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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

May - June 2014

Administrators Note’s 

Ralph Gibson 

Last summer we started a new offsite exhibit program. We have been installing exhibits in public spaces where people don’t expect to see historic artifacts and photographs.

Our first exhibit was in Rocklin’s Placer Herald office. We set up two chairs that once belonged to W.A. Shepard, a longtime editor of the Placer Herald, along with photographs and interpretive text. We then went to work on a temporary exhibit in the Domes (the Placer County Administrative Center) where the Board of Supervisors hold public meetings. We installed vintage cameras in a display case in the front lobby as well as historic photographs. It was a concise exhibit that photographically covered all five districts in the county.

Next, we installed an exhibit on mountain sports and recreation in the Placer County Planning Office in Tahoe City. The latest of our offsite exhibits is in the Finance Administration Building at DeWitt. We have two different exhibits on two floors. On the first floor outside the Clerk Recorder’s Office is an automatic voting machine that was last used in the Placer County election of 1906. On the second floor is a display of office equipment that was used to process and store information from the late 19th century up through the 1980s.

Offsite exhibits are a good way for us to showcase objects that might not fit in a regular museum exhibit. It’s also a great marketing tool. Many county residents have no idea they own six museums, an Archives and Collections Facility, and an exhibit shop. Through these exhibits, we reach a broader audience and make connections with history lovers. More offsite exhibits are coming soon!

A Letter from the Editor 

Jason Adair

Dear Readers, Dear Readers, It’s that time of the year again, when spring gets skipped in favor of summer. That’s when we know it’s time to start working on the Heritage Trail Museum Tour. If you’re reading this, I assume you will either be a visitor or a volunteer for the biggest museum event of the year.

This year we have 20 museums that will welcome you with open arms, unless you’re not into that kind of public affection. Either way, there will be plenty of free snacks on offer as well as unique hands-on opportunities and demonstrations that only happen during the Heritage Trail.

If you’re a museum docent or volunteer, sign up to work at your museum August 2nd and 3rd. If you’re not, strap on your driving goggles and get ready to visit 20 great museums!

The Women's Army Corps at DeWitt Army Hospital

Kasia Woroniecka

 DeWitt WACs There were fewer than 7,000 Army nurses on active duty when the U.S. entered World War II in 1941. By the end of the war their number grew to more than 59,000. The first nurse reported for duty at the DeWitt Army Hospital on January 20th, 1944. The nurses were part of the Women’s Army Corps. The WAC was a branch of United States Army created as an auxiliary unit (WAAC) in 1942 and converted to full status as WAC in 1943. At one time 262 WACs were posted at DeWitt; by 1945 there were only 93, with many ready for discharge or transfer to other commands, among them Clinton, IA, and Ft. Devens, MS. 1st Sargent Verna L. Christenson, who enlisted with the WAC in February 1943, was quoted in the “The Dewitt Miner” regretting leaving her post since “seeing all these people leave is like taking the stays out of your girdle.”

Nursing staff of DeWitt General Hospital during the Activation Ceremony in March 1944. 
The Army Nurse Corps uniform was changing from dark blue to khaki. 
The nurses in the photograph were the first to be assigned to DeWitt. 
- PCM Archives Collection 

The design of the WAAC uniforms went through many revisions. Out of 750 jackets issued to the first contingent of WAAC, 531 had to be altered. They were designed and made by the men’s clothing industry and many women who wore them considered them ill-fitting and the fabric too stiff. New and improved pattern was put into production in 1944.

 WAAC uniform jacket of Sargent Evelyn Frost. 
 - PCM Collection 

DeWitt General Hospital officers and nurses quarters.
 - PCM Archives Collection 

Nurses at the DeWitt hospital took care of patients with many different injuries sustained in the European and Pacific theaters of war. The first patients arrived in January 1943, before the official March opening of DeWitt. The nurses had their work cut out for them with 1852 beds. Sgt. Verle D. Hull, for example, landed in Ward 107 after a sniper’s bullet in Germany hit him in the left shoulder and left him paralyzed. Technician Fourth Grade Arnold Duby of Portland, OR, was the first patient from the French invasion to arrive. A member of the 101st Airborne Division, he landed in Normandy on D-Day and was injured on June 13, 1944. Another technician, Frank Dobashi, was injured in France when he tripped a wire of a German S-mine, also known as “Bouncing Betty.” There were also patients who were treated for facial wounds, brain surgery, missing limbs and post-traumatic stress.

Ambulances from DeWitt Hospital at Auburn Depot. 
Most patients arrived by train and were transferred from the train station to DeWitt.
Others were flown to Sacramento and driven to Auburn.
 - PCM Archives Collection

As the war was coming to an end in 1945 the patients were discharged or transferred to other hospitals. The hospital officially closed on December 31, 1945.

The Scoop 

Not Your Average Day at the Cemetery

Most of the time, the Old Auburn Cemetery is used for powerwalking, dogwalking, or just plain old fashioned walking. While it is a really nice place to walk, what’s overlooked by those getting their daily constitutional is the depth of history that surrounds them. The docents and volunteers of the Placer County Museums mean to rectify that.

On Sunday May 4th at 1:30 pm we’ll be hosting our second cemetery tour, Historic Haunts: A Tour of the Old Auburn Cemetery. This time we’ll be focusing on the second wave of California immigrants who arrived in the 1860s. The tour will last about an hour and includes 18 notable plots. Also, the Native Sons of the Golden West will have their restored 1860s hearse and 1890s mudwagon on display for photographs.

The first tour begins at 1:30 and the last tour will start no later than 3:45. You do not need to reserve your tour, simply show up and register and we’ll organize everyone into tour groups. The tour will start at the back left side of the cemetery as you walk in the main gate. This is a rain or shine event, so please dress accordingly and wear comfortable shoes. Free bottled water will be available.

The Old Auburn Cemetery is located at 170 Fulweiler Avenue across from the Placer County Administrative Center where you may also park. Please remember that there are no restrooms in or near the cemetery, so plan accordingly. The tour is FREE!

Placer County Historical Foundation's Day of Giving

The Placer County Historical Foundation is a part of the Placer County Historical Society. The foundation was formed in 1971 to obtain and restore the Bernhard House and give it to Placer County for a museum.

Since then, the foundation has contributed to other restoration projects, published books, helped fund the printing of the Old Town Walking Tour among other things.

They also contracted with the county to fund and arrange the Placer County Museum Gift Shop in the courthouse from 1995 to 2005.

More information about the foundation is on our website below.

The foundation is participating in the Day of Giving to raise awareness and funds to further our mission.

The Day of Giving is a regional partnership with Placer Community Foundation, Sacramento Region Community Foundation, and Yolo Community Foundation.

To give, on May 6 starting at 12:00 midnight visit the website www.givelocalnow.org to make a gift of $25 or more to Placer County Historical Foundation. You have 24 hours to make your donation.

Thank you for your participation. Hal Hall, President

President’s Message 

Michael Otten, President 

Michael Otten,
President Ralph

Roper Rides Again!
Ralph Roper's smile seemed wide as the renowned Foresthill Bridge on Wednesday, April 16, 2014.

It was déjà vu some 730 feet over the American River on California's highest bridge.

With son Harvey riding shotgun, the 93-year-old Roper piloted his 1921 Model T Roadster across. It was the first car to cross the bridge after the rededication ribbon cutting to celebrate the state's highest bridge's $74 million overhaul.

Ralph Roper had the same honors in the same car on Labor Day 1973. That day an elephant and a donkey were brought in for the dedication show to symbolize bipartisan political support. The bridge was a key to completion of a dam that would create Auburn Lake. At maximum the level would have been 138 feet below.

Roper was 52 when the legendary Wendell Robie persuaded him to drive his Model T across. Roper is the 1956 founder of a jewelry store that bears his name as well as a much honored community icon with fondness for pre Depression vehicles, parades and public service.

What was Placer County like in 1973? Most of us weren't here. Population was 90,000, a quarter of todays. Auburn had half as many and the state had 20.6 million.

The bridge cost $14 million. There was a controversy over using steel from Japan to save money over American steel.

Life in 1973: A car cost $4,052, gasoline, 39 cents, house, $35,500; minimum wage, $1.60; average annual salary, $13,622; postage, 8 cents; milk, $1.36 a gallon; bread, 27 cents a loaf; gold jumped $40 to a record $97 an ounce.

Ronald Reagan, Governor; no Proposition 13 tax break, Viet Nam War ends, VP Spiro Agnew resigns; President Richard Nixon declares "I'm not a Crook."

Oakland A’s win World Series. "The Sting" wins Academy Award. Lyndon Baines Johnson, Pablo Picasso and Betty Grable die, Secretariat wins the Triple Crown.

April 16 was déjà vu for Don Anderson too and his "love in the sky.´ He was the Bureau of Reclamation's resident engineer during the initial four year construction.

Anderson termed the project his one in a million shot to be the engineer. His slide show on the construction is not to be missed.

 Star reporter Gus Thomson, despite being on vacation, brought his daughter on the public tour. Thomson has written about the joys and sorrows of the bridge during much of his 25 year Auburn Journal career. The Thomsons joined in on a rare walk on the catwalk grid underneath.

Whether there is ever an Auburn Lake or an Auburn Dam, we have The Bridge of Hollywood fame, a draw for BASE jumpers and tourists alike and a shorter commute to Foresthill.

 otten@ssctv.net


Placer County Historical Society Dinner Meeting

Addah Owens, Vice President

When: June 5
Time: 6:30
Where: Auburn Veterans Hall, 100 East St, Auburn
Cost: $14
Menu: BBQ chicken and ribs, camp beans, potato salad, green salad, corn bread, and lemon bars. Mail Check to: PCHS, c/o Betty Samson, 8780 Baxter Grade Road, Auburn, CA 95603

Program: Sierra Stories: Tales of Dreamers, Steamers, Bigots and Rogues
Sierra College historian and Loomis resident Gary Noy, will present an illustrated lecture on unusual and lesser known stories of Sierra Nevada history, with a focus on Placer County events and personalities. The presentation is based on his book, “Sierra Stories: Tales of Dreamers, Steamers, Bigots and Rogues” which will be available for sale and signing.

Noy will recount more than 60 hidden tales of Placer County figures such as Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, John Conness, Joseph B. Starkweather, as well as obscure stories of local events such as the building of the Bloomer Cut and the 1924 silent film “Greed”.


Calendar of Events

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
Javier Rodriguez, (530) 583-1762 northtahoemuseums.org

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

Friday, February 28, 2014

March-April 2014

Administrators Note’s 

Ralph Gibson 

I hope all of you have had a chance to visit the new Placer County website. It offers a different browsing experience because you’ll find broad categories to choose from instead of a list of departments. If you’re looking for health care, click on “Health and Family Care”. If you want museums or libraries, click on “Community and Recreation”. Of course, our online presence goes well beyond our county webpage to include a blog and Facebook page. But the online work I am most proud is our YouTube channel. Most of the content on our channel was created by Exhibits Preparator, Jason Adair. Some of the videos include a humorous look at a vintage bear trap, a silent film of a recent gold mining trip, and a film about the history of the DeWitt Government Center.

We’ve recently decided to use our YouTube page to assist us with our Living History program. The program runs on parent involvement, and those parents are trained to run the stations. In order to run smoothly, parents need to be trained ahead of time. Getting parents to onsite training has been difficult the past several years and has led to many stressful mornings trying to train parents before the bus arrives. To counter this, we introduced online parent/teacher training videos. We’ve only had one day of Living History so far, but all the parents were trained online and the day ran smoothly.

So, if you’ve grown weary of watching funny cat or sleeping baby videos on YouTube, check out our page and actually learn something.

A Letter from the Editor 

Jason Adair

Dear Readers, I have been very busy this month drawing pictures for a new exhibit. Ergo, I haven’t had time to write anything pithy for this space. So, please accept these drawings of old office machines instead.

Artifact Access -VS- Artifact Protection

Kasia Woroniecka

 As a Curator of Collections my responsibility is the care of objects in our museums and our storage facility. I care for rare and priceless objects, memorabilia and works of art that have been donated by people who, just like me, want to see them preserved for future generations. The best way to keep them safe and prevent damage when they are on display is not to touch them. It is not always easy to achieve that. No matter how often we ask visitors to use appropriate manners there will always be those who ignore museum rules. Recently, a visitor to the Ai Weiwei exhibit at the Perez Art Museum in Miami destroyed a vase valued at $1 million. Maximo Caminero, who is an artist, claimed that he smashed it to protest the museum’s lack of displays of local artists. Has was charged with criminal mischief.

Although benefits of physical interaction are great, they are not always possible, especially when dealing with fragile, unique and significant objects. Museums have been dealing with this issue since the beginning. Cabinets of curiosities offered visitors an intimate encounter with rare objects and touching objects and pictures was not frowned upon. By the mid-nineteenth century that has changed. As collections grew so did public interest, which led museums and private galleries to devise their own ways of minimizing risks to their collections by safeguarding objects in glass cases and limiting the number of visitors. A hands-off policy became a practical necessity.

 In their effort to make their museum more accessible and user friendly the Louvre, has recently lifted a ban on taking photos in their most crowded and popular galleries. As a result the visitors turned into paparazzi that would do anything for a photo. Museum officials quickly learned that allowing photos in the busy galleries made a clear change for the worse. A visit to Mona Lisa's gallery at the end of the day revealed a room littered with used museum maps and discarded soda bottles. It became obvious that visitors’ goals changed - they were no longer there to view the works but to get their souvenir pictures.

As visitors try to take as many pictures and touch what they like they forget that many of the items from our past are irreplaceable. Touching causes surface damage as dirt and the natural oils on our skin eat into surfaces. Even flash photography causes damage not immediately visible to the human eye.

In the last year, almost 300,000 visitors were entertained and educated at our six museums. Let’s hope that those in a quest for a satisfying museum experience this year will respect the past and will make museum etiquette part of their experience.

The Scoop 

Beth Rohlfes 

Today’s cutting edge museums that engage visitors in a dynamic and relevant way entertain as well as educate. In our fast-paced digital age, studies show that we—especially our younger people—learn better through stimulation and interaction.

As a former art curator, I found it highly effective to present lots of hands-on art projects that were relevant to my shows. One of my favorite exhibits featured the pop-up books of Auburn artist, David Carter. Guests explored the engineering of these cut-out marvels by manipulating large, eight-foot models of the original book-sized pop-ups. They came in droves to learn directly from the artist how to make simple pop-ups or engineer their own unique designs with colored paper and scissors.

As Curator of Education for the Placer County Museums, I want to help engage visitors in our history museums. According to Nina Simon, Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, participatory museums are necessary to help us build “21st century skills”—creativity, collaboration and innovation—to ensure our success in this globally interconnected world. So how are we building these skills through participatory experience at the Placer County Museums?

 Take a look at an exhibit at our Courthouse Museum. “What Killed the American Hat” as a very well-planned, wildly creative exhibit inviting visitor participation. Whether or not you care about fashion or hats, the exhibit engages you in a fun, crazy game of sleuthing. You’re encouraged to think creatively, look for clues within the historic newspaper text, and write down your theories. The exhibit cycles your creative ideas back into the exhibit itself.

Often effective in encouraging visitor participation are the museum artifacts themselves. When carefully selected, then presented through artful exhibit design, artifacts can be the center of a social experience. This month, our new display of vintage office equipment and furniture will be installed on the second floor of Placer County’s Finance Administration Building. We’ve selected and juxtaposed an array of intriguing office items from various decades since the mid-19th century. Creative layout and design elements, as well as clever and information-packed item descriptions are expected to draw passersby into interested reminiscence and dialogue with their office mates about the early stages of our Digital Information Age.

Another highly effective program of museum participation happening at the Placer County Museums is our volunteer program. Volunteers are both the participants and the catalysts for others to participate. Dedicated volunteers work regular and ongoing hours at our Archives and Collections. While they are learning new skills and enjoying the confidence that this brings, they are contributing valuable work to the Museum Archives.

As catalysts for participation, our museum Docents are engaging visitors every day in the delightful stories surrounding the rich history of our county. I have seen docents artfully enticing visitors to recognize their connection with history through their own stories. One visitor’s story about grandma cooking warm country breakfasts on a stove like the one in the Bernhard Museum encourage similar storytelling from other visitors, and the personal connection to history also becomes a surprising connection to a total stranger. How often, after all, have you really felt you have participated in a rewarding museum experience because of the Docent?


Placer County Historical Society 2014-15 Nominations 

President: Michael Otten 1st

Vice President: George Lay

2nd Vice President (programs): Addah Owens

Secretary: Melanie Barton

Treasurer: Al Stoll

Board members (Two-Year Terms, 2014-15 to 2015-16): Sherri Schackner, Walt Wilson, Penny Watson, Karri Samson

(Carry over elected Board Members from 2013-14 with additional year remaining: Jean Allender, Karen Bleuel, John Knox.)

--Respectfully submitted, Walt Wilson, chair, Nomination Committee, Winona Virgil, Smith Virgil, Betty Samson, Karri Samson

Officers for 2014-2015 will be elected at annual membership dinner meeting April 3, 2014, Veterans Memorial Hall, 100 East St., Auburn

At that time the Nomination Committee will make a final report. Additional nominations may be made and a vote taken. 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. Those elected will assume office May 1, the start of the fiscal year.


President’s Message 

Michael Otten, President 

 PCHS: Arts Commission Honors City Historian

Auburn, this is our kind of town. You can disagree. But like Frank Sinatra made Chicago and New York, New York his kinds of towns, Loreley Brewer Hodkin made Auburn her colorful kind of town and has no qualms about letting others join in.

Such was the case on the eve of Valentine's Day at City Hall. Mayor Bridget Powers, the City Arts Commission, and family members to the fourth generation saluted her at a celebration of her collected artwork she donated to the city.

The exhibit of Hodkin's hand-colored vintage lithographs and photographs of Auburn's historical buildings will be on display during city business hours through April 4. You may well have seen some of her nearly 100 pieces on the internet, at Bootleggers, Community First Bank or other places. Ms. Hodkin has made it easy to get your own copy pretty much for the cost of materials. If interested call 530-820-3644.

Her association with Auburn's current City Hall goes back 80 years when she was a first grade student. It was then known as the Auburn Grammar School and the 1934 classroom was located in what is now the Rose Room.

During her period as volunteer City Historian, 2002-10, she discovered that Auburn during its early days was quite colorful. Using water colors she tried to bring out hues the way they might have been. In the process she uncovered things nobody had noticed, such as an 1891 lithograph showing Santa driving a horse-drawn wagon through Auburn.

 This PCHS member and Auburn's first official City Historian used the Feb. 13 occasion to tell city officials they need to do more to exploit the Placer County seat's unique Gold Rush history.

 The way Loreley Hodkin sees it, the icons of California are found in the four daguerreotype 1850s images of Auburn Ravine and Spanish Flat. She insists they need to be more prominently displayed. She compared the images to symbolizing the Gold Rush to images of the Coliseum as symbolizing Rome and the Roman Empire.

The images put faces to the dream of instant wealth. They portray Chinese who came for Gum Shan (Gold Mountain), Blacks, Anglos and a woman bringing lunch in a male dominated culture.

A few years ago Loreley fashioned the images into a paper display for the City Streetscape Committee to show how grand it would look in a permanent Central Square fixture to no avail. But Loreley doesn't quit. She's still working on it. otten@ssctv.net



Placer County Historical Society Dinner Meeting

Addah Owens, Vice President

When: Thursday February 6th

Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program

Where: Veterans Memorial Hall, 100 East St., Auburn, CA Cost: $14 per person

 Menu: Baked Glazed Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Green Salad, Seasonal Vegetables, Rolls, Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Mail Check to: PCHS, c/o Betty Samson, 8780 Baxter Grade Road, Auburn, CA 95603

Program: Sesquicentennial and Centennial on the Establishment of Rocklin.

This program, presented by Sierra College History Professor and Rocklin Historical Society President Dan Deffoe, will cover Rocklin’s beginnings 150 years ago.

It will also detail events that occurred 100 years ago. Namely, the shootout that killed Marshall Renaldi and the horrendous fire that destroyed downtown Rocklin.

Artifact Highlight 

This Crown fluting iron became part of our collection in 1990. Very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this tool was used to create pleats. A wide variety of these were manufactured. They were used most often on collars, cuffs, petticoat edgings and dress trims. This iron is operated with a crank. The rollers are removable and hollow for faster heating. The fabric, starched and damp dry, was placed between the two rollers and arranged in a desired position before the rollers were turned.


 

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, January 13, 2014

January - February 2014

Administrator's Notes

Ralph Gibson


     I recently read a headline that screamed: 80 Percent of Scientific Data is Gone! The crux of the article was that data was only available to other researchers for about 20 years before being lost due to obsolete data storage devices. In today’s digital age we have to be mindful to preserve the history we are creating now.

     The Library of Congress has taken a first step toward solving this problem by archiving billions of tweets. Some might think this is a ridiculous waste of time and taxpayer money, but historians 100 years from now will view this digital archive as a virtual gold mine. What I wouldn’t give to be able to peek into the mind of a Forty-Niner as he tweeted about life in the gold fields. 

     Of course, they didn’t have this technology all those years ago, but it’s fun to imagine how they would have used it. Think of our own local history; what would Mr. Bernhard blog about? His fruit yield? What the second story door on his house was for?

Was Joe Armes doomed the moment he sent a heart emoticon to Alma Bell on Match.com? 

Anyone who saw the posts on Adolf Weber’s Facebook page knew he was up to no good that night.

Rattlesnake Dick used Google Maps to find gold shipment routes, but was finally done in when Deputy Tax Collector George W. Martin received an anonymous email about Dick’s location. 

How do you calculate the size and number of granite blocks needed for a major construction project while at the job site? Griffith Griffith had an app for that. 

     Historians comb through pages and pages of documents, letters, journals, newspapers and photographs to better understand our past. Today, with our reliance on so many tools and applications that produce no tangible document, I wonder what methods historians of the future might use. Will they be able to recover important information about our lives? Or are we deleting our history each time we empty the recycle bin on our desktop?     

A Letter from the Editor

Jason Adair

     Dear Readers, 
Facebook is a cruel mistress who demands constant attention and repays you with wasted time and possibly a repetitive stress disorder. We here at the museums have a Facebook page that I have been manning for the past year. I’ve done my best to use a lot of photos and poor grammar to give our account that real feeling. If you haven’t “liked” it, you should take a minute and do so at facebook.com/placercountymuseums. Doing so will help you keep abreast of the latest developments at our museums and will give you and I yet another way to share photos and videos of cats.

     In other news, we still have space in The Placer for articles from any history lovers/gatherers out there. We’d especially like anything related to the Civil Defense program. Our next exhibit in the Placer County Museum is going to showcase items from the county’s old Civil Defense caches as well as recollections about living in a time where getting under a school desk would save you from atomic death from above.

That is all.


The Placer County Museums Washing Machine Collection

Kasia Woroniecka


Aimee I. Hubbard and Violet Hubbard - Laundry Day.   
PCM Archives. Kathlyn Taylor Jones Collection.

     Doing laundry has always been a dreaded and time consuming chore. It’s no surprise that early washers were marketed as “monuments to women’s freedom”, able to “add many years to your life, save your health, keep the wrinkles out of your face and keep you youthful.” Before multiple temperature settings and load sizes of modern washing machines, laundry had to be sorted and soaked overnight, usually on a Saturday. The wash began early Monday morning. A tub of water was heated on the stove and the clothes were scrubbed by hand on a washboard and rinsed. Clothes were hung to dry and on Wednesday they were folded. Mangling and ironing took place on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday the process was repeated.
     A rotary washing machine was invented in the 1850’s. Hand-operated washing machines continued to be popular even after the arrival of the electric motor in the early 1900’s when companies like Maytag, Whirlpool and Hurley began mass production. The design of washing machines improved in the 1930s, with special emphasis on mechanical and electrical safety. Spin dryers replaced the electric powered wringers and in 1937 the first automatic washing machine was introduced by the Bendix Corporation. It was far from perfect, since it vibrated so roughly that it had to be bolted to the floor. By 1960 more than 90% of all households in America were using electric washers. 

Humboldt wooden manual rocking washer, the ancestor to the modern washing machine. It is the oldest washing machine in our collection, patented in 1870, and probably dates to the turn of the century. It is basically a wooden tub with legs. It has a washboard inside and a swinging basket composed of wood slats with a handle. The laundry was placed in the swinging basket which moved the clothing over the scrubbing board until it was clean. 







 
Maytag “Swinging Wringer” washing machine with an electric wringer attached. It is made of southern Cypress wood with a “milk stool” agitator under the top lid. 57,193 of these machines were produced between 1911 and 1925. Early washing machine developers faced many engineering challenges. To compensate for their shortcomings, practical messages for the user are stamped on the tub of this model, like “to secure best results spread clothes evenly when using wringer” and “oil bearings frequently.” The tub still had to be filled and emptied by hand. Often the motors on these machines used were not grounded, and since the washers often leaked, the operator ran a risk of electric shock, in addition to other dangers like braids caught in the wringer or lost fingers.

     

Maytag Gyrofoam washing machine with wringer circa 1920. This machine belonged to Victor Wickman, who owned and operated the Alexson Granite Company in Rocklin from the 1920s until the early 1940s. The Gyrofoam became the most popular washing machine in America in the early 1920’s. Not only could this Maytag clean your clothes, with the use of special attachments it could also churn butter, grind meat, and even wash dishes.


 

 

 

 

The Scoop

Beth Rohlfes


     The approach of our spring 2014 3rd grade Living History Program at the Bernhard Museum has me a little on edge. It will be my first complete season as full-time permanent employee, and there is work to do. I’m feeling both excited and anxiously responsible. After all, the Program has a history, and it’s a darn good one!

     What makes it so good? A well-designed formula of kid-friendly activities served up by a host of enthused parents and museum docents. Yes, of course. But at its heart is the experience of stepping back into the past—into the lives of people not too much different from us.

Living History students get to dress and act the part of children in Victorian America. In those four hours they become the Bernhard brood whose lives evolved around farm chores and simple play. They get it that hand scrubbing laundry and building fruit crates can be hard work, but it’s different enough to not feel like work, so they love it! 

Their trip back in time is capped by a tour inside the Bernhard home. This world of Victorian décor and decorum contrasts sharply to the 21st century they know. In the dining room a table is set for a family dinner, with hand-washed china, polished silver and painstakingly-ironed white linen—a big effort towards refinement that, I imagine, had to be challenging in a home where farm dust and long days of labor were the norm. 

So, what if a modern home, possibly even your home, became an historic site? What artifacts would the docent class of 2114 use to explain the daily lives of the folk from the year 2000?


“This is what they called a ‘smart phone.’ 
People used it to communicate with 
each other and to access information.” (OMG)


 “This is where families sat down to watch television,” future docent would say, “Back then it wasn’t uncommon to have one room dedicated solely to this pastime.”

“When the family moved here, all the homes were new and big to accommodate families with young children, sometimes as many as 2 or 3!”

“See all the books on these shelves? Families in 2014 still read printed books.”

 “Most people vacationed abroad at least once in their lifetime. Note the Costa Rican tourist pottery.”

“This sewing machine is almost 200 years old. It was likely passed down from mother to daughter. It’s unlikely that many women in 2014 actually sewed their own clothes, or even knew how to operate the machine, except in the most rudimentary fashion.”

Living history, you see, is not limited to a hands-on, 3rd grade field trip experience. It is about empathizing, stepping back into the lives of regular people. And ultimately, it’s about your life.     
And it’s about mine.

Placer County Historical Society Dinner Meeting

Addah Owens, Vice President



When: Thursday February 6th

Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program
   
Where: Veterans Memorial Hall, 100 East St., Auburn, CA

Cost: $14 per person

Chinese New Year’s Menu: Sweet & Sour Won Tons, Egg Foo Young, Chicken Chow Mein, Pork Fried Rice, Chinese Salad, and Coconut Cake

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

Program: Romantic Tahoe: A peek at life on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe during the Depression.
Donna Howell teams up with Mike Lynch for special slide show presentation.

The slide program contains material not in the book. The book will be available for purchase at $10.00.


Placer County Historical Society News, President's Message

Michael Otten,
President

     Yikes! Another year slipped into the history books, albeit the driest on record. On Christmas Eve came the news: The 49ers are coming. The new rush for riches may well be called the "forever" one.
Postage rates go up 6.5 percent Jan. 26.They say the rise is temporary, like two years max, to recoup $2.8 billion because of severe losses in mail delivery volume since 2008.

     Starting Jan. 26, we go to the nation's first 49 cent stamp, the latest forever stamp. Indulge me.  I am still fascinated by what some internet aficionados refer to as "snail mail." Historically and practically it is still a big deal. 

     As the independent federal USPS agency boasts, it is the only delivery service that visits every address in the nation: 146 million homes and businesses, six days a week. It has 37,000 retail locations. USPS relies on postage sales, services and an ever increasing line of products to keep it afloat. The annual revenue for delivering nearly half the world's mail is $75 billion.

     The last two Januaries saw penny increases, to 45 forever in 2012, to 46 forever in 2013.  The forever series began in 2007 when the price jumped two cents to 41 cents. If you have any left, now might be the time to use them.

     This month's hike amounts to the price of the California Gold Rush Centennial stamp issued in 1948. That stamp commemorated James Marshall's historic find Jan. 24, 1848, in the tailrace of John Sutter's American River sawmill at Coloma. Methinks that at least with the issue of the first 49 cent forever stamp, it should have made the change date Jan. 24. It could highlight a colorful saga in postal history, the short-lived Pony Express, an era when one might spend a week's wages to send a less than one ounce missive across country. Interestingly, an 1880-2014 chart used by Wikipedia indicates when adjusted for inflation the 49 cent stamp is on a par with what folks were paying a century ago. 

     As a young newspaper carrier I couldn't wait to use some of my earnings to buy the latest commemoratives. I begged anyone I could for stamps off of old envelopes, and hinges and cellophane to attach stamps in my Scotts album. Alas, no children, grandchildren or great grandchildren have expressed any interest in the hobby.

     I still regularly use commemoratives. In the process I discovered "forever" choices are limited as mail addicts stock up for future savings. 

     It's time to hit the Old Town Post Office to make an investment. Auburn boasts this post office is the oldest in California housed in its original building and the oldest continually operated Post Office west of the Mississippi.

Call it a fun way to enjoy history in the New Year.



Calendar of Events

January

Jan. 14th, 4:00 pm Roseville Historical Society meeting at Carnegie Museums, 557 Lincoln St., Roseville. (916) 773-3003


Jan. 15th, 6:30 pm Loomis Basin Historical Society meeting at the Loomis library. (916) 663-3971

Jan. 20th, 6:00 pm
Forest Hill Divide Historical Society business meeting, at the Forest Hill Divide Museum. (530) 367-3535


Jan. 20th, 7:00 pm Rocklin Historical Society Meeting at Old St. Mary’s Chapel, 5152 Front Street, Rocklin. (916) 624-3464


Jan. 23rd, 7:00 pm Placer County Genealogical Society general meeting, in the Beecher Room, at the Auburn Library. (530) 885-2216



February

Feb. 6th, 6:30 pm Placer County Historical Society Dinner Meeting at the Auburn Veterans Memorial Hall, 100 East St., Auburn. (530) 885-5074


Feb. 11th, 4:00 pm Roseville Historical Society Meeting at the Carnegie Museum. 557 Lincoln Street, Roseville. (916) 773-3003

Feb 17th, 7:00 pm Rocklin Historical Society Meeting at Old St. Mary’s Chapel, 5152 Front Street, Rocklin. (916) 624-3464

Feb. 19th, 6:30 pm Loomis Basin Historical Society Meeting at the Loomis Library. (916) 663-3871


Feb. 20th, 5:30 pm Historical Advisory Board Meeting at the Bernhard Museum Winery, 291 Auburn-Folsom Rd. Auburn. (530) 889-6500

Feb. 27th, 7:00 pm
7:00 pm Placer County Genealogical Society general meeting in the Beecher Room at the Auburn Library. Contact 530-885-2216.

 

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

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

Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Shirley Russell, (916) 645-3800

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

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

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

Roseville Fire Museum
Shari Tasler (916) 538-1809

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