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Fort Jones Commander Writes of Life in Early Days

Capt. Bradford Ripley Alden was the third commander to take charge of remote Fort Jones in Northern California’s Scott Valley.  He marched Company E, 4th Infantry from Fort Vancouver to Yreka in 37 days, better time than he had anticipated.  He later wrote, “Yreka turned out its enterprising population…to see the Captain from Vancouver and his company march through town.”

Captain Alden assumed command of the Siskiyou County fort on June 14, 1853.  He wrote to his wife, “Everything comes by pack trains at 20 cents a pound from Shasta City…We are about thirty miles from Oregon and 100 miles from sea on Scotts river…We are five days by express from San Francisco. Butter is $2 a pound, egg $3 a dozen, hams $5 a piece, potatoes $15 a bushel, and everything else in proportion.” He added that “a CAT costs here and at Yreka six dollars, and a hen is $5.0 (sic). A tin box of blacking (used for boots and polish) is one dollar, and so on.”

To provide for his men, Alden had a garden planted and gave his men fishing and hunting instructions, which helped enrich their meager provisions and alleviate their continual boredom.


Source:  Paine, Lauran. "Fort Jones, 1852-1858." Siskiyou Pioneer and Yearbook 3.3 (196): 16-17. Print.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.