Dr. Daniel Ream, among the oldest citizens of Yreka and the foremost member of its medical practitioners, has, during an experience extending over fifty odd years, witnessed the growth of Yreka from a mere cluster of tents into a prosperous settlement, with its many stores and factories, banks and churches, schools and newspapers, and full complement of institutions and organizations. As a physician and surgeon his name is a household word to the people of Yreka and northern California, but also as a statesman and party leader and man of affairs he has made his mark among his fellow citizens, and under all circumstances and in all the varied relations of a most busy and eventful life has kept his rudder true to high ideals and noble purposes for himself, his fellow men and the institutions of state and society.
The birthplace of Dr. Ream was in the neighborhood of Hagerstown, Washington county, Maryland, where he was born June 20, 1830. His grand-sires on both sides served in the Revolutionary war, and he remembers well his grandfather on his mother's side, Chrisley Coffman, as one to whom he listened with breathless interest when relating stories of the war, especially the battle of Brandywine, the last in which he took part.
His father, Henry Ream, was born in Lancaster, pennsylvania, May 15, 1804, and died in 1876. He was a man of goodly presence, six feet two inches in height, of massive frame, and, though of mervous temperament, strong mentally, morally and physically. He was possessed of firm convictions, of rare perseverance and remarkable capacity for work. Dr. Ream's mother, Nellie Coffman before her marriage, was a native of Washington county, Maryland, and some two years younger than her husband. She was also gifted with a strong physique and character, and both were religiously inclined, the father strict and at times severe as to family discipline, while the mother, though by no means over-indulgent, was always ready to take her children's part. she was a woman of kindly and sociable disposition, given to hospitality, and ever on the best terms with her neighbors. For Daniel, her oldest son, the height of her motherly ambition was that he should succeed in his chosen profession, and that she lived to see her wish fulfilled was a lating source of comfort in her declining years. She died in 1894.
Of Dr. Ream's three brothers, David, the next younger than himself, is the only survivor; Jeremiah died in 1844 of typhoid fever, and George was killed in the battle of Pea Ridge while fighting for the Union cause. Of his five sisters, Mary, Margaret, Delilah, Sarah and Isabel, all were married, and, except Isabel, who died October 26, 1877, all are residents of Iowa.
Dr. Ream's happy childhood days were passed in a three-storied house of stone, ten miles from Hagerstown, with a spacious meadow in front, and in the distance the verdure-clad hills of Maryland. Among his early recollections was the removal of the family to the adjacent village of Tilghmanton, where his father, originally a carpenter by trade, though duly qualified for his latter calling, opened a drug store and practiced as a physician. Here Daniel was sent to school at the age of seven. About this time occurred one of those incidents which, though slight in themselves, impress themselves endurably on the memory and often reveal the broad and general features of the permanent character. While returning from an errand, some distance beyond the schoolhouse, night overtook him, and as he passed through the woods, in which shone the phosphorescent lights known as jack-o'-lanterns, then attributed to supernatural agencies, he saw in front of him what appeared to be a moving object. The more intently he gazed the more it seemed to move, and his childlike imagination bodied forth a monster vision, and with all the celerity that his young legs could commend he hied him by another path to the sheltering home. Entirely contrary to the well known conduct of most children on such occasions, Daniel said not a word about this circumstance either at the time nor for many years afterward. But on his way to school the next morning he determined to inspect the object of his terror by the light of day, and found it to be a substantial and most immobile stone, four feet high, and placed there as a landmark. Ashamed of his fear, he resolved that he would never again run away from anything till he knew the danger to be real, but, like the youth in the story, "march straight up to it." In all the years since then, if he has ever run from danger, either fancied or real, his friends do not know it.
When he was eleven years old his father settled in Springfield, Illinois, where he practiced his profession two years, and then removed to Lick Creek, Sangamon county, where his sons engaged in farming and he continued his professional work. In 1846 the father moved to Wapello county, Iowa, where he purchased a tract of timber and prairie land. During all this time Daniel was attending public schools whose courses included mainly the three R's and a smattering of grammar and geography. Like so many successful men of the past generations, he gained his broad knowledge of men and affairs through his own industrious study, and found in those primitive schoolhouses but the means of beginning study which has continued throughout life and delved in the widest realms of knowledge. He had to work during the summer months and outside of school hours, and the first money he ever earned was by gathering the sheaves of wheat and taking care of horses. At Lick Creek and Wapello county his tasks were harder, such as plowing, chopping wood, making rails and building fences, varying such labor by trapping mink and other fur-bearing animals which were then plentiful in the west. He and his brothers worked together, and aided much in providing for the common welfare of the family.
With such training and environment he developed into a sturdy and vigorous youth, with all his father's manly fibre and firmness of resolved, with his practical common sense and powers of endurance and self-denial; and yet also with the softer traits of character inherited from his mother--her gentleness of manner, her large-hearted sympathy, nd her buoyant and sunny temperament. He had such preparation as makes nature's noblemen, and when the time arrived he was ready to enter life and perform whatever tasks the years and distiny should allot him.
At the age of sixteen, under his father's direction, he began studying medicine, although still working on the farm by day. He was drafted into active practice at the early age of eighteen, when, his father being absent, he was called to attend a woman bitten by a rattlesnake, and whose cure he wrought most effectively. Soon after, he was required to prescribe for a child suffering with the bilious fever. He did this reluctantly, for he had as yet little self-confidence, and he returned home in a dejected mood and reported the case to his father, with the request that the latter should go and see it. "No," was the answer, "I shall not interfere; what you have done is perfectly right." He repeated the visit on the following day, but with great dread lest he should see the bed clothes hanging on the line as evidence that the child was dead. But no bed clothing was there, the patient was better, and was fully restored to health in a few weeks. He recalls with much satisfaction a number of other cases from his earliest practice, and by 1852 he and his father had built up a large practice in southeastern Iowa.
On April 12, 1852, Dr. Ream joined in the rush to the gold fields of the Pacific coast, setting out from the town of Abingdon, Iowa. The train he was in consisted of ten wagons, of one of which he was driver, his own effects consisting of a medical outfit, a moderate stock of clothing, a single horse and forty dollars cash. Bear river was reached without incident, and at Soda Springs the party separated, some bound for California and others fo oregon, Dr. Ream being of the latter. At the crossing of Snake river at Salmon Falls he saved the life of John Moxley (afterwards sheriff), who was ill with typhoid fever. Cholera also broke out, and his efficient services enabled all the party to survive the disease. The train went by Boise river and The Dalles and arrived in Portland on September 15, 1852.
From the latter place Dr. Ream went on foot to Yreka with a pack-horse, where the many years of a half century were to pass over him employed in useful and humanitarian labors. The town was then spelled Wyreka. It was named after an Indian tribe of the valley, called "Ieka," which was corrupted into Wyreka. Dr. Ream is authority for many such points of local history. According to his statement, the word "Siskiyou" originated with the French trappers under Stephen Meek, in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company about 1836. Meek came to this country looking for a ford across the Klamath river, finding one near the town of Klamathon. Six rocks were projecting from the water at this point, and Meek told the Doctor that "sis" in French meant six, and "kiyou" was the word for boulders, whence came the name Siskiyou country from which originated Siskiyou county.
In the spring of 1853, in partnership with two men named Hall and Smith, he purchased a band of cattle and drove them to the rich pasture land on Applegate creek, where they and other parties had their camp. While there, news came of the outbreak of the Rogue River Valley Indians. Dr. Ream at once took a rifle and started out to gather in some horses and mules grazing about a mile distant. He found six Indians in the act of driving them off, and in the skirmish that ensued a bullet passed through his hair and an arrow through the rim of his hat, but he killed one Indian and succeeded in recapturing two horses. The sixty or seventy men at the camp had in the meantime built a fort, and strict guard was kept during the remainder of the outbreak. He was on sentry duty one morning at four o'clock, when the Indians attacked, and three whites were killed and twelve wounded. In the course of his early western career Dr. Ream had many other Indian adventures, and some very narrow escapes. He met the famous Captain jack, and was requested to intercede for the Indians just before the breaking out of the Modoc war. He received nothing but kindness from the Indians, who regarded him as "the great medicine man of the white faces."
After Indian troubles ceased he engaged in mining on Rogue river, fashioning out and lining with rawhide the first rocker he had ever seen. he made from ten to twenty dollars a day at Humbug creek, and another claim also paid him handsomely, but his reputation for skill as a medical practioner had become so general throughout the country that he was obliged to turn nearly all his energies to that line of work. From 1856 to 1860 he was in Deadwood, and in the spring of the latter year he took up his permanent location in Yreka, where he was soon the acknowledged leader as physician and surgeon, and through over fifty years of practice he has never lost his prestige among the people of northern California. He holds a diploma granted after examination by the Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a member of the State Medical Society of California and for sixteen years served as a resident physician and surgeon to the Siskiyou County Hospital. He is a constant reader of scientific works and medical literature, and has kept abreast of the progress of fifty years. His long experience in surgery has enabled him to perfect several excellent devices, among others a glue bandage, which when applied in cases of fractures obviates the necessity of splints and gives entire ease to the patient, and is cleaner than plaster of paris. After using it forty years he has yet to find an instance where it failed its purpose. He has performed many remarkably difficult operations, and in his earlier years he never failed to respond to calls even when involving great hardships and dangers of travel and exposure. At the age of seventy-four he is still a hale and hearty man, his six feet of stature and commanding appearance making age an easy burden. Even at this advanced age he is often known to brave the storms of winter and ride on horseback over the mountains as great a distance as seventy-five miles in a single day to administer to the wants of some suffering patient. He has a strong but kindl face, and his fine and noble character has impressed itself on every movement and feature and made him a man of wonderful self-poise and forceful dignity. Here is his philosophy of old age:
"We have been taught that the human system is composed of cells, every cell is an atom of life, cells are restored, cells are being destroyed, and as long as the cells are reproduced a man is not old; when the balance between restoration and destruction ceases to exist a man is old and death is inevitable."
And the spirit in which he has carried on his life work with such beneficent results is illustrated by these words:
"We should lay aside all selfishness and prejudice at the bedside of the sick and afflicted, and use speedily every honorable endeavor to restore the patient to health--this is the remedy we should use, whether it be Allopathic, Eclectic or Homoeopathic. We can reason only from what we know; science teaches facts, facts are truths; without truth our fancied knowledge is worse than ignorance."
Dr. Ream has always been one of the leading Democrats and influential public men of northern California. he cast his first presidential vote for Buchanan in 1856. he favors a protective tariff for our infant industries just so long as those infant industries need such a tariff, after which he is an ardent supporter of a free-trade policy. He is opposed to Chinese and pauper immigration, to monopolies, and has been very much interested in the raising of educational standards. He was elected to the office of coroner in 1859, was elected sheriff in 1861, and to the office of foreign miner's tax collector in 1867. In 1877 he was elected by a majority of five hundred as state senator for Siskiyou, Modoc, Shasta and Trinity counties, against a powerful and influential opponent. He was chairman of the committee on hospitals in that session, and in this connection made an investigation and found that appropriations were being made entirely for the benefit of individuals. He had the appropriation bill reconsidered, and thereby effected a saving of forty thusand dollars of state funds. He also served on the committees of education and of engrossment. He was very instrumental in gaining the admission to practice, without discrimination, of all the schools of medicine, the allopathic, homeopathic, and eclective. He was never an office-seeker, and, while urged during Cleveland's term to present his name for various high positions, he always declined and said he preferred to practice medicine.
One of his most enjoyable recreations has been the gathering and arranging of specimens both modern and prehistoric for his private museum, which contains one of the choicest collections in the state.
Dr. Ream has been married twice. September 12, 1864, he became to husband of Miss Alice Augusta Belden, a native of Akron, Ohio, and who died May 7, 1867. There were two children, and the daughter died in infancy. The other, Henry Belden Ream, was born July 3, 1865, educated in the Yreka grammar school, held a responsible position with the Southern Pacific Railroad Company for two years, and for ten years was coiner in the United States Mint at San Francisco, California. He was married on Arpil 8, 1890, to Miss Amelia Hattie Kiefaber of St. Louis. Two daughters have been born to them, one named Lucille Fellows Ream, born June 1, 1892, the other, Mildred Kiefaber Ream, born March 16, 1895. Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ream are now the owners of and reside upon a beautiful farm about forty miles from Yreka, near the town of Sisson.
Dr. Ream was married the second time on October 13, 1875, to a native daughter of Yreka, Miss Lora Virginia Calhoun, born July 27, 1855. She is a lady of broad culture and refinement, and has always been a power in social circles as well as in the home. There were also two children born of the second marriage, both of whom were boys. One died young and the other, George D. Ream, is a young man still in school.
Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume I
The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine
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