Before the Gold Rush, Christmas was just another working day tending livestock or repairing equipment for those Americans who had settled in California, although many took time out for a few hours of quiet celebration. On December 24, 1845, Captain John Sutter’s logbook records that a worker completed a pump Continue reading Gold Rush Christmas
The migration of nearly 2 million Irish during 1845-1849 first brought the custom of Halloween to America. Irishmen by the thousands came to California for the Gold Rush from 1849 forward, although the traditions of adult legend-telling and children’s games on All Hallows Eve probably took a back seat to other considerations in those years, since Almanacs of the period make no mention of Halloween in their lists of holidays until later in the 19th century.
In the annals of western migration, the worst tragedy befell the members of the Donner Party, who were trapped in the snow-bound Sierra Nevada during the winter of 1846-1847. Slightly more than Continue reading The Donner Party
Swiss immigrant John Sutter was not the only eminent foreigner in Mexican-owned California during the sleepily pastoral 1840s decade, although for a while he was the only settler in the Sacramento Valley wilderness. Massachusetts-born Continue reading 1840s Northern California Neighbors
Aware that they must cross the formidable Sierra Nevada before snowfall blocked their path, California-bound pioneers seldom halted their wagons very long for either births or burials. Independence Day, however, was a different matter. On July Continue reading July 4th on the Plains Across