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The union Democrat. [volume] : (Sonora, Calif.) 1854-1946
Place of publication:
Sonora, Calif.
Geographic coverage:
  • Sonora, Tuolumne, California  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Albert N. Francisco
Dates of publication:
  • -v. 93, no. 99 (Nov. 21, 1946).
  • Began with July 1, 1854 issue.
  • English
  • California--Sonora.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01215514
  • Sonora (Calif.)--Newspapers.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 2 (July 8, 1854).
  • Editors: C. Donovan, <1855>; Albert N. Francisco, Otis Greenwood, <1857>; Albert N. Francisco, N.P. Turner, <1860>; William A. Arthur, <1869>; Edwin H. Clough, <1876>.
  • Master negatives are available for duplication from:
  • Publishers: Albert N. Francisco, 1854-<1866>; Chas. H. Randall, <January 1, 1870-December 30, 1871>; W.H. Roberts & E.H. Clough, <1876>.
sn 85025134
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The union Democrat. [volume] October 13, 1855 , Image 1


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Columbia Gazette, Columbia Gazette and the Southern Mines Advertiser, Columbia Weekly News, The Weekly Columbian and The Union Democrat

The California Gold Rush was short lived, but its impact was profound and enduring. Between 1848 and the mid-1850s hundreds of thousands of people moved into the state in search of easily accessible gold deposits. Most of these "49ers" initially settled in the Sierra Nevada region of California, from Butte County in the north to Mariposa County in the south, establishing both mining camps and new towns in the area. Within a decade the majority of workable gold deposits were emptied and prospectors were replaced by mechanization and capital. Most of the "Argonauts" moved either out of the region or into nearby growing towns and cities.

California "mining newspapers," as they were called by one of their first chroniclers, Helen Giffen, sprang up in these newly settled towns as the initial Gold Rush waned. Not only were they some of the earliest papers printed in the state, collectively they chronicled a region as it transitioned from often lawless and violent mining camps to permanent settlements with organized governments and law enforcement. They also recorded the changing nature of mining and, as Giffen notes, "advocated mining and land reforms that were later written into California law."

Located at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada Gold Rush region, Tuolumne County was home to both the "gem of the Southern mines," Columbia, and the "queen of the Southern mines," Sonora. Both cities are in the western foothills of the county and are within 10 miles of one another. Although Tuolumne, like the rest of the region, experienced a population decline after the initial boom, throughout the 1850s the county attracted a notably large number of foreign-born prospectors. Sonora was named for the large numbers of settlers from Sonora, Mexico; and the county was home to thousands of miners from China. Perhaps not surprisingly, tension and violence between American- and foreign-born miners was not uncommon.

Sonora was the site of the first newspaper published in the Sierra Nevada mining region, the Sonora Herald. The initial July 4, 1850 issue was printed on the same press used for the first California newspaper, the Californian. Four years later, on July 1, 1854, Albert N. Francisco established the Union Democrat. In 1855 C. Donovan became the editor, and in 1856 Otis Greenwood replaced him. The Union Democrat remained in publication through 1946.

The Ramage press used for the Sonora Herald moved to Columbia by 1851, where it was used to publish two issues of the Columbia Star, before it was destroyed. Almost exactly one year later, in October 1852, the Columbia Gazette appeared. For its first year of publication, the Columbia Gazette was edited by Thomas A. Falconer. John Charles Duchow replaced Falconer as editor through November of 1855, when Thomas Nugent Cazneau assumed control. Duchow became editor again the next July. After Duchow's second time as editor ended six months later, the Columbia Gazette, as the early chronicler Edward Kemble noted, "passed through several changes." Few issues survive for the years 1855 to 1858, when the paper merged with Southern Mines Advertiser to become the short-lived Columbia Gazette and the Southern Mines Advertiser, first under J. Wing Oliver and finally George R. Parburt. In 1856, Oliver had been the editor of the Weekly Columbian. Though it was purported to have the largest circulation of "any paper in the Southern mines," the Weekly Columbian lasted only one year, expiring in June of 1857. The last paper to appear in Columbia in the 1850s was similarly short-lived. The Columbia Weekly News debuted in August of 1858, under the editorship of Daniel Youcham. In December of 1859 it ceased publication.

Provided by: University of California, Riverside; Riverside, CA