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Stories from the valley

A Valley Family History

Contributed by Ellen Martin

Personal identities are a key part of who we are. I am a mother, a daughter, a wife, a Greek a Daughter of the American Revolution, and a Sacramento Valley resident – just to name a few.

My valley roots run deep. My grandmother was born to Greek immigrants in Woodland. Her father ran an ice cream shop in Sacramento and then bought land Sutter County near Yuba City where he ran a peach farm on what I grew up calling “The Ranch.”

My grandmother and her three sisters grew up on “The Ranch” and all settled down in valley towns. My dad was born in Marysville, where my grandfather was coaching football at Yuba Jr. College and then moved to Chico when my grandfather became the head football coach at Chico State.

My grandfather died young, when my dad was just seven years old, leaving my grandmother with three young children to tend to. They moved back to Sacramento and the rest of the family – but spent a lot of time exploring the far corners of the valley.

My dad grew up with a love for the valley and an special love for the wildlife in the valley. A Sacramento Valley naturalist at heart – he passed that love on to me. We still celebrated Easter at “The Ranch” when I was young and we spent hours birdwatching in the fields and wildlife refuges throughout the valley.

My dad is still involved in the bird scene in the valley and compiles the annual Christmas Bird Counts in Marysville and Honey Lake. And he still enjoys spending time looking at birds at many of the valley hotspots.

We are now starting to pass these family histories and traditions on to my children. Like spending the first day of the new year out bird watching and enjoying the crisp cold air and the wildlife. This year our New Year’s Day excursion took us to Gibson Ranch – but others have led us to Gray Lodge, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge or just on the hunt for a rare bird seen on a recent Christmas Count.

I’m proud of my family ties to the valley and how they shape me. I look forward to what Sacramento Valley life continues to hold for me and my family.