Wednesday, February 25, 2015

March-April 2015

 

Administrator’s Notes 

by Ralph Gibson

As some of you may have heard, we changed the name of the Gold Country Museum to The Gold Rush Museum. We are building a new museum in the historic Auburn Depot and we thought this fresh start deserved a fresh name. If any of you had the opportunity to walk through the old Gold Country Museum before we closed you may recognize some of the displays in our new museum once they are installed. We are keeping some the same, making changes to others, and will add brand new exhibits as well. We wanted to cover all aspects of the Gold Rush and our old museum had some glaring omissions.

One new exhibit will interpret the effects of the Gold Rush on local American Indians, both the Maidu and the Washoe. This exhibit will help us address a significant curriculum standard for many grade levels.

Another new exhibit will focus on the issue of slavery. California was admitted to the Union as a Free State as part of the 1850 Compromise. Though no Slave State was added to the Union as part of the compromise, the South received something they had wanted for a very long time; the Fugitive Slave Act. Further, some southern men immigrated to California with their slaves in tow. Though their numbers were never that great, they were here in Placer County.

We will also have an exhibit interpreting the singers, comedians, dancers and acting troupes that entertained the gold hungry Argonauts. Archives researcher John Knox has compiled a huge binder of entertainers and performances throughout the 1850s in the Auburn area. Knox discovered that famous thespian Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth, performed in Auburn in 1856.

https://twitter.com/PlacerMuseumsThe Gold Rush Museum has endured many delays and it has become a trial of patience for us all. But we still hope to have a soft opening later in the spring with a grand opening in the summer. Be sure to check our Facebook page for updates.
facebook.com/placercountymuseums 
You can also follow us on Twitter (@placermuseums) where we will regularly tweet photos of our progress.


Colonel Walter Scott Davis 

by Kasia Woroniecka

Two artifacts from our collection, a soldier’s cape and a kepi, are part of the Civil War exhibit now on display in the Treasury at the historic courthouse in Auburn. They belonged to Colonel Davis - Who was he? And what was his experience in the war?

Walter Scott Davis was born on July 15, 1837 in Milton, MA. He graduated from Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall college preparatory school in 1854. He enlisted in the Union Army on August 10, 1861 as a Second Lieutenant. He was 24 years old. He was commissioned into F Company, 22nd Infantry Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers. The 22nd Massachusetts was organized by Senator Henry Wilson (future Vice-President during the Ulysses Grant administration) and was therefore known as "Henry Wilson's Regiment." The regiment saw its first action during the Siege of Yorktown in April 1862.

Affected by the horrors of war Walter wrote his mother from Camp Winfield Scott in Pennsylvania on April 19, 1862:

“O Mother, you know nothing of the sufferings of these people about here. The agriculture is at a standstill, and what makes it look more sad is to see the trees in full bloom and the season passing for the seed to be sown.” (…) Before you receive this I think the great battle will have commenced, probably it will be the largest ever fought on this continent and whoever lives to see it ended will have a sad story to tell. Do not be anxious dear Mother about me, if I fall it will be in good and glorious cause and there will be no one suffering for bread on account of it. The time (although it be a hundred years) is not far distant when we shall all meet in heaven. I am proud to fight on the same field that Washington and our forefathers fought on. I should not want to live in this country if it was not free and if all at home feel the same why should I not be willing to lose my life that they should be happy.” 

Walter Davis was promoted to First Lieutenant on June 28, 1862. He was wounded on July 1, 1862 at the battle of Malvern Hill near Richmond, VA. Also known as the Battle of Poindexter's Farm, it involved over fifty thousand soldiers from each side, hundreds of pieces of artillery and three gunboats. The battle was part of the Peninsula Campaign's Seven Days Battles. Walter wrote his mother on July 6, 1862:

“It would be impossible for me to give you full accounts of all that I have been through with. Pen cannot describe the scenes I have been eye witness to and wish if it could it would be wrong for me to relate them to the loved ones at home. You have troubles enough of your own and I will not burden you with more.” (…) I was slightly wounded by a shell, but that is not worth speaking of, when I was surrounded by danger for eight days. I have had many a narrow escapes but I am still safe, thanks God.” 

Walter Davis was promoted to Captain on October 18, 1862. He was appointed aide de camp to General J. H. Martindale and aide de camp to General James Barnes in 1862. He wrote his mother from camp near Falmouth, VA on November 26, 1862:

“It seems to me impossible for the people at home (in the north) to realize the extent in which this unhallowed rebellion is steeping our country in blood and draping our households in mourning. It may be that all our sufferings are blessing in disguise intended by the Father of Mercies for our ultimate good.” 

As the war raged on Walter wrote in an undated latter:

 “I am now commencing my third winter in the service; how little we at first supposed the war would last so long, but I can see the advantages now that at first little supposed would be advantages. Thousands upon thousands of men are just getting their eyes opened; they wonder why this institution of slavery has been allowed to live so long when they and just such men before them have done all in their power to support it. This war is costing us an immense sum of money, but what is that. It is better to be in debt than be a murderer.” 

Walter Davis was promoted to Major in 1864 “for gallant services at the battle of Jericho Ford, VA” and became a Lieutenant Colonel in September 1864 “for gallant services at the battle of Peebles’s Farm, VA.”

Feeling optimistic Walter wrote his father on September 27, 1864:

“We all feel now that the war is nearly at an end and I am as certain of success as I am that I shall die.” 

He would have to wait seven more months before the war ended in May of 1865.

After the war Walter Davis was involved in wholesale leather and wool business. He married Ellen S. R. Larkin of Boston in 1871. They moved to California in 1875 and for the next four years grew oranges in Anaheim. They lost their entire crop after a bad freeze and decided to move the family to Auburn in 1879. Ellen went ahead of the family and purchased 20 acres with a hard finished house in Auburn. They finished the shingle style home in 1889 and called it El Toyon. Walter also bought the Mammoth Bar Mine near the American River confluence and the mine proved a success. Walter Scott Davis died of heart failure in 1908 in Auburn. He was cremated and buried at the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA.


 Artist Highlight: Diane Bell 

 by Gary Day

 Rocklin artist Diane Bell creates contemporary works flavored with the memories and artifacts of her family’s granite mining history. Bell lives on Winding Lane, close to several long-abandoned quarry pits, most of them in weedy fields near Downtown Rocklin. She works with materials gleaned from the landscape: pieces of quarry shed roofing and siding, rusty metal and other scraps of an industry that slowly died here during the twentieth century. “I like to contemplate the mystery and history of the metal and old wood which I pick up from around the abandoned granite quarry sites near my home.” she said. “I combine paint, bees wax, wire and nails to create assemblage pieces that can be hung on the wall.”

Bell said that she loves sorting through her collection of found materials, adding and removing things, nailing and painting and just experimenting. “Most of my work is mixed media and I am currently exploring work in encaustic and cold wax with oil. I’ve created assemblage pieces by combining the wax with rusted metal and other found material.” she said.

Bell is the granddaughter of Matt Ruhkala who emigrated from Finland in 1889 and established the Union Granite Company which controlled four of Rocklin’s 62 quarries during the twentieth century. One of the four is now under the westbound lanes of highway 80. Bell’s father Ben Ruhkala was one of four brothers among Matt’s eleven children who operated the Capital Quarry, now called Big Gun, from 1933 until 1977.

The City of Rocklin owns Big Gun now. The property is off limits but a spectacular view is available from the second floor exterior stairwell of the Rocklin City Office building.

Bell named one of her new pieces “Message from a Quarryman” in memory of her dad.

“My art has evolved from years of studying with inspirational teachers at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and several northern Californian colleges and workshops around the country.” she said. Her work is in collections throughout the United States and also in Finland, India and France.

Bell will be on hand to display several pieces of her work on February 28 and March 1, from 1 pm until 4 pm both days, at the Rocklin History Museum, 3895 Rocklin Road. Admission is free.

Website: dianeruhkalabell.com


Placer County Historical Society News President’s Message 

by Michael Otten

Yeah, I know the days of a two-bit meal and the nickel beer with an all-you- can-eat buffet are among the stories from the so-called good old days.

So, as your president, it is my duty to inform you that the cost of dinners will be $15 starting April 2 with our annual meeting and election of officers. The tab is still a bargain when you consider the price increases at stores and restaurants.

Also, if you have prepaid, or made a reservation and cancel after the Sunday prior to the dinner, you will be responsible for payment. The caterer must be paid based on the count we have as of the Sunday prior to the dinner. The Society tries to keep the costs down to break-even. The costs include set up, clean up and various incidentals, including providing dinner for the speaker and guest.

Our membership chair Barbara Burdick reminds me you can save on postage to pay your dues at the April 2 meeting for the coming year. Our dues, the foundation of any organization, are still as low as $10 a year. They keep us going in carrying out our mission of supporting and preserving local history.

Who was Placer County’s first sheriff? 

If you said John Pole, Robert B. Buchanan or Samuel C. Astin, you’re right.

When California became a state in 1850, there was no Placer County. Our toothpaste tube shaped county wasn’t created until 1851, being carved out of two of the state’s original counties: Sutter and Yuba.

Pole was Yuba’s first elected sheriff and Buchanan was Sutter’s first. Placer’s first officially elected sheriff was Samuel C. Astin (1851-55). I understand that Buchanan’s middle name was Bloomer. Could that be the source of the name “Bloomer” Cut on the Central Pacific Railroad route through Auburn?

To get a feel for what an early sheriff looked like, visit the sheriff’s office of Elmer Gum in the historic Placer County Courthouse, where our program vice president, Addah Owens, serves as a historically-dressed docent at the Placer County Museum.

Addah is arranging for a special program on the history of the sheriff’s office for our April 2 dinner. So make sure you reserve a seat by calling 885-5074.

Auburn City Historian April McDonald is busy working on reprinting and updating a children’s coloring book of historic area buildings. The plan is to give these free to visitors at our museums during the Heritage Trail Aug. 15-16 and to make them available at the Placer County Visitors’ Bureau (California Welcome Center).

Thus we are looking for cosponsors and advertisers to help defray the cost of printing. If you can help please contact the City Historian or myself. Be a colorful part of history.

For as little as $10 you can join or provide a gift membership in the society. See the application at placercountyhistoricalsociety.org
--otten@ssctv.net


Placer County Historical Dinner Meeting 

by Addah Owens, Vice President

When: April 2nd

 Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program

Where: Auburn Veterans Hall 100 East St, Auburn

 Cost: $15 per person

 Menu: Baked Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Seasonable Vegetables, Salad, Rolls, Desert.

Mail Check to: PCHS, c/o Betty Samson, 8780 Baxter Grade Road, Auburn, CA 95603

Program: To be announced.

DO NOT BRING ALCOHOL. County directives prohibit it and we can't get liability coverage.

According to a new board resolution, beginning with the April meeting the cost for dinners will be $15. Note: if you send a check or have otherwise agreed to attend and cancel after the Sunday prior to the dinner you will be responsible for payment. The caterer must be paid after the count is called in.


Calendar

Click to Enlarge


Placer County Historical Organizations 

Colfax Area Historical Society
Helen Wayland, (530) 346-7040
colfaxhistory.org

Donner Summit Historical Society
Bill Oudegeest, (209) 606-6859
donnersummithistoricalsociety.org

Foresthill Divide Historical Society

Sandy Simester, (530) 367-3535
foresthillhistory.org

Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
Lyndell Grey, (916) 645-3517

Golden Drift Historical Society
Jim Ricker, (530) 389-8344

Historical Advisory Board
Glenn Vineyard, (916) 747-1961

Old Town Auburn Preservation Society
Lynn Carpenter, (530) 885-1252

Lincoln Highway Association
Bob Dieterich, bobd@iname.com or
lincolnhwy.org

Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Elizabeth Jansen, (916) 645-3800
laamca.org

Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center

Richard Yue, (530) 346-7121

Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford, (916) 663-3871
ppgn.com/loomishistorical.html

Roseville Fire Museum
Shari -Tasler, (916) 538-1809
rosevillefiremuseum.org

Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Glenie Strome, (916) 782-3299
roseville.ca.us/indianmuseum

Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor #59
Dave Allen, (530) 878-2878
dsallen59@sbcglobal.net

Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association

Aileen Gage, (530) 885-911

Placer County Historical Society
Michael Otten, (530) 888-7837
placercountyhistoricalsociety.org

Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Tom Innes, (530) 888-8969

Rocklin Historical Society
Jean Sippola, (916) 652-1034
rocklinhistory.org

Roseville Historical Society

Phoebe Astill, (916) 773-3003
rosevillehistorical.org

North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Rebeca Phipps, (530) 583-1762
northtahoemuseums.org

Placer County Genealogical Society,
Toni Rosasco, (530) 888-8036
pcgenes.com

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

January - February 2015

Administrator’s Notes 

Ralph Gibson

It’s been a heck of a year for the Placer County Museums. On the Living History front we rolled out online Parent Training videos that proved to be more successful and effective than we ever dreamed. They certainly helped as we guided just under 3,000 students through all the activities in the Spring and Fall. We completed five exhibits this year (four offsite and one at our Archives and Collections Facility) and handled over 1,700 research requests. We also said goodbye to Mary-Jane Coon after 22 years with the museums and welcomed Renee Thomsen.

Two big projects we started in 2014 will be completed in 2015. The move of the Gold Country Museum from the fairgrounds to the Auburn Depot will be completed in late spring and the new DeWitt History Museum will open sometime in the fall. Work has already begun on exhibit design and fabrication for new exhibits in the Gold Country Museum and research is underway for the new museum at DeWitt.

One important project we will have completed before you read this article is the official close out of the building that was once our Gold Country Museum. As I write this, there are a few stacks of wood and debris inside the building and large artifacts still keeping watch over the front, but everything will be gone by December 30th. As we look forward to the future in a new building, it’s impossible not to look back as we move artifacts that were seated in place by former museum employees who themselves were excited about the future of a new Gold Country Museum. Though there will be plenty of new exhibits, visitors to the new Gold Country Museum will still find exhibits that harken back to the original museum that opened in 1990. In a way, what they started in 1989 will be finished in 2015 and we couldn’t have done it without their help.


Attention! This may be the last issue you ever receive by mail

Jason Adair

In an effort to save trees and printing/mailing costs, we have decided to move The Placer almost entirely online. And for the record, the version of this newsletter you're reading now is the best version you can get. Since the internet doesn't care about column inches and printing costs, we can cram a bunch more photos on the blog.

Just to show that we're not totally heartless we are still willing to send out a limited number of hard copies to those who do not use/trust/like the internet. Simply call Renee at (530)889-6500 and let her know you can’t live without it and we’ll make sure you stay on the mailing list.


California and the Civil War 

Terry Meekins

Placer Museums presents California and the Civil War, opening January 27, 2015 at the Placer County Courthouse Museum in Auburn. Guest-curating the exhibit are historical novelists Richard Hurley and TJ Meekins, with historian and seamstress Lizzie Lowrie, all of Grass Valley. Artifacts from the Placer Museums Collections will be prepared by Kasia Woronicka.

Part One of the exhibit, on display from January 27 to March 31, examines American California from the Mexican cession in 1848 to the eve of the Civil War, revealing the Golden State’s surprising alliance with the South. Part Two, showing from April 1 to June 1, recounts tales of the determined Unionists and daring Rebels who shaped California history.
 
A gallery of Illustrated panels, created by Hurley and Meekins from research for their historical novel Queen of the Northern Mines tells the story of the Golden State’s role in the great national conflict. Lowrie's authentic re-creations of Civil War attire reveal the inner and outer lives of those who wore them. A shotgun, pistol, and militia-issued powder flask from the Placer Museums Collections speak to the hardships and dangers faced by California’s Volunteers, who took over the regular army’s role in the West. 

Part One tells the tale of the Bear Flag Revolt of American settlers against Mexican rule – at a time when John C. Frémont happened to be in the area with a party of sixty heavily-armed “surveyors.” (General Frémont, "The Pathfinder," was the first Republican candidate for the US Presidency in 1856. He ran on a "free soil" platform and lost to pro-slavery Democrat James Buchanan.) The discovery of gold and the ensuing Rush transformed the sleepy colony overnight into a bustling US state, teeming with eager miners from all over the world. Part One culminates in the story of the fateful Broderick-Terry duel of September 1859, when our state’s US Senator (a Free Soil Democrat) encountered the Chief Justice of our Supreme Court (a pro-slavery Southerner) on the “field of honor.” The ensuing bloodshed outraged California voters, crippled the Democratic Party, and swung the popular vote toward Lincoln.

Part Two features the story of Albert Sidney Johnston, the Rebel general whose personal code of honor spared California the nightmare of partisan warfare. (In 1861, General Johnston commanded the US Army Department of the Pacific from the Presidio in San Francisco. In 1862 he was killed leading the Confederate Army of Tennessee at the battle of Shiloh.) Also described is the Reverend Thomas Starr King, the tireless orator whom Abraham Lincoln called “the man who saved California for the Union.”

Visitors are welcome every day, excluding federal holidays, 10 am to 4 pm at 101 Maple Street in Auburn. Admission is free and donations are appreciated. Permanent exhibits of Placer County history are also on view. Guided Walking Tours of Historic Lower Auburn begin at the gallery door at 10 am every Saturday morning, rain or shine.

Find out more about the Courthouse Museum and the five other Placer County Museums at www.placer.ca.gov/museums. For more about California and the Civil War visit www.bearriverbooks.com.


The Scoop

Beth Rohlfes

2014 marked my first full-time, permanent year with Placer County Museums, and in February 2015 I will have been working with the Living History Program for two years. In the blink of an eye! Many of you have been a part of this grand adventure, both with me and with Placer County Museums. And you know what great things we’ve accomplished here together in 2014—and, of course, the amazing things we look forward to in 2015.

Together we’ve seen the Living History Program go high tech—at least where we can get away with it. The new parent training videos we introduced in the spring of 2014 have made us wonder how we ever operated without them. Parents, teachers, docents and staff all love the results. And in spring 2015 we’re launching a video for teachers as well. With these we have not only become more relevant, we have made some tedious prep work more fun and more efficient.

In 2014 museum docents helped plan some great summer events at the Bernhard Museum Complex. Both Jump into Summer and Heritage Trail introduced new, crowd-pleasing activities. In a thank you note one Jump into Summer visitor said it all, “The event was more of everything than I expected: more to see and do, more interesting, and just more fun!”


December’s holiday events were some of the best ever. Our Christmas Volunteer Luncheon sent everyone home pleasantly full of good food and comradery, with visions of a red velvet ice skater dancing in their merry little heads. Country Christmas packed the Courthouse with our highest numbers yet. Docents turned up their holiday spirit to welcome guests with hot cider and cookies. Kids decorated Christmas cards with holiday stickers and an abundance of glitter, then hung their sparkling masterpieces on our Courthouse Christmas tree.

Basking in these 2014 successes, all of us here at the museums are eager to dive into 2015. The former Gold Country Museum will be emptied so that we can, at last, focus our energies at the new site. Docents are chomping at the bit to get their hands on the new and improved museum, their feedback already contributing to exhibit improvements. We’ll be recruiting and training new docents for both the Gold Country and the DeWitt museums.

We’ll offer training sessions and walk throughs for our staff and docents as we near grand openings. The 4th Grade Gold Rush Program will be reevaluated and fitted to the new site, while schools wait eagerly to discover our new program options in 2016. There will be lots to learn as we prepare—with unbridled enthusiasm—to welcome our public and engage them in yet more intriguing stories about the history of Placer County.


PCHS 2015-16 NOMINATIONS report 

2015-16 Nominations for the Placer County Historical Society: 

President: Walter Wilson

1st Vice President: George Lay

2nd Vice President (programs): Addah Owens

Secretary: Melanie Barton

Treasurer: Al Stoll

Immediate past president: Michael Otten

Board members (Two-Year Terms, 2014-15 to 2015-17): Mike Holmes, Jean Allender, Karen Bleuel, John Knox

(Carry over elected Board Members from 2014-15 to 2016 with additional year remaining: Sherri Schackner, Penny Watson, Karri Samson) --Respectfully submitted, Betty Samson, chair, Nomination Committee, Karri Samson, Susan Hubbard, Sherri Schackner.

Officers for 2015-2017 will be elected at the annual membership dinner meeting April 2, 2015, Veterans Memorial Hall, 100 East St., Auburn

This is the Nomination Committee's first report. Additional nominations may be made at the April 2 membership meeting and a vote taken. A nominee must give their consent. If a candidate is unopposed, election to that office may be made by voice vote. Should there be more than one nominee for an office then there shall be an election by ballot for that office, or offices should there be more than one contested position. If there are no contested offices, a motion may be made to elect the entire slate by voice vote. Those elected will assume office May 1, 2015, the start of the PCHS year.

Placer County Historical Dinner Meeting*

Addah Owens, Vice President 

When: February 5, Celebrate the Year of the Goat

Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program

Where: Auburn Veterans Hall 100 East St, Auburn

Cost: $14 per person

Menu: Chinese New Year Dinner catered by Tom Stout and crew.

Mail Check to: PCHS, c/o Betty Samson, 8780 Baxter Grade Road, Auburn, CA 95603

Program: Premiere of “Chinese Builders of Gold Mountain.” PCHS’ Bill George is back with the third of his Nimbus Films historical documentaries. This time with award-winning Brendan Compton, George takes a look at how Chinese Immigrants overcame discrimination to shape California.

* DO NOT BRING ALCOHOL. County directives prohibit it and we can't get liability coverage.

Placer County Historical Society News

President's Message

Michael Otten

          “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”—William Faulkner

Last year closed on an intriguing possibility.

Placer County and Costco strongly hinted the historic DeWitt Post Theatre can be saved from demolition.


The Board of Supervisors Dec. 9 essentially told Costco to go ahead with developing its 16-acre mega store and gas station on leased property the county essentially acquired for a song.

The supervisors said it is in the best interests of taxpayers for the popular Music and More Arts Academy to vacate the premises by June 30 and find a new home after 17 years in the leased facilities.

However, both Costco and the county left the door open to allow the 70-year-old theater at D Avenue and 1st Street to stay as a historic property with limited-yet-to-be-determined-uses.

Under the scenario nearby structures such as the Senior Center and Courthouse Athletic Club will be demolished. Roads will change. The county plans to have the property ready for Costco construction sometime after March 1, 2016. The Theater would stay, shuttered and fenced off.

Credit in part goes to Michael Murphy, the Auburn architect and artist who has successfully rescued endangered historic buildings. He helped convince the County and Costco that contrary to its previous conclusions the Theater is structurally sound. Murphy joined with Michael and Kay Coder, Renee Berg and others to also establish the historic value.

It is up to the PCHS and the like-minded to explore with the County and Costco what can be done. Call it a new horizon to swim for.
***           

Happy New Year. For as little as $10 you can join or provide a gift membership in the society. See the application at www.placercountyhistoricalsociety.org
--otten@ssctv.net

Artifact Highlight                    

 Kasia Wornieka

This pitcher was produced in 1907 by the Buffalo Pottery Company and became part of the PCM permanent collection in 1973.

The Buffalo Company was established in 1901. It specialized in pottery for commercial use and was the first American-based company to produce a line of Blue Willow ware, first produced in England in the 18th century. The pitcher is covered with scenes and quotations from The Roosevelt Bears, a series of children’s books written in 1905 by Seymour Eaton and illustrated by Floyd Campbell. Theodore Roosevelt was president at the time and the Teddy Bear was invented in his honor, inspired by his bear hunting trip to Mississippi in 1902. The bears in Eaton’s stores are wearing Teddy Roosevelt’s trademark spectacles and have many adventures going to the circus, to school and driving a car. Seymour Eaton died in 1916 and the Roosevelt Bears books fell out of favor in the early 1920s.

Calendar

Click to enlarge
Also, don't miss Old Town's 10th Annual Taste Of Chocolate,
on February 8th from Noon to 3 in Old Town Auburn

Placer County Historical Organizations 

Colfax Area Historical Society
Helen Wayland, (530) 346-7040 colfaxhistory.org

Donner Summit Historical Society
Bill Oudegeest, (209) 606-6859 donnersummithistoricalsociety.org

Foresthill Divide Historical Society
Sandy Simester, (530) 367-3535 foresthillhistory.org

Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
Lyndell Grey, (916) 645-3517

Golden Drift Historical Society
Jim Ricker, (530) 389-8344

Historical Advisory Board
Glenn Vineyard, (916) 747-1961

Old Town Auburn Preservation Society
Lynn Carpenter, (530) 885-1252 Lincoln

Highway Association
Bob Dieterich, bobd@iname.com or lincolnhwy.org

Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Elizabeth Jansen, (916) 645-3800 laamca.org

Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center
Richard Yue, (530) 346-7121

Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford, (916) 663-3871 ppgn.com/loomishistorical.html

Roseville Fire Museum
Shari -Tasler, (916) 538-1809 rosevillefiremuseum.org

Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Glenie Strome, (916) 782-3299 roseville.ca.us/indianmuseum

Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor #59
Dave Allen, (530) 878-2878 dsallen59@sbcglobal.net

Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Aileen Gage, (530) 885-911

Placer County Historical Society
Michael Otten, (530) 888-7837 placercountyhistoricalsociety.org

Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Tom Innes, (530) 888-8969

Rocklin Historical Society
Jean Sippola, (916) 652-1034 rocklinhistory.org

Roseville Historical Society
Phoebe Astill, (916) 773-3003 rosevillehistorical.org

North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Javier Rodriguez, (530) 583-1762 northtahoemuseums.org

Placer County Genealogical Society,
Toni Rosasco, (530) 888-8036 pcgenes.com

Thursday, November 6, 2014

November-December 2014

Administrator’s Notes

Ralph Gibson

The office is decked with dancing skeletons, smiling Jack O’ Lanterns, and a witch who didn’t navigate the halls of the Courthouse too well. But by the time you read this, Halloween will be in the past and everything will look like Christmas – even if it isn’t Thanksgiving yet.

At the museums we try to keep a historical eye on the holidays. At the Bernhard Museum we celebrate “Victorian Christmas” where visitors to the museum will learn how those in the era celebrated the holiday. At the courthouse there will be Christmas quilts on display in the Treasury and nearby will be a gorgeous tree adorned with gold ornaments and copies of early Christmas cards from our collection. Both museums will be decorated the week of Thanksgiving.

The Gold Country Museum move is underway and though we initially hoped we’d have a soft opening the first week of December, it’s looking more and more like a late December opening at best. We’re still trapped in the back and forth between architects, contractors and the permit process, but things are progressing.

While we are busy with work, we must stop and take the time to say goodbye to a person who has played a significant role for the Placer County Museums: Mary-Jane Coon. MJ has been with the museums for 22 years and has seen and done it all here. She has been the face of the Placer County Museums for a very long time, both to the public and our volunteers. We wish her the best as she transitions from workforce to retirement. Many happy trails, MJ! You will be sorely missed.

Eat Drink and be Merry!

Kasia’s Woroniecka

Food plays a very important part in how we celebrate. November and December are generally the two months of the year when we celebrate the most, enjoying Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas parties, and New Year festivities. As part of the preparation for the gluttony of the holiday season let us review dinner etiquette and look back at how people used to prepare, serve and celebrate food.

Ritual and formality were very important to 19th century Americans. Correct behavior at the dinner table and other social functions was a way to fit in a society that was rapidly changing. The multitude of etiquette books instructed the middle class on anything from how to set the table, what to wear, which utensils to use and how to behave in polite society. The manuals reminded their readers to never make noise or open their mouths when chewing, never pick their teeth while eating, never spit anything out on the plate, never wipe their fingers on the table cloth (that’s what napkins are for), and never overload the plate. The readers were also reminded to never allow conversation at the table to be anything but small talk, since heated arguments lead to indigestion.

Dinner parties were an opportunity for the wealthy to show off their wealth and became so elaborate that Godey’s Lady’s Book reminded its readers in 1885: “The elegant requirements for fashionable hospitality have multiplied so rapidly of late that people of moderate means have to economize if they want to keep up with society.” Until the 19th century formal dinners were served al fa francaise (in the French style) in which all of the food was brought out at once. This changed in the early 19th century when service a la russe became popular and the dishes were served in succession. Instead of an entire pig or turkey on the table, they were now carved in the kitchen or at the sideboard and served to guests after dishes and cutlery from the previous course were cleared. This form of service allowed for more space on the table that would be taken up by elaborate centerpieces, napkins, cutlery, glasses, flowers and lights.

Victorians who could afford it valued good cooking and food. Many found instruction in Isabella Beeton’s very popular Book of Household Management, the first book to show recipes in the format used today, listing all the ingredients at the beginning. In addition to recipes the book included tips on every aspect of running a household, from dealing with servants’ pay and duties to making furniture polish and doing laundry.

Until the commercial success of gas stoves in the 1880s cooking was done over open fires and kitchen ranges. It was time consuming and difficult work, and offered little in the way of temperature control for cooking and baking. The era saw the introduction of kitchen tools and gadgets that we still use today, including cheese graters, potato peelers, waffle irons, electric mixers and dishwashers. Since refrigerators were not available and ice chests were the best alternative, food was salted, pickled, dried or smoked. Storage and food preservation changed little until the introduction of canning. Canning, developed during the Napoleonic wars and originally intended for armies on the move, revolutionized food preservation and made new and exotic food widely available.

Raisins, currants, prunes and figs were very popular and added to many dishes, including fish and meat dishes. Brussel sprouts became an important part of the Christmas menu, which along with Thanksgiving were the most carefully planned meals of the year. Puddings took a life of their own. Mrs. Beeton listed 108 recipes in her book. Turkey was the traditional roast for Thanksgiving and Christmas, although roast beef and goose were also served.

 As you get ready to polish the silverware and take your grandmothers china out of the cabinet chances are some of the Victorian delicacies like potted lampreys, ox pallets, or sheep rumps and kidneys in rice will not be featured on your Thanksgiving or Christmas menus. One thing is certain and summarized by Lord Byron in The Island: “All human history attests that happiness for man - the hungry sinner! - since Eve ate apples much depends on dinner.”

How to Cook a Christmas Turkey, Godey’s Lady’s Book, December 1885
- a plump young turkey
- half a pound of bread crumbs
- half a pound of suet
- a small bunch of parsley
- three small onions - one pint and a half of cream
- two table spoons of flour
- seasoning
- a little nutmeg
- one teacupful of milk
- six whole tomatoes and the juice of six
- half a pound of butter

After the turkey has been cleaned, wash it well inside and out, thoroughly dry, and dust lightly with flour. Take the breadcrumbs, suet, parsley and onions, chop finely together. Mix with one pint of the cream, some salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg. Make this up into balls, about two inches in circumference. Take tomatoes that have been canned whole and then place inside the turkey, alternately, one ball and tomato, until full. Take the juice of the other six tomatoes, half a pound of butter, seasoning, and a teaspoon of flower. Allow this to simmer in a saucepan slowly until thick. When the turkey is first basted, throw the whole of the sauce well over it. Continue to baste until thoroughly well browned and crisp. The gravy is made by pouring the balance of the cream and milk into the dripping-pan, put back in the oven and stir until it boils well. Place in a sauce-tureen and serve both as hot as possible. A more delicious way of cooking a turkey is impossible to imagine.

The Scoop

by Beth Rohlfes

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. Voting in elections happens once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” -Author Unknown 

 It’s that time of year when Placer County Museums joins in the holiday spirit by adding festive touches to exhibits and celebrating with our community through special events. Not lost in the holiday hubbub is an important tradition that graces our annual Christmas Luncheon. Every December, as part of this holiday feast and fun event for museum volunteers and staff, we celebrate the graduation of new volunteers in our Volunteer Training Program. This December we will eagerly welcome 20 new recruits into our museum community.

What inspires people to commit to eight weeks of training and countless unpaid hours into the future?

“I love history!” wrote one of this year’s applicants. “I love the smell of museums and learning about anything that has to do with history!”

Besides having that essential love for history and museums, many new recruits recently moved to the area and want to learn more about its history. Others have deep roots in the community and now have time to give. Some enjoy interacting with people. Many are motivated by their love of artifacts and archival materials and want to help ensure their preservation. Many are retired and looking for meaningful ways to stay busy and continue to contribute to their communities.

Every one of our current volunteers brings unique personality and experience to their volunteer work. This year’s group is no different in their diversity—everything from railroad car inspector to credentialed teacher and pediatrician to experienced history and art museum staff. They include an active member of the Scottish American Military Society and an expert in newspaper restoration. Some are employed and others retired.

All of our museum docents complete eight weeks of training at the beginning of their volunteer experience and are invited to return every year for a refresher course. During those weeks new recruits will have considered how Placer County Museums needs their help and the areas that most interest them. They go through a shadowing, or apprenticeship period, when they work alongside seasoned volunteers, before they become full-fledged museum docents.

In good holiday spirit, we say THANK YOU to our many dedicated volunteers, new and seasoned, for their GIFT to Placer County Museums and all those who visit.

"Volunteers don't get paid, not because they're worthless, but because they're priceless." -Sherry Anderson 

Placer County Historical Society News President's Message

by Michael Otten

You must see Auburn’s new State Theater. It has gone Hollywood.

A great opportunity will be the Nov. 7-23 run of its first major stage performance, the venerable Fiddler on the Roof musical by the Placer Community Theater.

My opportunity came Nov. 4th when Ruhkala Monuments of Rocklin installed a Placer County Historical Society marker in the concrete walkway. The plaque recognizes the theater’s heritage since its standing-room-only opening Dec. 6, 1930. It served as the regional entertainment mecca during the Depression and World War II.

Thanks to the Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center, its legion of volunteers and financial contributors the 1972 theater wall is gone. The APPAC crew created a touch of grandeur with its special 355 red seats set up in circular fashion, the circular walls, high ceiling and ornate lighting.

The seating is 1,000 less than the original. But the Art Deco opulence has been recreated taking one back to the time when theaters reigned. The seats are from TCL Chinese Theater on Hollywood’s walk of fame. That theater opened as Grauman’s Chinese Theater May 18, 1927, premiering Cecil B. DeMille’s King of Kings and has hosted three Academy Awards ceremonies.

The State Theater is part of Auburn’s own Streetscape walk of fame that extends to Central Square and the 1937-WPA built, Art Deco City Hall and Fire Station, new homes to the Chamber of Commerce and the Placer County Visitors Bureau.

The theater stands as another Placer County historic preservation collaborative effort beacon. Pioneering that effort in the 1990s were former PCHS president Doris Viera and the late Esther Stanton, a major force in Friends of Auburn Library. Other early pioneers include Monroe DeJarnette and the late William Lipschultz who joined the ladies in creating a nonprofit group with former Auburn City Manager Paul Ogden as the current president.

In September I made a special workshop presentation, urging the Auburn City Historical Design Review Commission to recommend the City Council to create an Auburn History Committee to focus on city history similar to other special focus groups such as the Endurance Capital Committee and the Arts and Technology Commissions.

A ceremony was set for Nov. 8th at Central Square of the marker honoring life member Gene Markley.

Please note the Nov. 3rd death of life PCHS member John W. “Jack” Veal, a lifelong Auburn area resident who served as city mayor in 1981. He was 85. In 1996 he was a McCann Award recipient. The Endurance Committee honored Veal for his historic service to the Tevis Cup 100 mile ride and its organization. He ran the blacksmith shop at Coloma Gold Discovery Park and was best known for his enthusiastic leading of the Pledge of Allegiance according to his no funeral death notice in the Auburn Journal.

Happy holidays. For as little as $10 you can provide a gift membership in the society. See the application at www.placercountyhistoricalsociety.org

-otten@ssctv.net

Placer County Historical Society Dinner Meeting

Addah Owens, Vice President  

When: Thursday December 4

Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program

Where: Auburn Veterans Hall 100 East St, Auburn

Cost: $14 per person Menu: Roast Baron of Beef, Roast Turkey, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Seasonal Vegetables, Salad, Rolls, and Desert. Presented by Tom Stout, formerly of Mary Belle’s Restaurant. Mail Check to: PCHS, c/o Betty Samson, 8780 Baxter Grade Road, Auburn, CA 95603

Program: A film about the 150th anniversary of Newcastle. This film contains stories from local residents concerning stories of the town and it’s inhabitants.

Christmas Drawing: There will be a Christmas Drawing. * DO NOT BRING ALCOHOL. County directives prohibit it and we can't get liability coverage.


Calendar


Placer County Historical Organizations 

Colfax Area Historical Society
Helen Wayland, (530) 346-7040 colfaxhistory.org

Donner Summit Historical Society
Bill Oudegeest, (209) 606-6859 donnersummithistoricalsociety.org

Foresthill Divide Historical Society
Sandy Simester, (530) 367-3535 foresthillhistory.org

Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
Lyndell Grey, (916) 645-3517

Golden Drift Historical Society
Jim Ricker, (530) 389-8344

Historical Advisory Board
Glenn Vineyard, (916) 747-1961

Old Town Auburn Preservation Society
Lynn Carpenter, (530) 885-1252 Lincoln

Highway Association
Bob Dieterich, bobd@iname.com or lincolnhwy.org

Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Elizabeth Jansen, (916) 645-3800 laamca.org

Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center
Richard Yue, (530) 346-7121

Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford, (916) 663-3871 ppgn.com/loomishistorical.html

Roseville Fire Museum
Shari -Tasler, (916) 538-1809 rosevillefiremuseum.org

Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Glenie Strome, (916) 782-3299 roseville.ca.us/indianmuseum

Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor #59
Dave Allen, (530) 878-2878 dsallen59@sbcglobal.net

Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Aileen Gage, (530) 885-911

Placer County Historical Society
Michael Otten, (530) 888-7837 placercountyhistoricalsociety.org

Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Tom Innes, (530) 888-8969

Rocklin Historical Society
Jean Sippola, (916) 652-1034 rocklinhistory.org

Roseville Historical Society
Phoebe Astill, (916) 773-3003 rosevillehistorical.org

North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Javier Rodriguez, (530) 583-1762 northtahoemuseums.org

Placer County Genealogical Society,
Toni Rosasco, (530) 888-8036 pcgenes.com

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September-October 2014

Administrator’s Notes

by Ralph Gibson

It won’t be long before leaves begin to turn and grassy fields around Placer County are lit up on Friday nights as young men in pads collide in one of autumn’s rituals. Although football reigns supreme among our nation’s sports, historically, the fall season belonged to baseball. Close pennant races were decided in September, and October belonged to the World Series. Right now, we are in the planning stages for a baseball exhibit.

Bill James was born in Iowa Hill on March 12, 1892. Baseball was a popular sport in the region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and many Placer County towns and communities had their own team. In 1900, eight-year-old Bill James was a water boy for the Iowa Hill baseball team. It was here he fell in love with the game. 

Bill would eventually end up on the mound for the Boston Braves pitching against the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1914 World Series. His story will be interpreted in a small exhibit that will open in the lobby of our Archives and Collections Facility on October 9th, the 100th anniversary of the 1914 World Series. To follow the Boston Braves 1914 pennant race, you can follow us on Facebook as we occasionally post highlights from games played 100 years ago.

Another small exhibit we will install in October features Halloween cards from the turn of the 20th century. Just like there were many Victorian and Edwardian Christmas traditions there were also some pretty interesting traditions for Halloween. We’ll explore some of these with 100 year old Halloween postcards. Please check our blog for more information.

The best way to find our blog and our Facebook page is to simply visit our main website: www.placer.ca.gov/museums Once there, you’ll see the buttons for all of our offsite content.

A Letter from the Editor 

by Jason Adair 

Placer County Museums Exhibit Preparator

Dear Readers, The Gold Country Museum in the Fairgrounds is not long for this world. We’ve taken over the old railroad depot at the top of Lincoln Way in downtown Auburn and will be converting it to the new Gold Country Museum.

The last day the old museum will be open for you to visit is September 30th. After that, the doors will close and Tom Reinke and I will take the old exhibits down with gentle care and probably sledgehammers. So stop by and say goodbye to a place that’s been a big part of the community for a long, long time.

 Discussing Disgusting Funereal Artifacts 

 by Kasia Woroniecka

Placer County Museums Curator of Collections

The most common cause of death in the world is heart disease. One day you are hunting ducks at the Placer Gun Club and the next day you are missed and remembered. Such was the case of Frank R. Bell of the Bell Electric Co., who died of a heart attack in 1924. The Placer Herald reported that “the floral offerings were many and beautiful, and it was not only one of the largest attended, but one of the most impressive funerals ever held in Auburn. The business houses were closed during the ceremonies.”

Preparing human remains for that final journey is not a job for the squeamish or the fainthearted. That is evident when looking at the collection of mortuary equipment that was recently accepted to the Placer County Museums permanent collection. The collection came from the Chapel of the Hills Mortuary in Auburn with some objects dating to the late 1800s. It includes a portable pump organ, draining tubes, hand pumps, glass jars, syringe sets and many other surgical tools, most tucked neatly away in black leather cases.




The modern day embalming dates back to the Civil War. Many soldiers were dying far from home and the process offered families the last looks at their loved one before the burial. Military surgeons perfected their embalming skills during the war and made an impact on the growing funeral industry. A turning point in the awareness of embalming was the cross-country journey of Abraham Lincoln’s embalmed body after the war. Lincoln was buried 18 days after his death. The Chicago Daily Tribune reported on May 2, 1865 that “…his countenance exhibited an extremely natural and life-like appearance, more as if calmly slumbering, than in the cold embrace of death.”

By the end of the 19th century the practice of embalming became popular as a way to sanitize the body as well as enable the family to have extended wakes or time for reconstructive or cosmetic work on the body. The remains were prepared at home and that is why the embalming equipment was portable. Popular acceptance of embalming led to the rapid emergence of funeral homes. By the early 1900 embalming was a standard practice in much of the country. There was no need to embalm at the home of the deceased as the industry took over every aspect of funeral preparation. Instructors representing the embalming companies offered courses in the trade and states began to recognize the profession through licensing boards. The profession appealed to Elliott C. Broyer, a young Placer County administrator who attended the California College of Embalming and left his position at the Citizens Bank of Roseville to study the undertaking business. The Placer Herald reported in June 1936 that he died in a tragic car accident before completing his studies.

There are two ways to embalm the body. Viscerally where the fluids are pumped in the body cavities and arterially where the fluids are pumped into the arteries. Three to four gallons of embalming fluid are needed to embalm the body. Embalming fluid consists of a variety of chemicals and preservatives that slow the decomposition process. One of them is formaldehyde which most states started using around 1906 to replace the use of arsenic. Formaldehyde is still used in today’s fluids, along with conditioners, dyes, water and disinfectants.

The treatment of death and dying is much different today than a century ago when the grieving process was long and regulated by Victorian etiquette. Today most deaths take place in hospitals. Funerals are shorter and simpler and modern refrigeration equipment can maintain the body for longer periods of time. Embalming and traditional burial are expensive and more families are choosing cremation. Cremation rates in the United States rose by almost 30% since 2000. Ultimately it’s about having choices. These days, for a mere $695 you can have your remains launched into space or for a lot more made into a synthetic diamond made from carbon captured during the cremation. Embalming will give your loved ones that last chance to say goodbye, but diamonds are forever.

The Scoop 

by Beth Rohlfes

Placer County Museums Curator of Education

This summer my husband Larry and I ventured out on an eight-day tour of the Mid-Atlantic states. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid and was pleasantly surprised at the positive difference 50 years made in how historic venues engage visitors. I really enjoyed the opportunity to gather new ideas and to see how I think our Placer County Museums compare to national sites.


Our first stop, Fort McHenry in Baltimore, was especially and unexpectedly engaging. The entire experience there involved a progression of learning activities that would be interesting to consider as we design new museums in Auburn.

Visitors to the fort are first encouraged to watch a video in the Visitors Center, a pretty common national park feature. But the film and its setting were not common. Instead of an auditorium, the theatre seating blended into a small museum (might work in our museums), so we could explore exhibits while we waited for the video. And once the film was finished, the space converted seamlessly back to a museum.

The film was short, dramatic and to the point. When the room went dark, music swelled, cannons boomed and lights flashed as we were introduced to the story of the fort’s valiant defense and the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s writing of “The Star Spangled Banner.” As the movie ended, the screen lifted to reveal a window view of the flag still flying over the fort’s historic ramparts.

The grounds at Fort McHenry include a good-sized Visitors Center, a waterfront park and the fort itself—somewhat larger in scope that most of our museums. But scale really doesn’t limit the potential for ideas. With the fort revealed in the film’s finale, we exited towards it and were immediately confronted with a host of 200-year-old sights, sounds and smells.

First we encountered a uniformed military corps. Their drill instructor explained the gun power of muskets and two-ton cannons. In regimented response to his orders, the soldiers repeatedly loaded and fired their muskets.


Within the fort we were treated to a ranger tour of the ramparts, small exhibit rooms with videos, maps and diagrams, staged officers’ barracks and a WWII era radio that delighted young visitors with the mellow voice of an old broadcast (potential for the new DeWitt Museum).

A good-sized chalkboard reminded visitors of the days’ activities. Children could enlist and practice military drills with wooden muskets or participate in indoor arts and crafts. Reminding me of our docents, costumed ladies and members of the military corps milled around to chat with visitors about the fort.

To cap it all off, we participated in a ceremony where we actually helped lift, then fold a huge, 30 x 42 foot flag—a replica of the original that inspired the writing of our national anthem. That final event not only impressed on us the grandness of that flag, but it also left us with a lasting image of the fort’s role in our nation’s history.

Fort McHenry totally engaged us in its history and actually set pretty high standards for the rest of our trip to more prominent sites. As I toured all of them, I observed that elements of our Placer County Museums docent program, living history and museum exhibits compare very favorably. Now I just need to figure out how the flag ceremony can be translated to a similar finale for one of our museums, or maybe our Living History Program...

Placer County Historical Society News

President’s Message

by Michael Otten

Every year on the Heritage Trail I learn something fun and new in the Benton Welty Classroom in the Auburn Grammar School. This time I discovered a 1909 pioneering text (The Human Body and Health) from the Auburn public school library.

The author, Dr. Alvin Davison, a biology professor at Lafayette College, is noted for his pioneering study, Death in School Drinking Cups, that led to schools (followed by hospitals) banning the use of shared tin cups (that led to shared diseases).

Even in the early 20th Century tobacco was deemed an addictive poison, especially dangerous to young people, shunting their growth. Smoking by boys "not only clouds the intellect of the young, but tends to make criminals of them." Teachers a century ago were encouraged to experiment by boiling a pipeful of tobacco in a cup of water. The cooled contents would then be diluted in a quart or half gallon jar of water containing a small fish. The students then can watch the fish die in less than a half hour.

Also severely dinged were opium, morphine, cocaine and cough medicines. Davison scorned most patent medicines for often containing alcohol, strychnine and other poisons, costing the American public in the early 20th Century $75 million a year.

Other health items from the time:
The body requires three quarts of water a day.
The body is like a locomotive doing the bidding of the engineer who should know its parts, learn its use, practice good hygiene and avoid bad food and water.
Alcohol makes people wicked.
" It is almost as important to wear the right kind of clothing as to eat the proper...food."
" A cold cannot be cured by medicines."
"...One or two hours a day should be devoted to exercise."
The brains of teachers, lawyers and businessmen continue to grow until about 40. Those who shovel coal or do the same work every day requiring no thinking, the brain stops growing after 20. Reading about evil may cause the reader to commit robbery and other crimes. 

Probably no one was more excited by a visit Aug 2 to the classroom than veteran HT traveler Emma Bleecker. Though only 7, Emma and her brother, Easton, 9, with mom Lindsay Bleecker managed to visit 8 museums that weekend.


What made the visit memorable was that Emma won the children's only basket packed with school items, games and fun stuff just in time to enter the 3rd grade at Valley View Elementary in Rocklin.

 "They are really excited by going to the museums," said mom. "Emma loved the skeleton greeting them at the entrance to the school room. She keeps all her things in the basket and enjoys learning all the old fashioned games. Emma keeps asking to come back to Auburn so she can use her soda tokens" that were donated by the historic Auburn Drug Co and Ice Cream Parlor on Lincoln Way.

Special thanks go to Jean Allender, the PCHS classroom chair, and her helpers. They include Jane Hamilton, Karen Bleuel, Eula Marriott, Sally Palmer Dawley, Mary Lue Hardey, Walt Wilson, Betty Samson, Karri Samson, Sherri Schackner, Bill George, Dorothy Hall Overton, Bonnie Parodi and yours truly. See you on the Heritage Trail No. 8 on Aug. 15-16, 2015. Mark your calendar.
--otten@ssctv.net

 Placer County Historical Dinner Meeting*

 Addah Owens, Vice President

 When: Thursday October 2

Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program

 Where: Auburn Veterans Hall 100 East St, Auburn

Cost: $14 per person

Menu: Stuffed Pork Loin, Roasted Fall Veggies, Green Salad, Rolls, Zucchini Cake. Presented by Tom Stout, formerly of Mary Belle’s Restaurant.

Mail Check to: PCHS, c/o Betty Samson, 8780 Baxter Grade Road, Auburn, CA 95603

Program: The W in Rocklin's 3Rs: Few persons in Placer County's Gold Rush history are as fascinating as Joel Parker Whitney. Whitney is part of Rocklin's Three Rs, Railroad, Rocks and Ranch with the biggest ranch of all, the Spring Valley Ranch. There are many facets to the Whitney story. Bill Marble of the Rocklin Historical Society will tell about the facets he uncovered in transcribing four volumes of Whitney's diaries.

* DO NOT BRING ALCOHOL. County directives prohibit it and we can't get liability coverage.

Artifact Highlight
 Bill James Baseball Card Baseball is America’s national pastime that dates back to the mid-1800s. With its popularity came marketing and a variety of merchandize desired by today’s collectors and sports enthusiasts. Baseball cards are highly collectable and, as proven by the recent auction of a Honus Wagner card, extremely valuable. This “Holy Grail of Baseball Cards" sold at auction in 2013 for $2.1million. The 1916 Bill James baseball card in our collection might not be as valuable, but it has its ties to Placer County. William Lawrence James was born in 1892 in Iowa Hill and was a Major League pitcher. He played for the Boston Braves in the 1914 World Series. The Braves, the heavy underdogs, defeated the Philadelphia Athletics. Numerous injuries and shoulder operations ended his Major League career. James pitched and coached in the minor leagues until 1925.


This card was generously donated to the museums by the Placer County Historical Society.

Calendar of Events


Placer County Historical Organizations 

Colfax Area Historical Society
Helen Wayland, (530) 346-7040 colfaxhistory.org

Donner Summit Historical Society
Bill Oudegeest, (209) 606-6859 donnersummithistoricalsociety.org

Foresthill Divide Historical Society
Sandy Simester, (530) 367-3535 foresthillhistory.org

Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
Lyndell Grey, (916) 645-3517

Golden Drift Historical Society
Jim Ricker, (530) 389-8344

Historical Advisory Board
Glenn Vineyard, (916) 747-1961

Old Town Auburn Preservation Society
Lynn Carpenter, (530) 885-1252 Lincoln

Highway Association
Bob Dieterich, bobd@iname.com or lincolnhwy.org

Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Elizabeth Jansen, (916) 645-3800 laamca.org

Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center
Richard Yue, (530) 346-7121

Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford, (916) 663-3871 ppgn.com/loomishistorical.html

Roseville Fire Museum
Shari -Tasler, (916) 538-1809 rosevillefiremuseum.org

Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Glenie Strome, (916) 782-3299 roseville.ca.us/indianmuseum

Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor #59
Dave Allen, (530) 878-2878 dsallen59@sbcglobal.net

Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Aileen Gage, (530) 885-911

Placer County Historical Society
Michael Otten, (530) 888-7837 placercountyhistoricalsociety.org

Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Tom Innes, (530) 888-8969

Rocklin Historical Society
Jean Sippola, (916) 652-1034 rocklinhistory.org

Roseville Historical Society
Phoebe Astill, (916) 773-3003 rosevillehistorical.org

North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Javier Rodriguez, (530) 583-1762 northtahoemuseums.org

Placer County Genealogical Society,
Toni Rosasco, (530) 888-8036 pcgenes.com

Monday, June 30, 2014

July-August 2014

Administrator's Notes

Ralph Gibson

Change is something we have all learned to deal with. Sometimes it isn’t pleasant, but we accept it as a fact of life. Sometimes change is good, too. I hope for you, dear reader, that the change I’m about to describe is the latter; we are relocating our Gold Country Museum from the Fairgrounds to the Historic Auburn Depot.


We’ve been in the fairgrounds building since 1947 when preparations were underway for the Gold Discovery Centennial Celebration. It was called the Placer County Museum and was run by the Placer County Historical Society. The County assumed control of it in 1948.

It operated as the Placer County Museum until it closed in 1989 for its transformation. The Historic Courthouse project was underway at that time and the new Placer County Museum would open on its first floor in 1994. The building in the fairgrounds reopened in 1990 as the Gold Country Museum.

The building itself, though charming, beautiful, and historic, lacks the necessary environmental controls to store objects for any length of time. It is cooled by evaporative coolers, which significantly raises the humidity and leads to large swings in temperature. This is very damaging to many artifacts. Also, on days when the mercury climbs above 94 degrees, the heat index inside rises to over 100 degrees, which necessitates closing the museum for the safety of our docents and visitors.


The Historic Auburn Depot has a new Air Conditioning system and is located at 601 Lincoln Way in Downtown Auburn. The location is perfect for expanding exhibits and growing the visitor-ship of the museum. We will still have an indoor panning stream and a mining tunnel to explore, thanks to a $1,750 donation from the Historical Preservation Foundation of the Native Sons of the Golden West and a $1,750 donation from Auburn Parlor #59 of the Native Sons of the Golden West. We plan on partially opening this fall with a grand opening in the winter. We will, however, be open for this year’s Heritage Trail on August 2nd and 3rd at our new location. Please stop by for a sneak peek!

A Letter From the Editor

Jason Adair

Dear readers,
I really can’t explain how excited I am to be part of the team that’s building the new Gold Country Museum. I’ve always been a huge fan of the old museum, and getting the chance to take it apart and rebuild it is going to be an amazing ride.

 The first thing we did when we started planning was to get all the Gold Country docents together. We asked them which exhibits they loved, which they didn't, and what new exhibits they’d like to have to help tell visitors our story.

SPOILER ALERT: as directed by docent input, the new museum will contain a mining tunnel and indoor gold panning stream. These two exhibits were at the top of everyone’s list. At the bottom were the three ghostly figures.

Our new museum, at 601 Lincoln Way, will be open for Heritage Trail. It won’t be anywhere near done, but there will be gold panning. Stop by and strike it rich!

Moving Museums and Mysterious Artifacts

Kasia Woroniecka

Moving a museum might seem like a mammoth undertaking, yet after the recent experience of relocating to a new storage facility we learned to expect the unexpected and move forward.

Any move, whether it involves a large or small collection, tackles different aspects of packing and organizing. In the case of the Gold Country Museum it involves the opening of exhibit cases, moving of all objects and deciding where they fit best – on display or in storage.

The move to a new building gives us a great opportunity to redesign exhibits and add objects that could not be on display in our old museum. Those include textiles, wooden and leather artifacts that sustain damage when stored or exhibited in environments with incorrect temperature and relative humidity levels.

Some of the objects that could now be displayed because of improved conditions are part of the Chinese collection. These include textiles like clothing, hats or shoes; wooden objects like boxes, wooden scales or a writing desk, and works on paper. One of the most interesting objects in this collection that has not been exhibited in recent years might not even be Chinese.


According to the donor, who donated it in 1949, it is a Chinese slave collar circa 1850. It is a large metal restraint with a loop attachment and a small locking device. Yet the Chinese did not come to California as slaves, but as free migrants. Could the donor be wrong? Did the collar originate in the slave states or maybe South America?

When slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1807 and in 1865 in the United States, labor intensive industries like cotton plantations, mines and railway construction were left without cheap manpower. The coolie system followed the abolition of slavery and filled that gap. Yet these indentured laborers were no better off than the slaves they replaced.

Between 1847 and1874 about 500,000 Chinese indentured or contract laborers were exported to South America to make up for the shortage of slaves. It is possible that the collar originated in Peru or Cuba, where more than 200,000 Chinese were sent. Many others ended up in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Suriname. Eighty percent or more were sent to sugar plantations where their treatment was not much different than that of slaves. They were locked up until they could be auctioned off in the same markets that formerly sold slaves. Once at the plantation they were housed in the same quarters as the former slaves and controlled using metal bars, leg chains, whippings and lockups.

The difference between the coolie trade and the African slave trade is the fact that technically, despite cases of kidnapping and contract fraud, coolies were voluntary laborers who were free to return to China after fulfilling their contracts.

The reality was different. They earned very little money and only a small percentage of them ever returned to China. Coolies were often forced to remain in servitude beyond what their contract stipulated. Of the 58,400 Chinese noted in the 1872 Cuban census only 14,046 were “free” men who had completed their contracts.

Chinese immigration to the United States was almost entirely voluntary, with the exception of the prostitution trade. Working conditions were difficult and laws restricting movement and discouraging settlement were passed. In 1879 the constitution of the State of California declared that “Asiatic coollieism is a form of human slavery, and is forever prohibited in the State, and all contracts for coolie labor shall be void.”

We might never know where the collar came from or who used it. Yet, it is part of our growing permanent collection, which with its rare artifacts and unsolved mysteries, is all the more interesting for it.

The Scoop

Beth Rohlfes

The Proof is in the Biscuit Eating

Dear Bernhard Museum, Thank you so much for having us. That was the best field trip I’ve ever been on! 
Love, Jessica

Third grader Jessica is not alone in her enthusiasm for the Placer County Museums’ Living History Program. She was one of 2,793 students we engaged in the popular field trip to the Bernhard Museum this past school year. In 2014, I entered my first full spring season with some trepidation. As it turns out, “the proof of the pudding (or in this case, biscuits) is in the eating.” It was a win-win experience, not to be feared!

It was a wonderful field trip and all of us want to say thank you a 1,000 times to you guys because it was awesome and everyone loved it! 
 Sincerely, Ari

While the Living History Program is a rock-solid program launched some years back by a qualified group of teachers and museum professionals, it takes a coordinated team effort to ensure its ongoing success. Kudos to this year’s team of 23 seasoned museum docents, 131 school teachers, 1,034 volunteer parents and museum staff who made it all happen.

I am wondering how you know all this? Do you look it up? 
Sincerely, Eli

Good question, Eli! Our docents and staff train for eight weeks, practice a lot and keep studying. We learn from official records, photos, artifacts, personal writings, newspapers and other sources that tell us how people lived “back then”. And when we don’t know the answer to a question, yes, we do look it up.

I appreciate that you volunteered for us. 
Sincerely, Evan

The amazing force of parent participation in their children’s learning experience is one of the most beautiful parts of this program. Until this spring, parents were required to attend on-site training. Now they can prepare by watching new online videos. They love this option for its accessibility and convenience. We love it because parents come prepared. The kids love it because the adults are confident and happy in their role as activity leaders.

Living History is pretty much an automatic win for everyone involved. And humor is a key to much of our adult enjoyment on field trip day. During one Living History tour of the house, students glimpsed a couple of our docents sitting quietly inside dressed in their 19th century attire. “Ohhh,” cooed one eight-year-old, in amazement. “They’ve been there a very long time!”

It was hard making the biscuits, but they were good.

As to the value of the Living History Program, the proof is clearly in the eating of the biscuits.

Placer County Historical Society News

President's Message

Michael Otten,

President

Beam Placer County History Up.

 Ralph Gibson's in charge. High school football. Navy service. Husband. Father. Almost always beaming. Yes, pioneer lunar archaeologist Ralph Gibson, 48, has lifted off the launch pad as Placer County's sixth museums administrator.

For his voyage Gibson brings: A childlike wonderment. A sense of adventure to make our rich history more meaningful to those here and those who visit. Professionalism and seriousness in a mild manner. Popularity and enthusiasm. His selection bodes well for the future.

His appointment came with little fanfare. Gibson had been serving as interim administrator since Melanie Barton's retirement last June. On April 11 in a terse memo to County Supervisors and the CEO's office Mary Dietrich, director of facilities services quietly announced Gibson beat out all contenders to replace Barton.

Dietrich said Gibson "brings a wealth of private and public sector experience" as well as several years under Barton as a researcher, designer, curator and manager. As interim leader of the museum staff and the more than 200 volunteers, Dietrich said Gibson "continued to distinguish himself as a personable, creative and focused manager."

 The lunar stuff: July 20 marks the 45th anniversary of the first men to land on the moon. It was an inquisitive Gibson as a student at New Mexico State University who got the ball rolling to preserve the 1969 Apollo II landing area at Tranquility Base as a World Heritage site.

In 2010, Gibson was part of the team that convinced the California State Historical Resources Commission to take the unprecedented step of placing the 106 or so objects left on the moon by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the California Register of Historical Resources. New Mexico and Hawaii have followed suit with the goal being a World Heritage Site.

Some history: Since 1948, Placer County Museums has grown from a shoestring operation to a million dollar annual enterprise with six museums. Gibson is scrambling to add a 7th Museum by next year at DeWitt to honor the former World War II Army Hospital and State Mental Hospital that served as the county's major employer for more than a generation.

The museums started with the hoopla over the Centennial of James Marshall's and Claude Chana's 1848 gold discoveries, the 49ers and statehood with a feisty May W. Perry, the executive secretary of the Placer County Historical Society.

She and the PCHS convinced the county to take over the Mining and Manufacturing Building at the 22nd Agricultural Fairgrounds as its first museum. Perry was its first curator. Now, Gibson and his crew has taken on the task of moving it from the Gold Country Fairground to the Auburn Southern Pacific Depot on Lincoln Way in time for the Heritage Trail weekend Aug. 2-3 tour of 20 museums in the county. Be part of Gibson's new adventure by participating.

 --otten@ssctv.net

 Heritage Trail Time!

 Step back in time for a FREE opportunity to visit and explore 20 museums in Placer County during the 7th annual Placer County Heritage Trail Tour of Museums August 2-3, 2014. The tour is informally broken into three geographical sections covering the valley museums of Roseville, Rocklin, Lincoln and Penryn; the Auburn area museums; and the mountain museums of Foresthill, Colfax, Dutch Flat, Donner Summit, Boreal Mountain Resort and Tahoe City.

 The participating museums will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. both days with unique displays, many hands-on demonstrations suitable for the whole family and several docents dressed in authentic clothing narrating stories about the days of old. The tour guarantees an enjoyable adventure as you encounter the unique personalities and features within each museum.

For more information, visit the Placer County Museum website, www.placer.ca.gov/museums and look for the Heritage Trail information.





Click on calendar to see larger version

 

Placer County Historical Organizations 

Colfax Area Historical Society
Helen Wayland, (530) 346-7040 colfaxhistory.org

Donner Summit Historical Society
Bill Oudegeest, (209) 606-6859 donnersummithistoricalsociety.org

Foresthill Divide Historical Society
Sandy Simester, (530) 367-3535 foresthillhistory.org

Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
Lyndell Grey, (916) 645-3517

Golden Drift Historical Society
Jim Ricker, (530) 389-8344

Historical Advisory Board
Glenn Vineyard, (916) 747-1961

Old Town Auburn Preservation Society
Lynn Carpenter, (530) 885-1252 Lincoln

Highway Association
Bob Dieterich, bobd@iname.com or lincolnhwy.org

Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Elizabeth Jansen, (916) 645-3800 laamca.org

Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center
Richard Yue, (530) 346-7121

Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford, (916) 663-3871 ppgn.com/loomishistorical.html

Roseville Fire Museum
Shari -Tasler, (916) 538-1809 rosevillefiremuseum.org

Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Glenie Strome, (916) 782-3299 roseville.ca.us/indianmuseum

Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor #59
Dave Allen, (530) 878-2878 dsallen59@sbcglobal.net

Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Aileen Gage, (530) 885-911

Placer County Historical Society
Michael Otten, (530) 888-7837 placercountyhistoricalsociety.org

Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Tom Innes, (530) 888-8969

Rocklin Historical Society
Jean Sippola, (916) 652-1034 rocklinhistory.org

Roseville Historical Society
Phoebe Astill, (916) 773-3003 rosevillehistorical.org

North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Javier Rodriguez, (530) 583-1762 northtahoemuseums.org

Placer County Genealogical Society,
Toni Rosasco, (530) 888-8036 pcgenes.com