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The semi-weekly mountain Democrat. : (Placerville, El Dorado Co. [Calif.]) 1860-1860
Alternative Titles:
  • Mountain Democrat
Place of publication:
Placerville, El Dorado Co. [Calif.]
Geographic coverage:
  • Placerville, El Dorado, California  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Gelwicks & January
Dates of publication:
  • New ser., vol. 1, no. 1 (Aug. 22, 1860)-v. 1, no. 38 (Dec. 29, 1860) = Whole no. 336-whole no. 375.
  • English
  • California--El Dorado County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01214431
  • El Dorado County (Calif.)--Newspapers.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Master negatives are available for duplication from:
sn 87067106
Preceding Titles:
Succeeding Titles:
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The semi-weekly mountain Democrat. August 22, 1860 , Image 1


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The Empire County Argus, The Empire County Argus, The Georgetown News, Mountain Democrat, The Semi-weekly Mountain Democrat and The Weekly Mountain 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."

El Dorado County is generally considered to be the birthplace of the California Gold Rush. It was there, in what would soon be Coloma City, where James W. Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's Mill on January 24, 1848. By 1852 the boom era for Coloma had largely ended, but "gold fever" expanded to other parts of the county, notably Georgetown and Placerville. Georgetown, where gold was first discovered in 1849, continued mining the mineral through the early 20th century, excavating solid primary deposits of gold-laden quartz. Initially called "Hangtown" because of several notorious hangings that took place there, Placerville quickly became the mining hub of the county, and was the third largest city in the state by 1854, when it was incorporated and renamed. Through the end of the century Placerville offered numerous services associated with the mining industry, including transportation, banking, lodging, and markets. All three cities are now registered historical landmarks.

Newspaper publishing in both Coloma and Georgetown was overshadowed by publishing in Placerville. Coloma was the first city in El Dorado County to have a newspaper, though its presses were also short-lived. The El Dorado News began in 1851 and in 1852 moved to Placerville. The Miners' Advocate was established in 1852 but moved to Diamond Springs in 1853. Started in Coloma in November of 1853, the Empire County Argus managed to make a go of it for four years, when it too relocated to Placerville. The Argus had numerous owners and editors during its four-year stint, including John Conness, T.M. Reed, N.W. Fuller, W.J. Forbes, and C. Woods. Finally, the True Republican, for which no copies survive, lasted only a year, from 1857 to 1858, and thereafter Coloma was without a newspaper. Similarly, Georgetown had the Georgetown Weekly News from 1854 to 1855, renamed the Georgetown News from 1855 to 1856, and then no papers after 1856 when the News relocated to Forest City in Sierra County. During its two-year run, the Georgetown News was owned and edited by various men, including J. Wing Oliver, John Platt, Jr. (also identified as Theodore Platt, Jr.), J.G. McCullam, and an unnamed Shaw.

Placerville did not have its own paper until 1853, but quickly thereafter publishing thrived in the city. Two histories of California newspapers count no fewer than eleven separate titles in the county seat before the early 1860s. The Mountain Democrat was one of the most prominent, and certainly the longest lasting. It was established by Dan W. Gelwicks and William January in 1854 as a weekly publication, briefly became the Semi-Weekly Mountain Democrat in 1860, when George P. Johnson replaced January, changed to the Weekly Mountain Democrat in 1861, and finally became just the Mountain Democrat in 1863, the name it held until 1943 when it merged with the Placerville Republican.

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