It is so easy to become so wrapped up in our own “firefights” over politics, COVID, economy, difficult changes, social injustice. Some of these things we can do something about. Some things we can’t. But our community at least has been spared the horror of what Butte County, California, has been experiencing on top of all that.
So far away-who cares? Most people do not realize that Warwick and that area of California have a very special connection. The city of Oroville was founded by a local man.
James Monroe Burt was born in Bellvale on March 10, 1816, the son of Benjamin Burt and Elizabeth Ketchum Burt, one of thirteen children. Educated in the law, he caught “gold fever” and heeded the westward call in 1849.
Arriving in Butte County, after a short time of hard labor panning the river he realized that the surest way to make money was to sell provisions to the flood of miners coming in. He named Oroville (“gold town”), and his store was a community hub of the Gold Rush.
He died in 1884 and is buried in Old Oroville Cemetery. His brother Howard also migrated, and you will find Burt descendants in the area today, where they are battling deadly flames and toxic air, mourning their dead and surveying the ruins of communities that look as though a nuclear bomb was detonated.
As we grumble about our own 2020 challenges – which are not minor- it might be helpful to keep things in perspective. Things are not THAT bad. We must remember to count our blessings and help and encourage those whose daily struggle is so very much harder than our own.
The Burt building on Bird St. in Oroville, c. 1890.