by Ralph GibsonThe Holidays are around the corner, and first up is Thanksgiving. In many parts of the country, this feast and football-related holiday is known as Christmas Part One as droves of shoppers brave crowded stores to find great deals on Christmas gifts. But let’s give the Holiday its due. It’s been around in what is now the United States since 1621, but its roots go much further back in time. The Puritans brought with them the tradition of Days of Fasting (usually after something terrible like a flood or plague) and Days of Thanksgiving (usually after a particularly good harvest or a great event).
It wasn’t until the late 1660s that Thanksgiving became routine. However, it wasn’t always celebrated on the same day by each colony or state. President George Washington tried to rectify this by proclaiming the first nationwide Day of Thanksgiving on November 26, 1789. But it wasn’t set in stone until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be the last Thursday in November (and a federal holiday to boot). In 1941 President Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress that set the date on the fourth Thursday in November.
In California, the first official Thanksgiving was celebrated on November 29, 1849 by proclamation of Governor Bennet C. Riley, the last Military Governor of California.
From the Nov. 29, 1849 Daily Alta newspaper:
Thanksgiving Day. We welcome it to California! The first ever appointed on the shores of the Pacific! It reminds us of home and of the scenes of childhood. We cannot this year gather round those ancient fire-sides and festal boards that have welcomed us always before; but we can observe Thanksgiving in our new home, and we rejoice that the governor has issued a proclamation appointing the day.
I hope each of you has a terrific, merry and happy Holiday season!
Political Campaign Buttons
by Kasia Woroniecka, Curator of CollectionsThe United States general election is only a few weeks away. It’s a busy time for political memorabilia collectors searching for posters, hats or buttons. Political buttons have been a way of showing support for a candidate or an issue since the days of George Washington. Their popularity derives from the fact that they are an inexpensive and easy wardrobe accessory one can add to any ensemble. The first mass production of buttons dates to the 1896 William McKinley presidential campaign. Placer County Museums has a sizable collection of buttons from different political campaigns. Here are some of the highlights:
Although not a presidential campaign button, the “Gage and Neff” button has a Placer County connection. Henry T. Gage was a Republican candidate for California governor. An attorney by profession, he became a successful sheep dealer and a gold miner in Southern California. Jacob H. Neff, a Placer County miner and sheriff, was a Republican candidate for California lieutenant governor. They won the election and served one term in office from 1899 until 1903.
At the bottom right are two campaign buttons for Theodore Roosevelt. The darker one on top was produced by “First Voters” clubs, which sprang up across college campuses in 1904 and helped ensure Roosevelt’s success. He won in a landslide victory against Conservative Democrat Alton Parker.
At bottom left, is a campaign button for Champ Clark. James Beauchamp “Champ” Clark was a Democrat from Missouri. He served as Speaker of the House from 1911 to 1919. He was a frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1912, but failed to receive the necessary two-thirds of the vote on the first several ballots. The nomination went to Woodrow Wilson, who ran against incumbent William Howard Taft, winning the election.
The “I Want Roosevelt Again” button (at right) was created for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1936 presidential campaign. He ran against Republican Alf Landon. Roosevelt won in the greatest electoral landslide since the beginning of the current two-party system in the 1850s. He was also the only president to be elected four times.
“America Wants Willkie” button was made for the 1940 presidential election in which Republican Robert Willkie ran against incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt, his third term. Roosevelt’s decision to seek the presidency was controversial, but the raging war in Europe influenced public opinion, and he was reelected.
The last three buttons (at left) are from more recent elections. The dark blue button was made for the 1972 presidential bid of Democrat George McGovern and Sargent Shriver, who ran an anti-war campaign again Richard Nixon. They were unsuccessful.
The button on the bottom was made for the 1984 presidential campaign. Democrat Walter Mondale and his running mate Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman nominated for that position by a major party, ran against Ronald Reagan. Reagan won with 525 electoral votes, the highest ever received by a presidential candidate.
The last button was made for the 1992 Bill Clinton and Al Gore presidential campaign against Republican George H. W. Bush and Independent Ross Perot. Clinton won the election.
Enthusiasm runs high during presidential election season, sometimes with the help of a small round wardrobe accessory. Although some of the buttons don’t grab your interest with clever slogans or designs, they serve to remind us of a unique period in the American political past.
by Beth Rohlfes, Curator of EducationJoin us for an evening of holiday merriment here at the Courthouse during Old Town Auburn’s annual Country Christmas December 10 and 17, 5 - 8 p.m.
A very special treat this year! Storytellers will delight listeners, young and old, under the mantel.
Free hot cider and cookies
Musicians from Auburn Winds
Photo op as Santa & Mrs. Claus
Placer County Museum, with its gold display and hallway exhibits
Christmas at DeWitt Army Hospital
by Bryanna Ryan, Curator of ArchivesThe DeWitt General Army Hospital occupied a very brief yet significant place in the history of Placer County and America during the Second World War. Over the course of about 22 months of official operation, 9,741 patients were treated there for injuries sustained in the war effort at home and abroad. The man-in-charge was Colonel William H. Smith, whose “Christmas Message” for 1944 acknowledged the great sacrifices being made and asked that “the coming year bring us greater achievements as well as the restoration of world peace and the return of our soldiers to their homes.” In the meantime, there would be a Christmas celebration.
On Christmas day in 1944, the complex was buzzing with festivities in merriment with 1,424 patients, 94 officers, 102 Army Nurse Corps officers, 393 enlisted men, and 457 civilians. Preparations to celebrate the holiday had been underway for over a month. Local choir groups had spent the week caroling throughout the hospital. The American Red Cross had been gathering donations for care packages for the patients, while civilian volunteers eagerly engaged in “friendly visiting,” and the Dietetics Department was preparing the Christmas dinner. In order to provide a home-like Christmas atmosphere, patients and military personnel were encouraged to invite relatives and enjoy the holiday feast together in one of the mess halls.
By Christmas of 1945, Colonel Smith’s wish for the return of soldiers to their homes had become reality. The war had ended and the DeWitt General Army Hospital was inactivated on December 31st.
Destination: Roman Holiday
by Jason Adair, Exhibit PreparatorAnyone who’s attended the Placer County Museum Docent Christmas Party since I’ve taken over the Pirate Gift Exchange knows that I’m really into change. This year I’ve been given the opportunity to arrange the 2016 Docent Appreciation Trip. In the past, we’ve tried to stick to destinations within a couple hours distance of Auburn. This year I wanted to go further. Instead of putting a couple hundred miles on a bus, we’ve decided to take a trip through time. To be specific, we’re going back 63 years to 1953.
On November 7th, we’ll be transporting our volunteers back in time through a portal we’ve created at the State Theater in downtown Auburn. We’ve rented out the place and will be doing our best to make it feel like a matinee from the past. Museum staff will be working behind the counter as theater staff, and Ralph Gibson will be giving a brief presentation before the movie regarding some interesting history about our feature film, “Roman Holiday.”
Doors open at 1:00, and the program begins at 1:30. See you there!
News from Placer County Historical Society
by Michael Otten, immediate past presidentPCHS Donations, Volunteers
If you are reading this, chances are you feel like I do. History is special, either on a personal level or in a broader sense of it being important to a free society, or both. It is that giving time of year in terms of both money and time. For the first time, thanks to Mike Holmes, Bill George and your board, we are embarking on a special $500 annual history scholarship program at Sierra College.
So please donate to the scholarship fund as well as give a PCHS membership to a history-minded friend.
Volunteers are special folks. We love you. You make things happen with your time and money.
Are you one of the baby boomers (the nickname for the post-World War II surge in babies from 1946 to 1964 and turning 52-70 in 2016). Fortunately, nearly 9 million of this so-deemed wealthiest generation live in California, including a sizeable number in Placer County.
The way I figure it the baby boomers and the PCHS are a good match.
Per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Line Survey men and women over 65 are more likely than any other age group to volunteer.
Americans 15 and over put in 2.1 hours on the average day they volunteer with women having the edge in volunteering in every age category.
The National Philanthropic Trust tells us 95.4 percent of households donate to charities each contributing an average of nearly $3,000.
Working on the front lines with museums and history-oriented organizations and other organizations as a full-time volunteer I know we depend on our dues, volunteers and donations to keep us going.
The PCHS, founded circa 1910 in Auburn, is a good nonprofit organization that relies primarily on its dues and volunteers to keep it going. You can make a difference. Donations and inquiries can be sent to PCHS PO Box 5643, Auburn, CA 95604
• Special condolences to Addah Owens, our hard-working program chairman for a quarter century. She unexpectedly lost her son, Cary Owens in October. Cary, former owner of the Harvest Grill in Loomis. He had just turned 47. Cary was buried in a hand-dug grave next to his grandfather, John Whistler, in the historic Gold Rush era Jay Hawk Cemetery near Rescue in El Dorado County.
• PCHS president Walt Wilson is the new chair of the Placer County Historical Organizations Committee.
• Want to serve on the PCHS Board of Directors? Please contact me ASAP. I was appointed chair of the Nomination Committee.
• If you think our reading and math skills in our seriously wanting in our schools and society, look at history. Our knowledge scores are a mere fraction of the so-called “3Rs.” A recent study discovered that many of the nation’s top-rated universities no longer require completion of courses in American history to receive a degree in history. Being involved is your chance to give back while raising the value of knowing about our past.
• If you are over 70 ½ with one or more individual retirement accounts (IRAs), you know you are required to take minimum distributions (RMDs) each year. I have discovered that a good way to help the PCHS and reduce your tax burden this year is by direct gifts to the PCHS. Your financial adviser or institution holding your IRA or tax adviser should be able to help you with this. You should do this before the end of the year. Questions? Please contact.
• Donations of prizes for the special holiday drawing at the Dec. 1 dinner meeting are needed. Contact Addah Owens at 530 305-0058.
Placer County Historical Society Dinner Meeting
By Addah Owens, Vice PresidentWhen: December 1, 2016
Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program
Where: Veterans Hall, 100 East St, Auburn
Cost: $16 per person (Note $1 increase)
Menu: Special holiday fare prepared by our new caterer, Lisa Bloom, owner of A Window Opened in Meadow Vista.
Program: “Gold Rush Medicine.” Dr. Bob LaPerriere, a retired dermatologist affectionately known in the history community as Dr. Bob, is curator of the Sacramento County Medical Society History Museum and so much more in local history and cemeteries communities. A must-see presentation.
Also a drawing for prizes. Mail Checks to: PCHS c/o Bonnie Wilson, 1890 Pheasant Hill Lane, Auburn 95602 (530) 878-6640
DO NOT BRING ALCOHOL. County directives prohibit it, and, we can't get liability coverage.
Michael Otten email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 888-7837
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Placer County Historical OrganizationsColfax Area Historical Society
Chris Miller (530) 346-8599
Donner Summit Historical Society
Bill Oudegeest, (209) 606-6859
Foresthill Divide Historical Society
Sandy Simester, (530) 367-3535
Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
Historical Advisory Board
Old Town Auburn Preservation Society
Lincoln Highway Association
Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Elizabeth Jansen, (916) 645-3800
Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center
Richard Yue, (530) 346-7121
Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford, (916) 663-3871
Roseville Fire Museum
Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Glenie Strome, (916) 782-3299
Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor #59
Dave Allen, (530) 878-2878
Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Mario Farinha, (530) 269-2412
Golden Drift Historical Society
Jim Ricker, (530) 389-8344
Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Aileen Gage (530) 885-9113
Placer County Historical Society
Walt Wilson, (530) 878-6640
Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Tom Innes, (530) 888-8969
Rocklin Historical Society
Barbara Chapman, (916) 415-0153
Roseville Historical Society
Phoebe Astill, (916) 773-3003
North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Rebecca Phipps, (530) 583-1762
Placer County Genealogical Society,
Toni Rosasco, (530) 888-8036