would like to have a copy of this or have the historical
society or somebody have a copy for future reference for
the people in fifty years from now. They'd like to be
able to say oh that isn't true. It never happened, there
was never such and such a thing , there never was this
that or the other.
If a fellow can give a pretty correct description of something
they can tie too, why it's there forever. What are you
most interested in? (Any
recollections that, you have of early days. What ever
you'd like to tell me.) They're
after me for this and that and the other. They're very
anxious to know about the early days schools and then
roads and bridges. The lumber companys of course. Cascadell
has quite a history back of it. I'll tell you all I can
about any of it.
you like to start with Cascadell?)
starting with cascadell, in the very days Cascadell was
known as Alder Creek by the old timers. There are a great
many alders growing along the creek. Until about 1877
there were not many people got to the mountains, some
few hunters, some trappers and some prospectors, but there
never was much gold found beyond Fine Gold Creek down
here. While there was a little mining above Cascadell
and considerable up around Jackass Meadows there never
was any gold found in paying quanties that I ever knew
year 1877 was a very dry year in the San Joaquin valley.
You must take into consideration in a story like this
that there was no irrigation in the San Joaquin valley
then. There was no alfalfa, there was no vineyards. There
was just a little grain farming. The only way they had
of getting water, they could dig a well and 1ift it with
a couple of buckets. It was hard to water a few thousand
head of sheep with a couple of buckets. So early in the
spring of 1877 most all the sheep men left the valley
from all parts of Madera, Fresno and Merced counties and
went back into the mountains anywhere they could get.
You understand there was no forest service at that time,
there was no regulations. It was just a case of get up
had to get back there first of all, because they had a
great deal of trouble watering their sheep after the warm
weather set in and there was no feed in the valley to
amount to anything. When they got up to the 25 hundred
or 3 thousand foot level they began to find quite a little
feed. They went back as the snow went off the higher country,
why they kept on going back and went clear back to the
summit. Most all of those sheep men had families to take
care of as well as sheep. So they just got back to about
what is now known as 77 corral and left a few men taking
care of all the sheep. They let them mix up and a few
men stayed back there and took care of them and the other
men went out and did the best they could for their families.
the fall time they gathered the sheep all up in one bunch.
At 77 corrals they built a large log corral. The corral
contained a great many acres. They gathered the sheep
in that and drove them all out of the mountains together.
They perhaps had 125 thousand sheep. When they got out
to Oakhurst or what was then Fresno Flats why they divide
them up there. Some of them went to Fresno Co. and some
to Merced Co. and a good many of them stayed in Madera
that year in 1877 there was a Charlie E. Strivens, he
was known mostly, he came up to Casadell and there was
a sheep man, George Wagner had claimed Cascadel as his
squatter claim. In the early days they had squatter claims,
they called it a six shooter right. Mr. Striven settled
there and perhaps planted the first apple trees that were
planted at Cascadel. He put up a little store there and
sold such things as he could get. It was hard to get things.
Everything had to be hauled mostly from Stockton, in those
days, by horse team or ox teams. But he sold whisky and
some little groceries and some dry goods.
the Indians didn't know the meaning of the white mans
word, Alder Creek, but they first started to call it Alder.
When they got better acquainted with it and could get
liquor there and when the liquor was called whisky why
the Indians changed the name to Whisky Creek, because
they could understand the whisky part of it. That's all
they could understand I guess.
Mr. Striven continued on there for a year or two during
the summer months and then he owed a big bill to a storekeeper
in Madeira, E. S. Williams, early timers will know that
name, and Mr. Williams took the squatter's claim over
for what Mr. Striven owed him and Mr. Williams became
Williams had a J.E. Chaffin, who was one of the first
supervisors of' Madera County. Mr. Chaffin was a Michigan
man, educated man, a very fine man, never used liquor
in any way nor never used tobacco in any way. He was a
man that over reached himself in everything he done, He
would buy anything he could get on credit. So Mr. Chaffin
bought from Mr. Williams Cascadel. Whether he ever paid
anything for it or not other than work. He was a bookkeeper
for Mr. Williams, nobody has ever known.
Chaffin filed homestead there himself. He got an old German
by the name of Charlie Grunegader to file a homestead
there but anyway he got title to 488 acres of land and
Mr. Chaffin improved the place. He planted lots more apple
tree and he built considerable fence and built a very
large barn that he didn't have much use for. He lived
there with his wife for many years.
the time he was supervisor he handled the office of supervisor
very much 1ike he handled his own business. He hired men
to work on the road and he didn't have any money to pay
them. When the next election came along, why nobody disputed
Mr. Chaffins integrity or his ability or questioned his
being anything but a good man except that they couldn't
afford to work for nothing, and that defeated Mr. Chaffin.
Soon after that he lost Cascadel and moved back to Madera
with his wife. He was the head bookkeeper for for many
years until he got so old he couldn't work anymore.
interesting part of Cascadel is the tramway that was brought
down the mountain in the year 1897. Started in 1896 I
think it was. That was up at the top of the hill in very
fine sugar pine timber, and just about a mile due east
of Cascadel. The country sets on edge there. In that mile
the elevation raises from 3500 feet to about 5500 feet
in perhaps a little bit more than a mile.
had been two brothers, Eddie Heburn and Dan Heburn, take
up 160 acres of land. It was a homestead act and had made
final proof and had title to the land. They had encumbered
the land to the old Commercial National Bank of Madera
and in the course of a couple years, the bank took it
over. I've always understood for $500.00. Now adays there
would be half a million dollars worth of lumber on it.
bank interested a Mr. J. W. Watkins and Fred Prosher.
Watkins was a builder and contractor and quite a good
business man in Madeira. Prosher owned a lot of property
and cut this timber to build a tramway down the hill to
Cascadel. That saved about five miles around the way it
would have to go and there was no road. They made just
a little temporary road to take machinery in but to have
made a road they could haul lumber on would have cost
a lot of money. They got the tramway operating in the
summer of 1897, They had several little cars that would
hold about two thousand feet and they got a large hoist
and set it up at the mill. That hoist was to let the lumber
down and hoist the cars back again.
they also interested the Peckinpah brothers of the Peckinpah
Lumber Co. to move their mill from the old Peckinpah site
which is mostly northeast of North Fork, over about five
miles to what is called the Watkins Mill. He was to do
the cutting for so much a thousand and furnish the power
to run this hoist. They didn't need it to let the cars
down but they needed a lot to bring the cars back. Well,
they didn't figure very correctly, it soon developed.
One day there was a couple of cars down at Cascadel and
when they undertook to pull them up they didn't have steam
enough to saw with. So they had to do one or the other.
They alternated. They'd saw for one hour and lay off for
an hour until they got some of the cars up. They went
broke. The Peckinpahs I guess lost two or three years
work there and Watkins and Prosher both went broke. They
didn't have nothing when they got thru.
a bit of the timber was sawed up by Watkins & Prosher,
but when they couldn't move any longer, Peckinpahs took
over what timber there was left. They built a wagon road
thru what was then call Ellis meadow. That Ellis by the
way was no kin folk of mine. They built about five miles
of road and hauled the lumber out with mule teams. They
got thru there about 1900 I think it was, and nobody made
any money to speak of. Just a lot of work. (Do
you know how it happened to be called Ellis meadow?)
I know how it happened. In the early days in the '90s,
around there, there was few people that had any money
to invest in anything. There was few banks that wanted
to loan money on little saw mills, little projects. If
they (had) a big project like the Sugar Pine Lumber Co.
use to be, or the California Lumber Co. and had thousands
and thousands of acres of good timber then they could
borrow money, but if they just had 150 acres of timber,
no bank would look at them. So the two head men of the
North Fork Lumber Co., after it had been running for 3
or 4 years, they had no trouble in selling and getting
rid of their best stuff such as the best sugar pine and
ponderosa pine, but saw mills in this country in order
to get the good, they had to take some of the bad. The
red fir and white fir and incense cedar is not bad lumber,
but its not good lumber. It does for heavy building purposes
and things like that but not for any finishing work. Well,
this B. F. Ellis, his name was Bengerman Franklin Ellis,
he was a contractor in Fresno and he took contracts to
build raisin packing sheds and livery stables and that
kind of rough work. He could use a lot of cheap lumber
so they took him in as a partner. He was with them for
a few years until they went broke. He started in to take
up a homestead on Ellis Meadows. He had a log cabin there
and lived there a little while at Ellis Meadow. It is
now called Benidict Meadow. There was very fine timber
there and a very fine meadow. (There is a great big tree
up there they call the Ellis tree.)
has always been a question, in the early days they took
up land under the Homestead Act. I have just told, you
about the Heburn brothers taking up 160 acres of land
and making final proof on it and getting legitimate title
to the land. There was lots of other people that did the
same thing and that was absolutely against the law because
in order to make final proof on a homestead they had to
go into the land office, which was then located in Stockton,
and at least the applicant or homesteader and two witnesses
had to make affidavit that the land was worth more for
agriculture purposes than it was for timber and stone.
About that time there began to be a lot of question about
that. It got back to the forest authorities in Washington,
there was no Forrest Service or Forest Reserve in those
days, homesteading was being practiced all along the Sierra
Nevada mountains for five or six hundred miles and when
you come to put it all together there was a lot or it.
So I think, it was in 1895 or 96 Washington began to look
into that and they sent government men all along the forrest
for many miles and investigated a lot of those homesteads.
They cancelled a lot of them and Ellis's was one that
was your first job in the timber?)
original Peckinpah Mill where they first settled was about
fifty five hundred feet high. The Brown Mill which was
a mile this side of the Peckinpah Mill was not quite so
high. From South Fork to either one of those mills you
climbed between two thousand and twenty five hundred feet
in elevation in six miles, which made a very steep road.
It was a very poor road to begin with. It was first used
by Jessie Boss and his brother. They made shakes up there,
bringing shakes down the mountains, mostly with a sled
they gradually made it a little better until Cal Ross,
who perhaps was the first man who ever drove more than
two horses up or down the hill, got to going up and down
with a four horse team. That was perhaps along in the
late 70's or early 80's.
The Peckinpahs were here when I came in 1890. I have always
understood that there were six Peckinpah men that came
here. One more, Henry Peckinpah, that stayed back in their
native state of Indiana and never did come west. There
were six of them all big men, all hard workers. They were
very sober men. They had no use for liquor in anyway and
they used no tobacco except one. They had one brother,
David Peckinpah, that would smoke a cigar once in a while,
but he was not a habitual smoker. They started the first
mill as I understand it, but that was before my time by
about five years. The old Peckinpah site is known by most
everybody by the great big pile of sawdust that there
is there. It covers a few acres. Well, that was the first
site and they got along in every way there for years and
One of the brothers, Nip Peckinpah, who for a few years
ran a harness and saddle shop in North Fork, his little
shop and house where he lived was just about on the corner
where the Italian Hotel or saloon is. It was right on
that corner until he got too old and then he went up to
the mill and did as much as he could for a few years,
but he soon died. He was buried up at the mill and later
moved to Sebastopol in Sonoma County.
There was three that never married and three that did
marry. Edgar Peckinpah married and had no childfen. David
Peckinpah was married and had no children. Charles M.
Peckinpah didn't marry until about the spring of 1891.
He married a San Francisco girl who had never been out
of the city hardly and took her up there and kept here
there most of the time for 10 or 15 years. They had three
sons. One lives in Fresno now. One is up in Willows in
Yolo County I think, it is the third one, Dave got to
be quite a prominent lawyer and later got to be judge
in Madera County. He passed away 3 or 4 years ago. They
lived up there during the winter time. There was six feet
of snow, sometimes ten. The last time I ever seen her
and we were talking about old times, she says "It
was kinda hard going, but I'd like to go back and go thru
it all again." I believe she told the truth.
they got the lumber cut and piled up the question was
to sell it and get the money out of it. Well now, most
of that lumber had to be hauled to Fresno or maybe to
Madera. There was a lumber yard. in Madera for a number
of years, and later on to Friant. That meant a lot of
horses and mules and wagons, and bad roads. From the
Peckinpah Mill or the Brown Mill, when you first started
down the hill, the old granite hill, it was very steep.
Just a little of the steep part of it was about 32 percent.
Teams never could have held their wagons coming down
there if it had not been for the fact the soil conditions
was a loose granite of course, a lot of rock and the
brakes would hold the wagon in the granite but not on
hard land. Often times the teamsters have to use what
is known as a shoe; they put on the front wheels and
that slid one of the front wheels. They would use that
for the very worst places. A good ten animal team could
make a trip, if nothing happened or he didn't have a
sick horse or broke down his wagon or anything, they
could make a trip to Peckinpah Mill and back in six
days. A good team with a good driver could haul about
8,000 feet of dry lumber.
was a lot of talk then about teamsters. were good, some
were indifferent, and some were poor. Once in a while somebody
got hurt. I don't thing there ever was any man killed up
on this mountain. There was one wreck there that a man got
pretty badly mashed up. I guess he died from it three or
four years afterwards. Now over on Pine Ridge, Fresno County,
conditions were very similar to what they had been here,
but they had lots of accidents over there. Pine Ridge was
called the graveyard of Fresno County for a number of years.
I don't know why. In my own mind I think there was too much
drinking over there. There was two or three saloons on the
top of Pine Ridge. Up here there never was a saloon got
on the top of the hill. There was liquor in North Fork.
There was a place that .sold liquor up where the mission
is now. It use to be called the Basket of Blood.In
the first place I think there was a better quality of men
here. I use to see those Pine Ridge Teamsters. We use to
go to Friant and stay all night and then to Fresno. On top
of the hill, ten miles this side of Fresno, was the old
Lane stage. I think there's some of it there yet. There's
where the Pine Ridge teamsters and the North Fork teamsters
got together. Often times there was demonstrations as to
who was the best man. There were several teamsters here
that teamed for years and years and years and never had
any serious accidents. Never killed any horses or broke
up any wagons. Well, of course, once in a while there was
some fellow that would (complain) about something or other.
I had a friend, he was a Dane, Pete Anderson, who drove
a six horse check team. He was a good man, was raised
in Denmark. Didn't know much about horse and mules and
wagons and things here, but in the early days lots of
men got a few head of horses and drove teams. They thought
they'd like to do that. Well, old Pete was a pretty good
man, he did pretty well with his team too. He drove a
six horse check team, he drove from a seat and had six
lines, a line on each horse called a check team. A jerk
line team or a long line as lots of them call it, is where
the man rides a horse and just has one line and guides
his mules by Gee and Haw. That is considered easier and
better. A check team is used mostly in breaking young
horses. Pete had only been married a short time, for a
month or two, he had married a girl from down there at
O'Neals. Well, he was coming down the hill one morning,
it was kind of slick and I was right behind him, I had
a bigger outfit and better control, I guess, anyway, coming
down what is know as the "S" turn it kinda got
away from old Pete and he finished the last part of it
very fast. However, he wound up at the bottom of the run
into a bank and his lead wagon tipped over. I could see
him very plain, that old fellow jumped off the wagon seat
and he hit the ground on his feet with all six lines.
He talked to the horses a little bit and they stopped
so there wasn't anybody hurt, no horses were hurt.
never will forget, he was very enthusiastic about his
marriage. I got my team stopped, I had to tie all the
brakes and everything, I was afraid to let them stand
free, a brake might fly off or something. My team was
still on the bad part of the hill, but I ran down there
to see if I could help him and the first thing he said
to me was "by Jesus Christ a got to write a letter
to tell my wife Dora about this." I can see him yet
standing there all excited. He done very well, better
than lots of men would have.
the fall after the lumber got wet and they couldn't mill
the lumber anymore they got rid of lots of their men and
boys. Lots of boys worked in the box factory. They kept
a skeleton crew and done some hauling all winter. There
was a fellow, Westmore, teamster, had come down the mountain
two or three days before. He run his trail wagon off the
road and tipped it over and left it laying there. One
morning Mr. Bartrum who was one of the heads of the North
Fork lumber Co., went to an old fellow that was working
there, Mr. John H. Olster, he lived down near O'Neal's
he was a well liked man. Mr. Barturtn says to Mr. Olster,
"John do you think you could take four horses and
go up there and get the wagon out where Les Westmore left
it and bring it down here and we'll get it fixed up again?"
Olster says, "Oh I never handled no horses, I don't
know how to drive any team." He says, "get that
kid there. He can do it," and he pointed to me. I
was supposed to be done, but I was over there for some
reason and Bartrum turned around, "Oh yes, Willie,
you did drive horses last winter. Well, if I sent Mr.
Olster up there do you think you could get that wagon
out and drive it down so we could have it fixed and get
to using it?" I said, "Oh I guess so."
So I got the horses out and Mr. Olster and I went up there.
Well, I rode one or the horses and led the others. Olster,
he walked. He wouldn't ride a horse. In all the fifty
years that I knew him I never seen him ride a horse.
went up there and got the chain loose and let the lumber
out, tipped the wagon back and when we got it up into
the road I said to Mr. Olster, "We can take that
lumber down just as well as not. He says, "It will
be much harder to hold it." "Well," I says
"We'll tie a tree behind.' "Well if you think
you can do it alright." It wasn't very much. Perhaps
about two thousand feet or something like that. We had
to pick the lumber up out of a gulch where it had landed,
way down below the road. Packed it up one board at a time,
but we put it on the wagon.
wagon had only a trail tongue in it that made it kinda
hard to steer. I cut a pine pole and stuck in there and
lengthened the tongue out some and we tied quite a good
size pine tree behind it and that was enough to hold it.
We pulled it to North Fork. When we got there I never
will forget that Mr. Bartrum came out and looked and says
"Was that all of the lumber?" I says, "Yes
sir." He says, didn't expect you to get the lumber.
I just wanted you to get the wagon." Well, the wagon
wasn't hurting very much, the brake was kinda knocked
out. After that I drove one of their teams down this side
of Clovis. They had a ranch down there called Farfield.
took one or their teams down there. In fact, the same
team that I drove down the hill and they parked it there
for the winter time. Most or those teams when it got too
wet when the road got too bad up here, they kept them
down there and plowed with them and leveled land and all
next year, pretty early in the year Mr. Bartrum says to
me, "Willie, are you coming to work for us again
this summer"and I says, "Well, I don't know,
I think I ought to have more money. I only got a dollar
a day last year and I think I can beat it." Well
he says, "If you'll come and stay and behave yourself
like you did. last summer, well. pay you thirty five dollars
a month." That was pretty good so I says, "Alright,
I'll come." That was six days a week. At that time
they had a fellow by the name or Beeson that was related
to him in some way. I don't know what he had to do with
it. Maybe he had put some money into it. He says to me
very abruptly one morning after I had worked two or three
days, "How much do you think you're getting here
this summer?" I says, "Well, Mr. Bartrum says
I'd get $35.00 a month." He says, "Boy'll you'll
get no such thing. You'll get one dollar a day."
Well," I says, "You can take your job and go
to hell with it. I'm not going to work for you."
and I didn't, so I come home.
settled over here where my brother lives now, that was
our home. I bought this place. I came home and I told
my father I quit and he felt pretty bad about it. He says,
"I don't blame you." In those days it wasn't
so easy to get a job. But in a day or two I got a job
with a man bailing hay. I got two dollars a day at that.
I worked for him about three weeks. As long as he bailed
hay in the neighborhood. Then I came home. I was going
up to Soquel and the California Mill. They hired lots
of men up there, but they didn't want boys very much.
I'd only been home a day or so when John Walker who lived
down below here came and offered fifty dollars a month
there and I worked there four years and got more. Hauling
lumber and freight year round. Hauled lumber in the summertime
and wood, posts and shakes. All those fellows up on the
hill in the early days, if they had had a lot of shakes
they'd get them down to South Fork or North Fork then
they'd get them to Fresno during the winter, or if they
had a lot of posts. There would oft times be a lot of
lumber. The Peckinpahs had lumber to haul most of the