Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July-August 2015

Administrator's Notes

by Ralph Gibson


The Heritage Trail 2015 (August 15th & 16th) is fast approaching and this year brings some big changes. First, one museum has dropped out (the Western Skisport Museum) but another has dropped in (The Museum of Sierra Ski History and the 1960 Winter Olympics), which brings our total this year to 20 museums.


Another big change this year will be the addition of a second Mountain Tour bus. On Saturday, the bus will run to Tahoe City where it will stop at the new Museum of Sierra Ski History, the Watson Cabin and the Gatekeepers Museum before heading up the hill where it will make a final stop at the Donner Summit Historical Society Museum. On Sunday, the bus begins at the Donner Summit Historical Society Museum before heading west to the Golden Drift Museum, the Colfax Area Heritage Museum and the Forest Hill Divide Museum. As always, reserved seats are $10 and we ask that you pack your own lunch. If you are interested, please call our office to reserve your seat today!

For the valley, we’re trying something different. For Saturday only, we have reserved two Pride shuttles that will rotate between the seven valley museums. One shuttle will begin at the Maidu Museum and another at the Roseville Historical Society’s Carnegie Museum. At 10:30 am, they move on to the next museum where they will stop, let passengers off and new passengers on, then head to the next and so on. The shuttles will run until 5:00 pm – one full hour after the last museum closes – to make sure everyone makes it back to their cars. We’ve never done this, so there are sure to be glitches, but we hope everyone will be patient and willing to give us good feedback so we can improve upon the idea next year. All the museums need help to pull this off, so please consider volunteering for the Heritage Trail one day and riding it the next. I hope to see you on the Trail!

In Search of Self


While serving as a US Peace Corps Volunteer on the Island of Dominica, 1992-1994, Mary Ann Bachman Kollenberg wrote home to friends and family and kept an extensive journal. She has recently complied her adventure in a self-published book. Mary Ann's book of published letters “In Search of Self, Reflections from the Eastern Caribbean” is in print and on E-book.

Born in Nevada County and raised in rural Lincoln, Mary Ann worked as administrative secretary at Lincoln High School, earned two bachelor degrees from Davis and CSUS respectively, worked for Placer County ROP and Sierra College for most of her adult life while residing in Auburn. She was very active in the Placer County Historical Society for many years, and president for two years. Mary Ann’s yearning for faraway places and a lifelong interest in the Peace Corps drew her to join that organization at the age of 58.

Mary Ann vividly describes her initial observations of surrounding islands, her home stay family and the culture and personality of Dominica. Her everyday life and feelings are documented in her letters home describing her tasks and frustrations with teaching safer and newer environmental practices to the islanders. Her descriptions are colorful and interesting.

On page 16, she writes:
August 17, 1992—5:30 p.m.

Dominica “Dear Folks, I’m in Roseau, Dominica! Sitting on a second-story veranda overlooking busy Cork Street, wires going everywhere, poles, tin roofs of every color (green, orange, red, rusty brown), peaked roofs with gable ends, hipped roofs with dormers. Opposite is a bakery at street level with a restaurant above, also with a full balcony, plants hanging everywhere.”

Mary Ann now resides in Lincoln, but at age 80 is unable to actively promote her book. Due to health challenges, she is not presently available for interviews or discussion.

To obtain a copy of “In Search of Self” contact Archway Publishing, bookstore.archwaypublishing.com, 1-888-242-5904, or order it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. It can also be downloaded to Kindle as an E-book.


The Scoop 

by Beth Rohlfes 

Curator of Education 


Bravo to Placer County Museum docents who helped plan and present a delightful community experience last month during the annual Jump into Summer event at the Bernhard Museum. Their enthusiasm to make history come alive exploded into an exciting production of authentic 19th century activity for a few short hours on that Saturday morning.

From the docents in their colorful Victorian outfits—layers of prints and lace, bows and sun hats—to the 24 member Auburn Concert Band—brandishing an array of shiny instruments and fluttering musical scores—everyone was primed to embrace visitors in comfortable reminders of days gone by.

Folks lounged in the leisurely sounds and sites 19th century America. Some lounged in the grass under the giant English pecan tree. A few shared a game of checkers on the picnic tables, while others were simply mesmerized by Bhakti Banning’s spinning wheel. Many just relaxed as they tapped, swayed or sang along to the strains of old-time musical favorites performed by Auburn Concert Band directed by Tom Candlish.

Little faces grinned ear to ear as young guests dressed up in period attire for photo sittings in the barn. Boys were as eager as girls to play act with dolls they made themselves from simple fabric scraps and string. And faces like those of 2-year old Vander and his mom, visiting from the Bay Area, showed the pure joy of eating hand-cranked ice creaml! 

 Meanwhile, back inside Mr. Bernhard’s 19th century winery, docent Heidi Spearer enticed visitors to learn more about Victorian culture by making pretty little “tussie mussies.” Who knew that the Victorians put together these delightful little flower bouquets to send subtle but meaningful messages to others! Some messages were good, some bad, but all were carefully orchestrated within the strict etiquette of Victorian culture. Hand-picked from Heidi’s own gardens, each sprig had its own meaning in Victorian dictionaries of floriography, the language of flowers.

On August 15 and 16, from 10:00 until 4:00 each day we’ll be creating similar experiences for visitors to enjoy at the Placer County Museums. The 8th annual Heritage Trail event will require all hands on as we prepare to showcase our museums and welcome visitors into the exciting history of Placer County.

So come join us! If you’ve been wondering what it’s like to volunteer with the Museums, this is a wonderful opportunity for new volunteers to join our docent forces and see what our museums are all about. If you have a few hours to help, call us at (530) 889-6500.

Artifact Highlight 

by Kasia Woroniecka 

Curator of Collections 


This Red Cross pin was recently added to our permanent collection. It belonged to Norma Darlene Fuller Sterrett who was a Red Cross nurse at the DeWitt Hospital in 1945.

The American Red Cross was established by Clara Barton in 1881. It was modeled on the Swiss Red Cross, which was founded in 1866. Clara Barton worked as a nurse during the American Civil War and became known the “Angel of the Battlefield” for her hard work and dedication. Exhausted by war she traveled to Europe in 1868 where she was introduced to the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland. After returning to the United States she became president of the American branch of the Red Cross in 1881.

It was probably that same dedication to help people in need that drove Norma to become a Red Cross nurse. Norma was born in 1916 in Portland, Oregon. While a student at the Willamette University in Salem, Oregon she traveled to Japan in 1936 as part of an exchange program. She graduated from the American University in 1945 and began work at the DeWitt Army Hospital. Sherry Little and Kim Sterrett, Norma’s children, remember their mother talking about writing letters home for the wounded GI’s while stationed at DeWitt. When the war broke out in Europe in 1939 the Red Cross became the chief provider of relief supplies. After the attack on Pearl Harbor the Red Cross quickly mobilized a volunteer and staff force. Those who stayed at home served in hospitals, collected scrap, ran victory gardens and programs on nutrition, first aid and safety. At the peak of wartime activity in 1945 7.5 million Red Cross volunteers and 39,000 paid staff provided service to the military.


Norma’s next assignment was on the island of Guam. She met her future husband Edwin Sterrett at the Travis Air Force Base cafeteria before they both departed for Guam. They married there in 1950 and eventually moved to Napa, CA where she worked as a librarian. She died in Napa in 1988.


We are still looking for artifacts, photos and information on DeWitt, its patients and staff from the time it was an Army hospital until it became the Placer County Government Center. Please contact the Archives (530-889-7789) or Artifact Collections (530-889-7705) for donations.

Placer County Historical Society News 

by Walt Wilson 

President 


Please join me and others interested in history in touring downtown Sacramento this summer.

We are still working on the itinerary. Things to explore include the new Ronald Reagan bronze statute by world renowned artist Doug Van Howd of Auburn, the newly refurbished State Library and Courts Building, the Peace Officers Memorial containing the names of officers killed in the line of duty, including Michael Davis and Danny Oliver of Placer County, a tour of the State Archives, the State Capitol and a picnic lunch in the Capitol’s Civil War Memorial Grove.

The plan is to carpool and order picnic lunches from Bistro 103 in Old Town Auburn. If you are interested please contact me. Be sure to provide your name(s), phone, email. Thanks.

Walt Wilson, President, Placer County Historical Society. 530 878-6640 bonwally@hotmail.com

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

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 pcgenes.com

Friday, May 1, 2015

May-June 2015


Administrator’s Notes 

by Ralph Gibson

It’s been a very busy spring so far. Living History is in full swing, we are in the midst of a mini volunteer training session and building improvements are nearly completed at the Auburn Depot – site of The Gold Rush Museum. In fact, by the time you read this, nearly all the work will have been completed. It looks like we’ll be able to start installing exhibits as early as May 12th. Once we complete the indoor panning stream and add five essential exhibits, we’ll have a soft opening (Friday through Sunday 10:30 am to 4:00 pm). We hope to get to this stage by the last week of June. Once we are finished with all the exhibits, we’ll have a grand opening – probably in late summer or early fall.


Work will commence soon on the building that will house our DeWitt History Museum. Building upgrades are expected to be completed August 1st. We will plan a special sneak-peek at the museum on September 2nd to commemorate VJ Day with temporary exhibits and exhibit sketches showing what the museum will look like. Please stay tuned for more information!

Finally, the Heritage Trail is sneaking up fast! This year’s event will be August 15th & 16th so please mark your calendars!

The Dutch Flat Hotel is...For Sale

The Dutch Flat Hotel is for sale and the history community is hoping that a buyer with an interest in preserving the historic integrity of the building can be attracted. When the building was for sale in the early 1990s, the Golden Drift Historical Society raised money in an effort to purchase it. They didn’t reach their goal, but they did raise a lot of money that went into museum improvements.

We don’t usually allow this kind of free space in our newsletter, but this is a call to anyone who might know someone who would be both interested in buying the Dutch Flat Hotel and preserving the historic integrity of the building. The hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places and we’d hate to see this vaulted Gold Rush era building lose that status.   -Ralph Gibson


Once Dutch Flat was one of the richest gold mining towns in the state and was an important stagecoach stop, which is why it’s a registered California Historic Landmark. Today, this quiet community has a small population of permanent residents who choose to live here for the slower pace of life.

At the heart of this historic community is the Dutch Flat Hotel and Event Center. The first floor of this 3-story, gold country bed and breakfast was built in 1852, and it operated as a hotel until it was abandoned in the 1970s. It didn’t lose its charm, however, and the current owners, Sussy and Tom, were inspired to buy and renovate the hotel in 2004.

Modern convenience now meets historical accuracy in the Dutch Flat Hotel. All new electrical wiring, plumbing, septic tank, water fixtures, heating system, pillowtop mattresses and support beams make this Old West hotel feel like home -- plus it’s now ADA compliant. The wooden floors are original, as are all other elements that could be salvaged. The hotel’s decor brings together the rough, Old West feel with the softer Victorian touch. Every corner of the building features antiques and period art prints.

The tourism industry has recovered from its previous dip, and the Dutch Flat Hotel is poised to take advantage of that. Three ski resorts and the city of Auburn are within 30 minutes driving distance, adding meaning to the hotel’s slogan “Long ago, but not so far away.” The current owners are relocating, so this turnkey business is currently for sale, ready for a new owner.  See www.1852DutchFlatHotel.com for more details on the sale of this historic icon.

Artifact Highlight

by Kasia Woroniecka 

Summer vacations are near and many of you will dust off your suitcases and bags, double check carry-on allowances and locate your passports. The leather suitcase from our collection has been to many exotic and faraway places as evident by the travel stickers attached to its leather surface. It belonged to John Carroll Nicholls, son of John Nicholls, the senior member of the banking firm of W. & P. Nicholls in Dutch Flat. John Carroll, a graduate of University of California, became a mining engineer. He worked in Korea, and then joined the International Nickel Co. in Ontario, Canada. His father accompanied him on some of the trips. Sacramento Union reported on September 30th, 1910 that John and his son were in Auburn, on their way to Alaska, having recently returned from the gold mines of Africa. One of the stickers on the suitcase is from the Durban railway station in South Africa. There is also a sticker from the Hotel Atlantic in Hamburg, Germany. This five star hotel opened in 1909. In 1997 parts of the James Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies were filmed there. Another sticker is from Shepherd’s Hotel in Cairo, Egypt. The Shepherd’s Hotel was one of the most celebrated hotels in the world. It was built in the early 1840s, burned down in 1952 and rebuilt in 1957. Some of the notable guests included Winston Churchill and T. E. Lawrence. There is also a sticker from the Shamrock Hotel in Bendigo, Australia. It was built in 1854 and serviced miners during the Australian gold rush. Prince Charles and Princess Diana stayed there during their visit to Australia in 1983. Happy travels!

Placer County Historical Society News

 By Michael Otten,

Immediate Past President

Please welcome Walt Wilson as the new president of the Placer County Historical Society. After a decade plus it is time to pass the reins to a fellow multitasker. His term began May 1.

Whether it is planes, trains, teaching, history, trivia, church or other activities, Wilson pitches in with enthusiasm and aplomb. He is one of those consummate do-it-yourselfers.

When Wilson isn’t volunteering, you might find him substitute teaching or in his office at the Auburn City Airport handling operations.

Wilson and his wife, Bonnie, a pediatric nurse, came to Placer County in the late 1970s after purchasing four acres in Christian Valley. He eventually spent some 17 years building his own home. He took classes at Sierra College to learn how, enabling him to do most of it from the plans to the foundation, framing, wiring and plumbing. He said the county tired of annually renewing his building permit that inspectors gave him a 20-item list to quickly complete before finally signing off in 2003. Twelve years later, Walt still says he’s not done. He can’t remember when they moved in, but it was an April 1 after spending four years living in a trailer.

His longest ongoing volunteer gig goes back 35 years with the Friends of Auburn Library and their Wednesday-Saturday monthly book sales to help fund the library. Wilson said they have come a long way since 1980 when books were kept in the closet and sold in the library community room.

Walt was a key figure in building a book sale annex and later a 12 by 32 storage and office.

Other particulars:

Plane stuff: Commercial pilots license, instrument and multi-engine ratings; manager for Riley Air Service at China Airport 1961-2; owned and piloted a Piper Cherokee 235 for 15 years, visiting most of California’s airports, volunteered for the Auburn Aviation Association 15 years, served on the Airport Advisory Committee for eight, going back to when Nick Willick was Auburn City Manager. Train stuff: Switchman, conductor, engineer, assistant trainmaster for Southern Pacific during a 40 year career; currently vice president of Placer Sierra Railroad Heritage Society, chronicler of the 1972 Antelope war ammunition explosions.

History stuff: Has collection of some 3,000 history books, from local to state to national and some international, active in Colfax and Placer Historical societies and a new member of the Conference of California Historical Societies.

Other: West Covina High class of 1959, bachelor of arts in history and math, CSU Los Angeles; US Navy Reserve, 1963-1968, called to active duty in Vietnam for 18-month stint as Radarman 2nd Class, served last 8 years as head usher at Pioneer United Methodist Church, father, grandfather.

 Trivial: Walt, life member Dean Prigmore and Michael Otten as the Rusty Wranglers two-time winners of the Placer County AAUW Trivia Bee didn’t three-peat this year.

Walt can do it.

--otten@ssctv.net

New PCHS Officers for 2015-16

Walt Wilson on May 1 succeeded Michael Otten as president of the 115-year-old Placer County Historical Society.

Other officers elected at the annual meeting in April are: George Lay, 1st vice president; Addah Owens, 2nd VP (programs); Melanie Barton, secretary; Al Stoll, treasurer: Michael Otten, immediate PP.

Board members (Two-Year Terms, 2015-16 to 2016-17): Mike Holmes, Jean Allender, Karen Bleuel, John Knox. (Carry over elected Board Members--2014-15 to 2015-2016 term--with additional year remaining): Sherri Schackner, Penny Watson, Karri Samson).

Nominating Committee: Betty Samson, chair, Karri Samson, Susan Hubbard, Sherri Schackner.

 

Placer County Historical Society Dinner Meeting

By Addah Owens, Vice President 


When: June 4th

Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program

Where: Auburn Veterans Hall 100 East St, Auburn

Cost: $15 per person

Menu: Barbecue Chicken and Ribs, Potato and Green Salad, Tom Stout’s Award-Winning Special Beans, Rolls, Dessert and Coffee.

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

Program: Gene E. Bigler, Ph.D., a Stockton historian and retired diplomat, will give a PowerPoint presentation on “The Golden Horse and the California-Panama Gold Rush Connection.”   Gene Bigler says his fascination with the Gold Rush is due in part to the fact one of his ancestors was Henry William Bigler of the Mormon Battalion who worked with James Marshall at John Sutter’s Coloma sawmill. It was Henry Bigler’s detailed diaries that helped fix the famous gold discovery date as Jan. 24, 1848.

Do not bring alcohol. County directives prohibit it and we can't get liability coverage.

 

Gold Rush Museum Update:

By Jason Adair 

We’re busy out at the museum exhibit shop. Eagerly anticipating the finishing of the depot building, we’re building a bunch of stuff to go in it. Here’s a sneak peak at what we’re working on. 

video
video



In addition to exhibits, we’re also working on a gold rush card game called Strike it Rich! that will be posted on Kickstarter for funding/purchase soon.
 


Calendar of Events

Click on calendar to enlarge

Placer County Historical Organizations


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

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

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

Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
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,

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

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

Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford, (916) 663-3871

Roseville Fire Museum
Jim Giblin, JGiblin@roseville.ca.us
rosevillefiremuseum.org

Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Glenie Strome, (916) 782-3299

Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor #59
Dave Allen, (530) 878-2878

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

Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Aileen Gage

Placer County Historical Society
Walt Wilson, (530) 878-6640

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

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

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

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

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