THE TRACY FAMILY HISTORY
Then & Now
The Famous Moon House in ruin. This photo was taken in 1899, and shows three woodcutters who were camping in the house while cutting trees that were still plentiful on the land.
This photo was taken 1 January 1900. You can see how much it has deteriorated in just one year.
This shows the property in 1907 with peanuts being dried. The historian at the Corning Museum told me not to laugh. There was a lot of money in pumpkins and peanuts in those days. The barn once housed the stage coach horses.
Sutter's Fort from an 1880 illustration. This is what the fort would have looked like at the time of Uncle Billy’s death. The fort still remains as a world famous tourist attraction. (Some years ago a prominent English lady made a trip to the US. At the top of her agenda was a visit to Sutter's Fort. American Western history is her hobby. The woman: the Queen of England, the present queen, Elizabeth II.)
Squaw Hill Today
Go to Corning. There will be signs telling you how to get to Woodson Bridge. It is not too far away. The photo is the Woodson Bridge heading east. Look off to the left where there is a little mound of dirt. That is all that is left of Squaw Hill.
The river changed its course 100 yards to the east in 1870, which left the Moon house somewhat away from the river and required that the ferry landing be moved to the present site of the Woodson Bridge. There is a park on the east side of the bridge where you can rest and picnic.
Want to go on an Archaeological Hunt?
Go to the Woodson Bridge and then head west, 100 yards towards Corning, turn left (south) on Illinois. Go south on Illinois for 4/10 of a mile and look off to your right. You will see the two fence posts shown in this photo. There is a culvert running between them. Go to the fence post farthest away and look on the back of the post. On the top half of the post you will find two, ½ inch square holes where I pulled out wooden nails 20 years ago. These fence posts are undoubtedly from the old Moon house. Now start looking at the other fence post in the area and see if you can find some more wooden nails.
Original Post Office
This is the original Moon House post office and is on display at the Tehama County Museum in Tehama.
Site of the Moon house today
After you have found the holes for the wooden nails, continue on Illinois for another 9/10 of a mile to Ohio Street. You will have to pass New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania before you reach Ohio. Turn left on Ohio, go 7/10 of a mile, crossing a small bridge, then stop at a large, square, two story house on your right. The address out front is 25611. In front of you, the land is depressed with orchards. This was the old river bed. Behind the house is a large shed like building. This is where the old Moon House stood.
This is the view from Ohio Street. You can get a glimpse of the metal roof on the shed in back. I do not know who currently owns the property.
As you can see the roof is starting to sag.
This photo was taken about 1980, at the site of the old Moon House, located where the roof sits over the tractor: L, is Keith Lingenfelter, Tehama Co. historian; R is Mrs. Dietz, whose family was associated with the Moon house. (Her father may have owned it.); In the middle is me, Jim Tracy. I am the only one still living.
After reading the first chapter of the family history, more than one cousin has said, “Uncle Billy was famous!” To which, I reply, “I made him famous!”
There is nothing left of the Moon house today. Not a chimney is left standing or any vestige of this once famous place.
Recommended Books on the Gold Rush era
Most historians refer to the following 2 books when researching this period: The Diary of a Forty-Niner, edited by Chauncey L. Canfield. The diary was found in an abandoned miner’s shack, edited and first published in 1906.
The second book is, The Shirley Letters, by Dame Shirley, a pen name. She was a wife of a doctor, and, of course, they lived in a mining camp. The author wrote a series of 23 letters to her sister back East, in the States. Somehow, according to the custom of the times, the Marysville Herald Newspaper picked up one or more of these letters and printed them as “from an unknown lady corespondent.”
They were later published in serial form in The Pioneer Magazine, in San Francisco in 1854-55. When Shirley died in 1906, at the age of 87, her letters were found “tied in a faded ribbon.”
You will read the introduction, read the book, and then go back and re-read the introduction again as it becomes an integral part of the story. By our good luck, these are two of the best books to come out of the Gold Rush era and were never intended for publication.
Her style of writing is florid of a literary mind. It almost grates the nerves because you have never read anything like this before. Many frontier writers would come in contact with her works and give her credit for influencing their literary style.
Written from a woman’s viewpoint, my mother liked the book very much.
In the introduction, (It might depend on the edition you get as the introductions may vary.) it tells of a 21-year-old young lady (our Shirley) who is sitting in a coach next to a stranger named Alexander Hill Everett, “elder brother to Edward.” He is a wise man 30 years her senior. Infatuated by her sparkling conversation, he encourages her to write. This is significant, but not the story.
I do not think one in a thousand readers will understand the significance of this meeting. By the time of the Civil War, the brother, Edward Everett, was the most famous orator in the North. It was the responsibility of the individual States to found and maintain the battlefield graveyards. The federal government was not involved. If you visit the Civil War battlefields today, you will notice the soldiers are buried by individual State plots.
After the battle of Gettysburg, the States wished to dedicate the new graves there. They would need an oratory speaker. There could be only one man, Edward Everett. However, Edward’s schedule was too full to come when requested. So important was this man that the State leaders postponed the dedication until Edward could fit it into his schedule. Edward Everett was the man of the hour. He would speak for 2 hours...and no one today can remember even one word that he said.
The leaders decided, as an act of courtesy, to invite President Lincoln to attend and "...make a few appropriate remarks."
Shirley's masterpiece was first published in book form in 1922, under the title, The Shirley Letters from California mines in 1851-1852. Like Dana’s book, both written 150 years ago, they are both a surprisingly good reading even today.
About the Interlibrary Loan System (ILL)
Most libraries belong to this system, which is simply called ILL. It allows you to go to your local library, fill out a simple form giving the name of the book, and its author. (Sometimes you will need also the name of the publisher and year of publication, if they have trouble locating a copy).
Library experts will then search the major university and city libraries across the country to find a copy. The book can be shipped to your local library for you to pick up. or it can be mailed directly to your home (maybe. depends on the system) Not all libraries in America are included in the search. However, it is very rare that the ILL has not been able to find a book I requested. Cost is usually $5.
A word of caution: Some librarians are not familiar with this system and do not even know the application forms are sitting in their desk drawer. In addition, if you live in an Eskimo fishing village in Alaska, I am not so sure they are on the ILL.
Also, there are restrictions. You can have the book for only 21 days and there is no renewal. Some books are so rare that the lending intuition will not allow the book out of their sight. In this case, the book is sent to your local library, but you can read it only in the library. There are no take-home privileges.
If the books I refer to throughout the entire family history are not available at your local library, or bookstore, you should be able to get them through the ILL.
Although a book may be long out of print, you might be able to get a copy in reprint. There are several book reprinters that specialize in old history and genealogy books. The one I deal with is Higginson Book Company, 148 Washington St., P.O. Box 778, Salem, Massachusetts 01970.
They have an order catalogue with over 15,000 titles. If a book you want is not in their catalogue, then they might be able to get a copy and make a reprint for you. One problem with reprinters is that they shoot directly from the original pages, which means the quality can vary, and is never as good as the original. Some even reprint from reprints., The quality can be pretty bad. Higginson does not do reprints of reprints.
My family history web site has 79 chapters. If you would like to know more about the other chapters then go to my Home Page www.thetracyfamilyhistory.net