You might be wondering why the postings here focus on California’s past. That’s because I’ve learned a lot about it and love to share true stories about the state’s early days — there are so many events and stalwart pioneers and titillating scoundrels. Maybe you’ll be curious enough to delve into some historical research yourself, because “happenings” weren’t always as simple as I’m presenting in these short snapshots.
Personally, I came late to an appreciation of history, odd because I grew up in Sacramento, a city just filled with nineteenth century treasures: the State Capitol building, Sutter’s Fort, Victorian-era mansions, and museums displaying artifacts from by-gone days. (I blame this girlish lack of interest on school history classes, where we were given too many dry, disjointed dates to memorize instead of learning more about the people who made history.) Then I chanced upon Joseph Henry Jackson’s Anybody’s Gold, a witty, vibrant tale of the California Gold Rush. I was hooked. I had to know more!
At the time, I was living in Los Angeles, where I graduated from California State University, Northridge, and was a contributing editor to Working World, an LA regional magazine. I returned to Sacramento in 2000, when I married a great guy I’d known since high school. Back home in the city that once swarmed with tens of thousands of gold-fevered fortune-seekers, I devoured more Gold Rush histories and developed a passion for California’s tumultuous olden times.
Along the way I developed a special interest in pioneer women. My latest book, Before the Gold Rush – The Sinclairs of Rancho del Paso 1840-1849, came about when I learned that a remarkable young lady became the mistress of a 44,000-acre Sacramento Valley ranch before she was twenty. Her husband, John, was an educated, influential man given to inventive verbal humor. Both experienced their share of adventure before meeting by chance, and both witnessed dramatic changes in California during the 1840s. Yes, it’s a love story; but also one of courage, resilience, and lives led at the edge of discovery and fortune.
My first book, Disaster & Triumph: Sacramento Women, Gold Rush Through the Civil War presents the true stories of women who survived catastrophes galore to lend their talents and energies to building an enduring city, California’s capital since 1854. Get comfortable when you read it…so you can hear the echoes of women’s voices telling you how it really was, from their point of view.
Writing Sacramento Chronicles: A Golden Past allowed me to revisit my favorite historical period and also move forward to explore more recent events. I’m told that it’s easy to read and quite informative. And–Oh! The stagecoach! The coach-and-six is gone now–but what a glorious run it had! I think you’ll enjoy The Stagecoach in Northern California: Rough Rides, Gold Camps & Daring Drivers. In fact I hope you’ll want to read all four of my titles, and I encourage you to also delve into the large selection of fascinating old-west literature by other author/historians. Losing oneself in a book is one of life’s greatest pleasures.