Isaac Roop


The Early Years

Terms and Vocabulary:

Isaac Roop had an adventurous spirit. He was generous, willing to travel, and willing to take risks. He always tried to make things better where ever he went.

Isaac Newton Roop was born in Carrol County, Maryland on March 13, 1822. 

He was born to Joseph and Susan Engle Roop and was of German descent. He was the fifth child of nine sons and two daughters. When he was sixteen, in 1838, Isaac's dad grew restless and decided to move his family farther west to Ashland, Ohio.
Ashland, Ohio is shown on this map where the red star is located.
 

After settling in Ashland, Isaac believed he was old enough to go into business for himself. So, he opened a saw and grist mill. He met Nancy Gardner and they were married December 24, 1840, two days after Nancy's eighteenth birthday.

Nancy's education was unusual for a woman of the 1800's because she attended college. Nancy and Isaac Roop had three children: Susan Engle born November 13, 1841; John V. born November 27, 1843; and Isaiah J. born November 30, 1845. They were a happy family. However, Isaac was distraught when his beloved wife died of typhoid fever on June 20, 1850.

 

Isaac left his children, Susan and Isaiah with Nancy's parents and John with the Roops'. At the age of 28, on September 9, 1850, Isaac packed up and headed west. He traveled across the Isthmus of Nicaragua.

 

This map shows the route through the Isthmus of Nicaragua. Mark Twain also made his way west through the Isthmus of Nicaragua and described it as:

Dark grottos, fairy festoons, tunnels, temples, columns, pillars, towers, pilasters, terraces, pyramids, mounds, domes, walls, in endless confusion of vine-work — no shape known to architecture unimitated — and all so webbed together that short distances within are only gained by glimpses. Monkeys here and there; birds warbling; gorgeous plumaged birds on the wing, Paradise itself, the imperial realm of beauty — nothing to wish for to make it perfect." 1866

 
He finally arrived in California when he sailed into San Francisco on the ship, SS Oregon, on October 8, 1850. This is the same ship that also brought news to California that it was admitted to the United States of America as the 31st state.
 

Whatever happened to Isaac's children? Daughter Susan later traveled to the Honey Lake Valley to help her father. John stayed in Ohio, served as an aid to General Grant during the Civil War in the Seventh Iowa Infantry, later moved to Oklahoma, and became a doctor. Isaiah served in the Civil War as well with the Twenty-third Ohio Infantry. He was wounded in the battle at South Mountain and later died of small pox while still in the army.

Resources:
Butler, James Thomas. Issac Roop: Pioneer and Political Leader of Northeastern California. Janesville, CA. 1994.
Fariss and Smith. History of Plumas, Lassen and Sierra Counties. San Francisco. 1882.
Fairfield, Asa. Fairfield's Pioneer History of Lassen County, California. San Francisco. 1916.

 

 

Comprehension Check

1. Why do you think Isaac's dad was restless and wanted to move farther west?

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2. How old was Isaac in 1838? ____________

3. Why was it unusual for Isaac's wife Nancy to go to college?

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4. Did Isaac make a wise choice leaving his children and traveling west? Why or why not?

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5. Isaac sailed on the___________.

It was important because_____________________________________________

6. It took Isaac ___________to reach California.

Why did he choose this route instead of traveling across the prairie?



Teacher Support

1. Pretend you are Isaac. Write a diary entry from a day on your trip west.

2. Do research on grist mills and/or typhoid fever and write at least three important facts for each.


Information presented on this page was researched and contributed by:

Holly Azevado
Marilyn Chapman
Heather Cluck

Life in Shasta

Terms and Vocabulary:

Isaac Roop, distraught over his wife's death, left his children with their grandparents and traveled west. He arrived in San Francisco, California October 8, 1850. He planned to meet his brother Josiah in Shasta County. Josiah came to California in 1849.

Isaac tried his hand at gold mining. He was very successful and in two weeks he found $4000 in gold nuggets on Scott's River. That gold would be worth approximately $150,000 today.

The find helped him become established in California. Isaac bought the Oak Bottom Hotel near present day Whiskeytown for $2800.
 

In 1851, Isaac left Oak Bottom and moved to the town of Shasta (called Redding's Diggings) to join Josiah in his mercantile business. Isaac also became Shasta's postmaster. Shasta was a booming town. In 1850 Shasta had 278 residents, but by 1852, the people living in the town numbered 3,448.

 

Like Isaac, Josiah had traveled west without his family. So Josiah decided to travel east to bring his family to Shasta. He left the store in Isaac's care. However, Josiah died of dysentery on the ship before reaching home. Isaac inherited all of Josiah's property.

On June 14, 1853, disaster struck Isaac and the town of Shasta. A fire destroyed 70 buildings including every hotel and store. Only 40 buildings remained. Isaac lost everything, but he took time to save the post office books and letters. It is also reported he saved children from the burning schoolhouse.

 

Once again, facing a significant loss, Isaac began to search for another place to make a living. This led him to the Honey Lake Valley.

Resources:
Butler, James Thomas. Issac Roop: Pioneer and Political Leader of Northeastern California. Janesville, CA. 1994.
Fariss and Smith. History of Plumas, Lassen and Sierra Counties. San Francisco. 1882.
Fairfield, Asa. Fairfield's Pioneer History of Lassen County, California. San Francisco. 1916.

 

Comprehension Check

1. What does it mean: "Isaac tried his hand at gold mining?" What have you tried your hand at?

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2. Why did Isaac choose Shasta as a place to live?

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3. What does a postmaster do? Why is the job important?

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5. Did Isaac make a good choice to leave Shasta? Tell why you think so.

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Teacher Support

1. Pretend you are Susan or John Roop living in Ashland, Ohio. Address an envelope to your "father."

2. As Isaac, write a letter to Susan or John telling of Isaac's adventures so far.

3. In the space below, draw a picture of what Isaac's and Josiah's mercantile may have looked like.


Information presented on this page was researched and contributed by:

Holly Azevado
Marilyn Chapman
Heather Cluck

Susanville

Terms & Vocabulary:
 
Discouraged by his loss, and having an adventurous nature, Isaac traveled by horseback to the Honey Lake Valley in 1853 following the Nobles Emigrant Trail. He staked his claim of 160 acres near the river that he later named after his daughter Susan.

He thought another mercantile business would be profitable. The emigrants traveling though the Honey Lake Valley could bring him a lot of business. The valley was a good stopping point for travelers because of the good grass and plentiful water. This was quite a relief after passing through the hot, arid desert of Nevada. For a few years, Isaac returned to Shasta for the winter and to get supplies for his next trip back in the spring.

In July of 1854, he returned to the Honey Lake Valley with his brother, Ephraim Roop, Joe Hill, William McNaull, and William Weatherlow. They built a small log house and planted a field. The log house still stands on North Weatherlow Street and we call it Roop's Fort. Isaac kept track of all the people traveling through the valley in "Roop's Register." By October 1854, the register shows that 3,228 people, 510 wagons, 33 spring wagons, 33,000 cattle, horses, and mules. Life was very busy in the Honey Lake Valley.

For another view of Roop's Fort from the Eastman Collection taken in 1945, click HERE.

Another from the Eastman Collection - "Five men in front of log cabin with one man standing behind camera mounted on tripod. Possibly Peter Julian "Jack" Thompson at Roop's Fort?" - Click HERE.

Picture of Roop's Fort from the Eastman collection taken in 1946, click HERE.

In the winter of 1855, Ephriam Roop and others remained in the Honey Lake Valley in Roop's house so they could keep their gold and land claims while Isaac returned to Shasta.

Rooptown had a booming year in 1856 because Nobles Trail was widely used. Successful gold mining brought in more people. A different form of government than the laws of the Utah Territory was needed, so the residents of the area created the Territory of Nataqua on April 26, 1856. Isaac was elected as recorder and Peter Lassen as surveyor. There were over 60 claims involving more than 30,000 acres. By the end of 1856, all of the good land in the Honey Lake Valley was claimed.

Isaac was very industrious. To irrigate crops, he took water out of Smith Creek (Paiute Creek in Memorial Park). He built a sawmill in July 1857. His settlement became known as Rooptown.

In 1858, Rooptown became known as Susanville. Isaac Roop was the first postmaster, a job he held until he died.

Roop's Home on Main Street Susanville was built in 1862.
 
 

Comprehension Check

1. Why do you think Isaac went to the unsettled Honey Lake Valley instead of going to a big city like San Francisco?

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2. What is Roop's Register? Why is it important?

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3. When you claim land, what are you doing?

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4. Tell two reasons why Rooptown grew in 1856.

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6. Peter Lassen was Nataqua's surveyor. What is a surveyor? Why was this an important job?

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7. Why was the Territory of Nataqua established?

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8. Isaac was ___________years old when he settled in the Honey Lake Valley.

 

Teacher Support

1. Visit Roop's Fort on Weatherlow Street and make a drawing.

2. Make a list of supplies Isaac would need for trading with travelers.

3. Have a Scavenger Hunt.


Information presented on this page was researched and contributed by:

Holly Azevado
Marilyn Chapman
Heather Cluck

Governor Roop

Terms and Vocabulary:
Map of California and Adjacent County 1855
 
In September 1859, Isaac Newton Roop became the first provisional territorial governor of the territory of Nevada. At the time, Susanville was thought to be in Nevada, not in California. Isaac was to be sworn in and become governor in the winter of 1859 in the town of Genoa, Nevada.
He left the Honey Lake Valley in the freezing cold and traveled to Nevada. It was an adventurous trip. When Isaac arrived in the Truckee Meadows, he was so cold from riding horseback that he was unable to get off his horse. Someone saw Isaac having trouble and helped him off his horse. This good person took Isaac in and helped him thaw. Isaac was placed in cold water until he warmed up. Because of this helpful person, Isaac never had any lasting health problems from being so cold. Once thawed, Isaac continued on his trip.
Genoa, Nevada
 
In Genoa, Nevada, Isaac was sworn in and met with legislators for the first and only time. With the discovery of silver, a large number of miners came to Nevada. They were a difficult group who refused to follow the laws of a bunch of settlers, so the Nevada legislature did not meet again. There was no support from Washington D.C. on this problem. Instead of the normal things governors do, Governor Roop spent most of his time dealing with Indian issues. He never had an organized government under him nor control over a militia, the state army.
 
Governor Roop (Portrait done by Ben Barker and frame done by Austin Meinert in 1993 now hangs in the Governors' Portrait Gallery in the Nevada State Capital in Carson City.
 

While he was governor, the population grew on the eastern slope of the Sierras that included the Honey Lake Valley. On March 2, 1861, the territory was finally recognized. It was hoped that the Honey Lake Valley was part of the Nevada territory.

On March 22, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln named Governor James W. Nye territorial governor. He replaced Isaac as governor.

Governor Nye

Resources:
Butler, James Thomas. Issac Roop: Pioneer and Political Leader of Northeastern California. Janesville, CA. 1994.
Fariss and Smith. History of Plumas, Lassen and Sierra Counties. San Francisco. 1882.
Fairfield, Asa. Fairfield's Pioneer History of Lassen County, California. San Francisco. 1916.

California Content Standards:
HSS 3.3.1, 3.3.3, 3.3.2
ELA - Reading: 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.6, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.5, 2.6, WOC 1.1

 

Comprehension Check

1. Write three facts you learned about Governor Roop.

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2. Write three questions you would like to ask Governor Roop.

______________________________________________________________________

 

 

Information presented on this page was researched and contributed by:

Holly Azevado
Marilyn Chapman
Heather Cluck