John Nielsen, the son of Frederick and Carolyn Diestelhorst Nielsen, was born May 15, 1896 in Redding. His father emmigrated from Denmark and married the daughter of a pioneer in the Redding area. Carolyn's father came for gold, but having no luck, came down from Shasta and started a truck garden on the rich land by the Sacramento River. He was soon charging the miners in Shasta $1.00 per ear of corn. His father died when John was eleven and he left school to help the family; he worked at his uncles' rock-crushing plant, on a dredger, farming and construction. He worked for P.G. & E. and played semi-pro baseball.

Dorothea Martha Junkans (known as Detta) was born November 14, 1897 in Weaverville to William and Nettie Junkans. Her father was raising cattle; they moved to Lewiston, on to Harrison Gulch and then to Redding in 1905 where Detta graduated from Shasta High School in 1916.

John and Detta were married November 21, 1919 and had two daughters:

Janice Dorothea b. July 25, 1923 m. John Kite d. Nov. 12, 1966
Marie Antoinette b. June 15, 1925 m. Donald Hoff

With G. R. Milford as a silent partner, John started Shasta Auto Sales, later renamed Nielsen Motor Co. in the old Post Office building -- now the home of the Shasta Historical Society. From 1925 to 1937 they sold Ford cars and trucks and Fordson tractors; from 1937 to 1945 they sold Packard and Pontiac at Pine and Tehama and after 1938, they sold Dodge, Chrysler, Plymouth, and later Mercedes Benz.

John had a lifelong love of cattle ranching, early days in Shasta and Trinity with his father-in-law and later on his own. Nielsen Logging Co. was started in 1941 and operated until 1951. He was member of the Chamber of Commerce and his clubs were service oriented -- Rotary and Elks. He was on the committee to plan and build the Civic Auditorium. Until his death, April 27, 1975, he was active as a rancher and as an automobile dealer.

Detta raised her girls, worked with the YMCA to found Camp McCumber, served on the Board for Campfire Girls and was President of the Women's Improvement Club, dedicated to civic improvement. Detta died in Redding, June 5, 1981.

Source: Shasta Historical Society - May 1998

Biography Index