Yreka is the county seat of Siskiyou County, California, United States, located in the Shasta Valley at 2,500 feet (760 m) above sea level and covering about 10.1 sq mi (26 km2) area, of which most is land. The population was 7,765 at the 2010 census, up from 7,290 at the 2000 census. Yreka is home to the College of the Siskiyous, Klamath National Forest Interpretive Museum and the Siskiyou County Museum. Its gold mining heritage is commemorated by the high school team which uses a gold miner as their name and mascot.
In March 1851 Abraham Thompson, a mule train packer, discovered gold near Rocky Gulch while traveling along the Siskiyou Trail from southern Oregon. By April 1851, 2,000 miners had arrived in "Thompson's Dry Diggings" to test their luck, and by June 1851, a gold rush "boomtown" of tents, shanties, and a few rough cabins had sprung up. Several name changes occurred until the little city was called Yreka. The name comes from the Shasta language /wáik'a/, for which Mount Shasta is named. The word means "north mountain" or "white mountain". Mark Twain tells a different story:
Poet Joaquin Miller described Yreka during 1853–1854 as a bustling place with "... a tide of people up and down and across other streets, as strong as if a city on the East Coast". Incorporation proceedings were completed on April 21, 1857.
State of Jefferson
There have been two documented lynchings in the town of Yreka. The first took place on August 26, 1895, when four men – William Null, Garland Stemler, Luis Moreno, and Lawrence Johnson – awaiting trial for various charges of murder and robbery, were simultaneously hanged by a lynch mob from a railroad tie suspended from two adjacent trees.
The second lynching occurred about forty years later on July 28, 1935. Clyde Johnson and Robert Miller Barr robbed a local business and their patrons in Castella, California. The pair stole an auto from a patron and drove north to Dunsmuir, California where they planned to abandon the car and use the train to make their getaway. Soon after they abandoned the car north of Dunsmuir, the pair was stopped by California Highway Patrolman George “Molly” Malone and Dunsmuir Chief of Police, 38-year-old Frank R. "Jack" Daw. Johnson pulled out a Luger and wounded both men. Malone recovered, but Daw died the next day. Clyde Johnson was caught a few hours later by a dragnet and was taken into custody. Barr, who was holding the thirty-five dollars that they got from the robbery, panicked during the shootout and ran off into the woods then got away on a freight train. Jack Daw was a beloved figure in Dunsmuir. His title of Chief of Police was honorary, given to him because of his cool head and experience as a World War I veteran. The night of Daw’s funeral a dozen cars from Dunsmuir, carrying approximately thirty-five masked men drove north to Yreka with the intentions of lynching Johnson. On August 3, 1935 at 1:30am, the mob reached the Yreka jail and lightly knocked on the door. Deputy Marin Lange, the only guard on duty opened the door slightly and was quickly overtaken by the mob. Two men drove him sixteen miles east of Yreka where he was released, barefoot. Barr was arrested over a year later, on September 4, 1936, in Los Angeles on a burglary charge. During his time on the lam, he got a part as an extra in the Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald film, Rose Marie, which was filmed near Lake Tahoe. He is credited in the film under his real name.