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Historical Figures

Here you'll find information about local historical personalities. In the past we have been fortunate to have local volunteers portray them as living history presentations. Due to individual schedules, they may or may not be available for the Isaac Roop Day celebration.

Peter Lassen

Peter Lassen is Still a Mystery.
A portrait of Peter LassenHe was an early pioneer from Denmark. His trade was that of a blacksmith. He left no diary of his amazing life, yet he was known by many of the early folk of California. Most of what we learn of him is hearsay. We do know that he was born on October 31, 1800. He worked for John Sutter as a blacksmith. We know that he was not too tall. He had to arrange for a special waver to enlist in the Danish military as a blacksmith. He traveled northern California and did not really ever settle down. He received a Mexican Land Grant near what is called Vina today, but even that adventure did not receive his full attention.

He developed an emigrant trail. He had a shallow draft steam vessel in which, for a time, he carried cargo up and down the Sacramento River. He sold grindstones for use in gristmills. He brought the Masonic Charter to California from Missouri and helped with the starting of the Lodge in the old town of Shasta. He was involved with the forming of the "Territory of Nataqua" and even served as the president with Isaac Roop serving as the secretary.

We do know that he smoked a meerschaum pipe which is now on display in the Lassen Historical Museum in Susanville. It is reported that the pipe once belonged to his grandfather in Denmark. Another item from his estate, his clock, is on display at the local Masonic Temple in Susanville.
A large oak tree.In 1859 Peter Lassen and his friend Ed Clapper were killed by an assassin out in the Black Rock Desert. To this day, their deaths are still an unsolved mystery. A Masonic monument was placed over Peter Lassen's grave that reads that his death was by the Indians. It was the perfect crime since there was no trial, no witness and no proven murderer.

A noted historian has used the word respect as the summary of Peter's life. "He was a man who had more heart than judgment." Peter Lassen has more tributes to him and his name than any of his friends and folks from that pioneer time. There is a National Forest, a National Park, and a County named for this one lone man who is buried in our Honey Lake Valley.

His friends listened to his simple request that at the time of his death he would like to be laid to rest under the giant Ponderosa Pine tree where the view reminded him of his far away home in Denmark. They granted his request and he is at rest in Susanville on Wingfield Road.

Isaac Roop

Publisher Lassen Sagebrush*
A portrait of Isaac RoopIsaac Newton Roop was born in Carroll County, Maryland, on the thirteenth day of March, 1822. His parents were natives of New York City, and of German origin. They lived for some time in the State of Pennsylvania, and in the year 1790, removed to the State of Maryland. Isaac was reared on a farm, and though his father was wealthy, he enjoyed such limited opportunities for education that, when he left home at the age of eighteen, he could scarcely write his own name. This defect, however, was in due time quite remedied, through the instrumentality of a Miss Nancy Gardner, a graduate of the Transylvania College, with whom, in December, 1840, he established at once the twofold relation of husband and pupil. Under her tutorage he received a thorough English education, and laid the foundation work for that period of usefulness that succeeded to him in his later years.
Miss Nancy Gardiner was born in Pennsylvania, December 22, 1822. In the same year of her marriage, she, with her husband, moved to Ashland County, Ohio. Ten years later she died, leaving her husband with three children, two sons and a daughter. Both of these sons enlisted in the service of their country, during the Civil war, and participated in the NorthWestern campaign under Gen. Rosecrans. The youngest, Isaiah Roop, was severely wounded at the terrible battle of Stone River, and died from its effects the following year. The remaining son, John V. Roop, is now living in the State of Iowa.

A portrait of Isaac RoopThe daughter,** Mrs. Susan Arnold, came to California in the year 1862. She was much beloved by her father, and has stood by his side to cheer him and administer to his comfort since the day of her meeting him here. She resides in Susanville, Cal., in the home made beautiful by the hand of her illustrious father.

On the ninth day of September, 1850, and but a few months after the loss of his wife, Roop started for California. He arrived in San Francisco on the eighteenth day of October of the same year, and in June following went to Shasta to keep a public house. His first three years in California were spent in Shasta county, in farming and trading. During this period he also held the situation of Postmaster and of School Commissioner. He had accumulated in that time upwards of fifteen thousand dollars, worth of property, but in June 1853, lost it all by fire.

Stripped of everything but an unconquerable will and being of an adventurous disposition, he turned his back upon civilized life, and journeying across the Sierras, took up his abode in Honey Lake Valley at that time a long distance from any settlement, and solely inhabited by Indians. Here he located the land upon which the city of Susanville now stands, built a sawmill near by, and continued to reside here up to the day of his death, February 14, 1869. During his residence in Honey Lake Valley he was engaged in lumbering, farming and trading, filled many offices of profit and trust, and, to a considerable extent, followed the practice of law. The beautiful valley first settled by him has grown up into a flourishing country, and the little village which he laid out has become a large and prosperous commercial town, and the county seat of Lassen county.

Honey Lake Valley, as lately as the year 1858, was considered by its settlers as part of Utah Territory... These early settlers, with other residents of western Utah, resolved, in the year 1859, to cut loose from all political communication with Utah. Accordingly, a convention was called in July of that year, which, having drafted a Constitution for the new territory formed out of this part of Utah, and christened Nevada, the same was adopted by the people, and an election held in pursuance of its provisions for choosing a Governor and other territorial officers.

At the election, held on the seventh of September, Isaac N. Gov. Roop was chosen Provisional Governor of the proposed territory (1858) by nearly a unanimous vote. The first legislature elected in this new territory met and organized in the town of Genoa, Carson Valley, on the fifteenth of December 1859. O.K. Pierson, of Carson City was elected Speaker, H.S. Thompson, Clerk, and to the legislature Governor Roop delivered his first Message. The Governor adjourned the legislature to the first Monday in January following, whereof he informed the people by proclamation. In that proclamation Governor Roop gave the reasons of the people of the proposed territory for the organization of a provisional government. The proclamation declared that they had no protection for life, limb or property. They had no courts or county organizations. Their political rights were entirely at the will of a clique composed of those who were opposed to the first principles of our Constitution and the freedom of the ballot box. Under these circumstances all endeavored to secure relief from these impositions, and believing that a provisional government would best assure protection of life, limb and property, an election was held and all necessary arrangements made for the formation of temporary government, until Congress should insure justice and protection."

A short time after, U.S. District Judge Cradlebaugh succeeded in establishing his court in the new territory; a new delegate to congress, in the person of John H. Musser, had been elected and dispatched to Washington; extensive mines were discovered in the Carson Valley, which caused an influx of population wholly unexpected at the time of the meeting of the convention and only a portion of the members of the first legislature were present at its first meeting wherefore, in the language of the proclamation, "I Isaac N. Roop, Governor of the Provisional Territorial Government of Nevada Territory, believing it to be the wish of the people still to rely upon the sense of justice of Congress, and that it will this session, relieve us from the numerous evils to which we are subjected, do proclaim the session of the legislature adjourned until the first Monday in January 1860; and call upon all good citizens to support with all their energies the laws and Government of the United States."

During his gubernatorial term many wise measures adopted for the better security of the early settlers

in western Utah, and quite extensive campaigns carried on against the hostile Indians all along the border. He became very intimate with Gen. Lander, and was joined by him in many of his efforts for the suppression of Indian outrages.

After the formation of the territory of Nevada, in 1861, Governor Roop was elected to the Territorial Senate. There he acquitted himself honorably and won the lasting esteem of the entire population of the Territory. In 1862 he became the leading spirit in a movement to join the Honey Lake Valley with the Territory of Nevada. For three or four years previous thereto the boundary line between California and Nevada had been in dispute. During that time many of the citizens of Honey Lake Valley acquiesced in the jurisdiction of Nevada. The legislature of the Territory passed a bill fixing the boundaries of a new county to be called Roop, so as to include Honey Lake Valley, having its county seat at Susanville.

A conflict of jurisdiction almost immediately ensued. The Nevada legislature thereupon appointed three commissioners, R.M Ford, Jas. W. Nye and I.N. Roop to present its memorial to the California legislature, with a view to obtaining a change of the boundary line in accordance with the recommendation of Congress. The legislature of the State of California refused to grant the request, and two years afterward Governor Roop had the satisfaction of seeing Honey Lake and its adjacent sister, Long Valley, elected into a separate, independent county government. If he could not succeed in placing his home where it naturally and properly belonged, he had been successful in making it independent of the snows and summits of the Sierras.

With this he was partially content, as previous to this time the county seats of the counties claiming jurisdiction over Honey Lake Valley were separated from it by the Sierra Nevada mountains, which were impassable twothirds of the year. At an early day, as soon as a post office was established in Susanville, he was appointed its postmaster, which position he held up to the day of his death.

In politics, Governor Roop belonged to the Wig party as long as it had an existence. In 1860 he voted for Stephen A. Douglas. At the outbreak of the civil war in America he heartily espoused the Union cause, and was identified with every movement among his neighbors, to render aid and comfort it the soldiers in the field. In 1864 he supported Lincoln, both with his voice and his vote. In 1865 he was elected to the office of District Attorney for the County of Lassen, receiving the entire Democratic vote and nearly twothirds of the Republican vote. In 1867 he was reelected without opposition. From his earliest settlement in the country he took a leading part in all measures tending to the welfare of its citizens, and has had much to do toward shaping the affairs of this coast. He was a man of enlarged mind and noble and manly character. He possessed the elements of popularity in a high degree, being frank, sociable and courteous, and of unbounded hospitality.

Naturally he was a man of quick perception, sensitive, highminded, and of approved courage. Though owner at various times of large property, and surrounded with a rude abundance, such had ever been his liberality in dealing, and so numerous his kind offices, that at no time was his condition one of financial independence. He was a man of fine physical development, standing nearly six feet high, and well proportioned. He possessed regular features, and an intelligent, cheerful, goodnatured countenance. His florid complexion and lightblue eyes indicated his active temperament and love of outdoor pursuits. He died at his residence in Susanville, February 14, 1869, after an illness of six days. He was buried with Masonic honors. The following extract from the resolutions passed by the Lodge of which he was a member show the esteem in which he was held, and finds an echo in every heart that knew him.

"In the death of Isaac N. Roop the Masonic Order has lost an ardent friend, one ever attached to its precepts, one whose heart and hand were ever open to the melting appeals of charity, whose benevolence, knowing no bounds, seemed to embrace the vast sea of humanity, whose generous will extended itself for the good of Masonry, and whose enlarged mind was ever impressed with the controlling tenets, Charity, Relief and Brotherly Love. The benevolent impulses, the charitable disposition, the generous promptings.emanations of a noble heart the persevering will and manly attributes that adorned the intellect and character of Isaac N. Roop. will ever be remembered by his brethern of Lassen Lodge." From "Representative and Leading Men of the Pacific," Edited

by Oscar T. Shuck.1870. p.405410.

(Hon. Alpheus Taggart Bruce This gentleman came to Lassen County in 1866, and engaged in the editing of a paper at Susanville. In 1867 he was elected to the county bench to succeed Judge Harrison, and occupied the position two years. He was a young man of considerable ability and of good educationFrom "Illustrated history of Plumas, Lassen and Sierra counties," 1882. p. 37

*NOTE: The newspaper edited by Judge Bruce was the Lassen Sagebrush, the name later changed to Lassen Advocate.

**Mrs. Susan (Roop) Arnold passed away July 22, 1921, aged 80 years. Both father and daughter were buried in Susanville cemetery.

Article from the Lassen Advocate, Susanville, California Saturday, Oct 16, 1937

Written by Judge A. T. Bruce, Second Publisher of The Lassen Sagebrush Which Later Became the Lassen Advocate, at the Close of Gov. Roop's Active Career, One of Marvelous Achievement

Susan Roop

A portrait of Susan RoopSusan Roop Arnold was a devoted daughter, wife and mother to her family. She was born on November 13,1841, in Ohio to Isaac and Nancy Gardner Roop.

According to some sources, she arrived in Virginia City, Nevada Territory, to meet her father after what must have been a very exciting adventure for a young woman. She traveled by herself across the sea, through the Isthmus of Panama and then overland by coach to reach Virginia City.

She helped her father, kept house, witnessed the "Sage Brush War," organized the first Sunday School and the town of Susanville was named after her.

A story from Fairfield's History of Lassen County, California tells of her and a Mrs. Fuller eating the first crop of peaches to be raised in the Honey Lake Valley in 1863. It consisted of 4 ripe and delicious peaches!

She married Alexander Thrall Arnold on December 27, 1864. They had eight children. Sadly, not all of them lived to adulthood.

Two streets in Susanville are named for the Arnold family. One is named Arnold Street and the other--Mark Street--is named for a son that died in 1898.

At one time Susan and her husband owned the Susanville water system. They also engaged in farming and dairying.

Susan died in 1921 and is buried beside her husband in the old Susanville Cemetery on Court Street.

Dr. Robert F. Moody

A portrait of Dr. Robert F. MoodyAccording to Fairfield's Pioneer History of Lassen County California, there were diversions in the early days.

Newspapers and books were scarce and instead of finding humor in them, the settlers had to look for it among themselves.

One such humorous character that came into the Honey Lake Valley in 1861 was Dr. Robert F. Moody. His Daughter describes him as instead of being a "Jack of all trades and good at none," he was a sort of genius who could do anything he undertook and do it well. He was also the inventor of half a dozen patent medicines. His best known patent medicine was called "Moody's Sage Brush Liniment."

Dr. Moody's gift of story telling was amazing. They were stories about himself and injured nobody, and were not told to deceive anyone.

Our Isaac Roop Day folks are fortunate when someone plays this historic personality. He usually can be found hanging around with Isaac Roop on Isaac's birthday. He loves to barter and banter with the students in the park.

Mark Twain

Did you know that Isaac Roop and Mark Twain knew each other?

Mark Twain was in the Nevada Territory to support his brother, Orion Clemens, who was appointed by President Buchanan to serve as Secretary of the Nevada Territory.

At about the same time, Isaac Roop was serving as Nevada's first Provisional Territorial Governor (before James Nye received the Federal appointment as Governor).

Isaac then represented our Honey Lake area by serving in the Nevada State Legislature. This area was named Roop County Nevada in Isaac's honor. This period was before the California/Nevada state line was established. Many folks believed that the state line would follow the mountain divide and that our Susanville and the Honey Lake area would be included in the State of Nevada.

Isaac Roop served on the committee that decided the state boundary. His beloved home in Susanville and the Honey Lake Valley became part of California on April 1, 1864.

Isaac Roop's name is used as one of the main characters in Mark Twain's book Roughing It. Isaac Roop is mentioned many times as "Gov. Roop."

Over the years, Mark Twain scholars have studied the story about the famous Great Land Slide Controversy. They look at the different ways that the author tells the story in his particular Twain style.

It is not a story that 3rd graders would come to appreciate, but to the older reader and historian it leads one to appreciate Twain's humor and satire of the social structure of the early West.

A Roop family legend tells us that Mark Twain danced with Susan Roop at a social event during these pioneer days. Susan reported that she was not too pleased with Mr. Twain's personal grooming. We will leave that story up to the judgement of the reader.