“Oh!  California!
That’s the land for me!
I’m bound for Sacramento
With the washbowl on my knee.”

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RESEARCHING REEL NO. 9 OF THE GREAT REGISTER OF VOTERS:  THE OREGON CITY PRECINCT. 

The first page of the “Oregon City Precinct” occurs on page “72” of the Butte County Register of 1896, along with the final listings of the “Oakdale” Precinct.  The Oregon City list of voters ends on page “74,” as indicated in the upper corner of the printed precinct sheet.  The Names are Enumerated, and there are 76 Voters in total on this precinct list.  Page 73 incorporates the names of voters “5” through “63.”  There are no women listed; women obtained the suffrage in California in 1911.  Our Evan Richards (Jr.), my grandmother Ellen’s father, is number 53 on the page.

The following data are transcribed here as I found them on the precinct page: 


 
"GREAT REGISTER OF BUTTE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, 1896."

 53    Richards, Evan . . . . . . . . . Miner.

                        Aged 53.

                        Height 5’ 7-1/2”.

                       “Light” Complexion.

                       “Brown” Eyes.

                       “Brown” Hair.
    
                       Country of Nativity:  Pennsylvania.

                       Place of Residence  /  Precinct:  Oregon City.

                       Post Office Address:  Hengy.

                       Able to Read Constitution in English Language:  “Yes.”

                       Able to Write Name:  “Yes.”

                       Physically Able to Mark Ballot:  “Yes.”

Date of Registration:  “April 25, 1896.”

Researcher's Notation:  My discovery of the contents of the 1896 Butte County Great Register occurred at the end of my research day in the California Room at the State Library in Sacramento.  All of the Butte County document occurs on a single, large reel, Reel # 9 (like a good researcher, I noted the reel number and other source identifications in blue ink on the reverse sides of all my microfilm Xeroxes), so that it really was a rather tedious drill by the end of the day, looking frame-by-frame at all the register years, and all the towns and cities within those years as well.  In short I examined numerous alphabetic lists.  It was original research.  This is certainly the nature of it:  that  I had very few clues to begin with.  And that I had to look in every document niche to find my answers.  I must note that using the original book registers would have been preferable to using microfilm! But by the end of the day I had learned enough about the Richards, that gold-mining branch of the family who emigrated to California very early on, to tell where they had mined  - -   the towns, the burghs, here, in the Northern State  - -  as well as when they had been there.  I had been the first one to discover (and in a sort of way “remember” for the family) that they were in fact miners, and that they had indeed mined the Precious Metal.  These basic facts had not been known.  Nothing of that nature had been passed down to me as I began to make my first genealogical inquiries in the middle ‘70s, when I was still young. For some, I suppose, genealogy is a matter of assemblage  --  taking data onto one's own work from wherever the data  may be found.  The internet, especially, encourages this rapid migration of "facts."  It is truly a pleasure and privilege therefore  to be able to contribute what may be proved by my own observation.  For nothing but the truth will do.  I want to know the story as it happened, not as I suppose it may have.  I want the rock-solid ground.  Only by this means may I be in awe.  I am in awe of the facts as they stand.  It is rather glorious to be in awe of the facts, knowing that it really happened.  Of course, documents have flaws.  But an overlapping of disparate documents which originally served various independent purposes provides a status of strong likelihood of fact.   Good genealogists hold open the question.  But  --  ah!!  --  there they are, the documents!  Holding firm to the idea that they came here.  That they came here early.  That they had something to do relevant to the era.  That they lived here early.  That they were self-sustaining.  That they did not return home but found home here, in California, where I am, where (as they took the chance for it), I was more likely to be from the beginning . . . . . .   Signed G. Claire.  Copyright 2011 by G. Claire.  All rights reserved.

P.S.  The Richards had owned some property where they mined (I would like to note this, since it demonstrates that, apparently, some miners were indeed land owners as well).  They had placered, too, as the record shows, though they probably hydraulicked later on since Table Mountain in Butte County (the location of Oregon City and nearby Cherokee, where the family lived) was a great hydraulicking site at the time they were there.  They had lived here, and there raised their families, for awhile.  Ellen A. Richards my grandmother was born in Oregon City and experienced her earliest childhood days on the mesa in the days when her father Evan mined the gold.  The saved records as I found them on the microfilm at the library gave me back the story of my family.  And I have been fascinated by how much personal information  --  eye-color, the height of our good great-grandfather, the hair-color, too; and his age at the time  --  could be obtained just from a single reel of microfilm.  I could picture the miner, if I dared.  But it was a great surprise to this researcher at the end of her hard work of digging, to find these hidden pieces of gold.  G. Claire. <> <> 

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You can just imagine it, sitting there on the mountain, the whole wide stream of golden light coming in on you in the night  --  hearing the sounds, knowing the gold stamps by their sound, and the river or the flume or the brook by their sounds.  And all the beasts; and mavens of the air would fly by  --  and there would be an end to it when you sleep  --   But first there would be the cool clear night in summer, on the highest mesa, and in the best place.
So goes the story of the place my grandmother grew up in, in her earliest years.  (So goes my memory of it, in a strange way.)    Written here today by G. Claire, May 19, 2008, Monday.  <> <> <> <>

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    Author

    G. Claire is a descendant of Welsh Immigrants who came to California during the time of "the Great Excitement," also known as the Gold Rush.  She is, in addition, a descendant of young Mayflower passenger Mary Allerton and of Thomas Cushman, an Elder of the Plymouth Church.  The author is proud to be descended from Silvanus Brown, a member of that most notorious group of Vermont mobsters known as The Green Mountain boys.

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