Friday, July 1, 2016

July-August

Administrator’s Notes 

by Ralph Gibson 


Visitors celebrate the 2013 Archives and Research Center opening.
Our museums system has been very fortunate over the decades. The Placer County Board of Supervisors, citizens of the county, as well as visitors from all over the world, continue to support our efforts to preserve and interpret our history. You should all become familiar with one particular resource we have in our division: our Archives and Research Center.

Located at the DeWitt Center in Auburn, our Archives boasts a rich variety of sources, and exciting new donations come in on a regular basis. We have original documents that reach far back into the early Gold Rush—court records, deeds, mining claims, school records, naturalization documents, mug books, newspapers and various business ledgers—just to name a few.

We also have photographs, negatives and maps. We also have qualified people there to help you with your research needs. For the first time since 2008, we have a full-time Curator of Archives, Bryanna Ryan. So we not only have all these great things in our collection, but also the expertise and experience to properly preserve, curate and make them accessible to the public. And Bryanna will tell you that the real gold in the Archives is our volunteers. We have first class researchers and data entry technicians who volunteer long hours at the Archives. If you have a research project—personal or professional—I encourage you to call Bryanna and set up an appointment.

The Archives and Research Center is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, 9:00 am –12:00 noon and 12:30 —3:00 pm. It is located at 11526 C Ave. , bldg. 209 at the DeWitt Center in Auburn.


The Napkin—not to be flourished like a flag of truce 

by Kasia Woroniecka Curator of Collections 


People, rolled napkins, and a cat, C.1900. PMC Archives.
According to a survey conducted in 2015, 70% of American households use paper napkins. With an average use of six napkins per person per day, it’s not a very ecofriendly choice, but definitely one of convenience. Nonetheless, the use of paper napkins has been declining in the last 20 years, with more people opting to use the paper towel or turning away from paper altogether in favor of cloth napkins.

Napkins have a very long and interesting history, going back to ancient Greece and Rome, when they were used to wipe hands and faces or wrap leftovers of food. During the Middle Ages hands were wiped on tablecloths or large napkins hung from the edge of the table. In the 16th Century napkin sizes depended on the type of event. Rules of etiquette became more structured, and by the 19thcentury much was required of those who wanted to use napkins correctly.

An 1894 book on etiquette explained:

Cotton napkin from the Freeman Hotel in Auburn. White cotton with
 “Freeman Hotel” embroidered in the corner. PCM Archives Collection.

“...the napkin partially unfolded is laid across the lap. It is not tucked in at the neck or the vest front, or otherwise disposed as a feeding-bib. It is a towel, for wiping the lips and fingers in emergencies, but should be used unobtrusively—not flourished like a flag of truce.”

The napkin could be used to cover the mouth when removing a fish bone, but it was never to be used as a handkerchief. A formal table setting has one placement for the napkin—to the left side of the place setting. The napkin should be folded with the closed edge to the left and the open edge to the right.

By 1840 the use of napkin rings became popular in all-English speaking countries. In the home, napkin rings identified personal napkins at the family dinner table so that laundering could be done once a week. Because napkins were not reused after parties, guests would simply leave their napkins unfolded beside their plates at the end of the meal. The use of napkin rings decreased with the advent of paper napkins, which surprisingly are not that old. They were introduced by John Dickinson in 1887.

Paper napkins circa 1908-1917. PCM Enid Griffith Collection.

A stationery manufacturer in West Hertfordshire, England, Dickinson used napkins printed on Japanese paper for his company’s annual party. The fashion caught on, and before long large quantities of the napkin squares were being produced. The first company to make them in America was Scott Paper, but that wasn’t until 1931. The company introduced the first paper towel for the kitchen and created a whole new grocery category, but the use of paper napkins did not become popular in the United States until the 1950s. That makes our collection of 17 napkins that belonged to Enid Griffith, great-niece of Griffith Griffith, even more interesting. We don’t know where they were produced, but we know when they were used because she inscribed them.

One of the oldest, with a pretty carnation design, dates to 1908: “My party, Sat. May 8th, 13 years old." Another napkin has a pink chrysanthemum design and is signed, "Ladies Aid at Mrs Banfield July, 1909." There is also a wedding anniversary napkin from March 23, 1909, and a Valentines napkin from 1908. The last one in the collection dates to 1917. It is a napkin with a Christmas holly design from a brunch she attended on December 4th. The life of a paper napkin is generally very short, so we are lucky to have these examples in our collection.


Lurking in the Attic 

by Bryanna Ryan Curator of Archives 

Photo: Griffith Griffith and E. B. Crocker (fore- ground) at the 
Quarry in Penryn with the new Conness engine. 1865. PCM Archives.

As a researcher, sometimes you just know there is a photograph of your subject out there, somewhere. How many attics or basements or (gasp) landfills are the resting places of these missing puzzle pieces? How many are simply unidentified because the information has been lost? How about finding a description of that photograph in a diary and trying to imagine the scene while knowing the search may be futile?

According to Enid Griffith, the following entry was recorded in Griffith Griffith’s personal diary on Friday, March 17, 1865:

“Mr. Chamberlin and Mr. Quade and Graves, bosses on Pacific Railroad, were at Quarry. They were on new engine, the Conness. They stopped at Derrick and took the view of the place. Myself and Judge [E. B.] Crocker stood together while taken so we appear in it.”

Griffith Griffith’s personal diary on Friday, March 17, 1865:

Photo: faculty of the Agricultural College, Penryn.  
 Circa 1892. PCM Archives.

“Mr. Chamberlin and Mr. Quade and Graves, bosses on Pacific Railroad, were at Quarry. They were on new engine, the Conness. They stopped at Derrick and took the view of the place. Myself and Judge [E. B.] Crocker stood together while taken so we appear in it.”

The Archives recently received an incredible collection of photographs and personal papers that contain several of these exciting “missing” pieces, including the photograph described in Griffith’s diary! We now have a photograph of the train spur to the Quarry in Penryn. We also have a photograph of the faculty of the short-lived Agricultural College, and previously unknown views of the English Colony in Penryn.

Photo, left: Albion P. Hall. PCM Archives.

In this collection are the personal papers, photographs, ledger books, and handwritten autobiography of Albion P. Hall, an original stakeholder of the Penryn Fruit Company. He was an all-around mover and shaker in the early days of Penryn and the fruit packing and shipping industry there. He went on to serve in the California Senate and as an Assemblyman from Placer County.

We are so happy these valuable and historic records have made their way to the Archives and can now be preserved forever. You never know what small item may be supremely significant to the right researcher.


News from Placer County Historical Society News 

by Michael Otten Immediate past president, PCHS 

CCHS Honors Betty R. Samson 

Attendees at the annual awards dinner applauded the life of Betty R. Samson in the presentation of its Waddingham/Doctor Award June 25 for her longtime service to the Placer County Historical Society and Historical Foundation and the preservation of local history.

“When I grow up I want to be like her,” said Barbara Kimball, secretary of the Conference of California Historical Societies during the presentation. John Shea, longtime awards committee chair, said Mrs. Samson both called and wrote him, thanking CCHS for the award and apologizing that at the age of 91 her body wasn’t up to making the trip to Claremont Los Angeles County. Samson is among the few honored at the Rosie the Riveter Home Front Museum in Richmond, CA, for her service as a mechanic at McClellan Air Force Base during World War II and in the Korean Conflict.

I had the honor and privilege of accepting the award on her behalf and describing what an interesting life she continues to lead. I said I hope we in Auburn can have a public presentation of the award and her nomination binder, either before the City Council or Board of Supervisors.

At the end of the meeting I had the good fortune of being installed as 1st Vice President of the CCHS.

7-0 Vote to Demolish 1855 Lawyers Row in Auburn 

The Auburn Historic Design Review Commission voted 7-0 on June 21 to grant property owner Michael Fanoni’s request to take down Lawyers Row, the 1855 brick building with its iron doors, for public safety reasons. Fanoni, a structural engineer for PG&E and an Auburn native, said he purchased the property at 299 Commercial St. with the original intention of restoring it. Visible from I-80 and across Court Street from the Native Sons of the Golden West in Old Town Auburn, the building replaced an earlier wooden structure destroyed by a fire that swept through early Auburn.

But a heavy rain in January caused many of the bricks on the Court Street side to tumble onto the walkway and street, closing off that part of the street to parking. Fanoni said efforts to keep transients from breaking in and sleeping there have been unsuccessful despite fencing and locks. He thinks the building’s condition is such that it can’t make it through another heavy rainfall.

Historical Landmark plaque for Lawyers Row in Auburn 
and the building’s owner, Michael Fanoni. 

Fanoni intends to dismantle the building as soon as he can and move it to a safer spot owned by his family in Clipper Gap, where he will incorporate as much of the historic brick and iron work into a new, bigger two-story structure. At the commission’s request, Fanoni will provide a progress report early next year. Details and photos to be posted soon at placercountyhistoricalsociety.org.

Still Time for Benton Welty Classroom Kids Winner at City Hall 

If you haven’t heard, there’s still time for children to enter the kids only drawing and tour the historic Benton Welty Classroom. Please contact Jean Allender at 885-5334 or jeanallender@hotmail.com by Sept 1. Odds are good. It is part of the 9th annual and new Heritage Trail tour of Placer County Museums. Adults have a chance to get or add to their trail card with the special school bicycle stamp. For details on all 24 museums on the trail and the prizes visit: theheritagetrail.blogspot.com.

On the special tour day June 18 more than 60 took part. Special thanks for the successful day go to Jean Allender, Richard Ravalli, Karri and Betty Samson, Delana Ruud, Sherri Schackner, Eula Marriott and yours truly.

Tom Stout hangs up serving tongs after 14 years of PCHS Dinners 

Your PCHS board is in the process of coming up with a new format for membership meetings. For the last 14 years Tom Stout, former owner of MaryBelle’s Restaurant in Old Town Auburn, has catered our dinners at the Auburn Veterans Hall. Stout announced his retirement at the June 2 dinner meeting. In thanks for his years of service members unanimously voted him a lifetime membership.

Our next regularly scheduled dinner is not until Oct. 6. Can we stay at Veterans Hall with the no adult beverages permitted policy? Can we find another caterer to continue serving meals there? Should we move to a luncheon, breakfast or an earlier dinner? Should we move to a restaurant like many service clubs and other organizations have done? Suggestions welcomed. Please contact President Walt Wilson at (530) 878-6640 or (530) 863-9224 or bonwally@hotmail.combonwally@hotmail.com

You can reach me at otten@ssctv.net or 530 888-7837. For other news check placercountyhistoricalsociety.org


Kids Say it Best 

Here’s what 3rd graders had to say about Living History at the Bernhard Museum this spring.

I would kinda like to live in the 1800’s. The chores are fun but not all day--and no TV. -Allison

Thank you. I love that you volunteered for us. I have a question. Did you have fun like me? I love that you were so so so so so so nice. -Trinity

I’m great with a hammer and nail. I even made up a song and it goes like this, hammer and nails don’t smash nails. -Kaylin

They made doing laundry actually fun unlike at home. -Russell

I did not know that the house used to be a house that the REAL pioneers lived in. But I know you gave it a fixer upper. -Samantha

I would like to live in the 1800s because it would be cool to not have technologie and help do things. -Jayden

I would not want to live in the 1800’s because I wouldn’t have the friends I have now. -Jordan

It warms my heart just to see you doing this. Thank you again. -Amber

My class had an epic time. -Gracie

Calendar

 


Placer County Historical Organizations  

Colfax Area Historical Society
Chris Miller (530) 346-8599
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

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 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
Jim Giblin
JGiblin@roseville.ca.us, 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
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
placercountyhistoricalsociety.org

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

Rocklin Historical Society
Barbara Chapman, (916) 415-0153
rocklinhistory.org

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

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

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

Monday, May 9, 2016

May-June 2016

Administrator's Notes 

by Ralph Gibson 

Heritage Trail 2016 will look a lot different than in years past. Showcasing Placer County history through all of its great museums, the Heritage Trail is a terrific event. But it has always had one fatal flaw. Unless you wanted to break the laws of physics and the state by way of speeding infractions, there’s no way you could possibly visit all 20+ museums in two days. And with timed events and special tours, museums were beginning to compete with one another.

This year’s Heritage Trail will stretch across the entire summer. Smaller groups of museums will be clustered together on admission-free, Heritage Trail days, from June 11th through September 4th. If Trail-goers can’t make it to a particular museum on its Heritage Trail day, they have the whole summer to visit that museum and get their Get-Up-And-Go card stamped to enter a drawing for a Gift Basket. Instead of just four stamps to qualify, however, now it will take 16 stamps. But everyone who turns in a fully stamped card will get a cool silicone Heritage Trail wristband – plus free access to a website with 50 historic photographs collected by a number of our participating museums.

The new summer-long format allows more museums to participate. This year the Fruitvale School will participate again. The Roseville Public Library, a newcomer to the event, has a History center that will feature exhibits throughout the summer. The Sierra College Natural History Museum and the Donner Memorial State Park have also expressed interest in participating, though we are still working out those details.

As always, I hope to see you on the Trail!


Big News from the Archives!

by Bryanna Ryan


The Placer County Archive is excited to begin a major collaboration with the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office to digitize all 1,479 historic record books which originated in their department and are now largely housed in the Archives and Collections Facility. During the month of May, over one million pages will be scanned as high resolution images from these books. They can weigh up to twenty pounds each! A company that specializes in digitizing historic bound volumes will be working around the clock and using their state-of-the-art equipment to accomplish this project, estimated to generate over 1,400 Terabytes of information.

Overall, the books that will be digitized date from 1851-1971 and include records of: Homesteads, Deeds, Military Discharge, Mechanics Liens, Estrays and Lost Property, Record of Stallions, Mining Claims, Water Rights, Personal Chattel, and MORE! These will become searchable online and help in our effort to preserve history while also making it widely accessible. The wealth of information held in these primary sources is remarkable, and we are delighted to open our vault, so-to-speak, and finally introduce the modern age to our historic documents.

This project contributes to greater efforts in archives, libraries, and museums across the country to digitize historic collections and advance understanding of our collective past. Here at the Placer County Archive, volunteers work thousands of hours per year to preserve and make our historic collections searchable through Indexes and Finding Aids. As we move forward and continue to grow, we are also adding information to our database and digitizing our voluminous photographic collection. Future goals include digitizing our massive and historic maps collection, as well our valuable collection of oral history recordings.

Some of the records that will be digitized this May were created 165 years ago. Soon they will become accessible to you online. Ultimately, this project will help researchers near and far to discover the history of this remarkable county and the place it has occupied in the national narrative.


Close Cover Before Striking: Matchbook Collections

by Kasia Woroniecka


If someone calls you a phillumenist, don’t be upset. It just means you collect matchbooks. While smoking rates have plummeted in recent decades, and cigarettes have been replaced by handheld electronic devices or e-cigarettes, there was a time when smoking was common and collecting matchbooks was a popular hobby. The manufacture of matchbooks peaked during the 1950s and 1960s and then steadily declined because of the availability of disposable lighters and anti-smoking health campaigns.

The history of matchbooks goes back to 1889 when Joshua Pusey patented the idea of paper matches. Filed under “Flexible Match,” the invention is described as a “friction match device consisting of a series of splints or strips of thick inflammable paper, wood, or similar material tipped with an ignitable composition and attached to and enclosed by a suitable cover folded and adapted to be opened and closed as the covers of a book.”

It soon became evident that the matchbook’s value lay outside of the box, and matchbooks and matchboxes became an important advertising vehicle, promoting theatre productions, restaurants, hotels, beer and even anti-Nazi slogans during the 1940s. Pusey sold his patent to the Diamond Match Company. The company’s salesman, Henry C. Traute, brought the advertising idea to the Pabst Brewing Company, and it became the first food-and-beverage company to invest in branded matches.

Often given to customers for free, E-matches became a very cost effective form of advertising. Matchbook design has stayed constant since the late 19th century except for one aspect – in 1962 federal safety laws required that strikes be placed on the backside instead of the front of matchbooks, making the famous “Close Cover Before Striking” phrase obsolete.

Our collection, donated by Mary Sayles of Roseville, consists of almost 100 pieces, advertising mostly California hotels and restaurants. They were collected by the donor’s brother, Alan Sayles, and include a few local establishments, like the Beavers Trap Saloon in Newcastle and the Country Boy Inn and Motel in Auburn.

Although it might seem that this nostalgic collectible could be hazardous to the rest of the collection, it is very unlikely. Matchbooks and matchboxes can be found in many archive and museum collections. Some institutions prefer the “off with their heads!” approach and cut off the flammable tips. Others, including our collection, keep them intact, separated and in boxes restricting any movement. Most phillumenists remove the matches from the cover and store the covers flat. Our collection consists of safety matches, which are “safe” because they don't spontaneously combust. You have to strike them against a special surface in order to get them to ignite. Safety matches were designed in the mid-19th century specifically to prevent accidents. Although we are far from breaking the Guinness World Record (9130 matchbooks), we can safely continue adding to this “light loving” collection.


The Scoop

by Beth Rolhfes 


Happy Birthday to Living History!

The ever popular 3rd Grade Living History Program at the Bernhard Museum Complex has been providing students with an authentic 19th century experience for 20 years. Kudos to all docents, parents, teachers and museum staff who have nurtured this program over the years!

There is a growing demand for this type of school field trip, and the Placer County Museums Division is proud to be a leader and a model of success.

Check out our information page for parents and teachers.


 

News From Placer County Historical Society

by Michael Otten


May is State and National Preservation Month
Our state and nation this month are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Preservation Act that created the National Register of Historic Places and the state Historic Preservation Offices. With February’s listing of the DeWitt General Hospital, Placer County now has 33 listings on the National Register.

The others:
The Carnegie Libraries in Auburn, Lincoln and Roseville; the 1937 Auburn City Hall and Fire House (now home to the Chamber and Welcome Centers), Auburn Fire Houses 1 and 2, Auburn Grammar School (current City Hall), Auburn Masonic Temple, California Granite Co. in Rocklin, Chapel of the Transfiguration in Tahoe City, the Colfax Freight and Passenger Depots, the Dutch Flat Historic District, El Toyon in Auburn, Fiddyment Ranch main complex in Roseville, the Griffith House and Griffith Quarry in Penryn, the Haman House in Roseville, the Lake Tahoe Dam in Tahoe City, the Michigan Bluff-Last Chance Trail, the Mountain Quarries Bridge, Newcastle’s Portuguese Hall, Odd Fellows Hall in Auburn, the Old Auburn Historic District, the Outlet Gates and Gatekeeper’s Cabin in Tahoe City, the Placer County Bank in Auburn, Stevens Trail in Colfax, the Strap Ravine Nisenan Maidu Indian Site in Roseville, Summit Soda Springs, the Watson Log Cabin in Tahoe City and the Women’s Club of Lincoln.

PCHS Board member Mike Holmes, a former Auburn mayor, is working hard to get the Earl Crabbe Gym at Placer High listed as well as trying to convince the City of Auburn to strengthen its historic preservations efforts by becoming a Certified Local Government.

The Place to Be June 18:
Benton Welty Classroom, City Hall The PCHS participates in the Heritage Trail by staffing the Benton Welty Classroom at City Hall, open this year on June 18, 10:00-4:00 along with the Gold Rush Museum and the Bernhard House Complex. The old grammar school gives visitors a glimpse of school life a century ago. Volunteer by contacting Jean Allender at 885-5334 or jeanallender@hotmail.com. For more details visit: theheritagetrail.blogspot.com

CCHS 62nd Annual Meeting, June 23-25

Spend an exciting weekend celebrating our state’s history and the people who preserve it at the annual meeting of the Conference of California Historical Societies, June 23-25.

The session is in Claremont in Eastern Los Angeles County at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. See why Sunset Magazine recently named it one of the best small towns in the West. Take advantage of the early bird rates by registering now. Host Double Tree Hotel group rate deadline is June 2.

There’s a great chance our Betty Samson will be honored with an award of merit. And I have been nominated for the 1st Vice President post. Details at annualmeeting.californiahistorian.com

Kudos to Spring View Middle School in Rocklin Spring View is the sole participant from Placer County in the May 5-7 California State Finals of National History Day. Sadly, there are no other elementary, middle or high schools in this history-rich county participating. This is especially surprising now that the William Jessup University in Rocklin has been made the permanent home for the state finals.

Christopher Webber, who coordinates the history collection at the Roseville Downtown Library, is working hard to change that. Webber is not only a county and state judge for the annual contest, he also represents the first Supervisorial District on the Placer County Historical Advisory Board.

Webber goes out of his way to invite interested students to come in and explore the library’s rich resources and develop their own imaginative take on history without writing an essay. Public viewing of elementary and junior divisions will be on May 6, 5 - 7 p.m. and May 7, noon- 1 p.m., 4:30 - 6 p.m. for the senior division. This will be my first year as a judge representing the Conference of California Historical Societies, a longtime supporter.

You can reach me at otten@ssctv.net or 530 888-7837.
For other news check www.placercountyhistoricalsociety.org


Volunteers!


Betty R. Samson, for most of us, has been the voice and face of the Placer County Historical Society, handling reservations for membership meetings, collecting money and greeting us at the door. Betty is retiring with the June dinner meeting, and we can’t thank her enough for keeping us going all these years. It’s an important volunteer position. Talk to Walt Wilson at (530) 878-6640 or 863-8224.

Other volunteer needs:

Take charge of a special fundraising project to create antique glass souvenirs from the old windows of the historic Placer County Courthouse. Proceeds from this and other projects will help fund acquisitions for the Placer County Archives. Contact Walt Wilson.

Volunteers for Heritage Trail at the Benton Welty Classroom at Auburn’s City Hall, June 18. Contact Jean Allender, (530) 885-5334 or jeanallendeNewly-r@hotmail.com


New PCHS Officers 


elected at annual meeting on April 7, and effective May l, 2016.
President -Walt Wilson;
1st Vice President - George Lay;
2nd Vice President (programs) - Addah Owens;
Secretary—Richard Ravalli; Treasurer—Al Stoll;
Immediate Past President: - Michael Otten;
Board members (Two-Year Terms, 2016-18) - April McDonald-Loomis, Melanie Barton,  Karri Samson, Sherri Schackner  (Carry-over elected Board Members, 2015/16 -2016/2017, with additional year remaining: Jean Allender, Karen Bleuel, Mike Holmes, John Knox)


PCHS Dinner Meeting

By Addah Owens, Vice President


When: June 2, 2016
Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program
Where: Auburn Veterans Hall, 100 East St, Auburn
Cost: $15 per person
Menu: Chicken Marsala, seasoned vegetables, salad, rolls and dessert.
Program: Ed Weiss will provide a video presentation highlighting ancient Egyptian historical sites. In 2010, just one month before the revolution and the start of the “Arab Spring,” Barbara and Ed Weiss toured parts of Egypt and sailed up the Nile. They visited many wonderful sites associated with the 3000 years of ancient Egypt’s culture as well as some of the modern country’s attempts to deal with the realities of living in a very hot and dry region.
Mail Check to: PCHS c/o Betty Samson, 8780 Baxter Grade Rd, Auburn, CA 95603 RSVP to Betty at (530) 885-5074

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

Calendar of Events

Click to enlarge

 

Placer County Historical Organizations  

Colfax Area Historical Society
Chris Miller (530) 346-8599
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

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 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
Jim Giblin
JGiblin@roseville.ca.us, 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
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
placercountyhistoricalsociety.org

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

Rocklin Historical Society
Barbara Chapman, (916) 415-0153
rocklinhistory.org

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

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

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

Monday, February 29, 2016

March-April 2016

Administrator's Notes

by Ralph Gibson


After Pearl Harbor, the United States entered World War II, and many of her young men and women lined up to volunteer in the armed forces. Those who were too young waited impatiently until their 18th birthday to sign-up, but there were some who couldn’t wait. In a time when records were kept on aging paper in overstuffed filing cabinets, sneaking through the system was a lot easier.

Mildred Kellerman was 17 in 1943, but she wanted to join the Army as a nurse. She knew her doctor was unable to locate her birth record, so she convinced him she was born a year earlier and got him to sign a note to that fact. She took the note to the recruiting station nearest her Arizona home and enlisted. The Army accepted her doctor’s note, and she was sent to Georgia for basic training and nursing school.

After her training, Mildred got her first duty assignment: The DeWitt General Hospital in Auburn, California. She traveled by train from Georgia to Auburn and reported for duty. Mildred’s story is one of many that will be highlighted at the new DeWitt History Museum, but it won’t be interpreted through text and photographs. Mildred herself will tell you her story. In 2009, Mildred Kellerman was interviewed on camera as part of the Veteran’s History Project for the Library of Congress. Her oral history is fascinating. She describes her train ride from Georgia and her first impressions of Auburn during the war years. She weaves a story of duty, comedy and tragedy while a nurse at the DeWitt General Hospital.

March is Women’s History Month, and in April we celebrate volunteers. In this issue of The Placer, we’ll highlight both – sometimes in the same article. If you have any questions about our two big museum projects (the Gold Rush Museum and the new DeWitt History Museum), please don’t hesitate to stop by my office in the historic Courthouse.


Edna Hollenbeck's Pickle Castor

by Kasia Woroniecka

Curator of Collections

You won’t find a lot of pickle castors on dinner tables these days, but they were a very popular serving accessory during the Victorian Period. Both the jars and their frames came in a wide array of colors and designs. They often mirrored elements of other decorative arts, incorporating scrolls, shells, birds, vines, borders and floral elements, as well as matching tongs and figural lid finials.

This beautiful castor with a clear, pressed glass jar and ornate metal frame is currently on display at the Bernhard Museum. It was made by Simpson, Hall, Miller & Co. The company was formed in 1866 in Wallingford, Connecticut. It made plated goods, and in 1899 became part of the International Silver Co. In the space of a few years, the company bought a number of smaller silver companies, becoming a large industrial corporation worth $20,000,000. Located in Meriden, Connecticut, the International Silver Co. was a major producer of silver products in the United States. Although the popularity of pickle castors gradually faded, the 1900 Sears Roebuck catalog still offered a number of designs for about $2.00.

The donor of the Bernhard Museum’s pickle castor is as interesting as the object she donated to Placer County Museums in 1961. Edna Hollenbeck was born west of Chico in 1889. She arrived in Auburn in 1926 ready to start a new life after divorce, and she quickly became very involved in the community.

Ellen worked on the development of the 20th Agricultural District and was the director of the Auburn Recreational District for many years. Because of her efforts, James Field in the Auburn Recreation Park received electric lighting in 1939. She worked with the Rotary Club to give the community its first gymnasium. She also was involved in the California Chamber of Commerce and lobbied the state legislature for a four-lane Interstate 80.

According to her son, Bill Durham, Edna was “involved in so many clubs and activities, there were some days when she didn’t know how she was going to fit everything in.” As if all this work was not enough for Edna, she was also the owner of the historic Auburn Hotel and ran it until 1942. In its long history as a town institution, the hotel went through tough economic times, fires and a number of ownership changes before it was refurbished and converted into offices known today as the Auburn Promenade. Edna Hollenbeck died in 1969, 43 years after arriving in Auburn and supporting many worthy causes.


Was That Black Bart at the Freeman Hotel?

by Michael Otten

Immediate Past President, PCHS

We now can add Black Bart to the list of illustrious names of folks who stayed at the Freeman Hotel in Auburn. Or can we?

The long gone, once block-size Freeman Hotel is No. 26 on the Downtown Auburn Walking Tour map produced by City Historian April McDonald-Loomis and PCHS Board Member John Knox. It was located across the street from what is now the Gold Rush Museum at 601 Lincoln Way. The hotel was likely Placer County’s most popular watering hole and place to stay at the end of the 19th Century.

Thus Museum Director Ralph Gibson’s eyes lit up when he spotted an 1894 Freeman Hotel register on EBay. The PCHS ended up buying this treasure for the Archives, where some speculated it may have once been stored.

Like little kids at Christmas time, we opened the box containing the ledger and a vintage photo of the hotel showing people milling around and carriages waiting to offer a lift to the next train passengers.

Musty and water stained, the ledger includes names of guests from August 12 to October 10, 1894. A number of Placer County’s movers and shakers of the era signed in, along with many Central Pacific Railroad employees, folks working on a wire bridge, and others from near and far. Some were in the gold mining and lumber businesses. The ledger came with built-in blotters that contained black and red colored advertising to keep the flourished signatures from smearing too much.

One regular guest, William T. Lautenshlager of Rocklin, carried his own purple ink pad to stamp his name each time he stayed. Foresthill was then two words according to the guests from that town. The ledger provides such insights into the time period that Bryanna Ryan, the new County Archivist, wondered aloud whether we need a volunteer to index all the names to help researchers and genealogists of the future.

As we progressed through the ledger, the name “Black Bart” jumped out—in August and in September, 1894! It couldn’t be, I laughed. I quizzed Gibson, who confirmed that the legendary Wells Fargo holdup man only used the name in his stagecoach robberies, gaining international notoriety as Black Bart the Po8 from a poem he left at one of the 28 or so holdups attributed to him in the 1870s-1880s. This was obviously not the famed gentleman bandit, who served four years in San Quentin under the name of Charles E. Colton and disappeared shortly after his release in 1888.

The penmanship of Black Bart of Sacramento markedly differs (differs from that of the original outlaw. This 1894 jokester may never be known. Nor the full story of Black Bart.

The real story here is the acquisition of the hotel registry for the Archives. The Mississippi seller said he found it in a Las Vegas shop a decade ago. The ledger is just one of many items the Placer County Historical Society is involved in acquiring for posterity, from photos to letters to old safes, early family diaries, etc. Have something of interest? Let’s talk. You can reach me at otten@ssctv.net or 530 888-7837.

I hope to have something soon on www.placercountyhistoricalsociety.org about other accounts of local connections to the legendary Black Bart.


The Scoop: Unraveling the Mystery of History 

by Beth Rohlfes 

Editor and Staff Writer 

Everyone loves a good mystery, and a historian likes nothing better than to play detective. So declared April Loomis-McDonald as she and Carol Cramer spoke to docents about Auburn’s first female immigrants at the Placer County Museums Docent Guild Lunch & Learn event in February. How the two Gold Rush women—Nancy McCormick and Eliza Elliott Gibson—rose to the challenges of their day to become successful business owners was fascinating. Equally intriguing to me, however, was how the presenters investigated their subjects.

Woven into both presentations were details of their search for infoma- tion and how it unveiled new and frequently unexpected gems along the way. While reviewing a probate file, John Knox (a frequent research “partner in crime” with April and Carol) inadvertently came across Nancy McCormick’s husband’s name in an adjacent file. This uncovered a plethora of information about Nancy, including her maiden name, her second marriage and descriptions of her multiple homesteads.

Both April and Carol admitted distinctively different approaches to research. April is a consummate researcher, currently historian for the City of Auburn and volunteer at the County Archives. She dedicates 40 hours a week to archival work. Her mutual efforts with John Knox contribute valuable support to our archives, museums and anyone curious about the history of Placer County. April and John committed one year to research the life of Nancy McCormick.

Carol Cramer is first and foremost an educator. The retired elementary teacher savors information that adds interest and accuracy to stories she shares through her museum volunteerism. But she is a self-described “armchair researcher.” She partners her educator skills with the dedicated and ongoing research skills of April and John. She instigates collaboration that helps enhance what we share through museum programs like the annual Cemetery Tour or the Saturday morning walking tours of Old Auburn.

Carol’s research on Eliza Elliott Gibson was more a process of discovery, stretching over 10 years. In another unexpected find—again by John Knox—a digital newspaper file from the Marysville Daily Herald revealed an 1851 court transcript of Eliza Elliott’s testimony to a crime. Elliott introduced herself as a native of Ireland who arrived in San Francisco on the ship Victoria from Sydney, Australia, on February 22, 1850; and was in Auburn 9 days later.

So we lunched (thanks to Carole McCarthy!) and we learned—what? Well, I now know more about two women in local history. But even more useful, April and Carol’s personal experiences taught me how different our research paths can be and how teamwork can expand exponentially the possibilities of discovery.


PCHS Dinner Meeting

When: April7, 2016

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

Cost: $15 per person

Menu: Baked ham, scalloped potatoes, seasonal vegetables, salad, rolls and dessert

Program: Roger Staab, author of Towle Brothers, will relate how the three Towle brothers came to California to seek their fortunes and ended up becoming prominent contributors to the economic growth of both Placer and Nevada Counties. Allen, George and Edwin Towle found their fortunes not in Sierra gold, but in logging and lumber. They are perhaps best known for building a narrow gauge logging railroad, but their involvement in the area’s development goes far beyond that venture. And the creative contributions of their descendants and extended family continue to benefit the state today.

Books will be available for purchase.

Mail Check to: PCHS
c/o Betty Samson, 8780 Baxter Grade Rd, Auburn, CA 95603
RSVP to Betty at (530) 885-5074

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

Calendar of Events


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Congratulations!

Kudos to the Maidu Museum & Historic Site for winning one of six Superintendent’s Awards for Excellence in Museum Education 2016! Sponsored by the California Association of Museums and the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the awards recognize outstanding achievements in California museum programs that serve K-12 students and/or educators.

Placer County Historical Society needs a volunteer to handle reservations for dinner meetings and to make reminder calls.

Contact president, Walt Wilson, at 878-6640 or 863-8224.
Colfax Area Historical Society needs volunteers to staff its museum in the historic railroad depot in Colfax, open daily, 9:00-3:00. Greet visitors, give directions, sell items, discuss artifacts, etc. Call 530-346-8599 for a tour to see if this suits you.


Placer County Historical Organizations  

Colfax Area Historical Society
Chris Miller (530) 346-8599
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

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 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
Jim Giblin
JGiblin@roseville.ca.us, 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
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
placercountyhistoricalsociety.org

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

Rocklin Historical Society
Barbara Chapman, (916) 415-0153
rocklinhistory.org

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

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

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