Historian Jeremy Tuggle’s Family Legacy in Shasta County
Story and Photos by Richard DuPertuis
Hard at work, a Shasta Historical Society staff member searches quickly through the years. He pulls out a drawer containing letters from Shasta County’s long ago. He forages through its contents with hands gloved to protect delicate, hand-written historical documents. And during this research, historian Jeremy Tuggle is mindful he is searching through his own history.
“I’m working on an article on early express companies,” he explains as he turns to a microfilm reader, its screen showing a page from the Shasta Courier (1852-1872). The article will publish as one of his weekly blog entries for the Redding Record Searchlight. The page he has up is from 1854. He snaps a picture of it with his phone.
At this moment, Tuggle is aiming a 21st century digital device at a 20th century film reader to capture details of a story written in the 19th century. At this moment, he looks back to the early days of Shasta County, back to the time his great-great-great-great-great grandfather hauled goods with horse and carriage back and forth between Sacramento and the town now known as Old Shasta.
His family has populated the region ever since. And it’s a big family, with local roots sunk in eight generations deep. “I come from 11 Shasta County pioneer families recognized by the Shasta Historical Society,” Tuggle announces proudly. All of these ancestors arrived in the Shasta County area in the mid- to late 1800s.
The first was Walter William Scott, who came from the east coast in search of gold in the Sacramento area, but found little. He was hired by Callaghan Block, and hauled food and mining supplies to Shasta in 1849, about the time of the birth of Shasta County. Scott purchased land on North Cow Creek, near Bella Vista, but Tuggle says, “He and his wife, Elizabeth, always considered the Sacramento area their home.”
Meanwhile, Joseph Gray, finished with his service in the Mexican War, headed north. “Family lore says he walked from Mexico City to San Gabriel,” says Tuggle. From there, his great-great-great-great grandfather drifted further upstate, arriving in the Sacramento region in 1849. He settled in Yolo County, where he met Scott’s daughter, Annie. They married in 1872, the year a railroad town site in Shasta County was named Redding.
Eventually, the Grays left Yolo and moved in with Scott at the homestead on Cow Creek. They raised 12 children, and the family grew quickly from there. Six generations later, Tuggle says, “Our family is so big, we lose track of who’s who in the family. I’m related to half of Shasta County, pretty much.”
To track what family he could, Tuggle wrote two books that simultaneously explore histories of his ancestry and of Shasta County, “Rooted in Shasta County” and “A Journey Through Time, Ono and the Bald Hills.” In the latter, Tuggle adds a new story to the tales told to explain the origin of the name of the town Ono.
The town was called Eagle Creek, but when the townsfolk wanted a post office, they found that name was already taken. Unable to decide on a new name among themselves, they took the matter to the town’s Baptist minister, Tuggle’s 1883 ancestor William Samuel Kidder.
“He was one of the most respected citizens,” Tuggle notes from his book. “He went to the Bible, Nehemiah 6:2, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. And they accepted it. My great-great-great grandfather named the town.”
Tuggle can find his ancestral names Kidder, Meyer and Tuggle labeling land plotted on an 1864 map of Shasta County. He can visit a vacant lot in Old Shasta where once stood the Callaghan Block building, the one his great-great-great-great-great grandfather Scott delivered to in the town’s gold mining heyday.
Today, Tuggle lives next door to the Kidder-Tuggle house, a Redding historical landmark, with wife of 10 years, Leah, and his great-grandmother, Doris Doll Davis. “My mother was Annie Erva Meyer,” says 95-year-old Davis, referring to a portrait hanging above her. Completing the chain, Tuggle says Meyer was the daughter of Grace, the 12th child from the Gray family of North Cow Creek.
Tuggle says that all generations of this line were born in Redding, from Annie to Doris to grandmother Nancy (deceased) to his mother Cindy to himself. Finally, there’s a new branch on the family tree, a ninth Shasta generation, represented in this household by son Carson Kidder Tuggle.
Carson, age 7, doesn’t seem that excited by his many and deep roots in his homeland, but he does have an idea where he wants to take the family next. “I want to be a teacher,” he says. “I want to teach science and math.”
It’s easy to imagine this boy picking up an interest in history.