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


Click to enlarge

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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

January-February 2016

Administrator’s Notes

by Ralph Gibson

This year, 2016, promises to be a year of completing big projects and starting several smaller ones. We will have our grand openings for the Gold Rush and DeWitt History Museums as our total number of museums rises to seven. We start the year with a brand new Curator of Archives, Bryanna Ryan. Bryanna comes to us from the Center for Sacramento History, where she gained valuable experience in Archives Management. She also spent time working for California State Parks at the Railroad Museum, the State Capitol Museum, and the State Museum Resource Center. Please stop by the Archives and say hello to our newest employee!

With a full-time Curator of Archives, the public hours at the Research Center will expand. The new hours beginning January 4th will be Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to Noon; and from 12:30 pm to 3:00 p.m. The Research Center will be open by appointment only on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

To promote these changes we will unveil a new, completely redesigned Placer County Museums brochure sometime this spring. Until then, keep checking our website placer.ca.gov/museums where you will also find links to our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Blogger pages.

This past year was a very busy and, personally, very difficult one. But we can only look ahead to finish what we started and take even greater strides forward than we ever have before.

I hope everyone has a great 2016!

The Merci Train Tapestry

by Kasia Woroniecka 

Curator of Collections

27" x 36" Tapestry of Countesse Du Barry










There are a lot of things to be thankful for in 2015. Gas prices are down, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is finally in theatres, and the panning stream at the Gold Rush Museum is working without leaks.

Of course gratitude doesn’t have to be reserved only for momentous occasions. It is very beneficial to those who practice it on a regular basis, and according to studies it makes you feel more alive, sleep better and have a stronger immune system.

People show their appreciation in different
ways, but one of the most common is gift giving. In 1949, The Placer County Museum received a beautiful tapestry from the French Gratitude Train. The train, also called the Merci Train and the Train de la Reconnaissance, was filled with tens of thousands of gifts of gratitude from French citizens. It was a “thank you” gift to the United States for relief supplies collected by the Friendship Train as it traveled across the United States, passing through Roseville on its way to New York. The supplies and millions of dollars in aid sent to France and Italy in 1947 were indispensable during severe food shortages that followed the end of WWII.

The idea of the Gratitude Train came from Andre Picard, who was a French railroad worker and WWII veteran. The train cars were decorated with the coat of arms of the 40 provinces of France. One car was sent to each of the 48 states with the 49th shared by Washington D. C. and the territory of Hawaii. An estimated 6 million French families contributed something of value, and the train arrived in New Jersey on February 3, 1949.

The arrival of the Merci Train (U.S. state unknown)
The tapestry that became part of the Placer County Museums Collection was donated to the Merci Train by Madame Juliette Morreton from the city of Beauvais in northern France. Made by an unknown weaver, it depicts Comtesse Du Barry, courtier and mistress of King Louis XV, who was guillotined during the French Revolution. Beauvais was extensively damaged during the German advance on Paris in 1940 and later liberated by British troops in August 1944. The tag that was attached to the tapestry reads: “To our American friends with hearty gratefulness for all that they have done for France and French people.”

The scale of destruction after WWII was enormous. As people began to deal with the consequences of war and focused on rebuilding their lives and cities they, like Juliette Morreton, found a lot to be thankful for.

The Scoop

by Beth Rohlfes

Editor and Staff Writer

In the spirit of Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions...

In 2015 we welcomed 21 new volunteers to our Museums! Auburn: Diane Adams, Nicole Bartley, Val Buonocontri, Ruth Casler, Savannah Chervenick, Mary-Jane Coon, Kate Gamble, Andy Hayes, Christy Cox Jackson, Hester Jones, Joyce Panciera, Beth Short, Lucas Suter. Foresthill: Cathy Gerber (also Auburn), Roger Del Papa (also Auburn), Jon Ryan. Dutch Flat: Kim and Laura Glassco, Cecil Lane, Holland Lorang, Dr. Richard Richman, Frank Schwartz III.

Nearly 2,800 3rd graders participated in 65 Living History days at the Bernhard Museum last spring and fall. The tours engaged 975 volunteer parents and involved almost 800 hours from our Living History Docents!

We celebrated this amazing docent force at our annual Appreciation Dinner in May and Holiday Luncheon last month. Many also journeyed together to the Roseville Telephone Museum and California State Museum of Collections at McClellan in October.

Gold Rush Program Docents met in the fall to evaluate the program in the new museum space. This impressive program invites students to explore how the Gold Rush changed California, through an interactive study of rock types and gold panning, mystery trunks and an evolving mural of the California landscape.

In 2016 Gold Rush Program Docents are ready to fine tune that program and run a test tour once the Gold Rush Museum’s first level is completed.

We expect 2,400 students to participate in a whopping 51 tours scheduled for Living History at the Bernhard in Spring, and another 800 or so in the fall.

Our Museum Docent Guild has initiated a new Docent Support Group to innovate ways to provide ongoing support to new and seasoned volunteers. Mentors will serve as friendly guides for new recruits. As part of an effort to ensure ongoing education for museum volunteers, the Support Group is planning its first “Lunch and Learn” event in February of 2016.

We look forward to the exciting year ahead with our growing host of docents and new opportunities presented by new museums…and more!

Going for the Gold

 







 

 

 

 

 

 

Placer County Historical Society News

Donate for a Piece of Placer History

by Michael Otten

Immediate Past President, PCHS

After World War II, your Placer County Historical Society founded the county’s first museum and played a pivotal role in the establishment of a county-run museums entity.

We are dedicated to supporting the museums in a unique, nonprofit way. Your dues to the Placer County Historical Society help provide funds for non-budgeted items. They also give us the ability to purchase history items quickly, including actual county records that somehow disappeared and would provide historical insight to have back.

Toward that end, we are in the process of creating a special fund for these purchases that can’t be made through the normal governmental process, and for student research and assistance.

Museums Administrator Ralph Gibson contributed extra copies of county budgets and financial statements for the PCHS to give away in exchange for donations to this fund. Readers of The Placer get first chance at these historic documents. Suggested minimum donation is $10 to $15. I am donating $50.

Since 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the nation’s quick entry into the war, I pulled out the budgets for fiscal 1941-42 and 1942-43 when the document grew from 39 to 46 pages, detailing about $1 million in expenditures. The 2015-16 budget is 735 pages long, with $817 million in spending. Of course, the county’s population has grown from less than 30,000 to more than 370,000.

The five supervisors then—Jerry Shelley, J. E. Boyington, William H. Haines, C. A. Geisendorfer and J. H. McFadden—were paid $1,800 a year plus $600 mileage and a total budget of about $14,000. Today’s supervisorial salaries are in the low $70,000 plus benefits, and the budget is and a near $2.9 million.

It is like comparing apples and oranges. They did things differently then. It was the Great Depression. District Attorney Lowell L. Sparks was paid $2,400, Superior Court Judge J. B. Landis, $2,500; Sheriff Charles S. Silva, $5,700; County Librarian Fay K. Russell, $1,800, Schools Supt. E. H. Gregory, $2.400.

Even before Pearl Harbor, the supervisors were digging into the reserves to pay for the Roseville-Lincoln State Guard and guns and ammo. The County Hospital budget was nearly $36,000. It included wages of $2,400 for Supt. William M. Walsh, $4,320 for surgeon Dr. J. G. Mackay and even $350 for tobacco. These old budgets contain a lot of historical tidbits. Be the first on your block to get one by contacting me at otten@ssctv.net or (530) 888-7837. Happy 2016!

Call for Volunteers

Walt Wilson, Placer County Historical Society president, is seeking volunteers to serve as board secretary in 2016-17, as well as to fill other positions such as the reservation secretary for dinner meetings and to make reminder calls. Contact him at (530) 878-6640 or 863-8224. … For other news: placercountyhistoricalsociety.org

Chinese New Year’s Dinner Meeting 

By Addah Owens, 

Vice President

When: February 4 Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program

Where: Auburn Veterans Hall, 100 East St, Auburn

Cost: $15 per person

Menu: Chinese New Year’s dinner

Program: “The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln,” presented by Arnold Kunst, author of Lincoln 365. Kunst considers Mr. Lincoln a to be an excellent role model, a consummate humorist and a wise leader. The author earned his M.A. in history at Queens University in Northern Ireland. He brings a wide range of experience—as teacher, business owner, school administrator, professional musician, freelance journalist and hospice volunteer. Kunst has taught children and adults—ranging from children of cabinet members to convicted felons—on both sides of Atlantic for well over 30 years. His most recent position is as teacher in a California state prison. Be prepared to answer historical trivia questions for a chance to win a history book!

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

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Museums Christmas Card

Every year the Placer County Museums put out an internal Christmas Card. This year we received some artifacts from the estate of the head surgeon of DeWitt when it was an army hospital. Included were some great Christmas photos. So even though Christmas will be well in the rear view mirror by the time you're reading this, we thought you might enjoy seeing them too.

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

Thursday, November 5, 2015

November-December 2015

Administrator's Notes

by Ralph Gibson


The leaves are turning gold and amber, but for the life of me, I don’t know why. Has someone been showing the trees a calendar? As I write this we’ve had our first real crisp morning since last year, yet the trees around the courthouse and the Bernhard Museum look like they are on fire.

Of course, what makes the leaves turn isn’t the temperature, but rather the diminishing light as the days grow shorter with winter’s approach. But it still feels odd to see fall leaves when it’s ninety degrees outside.

I hope cooler, wetter weather comes soon because just a couple of weeks after you read this we’ll be decorating the Bernhard Museum for Victorian Christmas. Christmas lights and eighty degrees don’t mix well. The holiday season will be well represented in our three Auburn Museums with the Bernhard getting the usual 19th century holiday treatment, a big Christmas tree trimmed in the foyer of the courthouse, and the Gold Rush Museum adorned with a few holiday touches, including special panels recounting Christmas Day in 1849 from Gold Rush era journals.

Because Christmas has been celebrated in our area since at least 1848, the holiday has become a part of our history and worthy of interpretation. The Bernhard and Gold Rush Museums will be decorated by November 18th, and the courthouse tree will go up the following Saturday, November 21st. I wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Michael D. Lininger Collection

by Kasia Woroniecka

Curator of Collections


Another wonderful donation recently became part of our permanent collection. Donated by Dr. Richard Raymond Lininger and his wife, Ana Marie Lininger, the objects belonged to Dr. Lininger’s great grandfather Michael David Lininger, master builder and former mayor of Auburn. The donation includes a large chest of tools, souvenir medals and fraternal ribbons, a Knights Templar uniform and hats, as well as photos and documents that became part of the Archives collection.

Michael David Lininger was born in Cumberland, Pennsylvania, in 1842. A few years later the Liningers moved to Iowa. In 1861 Michael married Anna Moore, and when the Civil War broke out he enlisted in the Union Army 28th Iowa Volunteers as a sergeant. He took part in the battles of Vicksburg, Red River, Shenandoah, Berryville, Winchester, Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek.

One of the objects in the collection that dates to the Civil War era is a fleam – a bloodletting tool commonly found in a surgeon’s medical kit in the 19th century. We know today that bloodletting is not effective for most diseases, yet at the time when antibiotics and antiseptics were not yet discovered, bloodletting was used to treat most ailments, including pneumonia and gangrene. The u-shaped blade of the fleam is spring-loaded and activated by the trigger above it. Bloodletting killed more people than it cured, and the practice gradually diminished to a few select medical conditions.
After receiving an honorable discharge in August 1865, Lininger returned to Iowa. In 1872 he moved his family to Ophir and later to Auburn.

Michael Lininger, known throughout town as “Uncle Dave,” was a building contractor in charge of erecting many buildings in Auburn, among them the Episcopal Church and the Congregational Church. The donated chest holds many of the tools that were probably used by him when working on these projects. He also participated in the political and social life of Placer County, serving several terms in the Auburn City Council and two years as the mayor of Auburn. Michael Lininger was a prominent Mason as well as a member of the Knights Templar, an organization associated with Freemasonry. He was also active in the Civil War veterans’ organization, the Grand Army of the Republic, which was founded in 1866. The G.A.R. supported voting rights for black veterans, promoted patriotic education, helped to make Memorial Day a national holiday and lobbied Congress to establish regular veterans’ pensions.

Michael Lininger died in 1931 in Auburn. His obituary described him as a man who was “loved by all who knew him and respected even by those who differed with him on civic enterprises for his honesty in dealing fairly and squarely with every problem which came before him.”

Volunteers Help Fashion a User-Friendly Research Center

by Debbie Poulsen

Curator of Archives


At the Placer County Archives and Research Center we have been very busy making research easier and more accessible. Thanks to our dedicated Archives volunteers, researchers can now access information in their pajamas at home—from anywhere in the world!

One of our proudest accomplishments this year is adding a new link on the Placer County Archives and Research Center website. The link connects people to a 1200+ page pdf database of Auburn area vital records and articles of note from the Placer Herald, 1863-1915.

During this long-term project, volunteers extracted vital record dates from the newspaper, year by year, onto 3x5” index cards. The information was then merged into the database and linked to our website.

Along with births, marriages, and deaths, the database also includes references to a limited number of articles about business endeavors and other interesting items published in the Placer Herald newspaper.

While online access saves time and money for researchers, it can also whet their appetites for a visit to Placer County to see firsthand where their emigrant ancestors engaged in local industries like gold mining and fruit ranching. Placer County Archives gets requests for information from places as far away as Australia, Alaska, Germany and Wales, and it is not unusual for these people to visit us a few years after their initial inquiries.

Currently we have twenty volunteers in the archives. Along with scanning and numbering items to organize collections, some of them help with research requests. When the requests come in, volunteers usually scan and e-mail information to that patron, who may live here locally or someplace far away.

Recently, visitors from Texas were so delighted with their archives visit that they gave us big hugs as they left! They had traveled here to review the two large boxes of correspondence and documents members of their family had donated to our Robert Watson Collection. Watson was their grandfather and a prominent constable in Tahoe City in the early 1900s. After requesting information three years ago, the granddaughters decided to plan a trip to visit us and the Tahoe area. The long journey to Placer County, they said, was well worth it!

Our museum software program, called “PastPerfect,” provides access to almost 28,000 digitally scanned images from our collections. In order to view and order on site visitors need to come to our site and use the computer in our Research Room. These images cover many aspects of Placer County’s history, including many photographic images of people and homes. There is a chance we have images of a grandparent that you may not have seen!

Research visitors often say they are very impressed. They usually leave with more material and images than they ever imagined existed. Each year we receive numerous donations of historic letters, books, slides, movies, and images. We are continuously organizing and making it easier for people to find things.

Come visit and see for yourself!

The Scoop

by Beth Rohlfes


In our rush to Christmas, let’s not forget Thanksgiving. We are grateful for the opportunity to enjoy such a lively history here in Placer County. THANK YOU to those who make it come alive!

“God bless us, everyone,” and welcome all to a cozy Victorian Christmas at the courthouse again this year during Old Town Country Christmas. Hot cider and holiday cookies await our guests, along with festive displays of carriages and quilts, holiday music and a golden Christmas tree decked with glittered cards handmade by children in years past.

Kids! Join us at our Victorian Christmas craft table to create your own unique cards and ornaments.

Bring the whole family to the event, Saturdays, December 12 and 19, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Be sure to come for special holiday music performed by the Auburn Concert Band woodwind ensemble, on the 19th at 6:15 p.m.

Placer County Historical Society News

By Michael Otten

Immediate Past President, PCHS

CCHS and National History Day in Rocklin
Be one in a 100. Join a group that comes together to learn from each other while celebrating the remarkable history of our communities.

I’m recruiting museums and history-oriented organizations and individuals to become members of the Conference of California Historical Societies.

After a decade as president of the Placer County Historical Societies I have been elected 2nd Vice President of the Conference (CCHS) as well as Region 8 VP. Of the 40 CCHS Regions, my Sierra Gateway Region has the most counties: Placer, Nevada, Sierra, Sutter and Yuba. I am also temporary VP for Region 7, dubbed the Goldfield Gateway covering Sacramento and Yolo, until a permanent replacement can be found.

At the October Symposium in Redding, CCHS set a goal of 100 new members for 2016. My goal is to have the biggest boost from our area.

The CCHS is a strong supporter of National History Day. This year the California County Coordinators voted to make William Jessup University in Rocklin the permanent home of the state contest. Mark May 6-7, 2016, to attend. This is a special opportunity for students, grades 4 to 12, to be involved in creating projects based on the theme of “exploration, encounter, exchange in history.”
A History Day workshop is set for Nov. 14 at the State Archives. For information go to www.nhdca.org.

To join CCHS please go to www.californiahistorian.com or contact me at otten@ssctv.net or 530 888-7837.

…Walt Wilson, Placer County Historical Society president, seeks donated items for the Christmas dinner drawing Dec. 3. Be prepared for historical trivial questions for a chance to win a history book. Check www.placercountyhistoricalsociety.org for a special trivia question.

Happy holidays!

Christmas Dinner Meeting

By Addah Owens, Vice President


When: December 3

Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program

Where: Auburn Veterans Hall, 100 East St, Auburn

Cost: $15 per person

Menu: Roast turkey, roast baron of beef, sweet potatoes, seasonal vegetables, rolls, salad, dessert and coffee.

Program: Western author Chris Enss will discuss the life and career of movie, recording and TV
cowboy Roy Rogers and his wife Dale Evans. The program, titled “Happy Trails,” will cover how the two met, how they overcame the hurdles of show business and marriage, thanks to their steadfast faith. Chris will also have her books on sale before and after the program. Be sure to ask her to sign them!

We will also sell tickets during the evening for our annual “drawing.”

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

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


The Exhibit Preparator's Collection

by Jason Adair

Exhibit Preparator


SPOILER ALERT: this is not about past history, but history in the making.

I’ve taken the liberty to place If You’re a Robot And You Know It at the top of your children’s/grandchildren’s Christmas list. I’m not totally clairvoyant, but I’m pretty sure if they’re between the ages of 3-6 they are going to love this pop-up book I helped write and did the music for. Scholastic put it out last month and you can buy it TODAY on Amazon.com. 

Also, have a Merry Christmas or whatever winter holiday you choose to celebrate with your family and friends!


Calendar

Click on calendar 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
pcgenes.com 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September-October 2015

Administrator’s Notes 

by Ralph Gibson 


This year’s Heritage Trail was a success, with attendance up in most museums despite the 100 degree temperatures. Our free shuttle system for the Valley Museums worked as expected, but few people took advantage of it. One of the biggest complaints we get about the Heritage Trail is that there is no way to see all 20 museums in one weekend. With the new DeWitt History Museum bringing that total to 21 museums next year, we are seriously considering a major change to the 2016 Heritage Trail.

Heritage Trail 2016 may be a summer-long event. Instead of all museums open one long weekend in August, local pockets of museums will be open free of charge on different weekends at hours that best reflect what they do. Imagine the second Saturday in June featuring Heritage Trail at the Bernhard Museum and the Benton Welty School Room; the third weekend showcasing the four Roseville Museums; and on the last Saturday in June the Griffith Quarry Museum offering early morning quarry tours followed by Roy Ruhkala splitting his granite at the Rocklin History Museum. Some museums, like the Donner Summit Historical Society Museum, might have their own day, with hiking trips near the summit to see historic features and artifacts related to the railroad. Other events like night programs, special tours, etc. might also be listed on a Heritage Trail calendar that would be available to the public in April.

Families will have the whole summer to plan their adventures along the Heritage Trail. And the entire summer to collect stamps on the Get-up-and-Go cards for a shot at winning a gift basket. I’ll post more information about this change in the next Placer.


Golden West Film Festival 

by Bill George 


The first-ever Golden West Documentary Film Festival will be held at Auburn’s State Theatre Saturday, September 26, 2015.

“The goal of the festival is to present films by regional artists and to build interest in telling incredible stories about the people and places that make our area so fascinating,” said Bill George, film producer and festival founder. “We are very fortunate to live in one of the richest historic areas in the Americas.”

Productions will include work from area filmmakers such as Auburn's Brendan Compton of BA Productions and the Donner Rails series, well known for his films on the region's rich railroad heritage; and Bill George of Nimbus Films, who documents the vestiges of our area's historic past. Sacramento-area historian and film critic Matías Antonio Bombal will present “The Sacramento Picture," which has sold out on multiple occasions.

“Hopefully, the community will respond,” said George, “and we can continue to grow the festival in future years.”

Inaugural sponsors include the Placer County Historical Society, Nimbus Films and the Placer County Office of Economic Development.

Festival tickets cost $6.17 and are available at 800-838-3006 or online at brownpapertickets.com.

 

Film Festival Schedule 

10:00 a.m. – Filmmakers Introduction.

10:15 a.m. – “Ghosts of the West Ghosts of the West: The End of the Bonanza Trail” from Ethan Knightchilde and Knight Sky Pictures of Denver Colorado. Ten years in the making, this film tells the story of lost mines, abandoned diggings, and ghost towns in the lands between the Great Plains and the Pacific Ocean. The film visits the near-forgotten sites that hide, isolated, out in the mountains and deserts of the American West.

11:00 a.m. – “Rotaries, Avalanche on the Mountain," from Brendan Compton of BA Productions and the Donner Rail series. The film captures the heroic story of the rescue of a Union Pacific Railroad crew during the epic winter of 2011.

1:00 p.m. – “Chinese Builders of Gold Mountain," from Bill George and Nimbus Films. This film follows the 1850s path of the Chinese who helped create modern California.

2:00 p.m. – “Final Days of Auburn Drug Company" from Philip Jacques and Cody Hitchcock and Auburn Community TV, a nostalgic look at this now-vanished Auburn treasure.

2:15 p.m. – “The Sacramento Picture" by Mattias Antonio Bombal and Chad E. Williams. This movie features a collection of rare films of Sacramento from 1910-1974, and selections from the KCRA-TV news film collection photographed between 1957-1960 in the care of Center for Sacramento History. Local historians bring the footage to life with observations, commentary and music.

3:30 p.m. – Filmmakers Panel


Artifact Highlight 

by Kasia Woroniecka Curator of Collections 


This pendulum wall clock was made by German prisoners of war who were housed at Camp Flint during WWII. It was donated to Placer County Museums in 1999 by Fred and Joyce Wilkinson.

In 1941, as the war raged on in Europe, the United Kingdom was faced with a growing number of prisoners of war and a serious housing shortage. To remedy the problem, more than 400,000 Axis prisoners were shipped to the United States and lived in 700 camps throughout the country.

One of those camps was Camp Flint in Auburn. It was originally established in 1938 as a relief camp during the Great Depression. It was located in the area that is now the Auburn Dam Overlook. It served as a labor camp for unemployed men seeking work on Federal and State funded public works projects in the Auburn area. Laborers lived in a camp of barracks made of wood and canvas. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the 32nd Infantry Division arrived in Auburn to guard tunnels and bridges against sabotage. In 1942 their work was taken over by the 754th Military Police Battalion. The battalion was transferred to Camp Beal in 1943. That same year the camp grew to over 500 POWs and at least 1000 U.S. troops. Additional fencing and guard towers were added to secure the site. In 1944 Camp Flint was established as a physical therapy Reconditioning Center.

Most of the POWs worked at the DeWitt Army base performing maintenance duties. Prisoners could not be used in work directly related to military operations or in dangerous conditions. They were paid in scrip. Most prisoners were provided with writing materials and art supplies and were allowed to correspond with families in Germany.

They ate the same rations as American soldiers. In 1945 thirty-five of the POWs helped to re-condition the Placer High football field.

The wall clock made by German POWs at Camp Flint is an excellent example of the mechanical skills of some of the prisoners. It is made of wood, Lucite, an acrylic resin, glass and metal. Lucite was available in sheets and was used for the body of the clock. Acrylic glass was used during the war in making submarine periscopes, aircraft windshields, canopies and gun turrets. The initials “HLD” carved and glued on the pendulum are the initials of Herbert Louis Dennis. The clock was given to Herbert as a thank you gift as the POWs were being returned to Germany. Dennis, a WWI veteran who made Auburn his home for over twenty years prior to WWII, was a deputized guard and volunteered for the post when the camp was first established. He was a car salesman who owned a garage next to the Auburn Movie Theater. He continued selling Hudson Terraplane cars after the war.

In 1945, 200 German prisoners of war were transferred to Camp Flint from Florence, Arizona, to provide support at the DeWitt Hospital. They were gradually shipped back to Germany after the war ended, but some remained as late at February 1946.

The Scoop

by Beth Rohlfes Curator of Education


You’re it!

We all know that playground shout out—along with the hearty slap and jarring awareness that you’ve been caught, you’re up next. You’re it!

The thing is, if you played the game long enough, you knew you would eventually get tagged.

That was part of the fun of it. And so, after three years with the museums, I am now “it.” I will be Jason’s successor as editor of this newsletter. And in the spirit of the game, I am ready and waiting for any news you wish to share with our active history community. So be sure to send me details of what’s happening in your neck-of-the-woods. Find me at (530) 889-6506, brohlfes@placer.ca.gov or in the Museums Admin Office.

Placer County Museums New Volunteer Training begins September 17th
Call (530) 889-6500


Placer County Historical Society News

by Walt Wilson

President
530-878-6640
bonwally@hotmail.com  


Know your Trivia. Win a prize! 

I have some great history books to give away at our October dinner.

My plan is to have a special drawing at every dinner meeting for history items and at least one trivia prize. So you can either be lucky, smart of even both. This is not a raffle, but there will be a jar available for cash donations should you be so moved.

It has been a busy summer and we were unable to finalize a field trip to explore Placer County connections in Sacramento. We will keep you posted when we can reschedule.

Markley Monument


Most of you who traveled with Gene Markley know that, in coordination with the Forest Service, he set up several monuments, nine in all, commemorating prominent individuals and events. Markley is a life member of the Placer County Historical Society.

One of those monuments, Miller’s Defeat, was vandalized several years ago. The plaque ended up in the Forest Service warehouse. With the help of Forest Service archeologist Nolan Smith, the plaque was recovered by Tom Birch, who refurbished it for re-installation.

On Saturday, October 17, 2015, several volunteers will do the digging and cement work to reinstall the monument. Nolan Smith will be present to oversee the new installation. The work will commence at 10 a.m. Volunteers should bring a lunch.

At roughly 1 p.m., a traditional Markley toast will be made with Aquavit and beer. Everyone is invited to view the monument and to participate in the toast and dedication. Pictures will be taken to send to Gene in Wisconsin. To get to the site, take Mosquito Ridge Road to Forest Road 43. This is the connector road to Foresthill Road at Robinson Flat. A sign will be posted at the turn.

Lastly, if you would like to help defer the cost of the cement and monument support structure (and the Aquavit of course), you can send a contribution care of Dave Jones, 1280 Arrow Court, Auburn 95602. Any excess funds will be used for a future Markley Monument critique and pizza party at Auburn’s Old Town Pizza. See more at www.placercountyhistoricalsociety.org or call (530) 878-6587.


Placer County Historical Society Dinner Meeting

by Addah Owens, 

Vice President


When: October 1

Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program

Where: Auburn Veterans Hall 100 East St, Auburn

Cost: $15 per person

Menu: Roasted pork loin, garlic mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, green salad, rolls, dessert and coffee.

Program: John Knox and April McDonald-Loomis will present an enticing glimpse into their new book, Images of America: Early Auburn. The 20 minute slide show will feature photographs from the book. Copies of the book will be available for sale for $20.

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

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

Calendar 

 

Click on image below to zoom in.


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
pcgenes.com 

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