Sunday, April 26, 2009

William Chalfant

The Chalfant family were early pioneers to the Owens Valley, arriving in 1870. As journalists, Pleasant A. Chalfant and William Chalfant (father and son) owned and edited the Inyo Register. William Chalfant went on to write several books including the first area history, The Story of Inyo.

For a history of William Chalfant, see the website Owens Valley History at

For his obituary see the US Genweb site for Inyo County at

Pictures of his and his parent's gravestone at the East Line Cemetery in Bishop are on page 31 of my book, Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra. You can see this page via Google Books at

An article about William Chalfant can be found in the April 1943 issue of Desert Magazine, available at

Monday, April 6, 2009

The People of Bodie

If you are interested in an early settler of Bodie, check out the list of people at the Bodie Foundation's website at You can also fill out a form to add information about your Bodie relative. This information will assist in putting together a genealogical database of the residents of Bodie.

This website also has a list of businesses and organizations of Bodie as well as other information about Bodie. There is also some Bodie cemetery information.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lundy, California

I received the 2009 newsletter for the Mono County Historical Society the other day. Each newsletter is based on a theme that is researched and written using their vast holdings and information from local historians. This year's newsletter was about the mining community of Lundy.

One of the things Lundy is known for is the avalanche of 1911. This avalanche killed 15 people. When Bodie lost power, which came from the Jordon Power Plant, next to Lundy, it was discovered that 4 million tons of snow slide and destroyed the concrete power plant. It took 12 hours for the rescue party to arrive from Bodie.

On a hill overlooking where the power plant once was is a small cemetery where some of the victims of the avalanche were laid to rest.

Denise Flynn, the coordinator of the Mono County US Genweb site helped solve a mystery having to do with the Jordan Power Plant. She details the search initiated by a modern day family from Sweden who wondered what happened to their relative who in 1911 lived in Mono County. His story and Denise's work in letting the family know of his demise in the avalanche is at I love this story and the testament to how genealogists do bring families together and closure in some cases.

Information on the Mono County Historical Society, and transcriptions of past newsletters can be found at Denise's Genweb site at,

The Historical Society has a great museum that serves as a place to learn more about Mono County but also a treasure trove for researchers. Check it out at I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge their extreme kindness and help to me as I was writing my book.

Monday, February 23, 2009

George Parker obit

The following obit ran in the Inyo Independent for 6 April 1872.


At Camp Independence Cal., April 5th 1872, George Parker, aged 31 years, a native of Vermont and Lieutenant1st Vt. Vol. Infantry in the war of the rebellion.

Monday, February 16, 2009

1872 Lone Pine Earthquake

The 1872 Lone Pine earthquake occurred on 28 March 1872. The 30 March 1872 issue of the Inyo Independent included the following headlines:

The magnitude 7.4 earthquake pretty much destroyed the city of Lone Pine, due to the largely adobe construction of the homes there. 52 out of 59 homes were destroyed. To read more from the US Geological Survey see which includes a picture of the fault. John Muir described what it was like to be in that earthquake. His observations are posted at

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake is estimated to have been just a little stronger, anywhere from 7.7 and up. San Francisco suffered more devestation (people killed, the fires, etc) because of its larger population.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Nellie W Shepherd, died 1884

At Shepherd’s Ranch, May 5th, 1884.
Nellie W., youngest daughter of John and Margaret Shepherd; aged 3 years, 5 months and 12 days.

In Memoriam

(To Little Nell, late daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Shepherd)

A change has come, ah, sad indeed,
‘Tis hard, Oh God, to understand
The depth of what Thou hast decreed,
The mighty working of Thy hand.

Poor little Nell has flown away.
‘Tis strange, though sad and true.
The same impressions came to-day,
That Dickens truly did review.

Her face enraptured with a smile,
Will ne’er on earth, with childish bliss,
Be upward turned as to beguile
All trials with a parent’s kiss.

A father’s arm was powerless,
A mother’s love-it could not save,
With all the weight of keen distress
Dear Nellie from an early grave.

A sister’s or a brother’s love,
Entwined by Nature’s mystic hand,
Could not retrain the fleeing dove.
That sought and found the Promised Land.

Gone from this mysterious sphere,
Ah, well perhaps ‘tis better so,
For God knows best. Poor little dear,
Is safer there than here below.

The holy angels in heaven above,
Will touch the golden harps for thee,
With voices sweet in tones of love,-
Oh, happy will the meeting be.

God bless thee, child, thy spirit sang
Hath gone to Him who gave it thee;
All free and like a dew drop pure,
To Him who said, “Come unto Me.”

Farewell sweet child, we leave thee now
To better care than earth e’er
A;; Seraphim will welcome thee,
And prove a triumph o’er the grave.

***From the scrapbook of Eva See Shepherd, 1881.
Unknown newspaper article, unknown date.
Available from the Eastern California Museum, Independence, CA

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sheriff William L. Moore

Sheriff William L Moore, also known as "Dad" was a pioneer of Lone Pine. He also served as it's sheriff until he was killed in the line of duty. Ironically enough, he had become sheriff when the previous sheriff was killed in the line of duty.

To read about his murder, consult the Officer Down Memorial Page at Other pieces of information about him can be found at and

His obituary appeared in the Inyo Independent 5 July 1879. I've transcribed it below:

The funeral- No better estimate of the very great esteem in which our deceased Sheriff William L. Moore, was universally held need to be offered than the fact that scarce a soul throughout the extent of the valley who could possibly get here but was here to-day to follow his remains to their last resting place-more especially is this true of those who, all of men, knew him best, his fellow pioneers. Though many of these and others were compelled to drive most of the night to reach here in time, they came, and from the most distant as well as every intermediate locality for sixty miles in either direction. With these came every member, able for the journey, of the Masonic order, of which deceased was a most worthy brother. The Pioneers and Masons all appeared in suitable badges and full regalia respectively, the latter conducting the ceremonies according to the rites of the order. Here, we may remark that this is the first time in the history of this Masonic Lodge that it has ever, as a lodge, been called upon to perform a mournful duty for a deceased brother, and, that in consequence, to most of the brethren the peculiar duties of the hour were quite as new as sad, and they were certainly sad enough. But the writer, who is not of the order, feels constrained to say that the beautiful yet mournful rites were rendered as if by veterans in their practice as well as love for their deceased brother-a fact no doubt largely due to the ability and impressive reading by their Worshipful Master, Judge Conklin. The concourse was doubly the largest ever witnessed in this place, yet scores were not present for no other reason than it was impossible for them to obtain any conveyances. Deceased leaves no wife or children to mourn his loss, or other near relatives resident on this coast save an inconsolable brother, J. J. Moore, our highly respected Under Sheriff and ex-Sheriff; but in lein of nearer ones “Dad” leaves an entire community to most sincerely mourn his untimely and tragic death. But he died as he had lived-fulfilling his duty. What better tribute than that for any man or officer?