For almost a century, from 1853 to 1950, the Celio family owned and operated one of the largest enterprises in the Sierra Mountains of California. Their sawmills provided lumber for most of the homes built in the South Lake Tahoe area, and they were also responsible for the community’s milk, butter, cheese and meat, and owned Meyers Station.
In 1892, Amelia Jelmini joined prestigious pioneer family when she married Frank Celio. Through her gentle nature and dedicated work, Amelia became known as “the rock of the family.” Amelia, a tall, slender woman with blond hair, firm sensitive features and quiet brown eyes, married Frank Celio in 1892 in Placerville, California.
By the time Amelia married Frank, the Celios had established a pattern for the family that continued through the years. They would pasture their cattle at Upper Ranch during the summer and by mid-October, they would be on the trail to Lower Ranch to move the cattle away from heavy snow.
Every member of the family participated in the annual cattle drive. In the fall they would spend several days preparing for the trek over Echo Summit. There was bread to bake, food to store, and clothing to be packed. They took all their belongings with them…it was a big job.
Amelia made her first cattle drive a few months after her marriage. In June they started getting ready for the trip to the Upper ranch, and it must have been a strenuous ordeal for the new bride. She baked, cooked, and filled the “ticks” with hay. A “tick” was a mattress that was split down the center for easy storage and served as a bed for the nights on the trail. On the day of the drive, Amelia took her place in one of the horse drawn wagons, and they headed for Lake Valley.
The first trip was an exciting event for the young woman. It took five days to reach the Upper Ranch. By the end of the drive, everyone was exhausted and Amelia had completed the first of many cattle drives she was to make over the years. On the return trip in October she was expecting her first child. By then she had learned to kill a chicken, clean it and cook it along the side of the trail. In 1902 her third child, Hazel, made the cattle drive at two months old, wrapped in a blanket in a basket on the seat of the buggy.
The home at Upper Ranch had no conveniences. It was a barren place until Amelia arrived. She brought a fresh new look to the old homestead, as well as a happy outlook on life. She worked from before sunrise to sunset cooking, cleaning, and helping with the milk and butter. The family raised beef and cattle and sold butter, cream and eggs commercially. There were 80 cows that Amelia helped milk by hand. She also prepared the meals for the family and ranch hands, and washed clothes in a wash house with water carried from a creek. Amelia’s congenial personality and gentle ways made everyone love her. The house was filled with laughter whenever she was there.
Amelia never wore trousers or hats. She preferred simple dresses with homemade petticoats, and, on special occasions, she would add a little fancy lace. For work days and cattle drives she wore boots. Saturday was the highlight of the week when Frank would take her dancing at Globan’s Dance Hall on the shore of Lake Tahoe. That was the one night they shared alone, away from the routine of the ranch.
Taken from Women of the Sierra by Anne Seagraves