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As It Was: Yreka High School Graduate Teaches in Red Rock

The Red Rock area of Butte Valley, Calif, was a barren landscape in the early days of settlement, with only a few homesteads and many bad roads. It was hard to attract teachers, and children had difficulty getting to school regularly.
In 1911, Ernestena Walter, who had graduated from Yreka High School a year earlier, began her first year of teaching in Red Rock.  She was the daughter of two pioneer families; her grandfather Walter had emigrated from Germany and her mother’s family, the Spannaus clan, had settled along the Klamath River.

Walter’s year at Red Rock was difficult, with some students nearly her age.  However, she adored four students, two sets of Lyons family twins.  The Lyons family had provided the young teacher with a strong support system.

After Walter returned to Yreka, Eunice Lyons moved in with Walter’s family so she could attend school regularly.  Lyons and Walter’s twin sister, Laura, who also was a twin, became lifelong friends.  Each later attended the Chico Normal School for teachers.

Walter married Charles Ruggles of Fort Jones and taught at the Lone Star School until her death in 1921.

Source: Costello, Laura W. “An Early Day Red Rock Valley School Teacher.” Siskiyou Pioneer and Yearbook, The, vol. 4, no. No 10, 1977, pp. 40-41.

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.