I visited Anita Crabtree the other day. Anita and her helper, Kathy Algey, do the important work of recording Lake County’s genealogy. Ms. Crabtree is Ben Moore’s relative several times over.  The Lake County Genealogical Society has an amazing portfolio of photographs and letters Anita had gathered. There are hundreds of tin type daguerreotypes and ancient photographs of Moore’s many descendants. They’re all carefully presented in a beautifully arranged history of the Moore and his other relatives’ family tree. It covers a period before the revolutionary war up to the present. The experience, of paging through those letters and photographs, gives one the feeling of being taken on a trip in a time machine

Ten years before the Civil War the people of Northern California and Lake County were far more concerned with just staying alive than what was happening in Richmond and in Washington. California had few black men or slaves. Settling a new nation was hard. The farmers and ranchers had more immediate problems with which to contend; Indians, survival, and rustling.

The greatest horse-thief and cattle rustler in Lake County history was Benjamin Logan Moore. In 1852 there were thousands of long-horn cattle roaming the hills of Lake County and around Clear Lake. These were the wild remains of the cattle Kelsey and Stone had left after they had been killed by the Natives.

By the age of sixteen, Ben Moore was an expert at his trade. Adventurous and daring, Ben was a wild young vaquero. It didn’t take long before he was in trouble with the law. His reputation began when he came to California and joined Salvadore Vallejo’s cattle drive from Big Valley to Sonoma.

As rough a cob as Ben Moore was, one cannot help but have a special place in one’s heart for this bandit. During the time of that cattle drive, he ended up for a while, where the author lives, in a small valley near Upper Lake. He lived here for a time and joined three other single men and they gave Bachelor Valley its name.

This man left his mark. There is still a Ben Moore Trail that was also an ancient Native American and Stock Driving Trail. It goes from Scotts Valley, over Hopland Valley, and toward the coast. There’s a Ben Moore Valley at the top of Hopland Mountain, where it borders on Mendocino County. A Ben Moore Creek runs into Scotts Creek. When you drive from Upper Lake to Ukiah you will pass a place on Cow Mountain where Ben once lived for a time.

Readers of this History may recall, Cow Mountain donated a large chunk of its eastern slope 3500 years ago. That giant landslide poured over what was later Highway 20 along the Blue Lake Canyon. The slide stopped the flow of water in the creek from Clear Lake to the Russian River and the earth movement changed Clear Lake’s flow. Afterward Clear Lake flowed into Cache Creek and Blue Lakes filled to a much greater depth.

Ben Moore Ridge, half way up the side of Cow Mountain, runs to Bachelor Valley. That ridge and the two roads on either side, are name for… you guessed it; Ben Moore Trail. Ben Moore Canyon is hidden well. Few people know it is there. It runs from Cache Creek into Walker Mountain.

Two miles below Lake Pillsbury, still one more creek is a namesake of Ben’s fame, Ben Moore Creek Number Two. That stream flows into the Eel River. There is even a shaded glade where Ben and his Native American wife lived for nearly two years and has his name. The story of the Ben Moore legend starts in the early 1850’s.

Next Episode: Duel with the Mexican Officer

Lake County History. $32. (includes. Tax & Shipping)

Pal Publishing, PO Box 6, Upper Lake, Ca 95485

e-mail: genepaleno@gmail.com

Website: genepaleno.com

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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