Dana Bailey history as told by grandson Dana Johnson
Thank you for the opportunity to share some of my family history, as it relates to Stirling City. In 1911, my grandfather, Dana Bevy Bailey, traveled to Stirling City, from Chuckey, Tennessee, where his family owned a lumber mill and furniture factory. Apparently, the mill was not able to support all of the brothers in the family, so he set off west to work for the summer and make some money before returning to Tennessee. He heard he could make 30 cents an hour in California. He ended up in Stirling City and began working for Diamond Match. (He may have told them he was a couple of years older in order to get the job.) Dana realized how much he loved the trees and his surroundings, and he decided to stay. He wanted to learn all he could about trees, and did many things, which included being a hook tender and tree-topper, and worked 10-hour shifts. The winter months were spent playing a lot of pool, and going to many dances, etc…
Earlier, in 1904, when Grandma Syliva was 12, her mom and step-dad, Laura and John Conrad, moved to Stirling City. Mr. Conrad was the Chief Engineer at the mill. At some point, Dana and Sylvia met and courted, and on May 12, 1915, Dana and Sylvia were married in Stirling City. My mother, Dorothy Bailey, was born in 1916 in Stirling City at the “hospital on the hill.”
My mom Dorothy went to elementary school in Stirling City and always spoke with fondness about her years there. She loved the small town atmosphere, and always felt safe there. She left when she started high school in Chico, and attended Chico Normal School. She went on to business college in San Jose and Sacramento. She ended up in Eureka in about 1948 and spent the rest of her life there.
I was able to spend many summers with my grandparents in Stirling City when I was young. I have great memories of carefree days running around and playing with neighbor Billy Shelton. I remember the occasional afternoon thunderstorm and hail, eating at the cookhouse, driving with grandpa to Paradise to get a haircut, to Innskip to go sledding, and the whole family driving to the dump at night to watch the bears come out. I also remember going out to dinner in Lovelock, and to a nice Italian restaurant in Paradise called Optimo (I think). I also loved staying with grandpa and grandma in Butte Meadows, either in a skid cabin or the Bailey family cabin. I remember Stirling City’s grocery store, the saloon and cafe, swimming pool, the train, and of course, the mill in my early years. The trucks dropping off the logs in the pond and the logs going up into the sawmill made quite an impression on me.
I especially remember Grandpa Dana wearing his trademark clean, white, starched shirt and khaki pants every day, always with a few cigars in his pocket. I think this ritual began early on in his career. Dana became Logging Superintendent in 1923, and was also known as “Bull of the Woods.” He retired in 1958, after 47 years with Diamond Match. At that time, grandpa and grandma bought the house on the corner as you come into town
On August 21, 1976, grandpa was honored with Dana Bailey Day at the Annual Bull of the Woods Jamboree in Stirling City. In 1982, just months before he passed, the small plantation of ponderosa pines in town was named for him. Back in the 1930’s, Dana had let a slash fire get out of hand, and he felt bad that trees were burned. He began the process of harvesting the seeds of pine cones, and started a pine tree nursery in his yard. Over time, he had planted over 70,000 seedlings in 130 acres. He would visit the trees over the years to check on them, and became known as an early conservationist in the lumber industry.
My grandparents lived in their house on the corner until grandpa passed in 1983. They lived in Stirling City over 70 years and loved their small town. They are both buried in Stirling City Cemetery.
I believe that my grandfather was well-liked and respected as a friend, and in his role of Logging Superintendent. I have always admired his work ethic and his ability to make friends, and I have always been proud to be his grandson. As the only grandchild, I was given my grandfather’s engraved pocket watch he received from Diamond Match upon his retirement. I have other memorabilia, which I am slowly donating to the Stirling City Museum.
Thank you to the members of the Stirling City Old Timers Picnic Committee and to Madelyn Henry for the time and hard work they have devoted to keeping the annual picnic going over the years. We’re so disappointed we can’t be there in person, but circumstances haven’t allowed it. We hope to see you all next time!!