First Ascent

Week 26: #52 Ancestors – Legend By Eilene Lyon A Man on the Move In researching my Jones relatives for the California gold rush book, I discovered a legendary figure who eventually married into the family. Elias Davidson Pierce was born in Harrison County, Virginia, in 1824. But upon reaching adulthood, he moved on and... Continue Reading →

Gold Country Tour

By Eilene Lyon After completing my archive research in California (Huntington Library, Bancroft Library, and the California Historical Society), it was time to do some gold rush sight-seeing. My first stop was the Wells Fargo branch on Montgomery in downtown San Francisco. This city owes its explosive growth directly to the gold rush. Wells Fargo... Continue Reading →

The Huntington

Week 5: #52 Ancestors – At the Library By Eilene Lyon Before she died, my great-grandmother, Clara Ransom Davis, made a priceless (at least to me) donation to the Henry E. Huntington Library in San Marino, California. Why she chose the Huntington -- not the Bancroft Library at UC-Berkeley, the California Historical Society, or the... Continue Reading →

Solving a 166-Year-Old Crime (revised)

By Eilene Lyon Introduction I posted the original version of this story on September 13, 2018. Briefly, it involves the 1851 – 1852 partnership between Elias D. Pierce, William S. Good, and Paris S. Pfouts in Siskiyou County, California. Pierce suggested that William Good took off with the company’s assets worth $40,000. I didn’t believe... Continue Reading →

The 15-lb Nugget

Week 38: #52 Ancestors – Unusual Source By Eilene Lyon I’ve written quite a few posts about unusual sources, because I’m always pursuing juicy leads, like a dogged investigative reporter on the trail of the latest Trump scandal. I’ve listed some of these at the end. Please check them out! For this week’s prompt, I... 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 →

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 →

Disputing the “Facts”

Week 1: #52Ancestors - Start 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... Continue Reading →

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