by Ralph Gibson
This past year brought us an unusual number of celebrity deaths, from movie stars to musicians, sports heroes, news reporters and newsmakers. This year began with a death that hit close to home for us: Alan Rickman.
On August 27, 2007, we took our volunteers to the Sonoma State Historic Park and to General Vallejo’s home (now a museum) for our annual Volunteer Appreciation Trip. While in Old Town Sonoma, we noticed part of the street was blocked off and there were two huge cameras and tall lights next to the street. We soon learned the movie, Bottle Shock, was being filmed.
Bill Pullman, Alan Rickman, Rachael Taylor, and up-and-coming actor Chris Pine were starring in the movie.
We got as close as we could to the action and watched with fascination. Rickman, Pine, and Taylor got out of an old truck, walked across the street, and entered a business while people dressed in 1970s clothing walked on the sidewalk. It was a simple scene, but most of us were riveted.
During a break, Pine talked and laughed with the impromptu audience and Rachael Taylor brushed passed me on her way to the bathroom. The crew set up a different scene.
When it was time, Rickman appeared out of nowhere. The three actors walked out of the business, crossed the street, got into the truck and attempted to drive of — “attempted” because the truck wouldn’t start. It was not acting.
After the mechanic finished, the truck roared to life and Pine drove down the road about a half block, backed up, and parked where they had started. Everyone then filmed the same scene over and over again. The truck broke down at least two more times but they finally wrapped for the day and we went on to General Vallejo’s home.
Alan Rickman passed away on January 14, 2016. He acted in seventy films, including the eight Harry Potter films, Galaxy Quest, and the first Die Hard. We will always remember him for his role in Bottle Shock. Rest in peace, Alan.
Wedding Cakes and Cupids
by Kasia Woroniecka, Curator of Collections
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and a popular day to “pop the question.” Since decorated cakes are an important part of wedding celebrations, I chose this beautiful cake topper that was used during the wedding of Adeline and Anthony Perry in 1910 to highlight romance-related objects in our collection and set the mood for this amorous holiday.
Decorating wedding cakes became very popular during the 19th-century. Early designs included flowers, bells, or other small objects and were often made of sugar or non-edible materials like glass, paper, wood, or plaster of Paris.
Our ornate dessert-ornament is made of plaster of Paris with a figure of a cupid blacksmith forging a ring—a symbol of love, fidelity, and commitment. Behind him is a candleholder carved with ornate floral and scroll design.
The cupid blacksmith was also a popular Valentines card theme in the 19th-century.
Here is an intricate pop-up card from our collection showing a similar composition to the cake topper.
The anvil as a symbol of romance was made famous in Scottish Gretna Green, a little village known as one of the world’s most popular wedding destinations.
A law enacted in England in 1754 made marriage legal only if it was performed in a church and with parental consent. The law did not apply in Scotland where almost anybody had the authority to conduct the marriage ceremony. The blacksmiths in Gretna became known as “anvil priests” and lasting symbols of Gretna Green weddings.
While the tradition of creating special cakes for weddings can be found in Roman times (made with nuts, fruit and honey), white wedding cakes appeared in Victorian times. A sign of purity, white created a visual link with the bride and became especially popular after Queen Victoria’s wedding in 1840. Her white wedding cake was covered in royal icing and measured nine feet in circumference.
|Unnamed couple. Circa 1950. Placer County Collection|
Today, there are practically no rules about wedding cakes. They can be of any color, flavor or shape and the possibilities are endless. All we can hope for is that they taste good!
Jail Break in Auburn, October 4, 1860
by Bryanna Ryan, Curator of Archives
The Archives preserves a variety of records that document early criminal activities in Placer County. Of particular interest are the Court of Sessions case files that range from 1851 to 1863. This was a period of dramatic growth throughout the area. Communities were quickly developing and citizens hurried to establish and maintain a sense of law and order that would transcend to even the most remote reaches of the county.
The case files include locations like Mendenhall’s Corral, Salt Spring Ranch, El Dorado Saloon, Illinoistown, Whiskey Bar, and Mad Canyon.
Throughout this time period, the Court of Sessions heard 364 cases covering crimes including: theft, bribery, fraud, swindling, being a cheat, peddling without a license, keeping house for playing games of chance, keeping a house of ill fame, dueling, larceny, arson, assault, murder and mayhem (among others).
|Placer Herold 7/28/1860|
In the year 1860, thirty-five cases were heard and they were overwhelmingly for crimes involving theft. On the night of October 4, twenty inmates were serving time in the Auburn jail.
|Court of Sessions Case #295|
Using their distinctive skillsets, thirteen of the twenty inmates made a daring escape—one that had been developing for several days and which bought the fugitives a 3-hour head start.
The escapees included:
• Henry Sprague, N.A. Robbins, Lawrence Sumsall, and Gabriel Rocus—Iowa Hill Stage Robbery (Wells Fargo treasure box of $11,020)
• William Dixon and Monroe Croyer—The “Mountain Springs Robbers”
• Artemarano Okaner and Aystube Tomline—Horse Thieves
• Thomas King, Daniel Gray, Ah Bow, William Wild, and Thomas Lawrence—Burglars
The October 6, 1860 Placer Herald published many of the details of the escape gathered in the aftermath.
Someone had smuggled in a Chilean crowbar, the steel hoops from a fellow “China woman” prisoner were manipulated into lock picks and chisels. A hole was carved through the jail wall and concealed under a piece of muslin whitewashed with lime.
All of the cell doors had been either picked or broken open. Thirteen men were gone.
Seven inmates opted to stay behind, having been arrested for lesser crimes. As witnesses, they divulged details of the sensational event. According to one, on the evening of October 4, 1860, the prisoners were “in quite a jovial mood, singing and hallooing,” a device discovered was cleverly used to drown out the noise of their work.
The Placer Herald rightly observed: “From their number, and the known proficiency of some of them as old rascals, there would appear to be a want of proper vigilance on the part of the officers.”
by Beth Rohlfes, Curator of Education
|Wendy, Beth and Daphne|
Bolstered by holiday spirit, we gathered staff and docents for our annual Holiday Luncheon in December to honor seasoned volunteers for their commitment of, collectively, 26,550 hours! As we celebrated these dedicated individuals, we also welcomed docents who just completed their New Volunteer Training Classes and will begin volunteering in January.
We also honored eighteen docents for their accumulated volunteer hours. Archives volunteers John Knox and April McDonald-Loomis have given an exemplary 5000 hours each!
|Addah and Bettie|
We launch into 2017 with great confidence, ready to wow our public with so many new and seasoned docents. We wish you all a happy new year and hope it will be the best ever for Placer County Museums and its volunteers!
Placer County Historical Society Dinner Meeting
By Addah Owens, Program Chair
When: February 2, 2017
Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program
Where: Veterans Hall, 100 East St, Auburn
Cost: $16 per person
Menu: Chinese New Year buffet by Lisa Bloom, owner of A Window Opened in Meadow Vista.
Program: “Hidden History Beneath Folsom Lake: Hiking Across a Dry Lake Bed in Time of Draught.”
Kevin Knauss of Granite Bay will PowerPoint his historical trek through time. A must-see presentation. Books available.
For a downloadable preview, click “Kevin” at www.insuremekevin.com.
Mail Checks to: PCHS c/o Jane Hamilton, 1871 Crockett Road, Auburn, CA 95603. (530) 885-7839 or email@example.com DO NOT BRING ALCOHOL. County directives prohibit it, and, we can't get liability coverage.
News From Placer County Historical Society
by Michael Otten, immediate past president
Tired of all this rain? Mark your calendar. Make your reservations now. Join us for our annual Chinese New Year dinner 6:30 pm Thursday, Feb. 2, for some rare discoveries revealed during the recent drought period. That was when one could walk across the Folsom Lake bed from Placer County into El Dorado and Sacramento County without getting wet. Gold Rush places like Mormon Bar are now under 100 feet of water or more thanks to the Folsom Dam that came a century to save Sacramento from regular flooding.
With his PowerPoint presentation, Knauss intends to delight us with chronicles of the area’s early inhabitants, the 1850s rush for riches and efforts to tame Mother Nature. For a downloadable preview click “Kevin” at www.insuremekevin.com A must-see presentation. Books available for $20 at dinner.
Feb. 2 also marks the end of the official seven-day celebration period for the start of the year of the Rooster (sometimes called the year of the chicken). Lisa Bloom of A Window Opened, will cater our Chinese Fare in the downstairs dining hall of Auburn Veterans Hall, 100 East St. Call Bonnie Wilson to make reservations at 530 878-6640 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org The cost is $16.
The early American River community Dotan’s Bar with its own “China Town” had bridged the newly formed Placer and El Dorado Counties during the Gold Rush. James W. Chinn, a 49er from Virginia, was a Wells Fargo agent-shop owner there in 1854 and served as an early Placer County Supervisor.
To learn more, visit www.placercountyhistoricalsociety.org
Early map and Rice Bowl discovery.
The PCHS, founded circa 1910 in Auburn, is a good nonprofit organization that relies primarily on its dues and volunteers to keep it going. You can make a difference. Donations and inquiries can be sent to PCHS PO Box 5643, Auburn, CA 95604
• Volunteer with the Placer County Historical Society: Please! There is an urgent need to replace our veteran membership secretary, Barbara Burdick, who finds her schedule has changed so that she can’t continue. Computer skills advisable to maintain membership roster. Other posts available too.
• The Gold Country Medical History Museum, 219 Maple St., Old Town Auburn, will be holding one of those don’t miss fund-raising open houses at 5:30 pm Wednesday, March 22. Laura Kenny, author-chef-caterer, will be providing tasty treats. Amour Prive’ and Sips will be pouring wine. The museum will be open only on Saturdays until then or by arrangement with curator Rod Moser.
email@example.com or call (530) 888-7837
|Click to enlarge|
Placer County Historical OrganizationsColfax Area Historical Society
Chris Miller (530) 346-8599
Donner Summit Historical Society
Bill Oudegeest, (209) 606-6859
Foresthill Divide Historical Society
Sandy Simester, (530) 367-3535
Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
Historical Advisory Board
Old Town Auburn Preservation Society
Lincoln Highway Association
Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Elizabeth Jansen, (916) 645-3800
Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center
Richard Yue, (530) 346-7121
Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford, (916) 663-3871
Roseville Fire Museum
Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Glenie Strome, (916) 782-3299
Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor #59
Dave Allen, (530) 878-2878
Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Mario Farinha, (530) 269-2412
Golden Drift Historical Society
Jim Ricker, (530) 389-8344
Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Aileen Gage (530) 885-9113
Placer County Historical Society
Walt Wilson, (530) 878-6640
Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Tom Innes, (530) 888-8969
Rocklin Historical Society
Barbara Chapman, (916) 415-0153
Roseville Historical Society
Phoebe Astill, (916) 773-3003
North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Rebecca Phipps, (530) 583-1762
Placer County Genealogical Society,
Toni Rosasco, (530) 888-8036