Bidwell, Kelsey, and Mary Ray King

I haven’t been blogging much lately, but I have been working on several projects—-

An article for The Diggin’s: If you live in Butte County you probably know that The Diggin’s is the quarterly journal of the Butte County Historical Society. Editor Nancy Brower asked me to turn my biographical introduction for The Road to Cherokee, about the author, Mary Ray King, into an article for the journal. It will be out this month.

cover-for-nancyWhen I wrote the introduction, I used up every bit of information I could find about Mary Ray King. Since then I was able to meet with her granddaughter, Deborah King, and find out more. I learned that early in her career she wrote short stories under the name Ray McIntyre King. In the early 20th century the reading public had a voracious appetite for short stories and Mary Ray helped feed that appetite.

I also expanded on a sensational court case that Mary Ray took part in. You’ll have to read The Diggin’s to find out why rejected marriage licenses and foreign-born suitors caused the court to take the twin Hunter girls away from their parents.


Nancy Kelsey

A new picture book biography: I loved working with Steve Ferchaud and wanted to do another book with him. Nancy Kelsey was the first American woman to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains into California, and she did it barefoot and carrying a toddler. I want to show what pioneer life was like on the California Trail and how an ordinary woman from the backwoods of Kentucky took part in the Bear Flag Revolt and others events in our history.

Look for my new book in the fall of 2017. I’ll keep you posted on how things come along as Steve creates the illustrations and brings Nancy and Ben Kelsey to life.

bidwell2013 002

Nick as Bidwell

An event at the Chico Museum: John Bidwell is coming back to Chico, and I will be interviewing him at the Chico Museum on Saturday, April 22 from 10 to 11 a.m. Don’t miss A Conversation with Major John Bidwell: Rancho Chico, 1858! Nick Anderson will portray John Bidwell.

It turns out that writing the script was the easy part — it’s all based on the actual words of John Bidwell himself, telling about his trip to California, the discovery of gold, the Mexican War, and grizzly bears — lots of grizzly bears.

The tough part was making a costume for myself! I take the role of Mrs. Letitia Norris, widow and lady reporter for a San Francisco newspaper. I have come to Rancho Chico to interview one of California’s most prominent citizens.

There are hours of work in a 19th century costume. I not only had to make a period dress, but I had to make the corset and hoop skirt to go under it. The reproduction fabric came from Debbie’s Quilt Shop in Paradise. I’ll post a picture as soon as I get it hemmed — that’s the last thing to do.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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1 Response to Bidwell, Kelsey, and Mary Ray King

  1. Dianne Donoho says:

    Wow! Can’t wait to see your presentation at the Chico Museum and most especially…. that dress!

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