FREDERICK DERSCH one of the prominent early settlers of Shasta County, was born in Bavaria, Germany, March 29, 1833. He learned the blacksmith’s trade in Germany, came to the United States in 1850, and worked on the New York & Erie Railroad and at the locomotive machine shops in Rochester, and afterward in the machine shops at Detroit, Michigan. He then steamboated from New Orleans to St. Louis, and in 1853 started from Lexington, Missouri, to cross the plains to California. He drove cattle and sheep across the plains. Mr. Dersch came with Major and Colonel Ross, and they got across with their stock safely; but Captain Gunnison, who was only a few days before them, was killed. They went through to Los Angeles, arriving in December, 1853. It was then a small Mexican adobe village. From there he went to San Francisco and did farm work for Captain Simpson a few months. Next he engaged in mining at Auburn, Placer County, making an average of ten dollars every day he worked. He prospected all through that country, and in June, 1855, went to Shasta County, and mined on Whisky Creek, remaining there until 1861, and making sometimes as high as one and two hundred dollars per day; and here he met with the loss of his sight by an accident. He was obliged to sell his claim and settle on a farm. He purchased a rich piece of land on Bear Creek of 160 acres, for which he paid $2,700. In 1863 he took his brother, George Dersch, in as a partner and they were together until 1875, in the sheep business, and it proved a successful enterprise. They kept as many as 4,000 sheep at a time, when his brother sold out. Mr. Dersch took his nephew, Fred Dersch, into partnership, and they purchased 5,000 acres of land adjoining, and have continued the sheep and stock business since. They have run as high as 13,000 sheep. Their land extended four miles along Bear Creek. In 1862, soon after he settled on the land, a band of Indians raided his place and took away his horses, the cow and the potatoes. A party pursued them, but they got away. In 1866 the Indians again raided them, with more fearful consequences. There were on the ranch at that time Mrs. George Dersch, her daughter, a six year-old child, and her son, Fred Dersch, then eleven years of age, and Mr. Frederich Dersch. The latter was in the orchard gathering peaches with the children. They heard rapid firing in the house, and soon Mrs. Dersch ran out of the house and got over the fence into the orchard. They went to help her and she discovered that she was shot. Mr. Dersch had a bed back in the orchard where he slept in the summer, and while they were going back the Indians kept firing at them, and the sand and dirt flew around them so fast that the little girl said they were firing sand at them. Fred ran to a neighbor’s for help. The Indians ransacked the house and carried off the blankets, bedding and other valuables, including a razor on which Mr. Dersch’s name, and two rifles. As soon as they could get a doctor, he came and pronounced the wound fatal. She had been shot twice in the abdomen, and in three days death ended her suffering.
A company of neighbors organized and made pursuit. Rudolph Klots had charge of the company and the following men participated in it: Fred Schuler, Bill Pool, John Spencer and two men from Cow Creek. The Indians were overtaken at night on Antelope Creek some thirty-five miles away, surrounded, and at daylight the whites shot seven of them and got back a part of the things, including the razor; so that they knew they had found the right ones.
first house which Mr. Dersch built on his property was of logs. He
afterward built the house where his wife was killed. This was taken
down, and in 1870 their present stone house was built. They boy Fred
has now become one of the most successful stock-raisers in the country. He owns a large ranch, and has visited Germany and married a nice German
wife. They live on the old ranch where they have spent so many years;
and their uncle, the subject of this sketch, lives with them. Notwithstanding
he has been deprived of his sight for so long, he has been very successful,
and is the owner of a fine property.
Source: Memorial & Biographical History of Northern
California, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1891
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler