Research Miracles

Week 11: #52 Ancestors – Luck By Eilene Lyon Given that next week’s theme is “Misfortune,” I take “Luck” to mean Good luck, not Bad luck. I can find innumerable bad luck or misfortune stories in my family history. Finding good luck stories is a real challenge. My ancestors had seriously hard lives. On the... Continue Reading →

A Resilient Woman

Week 10: #52Ancestors - Strong Woman By Eilene Lyon Abigail Gummersal Bedford, my 3rd-great-grandmother, endured many trials in her long life. Much of what is known about her comes from Quaker records, personal letters written during the California gold rush, and a couple brief biographies about her eldest son, William Zane Jenkins. She was born... Continue Reading →

Probate Gold Mine

Week 9: #52 Ancestors – Where There’s a Will By Eilene Lyon This week’s title should really be “Where There Isn’t a Will.” That’s because sometimes a probate case, when a person dies intestate, can tell you more about that person than a will ever could. When I started writing the California gold rush story... Continue Reading →

Gold Rush Entertainment

By Eilene Lyon A popular form of entertainment in the California gold rush was the bear and bull fight.  We’ve come a long way from wanting to watch such carnage for sport – or have we?  As recently as 2013, a bill was introduced in Congress to punish people for attending animal fights. In this... Continue Reading →

Desperately Seeking…Descendants

As genealogists generally do, I have put together a family tree detailing my ancestors.  As a historian, though, I am diligently looking for descendants, hoping they may have pieces of a puzzle: a story, a photograph, an artifact. Perhaps YOU are one of the people I am looking for. If your ancestors lived in east-central... Continue Reading →

Payday Lending 1850s-Style

By Eilene Lyon Ridiculously expensive loans are certainly not a modern phenomenon.  They probably began with the invention of the monetary concept.  I’ll give you two clams today; you’ll give me three clams tomorrow. Farmers in the early- to mid-19th century were loath to borrow money, especially from banks.  They’d been burned by the federal... Continue Reading →

The Ugly American Syndrome

By Eilene Lyon Ponte Vecchio, Firenze, Italia (2011) The gold rush period in California was probably the greatest mash-up of languages and cultures since Babel.  People, literally from around the globe, converged in a small area on the western coast of America, all with the express purpose of getting rich. The southern mines were particularly... Continue Reading →

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