Jennie Carter Visits Oroville

Jennie Carter, African-American journalist writing for The Elevator, predicted the future of California in all its scenic variety and human diversity.

Oroville, June 13, 1869

Mr. Editor,–California as a part of Uncle Sam’s domains is truly an important part, and that she will furnish homes for thousands of Europe’s poor, Asia’s industrious and Africa’s once despised is a thing only of days. To know the greatness of our state one must ravel its length and breadth, visit its mountains and valleys, hills and plains. California embraces all climates; it has regions of perpetual summer, and Sierras where eternal winter reigns, fields ever bright with perennial green, and forests always glowing with Autumnal beauty.

Oroville, the county seat of Butte County, is a pleasantly located town, connected by Railroad with Marysville, and of course, easy of access to San Francisco, the city of cities of California. From Marysville here is one continuous plain, a level country sparsely settled although a great part of the land is under cultivation, but I should think from what I saw not properly cultivated.

(Jennie thought the farms of the valley lacked the “neatness and thrift” of New England farms, due to the “ever-restless feeling” of money-making of California folks.)

Oroville was small — 1425 residents in 1870. Jennie found “very few colored people” living in Oroville. She admired the streets and houses of Oroville.

That the people of Oroville are imbued with taste is manifest in the improvements made, the regularity of the Streets — the comfortable houses and yards full of fruit trees and flowers. I think I have seen no prettier place in California for a home than Oroville. It is a mining town, but surrounded by land fit for agriculture which argues well for the continued prosperity of the place.

Jennie Carter: A Black Journalist of the Early West, pp. 73-74 (excerpts)

The local paper (the Weekly Butte Record) didn’t impress her as anything better than an “itemized journal” that “answers the people for an advertizing medium,” but didn’t offer much beyond that. Nevertheless, she saw in Oroville not only a pleasant town, but a place rich with agricultural promise.

Blacksmith shop on Montgomery Street, Oroville c. 1868

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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2 Responses to Jennie Carter Visits Oroville

  1. Fascinating thanks for post……….

  2. Fascinating thanks for post….

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