O’NEALS – That band of merry makers and preservers of local history are at it again. This time the Clampers will be dedicating a monument commemorating a notorious stage robbery at the location of the long-gone town of Hildreth near O’Neals.
The gentlemen of E Clampus Vitus, affectionately know as “Clampers,” love a good bit of fun, but they are first and foremost dedicated to the promotion and preservation of western history.
The Clampers have been hard at work finishing up the Hildreth monument, and will dedicate it at a gala event at the Ryan ranch on Saturday, Sept. 27, at 10 a.m. Potluck bar-b-que to follow, after the customary and indispensable baptism by whisky.
Hildreth was the site of a stage robbery in the 1860s, says Clamper’s Historian Steve Varner, where a bandit stole $10,000 in gold and hid it in a tree stump. He then started a fire to cover his tracks.
Later, as the story goes, two guys found some of the gold and tried to sell it in Millerton. The pair were promptly charged with the robbery, but were later cleared.
In the 1870s, Tom Hildreth founded the town and it was a rich gold producing area until the cost and availability of firewood became an issue. The wood was used to fire the boilers for the stamp mills, and the pumps used to clear the mines of flooding water. Wood became scarce and expensive, and the last mine closed in 1893; the Post Office in 1896.
The property was then purchased by Henry Ryan who ranched on the land. The family later built a house on the Hildreth home site in the 1950s, and continues to work the land to this day. All that remains of the old town is the Hanover School House and a bunkhouse at the ranch.
The Ryan Ranch is located at 51272 Road 210. From Road 200 in O’Neals, across from the Spring Valley School, turn south on Road 211, go about 1/2 mile and turn left (east) onto Road 210, and follow it to the monument – you cannot miss it, as they say!
Enjoy some fascinating tales and learn more about E Clampus Vitus on the website of the Grub Gulch Chapter 41- 49