Agenda 21 in Lake County, CA



AGENDA 21 LOGO-100.pngAgenda 21 is not the “Bill of Rights”. It is not “The Declaration of Independence”. And it is not the “U.S. Constitution”. It has never been decided on by the American people that “Agenda 21” should be our new bible. Our guiding light into the 21st century. It is being pushed on us by a bunch of self righteous elitist like Nancy Pelosi. It empowers those who agree and indoctrinates those who do not, and you are going to think you are having a bad dream when it comes into your home.

© Bill Wink 2007



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For Greg Hardester,  May 1977                                                                                   by: Skee Hamann




If you could swallow a magic potion that would let you see Middletown as it was a hundred years ago, you would not recognize the valley. 


All the surrounding hills and Cobb and St. Helena were heavily forested with dark pines and firs, like your own hill that is the only spot that has not been damaged by fire in the last 63 years.


The creeks with trees and willows to hold their banks solid, and no mining or logging debris to gouge at the banks and choke the stream, were deep, narrow, all year streams, instead of shallow flood plains as now.  When London mining engineers came around Civil War time to develop the-rich quicksilver deposits, they called our mountain area with its impressive forests and streams The Switzerland of America.  They brought their families from England and by the l870s 2500 people lived in Pine Flat on the ridges back of Sugarloaf. 


St. Helena Creek was deflected from its old course by an early eager farmer stripping its banks clear, below Hardesters’ Crossing, and plowing to its edge just before a time of great rain. It had flowed from the crossing around the other side of Rabbit Hill, across Rannells’ land to join Dry Creek and Putah on the opposite side of your school from where it now flows.


As the white people had taken the Indians’ land and destroyed the green growth, animals, fish and birds that had lavishly supported the native Americans, there had been much violence.  In the early mining days, too, there were so many hold ups, lynchings, killings - - an arm found here, a headless body in an abandoned mine tunnel there - - that people used to say Middletown had a man for breakfast every morning.


But because the violence of crime-loving people has not changed you still hear today, on TV or in newspaper, of the same destruction of lives and property. What has changed with cars, TV. radio, electric gadgets, is the way people found fun and beauty.


I will tell you of some of the very different ways people followed in the days before your lives began.




Middletown was a rich community when the mines were booming. There were two banks, two hotels - - One where the Corner Store stands now.  The houses of the well-to-do were apt to have parlors papered in purple or dark red wallpaper heavily decorated with golden grapes or ferns, plush throw with silk fringe on the piano top under a gilt and flowered vase, and a thick green carpet with big red roses for pattern.


There was a custom-tailor shop where Kwik Stop is now, where many a miner was fitted by the two tailors to a tailed evening suit.


Where Newman's is now - - the same house - - the photographer had his studio where brides in flowing, ruffled gowns, grooms in stiff high collars and dark suits, babes in christening robes with yards of lace and tucks, grandparents flanked by rows of descendents left their images for the family album.



Mrs. Barker's candy store was around the corner from the tailor shop, shelf after shelf of bubble-topped great glass jars of brightly colored candies from which a child might choose for a penny.


For many years the supplies not grown, or made, in the valley came over Mt. St. Helena in Justin Reed's or Ben Hunt's huge horse-drawn freight wagons, always at least six or eight animals with red tassels and bells on their shoulder harness to warn approaching wagons of their passage on turns.


At Christmas you knew the important presents from the mail order catalog would bring the freight wagon down your street for delivery at your gate. As dusk closed in on the brief days of late December and wood smoke was sweet from fires stoked for evening meals, the tinkling of those bells nearly burst your veins with excitement while you hung on the top rail of your gate to see the long line of big horses and hear the clop, clopping of their hooves on the cold wet earth.


The circus came yearly, its big canvas tents set up where Wells Fargo is now. Chautauqua, the national lecture, concert, theater circuit, came to the same spot with the same sort of tent. You could see and hear the same richly dressed musicians, singers, actors, famed lecturers as people in larger towns all across the country.


Spelling bees for all ages were big, and basket socials, too, brought all together.  The girls competed for the beaus' bids on the unnamed boxes of sandwiches, salads, and cakes, by covering them in vivid crepe paper decorated with paper flowers.


When life moved in a foot-pace or horse-trot tempo there were lavish flower gardens where home owners found pleasure.


The husband of Minnie Cannon, for whom your school was named, could be seen on summer evenings at their home next to the Catholic parish house bending over his scores of roses, sprinkling, trimming, cultivating, the large yard behind its filigree black iron fence giving off warm fragrance from petunias, asters, pansies with the roses and honeysuckle so that one wanted to walk past slowly to inhale the delight as long as possible.                            


The remodeled parish house then belonged to former Civil War drummer boy John Preble and his maiden sister Minnie.  Their fence-to-fence bloom-bursting garden rivaled Cannon's and the annual flowering of their Night Blooming Cereus crowded their living and dining room with townspeople waiting for the tubular waxy petals to move toward opening.


When people could not turn a knob or dial to hear others play, they made their own music.  In summer dusk everyone was out of doors cooling off after the day's heat - - There were few mosquitoes before the BAKERY-MID-1.jpgbig irrigated pastures were developed. While you watered the dooryard flowers and the smell of wet, warm earth mingled with that of carnations and sweet peas, above the sound of crickets and cooing of doves you could hear Simon Nyberg up St. Helena-Creek playing his ocarina.  His brother Ezra might follow with his cornet.  Where the motel is now, old Silas Macbee, while his smiling, plump wife rocked in the hammock under the honeysuckle, would be sawing out on his fiddle, "The Old Grey Mare A-Wracking Through The Wilderness."


Across St, Helena Creek, below Hardester's house, where all the flat and side hill were vineyard, Mr. Spurling, the wine maker, sitting near the door of his dungeon-like brick wine cellar, would be squeezing old German melodies from his accordion.


Jeff Haas's Great-grandfather Noble, warned by his Oakland doctor that he was near death, bought the hills about Verdant Vales, before they became Castle Hot Springs.  He moved with everything he wanted to surround him in his last months - - Family, his piano, musical instruments for the children, hundreds of books-and lived for many years to enjoy the Saturday night musical parties when guests from mine or ranch came tromping over ridges in the dusk with violin, clarinet, or harmonica, to make the walls echo to music and laughter all night.


Revivals were lively gatherings staged by itinerant preachers in the stormy months of winter when there were not so many attractions out of doors to compete with soul-saving.


One thundering expounder of the details of the fires of hell awaiting the sinner displayed a huge oil-painted canvas chart on the church wall.  The path for the wayfarer forked ,for his choice, to, the leaping flames and black pits of hell or to the gold and jewel-encrusted pavements of New Jerusalem with snowy angels and golden harps to reward virtue.


One rancher entered church doors only once a year when he made his annual appearance as the revivalist called for sinners to come forward and repent.  The full-voiced confessions of his sins and teary penitence on his knees, arms waving, one eye on his audience, was as dramatic as vaudeville any day.


People then, even as now, distrusted the one who did not run with the crowd. A gentle beauty-loving wanderer about the county, who spoke only in rhyme, was known as Crazy Reed because he meandered about in early spring offering housewives copies of his doggerel poems and slips for their gardens of his favorite rose.  Long after he and those who scorned him were laid in the cemetery, the delicate pale pink, tissuey’ rose, shedding its petals in cinnamony’ fragrant heaps in spring warmth in old gardens, was still known as the Crazy Reed Rose.


Many of you probably have heard of Mildred Pearson who lived two houses on the right up from the school and through a long-retirement cooperating safely with her in learning how to live out of doors on what grew there.


Mildred told of a unique Christmas in her childhood when her parents were toll keepers on the Ida Clayton Toll road that ran past Western Mine to Alexander Valley.


In that remote area doctors' attention was very hard to come by.  When her three brothers became very ill with scarlet fever just before Christmas their mother exiled Mildred and her little sister Marie to the barn under the care of big sister Abby, in hopes of keeping them from illness.


In the sturdy big barn filled with summer's sweet hay and straw they were safe and cozy, but very concerned about Christmas.  Their mother had no time to think of anything but life or death for her boys so Abby cut a small fir tree in the surrounding woods, set it in a box of damp sand from the creek and decorated it with apples, red berries from the woods and paper cut outs.


From old magazines she cut out bright pictures to fashion amusing nothings for presents.  Tied with old ribbons she managed to retrieve from storage in the back porch of the house, they provided the stimulation for anticipation of Christmas.


On Christmas morning before Mildred and Marie might open their presents, after singing Christmas carols, Abby had them present each horse and cow sharing stalls in the barn with them, with apples and carrots for their gifts.


Mildred remembered this Christmas as the most satisfying of her life.  "After all," she said, “The very first Christmas was celebrated in a stable."


Editor’s Note: This terrific peek into another time was provided to us by Grant Hardester and is reprinted here with his permission.  Thank you.


Greg Hardester is the older brother of Grant and Ross Hardester of Hardester’s Market.  All are the children of Judy and Walter Hardester and the grandchildren of Marion and Reed Hardester.  The Hardester family has generously shared pictures and information that is posted on this Website and for that we are all grateful. 


Huck and Skee Hamann owned and lived on top of Rabbit Hill.  They welcomed all the local children to their home where they were busy making each child a ring or pendant from local gemstones and sterling silver.  Tucked away in some drawer most of us, myself included, have a gift we received from the Hamanns.  Huck and Skee were the parents of Joan Dole who was murdered at Anderson Springs in the 1960s.




Read More Local History

Guenoc Ranch and the Days Of The flying Muleshoe 2nd Edition

The Story Of Thomas Kearney Dye

The Story Of Joseph Getz

The Murder Of Ham Herrick

Butts Canyon Road

The Old Soldier Road

The English Family Outlaws

Murder In The Mayacamas the unsolved murder of Joan (Hamann) Dole

Lawley Toll Road

Mountain Mill House

Mt. St Helena

Fire!! Middletown Is Burning

The Story of George Coburn







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