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Early History of California

Early History of San Francisco

“Ranch and Mission Days in Alta California,” by Guadalupe Vallejo

“Life in California Before the Gold Discovery,” by John Bidwell

William T. Sherman and Early Calif. History

William T. Sherman and the Gold Rush

California Gold Rush Chronology 1846 - 1849
California Gold Rush Chronology 1850 - 1851

An Eyewitness to the Gold Discovery

Military Governor Mason’s Report on the Discovery of Gold

“A Rush to the Gold Washings” – From the California Star

The Discovery – as Viewed in New York and London

Steamer Day in the 1850s

Sam Brannan Opens New Bank – 1857

The California Bear Flag

photograph of the original Bear Flag of California taken in 1890

Historic California Bear Flag as photographed in 1890. This flag, raised at Sonoma on June 14, 1846, was in the possession of the Society of California Pioneers at the time of the 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire, and burned during the conflagration.

According to the California Blue Book:

“The flag was designed by William Todd on a piece of new unbleached cotton. The star imitated the lone star of Texas. A grizzly bear represented the many bears seen in the state. The word, ‘California Republic’ was placed beneath the star and bear. The Bear Flag was replaced by the American flag. It was adopted by the 1911 State Legislature as the State Flag. ”

California pioneer John Bidwell chronicled many of the events surrounding the “Bear Flag Revolt,” and wrote, in 1890:

“Among the men who remained to hold Sonoma was William B. Ide, who assumed to be in command. In some way (perhaps through an unsatisfactory interview with Frémont which he had before the move on Sonoma), Ide got the notion that Frémont's hand in these events was uncertain, and that Americans ought to strike for an independent republic. To this end nearly every day he wrote something in the form of a proclamation and posted it on the old Mexican flagstaff. Another man left at Sonoma was William L. Todd who painted, on a piece of brown cotton, a yard and a half or so in length, with old red or brown paint that he happened to find, what he intended to be a representation of a grizzly bear. This was raised to the top of the staff, some seventy feet from the ground. Native Californians looking up at it were heard to say ‘Coche,’ the common name among them for pig or shoat. More than thirty years afterwards I chanced to meet Todd on the train coming up the Sacramento Valley. He had not greatly changed, but appeared considerably broken in health. He informed me that Mrs. Lincoln was his own aunt, and that he had been brought up in the family of Abraham Lincoln.”

See John Bidwell's “Frémont in the Conquest of California,” for details of the Bear Flag and the California Republic.

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