My Books

logoI love to read and research the history of 19th century northern California. I have written a biography of John Bidwell and a series of picture book biographies for young readers. I helped to edit a book on a local poet and I  work with the Association for Northern California Historical Research (ANCHR), which brings out a new book on local history every year.

How to Order My Books

  • fill out the order form and mail it with a check
  • email me at
  • order at, where you can pay by credit card
  • go to one of the following local retail outlets: Bidwell Mansion, Made in Chico, ABC Books, Bidwell Supply Co., and the Chico History Museum — all in Chico.
  • Other places are the Butte County Historical Society in Oroville, Treasures from Paradise, Patrick Ranch near Durham, The Rusty Wagon in Orland, and the Tehama County Museum in Tehama.
  • Books are also on

A 30% discount will be given to libraries and resellers. Shipping is $4.00 for one book, and $1.00 for each additional book in the same order. Delivery within Butte, Glenn, and Tehama Counties can be arranged.

I am available for talks to groups and school presentations. Please contact me at

The Books:


Alvin Coffey: The True Story of an African American Forty-Niner

written by Nancy Leek, illustrated by Steve Ferchaud

$17.00 (includes California sales tax)

32 pages, full-color illustrations

ISBN 978-0-9965832-3-7 (Goldfields Books)

During the California Gold Rush, Alvin Coffey didn’t have the choice to go or to stay with his family in Missouri. As an enslaved man, he was compelled to go by his owner. Alvin hoped that in California he could earn freedom for himself and his family. Mining gold by day and mending boots by night, Alvin never gave up working toward his goal of freedom.

Peter Lassen: The True Story of a Danish Pioneer in California

PLcover2written by Nancy Leek, illustrated by Steve Ferchaud

$16.00 (includes California sales tax)

32 pages, full-color illustrations

ISBN 978-0-9965832-2-0 (Goldfields Books)

As a young man Peter Lassen decided to travel to America. He didn’t know anyone in the United States. He didn’t speak English and he didn’t know where he would settle. But an
independent spirit and a love of adventure took him far beyond the boundaries of the United States to a land of beauty and opportunity called California. An active volcano is named after Peter Lassen, and so is a county and a national park. What did he do to make himself famous? This is the true story of a man who loved the beautiful land that became his new home.

“Through comprehensive research and gifted writing, historian
Nancy Leek brings out the magnetic life of this intrepid Danish
pioneer who crossed the country to settle and tame the rugged and
remote land of northeastern California. Like Captain Sutter, he
was generous and welcoming to immigrants and respected Native
Americans, only to be murdered in 1859 on his way to the newly
discovered Nevada silver mines.”
Gary F. Kurutz, curator emeritus, California State Library and
executive director, California State Library Foundation

Nancy Kelsey Comes over the Mountain: The True Story of the First American Woman in California

NKfrontcoverwritten by Nancy Leek, illustrated by Steve Ferchaud

$16.00 (includes California sales tax)

32 pages, full-color illustrations

ISBN 978-0-9965832-1-3 (Goldfields Books)

Nancy Kelsey was just seventeen years old when she set out with her husband to travel to far-away California. The Kelseys joined the first wagon train of Americans to seek a new life in the West. She faced every obstacle and every peril that the men did, and she did it carrying her little daughter in her arms.

“Nancy Leek is a master story-teller and has brought to life the heroic 1841 overland trek of Nancy Kelsey. Her book proves that women could handle just about any obstacle thrown their way.” ∼ Gary F. Kurutz, curator emeritus, California State Library and executive director, California State Library Foundation

The California State Library picked Nancy Kelsey Comes over the Mountain as their Book of the Week for the first week of March 2018.

John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer, by Nancy Leek

$20 (includes California sales tax)bidwellbook

119 pages, illustrated with drawings, photos, and maps

ISBN 978-1-931994-25-5 (ANCHR)

This book is also available from the publisher, ANCHR,

Nancy Leek’s new biography of California pioneer John Bidwell helps to fill the constant and on-going need for good local history books suitable for young readers. In clear, engaging, and accessible prose, Leek tells the exciting story of Bidwell, who helped organize the first overland covered wagon train of American settlers bound for the Golden State, thus blazing the celebrated California Trail. Arriving at Sutter’s Fort in 1841, Bidwell went on to serve in the Bear Flag Revolt, fight in the Mexican War, discover gold on the Feather River, win election to Congress during the Civil War, and run for President of the United States in 1892. All this, and more, is covered by Leek in a well-written work that will make a welcome addition to any California classroom. A terrific selection for budding young California historians!”  ~  Dr. Michael F. Magliari, California State University, Chico

John and Annie Bidwell: The Long and the Short of It John and Annie Bidwell Cover

by Nancy Leek, illustrated by Steve Ferchaud

$16.00 (includes California sales tax)

32 pages, full-color illustrations

ISBN 978-0-9965832-0-6 (Goldfields Books)

A picture book biography of California pioneer and Chico founder John Bidwell and his wife, Annie Kennedy Bidwell.

“Leek brings the history of John and Annie Bidwell to life in this colorful and informative book that Chicoans and history buffs will love!”  ~  Debbie Cobb, News Anchor and Author

The Miner Poet: Poems of Pres Longley, by Alexander Preston Longley, edited by John Rudderow and Nancy Leek

$20 (includes California sales tax)minerpoet

181 pages, illustrated with photographs

ISBN 978-1-935807-07-0 (Stansbury Publishing)

“Pres Longley, through his verse, captured the spirit of California as it transitioned away from the rambunctious days of the Gold Rush. A miner himself, he championed the little guy, advocated for women’s rights, gloried in California’s sublime scenery, and became the “Bard of Butte County.” The California State Library is proud to have preserved his colorful poetry and to assist John Rudderow and Nancy Leek in realizing his dream of having his poems published in book form.” ~ Gary Kurutz, Special Collections Curator Emeritus, California State Library

4 Responses to My Books

  1. Pingback: Nancy’s Bookshelf | goldfields

  2. Sally Senestraro says:

    I have enjoyed your books over the years. I am a retired teacher . In my retirement I have been volunteering at the Bayliss Library. Actually I am president of the Friends of the Library. This year it will be 100 years old and we are planning a big celebration! One of the things we will be doing is having authors and their books sitting under the trees, hopefully selling their books. There is no charge to be a part of the day. It will be June24. If you are interested I would love to tell you more.
    Please call me at 570-7864. Sally Senestraro

  3. I am an ancestor of a man that became good friends with John Bidwell, his name was Benjamin brown he was my great great grandfather and John Bidwell called him B.B. they did a lot of buisness together in the agriculture sense, my grandfathers b rought wagons full of plants and tree starts for John from back east,actually two wagons full from my family’s historical writings,do you in all your research have any knowledge of him?

  4. nancyleek says:

    Sounds like an interesting man. I have always wanted to know more about where JB got his fruit trees. There are some letters from B.B. Brown to Bidwell in the Chico State Library John Bidwell Papers, with the following descriptions:
    B. B. Brown, 2/26/64 and 2/29/64, is chasing a group of Indians who have apparently been causing problems in his area. Thanks Bidwell for his assistance in the matter.
    B. B. Brown, 2/27/64, on an Indian hunting expedition, but has not found any yet. Asks for more guns and ammunition.
    He might be mentioned in Bidwell’s diaries, but Brown is a common name, so it’s hard to tell if a “Mr. Brown” is BB.

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