L-R: Gail Jenner, coauthor of Images of the State of Jefferson; Mark Weisman, from Arcadia Publishing; Don Murphy, owner of the Scott Valley Drug Store, Etna, CA

Taken in front of "today's" Scott Valley Drug, Etna, CA, location of the COVER photo (from 1900s). In the 1900s, it was known as the Denny-Bar Store, actually one of a chain of Denny-Bar stores that comprised one of the first chain stores in existence in the West (and nation).

Bernita and GailEXCERPTED from the new IMAGES OF THE STATE OF JEFFERSON, by Bernita Tickner and Gail Jenner, released by Arcadia Publishing and available all over
Siskiyou County and the State of Jefferson, as well as online, at amazon.com. The book features more than 230 photos from private and historical sources.

Permission granted by Bernita Tickner and Gail Jenner

INTRODUCTION

The State of Jefferson exists as more than a fantasy. According to Jim Rock, a Siskiyou County historian, the real "State of Jefferson" is characterized by a state of mind, not a state with borders, and today¹s Jefferson staters can be found in counties along the Pacific coast, the Nevada state line, down in the Sacramento Valley or out in central/eastern Oregon. Jefferson's struggle for statehood, however, is lodged in history. The first legal
attempt occurred in 1852, when a bill was introduced into the California
State Legislature at Vallejo. Though the bill failed, the notion did not. In 1859, gold miners from the same borderline counties tried to maneuver state lines in order to avoid paying taxes. Petitions were circulated, calling for the establishment of a county with names such as Klamath, Shasta, or Jackson. In 1860, Oregon tried to claim part of California by stepping 12 miles over the border until the northern boundary was established at 42 degrees north by Lieutenant Williamson.

In 1935, John Childs, a Crescent City judge, declared himself governor of a new state as a protest against poor roads, neglect, and perceived injustice coming out of Sacramento. From this simple protest arose a more formalized"revolt", which began in Port Orford, Curry County, Oregon, the recognized birthplace of today¹s State of Jefferson "movement."

The concept of a 49th state so appealed to Yreka, California, Siskiyou's county seat, that the Chamber of Commerce persuaded the Board of Supervisors to consider it. Yreka became the designated state capital. The Yreka 20-30 Club drafted a Proclamation of Independence and staged a protest along Highway 99. The name, Jefferson, was selected after The Siskiyou Daily News ran a contest. J. E. Mundell of Eureka, California, submitted the winning name. A
seal was created: a mining pan etched with a two Xs to signify the double-cross by Salem and Sacramento politicians. It is still used on flags, banners and memorabilia by "residents of the State of Jefferson". Articles, editorials, letters, appeared in local papers and large publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, Life and Time. Writers, photographers, even newsreel companies, were sent to document the movement. One young reporter, Stanton Delaplane, of the Chronicle, interviewed area residents. As he traveled despicable roads and experienced the harsh conditions, he wrote a stirring series of articles and won a Pulitzer Prize for his journalism.

December 4th, l941 became election day for the state's governor's race. But who could have foreseen the future? Three days later, on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed and the nation went to war.

Today, the same notions are bandied about, and occasionally, a headline sends a ripple of excitement through the small towns that make up most of the region. But there is other evidence that the dream lives on: Southern Oregon's PBS Radio Station is officially named the Jefferson Public Radio Station; signs along Interstate 5 and local highways indicate they are part of the official "State of Jefferson Scenic Byway or Highway"; businesses sell Jefferson State memorabilia. There is a State of Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, although its meetings are more social events than political ones. The Pioneer Press, a Western Siskiyou County newspaper with its office in Fort Jones, California, is the official headquarters and flies the "state" flag daily. Most importantly, are the attributes of this enduring, mythical State of Jefferson.

From its primitive, beautiful natural wonders, to its turbulent history and unusual people, Jefferson inspires residents to question its destiny and visitors to remark on its unique, independent "Jeffersonian" state of mind.


New: STATE OF JEFFERSON: THEN & NOW
For more information email Gail Jenner


Photographed (Then AND Now) is the FRANCO-AMERICAN HOTEL on Miner Street in
Yreka, CA. Then photo, courtesy of the Siskiyou County Museum, was taken c.
1880s. Built in the 1850s, the Franco-American Hotel was an important inn
and stage stop for travelers. It housed a fine restaurant, a Wells, Fargo &
Company Express Office, and a saloon. Notables who stayed there included
General and Mrs. Philip Sheridan and President Hayes. The building still
houses several small businesses and has recently been purchased. The new
owner intends to continue the hotel's restoration.

 

 

Contact Gail L. Jenner

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