Today is the Day!! Tell Your Story!!!

Judy E. Bushy
Tell Your Story!!
You have a story to tell. Many times people who grew up in Happy Camp write to us and say it was the most wonderful childhood they could have imagined. Have you had that experience??

Stella Did!
Stella W. Patterson was an elderly lady when she left the Circle P (for Patterson) Ranch down by Willow Creek and moved to a mining cabin on the Klamath River at Ferry Point. She wrote the story of her year there, along with her friends, Fred (DearSir) Upn’Up and his wife and new baby (Benji,) a Karuk gal that lived across the Klamath River and came to visit. … Frenchy, all those wonderful characters who have been read about for decades.

Readers Became Fans!
When her story was published in 1959, and only arrived the day of her funeral, it was a best seller!! It was a book club selection! It had various foreign printings as well. People loved it then, and still today people tell us that they read it over and over again. They Love It!!

Naturegraph has kept the book in print, and after the fire, Barbara promised not to forget Dear Mad’m. It is now available again from Naturegraph!! They love it.

National Write Your Story Day — March 14


  • Liz Lismer

    Hi Judy,
    It’s nice to know that Dear Mad’m is going to be available again. I hope things are getting back to a more normal pace in Happy Camp. Pete and I enjoyed our visits there.

    • So good to hear from you Liz, miss you, (and sadly of course, Pete as well) in recent years. Hope all is well!! You’re research and stories from “Dear Mad’m who Was She?” are requested frequently, as fans are always eager to know more of her life. A former Happy Camper recently found an article mentioning Stella Patterson was “First White woman to canoe the dangerous Klamath Rapids!!”

    • Connie Rasmussen at the Marble Mountain Hardware and Gift Company where we now get coffee and ice cream too, said a lady called about Dear Mad’m and talked to her for an hour the other day!! She had lent out her book and needed to get another!! Still popular!!

  • Kenneth Hargens

    My ‘story’ could be quite lengthy and involved. Instead I will just write of the involvement of gold rush activities here in the Black Hills of western South Dakota and that connection to Happy Camp in California. By way of introduction my name is Kenneth Hargens and I am considered by some to be a historian of the Black Hills, and other western localities. My grandfather Dr. C.W. Hargens (See Black Hills Doc, 1892-1945) came to these Black Hills in 1890 some years after the gold rush began. The Black Hills gold rush actually began in 1875 , the year after the General Custer Expedition during which gold was found. Since then, literally tons of gold has been recovered from placer mining and the hundreds of gold mines in the Black Hills. The fabulous Homestake gold mine operated to a depth of well over 8,000 feet from 1876 until 2003. Currently a gold recovery operation has been working very successfully for nearly 20 years in the northern Black Hills.

    In 1982 I purchased the old gold rush town site of Redfern. The area around Redfern has a rich history. Hard rock gold mines close by the Redfern area are: The King Solomon, the Wood Chuck, the Gopher, the Bengal Tiger, The Sunnyside, the Redfern Mine, The Queen Bee, and many others. These were successful mines but due to the depth of the mines they were forced to discontinue due to the inability to pump the water out. Also, investors were reluctant to provide funds.

    As is the situation with any area with hard rock gold mines the surrounding areas were rich in placer gold deposits. At this time is should be noted that gold recovered from these southern Black Hills in 1876 and later was worth $22.00 per ounce while gold from the northern Black Hills was worth ‘only’ $18.00 per ounce. These values reflecting the purity of the metal.

    In 1876 some miners and prospectors from the Happy Camp, California, area came to the Black Hills with thousands of other men and women seeking the gold. Two gulches east of Redfern the California miners found placer gold in quantities in an ancient elevated stream bed that became known as California Gulch. It is noted that the upper reaches of California had a hard rock mine that was known as the Woodchuck and the lower part of the gulch a mine was discovered that became the Queen Bee.

    These California gold-seekers need to establish a less-rugged area for their operations so they settled on the relatively flat area that became known as ‘Happy Camp’. After these miners went back to California, went to other parts of the Black Hills or even became part of the local communities, the Black Hills Happy Camp was known as Windy Flats. In 1890 the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (CB&Q) built through the area headed to the Northern Black Hills and towns of Lead and Deadwood and the location of the Homestake Gold Mine and dozens of other mines. The railroad construction boss was one George Redfern. He determined that the area was the high point between the towns of Mystic and Hill City and a rail siding, buildings, and water tower were necessary to service the steam engines. He named the railroad location ‘Redfern’.

    So this describes the evolution from Happy Camp to Windy Flats to Redfern. None of the original buildings of the area exist today. All the structural evidence of this area was destroyed in the large McVey Forest Fire of 1939. An older guy, whose grandfather once owned the property, told me that the original falling-down building were demolished and any ‘antiques’ or furniture was placed in a large saloon but this building was also destroyed by the forest fire. While walking about my property I am able to discern the location of tiny cabins and the depressions of what were probably outhouses. Some faint mounds near the old stage trail may be gravesites. I wonder if it is really my imagination that causes me to hear the faint nighttime shouts of the miners and the tinkle of coins, glasses and maybe a piano as I walk through the trees?

    Anyone out there who may have any information or connection to Happy Camp/Windy Flats/Redfern, South Dakota is welcome to send me a message.

    Kenny Hargens

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