Dave Skeahan's Memories


My father "Al" Skeahan (below) was born (December 15, 1905) in the town of Washington, Nevada County, California (25 miles east of Nevada City) to John Joseph and Evaline Worthley Skeahan. He died June 29, 1970 in Vallejo, California. I was born August 26, 1932 in Grass Valley, California in Jones Memorial Hospital on South Church, the same hospital my mother, Dorthea "Dot" Skeahan was born. We lived on Lincoln Street, a short two block long between Bank Street and Colfax Avenue. My mother's parents, Peter and Helen Sutherland lived on the same street at the corner of Bank Street.

Ok Pool Hall Grass Valley softball team late 1940's. Back L-R: "Al" Skeahan manager, Jocko Pasteris, Norm Daley, Carl Deward, Steve Pelayo, Fred Girard, Fred Langdon. Front L-R: John Denny, Pino Harris, Owner-Scotty McDonald, Ed Cukjati, Lou Savich and the Bat Girl in center is Pino's daughter.

My Grandparents

Helen and Peter Sutherland with Jack and Dave "Bub."

My grandfather Peter Alexander Sutherland was born March 28, 1877 in Nova Scotia Canada, and eventually died May 7, 1949 in Grass Valley. Grandmother Helen May was born (Nov. 11) in Grass Valley where she died January 6, 1948.

Grandfather Pete Sutherland left Nova Scotia, Canada and emigrated west to the lure of gold. He was a stout hardrock miner who stopped in Goldfield and Tonopah, Nevada on his way west before he settled in Grass Valley, California. He lost his first and third finger of his right hand in mining accidents and wore hobnailed boots that protected his leather soles. Hobnails are large headed to protect boots and shoes.

In early 1942 after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 my father Al Skeahan moved our family to Vallejo, California where he worked at Mare Island Naval Shipyard as a pipe fitter. My mother Dorthea Skeahan also worked there during WW2; then when the war ended our family moved back to Grass Valley and lived on Lincoln Street.

Spring Hill and North Star Mine

In the summers of WW2 my brother Jack and I would spend our summer vacations with our grandparents Helen and Pete where they lived on Lincoln Street at the S/W corner of Bank Street. In Pete's later years he was a night watchman at the Spring Hill Mine. The site is now occupied by the Sierra Nevada Memorial hospital. Pete would take me with him on his night shift at the mine. I would go with him on his rounds and he would show me some mining jobs like dipping timbers in a large trough of creosote to preserve the timbers. He would run the rock crusher to break the rocks into smaller pieces before extracting the gold, and when his shift was over we would walk out to the GV/NC highway and take the bus home. Another summer Pete would take me with him to his night watchman job at the North Star Mine on South Mill Street, south of now highway 20 and Boston Ravine. Pete would take me with him and show me how the machine made clay-like tubes that were used to plug the drilled holes in the rock after dynamite was put into them before other miners would light them. (FIRE IN THE HOLE). The clay plugs would come out of the machine like a sausage maker and then cut to certain lengths. These were great experiences and memories for me. Dave Ayres Skeahan - aka "Bub"

The Town of Washington

In the late 1930's I remember going to the town of Washington with our family in our car, a four door sedan, Durant, that was made in Oakland, California. In those days the road from Highway 20 down into Washington was a steep narrow dirt road that has been rerouted. The old road was built by convicts, and came straight down from the top of the ridge, and was very scary looking down into the canyon from the edge of the road.

In the town of Washington was a wooden horse trough in the middle of the street in front of the Hotel and Bar. My fathers house was across the Yuba River just upstream from the bridge. We would go fishing on Poormans Creek near the Ladybug Mine where there was a fork in the creek. There were many ladybugs there...and that is how the mine was named. The road to the mine was scary also with switchbacks that required backing up to turn and go towards the mine. We also went upstream from Washington on the Yuba River beyond Canyon Creek to fish and swim. My Uncle Elbridge Skeahan would Take me there also. Dave Ayres Skeahan - aka "Bub"

The Washington Hotel (above) started with Hessel B. Buisman who was born in Holland in 1827, and arrived in San Francisco in 1850. He originally kept a hotel in the town of Jefferson located near Washington from 1852 to 1857. "Then Buisman built the first hotel on this site in 1857. It was destroyed by fire in August 1867, along with neighboring businesses. Buisman replaced it with a two-story hotel in that same year. In 1887, Buismanís daughter Harminia and her husband, E. T. Worthley (Jack and Dave Skeahan's great grandfather), inherited the hotel, which burned in April 1896. The hotel was called 'The Worthley' or 'Washington Hotel' on the same site as the current hotel. The hotel stable was across the street.

L-R Hessel Buisman, Harmina Buisman Worthley, Elbridge Thaxter Worhley, Charles thaxter Worthley and Amy McKee.

The Hotel's portrait descriptions from left to right. 1- Hessel Bow Buisman. In 1857 he built the Washington Hotel and it burned down along with the whole town ten years later. Buisman rebuilt the hotel into two and a half stories that could accommodate thirty guests. The left side of his face was scared from a mine cave-in that he was able to survive. 2- Harmina Buisman Worthley. When her father Hessel Buisman died, women were not allowed to own property, so the hotel went to Harmina's. husband Elbridge Worthley. Minnie, as she was lovingly referred to, and E.T. ran the hotel in a grand manner for many years. 3- Elbridge Thaxter Worthley. The hotel housed thirty people plus the post office stage line, telephone office and was used for court, political meetings and many other events. After the fire of April 1896 the popular hotel man quickly rebuilt the Worthley/Washington Hotel. He built it much larger with three stories. E.T. sold the Washington Hotel for a fifty dollar gold coin in 1910. 4- Charles Thaxter Worthley and Amy McKee. Charles was a very active gold miner. February 1907, Charles was running the hotel for his father and it was said he would do all he could to accommodate his customers.He advertised "Best and Largest Hotel" Amy McKee Worthley was the daughter of Al and Martha Murphy (Murphy's Flat now Gene's Pine Air Campground).

           ...And the gravesite of Hessel Buisman 1827-1886, Christina 1883-1862, Mathilda 1850-1860, and Marie 1852-1865


California National Guard / World War II Cousins

During World War II the US Army had armored divisions stationed at Camp Beale, now Beale Air Force Base, training for eventual shipment over seas. The Army also had German prisoners of war confiner there.The US soldiers, also known as Tankers, would come up to Grass Valley on a pass dressed in their class A uniforms for some rest and recreation. Some of the local kids would make a shoe-shine box and would offer the soldiers for what ever they could charge, and were called Shoe-shine Boys. Some days the Tankers would come up Hi-way 20 on a training exercise with their associated support vehicles  and go down West Main street to South Auburn Street. Military Police in Jeeps, ( General Purpose Vehicles ) would direct traffic south on South Auburn street to Colfax Avenue then east out of town on the Colfax Hi-way. The tanks And half-tracks had rubber treads so they wouldnt tear the road way and when they turned pieces of rubber would come off of their treads. I don't know how far they went out, but they would return the same way.The tank columns were a great show and like a patriotic  Fourth of July parade for us locals.

In November 1949 while I was in my senior year at Grass Valley High School I enlisted in the California National Guard, company E 184th Infantry Regiment as a rifleman. Our armory was located in the Nevada City High school on Zion street. We were called weekend warriors and Camp Beale [now Beale Air Force base] commandos as some weekends we would stay over  night on saturday for training . One saturday night we " borrowed " a jeep quietly out of the motor pool and drove up Hiway 20 to Grass Valley and joined the crowd cruising down Mill street, up Neal street to South Church street, down West Main to Mill street again. We made about three trips around the block, then decided to get back to Camp Beale  before  we got into more trouble. People were on the sidewalks cheering all the cars and GVPD officer Sproul was walking his beat to maintain control of the crowd. We also  went on a two week  training exercise on the central coast at Camp Roberts and Hunter Ligget in the summer of 1950. I enlisted in the US Navy July 18 1950 and was discharged from the National Guard.

One of my cousins,  Walter O. St. John lived in Nevada City and was a P38 fighter pilot in World War two stationed on the island of Corsica  in the Mediterranean Sea and was in the southern invasion of France. His parents were notified that he was missing in action and his body was never found. The city of Nice France named a street after him in his honor. His brother Terry made a visit to Nice later on and the local people gave him a warm welcome. Walter St. John's name is on the plaque in Pioneer Park with the names of other Nevada City veterans KIA and MIA in WW II.   Another cousin, Howard Clary was in the US Marines and survived the battle of Okinawa. There were many casualties, both civilians and combatants as the Japanese Army would not surrender. The US forces eventually won the battle. I asked Howard once about Okinawa and he was not very talkative about it.  Dave Skeahan, aka "Bub."


Don Wirta, Bob Young and Dave Skeahan, Chuck Johnson -Bob Gere-Dave Skeahan at Hi-way 20 overlook near the Washington turnoff.

And  below at the bridge over  the South Yuba River.

Below...PTandT line truck at Tahoe City and Squaw Valley

Dave S, Bob Oates and George A.in front of FWD line truck on Hi-way 89.

Don Wirta, George Austin and Ernie Pello setting pole.

Notice open telephone line on poles.

Don Wirta and Dave at Tahoe Inn ready to attend George Austin's wedding in Reno.

Skeahan family at Klamath River - Thanksgiving 1974

Skeahan Bar was named after John Joseph Skeahan who was among those searching for gold  in the steep forested mountains along the rugged Klamath River.

Skeahan Bar