Fort Jones, California

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Fort Jones is a city in the Scott Valley area of Siskiyou County, California, United States. The 2000 census lists the city population as 600.

Contents

History

Fort Jones takes its name from the frontier outpost once located less than a mile to the south of the city's corporate limits. The town was originally named Scottsburg (ca. 1850), but was changed to Scottsville shortly afterward. In 1852, the site was again renamed, this time in honor of Mr. O. C. Wheelock who, with his partners, established the area's first commercial enterprise. In 1854, a post office was established and the town was renamed again, becoming known as Ottitiewa, the Indian name for the Scott River branch of the Shasta tribe. The name remained unchanged until 1860 when local citizens successfully petitioned the postal department to change the name to Fort Jones, a name that is retained to the present day.

The earliest permanent building at the town site was built in 1851 by two Messrs. Brown and Kelly. It was purchased soon after construction by O. C. Wheelock, Captain John B. Pierce, and two other unknown partners. Wheelock and his partners established a trading post, a bar, and a brothel at this site, which primarily served the troopers stationed at the fort. Near the end of the 1850s, the nearby mining camps of Hooperville and Deadwood began to disband as a result of the dwindling stores of placer gold, epidemic illness and decimating fires.

The mines around Scott Valley attracted many immigrants from many parts of the United States and the world, attracted to the area by news of the California Gold Rush of the 1850s. Irish and Portuguese immigrants remained as ranchers in the area after making enough on the gold fields to purchase property tracts in the valley. In the early years of the Twentieth Century, the northern Scott River tributaries of Moffitt and McAddams creeks were extensively settled by the Portuguese. The Irish surname Marlahan lives on after that family received a shipment of British hay seed infected with the seed of a plant known as Dyers Woad.[1] Those seeds spread their spawn throughout Scott Valley, culturing a plant known in the area as Marlahan Mustard. The plant has a beautiful, canary plume in the spring which matures to small, black, hard seeds. Unfortunately, the herbivore beasts of burden will not eat hay in which this plant exists, and ever since it has been a scourge on the ranchers of Scott Valley.

Military presence

The post at Fort Jones was established by its first commandant, Captain (brevet Major) Edward H. Fitzgerald, E Company, 1st U.S. Dragoons. Such military posts were to be established in the vicinity of major stage routes, which would have meant locating the post in the vicinity of Yreka, sixteen miles to the Northeast. Yet the areas around Yreka did not contain sufficient resources, such as forage for their animals, and Capt. Fitzgerald located his troop some sixteen miles to the southwest, in what was then known as Beaver Valley. Fort Jones was established on October 18, 1852, named in honor of Colonel Roger Jones, who had been the Adjutant General of the Army from March 1825 to July 1852, and would continue to serve Siskiyou County's military needs until the order was received to evacuate some six years later. Fort Jones ceased to exist as a military garrison on June 23, 1858.

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