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As It Was: Northern California Mining Towns Spring Up in the 1850s

During the early 1850s, five gold mining settlements sprang up in Northern California’s Trinity County, including Minersville, Ridgeville, Sebastopol, Diggerville, and the Bates and Van Matre Ranch.
Their residents got their mail through the Weaverville Post Office, which opened in 1858 at Bates and Van Matre Ranch before moving to Old Minersville in 1859 and to the Unity Mine a little later.  When the mine closed, the post office returned to Minersville.  John Tourtellote handled mail for Minersville, while Morris and Ted Foggerty did the same at Ridgeville.

The election of 1858 resulted in money being allocated to build roads in the far northern counties, including the first wagon road to Minersville.

Sebastopol was located a little over one mile north of Van Matre’s, on the East Fork of Stuarts Fork. The town had originally been settled in 1853 by J. F. Chillis, who owned a furniture factory in addition to a sawmill, planing mill, and grist mill capable of grinding 24,000 bushels of flour from wheat grown on surrounding ranches.

Chillis became Lieutenant Governor of California. 

Source: "Minersville: A Tale of Five Cities." Trinity, 1955, pp. 9-10.

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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.