Tag Archives: history

The Poo Table

An actual picture from the cattle drive between the two ranches.

An actual picture from the cattle drive between the two ranches.

For as long as I can research, and for as long as family lore goes back, our family has always wintered cattle in the Sacramento valley (Butte County) and summered cattle in Plumas and Lassen counties. It’s just how it’s always been.

The cattle trucks we use now.

The cattle trucks we use now.

Now we use large semi trucks to take our cattle back and forth every spring and fall, the trip takes about a hour and a half. But before we had cattle trucks, the family had to move cattle on horseback, twice a year. The trip took at least a week. A week of following cattle everyday on horseback, a week of chuck wagon cooking, a week of no baths, no indoor plumbing. It’s like my nightmare (I am a huge fan of plumbing, huge!).

Great Aunt Byrdie and Harry on the way home from the mountains circa 1930ish

This a picture of my family on the way home from the mountains circa 1930ish

My great uncle and the chuck wagon to his left.

My great uncle and the chuck wagon to his left.

Last spring my Dad found the “port a potty” used by 3 generations before me on these week-long cattle drives. This port a potty could be placed between two rocks or stumps, and it would give you a nice seat to do your business. When you moved on the next day, you simply grabbed your port a potty seat, stuck it in the chuck wagon, covered your business hole and moved on. Ingenious actually.

This was the poo board before. Notice it is damaged - rot and termites.

This was the poo board before. Notice it is damaged – rot and termites.

When my parents showed me this board I said, “that’s mine now” and scurried it off to a friend’s house. This friend just happened to be a skilled furniture maker. I traded him old barn wood from the collapsed barn of last year, for him to turn the poop board into a coffee table for me. And boy howdy did he do a good job!!!! My friend, Jordan brought the finished table over yesterday. It is gorgeous.



If you haven’t figured out by now, I’m slightly obsessed with learning more about this side of the family. I’ve spend countless hours researching, looking through pictures, talking to family members, so something like this table means so much to me. Plus it’s quirky and fun.

Jordan went to great lengths to keep the poo board as authentic as possible. Instead of replacing the damaged board he painstakingly refinished them. Wow.

Jordan went to great lengths to keep the poo board as authentic as possible. Instead of replacing the damaged board he painstakingly refinished them. Wow.

Jordan used old fence posts from the ranch as legs.

Jordan used old fence posts from the ranch as legs.

Now that I got the poo table refinished I think I’m going to move on to the outhouse door my Dad found in this year’s collapsed barn. Ideas anyone?

The door to the outhouse at was at the ranch.

The door to the outhouse that was at the ranch.


Filed under Ag, agriculture, arts & crafts, Beef, History, Humor, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Long Lost Family

As my loyal readers are aware, I’ve been researching my family history, and it turned out to be a hot mess of historically significant awesomeness. In addition to helping me learn where I come from and who I am, my super secret wish was that this blog would help me meet more members of my extended family. Being the only child, my fear in life is that I will end up alone when I’m old, with no family for me to share my life with.

My family is full of strong personalities, passion and drama, and according to my research we’ve always been this way. The current generations are no different. The Brown side of my family is like a Lifetime movie of the week. The best stories, of course, I can’t write until more family members have died, or I get a book deal and a team of lawyers to defend me (hint). Until that time, I can only share the PG-13 stories about generations gone.

Today I met Dawn. Dawn is related to me through the Lucas family. As near as I can figure, we are 3rd cousins once removed. The Lucas Family is the side that came to Chico as pioneers and ran the meat shop. Want to know what Dawn does for a living? She is a meat cutter! The love of cattle and meat run strong in this family. It was amazing meeting Dawn. I felt bad I only had my lunch break to visit with her. But we did get to share stories from each of our immediate family, and it is safe to say, we are related! The stories and personalities that we got to share were freakishly similar.

Dawn and I at the memorial for John Henry Lucas Jr. in Children's Park, Chico, CA.

This family is huge, and during the 1900’s they all scattered and lost contact. During the late 1900’s they all died, leaving the younger generations with no way to learn about each other. Unfortunately I think this occurred because of anger and bitterness. My family can hold a grudge like no other, and after talking to Dawn about it, she confirmed that fact. A lot of our conversation was surreal, it was almost like talking to myself in a way. We have so much in common, from both having a partner that helps soothe our grudge holding ways, to having immediate family with alcoholism.

When my Grandfather died, I got a first hand lesson in grudge holding from my immediate family. How he chose to divide his estate caused a lot of hard feelings and anger for the immediate and not so immediate family (oh, yes, I have stories about THAT). So it’s really no surprise to Dawn and myself, that generations before did the same thing. I think in addition to the family drama, it was common during the early to mid 1900’s for people to move from country life to city life because of mechanized agriculture. I’ve seen a lot of evidence of that in my family tree.

Dawn and I plan on meeting up in the future. Her Mom has memories of staying on the Lucas Ranch, and meeting family members that have died. I want to interview her and learn all I can for the book that I someday plan on writing. Hopefully Dawn and I can combine our powers and research even farther back, back to Ireland and Germany. Then we can meet our European Family.

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Wordless Wednesday: Safety First!


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John was my great, great, great grandfather. I think we would have gotten along fabulously. I love that he ran for a local office, something I plan on doing. I love that he was enterprising, and he started a meat company! Now I know where I get it! JOHN H. LUCAS. – A self-made native son who, thought those qualities so often predominatingly characteristic of the California pioneer, has been remarkable successful, especially as one of the wide-awake partners in the Chico Meat Company, and who is fortunate in having, in his talented wife, an able helpmeet who has contributed much to his attainments, is John H. Lucas, who was born on the Humboldt ridge, fourteen miles east of Chico.  His father was Paul Lucas, a native of St. Louis, who crossed the plains to California in 1849, and followed mining in different parts of the state.  In 1852, he returned to Missouri, and once more crossed the plains to reach the Pacific.  This was in 1853, and he drove his ox-teams into Chico Canyon.  There he went into the stock business, and soon made his brand, 24, well known and duly respected.  He bought land fourteen miles out, and started butchering on his own place; supplying his products to saw mills and mining camps where a good deal of meat was required, and those needing it and were willing and able to pay well for what they got.  He died on April 12, 1879. The wife of Paul Lucas was Ellen Callahan before her marriage, and she was a native of Ireland, who came to California by way of Panama in the early sixties.  She now resides on the ranch, and with her is the youngest living son.  Six children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Lucas, although only four have thus far survived.  The second oldest is Charles F., now at Laredo, Tex.; the next is Catherine, Mrs. R. L. Cameron, of Chico Vecino; and George W. who lives on the home ranch. The eldest of the children and born June 6, 1866, J.H. Lucas was brought up on the Lucas ranch, and rode the range from a lad.  He attended the public school, and when he had completed all the courses there, and his father had died which he was only thirteen, he remained with his mother and accepted the responsibility of looking after things. He took up stock and hay-raising with the aid of his mother’s capital, which amounted to some two thousand dollars; he helped her all he could until 1896. During this time he was married in Chico on April 12, 1889, to Miss Helen May Wilson, a native of Missouri, who came to California with her parents when she was five years old.  She was the daughter of James H. and Julia A. (Goodelle) Wilson, the latter a native of New York State, as was her husband, both having moved to Illinois, where they were married, when they were young.  Her father was in an Illinois regiment in the Civil War.  He married and moved to Missouri.  Then he came to California and settled in Ventura County, and there he ran a large dairy.  In 1886, he located in Butte County, on the Forest ranch, and at Chico he died, generally honored and a much respected member of the G. A. R.  Mrs. Wilson resides in Chico, the mother of nine children, seven of whom grew up. After his marriage Mr. Lucas continued at home until 1896, when he located on a ranch on the Humboldt ridge, buying the farm area and going for cattle-raising and butchering.  In February, 1906, while he continued the management of the ranch and stock, he located at Chico and bought an interest in the Cramer Meat Packing Company.  He ran a market at Second Street, between Main and Broadway, and thus continued for about fifteen months, when he bought the title and changed the name and managed the business alone. Later he took Ira R. Morrison as a partner and the firm was known as Lucas and Morrison, but after five years he bought him out and then tried the management awhile himself.  His next partner was K. D. Crowder, and for eighteen months the firm was Lucas and Crowder, but after that time they sold out the market to Lynch and Snow, and Mr. Lucas worked for the firm for three months and then bought an interest in it again.  It was now known as the Chico Meat Company, and he has charge of the buying and slaughtering.  He still attends to these departments of the trade, while he runs his stock-ranch independent of the company.  About 1896, when he acquired the ranch—about two thousand five hundred acres between Big and Little Chico creeks—he erected a house and lived there until moving into Chico.  Some of this acreage he devotes to grain and some to stock-raising, and here he has twelve acres of prunes. A Democrat in national politics, and a public-spirited citizen, Mr. Lucas was elected, in 1915, city trustee, to serve as the representative from the second ward for a period of four years.  He was chairman of the finance committee, and his experience and enterprising spirit have proven of much service to the community.  He was also school trustee for the Chico Canyon district, which he helped establish. Twelve children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Lucas; Hazel, Mrs. S. F. Brown, who lives at Susanville; Ella, Mrs. H. Cummings, is her neighbor; Nellie is Mrs. J. H. Smith, of Chico Vecino; John Henry, Jr. was on the home ranch until enlisted for service and is with the United States Expeditionary forces in France; Alice Julia and May are in high school; Paul James, Ernest B. and Carrie Pearl are on the home ranch; and there are Charles, Arthur and Helen.  This interesting family participates to the customary extent in the social life of the community.  Mr. Lucas is a member of the B. P. O. E., Woodmen of the World, the Independent Order of Foresters and Chico Parlor, No. 21, N. S. G. W. Transcribed by Joyce & David Rugeroni. Source: “History of Butte County, Cal.,” by George C. Mansfield, Pages 873-874, Historic Record Co, Los Angeles, CA, 1918.

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Wordless Wednesday: A Thousand Words

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 Ms. Lucas is my third great grandmother. I’ve been researching my family’s history, and have become utterly fascinated by it.  It’s been a joy learning about the women in my family and how they were the ones that again and again, ran the Ranch until the next generation could take over. I hope that I am able to continue the tradition!

MRS. ELLEN LUCAS.–A pioneer of Butte County, Mrs. Ellen Lucas has resided on her present ranch in Big Chico Canyon since 1865.  Grandma Lucas, as she is familiarly known by everyone, is much esteemed and respected by all who know her, for her amiability and strong personality make her a favorite with all.  She was born in County Cork, Ireland, December 25, 1839, the daughter of John and Margaret (Sullivan) O’Callahan, farmer folk near the city of Cork.  The mother died when Ellen was only seven years of age.  The father migrated to New York City, where he married a second time; and there he spent his last days.

      Ellen O’Callahan was the oldest of four children born of the first union and the only one that grew to maturity.  She was reared in her native land until fourteen years of age, when she came to New York City.  She resided with her father until his death, when with her stepmother she removed to Boston.  After a residence of four years there, however, she returned to New York.  In 1865 she made the journey to San Francisco via the Isthmus.  From San Francisco she then came on to Chico, where she met Paul Lucas, a meeting which resulted in their marriage on June 13, 1865.  Paul Lucas was born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, December 25, 1829.  Coming when a lad with his parents to St. Louis, Mo., he was there reared and educated in the public schools.  He crossed the plains in the pioneer days of the gold rush, coming overland with ox teams.  After mining for a time in Butte County, he began to raise cattle, locating a ranch in Big Chico Canyon, to which he brought his bride; and there, by perseverance, energy, and hard work, they accumulated a competency.  As they prospered they added to their holdings until they had acquired a ranch of about a thousand acres, where they pastured their cattle, using the brand 24 on the left hip.  However, Mr. Lucas was not permitted long to enjoy the fruits of his labors, for he passed to the great beyond on April 3, 1880.  Mrs. Lucas was left with six children, whom she reared and educated and who became creditable and honorable citizens.  John L. is a prominent cattle man, and is a member of the board of trustees of Chico.  Charles is a mining man, with the Guggesheims in Mexico.  George is a stockman, and resides with and assists his mother in her ranching and stock business.  Caty Florence, the wife of Robert Cameron, lives in Chico.  Mary Elizabeth, who was the wife of Robert Nicholson, and Manie both passed away in Chico. After her husband died, Mrs. Lucas kept the family together and, with the assistance of the older children, continued raising cattle, still using the 24 brand.  Besides the ranch in Big Chico Canyon, she owns a ranch at Butte Meadows where she ranges the cattle during the summer time.  There she has built a comfortable home, and each summer she enjoys about six months there, in the delightful mountain climate.  One of her chief pleasures is trout-fishing in Big Butte Creek, which flows right by her residence.  She greatly enjoys the sport, in which she is an adept and excels.  Mrs. Lucas is very appreciative of California and its great possibilities, and is very optimistic for the state’s future greatness.  A Catholic in religion, Mrs. Lucas is a noble Christian woman, of high principles and strict integrity of purpose.

Transcribed by Joyce Rugeroni.Source: “History of Butte County, Cal.,” by George C. Mansfield, Pages 1074-1075, Historic Record Co, Los Angeles, CA, 1918.


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Wordless Wednesday: History

Unfortunately I don’t know anything about these photos. I know they are very, very old and they are of my family. Let this be a lesson, write on your photos!!!
I think these illustrate how very different our lives are now. Wow.










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Wordless Wednesday: Living and Working in the Times of My Grandma

Great Grandma, Hazel Brown with the day’s milk. “Pony Hill” Ranch, Plumas County

Cattle drive from Greenville, CA (Plumas County) to Chico, CA (Butte County). Legend has it, it took 2 weeks.

Sam Brown Jr and the chuck wagon – cattle drive. Plumas County.

Making Hay on the “Pony Hill Ranch” Greenville, CA

Making hay “Pony Hill” Ranch Plumas County

Harry Lutz plowing for SF Brown Nov 29, 1934. “Pony Hill” Ranch, Plumas County.

A mule team in the snow. Lassen County 1904