Saturday, February 27, 2021

March - April 2021

Ralph Gibson

Museums Administrator

We are still in the grip of the pandemic, but with multiple vaccines out there, hope is on the horizon. As restrictions begin to ease a little, I want to give you a very general road map for when and how our museums and facilities will reopen.

As I write this, Placer County is still in the Purple Level, which keeps indoor museums closed. When we move to the Red Level, our Placer County Museum in the Courthouse will resume normal hours of operation (everyday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm); the Gold Rush Museum will open Fridays thru Sundays from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm and the DeWitt History Museum will be open the first Wednesday of the month 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm. When Placer County moves into the Orange Level, the hours and possibly days of operation will expand at the Gold Rush and DeWitt History Museums. The Archives and Research Center will be able to reopen to volunteers and the public after the County moves into the Yellow Level AND our staff there have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Even then, the Archives will only be open Tuesdays and Fridays from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm with just two volunteers and one public researcher onsite at any time, so we’ll create a rotating volunteer schedule. The Bernhard Museum may open on a limited basis once we have been in the Yellow Level for several weeks, but not for guided tours. We may open the museum for walk-throughs similar to what we’ve done for the Heritage Trail.

This is just a draft template and more details will come once we get closer to the Yellow Level. The experts predict that things may get closer to normal by the end of summer or early fall once at least 75% of the population has been vaccinated.

Until then, we sincerely hope all of you stay safe and healthy.
 

Kasia Woroniecka

Curator of Collections

I do not sew, but I really appreciate those that have the skills and the patience to deal with bent needles, bunched up thread or seams coming out wavy. Advanced sewing also requires tools that I do not have, like a sewing machine, sewing shears, rotary cutters, seam rippers, or special marking pens and chalk. Pincushions are also helpful, and it is those little, or not so little, objects that piqued my interest.

During the 19th century, women did not often find themselves with nothing to do and many occupied themselves with sewing clothing and needlework that included embroidery, tatting, lace work, sewing of monograms on household linen and making handkerchiefs and pincushions. Industrial Revolution made needlework supplies more affordable and available. Before John Howe invented the first practical machine for manufacturing pins in 1832, pins were made by hand. They were expensive, in high demand and their shaping required 18 separate steps. Early factories produced fewer than 5,000 pins a day, but by 1835 Howe’s machine was able to produce 70,000 in the same amount of time.

Pincushions came in many designs and were made of different materials. Some were very simple, made of scraps of fabric filled with sand or sawdust. Others were made of velvet, mounted on silver, china or wooden bases, and decorated with glass beads, embroidery, lace and porcelain dolls. They were often stored with other sewing implements in special needle cases or sewing baskets and were a collectable item. Pincushion designs included animals, shoes, fruits and vegetables, like the tomato, which is still popular today. According to Victorian folklore, the tomato was a symbol of prosperity, and when a family moved to a new home a fresh tomato was placed on the mantle for good luck and to ward off evil spirits. Some of the tomato pincushions have a small strawberry attached to it filled with emery powder for cleaning and sharpening pins. Pincushion dolls, with cushions in the shape of skirts, reached the height of their popularity between 1900 and 1930. Most were produced in Germany and France and the early ones were intricately made and very expensive.

Here are a few examples of pincushions in our collection:


Heart-shaped pincushion with a doll. The doll used in decorating this pincushion is part of a Storybook Dolls collection, created by Nancy Ann and made around 1936-1947. Nancy Ann Abbott was born in 1901 as Rowena Haskin. In 1935 she opened a book lending shop where she also sold her dolls. They sold well and in 1936 the Nancy Ann Dressed Dolls Company was born. In 1945 the company became known as the Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls, Inc. During the 1940’s the company was the highest volume maker of dolls in the United States. The company went bankrupt in 1965 after Ms. Abbott’s death in 1964. Donated in 1982 by Ferrel Trimble of Auburn.


Pincushion. Small pillow with lace and three ribbons. Donated in 1987 by the Foresthill Divide Historical Society.


Small pincushion made of cotton fabric with a green flower and leaf pattern. Donated in 1983 by Vincent Gianella of Auburn. Most likely used by his wife, Catherine Gianella, who started sewing at an early. She married Vincent in 1917. He was a professor of geology, who spent his career at the University of Nevada and the Mackey School of Mines. Catherine was active in the Reno Women’s Civic Club, the Reno Twentieth Century Club, and the Women’s Faculty Club of the University of Nevada. In 1957 she was awarded the title of Mother of the Year in Reno by the Nevada Federation of Women’s Clubs. She died in Auburn in 1974.


Pincushion. Red velvet heart with beaded decoration and fringe. Circa 1850. Donated in 1965 by Catherine Sharrer of Carmichael.


Fabric pincushion with a glass stand. Donated in 1996 by Jeanne Whitney of Carmichael.


Pincushion with a beaded design of a bird and flowers. Circa 1950-1870. Found in Collections. On display at the Bernhard Museum in Auburn.


Pincushion with a beaded design of a bird and leaves. Circa 1857. Donated in 1952 by Minnie Shafsky of Berkeley. Minnie was born in 1880 in Auburn. In 1904 she married Louis Shafsky, who opened a dry goods store on Washington Street in Auburn in 1902. On display at the Bernhard Museum in Auburn.



Pincushion with a porcelain half-doll made in Germany circa 1920. The doll is a figure of a Flapper Pierrette, the pantomime character and companion to Pierrot, a sad, lovelorn clown. It was donated in 1977 by the estate of Billie Watkins Olive, a resident of Pilot Hill and avid doll collector.



Pincushion with a porcelain “Lady of the Court” half-doll made in Germany circa 1920. It was donated in 1977 by the estate of Billie Watkins Olive, a resident of Pilot Hill and avid doll collector.

Bryanna Ryan

Supervising Curator

Today, I am excited to announce an update to a project we highlighted way back in the 2019 May/June issue of The Placer. Has it really been two years? Back then, we told you all about our nominations to the California State Library’s California Revealed Project of some really special archival records that were to be digitized and made available to researchers around the globe through Archive.org.


For this nomination, we selected items that would be difficult for us to digitize ourselves and they really needed immediate conservation. They also needed to be very historically significant beyond our local community and be primary sources that could help researchers better understand the past.

We selected eight “Recordiogram” phonograph discs made of vinyl-coated paper that were on loan to us and we had not the ability to properly clean, digitize, or play. We also selected three Chinese manuscripts, the two oldest of which date to 1886 and were from a secretive society known as the Hung Shun Tong. They were extremely fragile, and there was no way to digitized them properly or completely, without disrupting the historic binding.

Recordiograms

Lorraine Anderson

The Recordiogram discs came back to us last year. We had few clues as to what they contained but expected to hear prominent personnel of the DeWitt General Hospital recording their voices in 1944 or 1945. We had chills and a few laughs when we finally listened to their content – a jovial birthday celebration for Lorraine Anderson, the Red Cross Administrator – and heard the voices of people we had only read about.

Here is a link to a fun project Jason and Kelsey did as one of her contributions to last year’s virtual Sacramento-Area Archives Crawl, where you can celebrate Lorraine’s birthday along with the rest of the gang.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FK0I3cu10uY



Just this week, we finally received the digital files for the Chinese manuscripts and I am happy to share them with you. Here is a link where you can find them on Archive.org and learn more about what makes them so special. They have already been shared with scholars from around the world and we hope will become translated and help illuminate the experience of Chinese in northern California around the turn of the 20th Century.

https://archive.org/details/placerresearchandarchives?sort=week&and[]=mediatype%3A%22texts%22

The manuscripts are now being carefully rebound and conserved and soon, will be back in our vault for preservation for generations to come.

To see more of our historic collection, be sure to check out the various artifact highlights Kasia has been creating. You can find them easily on our new online portal at this link.

https://placer.access.preservica.com/artifact-highlights/

Or, if you would like to learn more about the history of Chinese in Placer County, here is a presentation Katy recently prepared on this subject.

https://spark.adobe.com/page/yvWWY7Q7W4gHy

April McDonald-Loomis

President, Placer County Historical Society


Greetings.

It looks like there is some light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel! Hope you have all been able to get the vaccine or at least have an upcoming appointment. I got my first shot and it is amazing the amount of relief it brings though it will still be a while until things get back to normal. On that note, the board has determined to hold off on the annual election of officers and board members until we can have in-person meetings again. The current board has consented to remain in place.

The Society has another new book out, it will be in several stores and on our website very soon. It is Auburn’s Landmarks, Monuments and Memorials. John Knox spent hours taking photos of plaques and other landmarks around town and we put together a book correcting some old errors and/or adding new information. The second volume of Notable and Interesting Women of Placer County is available as is John Knox’s Auburn Dry Diggings and Water: Rivers, Ravines, Ditches, Springs, Wells and Waste. Get in touch with local history!

April McDonald-Loomis

 

Katy Bartosh

Curator of Education


You have artifacts, you have a museum or a historic site...but you have a pandemic. How do you connect when you can’t physically bring people and resources together? The last year has been a crash course in trial and error, creativity, and perseverance. And I hope, if anything remains after the pandemic is through with us, that the online content and connections we’ve made, remain.

At Placer County Museums, we now have online resources created specifically for students, primarily 3rd and 4th graders, to help facilitate distance learning. We will also have resources for High School students later this Spring.

Even though the Bernhard Museum Living History program is currently postponed, we have a variety of activity sheets, an online exhibit, and a house tour on YouTube to help students connect. Check out the house tour here, (even if you’re not a third grader!) if you’re missing the Bernhard as much as I am.

For fourth graders, I recently held virtual Gold Rush Programs with over 300 students on Zoom and Google Meets. Most of these schools participate in the program every year, but I also got to work with students in Honolulu! They were able to take advantage of our online worksheets and exhibits on Gold Rush Medicine, the Hidden Treasure Mine, and more...

Whether you’re nine or ninety, these resources are a great way to learn about different aspects of Placer County's history.


Bernhard Museum Living History House Tour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=casJ2fuIhOo
 


Calendar of Events 

If you have any questions about meetings for March and April, please contact the specific historical organization you are interested in. Thank you!


Historical Organizations

Colfax Area Historical Society 
Jay MacIntyre, President
(530) 346-8599 
colfaxhistory.org

Donner Summit Historical Society
Bill Oudegeest
(209) 606-6859
donnersummithistoricalsociety.org

Foresthill Divide Historical Society
Troy Simester
(530) 367-3535
foresthillhistory.org

Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
Mark Fowler

Gold Country Medical History Museum 
Lynn Carpenter
(530) 885-1252

Golden Drift Historical Society 
Sarah Fugate
(530) 389-2121

Historical Advisory Board
Glenn Vineyard
(916) 747-1961

Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center
Larry Finney
(530) 305-9380 

Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Elizabeth Jansen
(916) 645-3800
laamca.org

Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford
(916) 663-3871
ppgn.com/loomishistorical.html

Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Kaitlin Kincade
(916) 774-5934
roseville.ca.us/indianmuseum

The Museum of Sierra Ski History and 1960 Winter Olympics
David C. Antonucci 
(775) 722-3502
Sierraskimuseum.com

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

North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Phil Sexton
(530) 583-1762
northtahoemuseums.org

Old Town Auburn Preservation Society
Lynn Carpenter
(530) 885-1252 

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

Placer County Historical Society
April McDonald-Loomis 
(530) 823-2128
placercountyhistoricalsociety.org

Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Fran Hanson
(530) 878-6990 

Rocklin Historical Society
Hank Lohse 
(916) 624-3464
rocklinhistory.org

Roseville Fire Museum
Jim Giblin
(916) 538-1809
rosevillefiremueum@gmail.org

Roseville Historical Society
Denise Fiddyment
(916) 773-3003

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

January - February 2021

Ralph Gibson

Museums Administrator

It’s going to take us a while, perhaps a decade or more, to fully grasp what we experienced in 2020 so I’m not even going to try. As we enter 2021, it’s good to be cautious. The year has ended, not the pandemic. With vaccines, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and, as long as there aren’t any major setbacks, things should get back to normal this year.

Estimates range from late spring to the end of the year, so, just like in March of 2020, we really have no idea. What we will do is follow expert advice and open our museums and facilities when the state and county permit us to do so with all safeguards in place. Because it will take time to organize a schedule, not all of our museums will reopen at the same time.

The Bernhard Museum will remain closed until the pandemic is effectively over and social distancing and mask wearing are no longer required. Every precaution we take is with the health and safety of the public, our volunteers (most of whom fall into the high-risk category for COVID) and our staff in mind. Perhaps by the next Placer, I’ll feel more confident about predicting when everything will reopen, but until then, stay safe everyone!

 

Kasia Woroniecka

Curator of Collections

Celebrating messages of love dates back centuries. The advances in printing and the introduction of the postage stamp made the exchange of greeting cards very popular during the Victorian Period. Early Valentine’s Day cards were handmade with paper, lace, ribbons, drawings, and dried flowers. Early cards sold in America were commercially made in England and Germany. In 1848, Esther Howland, an enterprising graduate of a Massachusetts women’s seminary, began manufacturing cards decorated with paper lace and picture collages. Her business thrived and today she is credited with popularizing the American-made Valentine.

These elaborate creations were often displayed in parlors or saved in scrapbooks. They featured cupids, roses, forget-me-nots, four-leaf-clovers, doves, and red hearts. Cupid symbolized desire and was a traditional favorite on valentine’s cards. Roses were associated with strong emotions of love, respect, and courage. Forget-me-nots symbolized true love. Clovers were tokens of luck and affection. Doves represented loyalty, fidelity, and love. The heart, as the symbolic center of all human emotions, meant selfless love.

Placer County Museums has an extensive collection of Valentine’s Day greeting cards and postcards. Among them are a few charming pop-up, or “mechanical” cards that fold out to reveal creative and colorful lithographs, complex die-cut and embossed designs, and three-dimensional foldable honeycomb paper elements. Most of these stand-up cards were printed in Germany around 1900-1920. (Information for each card is located below their photograph.)


Pop-up and die-cut Valentine’s Day card with cupids, doves and forget-me-nots. Printed in Germany c. 1900-1915. 1983.9.95

Donated by Vincent Gianella of Auburn. Vincent Gianella was a professor of geology, who spent his career at the University of Nevada and the Mackey School of Mines. He was a resident of Auburn for twenty years and was a member of the Auburn Rotary Club, the Placer County Historical Society, and the Placer County Historical Museum Foundation.


Pop-up and die-cut Valentine’s Day card with doves and forget-me-nots. Message on back: “To Miss Seal from David.” Circa 1900-1920. 1983.9.96

Donated by Vincent Gianella of Auburn.



Pop-up and die-cut Valentine’s Day card with four-leaf clovers, forget-me-nots and roses. Printed in Germany c. 1900-1915. 1981.34.12

Donated by Ethel Reynolds of Auburn. She was the wife of Walter Reynolds, an Auburn insurance broker. Both were graduates of Placer Union High School.



Pop-up and die-cut Valentine’s Day card with cupid, a honey-comb puff, forget-me-nots and roses. Message on the back: “To my dear grandma from Elroy. February 12, 1916.” 1976.16.67

Donated by Beverly Allyson of Lincoln. Allyson was the manager of Critter Creek Laboratories and Critter Creek Orchards in Lincoln. She was also the president of the Sierra Foothills Dairy Goat Association. 


Pop-up and die-cut Valentine’s Day card with roses and red hearts. “Loving Greetings." Printed in Germany c. 1900-1920. 1976.16.65

Donated by Beverly Allyson of Lincoln.



Pop-up and die-cut Valentine’s Day card with honey-comb puff, four-leaf clovers, forget-me-nots and lilies of the valley. Printed in Germany c. 1900.

Donated by Marion Malcolm of Newcastle. Malcolm was a trustee of the Auburn Union Elementary School board and a member of the Auburn Garden Club. 1994.42.11 



Pop-up and die-cut Valentine’s Day card with cupid, roses and forget-me-nots. Printed in Germany. Message on back: “Love’s greeting to Marion from Whom? Auburn, 1915” 1994.42.9

Donated by Marion Malcolm of Newcastle.


Pop-up and die-cut Valentine’s Day card with a trolley car and cupids. Printed in Germany. Message on back: “From Papa to Marion, 1915.” 1994.42.3

Donated by Marion Malcolm of Newcastle. 

Pop-up and die-cut Valentine’s Day card with forget-me-nots and peach blossoms. Message on back: “Grandfather's and Grandmother's (Hannaman) Valentine to Marion, 1910.” 1994.42.5

Donated by Marion Malcolm of Newcastle.


Pop-up and die-cut Valentine’s Day card with two cupids riding a chariot. Printed in Germany. Message on back: “From Mother, 1911.” 1994.42.1

Donated by Marion Malcolm of Newcastle.


Easel type die-cut Valentine’s Day card with two cupids, a cat and red hearts on a rowboat. Printed in Germany. 1994.42.8

Donated by Marion Malcolm of Newcastle


Pop-up and die-cut Valentine’s Day card with girl, a honeycomb paper puff, and a birdcage. Message on back: “Love’s greeting to Marion from mother, 1914.” 1994.42.2

Donated by Marion Malcolm of Newcastle.

 

Kelsey Monahan

Curator of Archives

The Rescue of the City of San Francisco

While 2020 was quieter than other years, we did receive some great collections into the Archive and Research Center! One of these great donations was from Placer County Museums docent Laura France, of a scrapbook from her father Clifford France. The scrapbook contains newspaper clippings detailing the four-day saga to rescue 196 passengers and 30 crewmembers from the passenger train City of San Francisco when it was trapped near the Yuba Pass in January of 1952.

On Sunday, January 13, 1952, U.S. Navy Seaman Clifford France was on his way back to his ship in San Francisco from Chicago aboard the City of San Francisco, when snow slides and an ongoing snowstorm stalled the train near the Yuba Pass and buried it in 12 feet of snow. Northern California and the Sierras had been experiencing a series of devastating winter storms that the Auburn Journal declared were the worst since the winter of 1889-1890.

Initially, sprits remained high among the travelers, until it became clear that rescue would not be easy. Because of the ongoing storms and high winds, relief crews using trucks and snowplows struggled to free the train. By Monday, the boilers had run out of water and the train cabins were without heat. In addition to suffering from the cold, some passengers became ill when carbon monoxide fumes entered the cabins from a generator. Luckily, a doctor had been on board on his way to a vacation and was able to help the sick. 


The first relief came Monday night when a group of 13 skiers, aided by a snow tractor, were able to break through the snow and bring food and blankets. The next day, a coast guard helicopter arrived to retrieve ill or injured passengers, but they too were prevented by the storms from reaching them and could only drop off more supplies. It wasn’t until Wednesday, January 16th, that crews were able to clear Highway 40 below the stranded train. Passengers either walked or were taken by snow tractor to waiting cars on the highway. The cars then transported them to the Nyack Lodge in Emigrant Gap, where a rescue train was stationed to finally take them to San Francisco. 


The train itself was not able to be moved until January 19th.

Bryanna Ryan

Supervising Curator

As another year ends, now is a good time for reflection. Time to think back on this past year and place it into the greater story of our lives. 2020 was not just ANY year, either.

Each of our perspectives are colored by a great many things and our experiences – though maybe similar – are not the same.

We hope you will consider sharing your perspectives, reflections, and even life stories with us. There are several ways you can do this, and we would love an opportunity to better document the history of our communities by preserving your experience.

Oral History Interview: If you, or someone you know, would like to participate in an oral life-history interview, let us know! This is a great way to document the unique experience of your life in just a few hours. We are making a list of interviews to conduct for when it is safe to do so in the coming year. Please contact Curator of Archives, Kelsey Monahan, to learn more about the oral history program and how to participate: Kmonahan@placer.ca.gov (530) 889-7789.

Online Survey: Consider taking our “Preserving this Historic Moment” survey. There are several questions designed to better understand how the historic experience of 2020 has played out for you. You may be anonymous if you wish and can take it multiple times as your perspectives may have changed.

Donate Photos: Do you have any photos you would like to donate? There are only two photos in our collection that document the 1918 influenza outbreak in Placer County. Please consider helping us to better document historic 2020 through photos. It is easy to do and you can upload them directly on our collecting portal.






Who knows what the next year will bring but as always, we would love to hear from you! 

April McDonald-Loomis

President, Placer County Historical Society

Here’s hoping the New Year will be a brighter one for all of us! It certainly looks like the vaccine will get us out of these troubling times and I hope everyone will get theirs as soon as it becomes available.

It is still hard to say when we can resume our general dinner meetings with fifty or so people. We will have to wait until we get the go-ahead from the County. We are looking for a particularly dynamic speaker for our first return meeting. If you have any recommendations, do let me know.

Our recent publications, Notable and Interesting Women of Placer County ($5.00) and Auburn Dry Diggings and Water ($20.00) have been selling well. The second volume of Notable Women will be out in January or February. If you haven’t picked up a copy, there is a book order form on the historical society website.

Another book in progress is Auburn’s Landmarks. It should be completed by February. John Knox and I have taken a close look at the landmarks around town to either correct or add information. This will help people understand the reason we have these amazing landmarks. We have certainly learned a lot in the process, and we hope you will too.

We have identified over one hundred plaques and landmarks around Auburn. If you know of one that is fairly obscured or easily missed, please get in contact with me or John. We’ve scoured the area, but you never know. For example, have you ever seen the brass plaque in the middle of Sacramento Street installed to commemorate the making of the movie Phenomenon? It’s an easy one to miss!

Please see the photos below from our latest plaque ceremony for Emily Casement, the Fire Queen, in Old Town Auburn. 





I hope you all continue to stay safe and that it will not be long until we can all get together and celebrate the history of Placer County.


Calendar of Events 

If you have any questions about meetings going into 2021, please contact the specific historical organization you are interested in. Thank you!


Historical Organizations

Colfax Area Historical Society 
Jay MacIntyre, President
(530) 346-8599 
colfaxhistory.org

Donner Summit Historical Society
Bill Oudegeest
(209) 606-6859
donnersummithistoricalsociety.org

Foresthill Divide Historical Society
Troy Simester
(530) 367-3535
foresthillhistory.org

Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
Mark Fowler

Gold Country Medical History Museum 
Lynn Carpenter
(530) 885-1252

Golden Drift Historical Society 
Sarah Fugate
(530) 389-2121

Historical Advisory Board
Glenn Vineyard
(916) 747-1961

Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center
Larry Finney
(530) 305-9380 

Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Elizabeth Jansen
(916) 645-3800
laamca.org

Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford
(916) 663-3871
ppgn.com/loomishistorical.html

Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Kaitlin Kincade
(916) 774-5934
roseville.ca.us/indianmuseum

The Museum of Sierra Ski History and 1960 Winter Olympics
David C. Antonucci 
(775) 722-3502
Sierraskimuseum.com

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

North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Phil Sexton
(530) 583-1762
northtahoemuseums.org

Old Town Auburn Preservation Society
Lynn Carpenter
(530) 885-1252 

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

Placer County Historical Society
April McDonald-Loomis 
(530) 823-2128
placercountyhistoricalsociety.org

Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Fran Hanson
(530) 878-6990 

Rocklin Historical Society
Hank Lohse 
(916) 624-3464
rocklinhistory.org

Roseville Fire Museum
Jim Giblin
(916) 538-1809
rosevillefiremueum@gmail.org

Roseville Historical Society
Denise Fiddyment
(916) 773-3003



















Friday, October 30, 2020

November - December 2020

Ralph Gibson

Museums Administrator

This year it truly will be “Home for the Holidays”. Because of the pandemic the Bernhard remains closed, which means no Victorian Christmas this year. However, we will be doing something special at the Gold Rush Museum, so expect a little more Gold Rush Christmas Spirit than usual. At the Courthouse we will decorate as usual with the big tree in the foyer and a smaller tree in the Treasury.

While the Bernhard Museum is closed, the grounds are open, and we will once again install exterior Christmas lights. The grounds will still have that holiday flare. Speaking of exterior lights, expect something more dramatic than usual at the Courthouse this season. Classic Christmas in Old Town will be very muted this year with an emphasis on shopping, so we will not be open those evenings. The same thing happened in 1918 when large, public Christmas gatherings were canceled



Shopping over everything else was emphasized – with a nod to donating to the Red Cross (WWI and Influenza). 


We will still be full of Holiday cheer, so feel free to visit us any time. The Placer County Museum in the Courthouse is open everyday 10-4, the Gold Rush Museum Fri-Sun 1-4, and the DeWitt History Museum will be open the 1st Wed of the month 12-4. It’s been a crazy, awful year and we all deserve a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 


Kasia Woroniecka

Curator of Collections

Handkerchiefs used to be a part of every man and woman’s wardrobe. They came in many shapes and sizes. They were often embroidered, trimmed with lace, and showcased their maker’s needlework skills. They were prized as holiday and birthday gifts, purchased as souvenirs during vacations, and even used as a means of flirtation.

Handkerchiefs were often made of cotton, linen, or silk. The most beautiful ones were used for special occasions, like going to church or a party. Most women carried them in their purses or tucked them in their sleeves. Men’s handkerchiefs were plain, usually white, sometimes monogrammed and were usually carried in their pant pocket.

The fabric handkerchief began to fall out of favor when disposable paper facial tissue came on the market in the early 1920s. There are many beautiful handkerchiefs in our collection. Here are a few examples: 

Cotton handkerchief with lace trim. It belonged to Mabel Carrie Berghtoldt of Newcastle c. 1900-1910. PCM Collection 2012.5.21 

Donated by the estate of Drucilla Barner. Barner was born in 1914 in San Rafael. She came to Auburn in 1957 and became vice president of Heart Federal Savings and Loan. She was one of the founds of the Western States Trail Ride Assoication. She won the Tevis Cup in 1961. PCM Collection 1982.50.125

Silk handkerchief with embroidery c. 1900. PCM Collection 1981.24.17

The following handkerchiefs were donated in 1983 by Vincent Gianella and belonged to his wife Catherine and her mother Lydia Helmich Thiele. Vincent Gianella was a professor of geology, who spent his career at the University of Nevada and the Mackey School of Mines. Catherine was born in Los Angeles in 1890. She married Vincent Gianella in 1917. She was active in the Reno Women’s Civic Club, the Reno Twentieth Century Club, and the Women’s Faculty Club of the University of Nevada. In 1957 she was awarded the title of Mother of the Year in Reno by the Nevada Federation of Women’s Clubs. She died in Auburn in 1974. 

Silk handkerchief with embroidery, drawn thread work and scalloped edges. Used by Lydia Helmich Thiele when going to church c. 1892-1895. PCM Collection 1983.9.182

Silk handkerchief with flower embroidery c. 1900. PCM Collection 1983.9.727
This silk handkerchief belonged to Lydia Helmich Thiele and it was her favorite c. 1880-1900. PCM Collection 1983.9.220
Linen handkerchief made by Catherine Gianella when she was 7 years old. This was her first attempt at fringing and hemstitching. PCM Collection 1983.9.226
White linen handkerchief with embroidery. Belonged to Catherine Gianella. It was a surprise gift from Vincent Gianella that she received in August of 1916. PCM Collection 1983.9.734

Silk handkerchief with embroidery and scalloped edges. Used by Lydia Helmich Thiele when going to church c. 1892-1895. PCM Collection 1983.9.183

Kelsey Monahan

Curator of Archives

In October, the Archive and Research Center launched the new Placer County Museums Digital Collections website: https://placer.access.preservica.com/. This launch is just the first step towards not only getting all our archival records online, but also our map collection and photograph archive.

For now, you can view records from the Placer County Clerk-Recorder Collection, which date to the beginning of the county in 1851. The largest group of records in this collection are the Deeds and Official Records, which span the years 1851-1960. The name of the collection is almost so plain as to disguise all the information it might hold. Deeds and Official Records contain deeds, deeds of trust, reconveyances, decrees, bills of sale, agreements, and more. The collection can be used in genealogy research, property research, and even research into the history of Placer County businesses.

For example, if we navigate to Official Records Book 475, pages 307-315 (check out this guide to getting started with the collection!) we find a Chattel Mortgage (where personal property or moveable property was used to secure a loan) between Dieudonne Bellurot and Victoria Bellurot, the mortgagors; and Josephine Walsh, Agnes Walsh Martin, and J.G. Walsh, the mortgagees. This mortgage record documents the transfer of the Freeman Hotel in Auburn from the Walsh family, which had been involved with operating the hotel for 50 years, and the Bellurots, who would own and operate it until the 1950s. The Freeman Hotel was originally built in 1868 as the West Hotel, in 1872 it became the Borland Hotel, and in 1880 W.A. Freeman purchased it and renamed it the Freeman Hotel.
Detail from Official Records Book 475, Page 307. Placer County Clerk-Recorder Collection.

Part of what makes Chattel Mortgages so interesting are the inventories of property, in this case, an inventory of all the furnishings inside the hotel from 1946. Not only can the listing tell us how many rooms there were and how they were furnished, but also how the hotel was decorated – the inventory lists 10 taxidermy mounts in the bar alone! It also gives some insight into the services they offered, like the hotel’s barber shop and in later pages their banquet supplies and dining room equipment. 

Detail from Official Records Book 475, page 311. Placer County Clerk-Recorder Collection.

Sadly, the Freeman Hotel was torn down in 1970, but records like this can give us a glimpse into the past. To read the record and inventory in its entirety be sure to check out pages 307-315 of Official Records Book 475. 

Interior of the Freeman Hotel, undated, PCM Collection. Are the spittoon and wall clock the same ones listed in the 1946 inventory of the lobby? 

April McDonald-Loomis

President, Placer County Historical Society

Happy Fall! Perhaps a new season will bring some relief from the virus and the wildfire smoke. As far as the pandemic, we have been able to hold board meetings via Zoom, but our dinner meetings are still on hold. We have reserved our regular dates and times for the Veteran’s Hall next year. We still don’t know when we’ll be able to hold a dinner for 60 people. Patience seems to be the key in getting through this.

We’ve gotten a few things accomplished. The new Charbonneau plaque was installed in Old Town, many thanks to the City of Auburn for their assistance. In that same park, we will soon have a plaque dedicated to Emily Casement, the Fire Queen, with help from the E Clampus Vitas, Chapter 3. Another group of plaques that will be put up soon by the City are new ones on Nevada Street noting the gold-rich area of Spanish Flat and the location of the Auburn fruit sheds. We are still working on plaques for several downtown businesses. If anyone has any ideas for buildings or sites you think should have markers, do let us know.

We have a couple of new publications that are available through our website. A booklet entitled Roadhouses in Placer County, and a full-size resource book by John Knox entitled Auburn Dry Diggings and Water: Rivers, Ravines, Ditches, Springs, Wells and Waste. John has done an incredible job tracing the origins of our water supply over time. Everything you ever wanted to know about Auburn’s water is in this book! Go to placercountyhistoricalsociety.org for the book order form. 


Placer County History Award, October 21st at the Bernhard Museum Complex

The Placer County History Award went to Dave Allen this year. There was a small outdoor ceremony at the Bernhard Museum Complex on October 21st (photos below). Congratulations Dave!

Stay safe, April McDonald-Loomis, President

Bill Oudegeest

Donner Summit Historical Society

On December 16th, presuming the weather is cooperative, four people, experienced long-distance runners and history and outdoor enthusiasts, will leave the State Park at Donner Lake to re-enact the travels of the Forlorn Hope. 


The Trail of the Forlorn Hope

First, a little background. At the end of October 1846, the Donner Party was trapped by snow. They’d made mistakes, but they’d have gotten over the Sierra if the weather had not turned against them. Over the ensuing weeks snow continued to fall, they lost their cattle, and made four attempts to escape. They were trapped and starving.

On December 16, fifteen people made a final escape attempt. They thought they could snowshoe to California in ten days and bring back help to their desperate families. It took thirty-one days and only seven survivors, five women and two men, made it to California. When the first man, helped by Native Americans, knocked on a settler’s door, the woman who answered broke into tears. Bloody footprints trailed behind him; he was emaciated and almost dead.

The Forlorn Hope is the name of the escapees from Donner Lake. They galvanized a response that resulted in four rescue parties over the following months that rescued about half of the Donner Party. All that is well-known and repeated in many books and articles. This year’s re-enactors hope to make the trip with modern clothing, equipment, and adequate food—with all members surviving until the end, in five or six days.

You can imagine the work these four have undergone figuring out the logistics, trying to divine the route of the Forlorn Hope, and preparing mentally and physically. In 1846, they were more interested in survival than plotting the route, besides, they got lost. The story of this re-enactment will be compelling and remarkable, though not quite as compelling are remarkable as the original. Look for future articles on this endeavor.

If you want to get more background on the Donner Party, the Summit, and the Forlorn Hope, read the “Donner Party and Donner Summit: Heroism, Pathos, and the Human Spirit.” You can also go to the Heirloom indices for a series of articles on the Donner Party and Donner Summit, parts I-V in the December 2016 to April 2017 issues.

Calendar of Events 

If you have a question about meetings for a specific historical organization going into November or December, please contact them directly.


Historical Organizations

Colfax Area Historical Society 
Jay MacIntyre, President
(530) 346-8599 
colfaxhistory.org

Donner Summit Historical Society
Bill Oudegeest
(209) 606-6859
donnersummithistoricalsociety.org

Foresthill Divide Historical Society
Troy Simester
(530) 367-3535
foresthillhistory.org

Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
Mark Fowler

Gold Country Medical History Museum 
Lynn Carpenter
(530) 885-1252

Golden Drift Historical Society 
Sarah Fugate
(530) 389-2121

Historical Advisory Board
Glenn Vineyard
(916) 747-1961

Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center
Larry Finney
(530) 305-9380 

Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Elizabeth Jansen
(916) 645-3800
laamca.org

Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford
(916) 663-3871
ppgn.com/loomishistorical.html

Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Kaitlin Kincade
(916) 774-5934
roseville.ca.us/indianmuseum

The Museum of Sierra Ski History and 1960 Winter Olympics
David C. Antonucci 
(775) 722-3502
Sierraskimuseum.com

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

North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Phil Sexton
(530) 583-1762
northtahoemuseums.org

Old Town Auburn Preservation Society
Lynn Carpenter
(530) 885-1252 

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

Placer County Historical Society
April McDonald-Loomis 
(530) 823-2128
placercountyhistoricalsociety.org

Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Fran Hanson
(530) 878-6990 

Rocklin Historical Society
Hank Lohse 
(916) 624-3464
rocklinhistory.org

Roseville Fire Museum
Jim Giblin
(916) 538-1809
rosevillefiremueum@gmail.org

Roseville Historical Society
Denise Fiddyment
(916) 773-3003