Introduction and Explanatory Notes

While I was hunting for“history nuggets” at the California Historical Society’s North Baker Research Library in San Francisco, quite by accident I came across Mrs. Edna Bryan Buckbee’s notes and typescripts. I was delighted to find some pertinent information about my own town, Mountain Ranch. Soon I realized that there, in among the folders and dividers were pieces of a manuscript notes dealing with Old Calaveras. It was with a child’s excitement that I searched through files of material that had been donated to the California Historical Society in 1954. These were not just any stories but local history with people’s names, places and dates, exactly the kind of Gold Rush narrative I had been hoping to find. This was a very rich “pay dirt” indeed!

There was an added reason for my excitement. Historians in this county have been at a disadvantage because, unlike other counties, a truly comprehensive history of Calaveras has never been published. To illustrate this point, in 1932 the editor of the California Historical Society Quarterly wrote to several people looking for historical information about Calaveras County.

He wrote:
“I find that there is very little published material on that county, and am therefore finding it rather difficult to obtain accurate information.”

The California State Librarian replied:
“ There is no other history of Calaveras other than the one you mention in your letter, [and that history source] is exceedingly meager”

Edna Buckbee was a daughter of California pioneers, Joseph (Joe) Turner Bryan and Elvira Ellis who married in Sonora in 1854. Her father had ridden to California with a group of horsemen five years before the Gold Rush, in 1845. A skillful reinsmen, later he was the top driver for Vogan Stage covering the company’s longest daily run of 120 miles from Sonora to Sacramento.

Edna was born in San Andreas in 1876, some 27 years after the Gold Rush. She lived in Sheep Ranch, Angels Camp and San Andreas. As a child she heard many of the Old Calaveras stories first-hand and knew some of the characters personally.

This book is now available and may be ordered by calling the Calaveras County Historical Society. The cost is $39.95 plus tax.

For more information call 754-1058.



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