News and developments in Sacramento and California history
December 31, 2012
December 31, 2012
The Clunie Community Center will play host to the first annual East Sacramento Appraisal Day on January 5. Appraisals will be conducted by Bill Witherell of Witherell's Art and Antiques, who has more than 25 years experience as an auctioneer and appraiser, including guest appearances on the PBS television program, Antiques Roadshow. He will appraise up to three items per person, with proceeds going to support the restoration of the historic Clunie Community Center. At 3 p.m., the archivist for the Sacramento Public Library will present an illustrated history of the early days of McKinley Park, the Clunie Community Center and the McKinley Library.
What: East Sac Appraisal Day for Antiques and Fine Art
When: Saturday, January 5, 2013, 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Where: Clunie Community Center at McKinley Park, 601 Alhambra Blvd.
Cost: Appraisals are $10 for one item and $25 for three items
For more info: To learn more and reserve a time slot, contact (916) 452-8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org
December 30, 2012
Known for: Left-handed Walter "Duster" Mails, a Christian Brothers High School graduate, helped pitch the Cleveland Indians to their 1920 World Series win.
Background: Mails was born in the town of San Quentin, where his mother was postmaster. He attended St. Mary's College before reaching the major leagues with the Brooklyn Robins (later the Dodgers) in 1915. Mails was sent back to the minors in 1916. He acquired the nickname "Duster" because of his frequent brush-back pitches. Eventually playing for the Sacramento Senators (later the Solons), he was sold to the Cleveland Indians at the end of the 1920 season. Three years later, he was back in the Pacific Coast League with the Oakland Oaks. After his career, Mails did promotional work for the San Francisco Seals, then for the Giants . He eventually became director of the club's speakers' bureau.
A highlight: A true eccentric, Mails once asked an umpire to throw him out of a game so he could meet his date. The umpire refused. He would also run around minor league ballparks with a megaphone announcing lineups and giving play-by-play.
-- Anthony Sorci
December 27, 2012
Although the Jan. 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation freed few slaves (the presidential order applied only to slaves in the Confederacy), it was an important milestone in the eventual freeing of all slaves and their achievement of full citizenship by later constitutional amendments.
California Black Farmers and Agricuturalists Association, along with local officials, groups and businesses, will celebrate the anniversary with an interfaith, multicultural discussion about the political and moral realities surrounding the Civil War, Emancipation and the Thirteenth Amendment. It will also cover the existence of slavery in California.
What: Freedom's Eve, 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation
Where: California State Capitol Room 126
When: Dec. 31, 12 to 4 p.m.
Cost: free, but tickets required
For more info: email and website
IMAGE CREDIT: "Abraham Lincoln's First Recitation of the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet," painting by Francis Bicknell Carpenter.
December 25, 2012
December 24, 2012
December 23, 2012
Known for: Sacramento native Henry Hathaway directed more than 60 movies, including "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer" and "True Grit," starring John Wayne.
Background: Son of a stage actress and manager, Hathaway moved to Hollywood with his family when he was young. He started his career as a child actor in Westerns. After serving in World War I, he returned to Hollywood to work as an assistant director. In 1932, Hathaway directed his first movie, the Western "Heritage of the Desert." He also directed "Brigham Young" (1940); "Call Northside 777" (1948), a notable drama about an ex-con working with the police as an informer; and "Rawhide" (1951). He directed Marilyn Monroe in "Niagara" (1953) and Wayne in two other movies, "North to Alaska" (1960) and "The Sons of Katie Elder" (1965).
A highlight: Hathaway was nominated for an Academy Award for "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer." Wayne won his only Academy Award for portraying Marshal Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn in Hathaway's "True Grit" (1969).
December 21, 2012
In the late 19th century the modernist art movement in France influenced a generation of early California artists. Since then the Golden State has reinterpreted modern and contemporary styles into a distinct regional vision characterized by ethnic diversity and democratic openness to artists outside the high culture establishment.
In the new paperback edition of The Modern Moves West, UC Berkeley History Professor Richard Candida Smith traces this development by focusing on three maverick California artists: Simon Rodia, Jay DeFeo, and Noah Purifoy. Smith asserts that Rodia's iconic Watts Tower (constructed 1921-1954) inspired subsequent artists to produce non-traditional, "Naive" works.
The Modern Moves West: California Artists and Democratic Culture in the Twentieth Century
by Richard Candida Smith
University of Pennsylvania Press
A volume in the Arts and Intellectual Life in Modern America series
December 19, 2012
Now the Mark Twain Project of the California Digital Library has launched an interactive database containing information on every one of his lecture appearances. "Mark Twain on the Platform" lets users filter the information by several parameters: type (lecture or reading); event (lecture series); city; year and works read. There's also a digital world map pinpointing appearances.
As a younger man Twain spent a lot of time in Northern California and so it's not surprising that he spoke many times in the state. Did he ever come to Sacramento? Yes, twice:
1st Western Tour, Sacramento, Calif.
Date: Thr, Oct 11, 1866
Event: 1st Western Tour
Venue: Metropolitan Theater
City: Sacramento, Calif.
Works: Sandwich Islands Lecture
Source: Sacramento Bee, 12 Oct 66, 3
3rd Western Tour, Sacramento, Calif.
Date: Fri, Apr 17, 1868
Event: 3rd Western Tour
Venue: Metropolitan Theater
City: Sacramento, Calif.
Works: Pilgrim Life
Source: Sacramento Union, 18 Apr 68, 2
IMAGE CREDIT: "Mark Twain, America's best humorist," illustration by Joesph Keppler that appeared in the Dec. 16, 1885 issue of Puck. Library of Congress
December 17, 2012
Amateur genealogists take note: The Southern California Genealogical Society is offered a year-long series of online classes taught by knowledgeable experts on all phases of family research. The first session this Wednesday covers "Jewish Genealogy 101."
To participate you'll you need is a Windows or Macintosh computer with speakers and a fast internet connection. (See technical information.) Pre-registration is required to reserve a spot in each class you want to take. Go to the list of classes and follow the link to the class signups. Supply your name and email address and you'll receive confirmation and a few reminders for the upcoming class.
What: Jamboree 2013 Extension Series
Where: Southern California Genealogical Society (online)
When: Dec. 19 thru Dec. 18, 2013. Saturdays 10 a.m.; Wednesdays 6 p.m.
Cost: free, but registration is required
For more info: 818-843-7247 or website
December 17, 2012
Here's a good opportunity to visit the Maidu Museum & Historic Site in Roseville. For the next three days admission is free. Visitors will enjoy galleries of contemporary native art and interactive exhibits depicting the life and culture of the Nisenan Maidu people who lived in this region for centuries. The Museum is built next to the historic Maidu village site where you can examine ancient bedrock mortar holes, petroglyphs and other archaeological features.
During Free Museum Days guests will also be treated to hands-on activities, guided tours, and complimentary coffee and cider.
The current Museum exhibit (running through Jan. 9) features native artwork by Frank Day and Jeremy Peconom.
What: Free Museum Days
Where: Maidu Museum & Historic Site, 1970 Johnson Ranch Dr., Roseville
When: Dec. 18 thru 20, 9 to 4 p.m. Guided Tours 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
For more info: (916) 774-5934 or website
PHOTO CREDIT: The Maidu Museum in Roseville opened in 2010. Sacramento Bee photograph by Anne Chadwick Williams
December 16, 2012
Known for: George Pardee was California's 21st governor, serving from 1903 to 1907. He and his family were the first to live in the historic Governor's Mansion at 16th and H streets.
Background: A San Francisco native, Pardee was raised in Oakland. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, and Cooper Medical College before completing his studies in Germany. His career closely followed his father's (both physicians, both Oakland mayors). As governor, Pardee was credited with playing an active role in overseeing relief efforts after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. The Republican also showed a great interest in conservation, forestry and irrigation, and signed a bill creating a University of California farm school, which became UC Davis. After leaving office, he became president of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District.
A highlight: Pardee Dam, near Jackson, is named after him. Pardee also threw out the first pitch in the first Pacific Coast League game in Sacramento, in which the Senators defeated the Oakland Oaks 7-4 on March 26, 1903.
-- Anthony Sorci
December 14, 2012
It's now December, meaning that there is a new book display in the California History Section. This month's theme is Putting Pen to Paper, featuring the works of California authors. Many well-known names associated with our state are represented, among them Jack London, John Steinbeck, Raymond Chandler, Bret Harte, William Saroyan, and Sacramento's own Joan Didion. Of course, we cannot forget that Mark Twain lived in California for a time. Later, more controversial writers are also displayed, such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. These works have been selected for your reading pleasure and are located in the shelves next to the lockers in the California History Room on the second floor at 900 N Street.
In the rotunda gallery just outside the History Room the California Calls You exhibit (with a few items from an upcoming sports display thrown in) is still drawing positive comments from library patrons, who marvel at these masterpieces of graphic design and promotion. And in the downstairs lobby the Culinary California exhibit has been held over for another month, appropriate for this season of sumptuous repast, and now surrounded by holiday decorations.
Shown here are photographs of Jack London and Bret Harte from the State Library's collection.
December 13, 2012
For 20 years the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse has held a gingerbread house decorating contest. This year's winners were announced on Monday and their creations will be on display for public viewing until Dec. 22. After that, some of them will be donated to children's homes and hospitals.
Built in 1977, the replica one-room schoolhouse is a learning center whose mission is to acquaint students of all ages with early California educational practice. Furnished with a pot-bellied stove, vintage student desks and other 19th century items, the Museum is open to the general public and available for per-arranged school field trips.
What: Gingerbread Holiday
Where: Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum, 1200 Front St., Sacramento
When: thru Dec. 22, 1 to 4 p.m.
For more info: (916) 483-8818or website
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum
December 12, 2012
Sierra No. 3, the most famous of the vintage locomotives operating at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, has appeared in over 100 movies and television shows since 1920. Its credits include High Noon, The Great Race, Back to the Future III, Pale Rider, Little House on the Prairie, Rawhide and Petticoat Junction.
Built in 1891, Sierra No. 3 in 2007 went through a complete three-year restoration at a cost of $1.5 million. The story of this immense effort is told in the 2012 documentary The Sierra #3 Locomotive: A Star is Reborn (part of the "Ultimate Restorations" series of TV specials).
Locally, the PBS station KVIE will broadcast the film on Dec. 16 at 1 p.m. and again on Dec. 22 at 5 a.m. You can watch the trailer below.
December 11, 2012
Although Charles and Ray Eames are best known for their distinctive Mid-Century furniture designs, the couple also made important contributions to art, craft, toys, architecture, photography and film.
A new, lavishly illustrated volume celebrates the life and work of this extraordinary husband-and-wife team. Drawing upon their own words and images, Eames: Beautiful Details aims to take the reader through a wide-ranging exploration of their unique aesthetic sensibility that transcended traditional artistic and professional boundaries.
Coming next year to the California Museum is a new exhibit honoring the 100th birthday of Sacramento native Ray Eames. Ray Eames: A Century of Modern Design will focus on her early life and work before meeting future husband Charles. The displays will feature rarely-seen artifacts from the Eames family collection.
The Museum will also host a benefit event in support of the exhibit on Jan. 26. "A Toast to Sacramento Design" will honor the contributions of Ray Eames and Miles Treaser, Sacramento furniture distributor who died last month. Benefit attendees will get a sneak peek at the Ray Eames exhibit which opens Feb. 23.
December 10, 2012
Every year since 1996 the Capitol Museum, in conjunction with the Legislature Joint Rules Committee, the Governor's Office and the Department of General Services, has sponsored holiday music during December.
These lunch-time performances feature a wide range of musical styles and instruments, including jazz and classical choirs, harpists, violinists, brass ensembles, bell-ringers, etc.
The program continues today with the Franklin High School Choir (11 to 12 p.m.) and the Roseville Sun City Singers (12 to 1 p.m.).
What: Holiday Music Program
Where: California Sate Capitol Museum, 10th & L Sts., Sacramento
When: continues thru Dec. 23
For more info: 916-324-0333 or program schedule
PHOTO CREDIT: The Cosumnes River College Chamber Singers perform in the rotunda of the State Capitol. 2005 Sacramento Bee photograph by Brian Baer
December 9, 2012
Born: July 3, 1951
Died: Nov. 21, 2009
Known for: Art Savage, majority owner of the Sacramento River Cats, brought minor-league baseball back to the area when he relocated the Vancouver Canadians to West Sacramento.
Background: A Texas native, Savage graduated from Texas Tech University. He started work as a tax manager for Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, handling finances for client George Gund, who owned the Minnesota North Stars hockey team. Savage guided Gund's purchase of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers in 1983. When Gund became major owner of the San Jose Sharks, Savage served as chief executive officer from 1990 to 1996. Two years later, he bought the A's Triple-A team in Edmonton, moved it to Vancouver for one year, then to play in Raley Field in 2000.
A highlight: Savage was named The Sporting News Minor League Executive of the Year and Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce's Sacramento Businessman of the Year in 2000, and Pacific Coast League Executive of the Year in 2001. The River Cats have won three PCL championships and a Triple-A title. For eight consecutive seasons, the River Cats have led all minor league teams in attendance.
-- Anthony Sorci
The event is presented by the USS Holland SS-1 Gold Country Base, United States Submarine Veterans, to honor and remember those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto will speak at the remembrance. Sacramento and Yolo counties marine division patrol boats will assist in the wreath- laying.
In addition, honor guards from the Civil Air Patrol Squadron 14 and the Naval ROTC Unit from Soledad High School in Monterey County will participate in the ceremony.
In 1994, Congress designated Dec. 7 as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
- Bee staff
PHOTO CREDIT: Two veterans place a wreath into the Sacramento River while aboard a Yolo County Sheriff's boat. 2011 Sacramento Bee photograph by Randy Pench
December 6, 2012
The next Meet the Author event at the California State Military Museum features two historians speaking on their latest WWII-related volumes.
Dr. David Stles, author of Two Flights to Victory: From the Doolittle Raid to the Enola Gay, will discuss his new biography of the famed aviator. Doolittle Tales covers both Jimmy Doolittle's achievements in early civilian aviation, as well as his extraordinary contributions as a military commander.
Following Styles is Col. Ken Nielsen who will speak on Pressed Steel!, a book recounting the wartime activities of the Pressed Steel Car Company which produced large numbers of armored vehicles during WWII.
What: Meet the Authors -- Dr. David Styles and Col. Ken Nielsen
Where: California State Military Museum, 1119 2nd St., Sacramento
When: Dec. 8, 1 to 3 p.m.
For more info: (916) 854-1904 or website
December 5, 2012
"Hands on History," Sutter Fort's ongoing series of historical tours, celebrates the season with two programs this Saturday.
"A Simple Emigrant Christmas" features docents in period garb demonstrating various holiday traditions as practiced by California emigrants in the 1840s. Visitors will get to try out activities such as dipping candles, making corn husk dolls and crafting holiday ornaments.
Later as dusk falls, the docents will lead small groups by candlelight through the Fort's rooms where one can overhear pioneer families and tradesmen discussing the challenges of living, working and doing business during Sacramento's early years.
What: Hands on History: A Simple Emigrant Christmas & Candlelight Tours
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, 2701 L St., Sacramento
When: Dec. 8. A Simple Emigrant Christmas -- 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Candlelight Tours -- 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Cost: A Simple Emigrant Christmas -- $7 per adult, $5 per youth (ages 6-17), free for children 5 years and under. Candlelight Tours -- $17 per person
For more info: 916-445-4422 or website
PHOTO CREDIT: Candlelight Tour. Courtesy Sutter's Fort State Historic Park
December 4, 2012
The former Gold Rush town of Nevada City transforms into 19th century London for the 35th annual Victorian Christmas festival.
Visitors will amble down gaslamp-lit streets passing minstrels and carolers in period dress. They can enjoy childrens' pony rides, carriage rides, live entertainment, savory yuletide food and beverages, and of course, St. Nick.
What: Victorian Christmas
Where: Historic Nevada City
When: Dec. 5, 12, 19 from 5-9 p.m. and Dec. 16, 23 from 1:30-6 p.m.
For more info: (530) 265-2692 or toll-free (800) 655-NJOY or website.
PHOTO CREDIT: Victorian singers are part of the festivities at the Nevada City's Victorian Christmas celebration. Courtesy Nevada City Chamber of Commerce
December 4, 2012
The next Preservation Roundtable will focus on the "urban pioneers" who revitalized Sacramento's central city in the 1970s with their own brand of art, craft, local business and home restoration. Susan Ballew, former Sacramento County Historical Society president, will present a photos of the period, followed by a panel discussion with stained glass artist Mickey Abbey, Suttertown News publisher Tim Holt, and home restorers Bob and Roberta Rakela.
Two new local history books will also be featured: Friends of the McClatchy Library's Memories of McClatchy Library and SCHS's Daisy's Legacy, A Tale of the Progressive era in Sacramento.
Lastly, Roberta Deering, City of Sacramento Preservation Director, will update the group on current preservation projects.
Sacramento's Preservation Roundtable is "a quarterly gathering of local history and historic preservation organizations, intended to share current information on local preservation topics, public policy, events, and plans in progress."
What: Preservation Roundtable: Sacramento's Urban Pioneers, New People in Old Homes
Where: Midtown Village Cafe, 1827 I St., Sacramento
When: Dec. 8, 9 to 12 noon
Cost: free and open to the public
For more info: (916) 202-4815 or Sacramento Old City Association
PHOTO CREDIT: Sacramento Real Food Company, 1500 Q Street, circa 1970. Photograph by Mickey Abbey
December 3, 2012
On the first two Saturdays in December, the Governor's Mansion will welcome visitors of all ages to celebrate the holidays as the First Families did long ago. The mansion will be decked in recreated period decor. Entertainment will include costumed storytellers, a visit by Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and live music throughout the day.
What: Christmas Memories
Where: Governor's Mansion State Historic Park, 1526 H Street, Sacramento
When: Dec. 8 & 15, 10 to 4 p.m.
Cost: $6 for adults, $4 for youth (ages 6-17), children five and under are free
For more info: 916-323-5916 or website
PHOTO CREDIT: Christmas Memories celebrated at the Governor's Mansion. Courtesy Governor's mansion State Historic Park
December 2, 2012
Known for: Singer Mandisa Hundley, known to most people simply as Mandisa, became nationally known when she finished ninth in the 2006 "American Idol" competition.
Background: Mandisa grew up in Citrus Heights and graduated from El Camino High School. "I don't ever remember not singing," Mandisa said of her early years performing in church (Genesis Missionary Baptist in south Sacramento) and school choirs. She attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., and earned a degree in vocal performance. After college, Mandisa remained in Nashville and did session work and performed backup for a variety of artists, including Shania Twain and Trisha Yearwood. She auditioned for "American Idol" in Chicago and won over judges with her powerful voice. After the competition, Mandisa toured with Season 5's top 10 finalists. She also penned a book, "Idoleyes," and released her first CD, "True Beauty," earlier this year.
A highlight: In August 2006, Mandisa and the Season 5 finalists performed for 17,000 people at Arco Arena. Mandisa opened the show to thunderous applause with "I'm Every Woman."
-- Anthony Sorci
December 1, 2012
The Folsom Historical Society will host its first annual Holiday Historic Home Tour on Friday and Saturday, December 7 and 8, in old Folsom. The walking tour will feature seven historical sites decorated for the holidays, including both historic homes and public buildings dating from 1855 to 1925. Public sites include the Murer House (1125 Joe Murer Ct.), St. John's Catholic Church (Sibley and Natoma St.), and the Folsom History Museum (827 Sutter St.). Holiday arts and crafts will be on display at the History Museum and Murer House, with hand-made gifts and decorations for sale. Tour goers are asked to wear comfortable walking shoes and leave their cameras at home.
What: Holiday Historic Home Tour
When: Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7-8, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Where: Old Folsom, 905 Sutter Street, Folsom
For more info: (916) 985-2707; http://www.folsomhistorymuseum.org
IMAGE CREDIT: The Murer House, 1125 Joe Murer Ct., Folsom. Image courtesy of The Murer House and Learning Center.