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Weekly Calaveras chronicle. : (Mokelumne Hill, Calaveras County, Cal.) 18??-1874
Place of publication:
Mokelumne Hill, Calaveras County, Cal.
Geographic coverage:
  • Mokelumne Hill, Calaveras, California  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Calaveras Chronicle
Dates of publication:
  • -v. 23, no. 52 (Oct. 17, 1874).
  • English
  • Calaveras County (Calif.)--Newspapers.
  • California--Calaveras County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01215708
  • California--Mokelumne Hill.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204914
  • Mokelumne Hill (Calif.)--Newspapers.
  • Also issued on microfilm from University of California, Berkeley.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 10, no. 6 (Nov 10, 1860).
  • Master negatives are available for duplication from:
sn 93052977
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Weekly Calaveras chronicle. March 10, 1866 , Image 1


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Calaveras Chronicle, Weekly Calaveras Chronicle and San Andreas Independent

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."

Calaveras County, in the middle of the Sierra Nevada region, was home to at least two important gold rush towns. Mokelumne Hill had some of the richest surface deposits, or "placers," in the state and was one of California's principal mining towns. Two years after prospectors from Oregon discovered gold there in 1848 the population was nearly 15,000. People of numerous nationalities (there was rumored to be a German-language paper, the California Staats Zeitung, though no known copies survive) sought their fortunes on claims limited to 16 square feet in the hills around the town, with some claims reported to have paid up to $20,000. Perhaps not surprisingly, the lure of quick fortunes brought with it violence and crime. Like other towns, Mokelumne Hill's population and importance had diminished by the early 1860s as the gold deposits ran out. As its fortunes faded, San Andreas, some 10 miles to the south, prospered. The placer deposits discovered by Mexican miners in 1848 lasted only a few years, but by the early 1850s rich deposits in ancient underground river channels would fuel the town's growth for years. The success of "drift mining" made San Andreas one of the largest and busiest towns in the Calaveras County by the 1860s, and in 1866 it replaced Mokelumne Hill as the county seat.

Perhaps not surprisingly given its rapid growth, Mokelumne Hill had a newspaper early on. The first issue of the Calaveras Chronicle, a weekly publication, appeared on October 18, 1851, making it the second paper published in the southern mines, according to Giffen. The first owners were Henry Hamilton, James Joseph Ayres, and Harry A. DeCourcey. The latter, also the editor from 1851 to 1852, was wounded in a duel in 1852, reflecting the town's early violent reputation. Throughout the 1850s the newspaper changed ownership numerous times. It continued into the 1860s as the Weekly Calaveras Chronicle, though only scattered issues survive for that decade.

Gold-Rush newspapers in San Andreas had a less colorful and shorter-lived history. The San Andreas Independent started publication on September 24, 1856. The initial owners were George Armor and Benjamin P. Kooser, who was also the editor. According to a contemporary journalist, Edward Kemble, the title was "untrammeled by party politics, and finds its most congenial occupation in the development of the resources of the county and the advancement of social and intellectual refinement." The San Andreas Independent ceased publication on June 22, 1861, when Armor and O.M. Clayes, who had bought Kooser's share, moved the paper to Stockton and renamed it the Stockton Daily Independent.

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