Simeon Fisher Southern and the Hazel Creek area

Author: Jeremy Tuggle – Education and Community Engagement Manager – Shasta Historical Society

Simeon Fisher Southern, a native of Stephensburg, Kentucky, was born to Stephen Fisher Southern and Rebecca (Duncan) Southern, on September 6, 1822. As a boy, Simeon grew up on his father’s farm as a farmhand assisting his father when he wasn’t attending school.

Southern was often referred to by the nickname of “Sims”. He became well-educated during his adolescence. He became a well-respected man during his lifetime.  Later in life, he departed Kentucky, leaving his family behind, and traveled America living in the following states: Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Utah before venturing west to California where he settled at Shasta about 1854. 

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Then in, 1855, Southern partnered with Charles F. Louis, another resident of Shasta, to own and operate the Eagle hotel which became the newest hostelry in the Queen City of the North, Shasta. His business ethics made his hostelry flourish with success against the more upscale hotels along Main Street during this era.

It wasn’t long before he found time to court an elegant woman named Sarah Emma Lafferty, also a Kentucky native, and the daughter of Thomas Lafferty and Elizabeth (Smith) Lafferty. By January of 1856, Simeon appears to have been operating the Eagle hotel by himself without the assistance of Charles F. Louis. 

Above: an advertisement for the Eagle hotel at Shasta proprietors: S.F. Southern and C.F. Louis. From the Shasta Courier newspaper edition of September 22, 1855.  

Simeon and Sarah’s romance continued to blossom, and they were married on February 26, 1856 at Shasta by E.K. Shed, Esq., a close personal friend and business partner of Simeon Southern.   Earlier that year, Southern and Shed purchased the St. Charles hotel on Main Street at Shasta. This was Southern’s second hostelry that he owned, a third hostelry was leased by him which was called the Empire hotel. It was located on Main Street at French Gulch and he operated this hotel with S.F. Black until 1858 when Simeon and Sarah decided to relocate from Shasta to Dog Creek in the Sacramento River Canyon.   

After settling at Dog Creek, Southern went into partnership with J.S. Cameron in operating the Dog Creek House, a little inn which proved successful due to the travelers of the Sacramento River Road, heading north and south bound through the canyon. Southern was elected as Justice of the Peace of the Sugar Loaf Township, which included Dog Creek and Hazel Creek. Simeon and Sarah later moved north to Hazel Creek where Southern erected a log cabin style building combined with a trading post on a plateau overlooking Hazel Creek which he owned and operated.  

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Sarah assisted her husband in the hotel as well. Simeon Southern eventually enlarged his building into a two-story wooden structure with luxurious and comfortable rooms for his guests. He also kept livestock at Sweetbrier in 1860, which he ended up owing $5.91 in delinquent taxes that year. He also built a mule corral on the hotel property at Hazel Creek.  

Hazel Creek received its name from the many Hazelnut bushes which grew along the channel of the creek. Southern was not the first resident of Hazel Creek there were other people before him. In 1855, Hazel Creek was the site of lucrative gold strikes. Now Southern was enhancing the area. There were still mining claims nearby which were extensively mined when the Southerns moved there in 1859.  

Above: people on the upper balcony and on the lower balcony and ground floor pose for a photograph at Southern’s Hotel and Stage Station on H:azel Creek, date unknown. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.  

In 1867, the miners at Hazel Creek were finding very course pieces of gold sometimes mixed with quartz and weighing from an ounce to fifty dollars in value while ground sluicing the area. One of the advantages these miners had compared to other mining localities was the amount of free water from Hazel Creek which made the extraction process easier. The area was considered as very deep diggings in a rocky area which made it harder to mine the ore. Most of the miners spent their findings at Southern’s trading post usually on new mining equipment and supplies they needed.  

Two years later in July of 1869, an excerpt of an article from the Shasta Courier newspaper reported the following account regarding Hazel Creek: “Hazel Creek which empties into the Sacramento on the east side just opposite of Southern’s Store, is paying better this season then it has for a number of years. McKenzie & Garret, Johnson & Co., Keaton brothers, and a number of others are making from $3 to $5 per day, to the hand. The gravel and dirt on this creek is of a burnt reddish hue and contains any amount of porous quartz, some of which is very rich in free gold.”  

In 1871, Southern’s hotel became a prominent stage stop along the Sacramento River Road for the Greathouse Company of Shasta. This company was owned by George L. Greathouse, a brother-in-law of Sarah (Lafferty) Southern. Sometimes it was referred to as Southern’s Station. About this time, it was reported that the Hazel Creek mines in the area were playing out and miners were getting unfavorable results. Southern, who had some mining claims of his own in the area proved the local media wrong about Hazel Creek, and it was then, that the Shasta Courier newspaper wrote the following column in October of that year:  

FROM HAZEL CREEK – S.F. Southern came in town Wednesday from Hazel Creek bringing undoubted evidence that the mines of that section are “giving out”, in the shape of some well-filled purses of gold dust and a number of nice specimens.” (SIC)  

Another interesting column about Simeon Southern appeared in the Shasta Courier newspaper edition of October 18, 1873, which reports the following: “S. Southern, of Southern’s station, came down this week to do a little trading with our wholesale merchants. Times have been hard in Sim’s locality lately, and he could only bring down about ten pounds of gold dust this trip.”   

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During their union together Simeon Fisher Southern and Sarah Emma (Lafferty) Southern had the following children born to them:   

  1. Ada Southern (1858-?)
  2. William F. Southern (1859-1935) 
  3. Ida Mae Southern (1864-1928))
  4. Mae Hazel Southern (1867-1943) [Note: She became the first President of the Shasta Historical Society in Redding.]
  5. Sarah A. Southern (1868-?)
  6. Elzey Thomas Southern (1870-1932)
  7. Fannie Emma Southern (1872-1948)
  8. Nellie Belle Southern (1875-1908)
  9. Jeanette Southern (1877-1908)
  10. Simeon Fisher Southern Jr. (1879-1893)  

During the latter part of September, in 1880, the 19th President of the United States Of America, Rutherford B. Hayes and his party consisting of First Lady, Lucy Ware (Webb) Hayes, General W.T. Sherman, and General Phillip Sheridan registered to stay at Southern’s hotel after visiting Redding from Chico which won Simeon Southern’s hostelry some praise in national media coverage due to the president’s campaign tour in California.  

The presidential party were on their way north from Redding to Yreka but they decided to make a stop overnight at Southern’s hotel. The whole family met the entire presidential party that day. Simeon “Sims” Fisher Southern died on December 6, 1892 at Hazel Creek.   

In 1902, Southern’s hotel and Stage Station were sold to timbering interests by Sarah (Lafferty) Southern, who controlled her husbands estate at the time. She sold out to Knight & Shelbey who erected the first sawmill in the Hazel Creek area. The area became known as Sims after Sarah’s husband and Hazel Creek retained its name. Sarah (Lafferty) Southern then relocated south to Redding, when she survived her husband by twenty-seven years before she died.   

Above: this is the Sims Schoolhouse at Sims with its students and teacher posing for a photograph. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.  

At Sims, Knight & Shelbey had a small logging operation on location. They were transporting logs by horses and steam donkeys to their water-powered sawmill. Water was taken from Hazel Creek to operate it. A year later, in 1903, a new company came to fruition called Sims Lumber Company which had purchased the sawmill property and logging interests from Knight & Shelbey.   

During the decade of the 1910’s Sim’s became a campground for the California Highway Commission who was overseeing a series of surveys in the area for the north valley highway systems. It brought renewed activity to the area. In 1911, Southern’s hotel and Stage Station became a tourist attraction due to its lucrative and vast mining history in the area. The demise of this hotel was not recorded, its unknown how long it stood. Sims Lumbering Company continued logging operations at Sims until 1913 when they sold out to George Ralph & Sons.     

Above: built out of box cars and situated along the railroad tracks was the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot at Sims. Circa 1910. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.  

Above: Sims became the campground for the employees of the California Highway Commission during their survey’s of north valley highway systems in 1913. The California Highway Commission was established in 1895 as the main state highway bureaucracy in California. It was the predecessor of the California Transportation Commission which organized and replaced it in 1978. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.   

The Ralph’s enhanced the area with a new logging railroad to their sawmill  They also erected a water tank for their small steam locomotive which needed to fill its engine with water to transport the logs to and from the sawmill. In 1919, the Shasta Mill & Lumber Company purchased this sawmill and continued production in the area.  

Between 1933 and 1939, Sims was called Camp Sims by the Civilian Conservation Corps which utilized the area as a camp ground for their crews. A plaque was placed at Sims which state the following: “With its wooded valley and beautiful river setting, Sims, was a haven to the boys from Company 978 who came from the busy cities of San Francisco, Oakland and other Bay Area communities.  

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Camp Sims, like other CCC camps was administered and built by the U..S. Army. But it was the Forest Service who was in charge of actual work projects. Besides fire fighting, the boys from Camp Sims gained a real reputation for building three fire lookouts-Sims, Bradley, and Sugar Loaf, constructing part of Everett Memorial Highway, and building Panther Meadows [on the upper slopes of Mt. Shasta.]”  

In 1933, a bridge was built to provide fire protection on the east side of the Sacramento River at Sims.  Today, Sims is designated as a historic site in Shasta County which features an easy walking trail and fishing access. Sims Road off Interstate 5 in the Sacramento River Canyon also retains its name in honor of Simeon Fisher Southern.   

Above: this plaque states the following: “This tablet marks the location of the famous Southern Hotel and Stage Station the original building was a log cabin built in 1859. During a half century many noted people who made early California history were entertained here in this hotel. Dedicated to the memory of Simeon Fisher Southern and his wife Sarah Lafferty Southern pioneers of the gold trail 1849-1855. Erected by their daughters May H. and Fannie E. Southern, May 30, 1931. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 17, 2020.

RESOURCES:

  • Married – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, March 1, 1856
  • Births – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, April 9, 1859
  • 1860 U.S. Census
  • Delinquent Taxes – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, December 8, 1860
  • California Voters Register, 1866
  • Hazel Creek – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, August 31, 1867
  • Soda And Hazel Creeks – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, October 19, 1867
  • Upper Sacramento Items – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, March 20, 1869
  • Upper Sacramento Items – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, July 10, 1869
  • 1870 U.S. Census
  • Items – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, February 18, 1871
  • From Hazel Creek – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, October 14, 1871
  • Brief Mentions – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, October 18, 1873
  • 1880 U.S. Census
  • The Presidential Party Among the Hydraulic Mines – The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper of Sacramento, September 25, 1880
  • President Hayes At Yreka – The Humboldt Times newspaper of Eureka, September 28, 1880
  • California, Pioneer and Immigrant Files, 1790-1950, for Simeon Fisher Southern.
  • May H. Southern’s scrapbook’s. Nine binders. Unpublished personal and researched material compiled by Southern.
  • Our Storied Landmarks – Shasta County, California, written by May H. Southern, published by Balakshin Printing Company, ©1942.
  • My Playhouse Was A Concord Coach, an anthology of newspaper clippings and documents relating to those who made California history during the years 1822-1888, by Mae Hélène Bacon Boggs. Published by Howell-North Press ©1942
  • Shasta Historical Society Pioneer Record: Simeon Fisher Southern, dated May 8, 1943.
  • SP-035, SOUTHERN, Simeon F., Pioneer Plaque Program File, available at the Shasta Historical Society.
  • Shasta Historical Society – Genealogical Records 7-59: Southern, Simeon Fisher.
  • Shasta County, California A History by Rosena Giles, published by Biobooks, ©1949
  • Place Names of Shasta County by Gertrude Steiger, published by La Siesta Press, ©1966
  • U.S., Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971

Meet the writer: Jeremy M. Tuggle
Education and Community Engagement Manager – Shasta Historical Society

Jeremy M. Tuggle, born in Redding, is a descendant of 11 pioneer families who settled Shasta County between 1849-1889. Jeremy attended Shasta College and is the author of two published books, Rooted in Shasta County (2003), and A Journey Through Time: Ono and the Bald Hills (2008), as well as various articles on local history.

In 2017 Mr. Tuggle was awarded a Community Service Award, a prestigious national award for community service in historic preservation, by the Major Pierson B. Reading Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Jeremy is a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of California, and an Eagle Scout.

Tuggle has been employed at the Shasta Historical Society since November of 2009.   In his present role as Education & Community Engagement Manager, Jeremy conducts research for the historical society’s programs and events, contributes to the Society’s social media presence, and ensures the highest quality guest and patron experience at our programs and community events.

Mr. Tuggle enjoys sharing his knowledge of local history and events, and is available to community organizations to present programs about Shasta County history.  


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Contact the editor: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.

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