By Ralph Gibson, Museums Administrator“Oh, wow!”
Some museums strive to achieve this reaction when visitors first come through the door. Exhibits— which are made of large or very significant objects, wall-sized photographs or murals, and unique interactive displays—help set the tone for the museum. Visitors realize within their first few steps that this particular museum is not simply a collection of dusty artifacts and worn text panels; here, they are in for an experience.
Our big, “Oh, wow!” at the Gold Rush Museum is in progress right now. Derrel Fleener, a retired museum professional and renowned artist, is painting a large landscape with a focus on an early Gold Rush-era mining camp.
With a generous contribution by the PCHS, and using historic photographs from our collection, his own creativity, experience and skill, Derrel is creating a masterpiece in our museum. Even though it is incomplete, “Oh, wow!” is heard nearly every time someone comes through the door.
If you haven’t visited the Gold Rush Museum in the past few weeks, I suggest you do. It’s open Friday-Sunday, 10:30am to 4:00 pm.
On The Heritage Trail:
Sept. 1, 4:00pm-7:00pm—(Auburn) DeWitt History Museum (A sneak-peak of this developing museum)
Sept. 2-3 10:00am-4:00pm—(Foresthill) Foresthill Divide Museum
Are you a Spooner?
by Kasia Woroniecka, Curator of Collections
|"Auburn" Made by W&H Sterling. 1895|
Soon, hundreds of souvenir spoon patterns were being produced commemorating cities, famous people, and significant events or anniversaries. A favorite among spoon collectors, who call themselves Spooners, are the World’s Fair souvenir spoons.
The Columbian Exposition of 1893, also called the Chicago World’s Fair, elevated spoon collecting to a whole new level. It is estimated that more varieties of souvenir spoons were created for this fair than for any other single event in history.
“Golden Gate San Francisco.” Made by Wallace and Sons Mfg. Co.
whose spoon factory opened in 1833.
This spoon belonged to Mabel Carrie Bergholdt
of Newcastle and is dated 1903.
The establishment of national parks and, later, the popularity of road-trips, gave people access to infinite numbers of mementos to remind them of their trips, long after they had ended. Collecting spoons continues to be a popular hobby and collectors are still on the lookout for that rare, one-of-a-kind spoon with a great story and superior craftsmanship.
by Bryanna Ryan, Curator of Archives
So far, in 2017 I have worked with public researchers on over 470 individual requests since January.
Typical researchers are interested in determining chain-of-title for their properties, learning more about family members who lived in the area, or obtaining historic photos for their books, documentaries, or offices. In everything, this work is driven by primary sources—the maps, deeds, assessment rolls, probate files, and other official records maintained by Placer County. Coupled with newspapers (which jump between being primary and secondary sources), and photographs, these requests illuminate history, one piece at a time.
There are also helpful secondary sources here at the Archive which oftentimes provides a great starting point for delving into the primaries. Using this method, in the past year we have accidentally stumbled upon primary sources that change parts of the established narrative of this County and I would like to share one here.
This is the story of the “Leland Stanford” house in Michigan City/Bluff.
Below is a photograph of it, which includes the original label pasted on the front by former curator, May Perry around 1948.
While working with a researcher to gather all of Leland Stanford’s official records related to his time as Justice of the Peace in Michigan City, we looked at the minutes of Board of Supervisors, at deeds, and finally at photographs.
Seeing the image of the “Leland Stanford” house did not match up with the records already gathered or with Stanford’s reputed personal account that he had slept on the counter of the Empire Saloon, of which he was a part-owner. We did find his deed for the Saloon but the mystery of the house persisted. So, we dug deeper.
In meticulously gathering every “Stanford” deed starting in 1851 to see if there was any chance that he purchased this house, suddenly, there it was.
In Deed Book D on Page 146, Elijah Stanford purchased this house and lot “fronting Main Street” in Michigan City from Nathan and Francis Maria Wentworth on February 17, 1858. Leland Stanford, by this point, had moved on from Michigan City and everything else matched up. Elijah Stanford was Leland’s cousin.
There are still some unanswered questions in this story. How long did Elijah own the house? Did they ever live there? How early did the rumor begin? What we do know is that Leland Stanford never owned this house. However, we have not located the deed for its sale from Elijah Stanford.
Maybe the next researcher can help complete the whole story of this mysterious dwelling.
by Beth Rohlfes, Supervising Curator
2016 Gold Rush Program Docents
Are you the one we’re searching for? Do you enjoy history? Would you like to learn more about the history of Placer County? Do you like meeting people? Would you get a thrill out of watching faces light up when you share fascinating stories about real people who mined for gold and settled here and teach them to pan for gold? Or, take part in making the history of the DeWitt General Hospital come to life with photographs, uniforms, and original artifacts from this historic WWII military hospital? Or, would you prefer working with original and historic records in the archives and help to preserve and uncover the history of Placer County?
Would you be willing to learn more about doing oral histories, get out into the community and interview citizens about their lives and experiences in this area?
Would you enjoy being part of a friendly and knowledgeable community of volunteers? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be the new volunteer we’re searching for at Placer County Museums.
On September 14, we begin our annual New Volunteer Training— a series of classes that introduce new volunteers to the history of our county and teach them to become effective volunteers and docents for our museums. You could be part of this great adventure. Contact me ASAP to learn more, at email@example.com or 530-889-6504.
There are good reasons why many Placer County Museum volunteers have been with us for five, ten, fifteen, even twenty-plus years! Come, discover for yourself.
From the EditorIt has been 93 years since the first issue of The Placer was published. We hope you are enjoying it, and want to hear from you.
If you have any historical questions or topics you would like us to investigate for upcoming issues, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are also working to update the distribution list for The Placer so do not hesitate to send in names and addresses (email preferred) of those who should be added to the list.
News from the Placer County Historical Society
By April McDonald-Loomis, President
This year, PCHS had several volunteers from the Docent Guild participate at the Benton Welty classroom for Heritage Trail. Christie Brzyscz and Sandy Rogers brought in quill pens with ink, along with chalk and small chalkboards, and handed out coloring pages of scenes around Auburn. Jean Allender, who oversees the classroom for PCHS, reported a large increase in visitors this year. It seems that the children who attended loved working with the very messy (but fun) quill pens and ink!
May W. Perry rock-hunting in Nevada.
At the next Dinner Meeting we will present some By-Laws changes. Most are just “housekeeping” items, i.e. changing chairman to chairperson. We are proposing streamlining in the procedure for nominating officers and a few other items in that same vein. The changes will be presented at the October meeting and the entire membership will have the opportunity to vote on them at the December meeting.
As always, we would like to hear from you regarding speakers you think would be of interest or for ideas on ways to improve the Society and fulfill our mission of preserving the history of this county.
Placer County Historical Society Dinner Meeting
by Addah Owens, Program Chair
Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program
Where: Veterans Hall, 100 East St, Auburn
Cost: $15 per person
Menu: Grilled pork loin, roasted sweet potatoes, seasonal veggies, salad, and dessert.
Program: “Bowman—Making of the Book.”
Coauthors Mike Lynch, Rodi Lee, Donna Howell and Karri Samson will talk about the effort and results of putting together the new book on the history of the Bowman area.
The Bowman Community, northeast of Auburn, had its own Post Office in 1893, a school in 1895 and even its own ZIP code of 95707 in the 1960s. The area is named after early settler and fruit grower Harry Bowman. Bowman developed from a rural fruit farming area to the suburban community it is today.
The Bowman book is a 132-page history, with color throughout, of the Bowman area, featuring over 400 photos and other images. Coauthors of the book are Donna Howell, Rodi Lee, Michael Lynch and Karri Samson, who researched and wrote the book over a two year period. Subjects include prominent first settlers and their decedents still living in the area, early enterprise, including agriculture, mines, auto camps, civic groups, public agencies, and developments like Hollendale and Train Villages.
Copies of the recently published Bowman book will be available for purchase at the meeting for $20.00. (Autographs are free!)
Mail Dinner Checks to:
PCHS c/o Jane Hamilton, 1871 Crockett Road, Auburn , CA 95603. (530) 885-7839 or email@example.com
DO NOT BRING ALCOHOL. County directives prohibit it, and we can't get liability coverage.
Calendar of Events
|Click to enlarge|
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
April McDonald-Loomis, (530) 823-2128
Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Tom Innes, (530) 888-8969
Rocklin Historical Society
Hank Lohse, President (916) 624-3464
Roseville Historical Society
Christina Richter, (916) 773-3003
North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Marnie Carr, (530) 583-1762
Placer County Genealogical Society,
Toni Rosasco, (530) 888-8036