parents aren’t allowed to do that anymore. It’s now up to the school district.

From where I’m standing it’s all about money. The more the school district is involved the greater the possibility that someone’s palm is getting greased somewhere in the chain of your child’s driving education.

When I went to school, we had so many hours of classroom and so many hours behind the wheel with a school teacher turned driver’s ed instructor. The rest of the time I was out with my father. I drove around the block, up and down the highway, out to the Klamath Glen and back, Crescent City and back, learning to Parallel Park, safe backing, etc.

In class we studied for our driving test. We watched the messy movies of highway death. We learned about drinking and driving. Yet out biggest educators were our parents, grandparents or someone else other than the school system.

Of course, I see adults driving around my age yakking on cell-phones, reading newspapers, drinking coffee, correcting kids and such while burning old dinosaur meat at 70 mph on US 395 and I-80. What makes it worse is to see the Nevada Highway Patrol zip right on by the majority of these folks as if they were late for their next donut stop. And we wonder where teens get their big ideas.

Driving Out the Celestials

In January 1886, Del Norte County leaders called a meeting to draft a legal way to drive out the local Chinese population. The outcome would force the county’s hundreds of Chinese residents and workers onto boats and wagons headed for San Francisco and Oregon in the following weeks.

Similar expulsions would take place up and down the West coast. Crescent City’s expulsion followed one in Eureka a few days earlier that rounded up Chinese residents and sent them to San Francisco by boat. The story remains well-known along the Northcoast.

Other communities in the West that carried out similar expulsions – meaning that Eureka and Crescent City are not isolated episodes in racial fights against the Chinese. The West’s white settlers expected Chinese immigrants, known as hard workers, to take jobs at mills, gold mines, road and railroad construction projects.

Labor organizers drummed up support to expel the Chinese on the Northcoast and would prompt similar moves in Tacoma, Wash., and Rock Springs, Wyoming. The expulsions followed a killing of a Humboldt County politician in Eureka, blamed on a Chinese man, and complaints of prostitution and drug use in Chinese neighborhoods.

Connecting the Northcoast expulsions to other incidents against the nation’s Chinese immigrants can clarify American history. Nearly 31 California communities kicked out Chinese residents during the late 1800s.

Ads in Del Norte County publications at the time touted businesses that refused to hire Chinese people. Material from Humboldt County’s 1886 chamber of commerce and business leaders promoted the county’s scenery, climate, homes and lack of Chinese residents.

Chinese American families refused to send their children to the school because of the county’s past. Old newspaper accounts in cities and towns along the West Coast from Seattle to Crescent City to San Diego and east into Wyoming, Nevada and Idaho.

The articles chronicle the often brutal expulsions and racist acts in various western communities, as respected community leaders drafted zoning and employment laws to ban Chinese residents. Labor organizers sought to protect mining and other jobs for white settlers.

City mayors, county supervisors, a high school principal and newspaper editor led anti-Chinese movements. White residents rounded up Chinese families at gunpoint and loaded them onto ships in winter.

Town residents looted or auctioned off the goods that Chinese people left behind after forced evacuations. Besides oral and written accounts, a timeline detail the purges.

Notices for town meetings call for ideas on crafting legal methods to evict Chinese people, while ads boast of Chinese free towns. The federal Exclusion Act of 1882 would ban Chinese immigrants from the U.S. until it was repealed in 1943.

Chinese fought back After being forced from their Eureka homes, Chinese people filed the first lawsuit in America for reparations. They organized a militia in Amador and a vegetable strike in Truckee in response to evacuation attempts.

Chinese workers on the railroad line won the right to keep their own cooks who boiled water for tea and saved their health as diseases spread among whites. In an 1885 roundup in Tacoma, Washington, town leaders forced Chinese residents onto a train to Portland.

Those who couldn’t pay hiked the 140 miles. Upon arriving, the Chinese sued Tacoma’s government leaders.

Eureka’s roundup in 1885 followed the death of a city councilman, caught in the crossfire of a shoot-out in Chinatown. A local crowd wanted to kill all of the city’s Chinese residents and burn down Chinatown.

Leaders settled on immediately driving them out by loading them onto boats for San Francisco. When they arrived, the Chinese sued Eureka for racism, lost wages, fishing vessels, crops and horses.

They eventually won.

The USA Patriot Act

The USA PATRIOT Act is a ten-letter acronym that stands for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” Act of 2001. It is an Act of Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush in October 2001.

I’m amazed at the bull-shit that can be sold to the American public in a time of duress, when it’s wrapped in the U.S. flag.

All this bill is – is an overreach of the federal government’s powers. It claims to use the U.S. Constitution as a checks-and-balance on its limits, but I think that’s nothing more than smoke being blown up John Q. Public’s butt.

My prediction is that it’ll be around for the next 100-years. If you need an example jus’ look at the Federal Reserve which has been impeding the U.S. economy since 1903 and it’s not even a part of the government.