The Havilah Herald

Official Publication of the Havilah Centennial Group, Inc.
aka The Havilah Historical Society and Museum
Havilah California – January 2024
A recognized 501 C 3 Historical Organization (all donations are 100% tax-
deductible)  Dedicated to the preservation of the history of Havilah,
the first County Seat of Kern County, CA

Our Purpose:

The purpose of this corporation is educational.  The organization has been formed and is maintained to research, document, preserve, and share the historic legacy of the town of Havilah, California, and of Kern County, California.  Included in this purpose is the objective to provide for the advancement of education about the history of Havilah and early Kern County to the local community at large and to any and all visitors to the community.


February 2024


It is with sadness that I report the passing of Lana Grafius on January  10th at 9:30 am.  Lana and Larry joined the Havilah Historical Society in 2008.  Lana was a Director and took on the task of Calendar Coordinator for the docents.  She always had a can-do, positive attitude and was willing to work on lots of projects including Havilah Days and other special events.  We offer our sincere condolences to Larry and his family.  Lana will be greatly missed. Larry will continue on as Vice-president.

Welcome to our newest members Don and Lois Chapman. They were fire lookouts on Bald Mountain in 1966 which is on the Kern Plateau near Troy Meadow.  They reside in Kernville.

At our last meeting we selected Saturday, April 27 for celebration of the Havilah Days/Mining Expo.  Hours will be 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.  Contacts are being made with potential presenters/exhibiters.

Dues are still coming in.  If you haven’t yet paid, there is an application form at the end of this newsletter for your use.  Thank you.

Roy Fluhart


Pen in Hand: Nuwä Storytelling: the season for tales has returned



It is winter in the Tehachapi Mountains. “Shi’id tomo kaapan kavo Tehichipava’an,” is a way to say that in the Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Southern Paiute) language of the people who have lived here for thousands of years.

Winter was traditionally the time for telling stories, when Nuwä families would gather around a fire and elders would share the stories that they had been told.  These were special times that would be long remembered.

For cultures without written languages, these oral traditions were vital.  It was the only way to pass down these stories through the years, the decades, the centuries….Time seemed to move slower in the past.  The passage of time is marked by change, and cultural changes used to happen slowly.  For Native Californians, before contact with Europeans, grandchildren could expect to live their lives in much the same way as their grandparents had lived theirs.

Storytelling was an ancestral tradition, and it continued with each succeeding generation.  The tales could be informative and have moral implications, but they were also entertaining, imaginative, thought-provoking, suspenseful, amusing, and sometimes scary.

Fortunately, a number of these classic stories were collected from Nuwä elders and thus preserved by anthropologists Theodore McCown, Stephen Cappannari and Maurice Zigmond in the first half of the 20th century.

At the start of the 21st century, we have been very fortunate to have the Girado siblings — Luther, Betty and Lucille — share some of these stories in the Nuwä language.  The Girados’ first language was Nuwä, not English, and they maintained their Nuwä fluency throughout their lives.  It has been a rare and special treat to hear these stories told in the original language by these gifted speakers.

Betty and Luther have gone to meet their ancestors now, but Lucille Girado Hicks remains as sharp as ever.  One of her favorite stories to tell has been one called “Sina’av and Sanapü” (Coyote and Pitch), about Coyote and his encounter with Pitch from a pine tree, and it is a delight to hear in Lucille’s beautiful sing-song voice.

ne important point to remember about Nuwä stories is that they mostly concern what has been termed “animal-people.”  Although they have the attributes and abilities of the animals for which they are named, and in many cases eventually became, at the time that the stories describe, they were more like shape-shifting people.  A modern analogy would be superheroes like Spiderman, Catwoman, Ant-man, etc. — beings that have animal-like qualities, but are also human.


I like this one about “The Bear Feast in Walker Basin,” told by Emma Williams to Cappannari, with translation by Sadie Williams:

The bears had a feast in Walker Basin.  Oak Titmouse went to get firewood for them. She had a string tied around her head and she carried her knife there.  While she was gathering wood, she lost her knife.  She came back and said to the bears “puzine kut kut kut.”  The bears couldn’t understand her.  They asked Coyote what she said, but he couldn’t understand her either.  They told the Coyote to go and get Rattlesnake, who understood the Oak Titmouse’s language.  They talked together all the time.

Coyote ran over to Rattlesnake’s house.  Rattlesnake was sitting in a basket which she was making.  Coyote told Rattlesnake that they needed her because no one could understand the Oak Titmouse’s language.  Rattlesnake put away her basket.  She said to Coyote “I can’t walk very fast.”  Coyote said, “I’ll carry you.”  Rattlesnake’s head was over Coyote’s shoulder and her tongue was out.  Coyote saw it and was frightened.  He dropped her.  Rattlesnake asked “Why did you drop me?”  Coyote said that he was afraid.  He picked her up, and the same thing happened several times.  Rattlesnake said “I won’t bite you. I just do that (hold out my tongue).”

Finally they got there.  Rattlesnake talked to the Oak Titmouse and then told the bears that she had lost her knife.  “It’s going to snow if you don’t find her knife.”  That bird was a rainmaker. The women took their winnowing baskets and looked for the knife.  They sifted dirt through their baskets and found the knife.

So it didn’t snow.  Coyote took Rattlesnake back to her house.

Storytelling was a cherished tradition among Native Californians, including the Nuwä of the Tehachapi Mountains and surrounding area.  It was looked forward to eagerly by both young and old, somewhat akin to going to the movies today.  Now that winter is here, I find my thoughts returning to those ancient tales and the people who told them. . .

By JON HAMMOND for Tehachapi News, Jan. 10, 2022, who has written for Tehachapi News for more than 40 years.   (|The above was submitted by Al Price – thank you!)

*                              *                              *                              *                              *                              *                              *


The following poem was submitted by retired local vet Doc Lange – Thank you!

In shooin’ flies or haulin’ freight,

It’s wiser to cooperate.

For better things are sooner done

If two take hold and work as one.


Now that’s a truth all horses know,

They learned it centuries ago.

When days are hot and flies are thick,

Cooperation does the trick.


One tail on duty at the rear

Can’t reach the fly behind the ear,

But two tails, if arranged with craft,

Give full protection fore and aft.


Let fools pursue the lonely course,

Let wise men emulate the horse.

Two make a burden half as great,

Use horse sense…and cooperate.

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *


After Christmas break, a teacher asked her small pupils how they spent their holiday.  One little boy wrote like this:

We always spend Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa.  They used to live up here in a big brick house.  Now they live in a park with a lot of other retarded people.  Grandpa got retarded, and they moved to Florida.

They all live in tin huts.  They all ride tricycles that are too big for me.  They all go to a building they call the wrecked hall, but it is fixed now.  They all do exercises, but not very well.  They play a game with big checkers, and push them around on the floor with sticks.  There is a swimming pool, but I guess nobody teaches them, they just stand there in the water with their hats on.  My Grandma used to make cookies for me, but nobody cooks there.  They all go to restaurants that are fast, and have discounts.

When you come into the park, there is  a doll house with a man inside.  He watches all day so they can’t get out without  him seeing them.  I guess everybody forgets who they are, because they all wear badges with their names on them.  Grandma says Grandpa worked hard all of his life to earn the retardment.  I wish they would move back home, but I guess the man in the doll house won’t let them out.

(The above article was found in Janet Kutzner’s grandmother’s Bible.  Her Grandparents lived in a mobile home park and rode a three-wheeler trike!)


Membership Application

Havilah Historical Society and Museum

6789 Caliente-Bodfish Road, Havilah, CA 93518


(Fiscal Year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2024)


$25.00 Annual Dues for an individual or a family membership, or $35.00 if newsletter is snail-mailed (a family is 2 adults for voting purposes).  This will entitle members to receive notices via the monthly newsletter, The Havilah Herald, of meetings, functions and events.


Name ________________________________________________________________________


Mailing Address___________________________________________________________




Deliver newsletter (check one) by email__________ or by snail-mail__________


Date application submitted___________________________________________



Please mail application to:         Havilah Historical Society, c/o Roy Fluhart

PO Box 936, Kernville, CA 93238


President-                                              Roy Fluhart

Vice President –                                   Larry Grafius

Secretary –                                            Vicki Porter

Treasurer –                                            Jayne-Hotchkiss-Price

Directors:                                              Bob Porter

Wes Kutzner

Immediate Past President –                 Jayne Hotchkiss-Price

Newsletter Editor –                              Janet Kutzner




Annual membership is $25.00 per individual or family when monthly newsletter is emailed.  If newsletter is snail-mailed the membership fee is $35.00.  The membership year is from January 1 to December 31.  The Courthouse Museum and Schoolhouse are open from April 1 through Sep. 30 on weekends from 11 am until 3 pm, and by appointment.  They are located at 6789 Caliente-Bodfish Road, Havilah, CA 93518.  Admission to the museum is FREE, but donations are cheerfully accepted (and 100% tax-deductible!).  The monthly general meeting is at 3 pm the second Saturday of each month at the Havilah Schoolhouse.