Friday, October 9, 2015

The Davis Log Cabin

The Davis Log Cabin
Henry and Henrietta Davis in front of cabin, 1860's

          The cabin was constructed in 1856 and occupied until 1870, when a larger farmhouse was constructed by Henry Levi Davis.  In 1852 Henry came across the plains from Ohio to California in search of gold.  By 1853 his attentions shifted to ranching and he filed on a homestead in Little Shasta Valley.  The ranch is still in the family today (as of 2015).  This cabin is constructed of pine that was shaped with an adze.  The corners are constructed using the half-dovetail notch for strength and for shedding water.
            Henry married a neighbor, Henrietta Deter, in August of 1861.  They were to have their first four children born while living in the cabin.  After moving into the ranch house, three more children were born to the couple.
            A side note:  in later years the cabin was used for storage in the room to the right of the door and the room to the left was used as a bunk house for men hired to help on the ranch during the haying season.  It was used for this purpose until it was donated to the Historical Society by Orlo and Charlotte Davis in 1975.  It is a Point of Interest, Reg. # SIS-002.

A peek inside the cabin at the Outdoor Museum

The Davis Ranch, Little Shasta Valley, 1854-2004
From notes submitted by Betty Davis Carrier and Helen William Easton

            Henry Levi Davis, born in Tiffin, Ohio in 1832, came to California across country in 1852, arriving in Yreka in August of that year.  After trying his hand at mining in the Humbug area and doing carpenter work in Yreka, he decided that farming in Little Shasta Valley was to his advantage.  Later in his life he often told his grandchildren about his first crop of grain. He said it wasn’t doing very well because there were so many grasshoppers that year.  One day he discovered the grain field had been set afire.  Upon investigating, he found a family of Indians out in the burned field picking up the roasted grasshoppers for food.  Because the grain crop was such a poor one, and because he was friendly with the Indians, he did nothing about.  In 1854 Jesse F. Davis, Henry’s brother, arrived in Yreka; together they homesteaded 280 acres in sections 4, 5 and 8.  They had a temporary cabin by the spring near the present Williams Ranch, farming off and on until 1856, when Henry built the cabin at the present ranch site and moved there permanently.  Jesse later built a cabin by Davis Gulch.  Nothing remains of that cabin, but every year to this day, hop vines return to remind us of an earlier habitation.  In 1860 Henry returned to Ohio to purchase horses and stock for his ranch, returning the same year with his friend, Edward Coonrod, who helped drive the livestock.  The trip was very difficult because forage was scarce and the Indian tribes were more hostile.
            On August 29, 1861 Henry married Henrietta Deter, daughter of David Deter, born in Wayne County, Ohio, December 6, 1843.  They were married in the parlor of the Yreka Union Hotel in Yreka by Judge A. M. Rosborough.  Henrietta crossed the plains in 1860 with her father and three brothers, settling on David’s ranch located a mile to the west of the Davis Ranch.  Henry and Henrietta settled into the log cabin that is now located in the Siskiyou County Historical Society’s Outdoor Museum.  Their first four children were born in this cabin:  Mary Jane (Davis) -b. Feb. 4, 1863, d. 1915; Hattie (Williams) - b. June 6, 1865, d. 1939; Emma (Kennedy) -b. Oct. 17, 1867, d. 1953; Nettie (Davis) - b. Oct. 7, 1869, d. Oct. 24, 1870.  In early 1872 the family moved into the present ranch house, where three more children were born: Isaac Shriver Davis - b. April 17, 1872, d. 1950; Henry Levi Davis, Jr. - b. Sept. 14, 1874, d. 1908; Dr. Fred Jay Davis - b. June 16, 1883, d. 1965.
            Henry first raised sheep on his ranch, then in the 1880’s he purchased a purebred herd of eight Holstein cows and one bull shipped from the east to Ashland, Oregon. 
Cow and Cabin on Davis Ranch, 1930's
They were driven over the Siskiyou Mountains on foot, requiring several days of slow travel.  At this time he also raised horses.  Through the years Henry acquired more neighboring land and two mountain ranches on Ball Mountain – First Creek and Horsethief Meadows, making cattle ranching the main pursuit of the ranch.
            Besides being a good farmer, Henry Live Davis was an influential citizen of Little Shasta, Montague and the community, and was a very good businessman.  He was interested in the development of the new town of Montague, resulting in acquiring or having built, a number of properties there, including the Mitchell and Opera Saloons and the Montague Hotel.  He was one of the first presidents of the Montague Bank, and later a bank director.
            Henry Levi, Jr., remained on the ranch to run it with his father after Isaac had married and moved to Butte Valley, and then to Merrill, Oregon.  Tragically Henry Jr. died of appendicitis in1908 at the age of 34 years.  Henry Sr. stayed at the ranch until 1911 when he retired to Montague, passing on in 1915. 
            A few years prior to his death, Henry Sr. was ill and needed medical treatment. Henrietta accompanied her husband on the train from Montague to San Francisco, where he was admitted to the hospital.  This hospital used coal oil lamps for some light, but then attached candles to each wooden headboard of the patients’ beds.  One night while Henry was lying in his hospital bed, the candle caught his wooden bed afire.  Henrietta started to scream, “Fire!”  However, Henry, being the very modest and proper man that he always was, firmly told her, “I will not get out of this bed until someone brings me my pants!”  As the story goes, he stayed there with his bed burning while Henrietta frantically got some pants for him to put on.  After his recovery, they returned to their home in Montague for a time.
            In 1906, Henry became ill a second time, and he again traveled to San Francisco and was put into the hospital.  He was a patient in that hospital when the great earthquake of 1906 hit San Francisco.  The whole city was a havoc of destruction, confusion and fire for days.  Henry and the other patients were moved to the Golden Gate Park, where they were laid out on the grass.  While he was there he watched the city burn.
            Between 1911 and 1915 the ranch was leased by two grandsons, Ernest and Allen Williams, sons of Hattie Davis Williams, but since it was the wish of Henry that the Davis name remain on the ranch, the eldest son, Isaac, took over the ranch in 1916.  Isaac had married Aldee Coonrod, daughter of Edward and Eliza on November 24, 1897.  They homesteaded in Sams Valley near Dorris, California, and then established a ranch in Merrill, Oregon in 1899.  Their eldest child, Henrietta, was born in Sams Valley in 1898.  Their second child, Edward Orlo (aka Orlo)was born at home in Merrill on February 25, 1900, and Anna was born in 1905.  In 1916 Isaac and family moved back to the home ranch, where another son, Henry, was born November 13, 1916.  Orlo, 16 years old when the move was made, was in charge of getting the livestock to the home ranch from Merrill.  Isaac and Orlo increased the tillable, irrigated acreage of the ranch in 1920 by purchasing part of the neighboring John Kegg ranch.  In 1929 Orlo married Charlotte Osteriech, daughter of Emil and Ida  Osteriech of Doty, Washington.  They had a daughter, Betty Joan, born December 18, 1932.  Orlo did all the farming and ranching at that time as Isaac had had a back injury that incapacitated him in the 1920’s.  In 1950 Isaac passed away and Orlo, Charlotte and Aldee continued a partnership until 1970 when Aldee passed away.  Orlo was the sole owner until he felt he wanted to retire, selling the ranch to his daughter, Betty Davis Carrier and her husband, Jim Carrier (b. in Oil City, Pennsylvania, May 26, 1929).  They were married November 3, 1962.  Jim pursued a career as a forester for the U. S. Forest Service for 27 hears.
            Orlo Davis passed away in 1990 at the age of 90.  He spent 74 years on the Davis Ranch improving production of his cow-calf operation, running 250 head of top quality animals.  He was named Siskiyou Cattleman of the Year in 1971.  He semi-retired at the age of 78, but continued an active interest in the ranch until his death on August 3, 1990.
            Jim and Betty Carrier and sons John, (b. Feb. 27, 1967) and Mark (b. December 28, 1968) moved back to the ranch in June of 1983.  They totally remodeled the original ranch house that was built in 1871-72.  Jim was working for the U.S. F.S. on the Klamath National Forest at the time, and gradually started a small herd of cows.  He retired from the Forest Service at the end of 1986, and continued to raise cows and hay until 1994 when he decided to retire from ranching.  The Carriers have now leased the acreage to the Brice Martin family, neighboring ranchers.  When Orlo died in 1990, Charlotte remained on the ranch until 1992, when she moved to Yreka to be closer to her social activities.  She was contented to spend her days in Yreka until early 2002, when she was no longer able to care for herself.  She spent her last 10 months in the Grenada Inn, passing away on January 14, 2003.  Jim and Betty continue to live on the ranch and enjoy their retirement.  The boys plan to return someday when their careers slow down.

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