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Phone: 530-263-2906

Northern California Gold Towns

Sage of Smartsville cover hidden by server THE SAGE OF SMARTSVILLE: The Collected Stories of George Rigby
George Rigby, edited by Lane Parker and Kathleen Smith
Foreword by David M. Rubiales, Professor Emeritus, Yuba College

George Rigby recounts his childhood in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, weaving his family narrative together with historical events during and after the Gold Rush to create an intimate picture of small-town life in the land of rattlesnakes, poison oak and gold. Sitting on the side porch, the boy listened to the yarns of his elders. Rigby was already known as “The Sage of Smartsville” when he began, at the urging of his fellow townsfolk, to contribute articles to the Newsletter of the Mooney Flat Volunteer Fire Department. The number and variety of stories he wrote over the years amounts to a very large collection of lively and highly readable Californiana that begins with the discovery of gold at neighboring Roses Bar in 1849. Best-selling author Chris Enns calls it "a most entertaining and absorbing memoir," and retired Wells Fargo Bank Historian Dr. Robert J. Chandler recommends Rigby's book as "enjoyable fun."
312 pp. 2 maps; 100 illus, 119 biographies; bibliography, sources, notes; paper $22.00

Gold Rush Adventure MY GOLD RUSH ADVENTURE 1853-1857
John Carruthers Bates

An hour before his uncle’s ship was to leave New York, 15-year-old John (J.C.) Bates made a last-minute decision to go to California too. J.C. arrived in San Francisco on March 6, 1853, four weeks after leaving home. During the next five years he worked at several trades and mined for gold. J.C. made new friends and was reunited with old ones from his hometown of Coldsprings. He lived at San Francisco, Nevada City and Michigan Flat, working as a novice candymaker, telegraph lineman and gold miner before returning home at the age of 19. "A clever and resourceful young Yankee who demonstrated the energy of the American nation at that time. He is an archetype at the age of fifteen!” exclaims David M. Rubiales, Professor Emeritus, Yuba College. "Quite fascinating and instructive of the Nevada City ambiance in the gold-rush days," says Hank Searls, author of Jaws II, Overboard, Blood Song and Sounding.
136 pp. 14 illus; hardcover $20.00

Nature THE NATURE OF THIS PLACE: Investigations and Adventures in the Yuba Watershed
Bruce Boyd and Liese Greensfelder, editors
Foreword by Gary Snyder

Twenty years ago neighbors in the Sierra Nevada foothills began an experiment to co-manage federal forest lands interwoven throughout their community. They founded the Yuba Watershed Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to forest stewardship, and published Tree Rings, a spirited journal of personal observations, musings and art inspired by their place in the world: the Yuba River watershed in Northern California. This book contains a mix of compelling essays, poems, insightful drawings and photographs from the pages of Tree Rings. Here is the inspiring record of a rural community working to understand, restore, learn from—and live from—the natural world. It is thoughtful, funny and caring, portrayed with consummate love by a talented tribe of naturalists, natives, foresters, loggers, biologists, philosophers, craftspeople, retirees, artists, writers, farmers, historians and poets. "As fresh and pungent as if you had just engaged your senses for the first time,” says Peter Coyote. "The rest of the world could learn a few lessons from the Yuba!” according to Peter Moyle. "This treasure trove of writings and charming illustrations lifts the reader’s heart," writes Phyllis M. Faber, and Kevin Starr adds, "the Local rises to preserve bioregional identity and value."
232 pp. 120 illus, 2 maps; paper $20.00

Calif Troubadour CALIFORNIA’S TROUBADOUR: A Life & Selected Poems of Clarence Thomas Urmy
Gage McKinney

Clarence Urmy wrote poems in the Sierra Nevada beside the Yuba River, and settled in San Jose by the banks of the Guadalupe. In the late 1890s and early 1900s his work appeared in the pages of The Atlantic Monthly, Overland Monthly, The Century, Munsey’s, Cosmopolitan, Sunset, The Smart Set, The Independent, Lippincott’s, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and Youth’s Companion. The author says, “Even when a poet must earn a living (which Urmy did as musician and teacher and eventually as critic and professor) his first thought in the morning and last at night is about his chosen work.” In the offices of the San Jose Mercury Herald hardened newspapermen who had known him were capable of reciting Clarence Urmy's poems from memory.
148 pp. 18 illus; paper $20.00

Brides BRIDES OF THE GOLD RUSH 1851-1859
by David Allan Comstock

Many of California's forty-niners returned home, married their Eastern sweethearts and brought their brides back to the mining camps. From contemporary news accounts and hundreds of actual letters written to and from the gold fields we get an intimate look at the rough and tumble (frequently violent) era of the 1850s.
444 pp. illus. maps; hardcover $15.00

paperback edition $10.00

Greenbacks GREENBACKS & COPPERHEADS 1859-1869
by David Allan Comstock

California pioneers in the turbulent 1860s. Many rushed to Virginia City’s silver mines and made fortunes. They took opposing sides during the Civil War, and helped plan and build a giant transcontinental railroad to link East and West. Based on hundreds of letters, journals and newspaper accounts. (Sequel to Brides of the Gold Rush.)
428 pp. illus. maps; hardcover $15.00

paperback edition $10.00

Gold in Quartz GOLD IN QUARTZ: The Legendary Idaho Maryland Mine
by Jack Clark

The nation’s largest gold producer in 1866-1871, and the California leader during 1873-1892. Amazingly, the Idaho Maryland’s output was ten times greater in 1939-1941, second only to the giant Homestake Mine in South Dakota. Here is the complete history, as told by the only man (except the owners) who had such unique access to operations above and below ground, and was underground superintendent when it closed in 1956.
288 pp. illus. maps, glossary; hardcover $34.00

by Gage McKinney
Author of When Miners Sang

The astonishing story of how a depressed rural region in the 1920s was unexpectedly transformed after the Stock Market Crash of 1929 into a scene of vibrant activity and record employment. Gold from the richest mining districts of California made boom towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City while the rest of America staggered under the burdens of unemployment, financial failure and collapse. It wasn't all peaches and cream—some refugees from the cities and the Dust Bowl suffered before finding their way to the region, but they found jobs that paid living wages. Families soon were buying homes and automobiles and appliances, further spurring the local economy. Amazingly, the population of the area doubled between 1930 and 1940, during which time the region benefited from the work relief programs inaugurated by President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, and local leaders attracted public works projects that renewed the local infrastructure. This is probably the most upbeat account ever written about the Great Depression—and every word is true. California historian Kevin Starr calls it "a first-rate work of regional history."
632 pp. 150 illus, 3 maps; paper $30.00

1895 Pictorial 1895 PICTORIAL HISTORY of Nevada County, California
by W. F. Prisk Jr., J. E. Poindestre, Samuel Butler, David and Ardis Comstock

This lavishly illustrated book is a treasure-trove of long-forgotten information, including 290 rare photos and drawings, and 2,000 cross-referenced listings of residents, towns, mines, businesses, schools, churches, etc. Combines two unusual and antique publications first published in 1895 at Grass Valley.
192 pp. large format, illus; paper $20.00

by Tom Nadeau; illus. by Jeri Janis

When a wildfire burned homes and 500 acres of land around the historic town of Rough and Ready, the local district attorney filed 767 criminal charges against the nation's largest investor-owned utility. Special prosecutor Jenny E. Ross used PG&E's own documents to convict the utility giant. A great (true) tale, wonderfully told.
116 pp. illus. maps; paper $8.50

Tuttle NEVADA CITY AND BEYOND: An Unscripted Life
Richard E. Tuttle

Candid account of the author’s schoolboy adventures in a mining town during the 1920s and 1930s; his wartime exploits in Benghazi, Libya, and internment in a German POW camp; early career as a fledgling attorney and professional lobbyist and involvement in the 1960s Civil Rights struggle in Mississippi; appointment to the Superior Court and California Energy Commission by Gov. Jerry Brown; musings about politics and war in the 21st century, and some curious encounters with the “Rich and Infamous” while on the bench. Jonathan Moore, former Ambassador to the UN says: "Tuttle's witness and analysis is surprising, suspenseful, ironic, irreverent, indignant, hilarious, idealistic, generous and, above all, high spirited."
232 pp. 35 illus; paper $20.00

150 Years IT HAPPENED AT THE NATIONAL: The Story of the National Exchange Hotel, Nevada City, California—The Center of Town Life for Over 150 Years
by Maria E. Brower

Probably the oldest continuously operating hotel in California. An accurate history of this hotel could not be written without including the colorful historical background of Nevada City from Gold Rush days right up to the present, or describing the fascinating careers of people who made the mining town hum. It was said that over $8 million passed over the counter of the National Hotel bar in the 19th century. Such annoyances as neighboring brothels were handled with discretion on all sides. Copiously illustrated and full of anecdotes, a book for all ages to enjoy and savor.
182 pp. 63 illus, 3 maps; paper $20.00

Launched LAUNCHED INTO ETERNITY: Lynchings and Judicial Executions in 19th Century Nevada County
by Orval Bronson

Between 1851 and 1884, thirteen men were executed in Nevada County. Of the thirteen, six were hanged by vigilantes and seven were hanged after judicial trials. Three others, in jail awaiting execution, escaped hanging—two by suicide and one by intervention of the California Supreme Court.
116 pp. illus; paper $19.00

Belonging BELONGING: A Tale of Downieville and California's Modern Gold Country
by Bill Pieper (A Novel)

The year is 1974 and friction between newcomers and local residents is on the rise on the north fork of the Yuba Rover. To be reelected, Sheriff Buck Thompson must seek the backing of former flatlanders who despise his “old-boy” connections. Then a tragic drowning changes nearly everything in this moving novel about the meaning of place.
196 pp; paper $10.95

Spanish and Mexican California

by Esther J. Comstock

Capt. Juan Bautista de Anza brought a company of Mexican colonists to Alta California in 1775, including a young widow and her two daughters. After enduring a dangerous and exciting journey, Feliciana Gutierrez de Arballo arrived at Mission San Gabriel, where she remarried and eventually became the matriarch of a California dynasty.
178 pp. illus. glossary; hardcover $8.50

Una historia verdadera de la California de antaño

by Esther J. Comstock

(Spanish version) Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo's life story is the history of California! After the Mexican revolt against Spain he joined the army at age 15, eventually becoming a general. The California Bear Flag was created in his house while Vallejo was held prisoner at Sutter's Fort, and he helped write the State Constitution after the American victory.
152 pp. illus. glossary; paper $12.50

Oppression of Asian Populations in California

House of Liu HOUSE OF LIU: A Han Dynasty Genealogy, a 5000-Year Heritage, and the Journey to America
Elizabeth L. Lew

Members of the author’s family came to California from China in the 19th century, attracted by stories of incredible opportunities said to exist. Their success was mixed, in part because of fierce and unrelenting hostility from white immigrants. Lew describes her grandfather’s rise to power in the Chinese community in the early 20th century, and the struggles of her parents in the Chinatowns of Oakland and Antioch. Wallace R. Hagaman calls it "a compelling account of Chinese American history by a woman who reflects on her life at the age of 87." “Elizabeth Lew has done an incredible job with her Liu/Lew family saga in the backdrop of Chinese immigration to America,” says Connie Young Yu, author of Chinatown, San Jose, USA.
584 pp. large format; 582 illus; paper $40.00

Tule Lake TULE LAKE: From Relocation to Segregation
by Harold S. Jacoby

In 1942 the U.S. Government removed most persons of Japanese ancestry (including American-born citizens) from their Pacific Coast homes and put them in ten relocation centers. This inside story of one such camp, written by a former staff member, is meant to provide a balanced and accurate picture of what really took place.
122 pp. illus; paper $8.50

Cornish Influence in California

Highly HIGHLY RESPECTABLE FAMILIES: The Cornish of Grass Valley
by Shirley Ewart (with Harold T. George)

Cornish tin miners—the world's most experienced underground mineworkers—began rushing to California in 1849. By 1870 “Cousin Jacks” and “Cousin Jennies,” as they were known, were so numerous in Grass Valley that their traditions and customs began to shape the ethical and moral standards of the entire community.
192 pp. illus. maps, glossary; paper $11.50

Miners Sang WHEN MINERS SANG: The Grass Valley Carol Choir
by Gage McKinney

When Cornish miners immigrated to America they brought with them a unique tradition of glee clubs and carol singing. This music had its public premiere at Grass Valley in 1875, and Cornish-inspired carol choirs have been performing ever since. A history of how and where it began, and who wrote, directed and performed the music.
300 pp. illus. maps; paper $12.50

Gold Country Reference Material

Exploring EXPLORING NEVADA COUNTY; An Illustrated Guide to Local Landmarks and Historic Sites
by the Nevada County Historical Landmarks Commission

188 photos and 19 maps show where to find over 190 landmarks scattered throughout Nevada County. Use it to plan family outings and entertain guests. Identifies buildings and sites in Truckee, Nevada City, Grass Valley, Rough and Ready, Chicago Park, Penn Valley, Washington, North Bloomfield and North San Juan.
160 pp. illus. maps; paper $16.50

TW Index INDEX to the 1880 History of Nevada County, California
compiled by Ardis and David Comstock

Early county historians often neglected to index their books, driving researchers wild. Now the contents of Thompason and West's comprehensive work are accessible, with over 7,500 cross-referenced listings. Correct spellings and missing given names or initials are supplied, and women are listed under given and married names.
84 pp. large format; comb-binding $17.50

compiled by Ardis and David Comstock

Many important early records of Nevada County, California, were destroyed by fires, but information for this book was gleaned from cemeteries, newspapers, letters, diaries and family records to produce lists of births, marriages, separations, divorces, naturalizations and deaths. Includes names of clergymen who served the area.
108 pp. large format; comb-binding $20.00

150 Years 150 YEARS AGO: A Sketch of Nevada County, California
by Aaron A. Sargent; arranged and annotated by David A. Comstock

The author of this compact history was only 28 when he wrote it, barely eight years after gold was found at Sutter's Mill. He witnessed, or heard at one remove, most of the events described. Sargent was a journalist and lawyer who later served as Congressman, U.S. Senator and Minister to Germany.
(A Gold Discovery Sesquicentennial publication.)
32 pp. illus; paper $4.50

NEWS_ADV NEWS & ADVERTISING IN THE EARLY GOLD CAMPS of Nevada County, California (1850 to 1865)
compiled and annotated by David A. Comstock

All the vital statistics and most significant local stories (as well as many unique and important items about state, national and world events and celebrities) contained in surviving copies of local newspapers. Everything likely to interest historians and genealogists is here, plus notes to correct errors of fact and spelling, or to call attention to items that are omitted for reasons of space or narrowness of scope (e.g. lists of delinquent taxpayers or undelivered letters at the post offices) so researchers can find the missing information in library microfilms.
Primary sources: Nevada Democrat, Nevada Gazette, Nevada Journal, Morning Transcript and Young America of Nevada City; Grass Valley Telegraph, Grass Valley National and Grass Valley Union. Secondary sources: Alta California and California Courier of San Francisco; Placer Times, Transcript and Union of Sacramento; Marysville Herald.)

4,197 pages on one infinitely searchable CD-ROM $139.00

edit 10-12-14