Tag Archives: Lucas Family

Lucas Family Bread and Butter Pickles

The best sandwich I've ever made. Because of these pickles.

The best sandwich I’ve ever made. Because of these pickles.

When I was a little girl, most of my great-aunts, grandparents and others from “the greatest generation” were all still alive and active around the ranches. Since I was an only child, growing up on the ranch, these people served as my entertainment and playmates. Of course I didn’t realize how lucky I was then, to have interaction with these people, to learn from them and get to know them.

By the time I was 12, most of them had passed away. It was too late though, my family members left a deep and lasting impression on me. From huge, life altering things, like my passion for the ranch, to little, odd things, like my fierce love of bread and butter pickles.

My great Aunt Mary and I spent a lot of time together. I would walk down to her house after school and we would watch PBS while I rambled on about whatever it is kids talk about. She was an amazing cook that got this picky little kid to eat and like several things my Mom could never get me to eat.

I have a distinct memory of being at her house while she was trying to slice cabbage for coleslaw. At this point she had cancer and was in a lot of pain, but I never remember her complaining about it. I do however, remember asking me to slice up the cabbage for her because she could no longer do it. I felt awfully important and grown up, so when Aunt Mary told me to try the cabbage, I did (not something I normally would have eaten), and I liked it.

I also remember eating hamburger carpaccio at her house, the thought of doing that now makes me want to puke in my mouth, but hey I also drank out of mountain springs with the cows and lived to tell about it. Any way, Aunt Mary made the best bread and butter pickles I have ever had, to this day. They were like no other pickle I had ever had, and for most of my childhood I was spoiled with them.

After Aunt Mary died I realized her pickles were indeed rare, in fact, after years of searching I was fairly certain her pickles were extinct. I was pretty heart broken about it, actually. Until one day, I was talking about these pickles, sharing my memory of them and my second cousin (or something like that), said she remembered her Granny making the same pickles and she had the recipe.

Carrie and Helen were sisters. And they are my great, great aunts.

Carrie and Helen were sisters. And they are my great, great aunts.

Her family and my family are related through the Lucas side. Many of the Lucas sisters married and settled in Indian Valley, and according to my families old pictures stayed close friends. It’s only natural good recipes were shared.

THE recipe.

THE recipe.

I peed my pants a little over the excitement (food makes me happy, I’m not going to lie). After decades of searching for these pickles, after buying jar after disappointing jar, the recipe was so close!!! In fact her Mom texted it to me the next day. I immediately went to our neighbors garden and got some sweet onions, and out to  my garden to wrestle some cucumbers away from Silly Pig and started making the pickles.

Neighbor Pete's onion patch

Neighbor Pete’s onion patch

Know what? They are delicious. And the taste and smell brought back so many memories of standing in Aunt Mary’s kitchen as a little kid, it was wonderful.

The best damn bread and butter pickles you will ever have. The end.

The best damn bread and butter pickles you will ever have. The end.

I used to be a firm believer in secret family recipes, until I lost some secret family recipes. So in the spirit of not letting that happen ever again and because I haven’t seen many recipes like this (others use turmeric, this uses cinnamon), I give you:

The Lucas Family Bread and Butter Recipe. 

1 gallon sliced cucumbers

4 big onions, sliced

1/3 cup pickling salt

1 quart vinegar

3 cups sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon celery seed

1 teaspoon white pepper

3-4 cinnamon bark (sticks, I love old recipes!)

I found slicing the cucs into a gallon pitcher worked well.

I found slicing the cucs into a gallon pitcher worked well.

Soak the cucumbers, onions, and salt in an ice water bath over night. Rinse in cold water.

Ice bath. This is an important step. I don't know why, it's just what I was told.

Ice bath. This is an important step. I don’t know why, it’s just what I was told.

Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil. I let it boil about 5 minutes. Put about half of the rinse cucumbers and onions in the pickling mixture to scald. Then place in sterilized, hot jars. Do the same with the rest of the cucumbers and onions, making sure to pack them tightly and to remove air bubbles.

The flavor.

The flavor.

Adjust your lids and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Let them “pickle” for about two weeks to really get the full effect.

Since I know this is the best pickle recipe ever, I went ahead and snuck a few of my peppers into a couple of jars. The thought of these pickles with some slight heat to them, almost makes me cry. It’s going to be so good.

If you make these won’t you share with me what you think?


Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, food, History, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Recipe, Uncategorized

Chico ER’s News of our Past

One of the really cool things about having a family that has stayed in the same area and done the same thing for over a hundred years is there is a lot of documented information out there. That makes researching them both gratifying and surprising. For example, in this morning’s edition of our local paper there was a little gem.

Our online edition of our paper

Our online edition of our paper

If you recall, I am Lucas three generations back.

If you recall, I am Lucas three generations back.

Four generations back my great, great, Grandfather operated a ranch and a couple of slaughterhouses. Check out this post I did about it a while back (worth a check out for the pictures alone!).
Instead of being gold miners like most people that moved to California in the 1800’s, my family grew food (California’s true gold, I say), and we still do, now if I could just open a slaughterhouse again…
The timing of this article is perfect too, our pigs are about a month away from slaughter, we’ve been joking how quickly they are gaining and how big they are, and my grass-finished cattle are starting to finish. It’s almost slaughter time on the ranch (it’s like Christmas!).
My great, great, great Grandfather, Paul Lucas said “With good character, good cattle, and good work we will supply Chico with quality beef”. Five generations later I’m still doing it, and working on someday producing pork and poultry too. Feels good.

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Sincerely Yours, Herman H. Harvey Battery D.18th Field Artillery

Hi. Remember that blog post where I said I had a bunch of old pictures from my Dad’s side and my friend Erin was helping me figure stuff out? Yeah, well she did it again. I found this picture of a soldier amongst the old photos, it actually had writing and a name on it! I sent it to Erin and she ran with it. Enjoy, I certain did.

Another picture found in my collection. This one had some writing on it.

Herman Harrison Harvey.

This is the information Erin had:
I recognized the wool texture and hat shape in the photograph as a uniform from the U.S. Army from circa World War I. Searching online for uniform examples, I found the following link which shows the buttons, coat, and hat that match the photo: http://freepages.military.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~worldwarone/WWI/Uniforms/index.html. If the photo is from circa World War I, I made the assumption that Herman Harvey was born in approximately 1890-1900 because he appears very young in the photo, but old enough to enlist. Another assumption that I made was that Herman lived in or around the Chico area to know the Lucas family well enough that they ended up with the photo.”

This is what Erin found out:

Herman Harrison Harvey was born in Oakland, Douglas County, Oregon on June 2, 1892, to William Harvey and Minnie (nee Manning) Harvey. In the June 12, 1900 Federal Census, the Harvey family was living in Roseburg, Douglas County, Oregon. Herman had two sisters, Vesta and Lillian (also called Minnie), and a brother, George (also called Dewey). William Harvey was renting a farm at the time and engaged in farming, though no particular crop was specified.
By about 1905, the family had moved to California and in the May 23, 1910 Federal Census, the Harvey family was living on River Road in Chico, Butte County, California. William and Minnie had an additional son, Vern, and two more daughters, Goldie and Gladys, both of whom were born in California. In the 1912 and 1913 Chico City Directories, Herman’s sister Lillian is listed as a janitor at the River Road School. In the 1915 Chico City Directory, William and Minnie are listed as living on Laburnum, at the southwest corner of 10th Avenue.
Between 1915 and 1920, the Harvey family moved to the valley floor and in the January 8, 1920 Federal Census, the family is renting a rear house at 1716 F Street in Sacramento, Sacramento County, California. One daughter, Lillian is no longer listed (she may have married), and a niece to William and Minnie, Pearl Pearce, is living with the family. Herman’s occupation in this census is listed as Regular Army, while his father and brothers are engaged in farming. Herman most likely voluntarily enlisted in the Army prior to or at the onset of the United States’ involvement in World War I, as I was unable to find a World War I draft registration record for him. Further research would most likely shed more light on his Army service.
By 1930, Herman had moved out of his parents’ household, most likely at the end of his Army service. In the April 8, 1930 Federal Census, Herman is listed as boarding at 134 York Street, Vallejo, Solano County, California, and working as a pipe fitter at the Navy Yard. In the April 8, 1940 Federal Census, Herman is listed as a guest at the Hotel Bernard on Georgia Street, Vallejo, Solano County, California, and still working as a pipe fitter at the Navy Yard. He lists his residence as Sacramento, California, in 1935, possibly visiting his parents who lived in Sacramento.
On April 27, 1942, Herman registered for the draft for World War II. He was living at 317A Georgia Street, Vallejo, Solano County, California, and working at Shop 56-1640 at the Mare Island Ship Yard. He still had a trim figure at almost 50 years old, being only 198 pounds at ½ an inch shy of 6 feet tall.
Herman died on August 31, 1964, in Contra Costa County, California, and was buried in Section E, Lot 102, Grave 3 in the Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery and Mausoleum in Sacramento, Sacramento County, California.

So, how did a Harvey photo turn up in the Lucas photo collection?

Well, I determined that both the Harvey and Manning families (remember, Herman’s mother was Minnie Manning) were unrelated to the Lucas family, so assumed that either the Harvey or Manning families were friends or acquaintances of the Lucas family. Working on a separate research project on a homesteading family that had lived in Chico Creek Canyon, I was aware of a possible connection through land sales, so followed that lead.
I was researching James Price, a homesteader who filed a homesteading claim in 1886 for property in Chico Creek Canyon. James and his wife, Lulu, had a daughter named Ethel, who married a Charles Manning. Researching the Manning family a bit further, I found Charles Manning was Minnie Manning’s younger brother. That meant that Ethel (nee Price) Manning was Herman Harvey’s aunt. After her father’s death, Ethel sold the property in Chico Creek Canyon to John Lucas in 1903. Though Ethel and Charles Manning moved back to Oregon within the next few years, Charles’ sister Minnie and her husband, William Harvey, remained with their family in the Chico area for another decade.

I love these old pictures so much. I love that I am able to learn more about these people almost more than 100 years after they lived. They have such interesting stories that I feel, need to be told and remembered. This is our heritage. These are our stories too.

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The Wilson Family

As I mentioned before, my Mom found and gave me an old cedar box with a bunch of old newspaper clipping in it. Most of these clippings are just random ag related news stories from the 1950’s but I did find some treasures, including some obituaries and stories about the Ranch. One of the obituaries I found was for Helen May Wilson (aka Helen Lucas), my great great great grandmother.

Helen Wilson (Lucas) in her wedding picture.

Until I found this obituary, I had researched as far as I could go on the Wilson side of my family. I did not know her Parents’ names, or how she got to Chico, California. Helen’s obituary filled in some big holes I had in my family tree. It also created a lot more work for me! Now that I know who her Parents were and where they came from, I can continue on my crazy “where I come from” journey.

James and Julia Wilson

James and Julia both were born in New York State in 1832 and 1842, respectively. James served in an Illinois regiment in the Civil War. From Illinois, they found their way to Missouri. They traveled to California via a covered wagon. They had nine children, and out of those nine, seven lived. I know all the names of their seven living children, and when I have some free time (ha ha ha ha, free time), I plan on trying to plot out their family tree’s in hopes of finding more of my distant family members.

Lizzie Wilson (Dorrett) and her husband William Dorrett (my great great great aunt and uncle, and Helen’s sister)

Turns out Helen’s Parents, James and Julia came to California when Helen was five years old from Missouri. From Missouri they moved to Ventura County where James ran a large dairy. From Ventura Country they moved to Chico and built and operated the Economy Store. In 1896, they bought 160 acres on the Doe Mill Ridge near Forest Ranch, California.

James Wilson’s grave.

I’ve recently started visiting our local cemeteries to find my family members. It’s an incredible feeling to still be in the same town that my great, great, great, great grandparents helped settle and build. I’ve always felt very connected to this area, and I love my town. I guess this explains it.

Julia (Goodelle) Wilson’s grave. I’m willing to bet it had a stone at some point. This cemetery has had a lot of vandalism.

I know a lot of my family intermarried with other old Chico families. There is no doubt in my mind that I have lot of family still in Chico that I have never met and don’t know about. Chances are high that I am related to some of my local friends and don’t even know it! I think because I am an only child, and I don’t have a relationship with most of my family (because of the Ranch, death, land, jealously, money, bitterness, and alcohol. Sounds fun, huh?) finding family members that don’t hate me, or want to kill me, is very important to me.


Filed under Ag, History, 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: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun



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The Lucas Family – Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve

"Aunt Alice" was the last Lucas to live in the cabin in Butte Meadows, she was my Great Grand Aunt

I recently received an e-mail from a Chico State student, she is researching my family, the Lucas side. She found me through this blog, The Beef Jar. This has renewed my passion for learning about my family. Growing up I heard many rumors, story fragments and folklore about my Dad’s side of the family, but before I could talk to my Great Aunts and Grandfather about these stories, as a cognitive adult, they died. It wasn’t until I got an Ancestry.com account and started poking around that I was finally able to understand how we got here and started ranching. Since then I’ve been able to find books, articles and pictures of the Lucas side. Turns out, they were very interesting and vital to the beginning of my hometown, Chico.

My second Great Grandfather and Grandmother, "Jack" and Helen Lucas

It’s my dream in life to buy the Lucas cabin back. It would be amazing to connect to my Family’s history like that. I could move there and work on the book that I simply must write someday. I’d also like to meet some more of my Family. I know there has to be some great, great cousins out there, that I need to meet.

My Great Grandmother Hazel and Great Aunt Ella Byrd

Tonight, in my Nyquil stupor, I started playing on Google.  I’m re-posting the coolest thing ever. I found it here, but I’m going to cut and paste it below. How have I lived in Chico my whole stinking life and never known about this?

Hazel Lucas' Calling Card

History of BCCER

Recent History of BCCER

The Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER) is owned by the University Research Foundation and managed by the Institute for Sustainable Development of the California State University, Chico. The BCCER was acquired in two land purchases in 1999 and 2001. The University Research Foundation purchased 3,950 acres of land with grant money from the Wildlife Conservation Board, the Packard Foundation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the River Network and Jack Henning. Part of the purchase agreement included a conservation easement held by the Wildlife Conservation Board and a Memorandum of Understanding with the CA Department of Fish and Game. A Technical Advisory Committee met monthly for two years creating a Master Management Plan for the reserve. Through adaptive management further details have been added to create supplemental Vegetation Management and Fire Management Plans. Executing these plans on such a large and varied piece of property is challenging, but we set priorities and do what we can as resources become available.

Historic Use of BCCER

By 1850 persons of European ancestry began to settle the area. They cut timber for their own use and for sale to the developing community of Chico and turned loose cattle, pigs, and sheep to graze. Native wildlife was hunted and trapped for food or sale and to prevent predation on livestock. As more people homesteaded the area, fences were built to separate herds. In the later part of the 18th century, timber in the upper watershed of Big Chico Creek began to be extensively exploited. In 1874 a flume was completed from near Chico Creek headwaters to the town of Chico, passing through the area of the BCCER. This flume included “flumetender’s cabins and a telegraph line. The flume operated until about 1910. Vast changes in the ecosystem followed the homesteaders and their livestock. Much of the timberland was replaced by brush and the perennial native grasses were replaced by exotic annual grasses and weeds. Gradually the early homestead families sold out to owners of large cattle ranches and left the area. Cattle were generally driven to high country in summer and back to the home ranch in fall. As pastures deteriorated the ranches were no longer profitable and speculators began to buy up the land for potential development. One reason for setting up the BCCER was to preserve habitat from development.

The Lucas Family

The Lucas family were the first Europeans to homestead within the area that eventually became the Big Chico Ecological Reserve. Paul Lucas, born in Darmstat, Germany on Christmas Day, 1829, immigrated to the U.S. with his parents and settled in Missouri. Driving an ox team from St. Louis, the young Lucas crossed the plains during the California Gold Rush of 1849. Frustrated with the return on his mining endeavors in Butte County, Lucas reassessed the sources of potential wealth. Like many of the more successful pioneers, Lucas discovered that the majority of California’s opportunity derived more from its golden magnetism on men than on the gold itself and entered the cattle industry. Lucas drove his oxen 14 miles east of Chico to unmarked land where he found good grazing and a sufficient water supply in the Big Chico Creek Canyon. With his cattle brand of 24, good character, good cattle, and good work generated Lucas a respected reputation as he supplied Chico with quality beef. By 1850 he was operating a secure ranching operation.

The future Lucas matriarch, Ellen O’Callahan, immigrated to America with her father after her mother died in Ireland . Forsaking their agrarian past, they settled in the tenements of New York City . Ellen eventually left and managed passage across the Panama Isthmus risking malaria and yellow fever and arrived in San Francisco as a mail-order bride in 1865. On June 13, Paul and Ellen wed and together developed one of Butte County ’s more successful ranching operations, governing over 1000 acres.

The Humboldt Road
Under the direction of the politically influential John Bidwell, the Chico and Humboldt Wagon Road Company constructed a road linking the silver mines of the northeast to the Sacramento River . The company developed houses, stables, and watering sites along the roads for pack trains and eventually sold the interest to these sites to others. Paul Lucas’ ranch adjacent to the Humboldt Road and his operations boomed as his business began to supply Susanville and the miners in the Nevada and Idaho territories. Shortly after his sudden death on April 12, 18 79 , Paul Lucas’ family acquired the 14 Mile House, one of ten boarding way stations spaced a day’s travel along the Humboldt Road .

Young John “Jack” Lucas, the eldest son of six children, assumed the business of ranching and slaughtering activities. Ellen Lucas and John expanded the operations of the 14 Mile House with her excellent cooking and fresh produce from her orchards and gardens. The success of the 14 Mile House and the ranching operations enriched the family and the Lucases expanded their ranching operations into Little Chico Creek Canyon and Butte Meadows, adding over 2500 acres.

The Lucas family enhanced the social scene in Chico and the Humboldt Ridge areas. In 1907, John Lucas established the prosperous Chico Meat Company on Second Street between Broadway and Main . He became a civic leader in Chico , serving as a trustee for the Chico Canyon School District and four years as the city trustee.

The Railroad
Although the Lucas family contributed to the early pioneering of Butte County, their regional improvements lacked legal standing. In the 1850’s much of Butte County was uncharted and many pioneers did not bother to obtain legal title through the General Land Office.

On November 12, 18 64 Congress ordered a survey of the region intending to grant land and resources to the Central Pacific Railroad so that it could establish a line eastward through the Sierra. On July 25, 18 66 , Congress granted the CPRR vast tracts, including all of the Lucas improvements, transforming the Lucases into squatters. Fortunately, Ellen was able to purchase the title to her and Paul’s improvements from the CPRR after her husband’s death. Today the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve maintains their memory and history.

Pre-Historic Use of BCCER

For at least 500 years Native Americans occupied the area now known as BCCER. They utilized a wide variety of naturally occurring resources. While they did not farm in the traditional sense, they were land stewards, enhancing production of resources by selectively burning and carefully cultivating natural stands of plants while gathering them for food and fiber. However, by 1800 or before, native American populations were decimated by diseases of European origin, communities disappeared, and traditional land stewardship could no longer be maintained.


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