Genealogy Trails History Group Modoc County, California
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Cedarville Photo
Photo Courtesy of B. Reynolds

Modoc County was formed when Governor Newton Booth signed an Act of the California Legislature on February 17, 1874. Land for the county was taken from the eastern part of Siskiyou County. The county derives its name from the Native American Modoc people, who lived at the Klamath River headwaters. One historian suggests that the word modoc means "the head of the river." Another states that the word is derived from the Klamath word moatakni meaning "southerners," i.e., the people living south of the Klamath tribe. The county was home to three major tribal groups, the Modoc, the Achumawi (or Pit River), and the Paiute. The Modoc were forcibly moved first to Oregon, and then to Oklahoma, while the Achumawi and Paiute were allowed to remain. Settlement of the county began in earnest in the 1870s, with the timber, gold, agriculture, and railroad industries bringing most of the settlers into the area. The county was a crossroads for the Lassen Applegate Trail which brought settlers north from Nevada to the Oregon Trail and south to trails leading into California's central valley.
Early settlers included the Dorris, Belli, Essex, Scherer, Trumbo, Flournoy, and Campbell families. Several thousand acres just south of Newell served as the temporary exile for thousands of Japanese-American citizens during World War II at the Tule Lake War Relocation Center, a Japanese American internment camp. A historical marker still stands along California State Route 139 in Newell. Tule Lake was the largest of the "segregation camps." On November 8, 2005 Senator Dianne Feinstein called for the camp to be designated a National Historic Landmark.



Klamath County, Oregon - Lake County, Oregon
Lassen County, California - Shasta County, California
Siskiyou County, California - Washoe County, Nevada

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