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HomeFeaturesFrom the Files of the Lassen Historical Society: George Long Gets Married

From the Files of the Lassen Historical Society: George Long Gets Married

At the Susanville Railroad Depot in 1915 ~photo from UNR Reno Special Collections~

by Susan Couso

In 1914, the railroad through Susanville had been completed, and it was a lively scene at the Susanville Depot. There was the ‘hustle and bustle’ of people in a hurry as crates and barrels and boxes were unloaded, and passengers were disembarking.

This was now the hub of the town as people came and went to all parts of the country.

On April 11th, a tired but excited Lillian Helmke stepped off the train after a long ride from Fresno. She was arriving in town to meet her intended husband and begin a new life.

George J. Long had written to the love of his life, asking her to meet him in Susanville and become his bride. George worked for the Red River Lumber Company in Westwood and felt that it was time to settle down. The next step in his life would be to marry and begin a family, and he had chosen his perfect mate.

Lillian excitedly sent a telegram back to Susanville. Yes, she would become George’s wife, she said, and she went on to let him know when her train would arrive. She addressed her reply to George Long, in Susanville.

Unfortunately, Lassen County has had an extensive list of men named George Long. Besides George J., there was: George B., George. E. George L., George W., and many more. The telegraph operator gave the message to George Long, but it was not George J. Long.

George Long dutifully drove his automobile to the station to greet the lovely Lillian, but when he approached her with the telegram and asked if she was the woman he was to meet, she replied that she had sent such a message to the man she was to marry, but he was not that man. “You’re not my George Long,” she said.

Fortunately, with George Long’s help, George J. Long was located, and the happy couple rushed off to be married.

Lassen County Clerk George E. Bassett’s office was closed, but he agreed to open it up for the pair and issued a marriage license. Bassett then stayed to act as a witness for the wedding.

Reverend James H. Westervelt, from the Methodist Church was summoned and performed the ceremony and George J. Long and Lillian Louise Helmke emerged as a married couple.

The newlyweds traveled to Westwood exhausted and elated and set up their life there. Eventually the little family moved to the Fresno area where they welcomed a daughter, Elner Deloris in 1916.

George and Lillian lived in the Fresno area for the rest of their lives, and it all began at the Susanville Depot on a fresh spring day in 1914.


If you are a fan of our weekly history stories you should join the Lassen County Historical Society! It’s a fun way to be a part of our county’s rich history. When you sign up, you’ll receive regular Historical Society newsletters with interesting stories and information. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in area history.

Through your membership you help preserve local history. You can download a membership application by clicking here.

Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso
SusanvilleStuff.com Publisher/Editor
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