This all came from which I would love to include in the re-discovery of our heritage.

To the earliest European Californians, who came to the upper reaches of the canyon to harvest pine for their adobes, this was Canada de la Madera (Canyon of the Timber). The first American home-steaders ventured on this land in the middle of the 1800′s.

Among the principle undertakings of the early settlers were goat raising and bee keeping. Wild game was everywhere. It was the bees that brought the bears, with tracks once reported at 18 inches. Grizzly came down from the ridges (one such bear was nicknamed “Old Clubfoot”) from time to time to try their luck with the bee hives. Bears were not the only animals to enjoy the labor of the bees. A group of domestic hogs discovered the farmer’s “honey vinegar”, and happily indulged themselves until they became as “looped” and “frolicsome” as the boys on Saturday night. The mountain lions had a hunger for the goats. Stories tell of a cougar that would lay in wait patiently on a large branch of a tree, for his next meal to pass by. The tree is now called “Cougar Tree”. Today, the grizzlies are, sadly, long gone. The mountain lions, bobcats, deer, coyotes, foxes and quail are still occasional visitors, along with birds from ducks and egrets to the always busy woodpeckers.

One fine autumn day in 1877, two gents went hunting in the upper reaches of Madera Canyon, and came upon some rock that looked like it might be silver ore. The the assay came back showing that it was blue and white quartz, with a silver value of $60 per ton, the claim was called the Southern Belle, the race was on.

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Here’s some great history on Modjeska.

Madame Helena Modjeska

Poland’s greatest actress of all time was Helena Modjeska (1840-1909) who came to Southern California in 1876 with her husband, Charles Bozenta Chlapowski (known in America as Count Bozenta,) and a small group of friends including the future novelist and Nobel laureate, Henryk Sienkiewicz. Their Polish agricultural colony in the little pioneer town of Anaheim was a financial failure in the drought and depression of 1877. Modjeska, however, learned some of her former roles in English and made a sensational stage debut in San Francisco in August of that year. Additional successes in eastern cities helped launch a notable American dramatic career that was to last for thirty years.

Life on the 19th century theatrical circuit, before the days of the motion picture and television, was strenuous and demanding. Bozenta accompanied Modjeska as she and her acting company traveled for nine grueling months each year by railroad, steamship, and horse-drawn vehicle. She played not only in the great theatres of New York and London, but also in the makeshift halls and “opera houses” of rural America.

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