May Hazel Southern, a native daughter of Shasta county who makes her home at Redding, spent nearly three decades in the service of the Southern Pacific Company prior to her retirement in 1918. She was born at Southern’s Stage Station, her parents being Simeon Fisher and Sarah Emma (Lafferty) Southern, both of whom were natives of Kentucky, the former born September 6, 1827, and the latter November 5, 1837. Simeon F. Southern was a descendent of Ludwig Fischer, who emigrated from Germany to America in 1732, settling in Culpeper county, Virginia. The latter married Barbara Blankenbaker and their son, Stephen Fischer, wedded Mary Magdalene Garr. The Garr family of Frankenhofen, Bavaria, emigrated to American in 732, sailing from Rotterdam on the ship “Loyal Judith” and arriving in Philadelphia on the 26th of September of that year. In 1519 the Garr family were presented with the “Stamwappen” or family crest by Emperor Charles V for their “true and loyal services.” The above Stephen and Mary Magdalene (Garr) Fischer were the great-grandparents of Simeon Fisher Southern, the father of May Hazel Southern. Simeon F. Southern enlisted in Company A, Second Kentucky Volunteers, when the Mexican war broke out in 1845 and was seriously wounded at the capture of the city of Mexico. At the close of the war he was assistant forage master under Captain Rufus Ingall, who was in the command of Colonel E. J. Steptoe. He spent the winter of 1854-55 in Salt Lake City during the uprising of the Mormons under Brigham Young and came to California with Colonel E. J. Steptoe on his march to Oregon in 1855. Simeon F. Southern married Sarah Emma Lafferty, a representative of an old Kentucky family of Scotch and Irish descent, who came to California via the Isthmus of Panama in September, 1855.
In the acquirement of an education May H. Southern attended the Convent at Mercy at Yreka, California, the Redding grammar school and the Napa Ladies Seminary at Napa, California. She afterward learned telegraphy and in 1889 became an employee of the Postal Telegraph Company at Hayward, California. On the 14th of June of that year she entered the service of the Southern Pacific Company, with which she was continuously connected, at Red Bluff, Chico, Auburn and other points, as telegrapher, agent, clerk and cashier until June 1, 1918, when she was retired on a pension on account of partial blindness. Since that time she has resided in Redding, California, where she maintains her own home and where she spent her early school days.
Miss Southern is a democrat
in her political views. She has membership in the Redding Chamber
of Commerce, the Women’s Improvement Club and the California State Chamber
of Commerce, History and Landmarks Division. Her religious faith
is indicated by her membership in the Redding Presbyterian Church, while
fraternally she is affiliated with Redding Chapter, No. 44, Order of the
Eastern Star. She became a charter member of Berendos Parlor, No.
23, N. D. G. W., at Red Bluff, later affiliating with Hiawatha Parlor,
No. 140, N. D. G. W., at Redding, California. Miss Southern is the
president of the Shasta County Historical Society. Though handicapped
by impaired vision, she has been devoting much time to the collecting and
compiling of the history of Shasta county and to the marking of historical
landmarks, subjects which have attracted her by reason of her pride in
her native state and her pioneer ancestry, dating back through two hundred
years of pioneering in America. She has also written many articles
on the early history of Shasta county for the “Trails of ‘49” column of
the local press and has been the leader in historic work in this county.
History of the Sacramento Valley California Biographical,
Vol. III by Major J. W. Wooldridge, Chicago:
The Pioneer Historical Society Publ. Co., 1931 pp 38-39
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler ©, September 2004