Board of Directors & Officers

Board of Directors and Officers

The trails that crossed the California-Nevada Chapter took the emigrants on a dangerous
journey across deserts and over mountains to their destinations in California.

Showing headshot of Bill Holmes CA-NV Chapter President. White man with glasses and short gray hair with mustache.
William (Bill) Holmes

I grew up in Sacramento, spent thirty years in Butte County and currently live in El Dorado and Inyo Counties. I am married to Calder Reid, a USFS employee, and we have two sons. I started my professional life with CAL FIRE in 1969 as a seasonal firefighter while going to college in the winter months. In 1974 I was offered a permanent job in the Butte Unit of CAL FIRE. It was in the early 1990s while in Butte County that I met Andy Hammond of OCTA. Andy asked if he could put a trail marker in front of the CAL FIRE station near Berry Creek on the Beckwourth Trail. I not only allowed Andy to put up the trail marker, but I signed up with OCTA. I’m not sure where I got my interest in history, but I’m giving credit to my mother who used to read to our family at night around a campfire at our cabin in the Eldorado National Forest.

I was too busy working to get out on trail projects, but I did go on one OCTA Trail project with Don Buck in the late 1990s. After that one field outing I became hooked on OCTA and realized what a professional organization it was. If everyone was as committed as the man I just met this was some organization.

In 2003, I promoted to Unit Chief for the CAL FIRE Amador-El Dorado-Sacramento-Alpine Unit and moved to El Dorado County. In 2013 I retired from CAL FIRE after forty-four years as a Deputy Director in charge of Northern California. I had traveled all over the United States either managing major emergencies as an incident commander or serving as an agency administrator and teaching. The farthest I traveled to teach emergency incident management principles was New Delhi. I’ve spent a lot of time in helicopters; flown an air tanker; was a peace officer for twenty-nine years; taught at Butte College; attended the Marine Corps Leadership Reaction Course in Quantico, VA; attended the Executive Fire Officer Course at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, MD; was an incident commander on California’s major incident management teams for fifteen years; and led a federal team for one year. I was the recipient of the various Directors awards five times.

Even while still working I kept reading the various OCTA publications, dreaming of getting out on some emigrant trails. In 2018 I visited the AKT Ranch near Wheatland, CA, which resulted in a partnership between the Wheatland Historical Society and the CA-NV Chapter of OCTA. We were allowed onto the property to find historical sites and, most importantly, the emigrant trail. Those who attended our 2023 Spring Symposium saw the fruits of our labors when we were allowed to tour the historic Johnson Rancho and see the site of the ranch’s adobe house and the remnants of the End of the California Trail.

David Fullerton
Vice President

I have been a member of OCTA for many years.  My original focus was simply hiking and biking as much of the Emigrant Trail as I could.  More recently I have been very enthused about finding and mapping the many alternative trails, bypasses and cutoffs of the California Trail from Goose Creek down along the Humboldt River to the Humboldt Sink.  This involves field work but also a lot of diary analysis.  I am 65 years old.  I was born in Fresno and have lived in Sacramento with my wife for the past 20 years.  I retired from my work in California water resources management in 2019 and I am loving the extra time I now have to work on the trails.  I look forward to serving on our Board of Directors!

Dee Owens
Board Member

Dee has lived in her home in Placerville for 50 years, raising a family and now enjoying her grandchildren who live nearby.  She is a retired elementary school teacher.  As a teacher, one of her favorite subjects was California history.

She began emigrant trail work on PIT (Passport in Time) projects with Richard Silva twenty years ago on the Yreka, Nobles and Lassen Trails. Dee has worked with OCTA teams verifying and mapping emigrant trails in Northern California especially the trails through El Dorado County.  She enjoys locating the trails using historic maps, emigrant diaries and GIS to discover possible locations and then verifying the locations on the ground and mapping the discovered trail segments.

As the compositor for Trail Talk, she receives the print ready articles and arranges them for publication.  She is presently working on cataloguing and digitizing Don Buck’s extensive collection.

Jeanne Young
Board Member

Jeanne Rounds Rhoades Young is an Emigrant Trail enthusiast. She has been hiking and documenting the trails since 2013 with her amazing husband and loyal dog, driving to Independence, Missouri, and following the trail west through Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, and California. She writes short stories of these adventures for the Trails West publication, “The Marker,” and is the Historian for the Carson City Battle Born Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, also writing articles for their News Bulletin. Jeanne is a lifelong entrepreneurial businesswoman, showcasing a patented invention on QVC, as well as owning and managing a real estate empire. Jeanne is the proud daughter of two Marines, the loving mother of two children and the doting grandmother to seven.

Dave Freeman
Board Member

It all started differently for all of us.

For me it might have been all those weekends at Columbia in the 1960s, or in the Boy Scouts with map and compass, or in conversations with Richard Silva on layering old maps into Google Earth or maybe I just came by it honestly by my great-grandfather coming to California over the Beckwourth Trail.

My focus for the past 13 years has been extracting the information from old maps and diaries for the sites and features of William B. Ide, the President of the California Republic, John Sutter and Peter Lassen. On the Peter Lassen front, I started a six-week project that is now into its 10th year. Using GIS, Sat and LIDAR, I started a small group of old farts to map out the Lassen Rancho Bosquejo. Here at the end of the Lassen Trail there are miles of trail, the end of the Lassen trail camp, over 200 adobe sites, two Benton Cities, three Lassen mills, two Lassen compounds, 22+ miles of canals, two Benton Cities, the first Masonic Hall in California, Lassen’s smelter and foundry (again the first in California), two dams, and for good luck let’s throw in the shipwreck of the 1856 Riverboat  “Plumas.”

The Lassen Trail has evolved from a simple dotted line on a map to five major routes to the various components for the Lassen Rancho. On top of that there are numerous sub-routes forming, and in places, just wonderful braids across the terrain. The town of Benton City 2 also has evolved with a newly discovered 20-side-street subdivision at the junction of the Lassen Trail branch, which heads directly to the front door of the Lassen Masonic Hall and the Marysville-to-Shasti Road.

With the attributes of the Lassen canals and mills known, I have had a bit of “project creep” and have found 13 and possibly 14 of Lassen’s other mills, many canal segments and infrastructure developments in Keytesville, Missouri, Petaluma, Fremont, Santa Cruz, Slough House, Johnson Ranch, and Plumas, Tehama and Lassen Counties.

These labors have led me to assist in the protection and conservation of early emigrant sites.

So, you can see that we lead an odd passion, we take the weak clues left from the past, like the flowers in a green meadow, grooves in Peter Lassen’s canal, a wagon bit left in the ground or the just the earth worn from the passage of the multitudes. I have also fallen into this group of time travelers who attempt to find the remnants of the past by wandering though the present.

Marlene Smith-Baranzini
Board Member

A relative newcomer to OCTA, Marlene Smith-Baranzini joined the association in 2013. Long drawn to history and writing, she is a former editor of California History and the Overland Journal, co-author with Howard Egger-Bovet, of the U.S. Kids History series, and editor of The Shirley Letters from the California Mines, by Louise Clappe (Heyday 2002). She welcomes the opportunity to join the Trail Talk Committee.

Dick Waugh
Past President

Dick Waugh was born and raised in the Oroville, CA area. He is a U.S. Army veteran. He served with the Oroville Police Department,  the  Butte County Sheriff’s office and finished his career as the Chief of Police in Williams, CA. retiring in 2006. He currently volunteers for the Butte County Search and Rescue unit and is a member of the Oroville Sunrise Rotary. He is active in OCTA and has served in various board positions. He enjoys trail hiking, having walked the Green Horn Cut off, the 40 mike Desert and most of the Beckwourth Trail..

Phyllis Smith

In 2001 Phyllis got her first taste of PITdom, repairing historic cabins, excavating 19th century logging sites and best of all, searching for remnants of immigrant trails, volunteering for more than 20 projects with the US Forest Service’s Passport in Time program.  This brought her into contact with OCTA members and she joined up to see what the fuss was about, and before long she was managing the registration process for the 2015 annual convention in South Lake Tahoe.

Phyllis lives in Yuba City, one-quarter mile from where she was born, but she’s been around the world and has worked in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia.  She’s now a retired court management and technology consultant and spends her days volunteering for a variety of historical organizations.  Her roles in OCTA are Treasurer, Trail Talk editor and member of the National Library-Collections Committee.

Becky Judd

Becky Judd is a retired elementary school speech-language pathologist. She was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and now lives in San Jose with her husband, Bill. They have three grown children. She volunteers with Santa Clara County Parks, the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and a small school her children attended. She picked up a book about pioneer women on the trail when she and her husband first moved to California (for his job in Silicon Valley). There was something about moving across the country to follow a dream that resonated. She’s been hooked ever since.


Trail Talk Editorial Board:

Phyllis Smith
Marlene Smith-Baranzini
Assistant Editor
Jo Johnston
Dee Owens