The heart of Ishi Country is the Mill and Deer Creek drainages, but since it is believed that the Yahi people traveled well beyond these drainages for trade, and sometimes for raids, Ishi Country is defined much more broadly. It is considered here to include all of the foothill country between Highway 36E on the north and the Tehama County line on the south. The eastern boundary should be considered the Childs Meadows-Deer Creek Meadows area. It is believed that the Yahi did travel south into Butte County on occasion to a limited extent. Ishi’s lonely final trek as far south as Oroville was definitely unusual.
This book is not primarily about Ishi himself, or his people, the Yahi, but about his homeland, called Ishi Country, and what has happened there over the years since the Yahi disappeared.
This book consists of a collection of articles about Ishi Country, partly new material and partly reprints of articles from the Memories of the Tehama County Genealogical and Historical Society, published since 1983. It is divided into four parts: “Indian Tales”; “Trail Tales”; “Lumbering, Flume, and Related Tales”; and “More Tales.” “Trail Tales” includes articles related to the Lassen Trail, the Old Emigrant Road over Morgan Summit, sheep and cattle trails, and the trail along Mill Creek. “Lumbering and Flume Tales” is the longest part since the lumbering history of Ishi Country is extensive and is still going on. “More Tales” is a catch-all section that includes articles that didn’t seem to fit elsewhere. The subjects there vary from the Belle Mill Cemetery to the several past hydropower proposals for the area, none of which materialized.
The book is rich with stories, maps, charts, and historical photos.
Tales of Ishi Country by Gene Serr
Gene Serr first became fascinated by the Ishi story when Theodora Kroeber's book, Ishi in Two Worlds, came out in 1961. He and his wife Nancy joined a weekend Sierra Club backpack trip into Deer Creek canyon, where he first saw some of Ishi's remote homeland. In 1966 he was transferred by the California Department of Water Resources from Sacramento, where he worked as a planning engineer, to a new district office in Red Bluff. He became well acquainted with the upper Mill Creek area on hiking and fishing trips. Gene and Nancy eventually bought a cabin at Mineral and would spend as much time there as possible.
When Gene retired in 1988 he became active in the Tehama County Genealogical and Historical Society. He researched and wrote many articles for their annual Memories, including several related to the lumbering flume history of what has become known as Ishi Country. He served as editor or co-editor of Memories for about ten years.
Gene keeps as busy as he feels like on various historical research projects. He hopes that people enjoy this collection of articles on Ishi Country.