Friday, July 31, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Often, this is what makes life interesting: to have an idea or experience, grab a thread from that experience and keep following that thread to another unique experience. That’s what Sam and I did last Sunday. We went back to the site where we had seen the possible Gen. Moore grave from the road and dressed with proper shoes and long pants, we hiked to it. Not only did we find the General Robert Moore grave that our roadside stranger had told us about the week before, but found it in a very abandoned and neglected cemetery, in the area where John Bidwell discovered gold in 1848. The cemetery holds the graves of people from the town that was the original county seat in Butte County. Now on private land, the graveyard is all that is left of a once thriving town called Hamilton,(not to be confused with Hamilton City in Glen County.) A mining town, it had a number of taverns, a store and a blacksmith shop, then a courthouse and a jail. A post office was opened in 1851 and closed in 1865. The county seat moved to Oroville and Hamilton slowly became a ghost town. Now all that is left is the cemetery. I never did figure out the significance of Gen. Moore to the area, although the internet gives a long history of the family, and their eventual settlement in Oroville.
From this wonderful site we drove on to the small towns of Feather Falls, Woodleaf, Clippers Mill, Strawberry Valley, Challenge and Brownsville. In Brownsville we toured a beautiful cemetery. There we found the grave of a person born in 1788 —the oldest we’ve found so far in California. and then stopped for lunch at Bonnie Lou’s cafe.
Our last stop was the grave our previous roadside guide had told us about near Bangor. In the middle of a field was a small fenced grave, and in it was the gravestone of a 9 year old girl who died in 1855. What made it tender and unique was that someone had layed two white teddy bears next to the marker, and 2 small pairs of childrens tennis shoes. It was a memorial as sweet as any tribute could have been.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I celebrated my Independence Day by going for a drive over the July 4th weekend with Sam, continuing to explore the towns in Butte County, and particularly the Pioneer Cemeteries. Sam and I took the Oroville Bangor Highway until we got to Bangor and the Bangor Cemetery. We were having some trouble finding it and asked a man walking on a country road for directions. It was Sunday afternoon, and a beautiful day, so he took great pleasure, and time in telling us where it was, as well giving us directions to an unknown cemetery near Honcut and a lone grave near Oroville....where he claimed a “General Moore” was buried. Later, I found out that Honcut is derived from “Hoancut”, the name of a Maidu village that was changed to Moore’s Station, then back to Honcut. The man told us he found these places from exploring and hunting in the area since his arrival in the 1960s.
The Bangor Cemetery was beautiful, but nothing compared to the abandoned Honcut Cemetery unmarked and completely wild, situated on 3700 acres of farmland,. It was an enchanting experience, the wind blowing the tall weeds and the giant oaks protecting the abandoned graves hidden in the tall grass. We didn’t realize until I was finished photographing and a large pick-up drove up that we were on private land. A farmer with his young son told us that he was leasing the land from a lawyer who lived in Taiwan. We chatted a bit and thanked him and drove out, feeling lucky we had the chance to visit the site, and that the gate had been open. I told Sam my story, that the land owner was Asian, and just as the pioneers whose remains we were just honoring had come in and destroyed most of the native people and their cultures for the land, now an Asian person owned that same land, including the cemetery. Sam’s story was the man was just a rich white lawyer living in Taiwan. I like my story better, it has more symmetry.
Amazingly enough, Sam remembered the man’s directions for the Gen.Moore grave site, and we drove there. Even though we couldn’t access the grave from the road, Sam did spot it, and I was able to take a photograph with my telephoto lens from the road. One day we’ll go back and figure out a way to walk to it. In the meantime, we’re planning our next adventure.