Join us in October to Celebrate “Dear Mad’m”

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Just got off the phone with Lisa Gioia-Acres who is inspiring lady who directs the Siskiyou County Historical Museum in Yreka. It is always highlight to stop by the Museum and see the beautiful wedding apparel displayed just now, or stroll the Outdoor Museum, or gather in the Conference room to learn more about the history of our area!!

Lisa confirmed we have the date of Saturday, October 15th, 2016 for the Dear Mad’m gathering at 12:30 at the Museum Conference Room. We will be celebrating Dear Mad’m, Stella W. Patterson, who wrote the book by the same name about the decisions she faced at the age of 80 when she lived in a remote miners cabin on the Klamath River (with her dog Vicki for company.)

San Francisco relatives wanted Stella to return to the city; but she hadn’t lived there since the ’06 earthquake and personal decisions separated her from that society life. Even at 80 Stella felt more adventurous and had always wanted to pursue other endeavors. She may have ordered groceries out of Happy Camp with thrift in mind, but she ordered her iris bulbs from European nurseries.

Some fascinating characters of the neighborhood stopped by and are remembered from her story. They influenced Stella, and in many ways Stella went on to inspire countless others by her story. What was the secret that she learned in that simple life in a rustic cabin on the Klamath River? Many return to Stella’s story when “mature years” weigh heavy, to remember to face life with a spirit of adventure, no matter what your age!

What can you tell us about Cy Jensen and Laura??

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By Judy Bushy

Perhaps you recall Cy Jensenj, well known from the story of Dear Mad’m by Stella W. Patterson, when he was called “Up’nUp”. Do you remember the days down by Ferry Point south of the Clear Creek post office when he was mining with Fred Crooks, “DearSir” in the story.

Thanks to Roberta, we’ve found that Laura came from Trinity (there was hint in the book!!) and they went to Washington to be married.

Do you remember the years along the Klamath, when a couple of men could bring in gold and fish along the Klamath River?? Stella turned 80 years old in 1946 and wrote the book, DearMad’m about a year deciding if a woman of her age could live the adventurous life on the River.
Tell us your stories and remembrances of those wonderful ol’ days along the Klamath River!! Thanks!!

Hello to the Klamath River World!

When the book, Dear Mad’m by Stella W. Patterson, first came from the publisher in January 1956, it became a popular book and book club selection. Although Stella didn’t live to see that day, many didn’t know that and have come to see Stella and the little cabin that she moved to on the Klamath River.

We hope you will enjoy learning more about Stella, the other people in her story and the wonderful times we have gathering to celebrate one of the most famous literary characters from Happy Camp, at the top of California along the wild and scenic Klamath River!

The Story behind Dear Mad’m


by Judy Bushy, Happy Camp

Last weekend we took a drive down Highway 96 just to enjoy the sunshine on the River, and the forest and blue skies. We came to the pullout near where Stella Patterson had her cabin and stopped to enjoy the view.

At the time of her eightieth birthday, Stella W. Patterson was faced with a dilemma. Her decision involved when a person is OLD and how she wanted to live her “senior years.” Stella made a surprising decision and became a hero to seniors who have since loved her book, Dear Mad’m.

Stella was born October 14, 1866 in the bustling city of Stockton, California. Stella enjoyed the urban opportunities for social and cultural life, and lived in San Francisco as the wife of a judge. After the earthquake of 1906 she married James Patterson and lived on his ranch in the area near Willow Creek.

At the time of her 80th birthday, while visiting friends in Arcata on the northern coast, she was invited to live with relatives eager to do for her and take care of her in her “declining years.”

When a doctor told her that she had “young legs” it set her thoughts in a different direction. She owned a cabin on a mining claim in the wilds of Clear Creek near the friendly little town of Happy Camp, on the Klamath River. She decided to give living in that little cabin a try for a year. She wrote to the caretaker and set off for Willow Creek where she rode with the mail delivery up to the mailbox on Highway 96 below the cabin.

The title of her memoir of life on the Klamath came from, perhaps a senior moment, when Fred, the caretaker arrived, and she’d forgotten his name. In her correspondence she had said, “Dear Sir,” so she fell back upon that salutation. Fred replied, “Dear Mad’m,” and thus the nickname, which was later to become the title of the book, began.

The book tells of her life in that solitary and somewhat primitive cabin in its beautiful surroundings. She lived alone there with her dog, Vickie, and it turned out she had many adventures.

While Stella Patterson still traveled some, her delight was to return to her little cabin on the Klamath. She loved to garden and put up jams and jellies. She sent the memoir of the year she moved to the cabin to agents, critics, and finally a New York publisher who edited it. She called it “slashing,” her story! In the fall of 1955 she moved to an efficient little travel trailer, near Everett and Thelma (who had been like a daughter to her) in Redding. Her life drew to a close there in December 23, 1955 at the age of 89. It was just two weeks before Dear Mad’m was to be published, January 6, 1956.

The book had far reaching effects. It became a popular book club selection. Three ladies from Chicago retired from the Telephone Company and came to live near Happy Camp, because of reading her story. Vivian Witt, Marie Miller and Joan Richardson enjoyed gardening and artistic endeavors and were active in the community. They were loved and appreciated in the community although they too are gone now.

When Highway 96 was improved and straightened (Yes, it is possible that there were more curves and corners!) the road went right through her cabin according to George Harrington who drove the bulldozer.

Still, relatives had moved into the area below the road closer to the highway, and they had grandchildren, Tom, Claudia and Rod, who came to visit summers. What happy memories they made along the Klamath River at Grandparents those summers!!

Naturegraph, a local Happy Camp publisher, kept the book in print since that time, for which we are grateful. Stella was a hero of sorts to persons of mature years, who still have more years to appreciate life and blessings. It’s a good book to read to remind a person of all the wonderful reasons we love life on the lovely wild Klamath River at the top of California.