Everett Collard, Remembered in Happy Camp

Collard Family 1953

Collard Family (1953)

Each year as Happy Camp celebrated our, Dear Mad’m and the story that she told, we honor some of our longtime residents that exemplify the pioneering adventurous spirit of Dear Mad’m and Dear Sir and the Klamath pioneers.

In 1911 when we had the first “Dear Mad’m” and “Dear Sir” awards we honored Barbara Brown to whom we feel a tremendous gratitude for her publishing endeavors, and Ken, a miner who had the Dear Sir award.

The second year, we honored Dear Grandma, Geneva Johnson, from Happy Camp. We also had expected to honor Everett Collard, a long time Happy Camp lawman. However, Everett passed away a couple of weeks before the event. We still wish to express our appreciation for Everett’s good neighbor living along the Klamath River for all those years and remember him for the good things that he has done in the community.



New book launch, Dear Mad’m Who Was She?

Pete &:Liz signed autographs in the wonderful new book, "Dear Mad'm Who Was She?"

Pete &:Liz signed autographs in the wonderful new book, Dear Mad’m Who Was She?

Pete and Liz Lismer will be the speakers at the 2012 literary luncheon in Happy Camp in October! Pete is a grand-nephew of Stella W. Patterson, who wrote the story, Dear Mad’m of her adventures moving to the remote forest cabin on the Klamath River at the age of eighty!


Dear Mad'm Who Was She? Published in 2012

Dear Mad’m Who Was She? Published in 2012


Hazel shares about Dear Mad’m at Picnic Luncheon


Hazel Davis Gendron shares a portrait she made of Stella W. Patterson. Hazel is probably the most noted historical authority of Happy Camp and spent many years writing about the little town on the Klamath River. She also has contributed to four issues of the Siskiyou Pioneer put out by the Siskiyou County Historical Society each year for their members. The last issue for which she wrote was Gold Rush and the Mixing of Cultures in Western Siskiyou County (The Siskiyou Pioneer, Vol. 9, No. 8) by Various, Hazel Davis Gendron and Cheryl M. Beck (2009).


Hazel also wrote about Stella W. Patterson at the following site: http://www.cagenweb.com/shasta/bios/dearmadm.html




Thanks to Barbara Brown of Naturegraph Publishers

Barbara Brown of Naturegraph and James Buchner of Klamath River Resort Inn at Happy Camp Chamber office

Barbara Brown of Naturegraph and James Buchner of Klamath River Resort Inn at Happy Camp Chamber office

Life on the Klamath goes on, much the way it was in the days of ‘Dear Mad’m”, plus a little new technology. We are all so grateful for Barbara Brown of Naturegraph Publishers who has kept her story available to all her new fans and also published, Dear Mad’m Who Was She? by Pete and Liz Lismer!


Rod Diradon, Sr. to speak at Dear Mad’m Picnic


The Committee to Celebrate Dear Mad’m Day is honored and delighted to have Rod Diridon, Sr. come and speak to us for this occassion.

Rod said in his reply, “I’d be glad to share thoughts about Stella, the Clear Creek Claim and our even earlier times at the Classic Hill placer mine about 12 miles up Indian Creek near the state line.

“Grandfather John Covert filed three mining claims at Clear Creek with Fred Crook around 1910 and Fred, an authentic mountain man, stayed there to do the annual “claim improvements” to hold title. Grandpa wandered off to earn and lose a couple of fortunes. Seems he was a brilliant builder, but imbibed a bit too much.

“After quite a time in set design and construction in Hollywood, Grandpa helped to build the Hurst’s Wintoon “Castle” from the mid 1930s to the late 1940s.

“After an altercation with a couple of loggers in a Dunsmuir bar, Grandpa resettled (was resettled) on the Classic Hill Mine that was purchased by Grandma Allie’s Redding-based logging family (Middleton, Cocherine, and Notley) for timber rights. In the late 1940s and early 1950s Grandpa worked the claim illegally in the winter when the streams were muddy so his tailings weren’t discernible. It was a massive old systems with miles of ditches and high flums, hydroulic “giants” and piping, a small town (blacksmith shop, stables, hay shed, machine repair shop, large orchard, etc.) at the main HQ bunk house and superintendents home dating to the late 1800s….

( After )”Grandma Allie moved to the Classic Hill and they then moved to the Clear Creek claims with Fred. Grandpa built a very nice home, later cut in two and moved to Happy Camp after Caltrans condemned and bought the the claim in the early 1960s to straighten and widen the road…..”

Rod Diridon, Sr. the son of an immigrant Italian railroad brakeman, is called the “father” of modern transit service in California’s Silicon Valley. Raised in Dunsmuir, California, he worked his way through college as a railroad brakeman and fireman receiving a BS in accounting in 1961 and MSBA in statistics in 1963 from San Jose State University. Rod served four years as a naval officer with two Vietnam combat tours.

He is especially proud of son Rod, Jr. (a two-term Santa Clara City Council member and vice mayor recently reelected city clerk/auditor) and daughter Mary Margaret (director of counseling for the Silicon Valley YWCAs). His wife, Dr. Gloria Duffy, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense directing nuclear disarmament negotiations, is now the president/CEO of the Commonwealth Club of California,

Dr. Gloria Duffys article on the first annual Dear Mad’m Day may be seen at http://www.commonwealthclub.org/sites/default/files/insightoctnov2011.pdf


Ken Phelps – Dear Sir Award Winner – 2011


Tribute by Linda Jo Martin

by Linda Jo Martin

I met Ken Phelps several years ago thanks to my best friend and partner who met him first. Ken was camped for the summer downriver on a mining claim. He’s been here every summer to live next to the Klamath. As I understand it, during the winters he moves south.

Since Ken is one of my partner’s favorite friends in this area I asked him (Bob) what I should say about Ken. Here were his suggestions.

1.     Ken is a friend to all who live on the river – both humans and animals.

2.     He is a true lover of nature.

3.     He is soft spoken and humble.

4.     He is always willing to show people how to prospect.

5.     He is a master crevice hunter!

Also, he mentioned that Ken has been so dedicated to prospecting over the years that it is possible he lost much of his hearing due to working with a vac-pac.  If you take time to talk with him (and I hope you will) you’ll find a man who has lived close to the earth, who has down to earth values, and who has a heart of gold.

We went to see him a couple days ago to invite him to this picnic and he was busy picking blackberries for someone. And they were the biggest, juiciest blackberries we’d ever seen.

Not long after I met Ken he took my partner and me to a nearby creek. Most people rush by it on Highway 96 and have no idea how idyllic and peaceful it is there. He offered it to us as a source of good drinking water and as a place where one can sit in the water on a hot day as if in a hot tub. Of course, it would be cold! There are several levels of natural tubs there just up from the Klamath River.

What really impressed me was that he told us he’d climbed up and down the creek removing sticks and debris from the water to make it a more beautiful place to be. And it was. . . absolutely beautiful! He also invited the many rafting groups that camped across the river to swim in the clean, clear water of the creek.

You would think a man who loves to prospect wouldn’t worry about the land being torn apart, but he honors nature and the environment and insisted that one particularly beautiful section of the claim not be prospected to preserve the natural scenery. He did this especially for the rafting groups that camped across the river on the beach.

Two summers ago Ken visited us several times bearing natural gifts – flowers and herbs to plant in our garden. We had some to trade.

Most of all, when I think of Ken Phelps I think of a return to a simpler way of living. He is happy to live in a humble way, serving other people, living on the mining claims. He is 85 this year! Older than Stella was when she lived on her claim. He is doing pretty much the same thing she did.

For all these reasons, I nominated Ken to receive a Dear Sir award this year.


Ken Phelps with Linda Martin in his garden.


First Time Plans to Celebrate “Dear Mad’m”

Dear Mad’m Day August 13th, 2011

11View from former Cabin Site

View from the former Dear Mad’m Cabin site of the Klamath River’s new placement from 2011,

Happy Camp is celebrating a literary celebrity of our community. The book Dear Mad’m by Stella W. Patterson has brought many visitors to our community and encouraged many “senior citizens” to lead an adventurous life despite advancing years.

The Happy Camp Chamber of Commerce is planning the luncheon picnic to honor Stella Patterson and those who still maintain the spirit she exemplifies today! The Luncheon will be held in the shade of the trees on the lawn of the Klamath River Resort Inn and Rafting Lodge on the Klamath River east of Happy Camp.

Dear Mad’m Day will be Saturday, August 13th and the picnic luncheon for $5 donation will be at 11:00 o”clock. Sandwiches, ribs, jewel and fruit salads and specialty breads are planned, as well as Dolly’s Strawberry Lemonade and dessert.

We are so pleased that guests who have known Dear Mad’m from their time on the River, will be with us. Peter and Liz Lismer who are related to Stella Patterson and who are writing a book to be published by Naturegraph on her life plan to come, Hazel Davis Gendron, our local historian,  who used her artistic talents for a drawing of Dear Mad’m will bring the portrait with her and numerous other “Friends of “Stella” from near and far will be coming to the picnic luncheon.

Plan to come to this first celebration of a literary treasure of the Klamath, Dear Mad’m!

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.