Like Nancy Kelsey, Francis Rupert was another durable pioneer. Ms. Rupert stands out for her singular grit and independence. Her life is a mystery shrouded in half known details of an odd solitary existence. Two things are sure. She was a strong woman and she was a lady hermit. Where she came from, who were her people, we do not know. Francis Rupert lived alone on the top of a mountain in Lake County not far and east of Upper Lake.

While she lived, Francis flouted every preconceived idea of what a young woman of thirty was expected to be and expected to do in those earlier times. She was a maverick and a lady of unusual determination.

The four hundred acres, where she lived, was all hers. From the top of her mountain, she could see Lakeport ten miles away. The person that wrote of Miss Rupert, painted her as ‘a hater of men and women alike, a miser, and a hermit.’ We know only that the writer of that information about Francis Rupert’s life was, like Miss Rupert, also of the female persuasion.

The author of this history, while seldom wishing to intrude or offer personal comments or opinions, cannot resist making his feelings known to the reader in the cause of justice. Miss Rupert’s biographer and her opinions are, at times, so blatant and ill-conceived the author feels called upon to defend Miss Rupert in absentia.

Perhaps Miss ‘X’ wished to remain incognito for a reason. Small wonder. What person, male or female would have the courage (or poor judgment) to place their own narrow prejudices in such plain view? Miss Rupert’s self-styled biographer, Miss ‘X’, was not kind. This is what she wrote about Miss Rupert:

‘Miss Rupert was ‘plain in feature’ and a ‘woman with muscles any man would be proud to own’.Miss Rupert could send any intruder to her domain down the side of the mountain with no more trouble than any other female might flip a troublesome fly into an inkwell.’

‘Miss Rupert cannot bang a piano or daub a canvas or litter a house with fancy work fol-de-rols or bake an Angel cake from dough. Yet, the woman hermit of Lake County rises before the sun is up. She goes to bed by smoky light of a lantern with a mongrel watching at the door and her double-barreled shotgun propped within easy reach. This Amazon performs more actual manual labor than is dreamed of in the average working man’s philosophy… three hundred and sixty-five days of the year. She is slowly digging herself a grave.’

This last line of ‘X’s statement, smacks of jealousy. Her snide observation that Miss Rupert, who works as hard as a man, ‘flies in the face of lady-like behavior’, was uncalled for.  As I read this article of Miss Rupert’s coming and goings on top of her mountain, I wondered. The writer was making an infinitely more damning picture of herself than that of the lady hermit.  Besides that, the writer insults her dog. For all she knew, the ‘mongrel at the door’ was no mongrel but a high-stationed breed of impeccable lineage. If I was looking for a wife, Miss Rupert would be one lady I would like to know better. I liked her dog too.’

‘Soon after her purchase of the top of the mountain, Francis Rupert improved the five acres of her sky farm. Every foot she cleared she did herself. Root by root and stone by stone she felled trees a hundred and twenty-five feet high and wider in diameter than a tall man stands. Miss Rupert managed cross-cut saws seven feet long and she swung a ten-pound, double-edged ax. When the monster pine lay upon the ground before her, this creature of herculean effort was happy in her grim, unaccountable, pessimistic way, for she had demonstrated her independence of man, who, poor worm, crawls about in the world, three thousand feet below the level of her contempt.’

This Author feels compelled to speak out… again. Now wait just a minute, Miss ‘X’. You sound like the man hater. No woman with the inner strength of character and determination to make her home the castle that she wished for, can be condemned for doing so. Such a person would never, I am certain, waste her precious time to denigrate others, no matter whether male or female.



Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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