Christopher Albert LaTour, the only son of James C. and Arena Cunningham LaTour was born April 14, 1881. He was named for his father's friend Kit Carson with whom his father had come west. James' great grandfather came to America with Lafayette. Arena's father was one of the earliest of the 49ers in Shasta County. They lived in the Shingletown area where Chris and his two older sisters attended Klotz School located on the Emigrant Noble Trail Road.

Chris quit school at twelve to help on the ranch when his father became an invalid. On holidays, he participated in games, especially foot races held at the Shingletown Store. The owners, Bert, Ed, and Al Smith so admired Chris' running that they wanted to send him back east to train for the Olympics but Chris had responsibilities at home.

Bessie Estelle Eldridge was born December 7, 1881 at Greenleaf, Kansas. The family moved to Red Bluff while she was an infant and moved again to Manton when she was about ten years old. Her father, G. W. Eldridge worked at Benton's Sawmill. His right arm was cut off in an accident so Bessie and her brothers and sisters had to help out. Bessie went to work at the Shingletown Hotel.

Chris and Bessie were married January 2, 1906 and went to live with Bessie's parents between Bailey Creek and Rock Creek in the Manton area. Chris was in the cattle business with Bessie's father.

The couple had two daughters:

Bessie Pearl b. January 8, 1907 d. June 1961 m. Dean Branscom -- div; m. Albert Cooledge

Burness Arena b. December 21, 1910 m. Emile Bossen who died of heart trouble m. Ralph Mitchell who died of cancer; m. Daryl Armstrong. a schoolmate.

Chris and Bessie. with baby Bessie Pearl moved to the Bogard place, one mile west of Black Butte and the headwaters of Rancheria Creek which runs through the property. Burness was born at the Ed Head place west of their home. While living at the Bogard place, Chris, John Hall, and Bill Asbury built a schoolhouse. The girls had to ride horseback to and from school and their mother was always at the gate, mornings and evenings, sometimes, in the dark. She worried about the danger of Mountain Lions.

In 1917, they moved to Balls Ferry; Chris wintered his cattle at the Long Ranch South Battle Creek and took them to Humbug Valley in Plumas County for the summer. Two years later the cattle wintered at the Scharsh Place on Lack Creek and summered at Poison Lake in Lassen County. In 1922, a disease hit the herd and Chris sold out and moved the family to Anderson. The next year they moved to Chico where Chris worked with the California Cattlemen's Association.

He continued to buy and sell cattle while farming near Marysville and running the LaTour Hotel, a rooming house, in Yuba City. In 1934, Chris sold the rooming house and bought a card room which he operated until his death, January 13, 1936. Her family sustained Bessie Estelle for the
thirty-three years she survived Chris. She maintained her own home until her death September 29, 1969. Both are entombed in the Sierra Vista Mausoleum in Memorial Park Marysville.

Daughter Burness, lived in Redding with her husband. Daryl Armstrong, a former schoolmate. With the aid of modern technology, she conducted her business in Marysville.

Source: Shasta Historical Society - August 1994

Biography Index