Sierra Gold Rush History
The third volume in the series about early Sierra County pioneers, the Whitney family, is slowly gestating. The book takes place in 1879-1880, when Eliza Whitney was dying of uterine cancer (really), and explores the state of medicine, particularly women's medicine, in that era. As always, I try to incorporate historic events from around the town, county and elsewhere in the state, the rest of the country and world, and to be faithful to the political and cultural practices, attitudes, and vocabulary current then. Why? Because it's the ethical approach for an historian to take, but also because I don't want to be humiliated by having my anachronisms hanging out there for all the world to see and poke fun at.
Note! You may contribute to this effort!!
The official birth, marriage and death records of Sierra County, lodged in the Clerk/Recorder's office at the Courthouse in Downieville, CA, are woefully incomplete. For whatever reasons, people often didn't bother to trot over and record these important events -- especially births -- until the State made it mandatory in 1905. People searching for information about ancestors, those of us who help others trace pioneer families, and scholars doing purely academic research, have long gnashed our teeth over the spotty records.
Several years ago I stopped waiting for someone else to do something about this dearth of information and began making a computerized list. Thus far I have transcribed all the b/m/d records from fiche at the Courthouse, extracted listings from Lee Adam's Sierra County Pioneer Cemetery Index, and am slowly making my way through old newspapers on microfilm at archives such as the State Library, the Bancroft and Huntington Libraries, and wherever else such records may be found. Happily, some individual families have already shared their Bible entries and other unpublished records with me. I entreat others to do the same. I'd like to include photos and biographies of these Sierra County citizens, if at all possible. We'll never have a complete inventory of all who were born, married, or died in the county but we can certainly collect and publish a database that is much closer to reality than what now exists.