Peter Hickey Hickey's Profile

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Make a point without "glitz" or "bling"! Salvaged Giant Sequoia is quite restrained and has a minimalistic elegance. What more does one need? There's a story behind the reserved charm, read on if you're interested. If not---Enjoy!

In 1867 Great great Grandfather Thomas Gamlin and his younger brother Israel got a Deed to the 160 acres that the General Grant Tree sits on. This family was the first European settlers in the Grant Grove Area. They logged the Fir and Pine trees, made fence posts and shakes out of the Sequoia that was already on the ground. Great great great Grandparents James and Rachel Pursell came to own the 160 acres that is Big Stump in 1871, Big Stump is just south of Grant Grove. They sold the timber rights to a man by the name of Mr. Smith Comstock, a successful logger out of Santa Cruz. He starting logging the Sequoia's of Big Stump in 1883, it came to a close…

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  • Born on December 27
  • Joined December 13, 2009

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Sequoiadendron Giganteum or more commonly known as the Big Trees, Giant Sequoia, or simply Redwoods Not to be confused with the Coastal Redwood Sequoia Sempervirens Unfortunately most of the wood from Sequoias went into making Fence Posts, shakes and Grape stakes

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About

Make a point without "glitz" or "bling"! Salvaged Giant Sequoia is quite restrained and has a minimalistic elegance. What more does one need? There's a story behind the reserved charm, read on if you're interested. If not---Enjoy!

In 1867 Great great Grandfather Thomas Gamlin and his younger brother Israel got a Deed to the 160 acres that the General Grant Tree sits on. This family was the first European settlers in the Grant Grove Area. They logged the Fir and Pine trees, made fence posts and shakes out of the Sequoia that was already on the ground. Great great great Grandparents James and Rachel Pursell came to own the 160 acres that is Big Stump in 1871, Big Stump is just south of Grant Grove. They sold the timber rights to a man by the name of Mr. Smith Comstock, a successful logger out of Santa Cruz. He starting logging the Sequoia's of Big Stump in 1883, it came to a close in 1889.

Thomas Gamlin married Turenne Lelia Pursell; second child of James and Rachel on December 18th 1872. Tom was 21, Turrenne was 17. The Gamlin family's first business opened in the Fallen Monarch an ancient Sequoia log that was burned out by fire eons before the Europeans arrived, it being tall enough inside, it served as their first establishment. A traveler could find dry goods, a home cooked meal and most certainly distilled alcohol, the Gamlins were successful. A few years later they built a cabin out of rough-hewn Pine timbers. Thomas and Turrenne Gamlin had this business in the shadow of the General Grant Tree well after it became a National Monument. The Fallen Monarch was the kitchen where Turrenne and her mother Rachel cooked many meals for the guests staying or traveling through. Both structures are still standing in the shadow of the General Grant Tree today.
The one Sequoia that Tom and Israel cut down was the Captain Jack tree; the stump is between the Fallen Monarch and the General Grant Tree, they cut it down in the summer of 1875 for the Quaker Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia PA of 1876. A 16 foot section of the trunk with bark attached was taken apart in 8 pieces like a pie in shape at the site; approximately 1 foot of the outer most part of the trunk with bark still attached was shipped down the mountain by freight wagon and then by rail. The "tree" was reassembled first in Saint Louis and then from there on to Philadelphia. It was known as "The California Hoax" by the News Papers back east. California is at it again they said! It is interesting to read how John Muir came upon my ancestors while they were working on this tree. He wrote about this in his journal, There is a good book written about this undertaking. The Grant Grove Centennial Stump Kings Canyon National Park, author Gary D. Lowe.

A large part of my family during this time was making a living in that area of the Sierra Nevada. James Pursell, Thomas, plus some of Turrenne's brothers made fence posts, grape stakes and shakes out of the scraps of Giant Sequoia left behind when the logging companies finished harvesting the good wood to be milled. Sad as it may sound 50% of the wood in the Sequoias shattered so badly when they hit the ground it was left where it laid. Thomas and Israel did not log the Sequoia's on their property, except for the Centennial Tree. Try to imagine this; you're a logger who just toppled a big Sequoia. You climb up on the stump of the tree as it goes down. This stump vibrates for up to two and a half minutes after this huge tree hits the ground. Some Sequoia's cut down were well over 3,000 years old. The United States Government recognized the real value of the Grant Grove area on October 1, 1890 and made it a national monument. Before the major Logging companies could get their hands on it. Today, because of my ancestors foresight, we have a magnificent grove of Sequoias plus the second largest of the species to enjoy, The General Grant Tree named for President Ulysses S. Grant. This tree, which is also known as the nation's Christmas Tree by a proclamation of the Department of the Interior in 1926. Then in 1956 it became a national shrine by an act of Congress; to honor the brave soldiers who have given their lives in defense of our Country. Today there are services held annually on the second Sunday of December in front of the General Grant Tree. For more information, please go to the Sanger Chamber of Commerce website.

A lot of the wood from the Giant Sequoia ended up on ranches throughout the San Joaquin Valley as fence posts. When the Fence Posts are taken out by farmers and ranchers after a century in the ground. The wood is ready for its third life. I take them and make gifts for you.

My father went to work for the National Park Service as a seasonal Naturalist in the summer of 1952 in Sequoia National Park. The year I was born. He worked for the National Park Service for 22 years.

As I was growing up, my father was this larger than life individual. An Eagle Scout, WW2 veteran, and a graduate of U C Berkley. His vast knowledge was comforting. I can still picture him giving programs countless times to 200 or more visitors in the outdoor amphitheaters around Giant Forest and Lodgepole during the summer. I sometimes would go to work with him. From 6 months of age until my 14th year, I lived every summer in Sequoia National Park with my family.

I’m 58 years old now, born in the new wing at Exeter Memorial Hospital on December 27, 1952. My parents are the late Jack Williams Hickey and Jacqueline Wilson Hickey Maniscalco; my mother still lives in the same home they bought 55 years ago on the outskirts of Exeter, Calif. The middle child out of seven. I went through the Public School System in Exeter, graduated from Exeter Union High School in 1971.

My Childhood summers were spent in one of the most enchanted places on earth: Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park. The Park is located in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada in Tulare County, California. From birth to 4 years of age, my family lived in employee housing at Lodgepole. We lived in a tent cabin to begin with, from there we moved up the hill to a real cabin with indoor plumbing. These cabins were so small that the older children slept outside on army cots. The Marble Fork of the Kaweah River was nearby. There was swimming, fishing and the occasional bear to chase, or to be chased by! When I was five we made the move to Giant Forest. The cabin that we moved into was too small for the whole family to sleep inside. So my father built a platform onto the back of the cabin. Six World War II Army cots were lined up side by side across the platform. It was wide enough so that you could walk between the cots and the cabin to get from one side to the other. The wood for the platform came from two abandoned tent cabins that dad tore down. A big fir tree off the western downhill-corner of the platform provided protection of sorts during light rain. I loved to sleep on the east end of the platform where the fir tree's canopy didn’t reach; here I could look at the stars as I went to sleep.

The collecting of Sequoia wood has been a passion of mine for many years. It's just recently that I have finally figured out what to do with the wood of the Sequoia along with telling the history of my family and this Noble Relic. I bring to you the Sequoia; in many forms, from Candle Holders, Crosses and Birdhouses. Enjoy!

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