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.

On the Nobles Emigrant Trail

Last Sunday I enjoyed a field trip on a portion of the Nobles Emigrant Trail. This trail, first developed by William Nobles in 1852, proved to be a desirable alternative to the rigors of the Lassen Trail. It brought gold-seekers … Continue reading

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More about Phoebe Colburn

When Phoebe Colburn died in 1876 she left her dresses to a niece in Mobile, Alabama, and her considerable estate, some $3000, “to her best friend of all others on earth”, Col. William Magee. Phoebe Colburn probably met William Magee … Continue reading

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Phoebe Colburn

Phoebe Colburn is buried in Shasta Pioneer Cemetery. She is known to have been a free person of color who succeeded in the rough-and-tumble world of the California Gold Rush. What can we find out about her? Her tombstone spells … Continue reading

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A Visit to Shasta State Historic Park

On Sunday I visited Shasta State Historic Park along with a group of trail enthusiasts from the Oregon-California Trail Association. We were in Anderson for a “Spring Symposium” and our field trip was to drive 40 or so miles on … Continue reading

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A Forty-Niner Daguerreotype

I am always on the lookout for illustrations of life in Gold Rush California, and what I like best are authentic photographs or drawings from the period. Whenever I do a picture book set in California history, I have to … Continue reading

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Happy 200th Birthday, U.S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant was born on April 27, 1822, making this year his bicentennial. So Happy Birthday! to “the man who saved the Union” and to two-term President Grant. He was born Hiram Ulysses Grant in Port Pleasant, Ohio. Always … Continue reading

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Old Settlers

In 1850 the Sacramento Transcript published this list of the members of the “first band that penetrated the almost unknown wilderness lying between the shores of the Pacific and the Mississippi valley.” This is what became known as the Bidwell-Bartleson … Continue reading

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Ice! Ice!

File this under “Who’d a thunk it?” Wenham Lake ice was famous. The lake in northeast Massachusetts supplied crystal-clear ice to the eastern states, Great Britain, and all the way to California. The ad above began publication in the Sacramento … Continue reading

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Sir Francis Drake’s Plate of Brass

On this date, April 6, in 1937, Herbert E. Bolton, professor of history at UC Berkeley and director of the Bancroft Library, announced a spectacular find. Nothing less than the inscribed brass plate set up by Sir Francis Drake to … Continue reading

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A Trip to Table Mountain 2022

Today my daughter and I made our annual pilgrimage to Table Mountain in Butte County to enjoy a hike and admire the wildflowers. With almost no rain in January, February, or March, it is a meager year for flowers. The … Continue reading

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