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 →

Remedies

By Eilene Lyon Combing through archives is fun and fascinating – at least until the third day, when exhaustion starts to set in.  In November 2017, I put the fabulous librarians at the California State Library in Sacramento through their paces, requesting manuscript boxes, books, periodicals, and more.  One of their many treasures is a... Continue Reading →

Getting Past Glitter

"Mr. Ballou said I could go further than that, and lay it up among my treasures of knowledge, that nothing that glitters is gold.  So I learned then, once for all, that gold in its native state is but dull, unornamental stuff, and that only low-born metals excite the admiration of the ignorant with an... Continue Reading →

Disputing the “Facts”

Week 1: #52Ancestors Challenge By Eilene Lyon My favorite pair of jeans is getting so threadbare on the thighs and knees that holes are starting to appear.  It almost certainly is not an attractive garment, so why do I keep wearing it?  Because they are super comfortable.  What does this have to do with history? ... Continue Reading →

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