In the News

Articles about the Conference of California Historical Societies (CCHS) or CCHS Members providing a unique perspective on their respective CCHS Regions or historical groups. [Click on the highlighted subjects to link to their respective websites or other special information. "In the News" Updated: 5/8/2017 WM]


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Clarksville Region Historical Society (CRHS, CCHS Region 38) Holds "Clarksville Day"

After an absence of 5 Years, the Clarksville Region Historical Society again held their Annual Clarksville Day (7th). Because of the construction of the adjacent Silva Valley Interchange (US 50, El Dorado Hills, CA), the Clarksville Day was postponed because of lack of event parking. Originally called "Clarksville Village", it was located near the junction of the stagecoach road from Sacramento and the freight road east to the Sierra mines which brought people, news, supplies, and mail to the gold fields. Eventually, its prominence waned with the building of the Sacramento Valley Railroad to Shingle Springs in 1864, bypassing by this time Clarksville ("post office named"). The advent of the Lincoln Highway (America's first Transcontinental Highway) in the early 1900s, restored life into Clarksville. But alas, the new Highway 50 in the 1960s, bypassed Clarksville, leaving a ghost town (a few wood built houses, stone walls of other buildings, the old school (now a barn), and many memories and ghosts of the past.)


Among all the festivities of Clarksville Day, George Wheeldon (Professor of Geology and former CCHS Regional Vice President of Region 38, El Dorado County), presented a talk on J. Ross Browne (1821-1875), a historic California contributor. Like Browne at the conclusion of his presentation on Brown, George was surprised and presented with an Award by Mike Roberts of CRHS for a lifetime of contributions to the community. George, recently retired from the El Dorado Center of the Los Rios Community College District after 50 Years of educational service. George's contributions consists of Geologist, Educator, Elected Leader and local Historian. Congratulations George! You make CCHS proud. 


Gold Bug Park (Placerville CA, CCHS Region 38) Meets Knight Foundry (Sutter Creek CA, CCHS Region 16)

Kris Payne, CCHS Regional Vice President (Regions 38 & 16) arranged a meeting at Knight Foundry in Sutter Creek CA on Friday,


May 5, 2017 with Ed Arata and Robin Peters of the Knight Foundry Alliance and Charlie Basham of the Gold Bug Park Development Committee (GBPC). Both of these organizations are CCHS members in good standing but from different CCHS Regions. It seems that the two facilities are owned by respective city governments and that Knight Foundry is creating a agreement with the City of Sutter Creek to operate the facility as a historical place/museum. Gold Bug Park is owned by the City of Placerville. Charlie Basham, President of the GBPC has experience in developing an agreement with the City of Placerville, so Kris knowing the two parties brought them together. Until they met, the two organizations had never met before and knew nothing about the other. Both of these facilities are very special to their communities. It is a small world where CCHS can make a difference!

Knight Foundry - Sutter Creek CA - Open House

The Knight Foundry Alliance and the Sutter Creek Community Benefit Foundation jointly held a community fund raising, open house on Sunday, April 2, 2017 at Knight Foundry. Located in Sutter Creek CA, the Knight Foundry is a premier relic of the Mother Lode gold mining history. [Read full article]

CCHS' Mary Otis dies in Folsom

Mary M. Otis, longtime editor of the California Historian and champion
promoter of the Conference of California Historical Societies,
died on March 17, in Folsom. She was 96.

Graveside services will be held at 2 pm Friday, March 31, at Lakeside
Memorial Lawn, 507 Scott St., Folsom, with a reception following nearby at
the VFW Post 6604, 1300 Veterans Way, Folsom.

Viewing will be held from 5 to 8 pm Thursday, March 30, at the Miller
Funeral Home, 607 Scott St., Folsom.

Remembrances in her behalf can be made to the CCHS.

Going back to at least 1992 when the California Historian was a
quarterly with an editorial staff, Otis played a major role. She was listed
then as publications director and editor. Even in 2010 her name was on the
masthead as editor-in-chief, with Mary-Ellen Jones as executive editor.

In the interim, Otis was also listed as media director.

She was also active in the Sacramento County Historical Society and the
Sacramento Area Consortium of Historical Societies, often imploring members
to be part of CCHS and contribute articles to the Historian.

Age caught up with her in later years and the last meetings of the
Consortium occurred when she implored her caretaker to make sure she wheeled
her in, in her chair.

Otis in 1995 was the special editor of the SCHS' Golden Notes (Vol 41, No 2)
on "Sacramento's Sophisticated Ladies: Prostitution in 1860."

Otis noted that the well-researched pamphlet by Cindy L. Baker, MA. Grew out
of Baker's talk to a Society meeting in the early 1990s that drew the
organization's best crowd ever. The preface says "In this well-researched
article, the author has fleshed out the dull statistics with the human drama
surrounding four of the best documented women in Sacramento in 1860."

Mary was born in Iowa on Nov. 9, 1920. The Folsom Chamber of Commerce lists
her as an honorary member for all her volunteer activities. She was preceded
in death by her husband, James Otis. She is survived by her daughter, Linda
Otis-Gutman, and a grandson, James. [Thanks to Michael Otten for this information]

>Tribute: Melba Leal, National Pony Express Association (CA Division) "Mary Otis was a really special friend to the CA Division and [I] enjoyed her work...  In fact, it was Mary Otis who pushed me to write my book about Women and the Pony Express.  Her quote to me, “Write it before you forget it, or loose it.”  She was a dear friend." 

>Tribute: Mary-Ellen Jones, CCHS California Historian " At a CCHS annual meeting over thirty years ago, Mary Otis made a plea for a little help with the Historian. After the meeting, I introduced myself, explained that I had never worked with magazines but I would help her if possible. Little did I realize that Mary’s definition of a little help was worlds apart from my definition. I spent over thirty years learning from a pro how to produce a magazine.  I treasure those years." 


The Historical Museums Alliance – El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Mariposa, and Stanislaus Counties met in Sonora on March 21, 2017. This is another historical network group that occurs twice a year and travels up and down the Southern Mother Lode. The Fountain & Tallman Museum is represented by my participation in the Alliance. This meeting was hosted by the Tuolumne County Historical Society. I drove to Jackson and caught a ride with Judy Jebian of the Amador County Historical Society (CCHS Region 16 Member). Judy is the manager of the Amador County Museum (Johnson House) and the Secretary of ACHS. The Alliance meeting started at 10am and was divided into sections: reports, Round Table discussion, a County Archives tour, lunch and a tour of the Tuolumne County Museum and History Center (CCHS Region 16 Member). Joe Celentano, Vice President/Treasurer of the Tuolumne County Historical Society set me up as leader of the Round Table, so I got that 20 minute segment to explore what is some of the pressuring issues for museum operators: finding and maintaining volunteers (I understand that one), presenting/storing artifacts, and funding/budgeting museum operations. According to Joe, we had close to 60 participants for the 4 1/2 hour program. [Report by Kris Payne, CCHS Group B Leader/RVP Regions 16/38]

                                                           Historical Musium Alliance Meeting

Congratulations to the Gold Bug Park Development Committee (GBPDC, CCHS Region 38: El Dorado County) who received the prestigious "Champion of the Community" award from the 2016 Class of California Parks and Recreation Society Awards of Excellence. The Champion of the Community award honors and recognizes individuals or organizations who have contributed significant effort to influence and improve the quality of their community through parks and recreation.  This statewide award recognizes the contributions of those who volunteer and provide support and services in their community that furthers the mission and quality delivery of park and recreation services, programs and facilities in their community.

What makes this award unique is that Gold Bug Park is owned and operated by the City of Placerville (Old Hangtown). The City of Placerville is the only municipality in the state of California to own a gold mine. Today, you can step back in time to the mid 1800's and experience what it was like to be a miner in the gold rush era. In April 1980, Hangtown's Gold Bug Park Development Committee, Inc., was formed to clean up, protect and defend the property for public use.

A community partnership exists between local volunteers of GBPDC and the City of Placerville to preserve the historical legacy of this special place and the award represents the effectiveness of this relationship. 


National Pony Express Association 2017 Re-Ride:

Monday, June 5th, Depart St. Joseph, MO, 3pm

Thursday, June 15th, Arrive Old Sacramento CA, 4:30pm

Pony Express Rider Statute, Old Sacramento CA (CCHS Region 7: Sacramento and Yolo Counties)

The National Pony Express Association (California Division) is headquartered in Pollock Pines CA and is a CCHS member in good standing (CCHS Region 38: El Dorado County).


WE NEED REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENTS NOW!!!. WE NEED YOU!!!  [Click on REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENTS label to be directed to the Regional Vice Presidents page for more information.


In Memory of Mary Lou Lyon, CCHS Past President and Devoted Member


Mary Lou 2009 Reading the History of the California Admissions Day


The Jedediah Smith Society (JSS) 60th Anniversary Rendezvous Seminar and Luncheon , attended by our own CCHS RVP Therese Melbar, CCHS Region 22 and hosted by the San Joaquin County Historical Society/Museum (CCHS Member, CCHS Region 14) in Lodi CA was held on October 8, 2016. Over 60 JSS Members and Guests participated in the celebration. Officials and Speakers taking part in the program included: Ed Sieckert, Board of Directors of the JSS and Chairman of the 60th Anniversary Committee; Jim Smith, President of the Jedediah Smith Society; Dr. Edie Sparks, Chair of the History Department of the University of the Pacific; Rev. Darrell Thomas; Jim Hardee, Editor of the Rocky Mountain Fur trade Journal; Dr. Richard Ravalli, History Professor, William Jessup University; Christina Carrillo of State Senator Cathleen Galgiani office; David Stuart, Director of the San Joaquin County Historical Society/Museum; Chuck Winn, San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, Dist. 4; Dr. Ned Eddus, Author and Fur Trader Researcher; James C. Auld, Author and Researcher on Jedediah Smith; Lee Dummel, Author and Historian and Troy Toggle, Award of Excellence winner (instrumental in getting the Jedediah Smith collection to UOP.) JSS is an organization dedicated to learning about and sharing the History of Jedediah Smith and other explorers and mountain men. Pictures of the celebration taken by Therese are on the JSS Website/Upcoming Events (Click above on Jedediah Smith Society.)


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