6. John Wesley BIRCH (21)(22) (23)(5) (24) (photo) was born on 11 Sep 1868 in Flora, Clay Co., IL. [Birch family bible confirms this date.] He died on 20 Jan 1935 in Orland, Glenn Co., CA. [Cause of death listed on official death certificate was "Carcinoma of liver and pancreas."] He was buried in Orland, Glenn Co., CA. [Graves Cemetery west of Orland.]
"... attended Chico Normal, then opened a drug store in Orland, Cal. He
also tested eyes and prescribed glasses (oculist). May also was a druggist,
and attended the store by herself whenever Wes had the urge to do some gold mining
-- he did not make a fortune in the gold fields, but was a good druggist. No
special schooling was required to become a druggist in those days, not even a
state examination!" (Apparently Calif. pharmacy licensing did not go into
effect until 1905, by which time Wes and his wife had attended pharmacy school
in San Francisco to meet the new requirements and receiving PhG degrees.) In
the words of his daughter, Doris, "I remember they used to put powders in
little papers. I used to wrap some of the powders and put them in little boxes.
He had his name on everything." He was reportedly a member and treasurer
of the KKK which met in Corning (a fact that the current generations are not
proud of - fortunately the KKK did not last long in this part of the state); he was a member of the Orland Methodist Church. "He loved children,
was kind and gentle; he loved music; he suffered from cancer of the stomach for
some time before he died." Remembrances of Dorothy Smith Birch indicated
that he was a "jolly" person, but one "to watch out for."
He, at various times prospected for gold, diamonds and other gems and minerals
in the southern California desert, in the Sierras and south of Lewiston in Trinity
County in Northern California. Family members believed that these unsuccessful
mining ventures were motivated both by a dream to "strike it rich"
and also to escape his home life. He, like his wife, was strongly against the
use of alcohol.
His death certificate states that his occupation was "Druggist" and the "date deceased last worked at this occupation" was 1934. A front page death notice article in the Willows Journal, 21 Jan 1935, gives the following: "John Wesley Birch, 66 former Orland druggist, died yesterday at his home there following an operation performed two weeks ago in San Francisco. ... Birch had been a druggist for 43 years, retiring several years ago because of ill health." A short obituary in the Glenn Transcript, Willows, CA, 24 Jan 1935, p. 4, states that he "has resided in Orland for the past 48 years where he has conducted a drug store for the past 43 years until he retired a year ago." Assuming that the death certificate and the Transcript article are correct, he started the business around 1891 and ran it until 1934.
A 15" by 18" framed certificate which hung in the Birch drug store read as follows:
CALIFORNIA STATE BOARD OF PHARMACY
This is to Certify that John Wesley Birch has been registered as a LICENTIATE IN PHARMACY. This Certificate has been granted after an examination by, or on the presentation of satisfactory evidence of attainments to this Board in accordance with the provisions of an Act to regulate the practice of Pharmacy in the State of California, approved March 20th 1905.
In Witness Whereof are here unto affixed the seal and the signatures of the members of the State Board of Pharmacy. Done this 31st day of July One thousand nine hundred and five.
(5 signatures:) ? H. Rowley, President; J. J. Crowly, Secretary; ???; E. J. Molony; H. J. ?
He was married to May Evelyn CUSHMAN on 5 Jul 1894 in San Francisco, CA. [Have copy of marriage license/certificate of marriage; marriage performed by Robert MacKenzie, "a Clergyman" of San Francisco. This marriage date was also recorded in the Birch family bible.]
7. May Evelyn CUSHMAN(25) (26) (photo) (more photos) was born on 23 Jun 1867 in Chrome, Glenn Co., CA. She died on 9 Jan 1948 in Chico, Butte Co., CA. She was buried in Orland, Glenn Co., CA. [Graves Cemetery west of Orland.] As a child, she had to walk 5 miles to school, then walk home, change out of her one good dress and herd turkeys. She didn't want to do that all her life so she attended Chico Normal; she became a nurse and druggist. She graduated with the 1st class of nurses trained at Children's Hospital, San Francisco; in a letter by her daughter, Doris, states: "My mother & father were married in 1894. She was 27 years old & probably nursed a few years before that. I know she spoke of being a broken down nurse. She was not well from nursing 16 to 20 hours a day & much heavy lifting. Said she had to doctor for 7 years before I was born." It is unknown as to how many years May was a nurse in the San Francisco area, but it is assumed that she was there for several years. She was a resident of San Francisco when she married. It was in San Francisco that she married John Wesley and they took their honeymoon on a river boat, possibly coming up the Sacramento River and back to Orland. May later attended pharmacy school in San Francisco with her husband around 1905.
"May was a strong temperance leader,
and did much good work in this respect thru the WCTU." She served as the
California State President of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and met
in Chico with Gen. Bidwell's wife who was also active in the temperance movement.
May was a member of the Methodist Church, Rebecka Lodge and the KKK (a fact
that the current generations are not proud of - fortunately the KKK did not last
long in this part of the state). She has been described by several
family members as being a "stern" person. Remembrances of Dorothy
Smith Birch indicated that she "seemed distant at first, but was more congenial
to be around." In her later years she started experiencing problems with
her balance and would occasionally stumble backwards when trying to walk forward.
This problem occurred while she was staying at her son's farm and she became
incapacitated by a broken hip. She then was alternately cared for by her daughter
in Corning and by her son and his wife in Orland. She held to the belief common
in that day that an older person could not recover from such an injury and appeared
to give up on living. Later, just before her death, she was hospitalized in
A 17" by 20" framed certificate which hung in the Birch drug store read as follows (Note: PhG stands for "Pharmacy Graduate" which apparently had some professional status in those days):
ALUMNI ASSOCIATION OF THE
COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS
San Francisco. Organized July 7th 1898.
This is to certify that May E. Cushman Birch, Ph.G., has been elected to Life Membership in the Alumni Association of the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
In Witness Whereof the President, Vice Presidents, Secretary and Executive Committee have hereunto set their hands and affixed the Seal of said Association.
(14 signatures: 7 MD; 4 MD,PhG; 1 MD,DDS; 1 DDS, 1 PhG)
3 i. Doris Marjorie BIRCH.
ii. Cushman Tennant BIRCH(27) (28)(29) (photo) was born on 7 Jan 1910 in Orland, Glenn Co., CA. He disappeared in Jan 1953. In the words of his sister, Doris (Jul 1977), "Tennant was such a good looking child. He was my mother's pride and joy. She always said he was a Cushman... The Cushmans had very dark hair and eyes. She always seemed to think the Cushmans were a little better than the Birches." His sister, Doris, has said that he had a strong temper that his mother attributed to Tennant falling out of a tree on his head when he was little. (Family members who knew him as an adult maintained that this trait did not carry on in adulthood.) He was raised and educated in Orland, CA, graduating from Orland High in1927. Right out of high school he raised bees for honey. He moved them all over the northern part of the State and also raised, packaged and sold queen bees. As an adult and in addition to farming, Tennant was a bee inspector and sealer of weights and measures in the office of the County Agricultural Commissioner, Glenn Co. During WWII he had a wrecking yard on his mother's property in Orland. He also had several trucks and hauled scrap metal to the Bay area and on return trip hauled groceries and hardware for the merchants of Orland and Corning. Their farm east of Orland included honey bees, dairy cows, pasture, an apricot orchard and a large garden.
Comments of his niece, Claire Wheeler/Johnson: "As long as we knew Uncle Tennant, as a boy and young man, he had a collie dog that was always named 'Bruce.' I can remember more than one. I was their flower girl when he and Aunt Dorothy were married. It was a quiet wedding. The bouquets I carried had a large white Gympson (weed) blossom and the ring was over the stamens. We always loved to see them as they had presents and things for us... Tennant always worked hard. He had Grandpa's love of bees and honey. He farmed, took prizes at the fair and before he disappeared they had taken up square dancing. ... When he disappeared the police (in Orland) didn't try to follow up on his disappearance as they thought he had taken off with another woman. The only evidence Dorothy had was after a time she received some ... plants in the mail from 'Orlando, Florida' from (a friend of his). As long as Mom could remember, she would ask me, 'I wonder what ever happened to Tennant?' He had a fight with his boss, had quit his job and was going to the coast to ... either buy more bees or sell the ones they had. That's why it was over a week before Dorothy called me and we started looking. The Highway Patrol had noticed his truck (abandoned) on the coast at Fort Bragg (with) oranges on the seat. No evidence of foul play. He'd either fallen in or walked off. I think he'd withdrawn $1500 from the bank when he left. The sheriff in Fort Bragg said the bodies always come back and washed up so no one did anything more. His body never 'washed up.'"
His wife, Dorothy, added the following regarding the disappearance to the above: "He left his job in Willows. Said he was going over to Ukiah to see a bee keeper and when he wasn't home, went on over to Mendocino City to see (the) ocean in winter. He liked to rock climb and investigate tide pools, etc. His pickup was found abandoned on View Way. ... An all points bulletin was out on him. ... The Orland police couldn't look for him because it was out of their jurisdiction. It has to be the county it happened in. As far as I know, the all points bulletin is still out for him. ... I'll always wonder if he did drown. A body came ashore near S.F. before his pickup was found so no tests were made. We will probably never know."
His daughter, Betty, has stated that she "never saw him angry. He was good hearted and always ready to help someone" and that "after Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, he would take plates of food to the homeless (hobos) that lived under the bridge at Stony Creek." (Letter to Keith W. from Betty 31 Dec 1997) His mother reportedly told his sister, Doris Birch/Wheeler/Carter, that "Tennant" was a family name, however, no other Tennants have been identified. He was a member of the Federated Church in Orland.
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