A History of the California Gold Rush and Early California
Westerns. Westerns seem to be taking quite a storm recently in storytelling on the movie-making scene and drama series. When my father was growing up in the 1950’s it was John Wayne who graced the black and whites and mesmerized the children to the point where all little boys wanted to play Cowboys and Indians. I really enjoyed Dances with Wolves back in 1990 and would have hoped that more stories would come. Today Yellowstone the series has captured the curiosity of the new frontier and our view of the western part of the United States and how our ancestors settled it. As I have gaze from the mountain tops of the High Sierra, peering thru the Giant Sequoia Groves, passing by remnants of hand-carved holes in rocks to catch water found in Sequoia Crest made obviously by Indians, or my continued gazing from the Southern California mountains onto the busy ant-like movement below, I get a chill going up my spine knowing what sits in my hands in old typewriter print and hand cursive writing from 1849. My own family's history of the Gold Rush and a certain Pioneer by the name of John Edwards.
I learned of my great grandfathers' diary when I received it along with other family journals when I was about 30. I had heard stories told by my grandmother a little here and there but to be handed an abundance of family journals all at once was a bit overwhelming but I knew that it was a wonderful gift to be passed down and to pass it along to my 3 children. So in appreciation, I stowed it away in my hope chest pulling it out periodically to listen to the echoes of voices of long ago from ancestors I can only know by their arrangement of words on the paper which I held in my hands. Today I’m sitting in a more modern fashion fingers to keyboard retyping it all to bring alive the past once more so that generations of my family and others may get a glimpse of our past as the descendants of Pioneers. Plus to share with others who appreciate our countries early beginnings. The Pioneer spirit runs in all our blood and it's this history of these first ones we owe our gratitude as they paved the way for a better life for us all. Recently I just fell in love with the narrative of a character named Elsa in a new drama series called 1883 and I wanted to fact check against my own family's written account of the real Pioneer named John Edwards.
John Edwards, Hardware store owner, farmer, rancher, bank officer, land investor, one of the early residents of Santa Barbara, and my Great Grandfather from the 1800s. He began a Ranch in Goleta, California which also has a rich history in the Santa Barbara area. It later was purchased from our family by the Doheny family and most recently one month after the death of my grandmother was donated to the California State University of Santa Barbara to remain as my Grandfather started it as a Ranch for Citrus. I will later in this series tell more about the Ranch and its history. I know from my grandmother that it was the family's wish that it was to be unharmed by the hands of developers, and thus far it remains as they want.
“When John Edwards was born on April 12, 1825, in Oswestry, Shropshire, England, his father, John, was 34 and his mother, Mary, was 29. He was lured by the California Gold Rush, arriving in October of 1849, and was, therefore, a “49er” He married Elizabeth Sexton on November 26, 1857, in Amador, California. He must have been a very attractive man to her since the gender ratio was over 90% male. She was a very attractive woman herself and would have had her pick among hundreds of pioneers. We have pictures of both of them, but not together. They had four children, all born in Ione, Amador County. He died on August 19, 1890, in Santa Barbara, California, at the age of 65, and was buried in Santa Barbara, California.”- excerpt was taken from Ancestry.com
The entire diary extends from March 13th, 1849 to June 24th. Please follow this series as I continue to add to “Edwards Point” History of the California Gold Rush and Early California.
To be continued…
Author Kerry Kaye
Kerry is an Artist Photographer and Aspiring Author.
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