Gold Rush Pioneer James Sanderson Russell Journals from 1861 to 1930

by Placerville Newswire / Aug 20, 2020 / comments

[Linda McBeath Van Gundy] Writes:

"Here is a little information regarding my  El Dorado pioneer, James Sanderson Russell. Came to EDC when he was 19 and died there in 1930. Russell record his activities and events in the area (Sweetwater Creek, Rescue) for 69 years (1861-1930). He writes of local, state and national events.  Because he was one of the last of the early California pioneers he was interviewed often in his later life by reporters throughout California. I have been able to document his life thoroughly.  A very fun and educational project!"

PBS Transcript:

WOMAN: These diaries were written by James Russell, who was a miner in California who came out from Nantucket, Massachusetts. He arrived in California in early 1850. And the journals are written from 1861 to 1930, the year that he died.

APPRAISER:
What brought him over to the West Coast?

GUEST:
The gold rush. He was 19 years old when he heard about the gold rush.

APPRAISER:
He started writing the diaries in 1861, and what kind of things is he recording?

GUEST:
The daily life of the gold miner. Going out into the streams and panning for gold, the parties, the dances, the candy pulls.

APPRAISER:
We have a picture of him right here. Which one of the gentlemen is your great-great-grandfather?

GUEST:
He's this one right here, leaning against the shovel.

APPRAISER:
And where is that picture taken?

GUEST:
It's on Sweetwater Creek in El Dorado County.

APPRAISER:
We are pretty much looking at an amazing collection of 69 diaries where your great-great-grandfather kept meticulous records of the local history, the weather, I guess, and also important political events. And it has an amazing interest, I think, for the Northern California area. And when you came over to the table and I looked through the first diaries, I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. It's just a terrific collection. Certainly, the personal value is far higher than anyone can imagine, but seeing that it has so much local history in there, and seeing the date, the consistency, and the amount of writing we find, I would probably value the collection at about $10,000 to $15,000.

GUEST:
He'd be pleased.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/season/5/sacramento-ca/appraisals/california-miner-memorabilia--200005A37/