Author Archives: nancyleek

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.

A Good-Natured Hint About California

I have written twice before about the California Gold Rush as seen in comic books of the time, here and here. Here’s another one by an English artist: A Goodnatured Hint about California. The motto on the cover says: “Here … Continue reading

Posted in comics | Leave a comment

Chickens at Rancho Chico

All this talk about the price of eggs reminded me of this letter, written by one of John Bidwell’s employees in 1851. Edward Shackelford Darlington, who was only 19 or 20, can’t resist spoofing the etiquette of 19th century letters. … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Happy Gold Discovery Day!

John Sutter needed lumber. He was always building — on his fort, around the fort, up at his farm. He also planned to sell lumber to the settlers who were coming into California  in increasing numbers. He needed a sawmill. … Continue reading

Posted in John Sutter | Leave a comment

February Is Black History Month

Get ready for Black History Month! Alvin Coffey is the ideal book to highlight black history in California. As 4th grade students study the Gold Rush, they learn about the prospectors who came seeking gold in the rivers and streams … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Finnicum, Father and Son

When Randy Taylor posted this business card on Facebook, I figured that J.D. Finnicum must be the same man as “Joe Finnicum, the Jehu” immortalized in poetry by Pres Longley. But that is not the case. James Duncan Finnicum, stage … Continue reading

Posted in Stagecoaches, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Floods of 1852

It’s a rainy January all over California this year, a welcome relief after several years of drought. I have written before about the floods in Sacramento in 1850 and in 1862. Flooding came again in 1852. Determined to build on … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

For Auld Lang Syne and the Days of ’49

My mother, being of Scottish heritage, was fond of the song “Auld Lang Syne” and we would gather round and sing it every New Year’s Eve. Since this blog is about “auld lang syne” or the days long past, I … Continue reading

Posted in Days of '49 | Leave a comment

A Chico Christmas Eve, 1869

From John Bidwell’s diary for 1869: Sat. December 25.  Christmas – Rained last night with a furious wind – Boys & girls of the town invited and had a high old time – That “high old time” happened at the … Continue reading

Posted in Christmas | 6 Comments

Christmas with Lola Montez

Lola Montez’s stay in Grass Valley was brief, but memorable. Matilda Denzer (later Mrs. Uphoff) never forgot a Christmas party she attended at Lola’s house in 1853. In her memoir she recalled: There were only a few girls in Grass … Continue reading

Posted in Lola Montez | 1 Comment

Christmas with the Bidwells — 2022

Live events are back at Bidwell Mansion! After a two year hiatus, the Bidwell Mansion Association invited members and guests to enjoy “Christmas with the Bidwells” live and in person at Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park. The evening featured dramatic … Continue reading

Posted in Bidwell Mansion | 1 Comment