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July 22, 2011
This is a letter from Lynn Theuriet:
Thomas McGee, Butte County Pioneer
One of the thousands of gold seekers settling in Butte Count was an Irish immigrant Thomas McGee, who had arrived in Butte County by 1857. In April of that year, he paid $125.00 for a one-third share in an Oregon Township mining claim. Evidently he had sufficient luck as a miner, spending the next 23 years working additional claims in Pulga and Cherokee, until he was able to purchase lots of land along Montgomery Street in Oroville By 1880 he had built a two-story Victorian home at the top of the north side of Montgomery Street, along the Feather River, as a place to raise his family, right where the new Veterans’ Memorial is currently being constructed.

Expanding his entrepreneurial skills, Thomas bought “Flouring Mills” in 1893, located just down the street from his home (near where the old Veterans’ Building now stands). He was the proprietor for ten years, aided by his youngest son Joseph W. McGee, who had studied business management. Joseph also served in Company F of the National Guard, under Capt. Warren Sexton, and won a second place medal in the state’s sharp-shooting contest held in July 1895. He later answered the call for the Spanish-American War by serving in Company A of the 8th Infantry Regiment at Camp Barrett in Oakland until the Company was mustered out in 1899. At the age of 71, Thomas sold his flour mill business in 1903, which unfortunately burnt down a year later in June 1904 and was never rebuilt (despite much discussion and determination to rebuild it in the newspapers).Soon afterward, in October 1905, having accomplished success through his industrious life, Thomas McGee passed away and was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Oroville. His Irish wife, Mary Ann lived in their home with her daughters and their families until she died in 1931.at the ripe age of 96! The couple’s grandson, Thomas Gambrel (my grandfather) who had been born in 1899 in this same house, finally sold it in the late 1950’s after his own children were grown and gone, and later died while visiting Oroville in 1961. On our annual treks from the Bay Area, stopping to see the old house again was always on our agenda. We were saddened to see in 1987 that the100+ year old house had suffered a fire inside, and later discovered it had been torn down, leaving nothing behind but a cement block bearing Thomas McGee’s initials “T.M.”, embedded in the sidewalk along Montgomery Street. (Stu- I saved it.)
I’m sure the McGee’s would have considered it an honor to have the new Veteran’s Memorial occupy the land where their home once stood so proudly for so many years, and those of us who are their descendants are excited about it al well! Lynn Theuriet, July 7, 2011.

Stu’s Notes: Let me tell you a story that is one of the many times I seem to be in the right place at the right time, in the last ten years. For years we wanted to buy the property that Thomas McGee built that first house on so long ago. But it was tied up in back taxes and other problems. One Saturday I was going into one of my favorite places in Oroville, The Butte County Historical Society Museum on Spencer. As I entered the door I heard a lady talking to someone inside about how she was in town doing research and was going to buy the property that was her families homestead next to the Boss Burger and now next to our famous roundabout. When I heard this I knew I had to talk to this lady. I introduced myself as the President of the Oroville Veterans Memorial Park Committee. I told her we needed that land for our memorial and please don’t buy it. I ran to my car and brought in our plans to show her. She looked and immediately said, “My plans in Oroville have just changed. What your group is doing is way better than what I would do with the property.” That young lady was Lynn Theuriet. And now you know some of the rest of the story about our 6 year quest to acquire the memorial property. I’ve only met Lynn that one time but have talked to her occasionally on the phone.(My way of communicating, now getting to be obsolete.) Its people like Lynn Theuriet who have appeared out of the blue that is putting this Memorial together piece by piece. She also had an Uncle Richard Gambrel that grew up in that house who served in the U.S. Navy.

From my column 12/9/2005:
Oroville Mercury Register
June 27, 1944

Richard Gambrel, seaman 2/c of the U. S. Navy will have the pleasure next Monday night of hearing a song of his own composition played and sung over a national network. Gambrel, who graduated from Oroville
High School in 1942, entered the service April 14 of this year. He received his boot camp training in San Diego and was then assigned to Texas A and M College. While in high school, Gambrel was pianist for the Rotary Club. He has appeared on programs for many other local clubs and is widely known here as an outstanding musician. Word of his achievement in the song field was received recently by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. T. A. Gambrel of Montgomery Street. Gambrel was awarded a $25 war bond for his position, which will also be entered in competition for a larger prize.