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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
September 22, 2010     Feather River Bulletin
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September 22, 2010

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Bulletin; Progressive, Record, Reporter Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010 1B I INSIDE SECTION B: EDITORIAL AND OPINION * UPCOMING EVENTS t Betty Ramelli told the histo- ry -- as much as is known -- of the earliest women to set- tle Sierra Valley after Jim Beckwourth discovered a lower pass through the Sier- ra Nevada. Beckwourth, Ramelli noted, had 11 wives many of them at the same time. His last wife, Sue, a Native American woman, came to live in the area and ran the Beck- wourth's Trading Post. Most of the women who settled Sierra Valley came as teach- ers and stayed to become ranchers' wives. Photos by Di- "ann Jorgenson Betty Dellera, a spirited woman wlldl~as~vorkecr;~ev: eral jobs at a time for much of her life, showed off her new "hobby": Sierra Valley Volunteer Fire Department firefighter. Dellera has passed on her pioneering Spirit and sense of communi- ty: Her daughter and grand- daughter are also Sierra Val- ley firefighters. Kathleen Goicoechea calls herself a "newcomer's new- comer." She has only ranched with her husband, Dave, in Sierra Valley for 20 years. "Tm living the dream in Sierra Valley," she said. Diana Jorgenson ranches have been in contin- for qualifying females to at- Portola Editor UOUS family ownership fortend Mills College. To this 150 years: families with day, the main fundraisingthe names like Ramelli, Guidici Plumas Sierra CattleWomen When Plumas Sierra:Cattle ,. : and Dotta. do is for the purpose ofschol- Women looked to history The first white woman to arships to local youth. books and written accounts settle the valley was Mrs. T, This article can do little for the story of the women in Maddox in 1852, who gave more than highlight the infor- the Sierra Valley, they found birth to a daughter in the mation and stories of the six little mention made of spring of 1853. Ramelli de- women who shared their women. When they prepared scribed a lonely and hard life lives that afternoon, so many a presentation on women in for those early women. By the of Ella Miles' wonderful sto- the valley, they looked to 1860s. settlement increased, ries will be passed by, regret- their own stories and those of and along with families came fully, for they were wonderful their mothers and their moth- the need for schools, stories. ers before them for the inspi- Ramelli said early schools Miles was born EUa Rober- ration and the detail to create were very adaptable in those ti and she and her brother, a living history. They found days. They closed and opened Elmer, grew up on the Rober- ample material, as needed. If a family had a ti Ranch in Sierra Valley. In The CattleWomen part- great many school-age chil- its beginnings, it was a dairy nered with the Soroptimists dren, they would drag theand Miles drew from her rec- of Portola to depict "A His- school a mile or two closer ollections, as well as her toric and Personal View of down the road to accommo-grandmother's memories to Women in the Valley," held date the family, paint a picture of what life Sept. 11 at the historic Sierra Although there were many was like, selling butter and Valley Grange Hall, built in schools throughout the valley cheeses to the miners in Vir- 1934. in the course of its history, ginia City. The tea attracted more than Ramelli examined Summit Miles described the tedious 80 women and a handful of School in detail. The building process of butter making, the men, who enjoyed the stories is a familiar sight along High- wonderful odors of cheeses in and the recreation of another way 70 near Vinton. Original- the cellar and her f mUy' time offeredl~y tFie six spe~k- ly it Stood in Summit, now adventures in winemaking. ers. called Chilcoot, but was Perhaps, the most telling The CattleWomen not only moved to a great many differ- story was: "Grandma had a brought their stories, they ent sites before landing at its big apron. That apron carried brought their heirlooms, current location, her vegetables from the gar- their family photo albums, Twenty-two teachers den, the wood from the wood- their working utensils and taught at Summit School, all shed, the grain out of the gra- pieces of their lives, but one were women. The nary to feed the chickens. The six speakers came from women were paid $55 per "Ladies, that apron did several generations: The month; the man was paid $68. everything. It could wipe our women have lived in the val- One of the early teacherstears away. She always car- ley for most, if not all of their was Nellie Williams, who lat- ried little red and white mint lives, er married Rudolph Ramelli candies and if we were good, Betty Ramelli married into and became the mother of she'd give us one. She was a one oftheoldest families to Ted Ramelli, Betty's husband, wonderful, wonderful lady." settle in Sierra Valley. A1- Many of the teachers mar-Miles described the arrival though she worked at Sierra ried ranchers and became the of the inspectors. Inspectors Welding for 40 years, she mothers of Sierra first required a separate worked the ranch in the That singular characteris- dairy building, with aerators evening and weekends, tic had long reaching implica- to cool the milk quickly, and "I did my share of time on tions. First, it meant the a steam room to sterilize the the tractors and the women in the valley were ed- equipment. The Roberti fami- swathers," she said. ucated, an unusual state for ly did that. Ramelli recounted the ear- women indeed, anyone of Then the inspector said liest history with Jim Beck- that time period and it they had to build a barn onto wourth opening Sierra Valley meant those women valued the dairy. They did that too. to an influx of Irish, French passing along knowledge. But then, the inspector and Swiss Italian settlers in It meant the Ramelli family wanted everything to be 1851, with his discovery of a housed a branch of the Quin- stainless steel: Stainless steel lower pass through the moun- cy library in their home for pipes to carry the milk direct- tains, more than 75 years, ly from the cow to the expen- It was the Swiss who stayed It meant that to this day, sive stainless steel tank. and became dairy farmers, there is a permanent scholar- "It was just too expensive then ranchers. Some of the ship at Loyalton High School for the little guy to do that so Plumas Sierra CattleWomen gathered at the Sierra Valley Grange Hall to tell the stories of their lives as ranching women. The group has been promoting the beef industry for 45 years and has 90 members. From left: Maureen Kimberling, Claudia Barnes, Betty Ramelli, Betty Dellera, Lacey Maddalena, president Pamela Payen, Kathleen Goicoechea, Ella Miles, Joleen Torri, Delia Bonta and Shirley Wiggin. we went out of the dairy busi- ness. I can still see my mom- my crying when the cows went to market.., she loved her cows," said Miles. All the Swiss Italian farm- ers in Sierra Valley went oat of the dairy business, and ranching came to the valley. Betty Dellera described the hard life of ranching in Sier- ra Valley, where outside jobs are frequently needed just to support the ranch. Dellera is a spunky woman and is not afraid to try any- thing. As the daughter of ranchers, she learned early on that the men working out- side during hay season made $3/day while the women working in the house made $2. "I took the $3 and learned to drive a tractor," she said. She met her husband, Har- ry, at the very Grange Hall they were in, when she was 16 and in the intervening years, the couple raised four chil- dren in the valley. R aachin she re_ l iL,. was a bUSY !~e~ and a hard one, but she |oved it. Both of the Delleras worked other jobs, she at Wiggins Trading Post, Harry as a carpenter. Later they both ran the Chilcoot Frostee. The family pulled together as a unit and she credits ranching with See Ranch, page 14B Ella Miles, who will mark her 90th birthday at a special cel- ebration at the Grange Hall in October, recounted won- derful stories of her early life growing up on the Roberti Ranch with her brother Elmer. Cattlewoman Kath- leen Goicoechea paid tribute to Miles, saying she was known as the "Aunt Bea" of Sierra Valley, an allusion to the television character in Mayberry, Andy Griffith's show. Lacey Maddalena represents the newest generation of ranching--women and ex- presses no less determina- tion than her forbearers. Much has not changed: She finds it necessary to have an- other iob to help support the of a rancher, but keeps these outside jobs inside the cattle industry. Her love for the land has also not changed over the years. Maddalena participated in the "Passion for the Land" storytelling DVD. You can learn more about this movie by calling the county agricul- ture department. Many of the CattleWomen brought interesting memorabilia to the Soroptimist-CattleWomen Tea, which added a hands-on re- ality to the stories of long ago. Betty Dellera brought many items that were part of ranching women's lives then and now and has an amazing collection of magazines from the early 1900s in her attic -- an attic she finds impossible to sort through because she is always waylaid by an interesting old magazine she has yet to read. Betty Ramelli made a beautiful display of old family photos, historical artifacts and family heirlooms. The Ramelli family has ranched on the outskirts of Vinton for many generations, but Betty calls herself a newcomer to Sierra Valley: She married in- to the family only 55 years ago.