Southwest Sierra Then & Now - #26

September 14, 2023

Tightner-band-1907-Alleghany.jpgEleven members of the fourteen member Tightner Band, Alleghany 1907. HL Johnson is  in the back row 3rd from right. His home can be seen in the background. The man with the big moustache front and center is William Wright Sr. Now that we have all the band member's names, (in this week's article) perhaps our readers can help put other names to faces?
Photo from Helen Armstrong collection courtesy of

Continued from last week: The Daily Union Sept. 11, 1907 - Admission Day Celebration in Alleghany.

On Sunday afternoon a baseball game between Alleghany and Downieville was scheduled, but the team from the Sierra County Seat failed to materialize. Instead, two picked nines gave an exhibition by playing several innings of the national game.

But Monday was the big day and the crowd that assembled reminded some of the pioneers of the early gold days in the first big camps of the State. It was a jolly, good-natured crowd, made of people who had no other purpose than to have a good time. Early in the morning the hustling committee was busy planning the day’s events, and well they did their work. From the time the parade started until Patsy Morris called the last dance in the wee small hours of yesterday morning there was not a dull moment.

Headed by the Tightner Brass Band and Grand Marshall J. Hunt on horseback, the parade moved promptly on time. The band is under the leadership of Fred Locey, and they played like veterans, although organized less than a year. There are fourteen members and they looked fine in their striking uniforms, which consist of navy-blue pants and coats, with gold braid, while on the military cap in gold letters is the word, “Tightner.” The band also gave a concert on Sunday evening and played at intervals throughout Monday. The band, which is the best in Sierra County, is composed of the following: Fred Locey, William Wright, Sr., H. Brainerd, F. Honold, Charles McCormick, John Armstrong, Hugh McCormick, Paul Rohrig, Frank Hauber, Donald McNaughton, George Strange, S. Toms, Chester Brown and William Wright, Jr.

One of the pretty features and next in line was eight ladies on horseback. They wore white dresses, with white bouquets in their hair and rode double file. The following were in saddle: Mrs. Joseph McCullough, Mrs. Thomas Bradbury, Miss Lizzie McCormick, Mrs. O. Schaffer, Mrs. J.H. Carroll, Mrs. John Armstrong, Mrs. W.J. Marsh, and Mrs. H. Brainerd.

Then came a nicely decorated carriage in which rode five of the pioneers of the mines. They were: Len Irvine, H. McCormick, B. Hackelberg, J. Ross and C. Gibbs. Peter Flynn, who is one of the old prospectors of the Alleghany district, came next, leading his burro loaded down with a prospector’s outfit. The flowing white whiskers of Mr. Flynn made him look the part of the old grizzlies of the West that are pictured in history.

On a float done in white and blue rode Miss Emma Wright, who was the queen. She looked very charming and was handsomely gowned. The float “Eureka” was in representation of California’s admission to the Union. It was drawn by black chargers and riding on it was Verna Johnson, the pretty daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Johnson, who was “California”. She wore a stunning gown of white silk, with gold braid and cord. The float was in golden colored bunting and directly back of Miss Johnson was the realistic picture of a large bear. On a large float, arranged with pyramid seats, and decorated with red bunting, were the school children. Each child wore a golden sash on which stood out prominently the word “California”. All along the line of march the people cheered, which showed how deeply they appreciated the various features.

Immediately after the procession the exercises followed on the platform erected for the occasion. There was an address of welcome by Herbert Smith and Merl Bradbury, two of the school children, which proved to be a most pleasing novelty.

The school children, under the direction of their teacher, Mrs. S. Toms, favored the audience with a drill that brought out merited applause. John Armstrong sang a song that met with the favor of the hearers. He has a fine voice and sings with grace and ease.

The hoop drill by eighteen girls made such a pronounced hit that they had to come back. The girls were dressed in white, with a golden sash and a tissue cap and golden poppy, while each carried a white hoop, decorated with California poppies. The grace and precision in the execution of the drill showed very careful training on the part of Mrs. S.Toms, who instructed the girls. Those who participated were: Hilda and Margaret Phillips, Hazel McNaughton, Lola Binning, Ola Casserly, Estelle Brown, Christie Holmes, Fernetti Phillips, Virginia Locey, Gladys Fessler, Vivian Wimberly, Merl Bradbury, Retta Binning, Clara Coleman, Mary Kinkel, Freida Holmes, Verna Johnson and Vera Armstrong.

Twelve boys attired in khaki uniforms and equipped with rifles, gave a military drill that reflects great credit on them as well as upon their tutor, J. Hunt, who is a Yale college graduate and a well-known prospector. The boys lined up like soldiers, carried the rifles nicely and fired as one, while the various maneuvers were most creditably executed. The following lads were the soldiers: Donald McNaughton, Walter Kinkle, Howard Wylie, Morgan Wimberly, Herbert Smith, Ed Kinkle, Fred Mack, Calvin Brown and Raymond McCormick. When the school children finished with the drill, J. Hunt, who was master of ceremonies, stepped forward, and in a pleasing speech presented to the school a handsome silver loving cup. The cup was presented to the committee by C.J. Brand, the pioneer Nevada City Jeweler, and they decided to give it to the school. The children are elated over the presentation and the beautiful cup will occupy a prominent place in the school room. Another pretty thing was the sight of each pupil being handed a silver dollar as they left the platform. The committee is so highly pleased with Mr. Brand’s gift that they are going to send him a vote of thanks.

Story to be concluded next week.

About the author: As a kid in 1975, Rae Bell (aka Pauline) moved with her family to the Ruby Mine area located between Alleghany and Downieville. She and her husband have lived in Alleghany proper since 1992. If you have news or suggestions to share, please send an email to:

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