AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF GEORGE LYNCH
I was born on February 17, 1858, in Butte County, California. When I was four years old, my parents separated. My father took me and my brother, James, who was fifteen years old, but he soon left us and struck out for himself. Father and I tramped for the next six years.
When I was seven years old, my father, who was a veteran of the war with Mexico, enlisted in Company A, Fourth Infantry; Captain Randall, First Lieutenant Starr. That was in Marysville, California.
I went with the troops to the Presidio of San Francisco. We stayed there about two months and then went to Eureka at Humboldt Bay. We went on a coast steamer. When we got there, the company was sent to the hills to fight Indians who were making trouble. He left me with a German family name of Blume. They were to send me to school. I went three days and got a licking for fighting, so I quit.
One day a boy, Johnnie Adams, and I were playing on the wharf when three larger boys in a rowboat asked us to go with them across the bay to Arcata to pick blackberries. John would not go but I did. We stayed all night and sometime in the night a couple of men from Eureka came looking for us. I was all right, but Johnnie was found a few days later, washed up on the beach. When I had last seen him, he was sitting on the edge of the wharf. It is likely that he went to sleep and fell into the water.
About the last of September, we went back to the Presidio where Father was discharged. Then our wanderings began. We first went out through the Santa Clara Valley and through San Joaquin where we got a cabin and stayed through the winter. In the spring, Father got a job cutting wood.
We stayed there until the first of July, and then went to Auburn where Father worked in the hayfields for a while. While we were there, I and some other boys took part in an Indian grasshopper drive. The Indians first dug a pit about six feet deep and four feet in diameter and filled it with dry oak limbs, set them on fire and kept them burning until the walls were red hot. They cleaned it out with baskets on short poles, and we then started the drive.
We took in about forty acres. Each of us had a bush. The hoppers' wings were not full grown so they could not hop very far. The pit was about half full of hoppers with their wings and toenails singed off. They ground them up in their stone mortars, mixed with white oak acorns and some manzanita berries. With a little water they mixed a dough which they baked on a flat soapstone. They gave each of us a small cake. I chose a berry cake and it tasted mighty good. Don't think I would like it now.
We then went up near Grass Valley where Father got down with rheumatism and was taken to the hospital at Nevada City. I went with him as I had whooping cough. There was a pine log about twenty inches in diameter and when I had a coughing spell I would lay across it. It seemed to make the coughing easier.
When Father got better, we went to Forest Springs, about twelve miles south of Nevada City. In a short time, Father had to go to the hospital again. He left me with two old bachelors name of Ames. One of them was blind. They were awful mean to me so I left them and went to a man name of Turner, who treated me good.
After I was there a short time, I went up to the hospital to see how Father was and they told me that he was dead and buried. I started back to Turners and had gone but a little way when the driver of the stage to Colfax picked me up and dropped me off near Turners'. That was in the early part of March. (That stage driver's name was Curly Calderwood.) I stayed with Turner until late in June. We were out in the field one day when he sent me to the house to get a bridle. As I did not know the difference between a bridle and a halter, I got the wrong thing. He got mad and gave me a beating.
I knew where my married sister lived, so I went there. She told me where Mother lived so I went there. Mother had married again and had one daughter by her second husband, whose name was Adin Congleton. I stayed with them until the spring of 1870. That spring, Congleton went to the coast of Mendocino County. He got a job there in a tanbark camp and sent for us to come there. We went by stage to Colfax, by train to San Francisco, by stage to Albion. We stayed there about three weeks and then went to Potter Valley. There I went to school three weeks.
From there we went about twelve miles to near Willets, where Congleton took a homestead. I did not get along very well with my stepdad, so I soon got a job building brush fence and herding a small bunch of sheep. The man I was working for was Charles Endicot. His nephew, Seth, was working with me. I was getting thirteen dollars a month. I worked there about a year. I then went back home.
One day my folks went to Willets to a church meeting. It was Friday and they were to come home Sunday. They left me and sister May at home. On Sunday morning, May and I went to a neighbor's and stayed until afternoon. When we got home it was nothing but a pile of ashes. We went back to the valley and next day the neighbors began bringing food and bedding and a good stove which we set up in a cowshed. A crew of men with a boss carpenter started a new home for us. A sawmill at Willets gave the lumber and the store gave nails and windows and in a week we were in better shape than before the fire.
I had learned to shoot a gun and one day my stepdad told me to go and see if I could get a deer. I soon found a herd of five, two does, two fawns and a yearling. I shot the yearling and started dragging it home. When I got near home, I left it and went to the house and put the gun on the rack. The folks were at supper and Mother said, "Wash your face and come to supper."
My stepdad said, "Did you see any deer?"
I said "Yes, I saw five and I got one."
He said, "Eat your supper and we will go and get it."
I was too excited to eat.
My brother came about this time and with another man, Ori Hopper, started making shingles. They split out sixteen foot bolts and I sawed them into sixteen-inch lengths. Nearby was a flock of condors, the largest bird I had ever seen. Hopper killed one of them that had a wing spread of eleven feet and I could not lift it.
After we got through with the shingles, my brother and I went to Rough and Ready, where my sister lived. Her husband had about forty head of cattle and he told me that if I would look after them through the winter, he would send me to school the next summer.
I looked after the cattle all winter, and on the first of April when school began I started school. I went six weeks and then my brother-in-law, who was a sawyer, got a job in a sawmill at Blue Tent and moved up there. I had to quit school, but I stayed and took care of the cattle until November. They came back from the mill and I went back to Mendocino.
It was about 200 miles home. I lived on apples and bought grain for the pony and let him graze as there was plenty of grass. I stayed at home until the next September when a man named Cyrus Clifton, who was going to Red Mountain in Humboldt County, asked Seth Endicott and me to go with him. He was hunting deer for the hides and making jerky of the meat. He had a market in San Francisco at 25 cents a pound for the jerky and forty cents for the hides. He had a team and wagon. We drove to within about 15 miles of our hunting ground and packed the rest of the way. He had a hunting dog which was bitten by a rattlesnake on the way up. We were near Blue Rock Station. There he got some large onions, split them and bound them to the bite, which was on the shoulder. In a few moments, the onion turned green and he would change it. When they no longer turned green, the dog was cured.
We killed about 150 deer and had to make three trips out to the wagon. When we got home, he told us he would take meat and hides to San Francisco and send us our share of the money which he said would be $90. That was the last we ever heard of him.
The next year, in May, I went out to the coast to peel tanbark for a man named Smith. I worked for him until the first of August, then went to a tie camp and got a job falling timber. After that, I went to a sawmill that had burned and they were rebuilding. They had promised me a job at $50 a month, but they put me to building skid roads. I asked the boss what pay I was getting and he said a dollar a day, so I quit right there. I had worked 14 days. They gave me a due bill for the $14 which I would have to send to San Francisco to get cashed, so I traded it in to the company store for clothing.
There was an old vest hanging up in the room where I had been sleeping. I felt in the pockets and found a $5 gold piece. It was then near bark peeling time, so I went back to Smith. I had not drawn any money on my first season's work, as I was saving up for money to go to school. Smith had not been able to sell his bark as the wharf where he had hauled his bark was not completed, so at the end of the season he had about 300 cords of bark piled up on the wharf. Then came a terrible storm that washed out the wharf with over 500 cords of bark and a lot of railroad ties. Smith's loss was nearly $5,000 and mine $400.
I then went back home and in February Seth Endicott went out to the coast at Kibbesillah. Could not find any work so went to a hotel keeper named Banker and asked him if he could take a chance on boarding us until bark peeling time. He said all right.
He had a saloon with his hotel and sometimes he would have one of us clean up at closing time, and I would go fishing at low tide and bring home a big mess of fish, and sometimes I would get abalones. And then we helped him put in a garden. When it came bark peeling time we asked him how much we owed him. He said, "You owe me nothing," and gave us enough dishes and cooking utensils for our camp.
A couple of young men had opened a clothing store and talked Seth and me into buying a suit of clothes and paying for them after we got to work. The parties who had backed them got uneasy and closed them out. They told us not to say anything as they had not put our names on the book.
While we were at Bankers I saw the most amusing April fool joke. Fag McRae was a bartender. He had a brother who was a bartender at Wager Creek, about four miles north. A man came in with a gallon demijohn of which he had cut out the bottom. He told Fag to fill it up and started telling Fag about a shooting scrape in which Fag's brother had been badly wounded. Fag had been pouring out of a two-gallon jug and it was empty before he saw the whiskey running all over the bar. I think every man in town had been posted and was there. Fag, of course, had to treat.
After bark peeling was over, we went a few miles north to a sheep shearing job. There was only room for one of us. The sheepman asked if either of us was good with a rifle. I told him I was. He said there were five wild goats on his range and he would pay me five dollars each for their tails. He had a Henry rifle. I tried it out and found it good. I soon found them and got four of them. The other one, an old billy, got away. I went out the next morning and found him on a rock overlooking the sea. The tide was in and when I shot him he fell in the sea, so I did not get his tail, but the boss paid me just the same.
We then went to Blocksburg, on Eel River. We got a job there which lasted three weeks. One day it rained. We went down town. Seth had traded for a small revolver and he told me to take it as he did not want to carry it. It was loaded, so I fired the five shots at a mark to see if it was any good. When we got in town, I got a newspaper and went into a saloon to read. There was another shearing crew in town, called the Tarkey gang. They were a tough outfit. I was sitting in a corner when the Tarkeys came and called everyone up to drink. I told them, "Thanks, but I don't drink."
One of them said, "You have to drink with us," and started toward me. I got up and pulled that empty pistol out of my pocket.
I said, "Now you come one step farther and you are a dead man." He turned back and I sat down to my reading.
Seth and I went home then. My brother-in-law and the Wilcox family had gone to Oregon and settled in Goose Lake Valley, and my folks were planning to go there in the spring. So I worked with my stepdad in the wood.
On the eighth of May we started. We got to Potter Valley the first day. We had left a thousand rails that we could not sell. There I traded them for a two-year-old colt. We had four horses, but we only worked two of them. My sister May and I rode horseback. The first day we had to lead the colt. After that, he followed.
May had a cat which she insisted on taking with us. Sometimes that cat would catch as many as three quails in the night and bring them to May and wake her. Sometimes it would be a jackrabbit.
When we got to Red Bluff, the road was so bad that we had to put on four and as Congleton could not drive four, I had to drive the remainder of the trip. We arrived at Lassen Creek on the tenth of June (1879). We met a man named John Russell who was building a sawmill about 15 miles northwest of Lakeview. He told us that he had eighty head of dairy cows in Warner Valley and he would sell us four of them for $25 each, and pay for them in work at $40 per month. So I started over to get the cows.
On Camas Prairie I met an army of Mormon crickets. For about two miles they were so thick on the ground that my horse crushed them with every step, and they were taking all the grass as they went. I don't know where they went for they never got to the valley.
I had an order for the cows to John DeGarmo. He told me the cows were about 10 miles east, but it would be impossible for one man to separate and drive them to Lakeview. I had to go and see for myself. I went over the Hart Mountain and I was sure that DeGarmo was right.
I came back and went to work for Russell. I worked for him until the first of November and had never drawn but $20. When I would ask him for money he was always broke. In September he went over to Surprise Valley and left me in charge of the lumber yard. A man came and bought 2000 feet of rough lumber and paid $20. I put it in my pocket and also put it on the book marked paid. When he came back he asked me about the $20. I took the $20 gold piece out of my pocket and showed it to him and then dropped it back in my pocket.
When I got through at Russell's he had no money so I took a due bill. I gave it to Mother. The Sniders, with a store at Willow Ranch, were glad to sell merchandise for the due bill. My stepdad had worked for a couple of cows and hay and grain for the stock, and the $180 bought enough groceries to last through the winter.
I got a job at a little sawmill at Pine Creek. My sister May and Edith Follett got the job of cooking. I had the log cutting. The timber stood close around the mill. It started snowing the twenty-third of November. By New Years it was about a foot deep, and then winter set in. It snowed almost steady until the middle of May.
By that time it was four feet deep all over the valley. Ice on the lake was 24 inches. Nearly all the cattle and sheep died. Soon after Christmas, the cooks quit and I took the job for the balance of the winter.
About the first of July, Sam Cormack and I took a contract to put to the mill on Lassen Creek two hundred and fifty (thousand board feet) of logs. We were furnished ten yoke of oxen and two bob trucks with wooden wheels, also shoes for the oxen. The price was $2.50 a thousand feet. The timber was close to the mill. We hired a man to drive one of the four-yoke teams and his wife to do the cooking. Sam drove the other team. We run the cattle on grass. I did the log cutting. It took us just 25 days on the job, so we made fair wages. We paid the man and his wife $50.
I then went to Cedarville, sheared a small flock of sheep. I then came back and got on a beef drive to Chico in the Sacramento Valley. We started from Lakeview with about 150 head. The boss rode ahead, picking up small bunches and when we got to Grasshopper Lake we had about 700. We laid over two days. We had a 35 mile drive the next day without either grass or water.
While we laid over, there was a large flock of white geese on the lake. I picked up a rifle and shot and killed three at one shot.
When we laid over while the boss went ahead to see about sales, we had the cattle in a field so we did not have to herd them. One day a flock of honker geese flew over. The cook said, "George, get us one of them." I said, "Which one?" He said, "That big one in the lead." They were high and I did not expect to hit him, but I fired without taking careful aim and I got him in the head.
I then came home by way of Susanville. It was bitter cold. When I got too cold I would get off and run until I got warm, then I would ride again. My horse, the same colt I had brought from Potter Valley, was trained to follow so did not have to lead him.
That was the wettest winter we have ever had, 32 inches in a whiskey barrel.
In May, I was shearing for my brother-in-law. He lived at Lassen Creek. We were expecting the fish to begin the run. One morning the other shearer and I went down the creek before breakfast. I was ahead of him. He turned back, but I went on. In a few minutes I caught the first fish and from that I caught them as fast as I could bait my hook and get it in the water. I fished about a quarter of a mile and then went back to my breakfast. After breakfast, we took a team and gathered the fish, 118 of them averaging seven pounds.
John Metzker came over from Surprise Valley on a fishing trip. He owned the sawmill up the creek. I traded my fish for two thousand feet of lumber. Later, when the small fish were running back to the lake, the settlers on the swamp land in South Warner paid a man to catch them and stock the streams running into Warner Valley. He put in a wing dam at Washburns with a screen to hold the small fish. He had five whiskey barrels. He put about 300 of the fingerlings in each barrel. When he got to the Fandango hill, he had too much load and left one barrel. He took the other up to Warner Valley and came back for the other barrel. The fish were all dead. He was paid $250 for all the good fishing we now have on the Warner side.
I then went to Cedarville and worked for Jesse Hyronymous in a sawmill. In the winter of 1884 I had a contract to cut a hundred cords of juniper wood for a hotel in Cedarville. I moved Mother up to the wood camp. The first of May I was just about finished when I ran into a den of rattlesnakes. I went to town, got a team and moved out.
I worked at the mill for Hyronymous until the spring of ‘86. I then came back to Lakeview and sheared sheep until the first of July. I had a horse and cart. On the last job, my horse ran away and went back to the valley. A shearer, George Ellib, was with me. We took our bed rolls and started for Lakeview. George had a friend name of Jo Dewey who was working on a rock fence by the road. He said he could send our bed to Lakeview on a lumber team which passed every day.
While we were talking a load of hay stopped and a man got off and asked if any of us wanted a job. I asked him what kind of a job. He said a sawmill. I said I would be back the next day. He was paying $40 a month.
For the first couple of days I was handy man. The lumber piler could not keep up and I had to help him. The boss told me that should be a one-man job. I said yes. He said if I could pile it, he would pay me $50 a month. It was an easy job for me. I worked for him over 10 years. In the winter I had the log cutting. I would get logs enough ahead so I could go shearing in the spring. After shearing, I worked as handyman in the mill. I soon learned to run the planer. When they needed more logs, I would go out in the woods. I could cut a lot more logs than the mill could use, so when they needed a man in the mill I would be ready.
The second year, on a Sunday morning when the crew had nearly all gone to town, the mill burned down. The few of us who were there saved nearly all the lumber.
We started building a new mill about a hundred feet from the old mill on a steeper hill. We had a boss carpenter. I hewed the timbers. On the low side we had a mudsill 65 feet long. We scored the upper side to set posts eight feet apart. The posts were eight feet long. The topsill was sixty five feet faced on two sides and 16 inches at the small end, a pretty heavy stick.
The carpenter could not see how we could get that heavy timber up on those posts. It looked simple to me. The carpenter said "We have not men enough here to lift it." I said, "I can put it up in half a day with two men."
I set up two tripods, one at each end and 12 feet high. The tripods were set right over the mudsill. I then put two chains at the top of each tripod with a grabhook at the lower end. There were some dry lodge poles nearby. We cut two 20-foot poles and put one at each end. We used one chain as a fulcrum and the other to hold the bite. It took us about an hour to raise the sill high enough to set the posts and then let the sill down. The carpenter quit right now, and I was boss carpenter for the rest of the job.
The next summer we built a log chute to the top of the hill west of the mill. One Saturday night there was a forest fire down the hill west of the head of the chute. It was in pretty thick fir timber and was not running fast. That evening we told the mill owners that if a heavy wind came up, it might get in the last year's cutting. The whole crew except the night watch and one of the owners and his wife and her sister were left. In a little while, the wind started and in a short time the fire was in the old cutting. A man in the valley saw the fire and got on a horse and rode to town and told us. I had my horse and cart, and two of us were the first to get near to the mill. It looked as though everything was burned, but on the north side there was a wide road and the fire had stopped at that. We ran up that way till we could see that my house and the Hawkins house were not burned and they were all right. The houses were in a triangle with a road on three sides. We then moved down to the valley near the Sam Dicks home. I filed a homestead claim and moved my house. Later I sold my claim to Jim McShane.
Mother had gone to California to live with her granddaughter. I stored our household furniture upstairs and in a few days the house burned and I was loser.
In the spring, I was shearing at the Loveless corrals. One day it rained and Oscar Metzker and I went to town. There the sheriff told us of a post office holdup at Bly. The men had been seen north of Lakeview. As we went back that night, Oscar held a pistol in his hand all the way.
When we got to camp, they told us the robbers had passed there. I went over to the mill and got my gun and started after them at daylight. I soon picked up their tracks and followed them over the Rehart pass to Honey Creek. As it was near night, I turned back. The sheriff had told me that he had sent word to the Mapes ranch to look out for them.
They got to the ranch just after supper. The cook was clearing the table and he told them to sit down and he would soon wait on them. They set their rifles in the corner and sat down facing the door. The cook set food on the table and brought the coffee pot in his left hand. In his right hand he had a dishtowel. He held the coffeepot out to the man nearest the guns. The cloth dropped and a gun was starting him in the face.
I sat by a fire that night and at daylight started for camp. About nine o'clock I got to the Charlie Loveless home and Mrs. Loveless came to the door. I asked her what would be the chance for three men to get a bite of breakfast. She said "sure" and asked me to come in. I said "no, I would wait outside." When she was ready she called "come in." I closed the door behind me. She said "where are the others?" I patted my stomach and said "right here." I had not had a bite since daylight of the day before. I ate nearly all that she had cooked for three.
I worked at the mill then until eighteen ninety three. In March of that year, Mrs. Otis Follett was very ill. Her daughter, Mrs. Florence Houston, was teaching in South Warner. The road was blocked by deep snow; no way to get there except on skis. I started at nine o'clock in the evening and had to carry my skis about a half mile up the hill before the snow got deep enough to use the skis. I was going to the Lofftus brothers at Crane Lake and there get a horse. I got there just at midnight. They had run out of feed and sent their horses to the valley. I stayed there until morning as I did not know the road from there. I used the skis for about two miles and at the crossing of Camas Creek, I left the skis. I crossed the ice of a beaver dam. It was raining and it was muddy walking. I got to the school house at four o'clock.
I told the Houstons that the Fandango Pass was open. They were on horses and started and when they got to the creek at the south end of the valley, the water was so high that they could not cross so they turned back and went up past Plush and around by Abert Lake. Her mother died before they got there.
I stayed at the Deep Creek ranch that night. It was yet raining and it took nearly all day to get back to where I had left my skis. As bad luck would have it, I had left them on the other side. If I had taken them across I could have gone right on from there. The ice on the beaver dam had broken up. I had a little whisky. I put it in one of my boots and put my cap on top of it and threw it across. I took off the other boot and threw it over and waded. The water was up to my chin and it sure was cold. I did not take off my clothes as I was soaking wet anyway. The first thing I did was drink that whisky and it sure warmed me. I soon got to the Lofftus home. There I got some dry clothes. From there on it was easy.
In eighteen ninety four, Fred Snyder and I took a contract to cut and deliver five hundred cords of four foot pine wood to the Town of Lakeview for a steam electric light plant. It was where the Marius Theatre is now. We started cutting in January and started hauling the first of July. Fred drove our team and we hired two other teams, paying two dollars a cord. I kept on cutting. Fred had a bad leg and had to quit. He put his brother Bert in his place. About the first of August, I checked our wood and thought we were about one hundred cords short, so I started working fifteen hours a day and cording up four cords a day. When we got the five hundred cords in we had eight cords over but the town took it.
The next spring, after shearing, I moved Mother out to camp. We had a jolly crowd, my niece Willie Washburn, Julia Robinson, a widow, Mrs. Tabor. I had a good friend, Joe Kingry, who had sheared with me. He was from Kansas. He had a letter from his sister, Minnie. She said the doctor told her that she had a start of TB and her only chance was to go to a drier climate. I told Joe that there had never been a case of TB in either Lake or Modoc Counties and to have her come out and make her home with Mother. I always had a girl to stay with Mother. Joe sent for her and when she came Joe brought her out to camp. The next day, we all went over to Camp Creek fishing. On the way, Minnie had a very severe coughing spell. That evening I told Joe that she had no more TB than I had, that the trouble was in her stomach, and I was proved right so she lived forty-eight years after. We were married on the eighteenth of March of eighteen ninety-six. We lived together forty-eight years without one single quarrel.
After shearing, Joe and I bought a piece of timber in Bullard Canyon and built around the hillside to the point above the north school. We built a chute of lumber seven hundred and fifty feet long. Townspeople told me it would not work without water. The bottom of the chute was sixteen inches of planed boards. The sides eight inches. I think half the town was there to see the first load come down. That load was four foot. I had greased the upper end of the chute and the wood sure did travel. A man in the crowd with a stopwatch said a stick went through in eight seconds. I had leased the land from a man who did not charge me anything but the next spring he wanted two hundred and fifty dollars, so we tore the chute out and built a road up the Cemetery Canyon.
The next year, Joe quit and leased a flock of sheep. I worked until May of nineteen hundred when all the business part of town except the old courthouse burned. After we had the fire controlled, I started on a bicycle to Crooked Creek to put in an order for lumber for the Bailey and Massingill store. When I got beyond the light from the fire my wheel was no good, so I left it and walked to Warner Canyon where I got a horse. I then moved my family out to the mill and worked in the woods and mill until they moved the mill to Camp Creek. That was in nineteen seven, and there my troubles began.
I was falling a four foot tree. I was about half way through. In falling alone, I stand at the end of the saw and use about a thirty inch stroke. As I was at the end of the forward stroke a big limb fell and hit the heel of my left shoe. If I had been on the back stroke it would have gotten me on the top of my head. That was the first of my six hairbreadth escapes.
Later the same year, I was bucking a four foot log and was about half through when I looked up and saw a big limb hanging above me. I jumped over the log and before I could get the saw out the limb fell and hit right where I had been standing.
My next accident was just like the first except that the limb hit the muscle of my left leg and I was laid up for a couple of weeks. The snow was about three feet deep. I had put a few small boughs to stand on. If I had been on the ground I would now be a one-legged man.
The next year, I took the logging contract. We had built a chute up to the bench above the mill. It was steep enough that the logs would run by gravity for about five hundred feet and beyond that we had to pull them with the horses. We had skidways to drop the logs on. I had a five log load and I got up and rolled the first log off and then stood in front of the other to roll it in to the place of the first one. I had failed to notice a knot on the log and it kept coming. I fell to the skidway with the cant hook in my right. I laid slantwise across the skid. My right foot was in the air and the log struck it and pushed me off the skid. I lay on my back between the skids. The log struck across my breast and as it rolled over me it took a little skin off nose and chin. I have often heard it said that when a man sees death staring him in the face he thinks of his past misdeeds. Not me! I only thought of the six thousand dollars of life insurance that I had and how it would help my family.
In nineteen seven there was a big rush to get timber claims. So I started cruising. The land office was opened in September for filing. There were over two hundred people in the line. They were numbered and dismissed at night and took their place again the next morning. I had thirteen in line and they all got their claim. That was easy money.
I worked at the mill until nineteen ten. A man came from Chicago and said that he was agent for a lot of young people who had heard about the good land of the desert. He said they had from fifteen hundred to twenty-five hundred dollars apiece. I took him out to the desert north of Alkali Lake and up to where Lute Moss had a homestead. There was a small spring on Lute's place. It was only enough water for his house use and one horse. Lute had a couple of acres of rye seeded and it was beginning to dry up. So I didn't locate any desert homesteads.
I was in the wood business then until nineteen thirteen. I had a three-room cabin about a mile and a half up Bullard Creek. We were at supper when one of the children said "Look at the water." It was not raining very hard. I opened the kitchen door and the water came in knee deep. We had a cellar in the hillside a few steps away. I carried Mother and the small children to the cellar. I had about twenty cords of sixteen inch wood on the flat and it was scattered all the way to town. A man living near the mouth of the canyon said the water was thirty feet deep as it came out of the canyon.
While we were there my mother passed away at the age of ninety-two years.
A man name of Wheeler was building a diversion dam on Dry Creek. He hired me to go and work for him. I was to hew the timbers for the underwater foundation. I worked for him until March when the water raised and we had to quit. We then moved to Crane Creek and I cut wood for a couple of years. Two brothers, name of Laing, came from Michigan and hired me to show them some timber claims they had bought sight unseen. It was all school sections, some in Lake County and some in Klamath. Harry Utley was to drive us in his Apperson car. We started on the first of July. We had three claims in Lake County. We cruised them first and then went to Klamath, going over the road from Bly to Bonanza. We lost a bed roll and did not miss it until we got to Bonanza. It was late but Harry and I started back after it. We went a few miles and something went wrong with the car and I took the flashlight and went on and found the bed. We could not start the car. Hal Ogle, who was and is working for Weyerhaeuser, came along on a motorcycle. I got a ride with him to go to Bonanza for help. We went about half a mile and ran into a strip of sand. The cycle bucked and threw us about twenty feet but did not hurt us. But the cycle was a wreck. From Bonanza, we started for Rock Creek, about thirty miles east. At Lorella, Harry got word of a death in his family. We then hired a team to take us on to Rock Creek. We then went to Klamath Falls. We had a claim about forty miles north of the Falls. Ogle had told me of a sugar pine tree by the road with his cruiser mark on it. He did not remember what section it was, so I found the line all right and followed it about a quarter mile to a section corner. There had been a fire that had burned out all the marks so I did not know where I was. That was about nine o'clock and I followed lines until four before I found a corner that I could read. I was six miles from the first corner that I found and that first corner was the one I wanted, and there was no timber on it so the day's work was for nothing. That was the last of my job and the next day I caught a ride home.
I next took a contract to build nine miles of fence for Jim Heryford at Dog Lake. I did not get much done that fall. On the ninth of March, my son Everett and I went to the lake. There was some snow and ice. Heryford and his son, Lee, came out. One day the boys were by the lake and one dared the other to go swimming. No sooner said than they shed clothes and went in. The ice had broken up and they had to push it out of their way. In late summer, my son Dayne came out and helped finish the contract. Dayne had graduated from high school with a high grade. I sent him to the University of Nevada to study Civil Engineering. After a month he got scarlet fever and was in quarantine for two months. He got so far behind in his studies that he came home. In the spring when war was declared on Germany the boys both volunteered and left with the first party, Dayne in the Air Force and Everett in the Navy. Dayne had a weakness in his eyes and was put in office work. He went to France and was there until the war ended. Everett was on a cargo boat that was sunk by a submarine. Everett's gun crew was on the bow of the ship which was sinking at the stern. They thought the submarine might surface and they would get a shot at it, but it never did. There was a boat waiting to pick them up when they jumped off. One man got a broken leg. There was an English ship waiting to pick them up. Everett came back and was on shore duty most of the time until the end of the war.
I had taken another contract to build five miles of fence for Heryford on Dry Creek. I had the posts all cut when something went wrong with my left arm. I could not use it. I could not hire any help, so I dug post holes and stretched wire with one hand. My arm got all right before I finished the fence. There was something funny about that arm. It was all right when I went to sleep and the next morning it was useless and another morning it was all right after being out of use for about four weeks. I then took another contract to building another seven and a half miles of fence on Dog Mountain. I moved my family out there and moved them back to the valley when school started.
The boys came back from the war about the time I had the fence finished. Heryford then helped the boys and me to buy a sawmill on Rosa Creek about seven miles northeast of Lakeview. Soon after the boys and I moved to the mill I went to town with a load of wood for home. That was on Wednesday. I told my wife I would be in Sunday with another load. Before I left town, I met a man who wanted me to estimate a piece of timber in Warner Canyon. I told him I would come over the hill in the morning and meet him. It snowed about ten inches that night. Just as I got to the top of the hill the next morning, Everett called to me to wait. When he got up there he said "you left your pocket knife, and you might need it." If he had been one minute later, I would have been over the hill and out of hearing. Going down the hill I stepped in a digger squirrel hole under the snow and my foot turned in such a way that I could not get it out. I could not get my hand down to unlace my shoestring, the ground was frozen so hard. The knife that Everett gave me was a small one that I used for sharpening pencils and trimming fingernails, but that knife saved my life. It must have taken an hour to dig that frozen ground so I could get my foot out. I then went down to where I was to meet the man but he was not there so I went down to the road and caught a ride to town. He thought I would not come on account of the snow. I had told my wife I would be in town Sunday and I had told the boys that I would not be back to the mill until Sunday, so if I did not have the knife, I would have been dead for three days before anyone missed me.
We bought one hundred and sixty acres of timber and moved the mill about a quarter of a mile and had it ready to run in the spring. We contracted with a man named Campbell to deliver in Lakeview four hundred thousand feet of mill run lumber at twenty-seven dollars and fifty cents per thousand feet, the lumber to be delivered the first of October. In June the price of lumber took a drop. Campbell had started to build a mill at Camp Creek. I hired a man with six horses to haul the lumber, but after a few trips he got a better job from Campbell. I then got a man with a big truck but after one trip, Campbell hired him. I knew then that we were licked. The mill was insured for two thousand dollars, the insurance expired the first of September and a few nights later the mill burned. Two men sleeping by the lumber track said there was an explosion and the whole mill was afire. I supposed gasoline had been scattered all over. We saved nearly all of the lumber.
A lumber buyer, John Farrett, helped me to get started again. I went to Susanville and bought a second headrig edger and headblocks. We brought the engine and boiler from the abandoned Camp Creek mill and soon had the mill running. Everything was in Farrett's name and after a year he ordered a shutdown. I had kept a book account of all our business and he owed me eighteen hundred and seventy dollars. At the start we had agreed to arbitrate any difference between us. He had to choose one man, me one, and they to choose the third. I chose a man whose life I had saved not long before. He said he had a mortgage of nine hundred dollars on the property of a man that he knew they could select as the third man, which they did. Their verdict, one hundred and eighty three dollars. A few days later, the third man was driving a seven hundred dollar car that had belonged to Farrett. My man said it would do no good to give me the eighteen hundred and seventy dollars as my creditors would take it away from me. I told him that was what I wanted it for.
I soon got a job as sawyer in a small mill on Crooked Creek at one dollar an hour, ten hour day. At the end of the first month, a grocer in Lakeview filed a lien on my wages, leaving me only seventy-five dollars to support my family. If he had left me a little time I could have paid off my debts, as I had a chance to lease the mill where I was working and could have paid everything in a year. A lawyer friend, Arthur Hay, advised me to file a petition in bankruptcy (the dark spot in my life). I then bought a one-fourth interest in a small sawmill on Thomas Creek. My partners were two brothers and a banker. The banker was the business manager. The first winter, I cut sawlogs by contract. In the spring when we started up one of the brothers was the fireman, the other one was the sawyer. We had two other men hired and I was the lumber piler and trouble shooter. It took quite a while to get things to running smooth and then we made an average of ten thousand feet a day with two hired men. We were buying timber from a Portugese who could neither read or write. We were to pay three dollars per thousand feet. The sawyer scaled the logs as they were sawed. I took the scale every night. One day the man who owned the timber asked me if I knew how much timber we had sawed. I told him it was near six hundred thousand feet. When they settled with him he only had credit for a little over three hundred thousand feet and he complained to me that I had told him wrong. I said, "Manuel, I will see that you are paid for a little over six hundred thousand feet." I went to the banker and asked him what was the idea for short changing Manuel. I said, "I have credit for cutting over six hundred thousand feet of logs, all from Manuel's timber." So he paid him. The banker then told me that the mill would not start until I got out. I said "all right, I have a seven hundred dollar interest." He said, "You owe us seven hundred dollars." I went to see a lawyer, Sam Jetmore, and he said "Tell them to come up to my office at four o'clock." I think Jetmore had something on the banker for they were there. Jetmore said, "I have to go out for a minute, see if you can't settle it without my help." As soon as he was gone the banker asked me "What do you want?" I said "I want the seven hundred that you owe me and a hundred for the trouble that you have made me. He wrote me a check and when Jetmore got back everything was settled and I was out of a job.
During the time I was at this mill my home in Lakeview burned with a loss of two thousand dollars. My next job was cutting wood for the Graves Brothers. Nothing occurred while I was with them.
I then went to Davis Creek to cut logs for a mill. I worked there for a few months and got beat out of eighty dollars.
My son Bud and I then bought a truck and went into the wood business again. After we had worked a few months, Bud got discouraged and pulled out. I had never learned to drive a car, so I hired a man to drive and I kept on cutting wood. He had been driving but a short time when he got mad at me and quit. We were in the woods and the truck not loaded yet. I had my axe in my hand. I had not thought of running a bluff as I said, "Now you help me load that truck and you drive it to town." I guess he thought I was going to split him wide open, for he jumped to the work.
There were several vacant lots near my home so I started to learn to drive. In a short time, I thought I knew all about it and so went uptown to take my test. I got my license all right. The man who had been driving for me was killed by a horse a few days after he left me.
After I started driving, I was coming in from Mill Flat with a three cord load. Near the Hot Springs, I met a car. My windshield was open and as I passed the car, a small rock flew from his car and hit me on my left eye and blinded me so I got on the soft shoulder and went over into the ditch. The truck turned clear over and stopped right side up. Nobody hurt and not much damage to the truck.
Not longer after that I was hauling from the same place when my brake failed on a quarter mile hill. The lumber trucks were about due but I got down the hill and out of the road just as the first truck showed up.
Nothing of interest occurred until the fall of nineteen forty-three. On the account of my age, I could not get insurance on my truck, so I sold it and went over to Klamath Falls and got a job with the Pelican Bay Lumber Company in the woods. They set me bumping knots at eight dollars a day.
One day after I had been there a couple of weeks, I was working about a hundred yards from the road. I saw the boss, Mr. Bailey, in his pickup stop and come over to where I was sitting. He said, "Taking a rest are you." I said, "Looks like it don't it." It was about two o'clock. He said, "Come on, let's go to camp." I thought I was fired. He said nothing until we were halfway to camp and then he said, "Do you know what the straw boss says about you?" (There were six men bumping knots besides me.) "He says that you bump as many knots as any three men." That sure made me feel good. He told me he would give me an easier job. He put me to work as roustabout, feeding the pigs, milking cows, sweeping the cabins. After a few days I told him I wanted a different job. We had moved to a new camp in cutover ground and he set me to cleaning up.
One day I wrote to my wife and told her I would be home Saturday. On Thursday morning I felt that I should go home. I went to the boss and told him how I felt. He had his wife take me down to Bly, 28 miles, to catch the stage.
When I got home my wife seemed in perfect health. We retired about 11 o'clock. About two she began to struggle and moan.
I said, "Minnie, wake up; you have a nightmare."
She said, "I can't."
That was the last word she ever spoke. My granddaughter was sleeping in a hammock out under the shade trees. I called her and told her to run over to Dr. Robinson who lived only a half block away. She was there in a very few minutes and gave her a shot in her arm. It eased the pain. She seemed to be conscious for several hours before she passed away.
I then went back to camp. When the weather got pretty cold, there were three old men cutting wood for the camp. One day the boss said to me, "It seems like two men should keep the camp in wood." I said, "One good man can do it." He said, "You are a good man, but I don't believe you can do it." I said, "If I can't, I'll quit." He said, "If you can, it will pay you $235 and board." Board was $65 a month.
That was an easy job for me. I had a good drag saw. I had to saw and split the wood for the cookhouse, the commissary, the school, the manager's house and the bath house, and I sawed the wood for the cabins but did not split it. In the first two weeks, I got wood enough ahead so I did not have to work on a cold or stormy day.
The cook was said to be an awful crank. I have always believed that it was good business to be on good terms with the cook. I asked him to tell me just how he wanted his wood split. He said, "For the first thing, I want it not over 23 inches long or under 19." And he showed me how he wanted it split and he said he did not want any pitch wood. I carried all his wood in for him, which he said was more than he expected.
One day he asked me when was my birthday. I told him I was going to eat dinner with my son, Bud. On that day he baked and took to Bud's house a lovely cake.
After the cold weather was over, the boss put a cheaper man on the wood job and I took a job piling brush. The woods crews took their lunch with them. The lunches were placed on a table before breakfast. They were all alike. The cook told me to come in the kitchen and get my lunch. He always had something special for me.
I was piling brush by contract and made about $15 a day. I worked at the brush piling until late summer when I got something wrong with my right foot and had to quit. My foot got all right in a couple of weeks and I came back to work. I bumped knots then until the camp closed for lack of timber.
I then came back to Lakeview and got a job as a night watch for the Bob Adams mill. I worked a month there and quit as the job was too slow for me.
Since then I have cut a little wood in the summer and laid off in the winter. In 1949 I fell on the ice in Klamath Falls and broke my right arm. It was a bad break, as the upper half of the elbow was crushed. The doctor who set it said that at my age I should have been dead before I got to his office. He set it and told me I would not have any use of my elbow. It was in a cast seven weeks and after the cast was taken off, I could use it a little, and in a couple of months it was almost as good as ever.
Two years ago, I was working at Swamp Creek. I cut a big limb and put it on my shoulder to carry it a few steps. I got it too far forward, so I put my hand under it. As I got to the pile, I fell on my left side. I just threw it over my head. If it had been on my shoulder, as it should have been, my neck would have been broken.
In 1906, some friends gave me expense money to go over to Red Mountain in Humboldt County, California. As a boy I had been there on a hunting trip and found that it was almost pure iron ore. I started on the first of April and was three days in getting there. I found mining location notices all over the ore bed, so I came back. There is a rocking stone about a hundred feet in diameter on the east side of the mountain. In a heavy wind, the top will sway three or four feet.
Contributed by Kit Barry September 27, 2000.
"I am attaching the autobiography of my great-grandfather, George H. Lynch. The early part of his life was spent in northern California but he moved to Lake County, Oregon in 1879 when he was 21. He died in 1954 and typed this himself when he was in his 90s."
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