Jerry Zottola, 1924-2013

One of my favorite high school history teachers, Jerry Zottola passed away November 24, 2013, at his home in Hiouchi. He was born in the Bronx, New York, July 12, 1924.

He graduated from Grants Pass High and served in the Navy as a radioman during World War II. After leaving the service, Jerry attended Humboldt State College, where he received his teaching credential.

Upon graduation his first teaching job was at Arcata High School in 1953. By 1955, Jerry had moved to Crescent City, where he married Gertrude Jepsen of Fort Dick that same year.

“Zott,” as the students came to call him, spent the next 30 years teaching history at Del Norte High School. He was also the Varsity baseball coach for several years before his retirement and the schools first tennis coach.

He is survived by his wife, Gertrude, son Tony Zottola of Lodi; daughter Tina O’Neill of Hiouchi; daughter Gretchen Zottola-Sancier of Campbell; daughter Tami Zottola of Gasquet; son Timothy Zottola of Stockton; daughter Trudi Gugliemini of Hiouchi; daughter Gina Zottola of Gasquet and sister, Gracie Cooper of Crescent City.


He Signed Las Vegas into Existence

tasker oddie

Born in Brooklyn, New York, October 24th, 1870, Tasker Oddie lived in East Orange, New Jersey, where he attended school. From the age of sixteen to nineteen, he lived on a ranch in Nebraska.

After returning from Nebraska he engaged in business in New York City. During this time he attended night law school, from which he was graduated, and in 1895 was admitted to the New York Bar and becoming a member of the Nevada Bar in 1898.

Three-years later he arrived in Austin, Nevada to investigate conditions in his employers mining, railroad and banking. He uncovered several cases of fraud and as a result recovered large sums of money which they had lost.

Around 1900, he became interested in the original discovery of the Tonopah mines with Jim Butler. He was manager of the properties for the first five years.

Goldfield and other important mines were discovered as the result of the opening up of the Tonopah District, and millions of dollars a year were produced in the various camps. The effect meant the building of hundreds of miles of new railroads and the building of towns.

Oddie was heavily invested in mining in Goldfield and a number of other mining camps as well as in banks, ranches, stock-raising and other industries. However, the panic of 1907 caught him unprepared to weather the financial storm and by the following year he was broke.

From 1901 to 1903 he was District Attorney for Nye County. From 1904 to 1908, he was a state Senator, then a U.S. Senator from 1921 to 1933 and Governor from 1911 to 1915.

Throughout his political career, Oddie was in debt. In March of 1921, George Wingfield sent the recently elected U.S. Senator money to pay his bills. In return, Wingfield instructed him to nominate Washoe County Republican Louis Spellier to be U.S. marshal.

During his tenure, women got the right to vote, a state motor vehicle law was sanctioned, mining safety legislation was endorsed, and there were improvements to workmen’s compensation benefits. On March 17, 1911 he signed the city charter for Las Vegas.

Oddie died February 17th, 1950 in San Francisco, California, at the age of 79. He is buried at Lone Mountain Cemetery in Carson City, Nevada.

My Challenge Towards Thankfullness

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Doesn’t it seem as if the people with the most problems are often those who are most thankful for what they have? Facing a crisis tends to make us appreciate the things we take for granted.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in ‘Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community,’ — “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.”

Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor. He was also a participant in the German Resistance movement against the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi’s) and a founding member of the Confessing Church.

His involvement in plans by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler resulted in his arrest in April 1943. He was later executed by hanging in April 1945, shortly before the war’s end.

My challenge to myself and you too, is to appreciate what I have, even without a crisis prompting us. I will start and end today thinking about how fortunate I am, right here, right now.

Thanksgiving: America’s Real Religious Holiday

In the winter of 1620, Pilgrims, traveling by sea, settled at Plymouth, Massachusetts, for religious freedom — a desire to worship God and live according to Holy Scripture. But the country they found was bleak and uninviting, with several inches of snow already on the ground.

Of the 102 passengers aboard the ship, the Mayflower, nearly half died during the first winter of the “great sickness.” Yet, according to settler Edward Winslow, they were grateful to God for his provision in their lives.

A year later, the group celebrated with a feast of thanksgiving, an act of faith. For me much of that celebration hinges on one thing: Freedom of Religion – something that has been forgotten in what is now a mostly secular holiday, filled with eating, football games and shopping.

The scriptures are filled with passages calling us to maintain a thankful heart. From Psalm 106:1, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,” to Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians urging them to “give thanks in all circumstances” (5:18). It was this latter verse that sustained the Pilgrims, venturing to the New World, who ushered in the Thanksgiving Day celebration.

One of America’s earliest, religious documents, the Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It was written by the Separatists, also known as the “Saints”, fleeing from religious persecution by King James of Great Britain. They traveled aboard the Mayflower in 1620 along with adventurers, tradesmen, and servants, most of whom were referred to as “Strangers.”

The Mayflower Compact was signed aboard ship on November 11, 1620 by most adult men, but not by most crew and adult male servants. The Pilgrims used the Julian Calendar, also known as Old Style dates, which, at that time, was ten days behind the Gregorian Calendar.

Signing the covenant were 41 of the ship’s 101 passengers, while the Mayflower was anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor within the hook at the northern tip of Cape Cod. It is interesting to note that even as they were fleeing religious persecution, they still felt they were Englishmen and wrote their compact as Englishmen.

The document was drawn up in response to “mutinous speeches” that had come about because the Pilgrims had intended to settle in Northern Virginia, but the decision was made after arrival to instead settle in New England. Since there was no government in place, some felt they had no legal obligation to remain within the colony and supply their labor.

The term “Mayflower Compact” was not assigned to this document until 1793, when for the first time it is called the Compact in Alden Bradford’s A Topographical Description of Duxborough, in the County of Plymouth. Previously it had been called “an association and agreement” (William Bradford), “combination” (Plymouth Colony Records), “solemn contract” (Thomas Prince, 1738), and “the covenant” (Rev. Charles Turner, 1774).

The Mayflower Compact attempted to temporarily establish that government until a more official one could be drawn up in England that would give them the right to self-govern themselves in New England. In a way, this was the first American Constitution, though the Compact in practical terms had little influence on subsequent American documents.

John Quincy Adams, a descendant of Mayflower passenger John Alden, does call the Mayflower Compact the foundation of the U.S. Constitution in a speech given in 1802, but this was in principle more than in substance. In reality, the Mayflower Compact was superseded in authority by the 1621 Peirce Patent, which not only gave the Pilgrims the right to self-government at Plymouth, but had the significant advantage of being authorized by the King of England.

Here is the text of the compact as seen in William Bradford’s History Of Plymouth Plantation as written in William Bradford’s History Of Plymouth Plantation. The spelling and punctuation of the document has been modernized.

“In the name of God Amen• We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord King James by the grace of God, of great Britain, France, & Ireland king, defender of the faith, &c

Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith & honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia• do by these presents solemnly & mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant, & combine our souls together into a civill body politic; for the our better ordering, & preservation & furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof, to enact, constitute, and frame such just & equal laws, ordinances, Acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most mete & convenient for the general good of the colony into which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have here under subscribed our names at Cape Cod the •11• of November, in the year of the reign of our sovereign Lord King James of England, France, & Ireland the eighteenth and of Scotland the fifty fourth. Ano: Dom 1620.

John Carver, Edward Tilley, Degory Priest, William Bradford, John Tilley, Thomas Williams, Edward Winslow, Francis Cooke, Gilbert Winslow, William Brewster, Thomas Rogers, Edmund Margesson, Isaac Allerton, Thomas Tinker, Peter Brown, Myles Standish, John Rigsdale, Richard Britteridge, John Alden, Edward Fuller, George Soule, Samuel Fuller, John Turner, Richard Clarke, Christopher Martin, Francis Eaton, Richard Gardinar, William Mullins, James Chilton, John Allerton, William White, John Crackstone, Thomas English, Richard Warren, John Billington, Edward Doty, John Howland, Moses Fletcher, Edward Leister, Stephen Hopkins, John Goodman.”

The Mayflower Compact was first published in 1622. William Bradford wrote a copy of the Mayflower Compact down in his History Of Plymouth Plantation which he wrote from 1630-1654, and that is the version given above.

Neither version gave the names of the signers. Nathaniel Morton in his New England’s Memorial, published in 1669, was the first to record and publish the names of the signers, and Thomas Prince in his Chronological History of New England in the form of Annals (1736) recorded the signers names as well, as did Thomas Hutchinson in 1767.

It is unknown whether the later two authors had access to the original document, or whether they were simply copying Nathaniel Morton’s list of signers.

The original Mayflower Compact has never been found, and is assumed destroyed. Thomas Prince may have had access to the original in 1736, and possibly Thomas Hutchinson did in 1767.

If it indeed survived, it was likely a victim of Revolutionary War looting, along with other such Pilgrim valuables as Bradford’s now lost Register of Births and Deaths, his partially recovered Letterbook, and his entirely recovered History of Plymouth Plantation.

Finally, may you and yours celebrate Thanksgiving in a way you feel both free to do and in a manner appropriate to your beliefs.

The Wreck of the ‘Queen Christina’

The ‘Queen Christina’ ran aground off the coast of Del Norte County on October 21st, 1907. The steamer had sailed from San Francisco, Saturday, the 19th, for Portland, Oregon, with a cargo of wheat.

Build at Newcastle, England, in 1901, she displaced 4,268 tons, had a beam of 48 feet and a length of 360 feet. At the helm was Captain George R. Harris.

Off Point St. George reef, she ran into a heavy fog. Harris, believing he was seven miles off-shore, continued ahead.
Suddenly, the vessel struck a series of rocks, forcing Harris to give the order to abandon ship. The crew made shore safely, in two lifeboats.

When word of the wreck reached Crescent City, the Hobbs, Wall steam-schooner ‘Navarro’ got under way, but was unable to pull her off the rocks. Arrangements were then made to salvage as much as possible from the wreck.

The ‘Queen Christina’ withstood all the Pacific had to offer during the winter of 1907-1908. It was not until January 1909 that she finally broke free and smashed against the reef.

The ‘Crescent City News’ reported the “stranded steamer ‘Queen Christina’ is a complete wreck…there is nothing visible of the ill-fated craft except a portion of the bridge…heavy seas roll over it…the masts have gone by the board.”

Harris blamed for the Point St. George Reef Light crew, claiming the foghorn had not sounded. His charges had to be dismissed when witness after witness testified hearing the horn at the time of the disaster.

The Wild Bunch’s Last Hold Up

cowboy joe marsters

Three men rode up to the First National Bank in Winnemucca on September 19th, 1900, and they left with nearly $33,000. The trio reportedly included Butch Cassidy along with Wild Bunch member Kid Curry and another man, whose never been never identified.

It would be the last holdup by the famous gang, which later had its photo, sending one to the First National where it hangs still to this day. It’s disputed whether Cassidy sent the photo or if a local resident sent it as a publicity stunt.

Some claim Cassidy’s involvement is simply a wild-west myth. Still others say it was the Sundance Kid and not Cassidy who helped pull off the robbery.

After the heist, they mounted their horses and made their getaway as the alarm sounded. Although towns folk fire fired several shots at the robbers, who returned the gunfire, no one got injured.

The gang had planned the robbery down to the last detail, including having fresh horses posted about 10 miles apart along their getaway route. This allowed them to quickly outdistanced the posse.

A man known as ‘Cowboy Joe’ Marsters recalled riding with the Wild Bunch as a 14-year-old horse wrangler. He said he liked Cassidy, but wasn’t crazy about the Sundance Kid.

“I saw him hang a man,’’ Marsters said during an 1974 interview.

Marsters also claimed to have seen Cassidy during a rodeo at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. By then both Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were reportedly dead some seven years, killed by the Bolivian Army.

Reports as recent as 2011, say Cassidy, whose given name was Robert LeRoy Parker, survived as a machinist named William T. Phillips, dying in Spokane, Washington in 1937. As for Marsters, he passed away in Doyle, California, north of Reno, in May 1978 at age 83.

Crescent City Nearly Disincorporated in 1957

One hundred years following incorporation, a 204 page document was presented to the board of supervisors in July 1957, recommending Crescent City’s charter be dissolved. It went on to ask city services be turned over to the County of Del Norte.

The board turned down a motion that would have called for the election of 15 freeholders to draw up a charter for the county. Supervisors Harold Del Ponte, Austin Hunter, and Fred Haight stated that “the county is not ready for such a move at this time.”

Some Del Norte citizens were not content to wait for the right time and notified the board that the citizens could call for an election by petition. When the freeholders were elected, they could draft a charter that would be voted on by county residents.

Charles A. Thunen, member of the advisory council reported that Jack Harper informed them of the immense savings that would result from the change. Thunen, at the time, was principal of Del Norte High, having the school gym named for his following his 1965 death.

Interestingly enough, Harper was also a school district employee. He taught art to students throughout the county, including Gasquet’s Mountain School and Margaret Keating School in Klamath.

Supervisor Del Ponte responded by stating that he didn’t see the point of letting two or three employees go and hiring a $1,000 a month man.  Unemployment was less than two percent at that time and many jobs were available in the logging and lumber industries.

As of 2012, only seventeen cities have disincorporated in California’s history, including Long Beach, Hornitos, Cabazon as well as Pismo Beach and Stanton, each of which later reincorporated.