Companion media for Nevada County history and nature teachers.
Most people associate Nevada County with the California Gold Rush. But there’s much more to its story.
Nevada County and the formation of its watersheds, Deer Creek being one of them, is the result of massive shifts in tectonic plates. The Smartville Block is a well-known geologic area that reveals earth history. It’s existence generated outdoor scenic areas that enthusiasts of all kinds enjoy year-round.
In the last decades, the Native Nisenan People have begun to share the rich cultural history that miraculously survived the genocidal-minded Victorian era when gold seekers and adventurers arrived and pushed them off their territorial lands.
Most Californian foothill residents are raised on Gold Rush history. The aim of Following Deer Creek is to tell stories that haven’t been already been spotlighted for the general public.
After the rush for gold passed, several industries kept commerce active including the development of historic preservation and promoting the area’s natural beauty to attract tourism.
We’re approaching mid-January, the time of year when the Following Deer Creek (FDC) Project first came into being (2017). Like the Earth circling around the Sun and the planetary water cycle, we’ve completed a journey.
I set out to tell the story of the Deer Creek watershed from its tectonic and cultural origins to the people and animals who live in it today. Working backward, I posted blog articles as I researched in preparation to compile the film.
In early January of 2021, the film was complete. Like the FDC blog posts, it’s a birds-eye view of the watershed that hints at depths.
I smile when I think back to the initial idea seed. Of course, there is no one story, there are more than can ever be told.
FDC and the Aerial Views film is a decent outline, but it also illustrates how much more remains for investigation and study.
How the Bald Eagle Became the Symbol of the United States
In 1776, members of the Continental Congress passed a resolution saying the new nation needed a formal seal for official documents.
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson comprised the first committee who would work on it.
Bald Eagle Habitat
According to iNaturalist, there have been four Bald Eagle sightings in the Deer Creek watershed so far this year – mostly concentrated around Lake Wildwood. I was excited to see one flying down the canyon near Newtown this spring, but with no camera in hand, I could only squeal with glee!
This raptor’s habitat includes all of North America, some parts of northern Mexico, and Canada. They prefer large lakes and rivers with plenty of fish and tall trees. Some populations are year-round residents along both coasts, along the Mississippi River, in the Rockey Mountains, and in Alaska. Other bird populations are migratory.
large predatory and scavenging birds
adult plumage – white head and tail feathers – appears between 4 to 5 years of age
females are larger than males
feet are adapted to snatching fish out of water
beaks are adapted to ripping flesh
food storage in crop – after a gorge, birds can go one to two weeks without eating
weights between 8 to 14 pounds
has a wingspan between 6.5 to 8 feet
fierce ‘expression’ is caused by a bony forehead ridge that protects eyes from branches and prey struggles
juvenile birds give way to their elders
parents don’t mediate sibling rivalry
feet have a ratcheting mechanism that allows them to clamp onto prey
Bald Eagles can travel 40 miles per hour in flight and 100 miles per hour in a dive! They have excellent eyesight, It is said that they have the ability to spot prey up to two miles away.
salmon and other fish
coots and other small birds
they’ll also steal carrion from other animals
Bald eagles use their best weapons to ward off attacks and fight for territory – their feet!
Late winter, during the time they’re getting preparing to mate, is when most of the territorial disputes occur. As habitat loss increases, territorial fighting increases in intensity.
Twenty-eight years in the wild, 30 years in captivity.
Both males and females participate in sitting on eggs and parenting. A pair, while separating outside mating season, will come together year after year to mate and reproduce.
If one of the pair dies, the survivor will look for a new mate at the beginning of the next mating season.
Beeding season is between January through August.
Platform nests – aeries – are constructed at the tops of trees. They’re about 6’x6′ and can weigh over a ton! Eagle pairs will often return to their nest site.
A clutch consists of two to three eggs. Incubation is approximately one month.
After chicks have hatched, experienced parents ball their feet when entering the nest so as not to injure young with their talons.
Bald eagles were the first animal to be placed on the endangered species list in the late 1960s. At that time, there were only 30 nesting pairs left in northern California. It was discovered that DDT caused thin eggshells. It was banned in 1972.
With conservation and management efforts, eagle populations recovered. The animal was removed from the endangered list in 2007.
Bald Eagles are still protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
A.A. Sargent promoted his law practice and was involved with running for office.
Frequent articles complained about the Chinese, Indian, and Negro.
Childhood deaths were frequently published in death notices.
The Many Names of Jennie Carter
A challenge of piecing together details from Jennie’s life is the various names she went by through two marriages and the variety of pen names she used as a writer.
Possible given name
Mary Jane (no known maiden name)
Mary Jane Correll | Mrs. Correll
Jennie Carter | Mrs. D.D. Carter
Ann J. Trask
Below are samples of newspaper articles that Jennie may have read while she was living in Grass Valley and Nevada City.
The Nevada Democrat
Saturday, October 19, 1861
Grass Valley Daily Union
In the aftermath of the Civil War, much political and public churn was happening.
At one point in Nevada County, it was decided that southern supporters would not be allowed to vote in upcoming elections.
“Elder L. J. Correll” (Jennie’s first husband) is listed in regular advertisements in the Grass Valley Daily Union
The Christian Church the Corrells belonged to was built on “the east side of Church Street,
between Neal and Walsh Streets in 1859 (for $3,000). It was destroyed by fire in 1869.” – History of Nevada County 1880
March 14th, 1865 – Mrs. Correll (Jennie) is elected Vice President to the Grass Valley Christian Commission.
According to Byrne’s Directory of Grass Valley Township, the Corrells lived on School Street.
Also in the March 14th, 1865 Grass Valley Daily Union issue:
What is To Be Done With The Negro?
Our enemies say it will be a woful day for the negros when emancipation is “forced upon them.” Why is it not for the Indians, also? Can we not as safely and judiciously establish Negro Agencies as we can Indian Agencies? Yes, and with vastly more benefit to all concerned, because of the negro’s docility.
Is not the negro as justly entitled to his liberty as the Indian? And are they not as much entitled to our protection as the Indians? Why, then, become alarmed about the fate of the negro? What is the cause of this morbid sympathy? Simply this: to invent some pretext to prey upon the minds of the ignorant and credulous, and prejudice them against the progressive steps taken by our Government to eradicate this war, and secure a more perfect establishment of equal rights to the people who constitute the Government.
What shall be done for the free negroes? We answer let them work and maintain themselves, let them cultivate the rice fields, after the manner prescribed already by Gen. Sherman, and, if necessary, let agencies be established for giving proper direction to their labors.
A newspaper archive search (1965) motivated by a desire to find the cause of death of Jennie’s first husband did not yield definitive results. However; the following article was published on August 16th, the day before his last appearance in the paper. It may never be known if the two are related.
August 16, 1865
August 17th, 1865 is the final newspaper advertisement showing Elder Correll officiating.
Jennie Carter Poem published in The Elevator (1867)
The Lonely Grave
Why did they lay him to rest
Where human feet seldom tread?
Wild flowers bloom over his breast,
Too gaudy, alas, for the dead.
Tall pines sighing over the dust
Of one once loved and caressed.
The wild beasts are treading above
The heart a mother has pressed.
Birds singing and flying around
With notes all attuned for joy.
Little they heed him sleeping here,
Some mother’s own darling boy.
Oh! ’tis a weird lonely spot,
Away from all human strife;
The sleeper he heedeth not,
Nor careth for things of life.
August 29, 1866
Jennie’s marriage to Dennis Drummond Carter
Eric Gardner, editor of the Jennie Carter book, believes the connection between Jennie and The Elevator (San Francisco) came about through a relationship between Dennis and Phillip Bell, its publisher.
Click here to view Jennie’s work published in The Elevator 1867-1874.
The Daily Transcript (Nevada City)
Friday, August 12, 1881
“When I die, I hope no one will eulogize me, but simply say Mrs. Trask has gone to sleep. That will be the truth.”
– Jennie Carter writing under the pen name Ann J. Trask, December 1867
“A good laugh is better than drugs from apothecaries.” – Jennie Carter, 1867
Jennie Carter was a free black woman who moved from New Orleans to Grass Valley around 1860.
Between 1867 to 1874 she wrote essays, from her Nevada City home, that were published in The Elevator, a San Francisco black newspaper.
When Carter first began writing for The Elevator, her intention was to publish material for young readers. “Children, you hear a great deal said about color by those around you, see attention given white persons by your friends that is wholly unmerited, while those of darker skin are treated with cool neglect. Such are wrong, and that you may avoid like mistakes I write this for you to read. Let your motto be, civility to all, servility to none. Those reminders of bondage we must get out of the way as soon as possible; and while we would treat all with respect, we should not talk about color, light and dark, black and white.”
It wasn’t long before her writing was composed for a general audience. Carter’s essays provide a detailed and lively peek into Nevada County life—after the Civil War—when black men were working to establish voting rights, (white) women’s suffrage was in its infancy, the Central Pacific Railroad was under construction, and resentment against Chinese immigrants was building.
Since Carter wrote under several pen names—Ann J. Trask and Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful)—her body of work was lost until 2007, when a historical researcher discovered their connection and put the pieces together.
“She was a skilled cultural critic and as such her observations about race and racism, discrimination, and a host of social issues have important ramifications for today,” comments Eric Gardner, editor of Jennie Carter, A Black Journalist of the Early West.
The Jennie Carter book should be on recommended reading lists for every nineteenth-century history class in Nevada County (California).
FDC Editor Notes:
I discovered this book in a reference on a Wiki page. Exciting! Connecting with Jennie’s words, I felt a sense of admiration and deep respect for this intelligent, spiritual woman who bravely spoke universal truths that would go unrecognized for at least a century or more.
As I read, my ears were tuned for the echos of Jennie’s voice. When she described drinking water out of Deer Creek, Carter’s inclusion in the Deer Creek Project went from vague imaginings to composing detailed plans for a script, actress, locations, and props.
Equally engaging are Gardner’s footnotes and commentary. It’s like a book within a book that includes a code-breaker for every reference and antiquated expression. The research, alone, requires its own focused read.
How fortunate we (as readers and history buffs) are to have this thoughtful and carefully composed work available in one volume!
“Oh, that we might awake to the importance of a thorough, universal education.” – Jennie Carter, 1867
To learn more about Jennie Carter, check out these posts;