Cotati, California, Lomas de Kotate, Rancho Cotate

The Establishment Of Of Cotati, California

In 1827, John Reed, the first Anglo settler, in northern Sonoma County arrived. John Reed did not farm since the Kota’ti Native Americans engaged in annual field burnings. In 1844, the native Kota’ti had “disappeared” when a Mexican land grant called, “Lomas de Kotate” had been established.

This property passed through a number of hands, including those of Thomas O. Larkin, the first and only U.S. Consul to California. He arranged for its purchase in 1849 by Dr. Thomas Stokes Page, a friend and expatriate American physician then practicing in Valparaiso, Chile.

After numerous years of legal wrangling over Spanish, Mexican, Californian, and United States land law, Page’s agents established livestock and built a large Victorian home for the large Page family. Dr. Page’s wife, Anna Maria Liljevalch Page, and their minor and young adult children emigrated from Chile in 1869. Dr. Page died in 1872, leaving his émigré sons to run the sprawling dairy and stock farm. Described in an 1875 newspaper article as the largest farm in Sonoma County and one of the finest pieces of agricultural land in California, the property became known as “Rancho Cotate.”

Ernest Miller Hemingway

William “Bill” Foster – A Hunter Who Met Author Ernest Miller Hemingway

William “Bill” Foster was a National Rifle Association member and a big game hunter; who traveled to Africa and other continents for wild animals.

William Foster met author William Hemmingway during his travels.

In the 1900s, William established the restaraunt “Foster’s Bighorn” in Rio Vista, California.

Over time William Foster had over 300 animals, that he hunted, hanging on the walls of Foster’s Bighorn. Currently there are only 200 animals up on the wall, due to the degrading of the animal skin over the decades of the ones that were removed.

California, The Los Olpinos Grant

Joseph Bruning And His Wife Gertrude Bruning – Pioneers Of Rio Vista, California

Photograph of downtown Rio Vita, California taken January 4, 2020 (Hamilton Photo).

The town of Rio Vista, California, within Solano County, was founded in 1858 by Joseph Bruning and his wife Gertrude Bruning after a doctor recommended that they leave the city of San Francisco due to their poor health. Joseph Bruning bought the Los Olpinos Grant, which extended west of the Sacramento River.

Photographs of the Rio Vista Pioneers outside of the Rio Vista Musuem. Taken January 4, 2020. (Hamilton Photo).
Black Diamond, California

The Pittsburg Historical Museum

The Pittsburg Historical Musuem is located in former Pittsburg Post Dispatch building within the industrial town of Pittsburg, California, which was formerly called Black Diamond.

The Post Dispatch had been the primary newspaper for the town of Pittsburg.

The museum has an extensive exhibit on the Italian Americans who lived in the town. During World War II, hundreds of Italians were sent to internment camps in Concord, Dublin and other areas. It was not until the William Jefferson Clinton administration that the U.S. Congress officially recognized that Italians had been interned during World War II.

Black Diamond, California

The Mount Diablo Coal Fields – The Largest Former Coal Mines In California

The Black Diamond Mines East Bay Park entrance near Antioch, California.

In 1849, the Mount Diablo Coal Fields, also known as the Black Diamond Mine, was founded, shortly after Army Lieutenant William Tecumseh Sherman, whom later gained fame as a General during the U.S. Civil War, founded the town of Black Diamond.

Historical marker at the entrance of the Mount Diablo Coalfield, which is also known as the Black Diamond Mine.

The town of Somersville was one of five towns that were established within the Mount Diablo Coal Field, south of the town of Black Diamond.

The Black Diamond Mines had more coal output than any other set of mines within the state of California and continued to operate until 1900. Ultimately, the rising cost of mining coal, and the increase of the demand for oil due to the increase in automobile usage, lead the owner of the Black Diamond Mines to cease operations.

After the coals mines closed, the miners and their families, moved out of the five towns, leaving the various buildings abandoned for two decades.

A sand bunker at the Hazel-Atlas Mine in 1933.
The Greathouse Portal Sand Búnker in 1948.

In the 1920s mining operations for silica-rich sand, by the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company for the production of glass, began at the Black Diamond Mines. Sand mining continued until the 1940s, and the five mining towns became “ghost towns”.

A former residence on the Black Diamond Mine.

Many of the miners who worked at the Black Diamond Mines are buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery.

Presently the former coal mine is under the ownership of the East Bay Park District as the Black Diamond Regional Preserve.

The entrance to the Black Diamond Regional Preserve hosts the Sidney Flat Vistor Center.

After the Black Diamond Coal Mines were abandoned the cemetery was vandalized frequently and grave markers were stolen. However, the grace makes for Walter E. Clare was returned when Black Diamond became a regional park.

The East Bay Regional Park staff give mine tours within one of the former Eureka mine.

The entrance to the mine within the Eureka Slope.

Many of the trails on top of the former mines lead to various hills within the Mount Diablo Foothills.

The author Philip Andrew Hamilton on one of the scenic hills, within the Black Diamond Mine Regional Preserve.
Berkeley City Hall Building

The Berkeley City Hall Building

In 1908, the Berkeley City Hall was designed by architects Arthur John, Junior and John Bakewell, both of whom were graduates of the University of California. The city hall building was constructed in downtown Berkeley, California later that year after the cornerstone was established on June 27th.

Eventually, the city hall staff was moved to another location in Berkeley. Presently the city hall hosts a radio station and serves as a temporary homeless shelter.

Hugh Upton

The Passing Of My Mentor Hugh Upton

On Febuary 20, 2020, my former mentor and former US Navy Admiral, whom was a neighbor of mine in Oakton, Virginia, passed away in his home in Florida. Hugh was instrumental in developing my interest in world history and philosophy while I did yardwork for him during my time at James Madison High School. Hugh Upton introduced me to two of his German friends whom I interviewed for my Advanced Placement World War II project. Hugh worked as the cameraman during that interview which can be seen here:

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

The Nevada “Rome” Powerhouse – The Birthplace Of The Pacific Gas And Electric Company

The Nevada “Rome” Powerhouse, which was the also Pelton Wheel Manufacturing Site, was utilized for producing power for the gold mining efforts. The Nevada Powerhouse is deemed to be the birthplace of the company Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a company which did not go by that name until 1905.

The Lincoln Memorial

1914 – The Groundbreaking Of The Lincoln Memorial

On February 12, 1914, the same day as Lincoln’s birthday in Hardin County, Kentucky in 1809, construction of the Lincoln Memorial was began after the groundbreaking was held. A year later, on the same day, the cornerstone of the memorial was placed. By May 1915, the sub-foundation and the foundation of the memorial, which lay on drained and filled land, was completed.

Lodi, California

The Founding Of Lodi, California

Mokelumne, California was founded when the Central Pacific Railroad chose the site for a station on its new route. The town consisted of a store/post office building, a hotel, and the station. In the spring of 1870, people from neighboring towns moved to Mokelumne until, by October, there were 56 residences. Eventually, Mokelumne was renamed to the shorter name of Lodi. Downtown Lodi has what is called the “Lodi Arch”.

Eugene O’Neill

The “Tao House” Of American Author Eugene O’Neill

Author Eugene O’Neill, lived in the “Tao House”, from 1937 to 1944, in Danville, California.

The house was a Chinese themed house with various masks. At the time, Eugene lived in the Chinese themed home with his fourth wife. The Tao House was purchased by the U.S. National Park Service, after the California Historical Landmarks Commission recommended the home to be nominated for the National Register of Historic Places in September 1970.

Author’s Note:

Author Philip Andrew Hamilton visited the Tao House during the Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year, on January 25, 2020.


The Tuolumne County Museum And History Center

The Tuolumne County Museum and History Center is located within the former Tuolumne County Jail in the town of Sonora, California.

The museum has exit ties exhibits on the towns history with the Gold Rush, in addition to the history of the jail.

The Tuolumne County Museum and History Center has former jail cells with exhibits in each one. One of those exhibits shows the movies that had been filmed in the county such as “Wells Fargo”.

Columbia, California, William Cavalier Museum

William Cavalier Museum

The William Cavalier Museum is located in downtown Columbia, California, the site of the largest preserved gold rush era town by the California State Park system.

The museum hosts an exhibit about the oldest two story schoolhouse in the state of California which was built in March 1861, a mere month before Confederates fired their cannons on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

Columbia, California

The Native Sons Of The Golden West Hall In Columbia, California

The historical organization the, “Native Sons of the Golden West” have a hall in the former Gold Rush era town of Columbia, California.

The Native Sons of the Golden West Hall has one of the hundreds of mission bell replicas that was placed on the El Camino Real in California.

The road El Camino Real used to go from Sonora, California to Guatemala.

Columbia, California

The Founding Of Columbia, California

On March 27, 1850, the Hildreth Party discovered gold in an area which would become Columbia, California. Shortly after the town became one of the largest towns in California and at one point was placed in consideration as the California state capital.

Presently, most of the town of Columbia is a California State Park, and it is the best preserved Gold Rush era town in the entire state.

Angels Camp, California, Mark Twain

The Angels Camp Museum

The Angels Camp Museum was established in the 1900s. The outside of the museum has various outdoor exhibits.

The “Just Jerry” is a unique shaped tram that was utilized in the town.

The Angels Camp Pelton Wheel was used to power the local logging operations.

The tractor “Ol Beth” was a steam tractor utilized in the 19th century.

The bells, on display in front of the museum, signify the bells that have been utilized for churches and other buildings over time.

The signal cannons were used for mining operations in Angels Camp.

Gustine, California, Henry Miller, Sarah Alice Miller

The Gustine Musuem

The town of Gustine, California has a courthouse and jail built in 1911 that remained in use until 1980. The former courthouse and jail was purchased by the Gustine Historical Society and reopened as the Gustine Musuem in July 4, 1990.

The town of Gustine is named after Henry Miller’s daughter Sarah Alice Miller, whom was nicknamed “Gussie” after she had passed away as a child.


January 16, 1920 – Alcohol Prohibition Went Into Effect Nationwide

On midnight at January 16, 1920, “Prohibition” went into effect, a year after the passage of the 18th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Drawing of women praying in front of a saloon during prohibition attempts in the 1800s.

While Prohibition only lasted thirteen years, the movement had been going on in various towns across the country. Women who supported the sufferage movement also supported Christian temperance movements such as the Anti-Saloon League.

Members of the Anti-Saloon League of America gathered in Atlantic City, N.J., in 1915.

Women where the primary force behind prohibition since they became tired of the drunken nature of men who attended at all male saloons. Many married women were beaten and unfortunately sexually abused by drunk husbands.

Bear Valley, California, John Charles Frémont

Bear Valley, California

The area of Bear Valley, California, has gone by several other names such as Haydenville, Biddle’s Camp, Biddleville, Simpsonville, and Johnsonville. Bear Valley was named after John Charles Frémont’s involvement with the “Bear Revolt”, after the town was established as Frémont’s headquarters within Mariposa County, after he purchased the Rancho Las Mariposas Grant. Frémont built a home called “The White House” and a hotel, near the “Oso House”, which hosted famous patrons such as Ulysses S. Grant, within Bear Valley.

John Muir

The Awahnee Tavern – Where President Theodore Roosevelt Had Lunch On His Way To See John Muir

The Awahnee Tavern was originally owned by Franklin Dennis, and would pass along to various owners in a short period of time. The Awahnee Tavern is a site where President Theodore Roosevelt had lunch on his way to meet John Muir for their hiking trip in Yosemite. Other famous individuals such as Susan B. Anthony, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and the Crown Prince Albert of Belguim also visited the tavern.

The tavern is currently abandoned and a historical marker indicates the site.

Afghanistan, Nuristan, Afghanistan

The California State Mining And Mineral Museum

The California State Mining and Mineral Museum was established in Mariposa County along the Western Sierra on Highway 49.

The California State Geological Society was founded in 1865, before the California Mineral Musuem was established, and has collected mineral specimens from around the world.

The mineral gallery consists of various minerals from sites of other countries such as Nuristan, Afghanistan.

The Almaden Quicksilver mine, the first mine in California that existed before the Gold Rush, is featured. Interestingly, the California State Park System states that there was a Prussian connection to the owner of the Almaden Quicksilver Mine whom was illegally mining on federal land while Abraham Lincoln was president.

The largest existing golden nugget found from the Gold Rush era is on display at the Musuem.

In Southern California a 20 mule team was utilized fo mine for Boran.