Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe: The Shirley Letters From the Calfornia Mines 1851 1852

This is an outstanding collection of letters all written to her sister later published in a magazine illustrate a woman s perspective of living during the California Gold Rush in the Feather River region Reading this collection I was drawn to the author s attention to detail In descriptions intended for her sister she painted a picture of her time which was vivid compassionate empathetic and animated Louise Clappe aka Dame Shirley traveled from her genteel well educated New England household to California during the Gold Rush accompanying her doctor husband In these 23 letters she describes not only the majestic natural wonders of mining country but also the often romanticized rough and tumble lifestyle of the miners that turned bigoted and brutal with violent attacks on Chinese Mexicans and Chileans She may have been unaware of the laws allowing the capture of fugitive slaves in this so called free state and those mandating the capture and murder of Native people but she witnesses the results of both and writes with dismay and compassion Important to read a woman s point of view of this tumultuous formative period of California history The Shirley Letters are a snapshot of the early California mines and culture told from the point of view of a woman It also gives a glimpse of a woman who was not typical for her time period I loved the details she shared about her life and learning about that time period in California If you have anyone in your genealogy who was in the Gold Rush you will enjoy this book I did not read this particular edition but the edition which is public domain and purchased for Kindle at com If you are expecting a novel this is not the book for you I read this book as if I were receiving letters from a relative I also kept in mind that theses letters were Dame Shirleys observations thoughts and feelings I was impressed with her descriptions both negative and positive I was also impressed that Dame Shirley was able to be so positive in the midst of all the commotion lack of facilities and lack of womanly companionship Since I have lived in Northern California and have many friends and relatives in gold country I found this a fascinating account The book also reminded me how spoiled I am to be living in this era and how grateful I am for modern conveniences The Shirley Letters in a way don t deserve to be reviewed because they weren t written as literature They are what they are letters from a sister to her beloved sister written from the California gold mine camps in 1851 1852 Except these letters are very special filled with description candor and charm from the pen of a woman who was educated talented and witty The 23 missives made their way to Pioneer magazine and I am glad they did because the rich trove of 19th century lore camp culture geography history and daily living Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe Dame Shirley 1809 1906 recorded in them remains a treasure for the rest of us to enjoy to The Shirley Letters written from the mining camps in 1851 and 1852 are something valuable and rare a portrait by a woman of an era dominated by men They offer a vivid picture of gold rush life from accounts of murders fear.

BOOK READ The Shirley Letters From the Calfornia Mines 1851 1852 AUTHOR Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe – 10a.us

Ry voice She is the kind of personality that is at the foundation of what Californians aspire to in this day and age She is adventurous and generous level headed and compassionate The descriptions of the country and the people around her are often poetic and it is clear she loves the nature and grandeur of the setting The Shirley Letters written by Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe to her sister in New England from 1851 to 1852 are a precious document of life in California s gold country Clappe has been rightfully compared with Mark Twain for her humor historic recording of the times and her literary style Having written a number of travel stories on gold country back when I was a staff editor on a travel magazine I loved being transported back to the diggins of oldtime Clappe covers the Feather River gold camps an area I didn t cover a lot Her eye for details down to what they ate wore furnished their rough and tumble homes with how they extracted the gold gives a lively vivid account of life in the mining area She witnessed the culture of the time and place including hangings some vigilante like In one brief period of a few weeks the wrote of murders a hanging an attempt at suicide and a fatal duel But above all I was drawn to her love of nature of the mountain wilderness her lyrical descriptions of the wild grandeur and awful magnificence I regretted her disparaging comments about the Indians in the area not yet obliterated by whites a product of her time although she did express some thoughtful curiosity and interest in their ways and did interact with some of them albeit in a paternalistically superior way She redeemed herself later when she observed the bad feeling of our countrymen towards foreigners California was not yet a state and men came from all over the world to seek their fortune Clappe noted the vulgarity and unjust expression of the Yankees especially towards Spaniards whom she says are highly educated gentlemen of the most refined and cultivated manners This observation We labor under great disadvantages in the udgment of foreigners Our peculiar political institutions and the prevalence of common schools give to ALL our people an arrogant assurance which is mistaken for the American BEAU IDEAL of a gentleman resonates still today Ms Clappe and her doctor husband was an educated affluent woman from New England among rowdies These elouent playful letters written by Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clapp to her sister during the California Gold Rush are a delight to read They re detailed and full of personality In 1851 Clapp moved to Rich Bar California with her doctor husband F because they d heard there weren t enough doctors in the town By the time they arrived 27 other doctors were already there Clapp took the pseudonym Dame Shirley because apparently she d hoped for these letters to be published one day They were three years later as a series in a women s publication I found a copy of The Dame Shirley Lett. Uxury of oyster feasts With the wild grandeur and awful magnificence of the Sierra as background this classic account presents a picture of the gold rush that is at times humorous at times empathetic and always trustworthy.

His day In 1849 Dame Shirley left Massachusetts to follow her husband a doctor to the mining camps Her letters to her sister detail her experiences in the camps and later in San Francisco She spares no detail in describing the rugged but beautiful West the problems of crime and resulting whippings and hangings the problems between whites and the Indians and immigrants her simple cabin and her efforts to establish gracious living in the wilds As I read her letters I can t ignore the obvious Dame Shirley loved to write found oy in describing her new life in the Wild West and exulted in the raw beauty of unspoiled creation Her writing is energetic and lively a great resource for anyone who desires to write about daily living during the Gold Rush period The Shirley Letters include a very informative introduction and illustrations reprints of mining country scenes of that era particularly the camps around the Feather River I liked it The book is rare We don t have many firsthand accounts of life in Gold Rush mining camps I appreciated the details and anecdotes of daily life most but was also rooting for her to embrace her wild side a bit I wish I knew about her as a person On several occasions Clappe says how much she enjoys the mountains relishes changes in dress has everything she needs even though the materials are simple and yet she returns to the old world and we re not sure if she ever really leaves it It s almost as if she feels she has to apologize her defend what it is she likes which is perhaps even telling about her place in the period in which she lived Well worth reading I m fascinated with the gold rush era and how the San Francisco Bay Area grew from a population of a few hundred people to tens of thousands of people overnight as a result of the gold rush so when my local library had this book featured as their monthly book I was hooked These letters are a gem letters written by a woman who went by the pen name of Dame Shirley She and her young doctor husband move here from the east coast like everyone else was in the 1850 s to seek their fortune They first lived in San Francisco and then they moved up towards the gold country near Sacramento All her travel is done on the back of a mule and the language she uses to describe the natural scenery the state of the ramshackle houses and encampments that have popped up all over and the gold panning process are truly wonderful because life in the gold mines was all a mans world yet the details that are recounted for us are all in the elegant prose of a woman These are a series of letters which were also published in the papers of the time from a young woman who traveled with her doctor husband up the Feather River into the foothills of California during the Gold Rush She describes life there in some detail Perhaps what is most fascinating about the letters is the woman behind them who despite her 19th century New England upbringing has an extraordinarily contempora. Ful accidents bloody deaths a mob whippings a hanging an attempt at suicide and a fatal duel to bars lined with that eternal crimson calico which flushes the whole social life of the Golden State and the rare and welcome

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