Patterson Ranch, Willow Creek
Thank you to Margaret Wooden and the China Flat Museum for permission to reprint this excerpt from “History of the Patterson Ranch on Patterson Road” from the Winter 2003 Newsletter of the Willow Creek China Flat Museum Newsletter.
by Margaret Wooden.
John Douglas entered this beautiful natural bowl before his marriage in 1886 to Miss Nancy Kidd and by 1895 he is assessed for about 160 acres which comprised the Sugar Bowl Ranch. Mr. James Kidd (Nancy’s father) had settled on a ranch, closer to Willow Creek, on the east side of the river about 1865 after his land in the Hoopa Valley had been purchased by the U.S. Government upon the formation of the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. The property Mr. Kidd and his family settled on is now known as the Bussell Ranch on Patterson Road. The Douglas family lived at Sugar Bowl for several years until they purchased property from John Brett and built a new home.
Blue Lake Advocate, Sept. 26, 1903
….recently purchased the Brett Ranch near Willow Creek and is now building a new house thereon. The roof will be covered with corrugated iron, which is the safest covering from fires. As soon as the house is complete, Mr. Douglas will move with his family from their other place at sugar bowl as the new place is much closer to the Willow Creek School which his children will attend.
(This property covered most of the land that is on both sides of the lane at the junction of Patterson Road and Horse Linto Road)
In 1932 Mr. Douglas sold his ranch to James B. Patterson who owned a small place at Hawkins Bar. Douglas built a new home on the property, his wife, Nancy Kidd, had homesteaded before her marriage to Douglas. This 160 acres was contiguous to her father’s place. In those days, when a child became twenty-one years old, they were able to homestead their separate property which would thus enlarge the original parent’s homestead. (This acreage is now known as the Shore property.)
Blue Lake Advocate, August 29, 1925.
A Civil war vet who for about forty years made his home near Willow Creek on the Trinity River answered the last call at his home there on August 20. Deceased had been in ill health for some moths past and his demise was not unexpected.
John Douglas was a native of New York and had he lived until October 10, 1935 he would have been seventy-eight years. When a small boy, he moved with his folds to the northwest, residing in the state of Wisconsin, many years previous to coming to California. To mourn his loss, he leaves a wife, one daughter, Miss Alice Douglas and one son, Robert Douglas, all of Willow Creek and two brothers, James and Abner of Blue Lake, He was buried in the family cemetery.
(This family cemetery is still an active cemetery and is in the vicinity of Arrowhead Estates. Doug Shore is the last descendant of the Douglas family. His mother was Miss Alice Douglas)
James B Patterson was a grandson of Azel S. Patterson of Sonoma County. Azel Patterson had a brother, Moses Patterson, who was an early day miner of the New River District. The 1900 New River Census lists:
• Moses Patterson, age 78 widowed, born New York with a boarder Sylvester Scott.
• James H Patterson, age 44 married, born California, father (Azel born New York, occupation farmer.
• James B. Patterson, age 17, born California
• Fred H. age 16, born California.
This census shows that James B. Patterson, who later purchased the Douglas Ranch in Willow Creek, would have been well acquainted with New River and the people. As the main pack trail went up Hawkins Creek toward the New River section this census shows that James B was also acquainted with the Hawkins Bar area for he probably traveled this trail extensively going and coming for supplies. Remember, Hawkins Bar in the day before the road was built up the Trinity River before World War I was on the side now occupied by Trinity Village and surrounding area. The section we now call Hawkins Bar was then called Pony Bar.
James B. probably mined with his Uncle Moses and father, James H. on New River before going to work for Jere Smith who owned the property now occupied by Trinity Village and later James B purchased a parcel of land between Jere Smith and the Irving family Ranch which is up ahq3kins Creek.
Blue River Advocate 1909
Mr. and Mrs. James B. Patterson, newly married arrived by steamer Wednesday from San Francisco and stopped a short time at Blue Lake on their way to their future home at Hawkins Bar in the western part of Trinity where the groom has a ranch of several hundred acres.
Mrs. Patterson was once the wife of ex-judge Augustus Belcher of San Francisco. She was well known here where she has made her home for some years with Mr. and Mrs. A. Brizard of Arcata. She is also quite well known in San Francisco and Los Angeles and has traveled extensively, having studies music in Europe. Her abilities in the literary line have given her prominence on this coast. It is said that for one story she wrote recently she received $700.
To those who have known her well, her second marriage was a surprise. Mrs. Patterson visited the Trinity section last year, but no on thought a romance was in progress.
There was nothing like a hint left by Mr. Patterson when he went to Los Angeles about three weeks ago. The happy Couple will make their home at Hawkins Bar.
James B. Patterson raised cattle and ranged them on the summer on the mountain at the head of Hawkins Creek and surrounding section. He purchased cattle in the Hyampom and Hayfork regions and drove them over Underwood Mountain to his Hawkins Creek ranch with local men and then, with their help, drove the gathered herd to the railroad at Blue Lake to be sold to butchers in Eureka and Arcata.
It was during this time period that this couple spent time in the Old Denny area. It is not known whether they worked there or were visitors. As all the trail traffic went up Hawkins Creek this couple would have had the opportunity to make many acquaintances with the folks that lived in the Denny Mountains and were most likely invited to visit the miners and their families in that section of Trinity county. It is not known whether James B.”s father James H was still in the New River area.
Mrs. Patterson (Stella Walthall Belcher) was born in Oakland in 1866 and educated at Mills College. She married Judge Augustus Belcher who liked to come to western Trinity County and have James Patterson guide him on hunting expeditions. The Brizard Family owned a ranch at Hawkins Bar and it is there that Stella Belcher most likely became acquainted with the Brizard family whose home base was at Arcata where their main store was located. Another story relates her experiences as a music teacher in Eureka at the Eureka Academy and Business College which was established by a Mr. Phelps who had been a teacher at various schools in the Ferndale area. The Academy burned possibly in 1892 or 1893. Whatever the case may be Stella Walthall Belcher met and married James B Patterson in 1907 and settled in at being a farmer’s wife at Hawkins Bar.
James Patterson was always involved in some type of work besides the cattle business to maintain his home place. He purchased cattle and drove them to Blue Lake. He purchased a water powered sawmill and installed it on Cedar Creek after taking a contract from the Carona del Oro Mine to saw lumber for a flume that was to bring water to the mine. In 1915 he took a contract with Trinity County for $1800 to clear a six mile right of way for the new wagon road which was being constructed from Salyer to Burnt Ranch. He also, during hunting season, in the fall, would guide hunting parties into the mountains set them up in camp and go back to get them in a week or so.
After purchasing the Douglas Ranch, in 1921 at Willow Creek, James and Stella moved there and he established the Circle P brand for his stock.
Blue Lake Advocate, November 2-, 1936
James B Patterson of the Willow Creek section went bear hunting on Trinity Summit. He had his bear dogs with him which treed three bears which he killed and sent them to Alameda for the Elks Lodge. Mr. Patterson has supplied the Alameda Lodge of Elks with bear for Thanksgiving and Christmas for a number of years back.
During these years at Willow Creek, James and Stella adopted two children, Ralph and Thelma. If Stella’s birthdate is correct, she was eighty years old when she wrote Dear Madam. That means she was gone from Willow Creek by 1946 and went to her mining claim on the Klamath River near Happy Camp.
James B. Patterson continued living on his ranch at the end of Patterson Road. He continued buying and selling cattle and hogs, driving his cattle to Patterson Meadow during the summer months where he built a log cabin. Unfortunately, the cabin burned down a few years ago during the Megram Fire. He also sold several home sites off his ranch. He would take hunting parties to the Patterson Meadow region and return them to his ranch when they were through. He was also well known for his barbecuing ability and the special sauce he applied to the meat while cooking. He dug a larg3 pit at his ranch and would cook the meat and deliver it wherever the feed was being held. In 1953 he barbecued for the Fourth of July celebration at Hoopa and served about three hundred. In 1954 he put on a fundraising barbecue for the new medical center to be built east of Willow Creek. This celebration included the barbecue and dance and groundbreaking ceremonies. The feed was held at Gambi’s open air tables and the dance on the open-air dance platform. If there was no snow, and he could make the trip to Patterson Meadow, James would harvest silver tip Christmas trees. If he could not get that far up the mountain he would cut Douglas fir trees taking them to friends in Eureka and Arcata. He and Ranger Ws Hotelling did this for several years.
In September 1956 James B. Patterson died. He was a well known rancher, hunting guide and barbecue chef. He was survived by his son and daughter and was laid to rest in the Willow Creek Cemetery.
It is always interesting to follow in the footsteps of some of out early day pioneers as they struggled to open land for their farms or mines. The Sugar Bowl ranch is still a beautiful place as one gazes down from Highway 96. The Patterson Ranch has been divided into many home sites and now has a vineyard which will continue the agriculture manner for which is was originally intended. The house that John Douglas built on the one hundred and sixty acres Nancy Kidd homesteaded is still occupied. Doug Shore’s place is also on this original homestead. The remaining open ground is used for garden spots and most of this acreage is producing timber which is also a valuable asset to the property.
Susie Van Kirk
Susie Baker Fountain Pagers
Dear Madam, by Stella Walthall Patterson
Arcata Union Sept 28, 1956
Humboldt County Historical Society.