Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

October 31, 2011
Toy versus model trains at the Railroad Museum

Diversions.jpgWhat's the difference between a toy train and a model train? Both are miniature versions of the real thing. But model railroads are realistic and built to scale, whereas toys are made to delight a child and are less concerned with realism.

Plasticville.jpgYou can see the contrast in a new exhibit debuting Thursday at the California State Railroad Museum. "Common Diversions" will showcase toy and model trains, including a  "Plasticville" railroad town and a selection of brass model cars and locomotives.

What: "Common Diversions: Toy Trains and Scale Model Railroads" Exhibit
Where: California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento
When: Nov. 3 through Sept. 14, 2012. Open daily 10 to 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.
Cost: $9 adults; $4 youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under
For more info: 916-445-6645 or

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Brass model trains (top) and Plasticville toy train town. Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

October 30, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Sheila Hudson

HUDSON.JPGBorn: June 30, 1967

Known for: A Rio Linda High School graduate, Sheila Hudson was a track pioneer in the women's triple jump event. She was a five-time USA Indoor champion who competed in the event at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Background: Hudson began competing in track at age 10 in all-comers meets. Her family moved to South Korea for two years, and she didn't compete again until her freshman year of high school. She was the 1985 state champion as a senior and won six NCAA titles at the University of California, Berkeley. Hudson was the best in the United States for nearly 10 years when the women's triple jump was first admitted into the Olympic Games in 1996. At 5-foot-4 with superb technique, Hudson was a hometown favorite of fans at the 2000 Trials in Sacramento, placing second at 45-81/2. Only Nicole Gamble qualified for the Sydney Games for the United States.

A highlight: Hudson was the only American to reach the finals in the first Olympic triple jump at the 1996 Olympic Games, where she placed 10th. Her American record of 47-31/2 stood for eight years.

In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.

October 28, 2011
Ken Burns film looks at the California Gold Rush

TheWest.jpgRecently I had the pleasure of viewing Ken Burns' The West. Like all of his remarkable documentaries, this 1996 series vividly portrays the American story through images and the words of historical figures and contemporary experts. The filmmakers cover the sweep of U.S. western history from pre-European Indian times through the closing of the frontier at the turn of the century.

Of relevance to this blog is Episode Three, "Speck of the Future," describing the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill that ignited the huge migration of fortune seekers into California. The film chronicles the struggles of the people who worked the gold fields: prospectors from the East, Chinese immigrants, Native Americans, Mexican Americans and those who came from other countries. Though most of the "49ers" failed to strike it rich, entrepreneurs like John Sutter and Sam Brannan did very well selling supplies to miners at exorbitant prices.

The principal commentator in this segment is the late J.S. Holliday, one of the state's preeminent historians and author of The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience. Holliday's book relies heavily on the letters and journals of William Swain, a young prospector from Youngstown, N.Y. who traveled overland to California in April 1849. He returned home the following year defeated and broke. In the film Swain stands in as the archetypal New England 49er who left home and family to chase an elusive dream.

The 8-part documentary is available on DVD or viewable online with Netflix instant streaming. PBS hosts a terrific web site for the series that features a transcript of each episode, resources, photographs, maps, biographies, timelines, lesson plans and even a couple quizzes.

October 27, 2011
Delta pear crate label art at Central Library

DeltaPearCrateLabel.gifOn Tuesday, November 1 (6 p.m. - 8 p.m.), Jim Dahlberg, a former resident of the Delta since 1943 and founder of the annual Courtland Pear Fair, will visit the Central Library (828 I Street) to present a history of Sacramento Delta pear crate labels. 

Many colorful stories about the pear growers and packers that once thrived in the Delta region are all but forgotten except in the memories of a few long time Delta residents--and the vividly colored crate labels left behind for today's collectors. In this special program, Mr. Dahlberg will present his extensive Delta pear crate label collection along with the fascinating histories of many of the Delta pear growers and packers.

What: A History of Delta Pear Crate Labels
When: November 1, 2011, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Where: Central Library, West Meeting Room (828 I Street)
Cost: Free
For more info: or (916) 264-2976

October 26, 2011
ANCHR annual meeting and luncheon

Lillibridge.jpgThe Association for Northern California Historical Research, based at CSU Chico, is a non-profit organization whose mission "is to increase the understanding and appreciation of Northeastern California History through activities encouraging and promoting historical research and publications." It serves Siskiyou, Modoc, Trinity, Shasta, Lassen, Tehama, Glenn, Colusa, Plumas, Yuba, Sutter and Butte Counties.

ANCHR will hold its annual meeting on Nov. 5. The featured speaker will be G. D. "Don" Lillibridge, Professor and Chairman Emeritus of the CSU Chico History Department. He is author of five books, including the two-volume Images of American Society, as well as essays in American Heritage, The American Scholar and other journals. Lillibridge, who is 90, will speak on his latest book Images From A Long Life, a memoir.

What: ANCHR Annual Meeting and Luncheon
Where: Shelley Anderson's Creative Catering, 2565 Zanella Way, Chico
When: Nov. 5, 11:30 to 2 p.m.
Cost: $18 per person. RSVP no later than October 28, 2011.
For more info: email and web site

Event flyer

October 24, 2011
First transcontinental telegraph message

field.jpgToday marks the 150th anniversary of the first transcontinental telegraph message linking the Atlantic and Pacific United States. It was sent from the B.F. Hastings Building in Sacramento to Washington, D.C. on Oct. 24, 1861, the day the telegraph line between Sacramento and Salt Lake City was completed. The message's content was fairly momentous. Stephen J. Field, Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court, informed President Abraham Lincoln that California would stay loyal to the Union.

Apparently The Sacramento Bee (then known as The Daily Bee) wasn't privy to Field's historic communication, since the newspaper reported on Oct. 25:

The overland telegraph line between this city and Salt Lake was completed yesterday, and at dark, last evening, the first communication passed over the wires between these points; but there was no direct communication with any point east of Salt Lake!

The Daily Bee did report other Eastern news that was forwarded from Utah via telegraph. The most important being the death of Oregon Sen. Edward Dickinson Baker. Baker, serving as a colonel in the Union Army, was killed at the Battle of Ball's Bluff fought in Loudoun County, Virginia. See the 1861 Bee article taken from microfilm.

You can also see the original hand-written letter from Justice Field to President Lincoln housed at the Library of Congress.

PHOTO CREDIT: California Chief Justice Stephen J. Field (between 1855 and 1865). Brady-Handy Photograph Collection, Library of Congress.

October 24, 2011
The haunted Sutter's Fort

Sutters Fort Evening Shot.jpgSutter's Fort gets in the Halloween spirit next weekend with evening programs designed to reveal the eerier side of Sacramento's oldest structure.

Docents in period costumes will lead visitors on 45-minute walking tours of various darkened rooms (which some believe are still haunted by past inhabitants). They'll also tell stories of how some early pioneers perished in creepy and melancholy ways.

What: The Haunted Fort
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, 2701 L St., Sacramento
When: Oct. 28 & 29, 6:30 - 9 p.m. Walking tours depart every 10 minutes.
Cost: $6 per adult, $4 for youth ages 6-17 and free for children 5 years and under
For more info: Call 916-323-7626 or visit

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Sutter's Fort at twilight. Courtesy Sutter's Fort State Historic Park

October 23, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Frank Merriam

MERRIAM.JPGBorn: Dec. 22, 1865
Died: April 25, 1955

Known for: Frank Merriam was governor of California during the later years of the Depression.

Background: An Iowa native, he served in his home state's legislature and as state auditor. He moved to California at age 45 and served in the Assembly and Senate before becoming lieutenant governor. He ascended to the top spot when Gov. James Rolph died near the end of his term in June 1934. Two years earlier, California had gone Democratic in supporting Franklin D. Roosevelt for president. But Republicans managed to elect Merriam as governor in a 1934 race that pitted him against socialist Upton Sinclair, a controversial Democratic nominee, and retain control of state government. As governor, Merriam waged a war against corrupt lobbyists and appointed a committee to investigate them.

A highlight: Merriam was California's ninth consecutive Republican governor, a streak that lasted from 1899 to 1938. He was defeated by Democrat Culbert Olson. Merriam was also the first governor to marry in office.

In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.

October 21, 2011
KXJZ interview spotlights new Donner Party book

DONNER2.JPGWhether members of the Donner Party, trapped in the Sierra in 1846-47, engaged in cannibalism continues to be an unsettled question. Last year news media reported a study of bones at the Alder Creek campsite found no evidence of the practice. Though some jumped to the conclusion that cannibalism never happened, many experts -- based on survivor accounts and other documentation -- continue to believe it did occur to some extent.

A new book, An Archaeology of Desperation: Exploring the Donner Party's Alder Creek Camp, examines old data and recent research using methods of history, ethnohistory, archaeology, bioarchaeology and social anthropology to shed new light on the controversy.

KXJZ's Jeffrey Callison interviewed the authors during yesterday's Insight radio program. They explain that the scientific evidence is more complicated and less conclusive than is commonly thought.

PHOTO CREDIT: James F. Reed and his wife, Margret W. Keyes Reed were survivors of the tragic Donner Party, who were stranded in the Sierra Nevada during the heavy winter of 1846-47. Associated Press/Utah State Historical Society

October 20, 2011
Tour Sacramento's historic water plant and pumping station

Thumbnail image for sacwater.jpgBefore 1924 most Sacramentans took water directly from the muddy Sacramento River and cleaned the sediment at home as best they could. The city's reputation for bad water was widespread and kept many people from moving to the region, according to "Turning mud into liquid gold: A history of Sacramento's water supply, 1849 - 1924" written by Kevin Carunchio for Sacramento History Journal.

Finally in 1923 after 40 years of planning, Sacramento built the first municipal filtration plant west of the Rockies. The Water Treatment Plant was a source of great pride and a symbol of the city's continuing growth and prosperity.

The facility is still used today to produce safe drinking water. But utility officials worry about its aging infrastructure (and that of "Sump 2," the sewage pumping station built in 1927). So they've launched a campaign to alert citizens to the challenge of maintaining the plants.

As part of that effort, the public is invited to tour the historic Water Treatment Plant and Sump 2 sites. Participants will see how modern technology keeps them operating effectively and will learn about the need for critical repairs and upgrades.

What: Sacramento River Water Treatment Plant Tour
Where: 1 Water St., Sacramento
When: Oct. 22, 11 to 1 p.m. Tours leave every half hour.
Cost: free
For more info: or Your Utilities. Your Voice.

What: Sump 2 Tour
Where: 3530 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento
When: Nov. 5, 11 to 1 p.m. Tours leave every half hour.
Cost: free
For more info: or Your Utilities. Your Voice.

IMAGE CREDIT: Bee editorial cartoon published Dec. 29, 1923 that celebrates the opening of the Sacramento River Water Treatment Plant.

October 19, 2011
Tall sailing ship revisits Sacramento

chieftain.JPGThe Hawaiian Chieftain has returned for its annual visit to Old Sacramento. Built in 1988, this tall sailing ship is a replica of a typical 18th-century European merchant trader. Her design is similar to those of Spanish ships used in late 18th century expeditions along the West Coast of the United States.

School groups and the general public are invited to tour the vessel where you can learn about navigation, basic oceanography and life aboard the ship.

What: Hawaiian Chieftain Tour
Where: Front and L Sts., Old Sacramento
When: Oct. 19 thru Dec. 13. Open to the public for walk-on tours. Most tours are scheduled 4 to 5 p.m., Mon. thru Thurs., and 10 to 1 p.m., Sat. and Sun.
Cost: $3 per person donation appreciated
For more info: (800) 200-5239 or

PHOTO CREDIT: Capt. Carter Cassel teaches the 4th graders of Placer Hills School about safety aboard the Hawaiian Chieftain. 2004. Sacramento Bee photograph by Florence Low

October 19, 2011
A cemetery tour in Woodland

Learn about the interesting people buried at the 22-acre, 100-year-old Woodland City Cemetery during a special tour this Sunday. Story Time for children and refreshments and books will be available next to the mausoleum. Arrive anytime between 1 and 4 p.m.

Proceeds will benefit the Yolo County Historical Society.

What: Woodland City Cemetery Tour
Where: 800 West St., Woodland
When: Oct. 23, 1 to 4 p.m.
Cost: $10 per adult, $20 for family of four, $5 per child 10+. Tickets will be available on the day of the event at the West Street Gate.
For more info: Reva Barzo at 867-5800 or BJ Ford at 662-0952

Event flyer

October 18, 2011
Arcadia Publishing debuts eBooks

iBookstore.jpgArcadia, a major publisher of local histories, announced that many of its titles are now available in an electronic format. These eBooks are sold through the Apple iTunes bookstore and are readable on Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices.

Nearly 2,400 Arcadia volumes are in eBook form. You can browse or keyword search for titles using the publisher's web catalog. Among the eBooks pertaining to the Sacramento region:

Elk Grove
Elk Grove Village
Folsom, California
Folsom Prison
Sacramento's Greenhaven/Pocket Area
Sacramento's Midtown
Sacramento's Southern Pacific Shops
Sacramento's Southside Park
Sacramento: Indomitable City
The Good Life: Sacramento's Consumer Culture

October 18, 2011
Chief Justice to speak on Filipino heritage

Cantil.jpgIn celebration of Filipino History Month, the Sacramento/Delta Chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society will host a brunch featuring Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. She will speak about growing up as a Filipina in Sacramento, as well as the historical significance of Magellan Hall, home of American Legion Post 604 founded by Filipino veterans of WWII.

There will also be historical displays and artwork by Justin Delacuesta, James Lane and Ernest Maningding.

What: Continental brunch with Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye
Where: American Legion Veteran's Post 604 (The Historic Magellan Hall), 8831 Gerber Rd., Sacramento
When: Oct. 22, 10 to 1 p.m.
Cost: $15 per person
For more info: email Frances,; Linda,; or Pam,

Event flyer

October 18, 2011
Clunie Community Center to celebrate 75 years

McKinley Exterior.jpgThe Friends of the McKinley Library and the McKinley East Sacramento Neighborhood Association (MENA) have organized a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Florence Turton Clunie Memorial Community Center (601 Alhambra Blvd.) to take place from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, October 23rd.  The program includes a juried exhibit and auction of plein air art by regional artists, talks on the history of the center and the community, and historical photographs, plans and more tracing the history of the McKinley Library. Refreshments will be provided, and all ages are welcome.

The Clunie Community Center was named for Florence Turton Clunie, wife of pioneer and state congressman Thomas J. Clunie, and a notable Sacramento businesswoman in her own right.  Upon her death in 1934, Mrs. Clunie donated $150,000 for the building of a community center and pool in McKinley Park, and the City of Sacramento pitched in an additional $20,000 to establish the McKinley Library at the north end of the new building. Both opened to the public in late 1936.

What: Clunie Community Center 75th anniversary celebration
Where: Clunie Community Center, McKinley Park, 601 Alhambra Blvd.
When: October 23, 1-4 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

PHOTO CREDIT: Front exterior of the Florence T. Clunie Memorial Clubhouse, Sacramento, Calif., ca. 1951. From the Sacramento Public Library Archives.

October 17, 2011
Governor's Mansion dresses up for Halloween

Governors Mansion Exterior Cloudy Day.jpgHalloween decor and scary music will set the holiday mood at the Governor's Mansion during the After Dark tours the next two Saturdays.

Storytellers will share tales of past governors and fortune tellers will predict your fate. Costumed guides will lead guests through the creepier parts of the building -- including darkened rooms and "coffin corners."

What: The Mansion After Dark
Where: Governor's Mansion State Historic Park, 1526 H Street in Sacramento
When: Oct. 22 & 29, 6 - 9 p.m.
Cost: $6 for adults, $4 for youth ages 6-17 and free for children five and under
For more info: 916-323-5916 or

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Governor's Mansion Historic State Park

October 16, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Sam Pannell

pannell.jpgBorn: Sept. 26, 1947
Died: Dec. 4, 1997

Known for: Sacramento native Sam Pannell represented District 8 on the Sacramento City Council from 1992 until his death. A longtime community activist, he was also a teacher and counselor in city schools.

Background: Pannell was a Sacramento High School and California State University, Sacramento, graduate. He tried twice to win a council seat before succeeding on his third try in 1992. He won re-election easily in 1996. He was regarded by friends and opponents as a fierce and independent spirit in city politics who pushed for diversity on civic boards and in city government. He pursued an energetic and stressful civic life while suffering from severe health problems. He died of a heart attack at age 50.

A highlight: His greatest council success was lobbying successfully for the Meadowview Community Center, which had languished for more than a decade as a city promise to south-area residents. The center, opened in 1995, was named for him after his death. His wife, Bonnie, was elected to his council seat in June 1998 and still represents the area.

In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.

October 14, 2011
Amador Central Railroad is subject of new book

ACR.jpgToday Arcadia debuted a new illustrated volume on the Amador Central Railroad, the turn of the century short line that transported passengers and freight in the Sierra foothills. The railroad was built in 1904 and operated until 2004 running 12 miles from Ione to Martell. In 2010 the owner sold it to a nonprofit preservation group.

The author is historical archaeologist and former Amador County archivist Deborah Coleen Cook who found many of the book's photographs in railroad and county collections. She also wrote the Arcadia publications Jackson and Ione and the Jackson Valley.

Amador Central Railroad (Images of Rail series)
Author: Deborah Coleen Cook
ISBN: 9780738575506
No. of Pages: 128
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
On Sale Date: 10/10/2011

October 13, 2011
October "Food for Thought" at California State Library

This month's Food for Thought: Thinking and Talking at the California State Library program is scheduled for October 19th and will feature Sacramento's historic City Cemetery, resting place of many prominent early Californians. Visitors to this cemetery can see beautiful statues, dramatic markers, and lush gardens surrounding the burial sites of Sacramento mayors and California governors, as well as memorials to Civil War veterans, volunteer firemen, and victims of the 1850 cholera epidemic. In addition, Food for Thought will be showing The Young and the Dead, which tells the story of how Tyler Perry bought and renovated the dilapidated Hollywood Memorial Cemetery and turned it into "Hollywood Forever," transforming it into a modern, interactive, state-of-the-art facility. Similarly, the Sacramento History City Cemetery, through a dedicated group of volunteers, has successfully become an outdoor museum chronicling California history from the Gold Rush era through the present time.

Food for Thought will take place in the California History Room at the State Library, 900 N Street. The program begins at 6PM, and light refreshments will be served when the doors open at 5PM. For more information please contact Rebecca Ann Fontaine at or at 916-215-9280. 

October 13, 2011
California's role in the Civil War focus of presentation

Queen of the Northern Mines.jpgHistorians across the country are observing the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. You don't think of California has having much to do with the conflict, but what the state lacked in battles it contributed in gold, volunteers and intrigue. The California State Military Museum web site provides a lot of information on the subject.

The Museum is also sponsoring a multimedia lecture on the Golden State and its role in the war to preserve the Union. Local authors Richard Hurley and T.J. Meekins will display historic images to illustrate Californians' conflicting loyalties.

After the talk, Hurley and Meekins will discuss and sign their recently-published Queen of the Northern Mines, A Novel of the Civil War in California. Set in the 1860s Nevada County, the book chronicles how the war impacted the lives of several characters who represent a variety of cultures and perspectives.

What: California and the Civil War multimedia lecture and book signing
Where: California State Military Museum, 1119 Second Street, Sacramento
When: Oct. 15, 1:00 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: (916) 854-1900

October 13, 2011
Old Sacramento Living History "Ghost Tours"

Ghost Tours Image.jpgOld Sacramento prepares for Halloween with the return of "Ghost Tours," These evening strolls led by knowledgeable docents will intrigue you with tales of California's spooky history going back to the 1800s.

Tours last about an hour and are not recommended for kids under six.

What: Living History Ghost Tours in Old Sacramento
Where: Eagle Theatre, 925 Front St.
When: Oct. 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 & 29, 6:30 - 9 p.m. (tours depart every 30 minutes)
Cost: $15 for adults, $10 for youths ages 6-17 and free for children ages five and under (not appropriate for very young children)
For more info: 916-808-7059 or visit

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Historic Old Sacramento Foundation

October 12, 2011
All aboard the "Spookomotive" -- if you dare

Spookomotive402.JPGLike a Werewolf, the California State Railroad Museum's popular excursion train transforms into "Spookomotive" for Halloween.

Starting this weekend the diesel engine -- decorated with spiders, cobwebs and cornstalks and staffed by a "skeleton" crew -- will take visitors on a fun-filled, 40-minute, six-mile roundtrip ride along the levees of the Sacramento River.

Tickets for the Spookomotive excursion train rides are available on a first-come, first-served basis starting 10:30 a.m. at the Sacramento Southern Railroad ticket office in Old Sacramento.

What: "Spookomotive" Train Rides
Where: Trains depart from the Central Pacific Passenger Station, Old Sacramento State Historic Park
When: Oct. 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30. Hourly 11 to 4 p.m.
Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for youths ages 6-17 and free for children 5 and under. $15 per person - all ages for First Class El Dorado Car.
For more info: 916-445-6645 or California State Railroad Museum

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Museum excursion train decorated for Halloween. Courtesy the Capital District State Museums and Historic Parks

October 11, 2011
Learn genealogy at Family History Day

caarchives.JPGWould you like to delve into your family's history, but don't know where to begin? Root Cellar (the Sacramento Genealogical Society) offers a day-long event to acquaint amateur researchers with the tools and resources to get you started. Choose from 19 different classes ranging from basic genealogy 101 to evaluating documents.

Participants can also learn archival preservation techniques and take mini-tours of the rarely-shown State Archives stacks and vault. They will also have the chance to browse the Root Cellar Genealogical Library and visit with representatives of various genealogical, historical and lineage societies, research libraries and archives.

What: 12th Annual Family History Day
Where: California State Archives, 1020 O St., Sacramento
When: Oct. 15, 8:30 to 4 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: email or Family History Day blog

Event flyer
Event news release
Class descriptions
Class schedule

PHOTO CREDIT: California's chief archivist, Nancy Lenoil, leads a behind-the-scenes tour of the California State Archives. 2007 Sacramento Bee photograph by Brian Baer

October 11, 2011
California women's suffrage reenactments

Votes_for_women.JPGAccompanying the State Capitol exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in California, Museum docents will don period costumes this Saturday to reenact key moments in the struggle to get the vote.

Visitors will see suffragists, politicians, anti-suffragists and other citizens play out the drama at various locations in the Capitol.

Docent-led living history tours will leave the First Floor Rotunda every 15 minutes.

What: Women's Vote in California - 100-Year Anniversary Living History Program
Where: State Capitol. Guests should meet in the First Floor Rotunda.
When: Oct. 15, 10 to 4:30 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-324-0333 or visit

News release
Community Service Announcement

PHOTO CREDIT: California State Capitol Museum docents dressed as suffragists. Courtesy State Capitol Museum

October 10, 2011
California women's suffrage vote a squeaker in 1911

One hundred years ago today California women got the right to vote.

The election that approved the suffrage amendment (Proposition 4) was extremely close. In a "Dewey Defeats Truman" moment, The Sacramento Bee initially reported the measure losing because of the big vote against it in San Francisco. "Woman suffrage has been defeated in California. With all precincts counted, the majority [margin] in San Francisco against granting suffrage to women is 13,705, while in the State at large the majority [margin] in favor of granting suffrage to women will not exceed 8,000," the paper concluded.

But the next day the tide turned with late returns from Los Angeles and rural northern counties coming in strong for the amendment. This time The Bee reported: "Unless another kaleidoscopic change takes place in the present trend of the vote on woman suffrage, the women of California have won their fight for the ballot."

(Read The Bee's front-page election stories from Oct. 11 and Oct. 12.)

In the end suffrage triumphed by a margin of just 3,587 votes out of 246,487 cast statewide. With the approval of Prop. 4, California became the sixth state to grant women the right to vote.

Cartoon 2 small.jpgCartoon 1 small.jpg

IMAGE CREDITS: Political cartoons by Arthur V. Buel published in The Bee on Oct. 11 and 12, 1911 express the seesaw emotions of suffragists as they watched the vote turn in their favor.

October 9, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Sr.

brown.JPGBorn: April 21, 1905
Died: Feb. 16, 1996

Known for: The 32nd governor of California, Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Sr. also was the patriarch of a Democratic political family that has played a large role (i.e., son Jerry, the state attorney general, and former state Treasurer Kathleen Brown) in shaping the state.

Background: Governor from 1959 to 1966, his political career intersected with future presidents: Richard Nixon, whom he defeated in 1962 to win re-election, and Ronald Reagan, whom he lost to in 1966. His son Jerry sought the Democratic Party's presidential nomination while governor in 1976. Brown ushered California into the modern era, developing the California Aqueduct and the California Master Plan for Higher Education. He also was a staunch opponent of the death penalty.

A highlight: The nickname comes from his Patrick Henry-esque pitch to sell Liberty Bonds during World War II.

In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.

October 8, 2011
A Haunting at the Old City Library

Haunted StacksDead men will tell tales of Sacramento's dark past at the Central Library on October 14, 2011, for the library's 2nd annual Haunted Stacks! event. From 7-9 p.m., the library will screen Tim Burton's Beetlejuice in the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, and signups will be taken for special after-hours tours of the Sacramento Room in the historic Carnegie library building. The Sacramento Room will be visited by ghosts from 1879 Sacramento, including Sacramento's pioneer City Librarian, Caroline G. Hancock, and "Lucky" Bill Thorington, a Sacramento shell-gamer who was eventually hanged for cattle rustling in Nevada.

What: Haunted Stacks!
Where: Tsakopoulos Library Galleria and Sacramento Room (828 I Street, Sacramento)
When: October 14, 2011, 7-9 p.m.
Cost: Free
More info: or (916) 264-2920

October 7, 2011
Genealogy programs at the Davis Public Library

Conlan.JPGThis month the Yolo County Library presents a series of practical and informative lectures for amateur genealogists and historians:

October 12, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. - Caring for Your Family Treasures - Learn how to properly store important family documents and photographs with Yolo County Archivist Moira Conlan.

October 16, 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. - Techniques for Researching Your Family History - Local researcher/family historian Jeannette L. Molson will speak about her 'grass roots' level research methods and tools.

October 19, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. - Who Do You Think You Are? And How Do You Find Out? - Learn how you can begin your own family research at home, on the Internet and in repositories throughout the United States. For beginning family researchers.

October 26, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. - Yolo County History Founding Families - Yolo County historian Shipley Walters will share her knowledge about Yolo County and its early denizens.

What: Genealogy and History Programs
Where: Blanchard Room, Davis Public Library, 315 14th St., Davis
When: Oct. 12, 16, 19 and 26
Cost: free
For more info: Victoria Klein (530) 757-5593 x1139 or

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Yolo County Archivist Moira Conlan shows off the first County Board of Supervisors minutes from 1850. 2007 Sacramento Bee photograph by Renee C. Byer

October 6, 2011
Old Sacramento "Above Ground" Tours extended

oldsacarch.JPGThe Historic Old Sacramento Foundation is offering its two popular "above ground" tours through October.

California's Gold Rush Legacy Tour, conducted by docents in period attire, introduces guests to 1850s Sacramento using original and reconstructed Gold Rush-era buildings as a backdrop.

The Old Sacramento Architectural Tour refers to various building styles to explain the evolution of Sacramento from tent city to established state capital.

Old Sacramento walking tours begin and end at the Sacramento History Museum. They last about an hour.

What: "Above Ground" Walking Tours in Old Sacramento
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I Street in Old Sacramento
When: Weekends through Oct. 30. Saturdays at 1 p.m. -- Sacramento City: California's Gold Rush Legacy Tour. Sundays at 1 p.m. -- From Canvas to Brick: Old Sacramento Architectural Tour
Cost: $7 for adults; $5 for youths
For more info: 916-808-7059 or

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Old Sacramento architectural detail. 2008 photograph courtesy of Janessa Gonsalves, Program Coordinator Historic Old Sacramento Foundation

October 5, 2011
Art and Antiques benefit for the Crocker Art Museum

Antique_Show__Sale_Brian_Suhr10_24_0910_press.jpgThis weekend, October 7-9, the Scottish Rite Center will play host to the Art and Antiques Show & Sale- 40th Anniversary to benefit the Crocker Art Museum.

According to the Crocker website, " For the past 40 years, the Art and Antiques Show & Sale has been the place to find unique collector items, from vintage jewelry to antique furniture and more."

Regional and national antiques dealers, plus experienced conservation and restoration specialists will be on hand to share rare items and to answer questions.

The event runs from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 10:00am to 4:00pm on Sunday. The Scottish Rite Center is located at 6151 H Street, across from the main entrance to California State University Sacramento.

Parking is free, and admission is $7. For more information contact Art Service Group at: (916) 807-0158.

PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Suhr, Crocker Art Museum website.

October 5, 2011
Upcoming Women's Suffrage Centennial events

header2.jpgThis Monday is the 100th anniversary of the passage of the voter initiative that gave California women the right to vote. To commemorate this civil rights milestone, many events are planned around the state. In Sacramento there are several opportunities to learn and celebrate women's suffrage, including films, exhibits, reenactments, music and receptions:

Oct. 9

Crest Theatre, 12 to 4 p.m., films and live performance. Seneca Falls, a documentary about America's first women's rights convention in 1848. California Women Win the Vote, a film tracing the political and social battle for suffrage in the state. We Did It for You!, a play that celebrates the struggle for equal rights in U.S. history.

Oct. 10

California Museum, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., gather for craft corner, sign making, storytelling and singing.

Stroll to the State Capitol, 10:30 a.m. Welcome by officials and singers on north steps, 11 a.m. Inside the Capitol, 12 to 3 p.m., Living History suffragists, The Girl from Colorado (short play), Suffrage Singers, reading of Proposition 4 and arguments for and against, pick up Centennial souvenir, take your photo in period clothing or suffrage colors.

California Museum. Authors and book signing, 2:30 to 4 p.m. The Six Star Suffragists presentation, 4 p.m., in the Auditorium. Museum reception and program, 4 to 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 11

California State University Sacramento, 6 to 8 p.m., University Union Ballroom. Keynote address by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, plus a panel of experts discussing how women's legal rights have changed since 1911 in the United States.

Oct. 15

State Capitol, 10 to 4:30, Museum docents reenact key moments in the struggle to get the vote. Performance tours leave every 15 minutes from the First Floor Rotunda.


State Capitol Museum, 9 to 5 p.m., We Won the Vote! 100 Years of Equal Suffrage in California, an exhibit documenting suffrage with interactive displays, historical photographs, period campaign materials, clothing worn during the campaign and oral histories.

News release
Event program
Event flyer

October 5, 2011
"Harvest Haunt Express" train rides offered through October

Railtown Velocipede Bikes.jpgStaffed by "skeleton crews," Railtown 1897 State Historic Park will offer special Autumn-themed train rides the next four weekends. These 40-minute excursions take visitors through beautiful Gold Country scenery. Sierra No. 3 (the "Movie Star Locomotive" used in TV and film) will operate Saturdays and a vintage diesel engine on Sundays.

To kick off the fall season on Oct. 8 Railtown will also provide live music, entertainment, caboose tours, velocipede rides for kids, and free pumpkins for those taking a train ride.

What: Harvest Haunt Express Train Rides
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: October 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30. Hourly from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: Train rides -- $13 for adults, $6 for youths ages 6-17 (children under five are free)
For more info and tickets: 209-984-3953 or go to

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Railtown's velocipede bicycle (3-wheeled handcar). Courtesy Capital District State Museums and Historic Parks

October 4, 2011
Sacramentans found a way to drink during Prohibition

prohibition.jpgThe debut of a Ken Burns documentary is always a big occasion for history buffs. This time the filmmaker tells the story of the century-long fight to outlaw liquor in the United States and the consequences of that 13-year ban. Prohibition started on Sunday and concludes today on KVIE Channel 6 at 8 p.m. You can also view it with the PBS iPhone/iPad application.

But how did Sacramento fare during the dry time? According to a 1999 Bee article by Dixie Reid (attached), local denizens didn't sacrifice much in the way of spirits. In fact, the city was considered one of the "wettest" places in the state, supporting many speakeasies and a flourishing moonshine trade out in the countryside.

PHOTO CREDIT: Nationwide prohibition began Jan. 16, 1920. This photo shows beer being dumped into Lake Michigan in Chicago. UPI

October 3, 2011
Coloma Gold Rush Live

coloma.JPGThis weekend Coloma brings the Gold Rush back to life with its premier interpretative event.

Visitors will enjoy live music demonstrations of gold panning, rope making, blacksmithing, spinning, weaving, basket making and more. Volunteers in period dress will sell wares, tell miners' stories and portray historic figures, such as John Marshall whose gold discovery sparked the migration of thousands to California.

Children will be treated to games, hands-on activities and period music and songs.

What: Coloma Gold Rush Live
Where: Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, directions
When: Oct. 8 & 9, 10 to 4 p.m.
Cost: Parking is $10 per vehicle
For more info: call (530) 295-2170, 622-3470 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Ed Allen portrays James W. Marshall, who discovered gold in Coloma in 1848. 2009 Sacramento Bee photograph by Michael Allen Jones

October 2, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Gregg Lukenbill

Born: Aug. 15, 1954

Known for: Gregg Lukenbill formed Lukenbill Enterprises with his father, Frank, and led the group that forged a new era of sports in Sacramento, bringing the Kings here from Kansas City in 1985. Without Lukenbill, we'd have no passion for purple, although back then the losing team was bathed in baby blues.

Background: A Sacramento native, he picked up his first paycheck at age 7 and worked in construction for his dad. They became partners in 1976. In 1983, he and investors bought the Kings and moved them two years later to Natomas, where he built the old Arco Arena and then the current one to house the NBA team. He sold the team in 1992. In 1990, he founded Sky King, which flies the Memphis Grizzlies and the University of Memphis Tigers.

A highlight: On a rain-soaked night, March 1, 1989, clad in his trademark plaid shirt, he climbed the rafters of Arco Arena and plugged a leak so the Kings could play on.

In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.

About Sac History Happenings

California and Sacramento have a long, rich, vibrant history. And our region is blessed with an abundance of historical resources maintained by museums, libraries, archives and societies. This blog aims to alert readers to the latest developments in local/state historical education and research.

Send tips concerning upcoming exhibits, tours, lectures and meetings, as well as new books, magazine articles and online collections to the blog's contributors.

The Contributors:

Michael Dolgushkin

Michael Dolgushkin is Manuscript Librarian at the California State Library History Section. He is co-author of San Francisco's California Street Cable Cars and is a frequent contributor to the California State Library Foundation Bulletin. Contact him at

Amanda Graham

Amanda Graham is a Certified Archivist working in the Sacramento Room of the Sacramento Public Library. She earned a BS in History from Southern Oregon University and a MS in Information Studies with an emphasis in archives from The University of Texas at Austin. Contact her at

Pete basofin

Pete Basofin is Director of Editorial Research at The Sacramento Bee. He previously worked at The St. Petersburg Times and Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. Contact him at

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