The Bald Hills’ Lyons


Born in Franklin County, Indiana, in 1831, Jonathan Lyons later moved with his family to Iowa. It was from there that, as an asthmatic 18-year-old, he joined a wagon train bound for Oregon and worked his way across the country.

After spending some time farming in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, stories of gold strikes on the Salmon River in northern California enticed him to come to Klamath County in 1852. Unlike others, Jonathan planted a garden at the Forks of the Salmon River and drove cattle up from Sonoma to establish a grocery and butchering business.

Lyons traveled along the Salmon and Klamath rivers a side of beef slung on each side of his mule, earning his living mining the miners. He was always a welcome visitor in the mining camps.

In 1861 Jonathan met a young Hupa woman he called Amelia, from the village of Meskut in Hoopa Valley. They were legally married at Martin’s Ferry on the Klamath River.

Amelia’s Hupa family has been forgotten over the years as has the year she was born. Also not known is if Lyons married her according to Hupa tradition, but he likely would have paid her family the respect they were due with an appropriate dowry.

It was in Hoopa Valley that their first son, Anderson, was born in 1863. In the Klamath County Census of 1870, only three of the Indian-white marriages were recorded and the Lyons’ marriage was one of the three.

By 1864, Jonathan and Amelia had relocated to the Lower Klamath near Martin’s Ferry, when Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation was established. This was the result of Jonathan helping Indian’s during the “Indian Wars.”

An example is the case of a young Hupa woman who stabbed and killed a soldier from Fort Gaston who was trying to rape her. Jonathan stole a canoe in which she was able to escape to the mouth of the Klamath River, where she was sheltered by the Yurok Tribe.

By 1870, after having two more sons, Sherman near Martin’s Ferry and Harvey at the former Albee Ranch on Redwood Creek, Jonathan and Amelia moved to the Bald Hills where their fourth son, Antonio, was born. It was here that Jonathan began to buy land that came to be known as the Lyons Ranch in the Bald Hills.

On August 3rd, 1903, the Lyons’s were mentioned in the Humboldt Times for the success of their sheep ranches:

“Pioneer Jonathan Lyons and his estimable wife are surely enjoying the profit of their own labors, for beneath their own fig and vine they are now watching the third generation coming to replace them in part of the toils and tribulations of life. Jonathan Lyons and wife are still in harness. Miss Josie, a splendid girl who acts as postmistress, takes the heaviest load from her mother’s shoulders, while Mr. Lyons has a man or two outside to do the labor whom he guides. Four sons, men without a blemish to their name reside on fine farms, with plenty of fat, clean sheep to keep the larder well stocked.”

Jonathan Lyons died in 1913; Amelia died at her daughter’s home in Fortuna in 1921. They are buried beside each other in the Blue Lake Cemetery.

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