The Haun Collection
1841 – 1931
Haun Collection, Plumas County Museum, Quincy, CA
The Haun Collection contains diaries, correspondence and ephemera from three generations of one California family.
This collection is open for research. Copying is permitted for educational/nonprofit purposes; others must apply to the museum association for permission.
In 1853 father and son James and John Haun left their home in Scott County Kentucky bound for the California Gold Fields. Their hope was to earn money enough to purchase good farm land back in Kentucky. The pair worked claims in and around Quincy, Nelson Point, and Rabbit Creek (La Porte).
On November 30 1855 they were joined by James’ wife Martha Haun and the couple’s young niece Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Hurst. Shortly after the arrival of the female part of the family, in 1856 James Haun returned to farming, purchasing the American Ranch, in Quincy, California.
In 1857 at the age of 15 Lizzie Hurst eloped with Trowbridge Ward, the son of an area judge. The couple settled in Indian Valley, where their six children were born. Their marriage was a difficult one, and Lizzie ultimately returned home to Kentucky with her five children. She resided there with another of her aunts, Elizabeth Moore, and married Mr. Moore after her decease.
John Haun enlisted in the Confederate army. He was captured in the summer of 1862 and incarcerated at Camp Chase Prison in Ohio, where he remained for 18 months. During his time in as a POW he began exchanging letters with long-time sweetheart Mary “Mollie” Burns of Georgetown, KY. Following his release early in 1865, John resided in Scott County before marrying Mollie in 1867 and making his way back to California.
The pair settled in Quincy, where they raised their six children. John Morgan Haun, Robert “Tune” David Haun, Henry Harold Haun, Martha Haun McIntosh, and Birdena Haun Curtis Swingle.
John Morgan Haun became a painter and paper hanger in Quincy. He married Lena Brinkers in 1905 and the couple had four children together. He was accidentally killed in a house fire in 1946, started by his son. Tune Haun served in World War I and returned safely home to live out his days in Quincy. (His letters home have been preserved and are housed at the Plumas County Museum.) Mattie and Birdie both became school teachers, Mattie at the North Fork and Spanish Peak schools, Birdie at the Johnsville school.
Birdina married Jerry Curtis of Johnsville in 1904. It was a happy marriage for more than twenty years until Jerry Curtis’ tragic death in 1917. Curtis, then superintendent of the Hafner mine on Rush Creek, was walking home for lunch with two other men when a mentally ill 17-year-old employee shot and killed both him and one of his companions. The third man escaped. The attacker then proceeded to the Curtis home, where he found Birdina and held her for about an hour. During that time he stated that he was a German spy who had been betrayed. He threatened Birdina and tried to force her to shoot him. Eventually Birdina persuaded him to write a statement of his crime and after promising to forward his wages to his mother, she was released. She phoned to Twain for help from the near by Providence Hill Mine. While she was gone, the young man killed himself.
In 1924, Birdena married again, to Andrew Platter Swingle, a friend of more than 30 years. Birdena’s donation of her personal papers, along with those of her father and grandfather, make the Haun Collection possible.
Related materials may be found in the County Records collection, also housed at the Plumas County Museum, in the archives of the Plumas Argus and Feather River Bulletin stored at the Plumas County Public Library, at Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley, the California State Sutro Library, the Huntington Library, and the Georgetown & Scott County Museum.