SCRFI is the acronym, pronounced “Scruffy”, for our non-profit 501 (c) 3 corporation entitled Smartsville Church Restoration Fund, Inc. Our mission is to save and restore the former Catholic church for use as a community/visitors’ center and museum.
Part of SCRFI's mission is to provide a gathering place for the community similar to the past although not as a church. Gatherings for holidays and other celebrations or events have been held on the church grounds with the approval of SCRFI.
We believe one of our proudest achievements as a result of our restoration efforts at SCRFI is the impact we see on the town of Smartsville. The united effort to save the historic church and public attention given to Smartsville, and community events, have given Smartsville a renewed sense of pride. At SCRFI we do not spend any of our restoration money on events not related to our work, but we give freely of our time and energy to events that are important to the community.
Volunteers are always welcome. We believe that local volunteers, i.e. citizens of the Smartsville area are the backbone of our Board of Directors as well as our crew of RODNEY’S ROUSTABOUTS. The Roustabouts are local citizens that are ready to give their assistance for any number of reasons from clean-up, painting, or construction labor. Our chief construction volunteer Rodney Ivie is the namesake for Rodney’s Roustabouts. Rodney and his good friend Steve Winchell have performed most of the construction restoration on our church.
Special project volunteers like the ones that joined historicorps to refurbish the Bell Tower came from around the country, camped on site and worked for one week sessions. Meals and camp fees were provided.
We are also welcome local service organizations to take on a project or join in on an ongoing project.
We can always use volunteers that have experience in public relations, grant writing, graphic design, engineering, architecture, historic structures, land use planning and decorative woodworking. If you would like to volunteer fill in the form at the bottom of the page.
As a private non-profit corporation with a limited sphere of influence you can probably imagine how difficult it is for us to obtain the funding we need to continue our restoration work.
Much of our financial help comes from private individuals in Yuba, Sutter, and Nevada Counties. Most of our donations are small and come from dedicated supporters.
Local service groups and historical societies have also steped up to donate.
We are constantly looking for grants, sponsorships and donations from small business corporations and would welcome any suggestions sent our way.
Our annual historical festival where we show what the town was like. Weo tell about the folks who settled here. Often connecting with descendants of some of the town's early settlers. Many come to see where Smartsville, Timbuctoo and Sucker Flat were and what they were like. It has turned into a town reunion of sorts. We have been able to learn more about the original settlers and even unite cousins who had lost track of the family tree and introduced people whose ancestors were neighbors and friends.
This is also the ti
Pioneer Day started out as a way to get people to come to Smartsville to see the work we have done on the restoration of the former Church of the Immaculate Conception. Then we thought a dose of gold rush living history would be fun to demonstrate what the area was like and why the church was such an important part of the community.
We thought some music would be festive and of course some great food is necessary for any party. Activities for the kids makes it really family friendly and educational. It is a good cause as all the proceeds go towards the restoration.
Now it has become something that locals and people from out of town look forward to. Some even come back again and again, so whether you have been before or are new to our festival we welcome you!
Pioneer Day is our annual fundraising event. It is the one chance we get to show off our work of the previous year and to add a little to our coffers so we can continue the work for another year.
The following is from the program of a special event in Smartsville in 2008 celebrating the official return of Smartsville’s name. Famed television producer and host Huell Howser was here to film a segment on Smartsville and Timbuctoo and he returned a few months later to film the party.
“After the placer mining community of Rose’s Bar had been flooded several times and the Yuba River became choked with hydraulic mining debris, the entire town moved to higher ground. The new town was named Smartsville after James Smart who constructed a hotel there in 1856. Smartsville was on the stage coach route between Marysville and the foothill mining communities and it became a town of some importance during the time when hydraulic mining flourished. After the Sawyer decision in 1884 the town lost much of its population of mine workers and their need for commercial services.
In those days, unique names for post offices were not mandatory, and throughout the United States there were multiple post offices with the same name - some even in the same state. Consequently a problem with mail delivery had developed and President Benjamin Harrison created the United States Board on Geographic Names to see what could be done.
The new board made some suggestions regarding post office names that led to a series of formal orders. In addition to prohibiting identical names, the orders contained recommendations on how the spelling of post office names should be simplified.
In 1909, following these recommendations, the U. S. Post Office Department changed the name of Smartsville to Smartville. Although there was no other town in California named Smartsville, the name change was made, apparently, in the spirit of compliance with the orders.
Of course the town of Smartsville was not happy with the name change. Neither were the residents of thousands of other towns throughout the United States when their names were changed. Some of these towns were successful in petitioning the board to have their original names reinstated. Others, like Smartsville, were not. Until last year the most recent attempt by Smartsville was made in 1947 but the request was denied. Despite this and similar disappointments, generations of Smartsville residents never lost their dream of regaining their original name.
Last year (2007) while Kathleen Smith and Lane Parker were gathering data for their new book Smartsville and Timbuctoo, they encountered a virtually unanimous insistence on spelling Smartsville correctly. Kathy thought to herself “I wonder if there is a way to get the correct name reinstated.”
Apparently there was a change in the attitude of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names since 1947. There certainly was a change in personnel. When Kathy called them and asked about their procedure to request a name change she was pleasantly surprised - even encouraged.
Buoyed by this encouragement Kathy called Kit Burton, President of the Smartsville Church Restoration Fund, Inc., the non-profit group that is working to restore the historic, former Catholic church in Smartsville. Working together, Kathy and Kit contacted media outlets and local organizations, historic societies, and civic groups to request that they write letters in favor of the name change. Not surprisingly, the organizations were already well aware of the real name of Smartsville and enthusiastically gave their support. After witnessing this sentiment the Yuba County Board of Supervisors readily agreed to pass a resolution favoring the name reinstatement and even assigned a county official to the project.
Backed by a thick stack of supporting letters and the Yuba County resolution, the California Committee of the U.S. Board voted to reinstate Smartsville’s name on July 16, 2008. Then, apparently overwhelmed by the favorable support, the U.S. Board unanimously granted, on August 14, 2008, what Smartsville had desired for the past 99 years.
As sweet as such a victory is, there is more to savor. Smartsville lost much of its vigor after hydraulic mining was discontinued, but the town did not disappear. Will Smartsville rise again? Just ask us.”
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A special event was held in 2008 celebrating the official return of Smartsville’s name. Famed television Huell Howser was here to film a segment on Smartsville and Timbuctoo and he returned a few months later to film the party.
On September 8, 2018 we celebrated the ten year anniversary of that date.
A nonprofit is as strong as the community that holds it up. Together, we can do more than we can do alone. Let's bring our abilities and passions together to affect real change.
There are many ways to join us and support our mission. Contact us to find out more about volunteer opportunities, fundraising events, and ways that you can get our message to your friends and family.