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Stirling City, California
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News bits, noteworthy items, Email from Readers

MARCIA SUE AVRAM 12/13/1944 - 09/04/2014

Long time ridge resident Marcia Sue Avram, passed away Thursday, September 4, 2014, in Chico. She was 69. Marcia was born in Springfield, Illinois, on December 13, 1944, to Joseph and Margaret Hilgeman. She was well known in Butte County through her work in many community organizations, and her talents in her many occupational adventures. Her sharp mind made it possible for her to be very talented at a number of things, including her painting and decorating ideas as a licensed painting contractor, interior designer, gold leafing artist, editor, cemetery management, history buff, cake designer, notary public, and U.S. Postal Service, just to name a few.

She was a painting contractor, and for over 20 years owned Marcia's Painting and Decorating. This was at a time when few women were licensed in the field. She had projects in Oakland and elsewhere in the bay area, where she worked on building restorations including gold leaf applications in places like the Maritime Museum in San Francisco, and the Marin Headlands Visitor Center. Locally she was involved with painting projects including Paradise Chamber of Commerce, Kalico Kitchen, and Spinning Wheel Cafe. Her interior work can be seen in places like Jack's, Cozy Diner, Russell's, Kalico Kitchen, and Long John Silvers. She also designed cakes for the Chico and Paradise Baskin Robbins. During the 1960's she worked as a postal clerk in the Rincon Annex Post Office in San Francisco, and later at the Magalia Post Office. She was the Post Master Relief for the Stirling City Post Office as well.

Her love of community was expressed by her involvement with many organizations, including Board Member with the Kimshew Cemetery District, and the Stirling City Historical Society, also involved with the Gold Nugget Museum, Butte County Historical Society, Chico Heritage Association, Twins Mother Club, and a member of the California Association of Notary Public. She was the editor for the Mountain Memories and the Stirling City Historical Society newsletters.

She is survived by her ex husband Morris Avram, of Castro Valley, three sons, Sean (Nancy) Avram of Chico, Reece Avram of Castro Valley, Trevor (Nancy Jane) Avram, of Stirling City, a sister, Charlotte Ann Hilgeman, of Stirling City, a brother and sister-in-law, Carl William ( Linda ) Hilgeman, of Durham, brother Kenneth W. Ludington of Lemoore, CA., one aunt, Evelyn Johnson Van Gorder of Broomfield, Colorado, and four grandchildren, Milo, Jessie, Zachary, and Trevor Aron. She also leaves three nieces , Carin, Janel, and Nikki, and two nephews, Eric and Justin.

Today, Heaven is a brighter,(and more organized) place!

[Published online September 9, 2014, Paradise Chapel of the Pines Mortuary]

District 5 Supervisor candidates forum

Stirling City residents had a chance to guestion candidates for District 5 supervisor on Tuesday night May 8th at the Community Hall. Paradise Town Councilmember Joe DiDuca, former councilmember Robin Huffman, Paradise Unified School District Trustee Mike Greer and private fiduciary Doug Teeter all participated. Questions covered topics which included plans to develop a proper infrastructure with the nearly completed Highway 171, struggles to open county roads blocked by Sierra Pacific Industries activity in the area, restrictions on when citizens can use wood-burning stoves in their home, AT&T;'s apparent refusal to bring Internet services to the area and the future of the closed elementary school.

Millpond Memories - Letter from Reader

April 24, 2012 - from Mark

My family moved to Stirling city in 1970 and the saw mill was open and running and producing 2x4s and was the main employer. We lived in Stirling for 5 years and it turned out to be the happiest time of our lives and I have dreamed of moving back.

We all have the fondest of memories, so I was wondering about the history and the mill closing being wrong. I guess maybe it reopened and this is when I was there as a young kid. I do remember when it closed down a few years after we arrived, approximately 1973. I watched as they drained the millpond and we were able to gather a lot of fish.

People I vaguely remember from there and always wondered what happened to them. Mr. Breedlove, Jack Paton, Jerry Veltry had something to do with the mill, Old lady Mayfield, Pike Upton, The George Clark family Debbie Clark and sister? Thanks for the memories.

"Doom the Broom" - April 15th SCHS Meeting

Executive director of the Butte County Fire Safe Council, Calli-Jane Burch, received a certificate of appreciation on April 15th from the Stirling City Historical Society at the Community Hall. She spoke about fire safety, including the wildfire community resources and programs available, such as "doom the broom," to eradicate invasive Scotch broom plant throughout Butte County.

Memories - Letter from Reader

January 18, 2012 - from Diane

... My grandfather and his family lived in Stirling from 1925-1943 or thereabouts. My grandfather and other relatives worked at the mill. My grandfather was a mill pond worker and is in the picture of the mill workers. ... I am proud of my family's history in this wonderful town. We have attended the Reunions at the park and visited the museum. The house my dad was born in is still there ... Regrettably, we recently lost my dad's oldest brother [See Memoriam], Harvey, who passed away last week at the age of 96. He worked in the mill as a boy. I remember stories from my dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles about their lives in Stirling. My dad was a student of Horace Brakebill and graduated as valedictorian of his 8th grade class. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Brakebill when I was much younger. Anyway, thanks for reading this and I hope you keep the history of Stirling alive for many years to come.

Note: The following article on the fires the Upper Ridge experienced this past summer of 2011 has a human interest touch, written and submitted by Stirling City resident Marcia S. Avram.

Historic Buildings on the Upper Ridge - Targeted By Arsonist

Through out its history, the upper ridge above Paradisehas survived many fires. We have seen homes, buildings, and many thousands of acres of timber burn to the ground. Every time there is a fire, we are somehow grateful that it was not our home, or our building. But this past summer, the Upper Ridge was the target of an alleged arsonist.

In the beginning when the Historic Magalia Train Depot had a fire, it was quickly extinguished and arson was not mentioned. Then early one morning in August, the Historic DeSabla Market caught fire and literally burned to the ground in a very short period of time. The causes were initially listed as old wiring, improperly stored flammable materials, and being an old wooden building. As the investigation progressed it was noted that there were other small fires at the same time and in close proximity to the Market, this along with evidence at the Market, investigators concluded it was arson.

Next, the Historic Magalia Train Depot has a second fire, and again thanks to diligent neighbors the fire was quickly extinguished, keeping the damage to a minimum. Further up the Ridge, the Lovelock Inn was the next target, and with the help of the rapid response by Cal Fire, and Volunteer companies from Stirling City, and Magaila, along with neighbors was able to keep the building from becoming a total loss. Although the Lovelock Inn sustained considerable damage, it survived structurally intact, according to owner "Katie". She said she was uninsured , but is determined to rebuild, saying it will take a little longer, since she is depending on the kindness of volunteers.

The fire at Lovelock had the residents of Stirling City wondering if they would be the next target, as the fires seemed to be moving in that direction, and with several Historic Buildings and homes it was a logical conclusion. Everone was on high alert, neighbors watching out for neighbors, the Cal Fire station and Volunteer Fire Departments making plans.

After days of anxiety, came the news that there had been an arrest in connection with the fires. A Volunteer Fireman, who it turns out, had a history of setting fires, and no one had done a background check. With the arrest, the residents of the Upper Ridge were able to sleep a little better at night, but they are still haunted by the fact that a volunteer fireman could do thisand cause such destruction both physically and mentally.

On a personal note, I drive by each of these locations twice daily, on my way to work and on my way home. When I was approaching Lovelock the first morning , the wet and intense smoke smell greeted my nose long before I could see the building. As I rounded the curve, I got a glimpse of the blackened and charred interior, with an army of volunteers beginning the cleanup. It was difficult to see much that morning with all the people, trucks, etc., but that evening on the way home, I drove by very slowly for a better look. It was strange what things stand out in your mind, as I noticed that on the corner of the porch was a pile of neatly stacked firewood, untouched by the fire. All I could think of is how ironic that all the firewood escaped being consumed by the fire. As the days would pass and the smoke smell in the air was no longer so prevalent, the front of the Lovelock Inn was now boarded up and seeing little or no activity in recent weeks, it is sad for me to drive by this once thriving business, with the lights, the enjoyable Sunday Brunches, a place to meet and play a game of pool, or just enjoy a drink with friends. I know how ever long it takes, the Lovelock Inn will be resurrected.

The DeSable Market leaves me with a much sadder feeling each day as I drive to work. The first few days were that of disbelief, not comprehending such destruction. I saw heavy equipment beginning the long process of cleaning up. Day after days I saw piles of metal, the corrugated roofing tin, the huge tank from the water tower, which once held hundreds of gallons of water, and then seeing a tent in the middle of all the debris, which I presume soneone was watching over things. As the the weeks went by the piles of metal, tin, and the water tank disappeared, apparently sold as scrap. Things have remained relatively unchanged for quite a while; the sign for the market is still standing intact, along with the chimmey from the house, standing guard like sentinels watching over an old abandoned graveyard with only piles of burnt and charred debris. During the day you can see all the scorched trees, and in the evening you can see one lonely light shining in the darkness. What a sad end to a Historic Building and notable fixture on the Upper Ridge, that one person was able to decide the fate of the DeSabla Market and the other buildings that were targeted. I have no idea what the future holds for this great location. I can only hope that if and when something is rebuilt there, that it will be something that will blend in architecturally and pay tribute to the original buildings.

I have two personal memories of Paul and Violet [DeSabla Market owners] that I would like to share. Every year when we would have our annual \Holiday Craft Show at the Stirling City Community Hall. Violet would always reserve a table and bring a wonderful array of her crafts, but she was known for her handmade chocolates. Not only were they beautifully made and decorated, but they tasted great, you could also custom order a "chocolatehouse", made entirely of her handmade chocolates, a beautiful sight to see. Paul had his loyal customers and friends who gathered to visit with him on a daily basis. We had an incident where someone hit the gate to our Nimshew Cemetery. Paul and his friends took down that big heavy gate, repaired it, and replaced it. Shortly after doing this wonderful deed, Paul unexpectedly passed away. Paul and Violet were well known and admired by many on the Upper Ridge.

As lovers of history and dedicated to preserving and keeping alive the memories of the past, we all need to be ever vigilant in watching over our Neighbors and having them watch over us, doing everything we can to prevent this type of occurence from happening again. Unfortunately there are a lot of troubled people in the world, and we can only hope that someday, everyone will choose to do the right thing, and live accordingly.


SCHS Meeting

Nancy Leek gave a talk at the January 8th meeting of Stirling City Historical Society. She is a librarian, living in Chico and works in Orland. Nancy is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.

Post Office Closure

About 80 people attended a meeting Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at the City Community Hall, , where United States Postal Service representatives listened to resident concerns about the proposed closure of the Stirling City Post Office.

The Brown Church - Letter from Reader

April 8, 2008 - from Milton

I read with great interest everthing on your web site. I was particulary amused at the paragraph abot the "Brown Church". In early summer 1926, my father, Carl C. James, arrived in your city fresh from the San Anselmo Seminary to become pastor of the Brown Church. With him were his wife, Thelma, and their four-month-old daughter, Marilynn. I came along on 29 August 1927. Dad was the pastor there until sometime in 1929 when we moved to Dixon, CA. About three years ago Marilynn and I visited your city. Our family had lived in the house across the street from the church. We were surprised that the church was still there and I am surprised that it is still used as a church. Must be getting close to 100 years of continuous use. Thanks for putting up suc a nice web site.

2030 General Plan

The Butte County General Plan 2030 Community Workshop for the Stirling City community was held on June 11, 2007 at the Community Hall. This meeting was one of 20 community meetings scheduled to take place in the unincorporated parts of Butte County and are designed to take input directly from community members about their area's assets, issues, and community vision.

About 25 people attended the meeting. Also in attendance were 2 members of Butte County's Citizens Advisory Committee (Bruce McClintock and Sue Seropian). Butte County Department of Development Services staff Dan Breedon and Noel Carvalho gave an overview of the Butte County General Plan 2030 process as an introduction to the evening. Following, they facilitated a discussion about the area's assets, issues, and areas for potential future change.

Pizza Night / Bake Sale

Our Pizza Night / Bake Sale at Round Table Pizza in Paradise netted $90 for SCHS. The Scrapbooking event with demonstrations, supplies and the sharing of techniques and ideas was alot of fun. This event netted the SCHS $288. Thanks to all who participated and who supported the projects.

Fallen Firefighters Memorial - July 2005

Charlotte Hilgeman and her brother and family, Kenneth, Carrie, and Justin Luddington donated three Sequoia trees for the Lassen National Forest's Engine 11 Fallen Firefighter Memorial. Each tree was to represent one of the fallen firefighters, Steven Oustad, Heather DePaolo-Johnny and John Self. They gave their lives while fighting the Stanza Fire in 2001. The trees were dug up, packed in traveling crates and transported by flat bed to Chester where they were planted as part of the memorial at the Almanor Ranger District. Three members of the Stirling City Historical Society, Barbara Hughes, Ren Gonzales and Rona O'Neil attended the dedication.

For more information on any of the above News & Notes, please call 530-873-0858.

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