Apr 26, 2013
Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013 12:00 am
By STEVEN SILTON H&N Staff Photographer
Article – What is the State of Jefferson (Herald and News)
The concept of a separate state formed by what is now Southern Oregon and Northern California popped up in 1852 when a bill was introduced to the California legislature.
In his book, “The State of Jefferson: The Dream Lives On,” author James Rock defines the region as existing beyond geographical boundaries.
“The State of Jefferson dream changes over time, but the dream lives on. Today, the State of Jefferson is no longer the dream of a new state within the United States. The State of Jefferson is a ‘State of Mind,’ ” he wrote.
A year later, after the bill died, a San Francisco-based newspaper noted a need for the new state and called it the State of Klamath.
In 1856, the idea came up again. Area residents wanted to deal with “(in)sufficient military protection, poor mail service and too high taxes,” according to Rock.
Q: What stopped the formation of the State of Jefferson?
A: After nearly a century of ups and downs, the movement gained the most momentum in the fall of 1941. When the New York Times reported Curry County wanted to secede to California, people started paying attention.
A few months later, in November, the Yreka Chamber of Commerce voted to look into the idea of a new state again. The proposal included Siskiyou, Del Norte and Modoc counties from California as well as Curry, Josephine and Jackson counties from Oregon. The Chamber of Commerce called this new state Mittelwestcoastia, but the local paper soon held a contest to rename it, according to Rock.
The closest this area ever came to becoming the State of Jefferson happened Nov. 27, 1941, when California Gov. Culbert Olson was given the Proclamation of Independence. The movement was quickly dissolved less than two weeks later when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States was pulled into World War II.
According to Rock, “The 1941 ‘State of Jefferson’ movement was defeated by World War II, but the dreams, desires and needs were not crushed or lost.”
Today, the hope for a new state is gone, but through a continued neighborly approach to towns and counties across the border, the State of Jefferson remains an unofficial union in the area.
Q: Was there a government formed for the State of Jefferson?
A: Jim Ward, owner of Ward’s Klamath Funeral Home, once held the title of Secretary of State for the State of Jefferson.
“We had the Jefferson State Days for a few years in the ’80s,” Ward said. “We didn’t do a whole lot with it. We had wooden coins printed out and the flag out there. We had some events at the fairgrounds, but it was sort of all just tongue-in-cheek.”
Ward said there were barbecues and auctions to go with his make-believe title. The so-called State of Jefferson cabinet never met, never actually made plans or tried to get the movement going again. It was simply a fun way to remember what could have been.
“If the second World War hadn’t come out, it probably would have gone through,” said Ward. “But the sentiments still remain.”
Ward said Oregon and California haven’t changed too much. Both Northern California and Southern Oregon residents still have closer ties to each other than with the rest of their states.
“There was a lot of movement because Southern Oregon and Northern California are both sort of different frames of mind, and it’s still that way today,” he said.
Today, there are gun clubs, radio stations, bumper stickers and T-shirts to remind residents of what almost was. In the conclusion of his book Rock writes, “The State of Jefferson resides in the dreams and desires of its people.”
Sep 18, 2012
What in the world is the Grange doing?
On October 6th the Greenhorn Grange in Yreka will be presenting a “Good Ole’Country Hoedown”. This is their 2012 fundraiser “Celebrating the State of Jefferson”. The evening will feature Country Rock Acoustic music for dancing by Mike Slizewski & The Bar Chords; a baked dessert auction by some of the best bakers ever known; Auctioneer Mike Matherly; a Women in Timber Saloon; raffle baskets so beautifully done by the creative talents of “Maria Messing” & side kick “Kathy Tyler” that you can’t believe.
Grange President Tony Intiso stated “I have never seen such awesome raffle baskets – not only the baskets, but you can’t believe the grand prizes”. He is right! Some of the items include a Ralph Starritt original; a Savage varmint rifle; and a one of a kind quilt homemade by Jeanne Welch of Montague
Raffle baskets include items from river rafting trip for four to a massage. There is even a tattoo gift certificate in there somewhere!
Chairman Maria Mesing stated: ” The surrounding ’merchants of Siskiyou County have donated over 50 amazing items and gift certificates from their shops, restaurants and business’s to make our fundraiser absolutely awesome. It never ceases to amaze me as I approach the many merchants and business for donations that during these troubled times when many of them are struggling and facing hardships of their own, they still open hearts and are eager and willing to give a donation.
Their spirit of love, compassion and the gift of giving, no matter how big or small and all uniting to lend a hand to others is one of the most endearing qualities of what the people in Siskiyou County are made of. It is so special to be a part of this community and to live here.
The Grange wants to take this opportunity to thank all of the surrounding merchants of Siskiyou County for their kindness, generosity and wonderful donations contributed and their support in helping out the Grange. It is through them that we will make this a successful fundraiser.
The October 6th fundraiser will be held at the Greenhorn Grange, 300 Ranch Lane, Yreka. The event begins at 5pm.
Tickets are on sale now $35.00 single, $65.00 per couple, which includes a free spin at the Wheel of Fortune.
A quality prime rib dinner with all of the trimmings will be featured, followed by a dessert auction.
Proceeds from the event will go to renovating the Grange hall and the Grange’s continuing fight to preserve agriculture and the family farm! The Grange regularly donates the use of their hall to feed hot meals three days a week.
Please come and join us for ” A Good Ole’ Country Hoedown for a “boot Kicking, fun-filled evening”.
Tickets can be purchased by calling Kathy at 842-4400, Grace 459-3968, Irma 926-6809 or at 347 N. Main Street, Yreka.