Jennie Carter Book Review

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!

 

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“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;

Jennie Carter’s Thoughts & Words from Nevada City 1867 – 1874 (video)
Jennie Carter’s Nevada County Setting 1860s, 2nd Marriage & Obituary
Jennie Carter’s Pre-Civil War, Civil War & Reconstruction-era 1846-1870
Jennie Carter – Filming Behind-the-Scenes & Creative Partners


Resources:

American Historical Association – *LARGE* educator resource list addressing Confederate Monument Debate

BlackPast.org

New Books in History with Marshall Poe Audio: Interview with author Eric Gardner (20:59)

Jennie Carter: A Black Journalist of the Early West edited by Eric Gardner, Copyright © 2007 published by University Press of Mississippi

The Elevator

 

 

Jennie Carter’s Pre-Civil War, Civil War & Reconstruction-era 1846-1870

Jennie Carter was an esteemed Nevada City essayist who wrote and published articles in a San Francisco newspaper between 1867-1874.

She was a free black woman born in 1830 (or 1831).  *Free people of color first arrived on the North American continent in the French territories and with the Spanish and Portuguese. They were highly educated and successful in business.

To gain a deeper understanding of Jennie’s opinions and writing, it’s important to know where she was living before moving to Nevada County and to understand what might have triggered her relocation.

In Jennie’s lifetime, the following events occurred;

  • 1846 Mexican American War
  • Westward Expansion – Manifest Destiny
  • 1849 California Gold Rush 
  • 1850 Fugitive Slave Laws were passed to provide the return of escaped slaves (a danger for free blacks – they could be captured/kidnapped and entered into slavery)
  • Tensions mount between Northern and Southern states
  • 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States

** Historians suggest this is when Jennie and her first husband, Reverand Correll, a Campbellite minister, relocated to Grass Valley, California from New Orleans, Louisiana. [Jennie married Dennis Carter in Nevada City after Reverand Correll’s death.]

  • January 1861 Louisiana votes to secede from the Union
  • March 1861 Louisiana vows allegiance to the Confederate States of America
  • April 12th, 1861 Civil War begins
  • January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring “that all persons held as slaves within the rebel states “are, and henceforward shall be free”
  • April 1865 Civil War ends — one week later Abraham Lincoln is assassinated
  • December 1865 Congress ratifies the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery
  • 1867 Congress passes the 14th Amendment granting citizenship and civil liberties to freed slaves
  • 1869 Congress passes the 15th Amendment granting African American men the right to vote
  • 1870 African American men in California gain voting rights when 2/3 of the states ratify the 15th Amendment

Social movements taking place;

  • Abolition (eliminating slavery), temperance (sobriety), and sufferage (voting rights for black men and white women)
  • Human rights and individual betterment 

Prior to Jennie’s move, New Orleans hosted the largest population of free black people in the United States.

Mid-Nineteenth Century American Attitudes

History and Happenings in New Orleans in the early 1860s

 

Reconstruction-era 1865-1877

A time of extraordinary hope and political progress followed by a terrorist backlash.

If you liked this post, learn more about Jennie Carter in these posts;

Jennie Carter’s Thoughts & Words from Nevada City 1867 – 1874 (video)
Jennie Carter’s Nevada County Setting 1860s, 2nd Marriage & Obituary
Jennie Carter Book Review
Jennie Carter – Filming Behind-the-Scenes & Creative Partners
Nineteenth-Century Creole Snacks & Jennie Carter (Shared Tastes recipe blog)

Resources:

American Historical Association – *LARGE* educator resource list addressing Confederate Monument Debate

BlackPast.org

History Channel13th Amendment (1865)

Howard University – Reconstruction-era History 1865-1877

 

Jennie Carter: A Black Journalist of the Early West edited by Eric Gardner, Copyright © 2007 published by University Press of Mississippi

Khan Academy – Start of the Civil War 1844

Louisiana State University – Free People of Color in Louisiana

NPR podcast – Emancipation Proclamation (1862) – what it didn’t do

Project Gutenberg | downloadable public domain books in multiple formats

 

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1863) was a Harvard Educated American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, writer and editor. His goal was to put an end to white supremacy.

The Souls of Black Folk 

 

 

Frederick Douglas (1818-1895) was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, photographer and statesman.

Books by Frederick Douglas

 

 

Additional Resources:

Sacramento Zouaves on parade in Marysville 1873 mentioned in Jennie’s writing (page 95 – Jennie Carter, A Black Journalist of the Early West)

Clothing Styles 1860-1880s

 

Contemporary Resource:

National Geographic TV – America Inside Out with Katie Couric – season one – Confederate statue removal  

**PBS Four-Part Series – Reconstruction, American After the Civil War | preview

Jennie Carter – Filming Behind-the-Scenes & Creative Partners

“Jennie” drinking water on Deer Creek

While reading Eric Gardner’s book—Jennie Carter: A Black Journalist of the Early Westin the spring of 2019, Deer Creek Project Coordinator, Lisa Redfern day-dreamed about highlighting Jennie Carter in a historical video. Upon reaching Carter’s temperance segment (page 25, 1868) describing drinking water out of Deer Creek, Redfern found the connection she needed to go-for-it.

Video production took the entire summer to execute;

  • pieces of Carter’s writing were selected
  • Katrina Thompson was asked to portray and voice act for Jennie Carter’s part
  • filming location permission, costumes, and props were secured
  • scene planning was mapped and detailed
  • a delightful evening was spent at Randco Studios recording Jennie’s writing
  • filming took place on one long day (July 5th) starting early in Colfax and following the light to the Pine Grove Cemetery in Nevada City


Locations:

Filming day started early in Colfax

Jennie Carter’s headstone in Pine Grove Cemetery, Nevada City

Costuming from Solstice Vintage Clothing, Nevada City

“Jennie” extolling the world of letters and reading

 

_________

Many thanks to…

Voice Acting & Jennie Carter Portrayal

Katrina Thompson | (916) 218-8198


Audio Recording & Sound Design

Randy Landenberger, Randco Studios, Grass Valley, CA | randylscott@randco.me


Research

Tracey Lilyquist, Librarian, Doris Foley Historical Library

The Jennie Carter production would not have been as wonderful without them!

_________

Video Editing

Initially, the Jennie Carter material was envisioned as five short videos. Each segment — four minutes in length — took a full week to compile and edit.

Every square or rectangle in the video above represents an image, a sound effect, video clip, or text file.

Once the segments were proofed, it was decided that they would show better as one piece.

Director & Video Production

Lisa Redfern and Katrina Thompson on Deer Creek at the end of filming day.

Lisa Redfern
Redfern Studio
Little Mountain Publishing
(530) 559-4367 

 

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“Lost, one golden hour with sixty diamond minutes. No reward, for they can never be found.” Horace Mann, 1856

If you liked this post, check out;

Jennie Carter’s Thoughts & Words from Nevada City 1867 – 1874 (video)
Jennie Carter’s Nevada County Setting 1860s, 2nd Marriage & Obituary
Jennie Carter’s Pre-Civil War, Civil War & Reconstruction-era 1846-1870
Jennie Carter Book Review
Nineteenth-Century Creole Snacks & Jennie Carter (Shared Tastes recipe blog)

 

 

For more behind-the-scenes imagery, visit Following Deer Creek on Instagram.

 

Jennie Carter: A Black Journalist of the Early West edited by Eric Gardner, Copyright © 2007 published by University Press of Mississippi

Crayfish – Aquatic Groundskeepers

Young crayfish on Deer Creek, August 2019

Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans related to shrimp, lobster, and crabs. They’re all decapods—having ten legs.

Fossil records show crayfish have been in North America for millions of years.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the native range for the Signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) is the Columbia River’s lower estuary. The range goes northwest and through tributaries that reach into British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.

Historical records say crayfish were first introduced to the Truckee River and Lake Tahoe sometime between 1895 and 1909. They were placed there for fish food, bait, and human consumption. Crayfish are currently planted in ponds and on fish farms to control aquatic weeds.

Habitat:

Crayfish live in a variety of freshwater environments from backwater pools to large rivers, streams. and subalpine lakes. Favorite places include hiding among rocks and in stands of partially submerged plants.  They are temperature and pH-sensitive.

Diet:

Anything and everything…

  • rotting leaves and twigs
  • animals and insects (younger crayfish are most attracted to these)
  • dead fish
  • live plants and algae (older crayfish are most attracted to these)
  • other crayfish (large crayfish are most likely to cannibalize other crayfish)

Behavior:

Crayfish breathe through gills. They can survive on land as long as gills remain moist. In water, gills also collect small food particles.

Most activity and feeding occurs at night.

Crayfish have two sets of antennae, one set for touch and the other for smell.

Defense:

Body armor—or the exoskeleton—is a crayfish’s main defense, though pincers are also used for battle.

The exoskeleton is made up of calcium carbonate (limestone), taken from the water. It builds up in layers. When the animal grows, it sheds its exoskeleton. At this time, it is at its most vulnerable until the new exoskeleton hardens.

Molting occurs most often as young grow to adulthood. Once crayfish are fully grown molting only happens a few times per year.

Crayfish have the ability to regrow claws if they are lost. Claws are also used for eating and mating.

Breeding:

Photo Credit: David Perez

Depending on food availability and water temperature, breeding can begin between three to six months of age. Mating usually occurs in the spring and summer months.

Mothers can hold sperm until conditions for egg-laying are right, usually in fall.

Females lay somewhere between 200 – 400 eggs. These are attached to her swimmerets under her tail. Young remain with their mother through several molts. As they grow, they separate somewhat, staying attached by thread-like tethers. Once fully separated, the mother secretes a pheromone that keeps the young close for protection.

Lifespan:

Average is about 3 years. In captivity, some have lived up to twenty years.

Predators:

Photo credit: Andrea Westmorland

Anything living in or near the water.

  • fish
  • birds
  • turtles
  • otters
  • raccoons
  • bullfrogs
  • coyote
  • humans

Crayfish Consumption in the West:

Washington, Oregon, and the Sacramento Delta are the main crayfish food consuming areas on the west coast. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, over ten-thousand pounds of Signal Crayfish were taken out of the Sacramento Delta in 2018.

Dangers to Crayfish:

  • pollution
  • fertilizers
  • pesticides
  • oil or fuel
  • dams
  • changing land use activities that alter water flows
  • silt loads

Crayfish Species Where They Don’t Belong (Shipping Crayfish to Classrooms):

Carriers of a Plague Organism:

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “crayfish plague, caused by the fungus-like organism Aphanomyces astaci Schikora, is listed in the top 100 of the “World’s Worst” invaders by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.”

Like the Asian Ladybug, Signal crayfish can live in a balanced host-parasitic relationship. If they are brought into places where that balance hasn’t been established, ecosystem havoc can result.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Recommends Eating Some Invasive Species

 

To catch crayfish you’ll need;

 

 

Invasive Eats (California Specific)| Eat the Invaders | Invasivore

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If you enjoyed this post, check out Invasive Species Choke Natives & California’s Floristic Provence.

Resources:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife – California Invasive Species Action Week

click on image to open the newsletter

National Park Service – The impact of introduced crayfish on a unique population of salamander in Crater Lake, Oregon 

USGS – Pacifastacus leniusculus (Signal Crayfish) fact sheet


Wikipedia  – Pacifastacus fortis. California’s only native crayfish.

Two Murders on Deer Creek – 1944

This is a story of murder and assumptions. The first murder happened in October of 1944, when a young WWII veteran was shot in woods near the north fork of Deer Creek. The finger of guilt pointed squarely at the local scapegoat, an oddball mountain man. 

Henry Lewis

Murders on Deer Creek

Two months after his homecoming from World War II, 24-year-old Henry Lewis organized a hunting party with his family and friends. Henry was a Purple Heart and Bronze Star decorated veteran.

Unbeknownst to Henry, this day would be his last. Did he stumble upon the hiding place of an eccentric neighbor and school buddy? Or did Henry see something or someone who was involved in an illegal cattle selling operation running in the area?

William ‘Bill’ Ebaugh was someone Henry had known for years. He was the fugitive hiding from the law that day.

How ‘Wild Bill’ Earned His Name

  • At age 21, he was committed to Napa State Hospital (1928) after an affair with a young woman from a prominent family. He was released, ‘cured,’ and agreed to voluntary sterilization.
  • Long hair

    young William Ebaugh

  • Long beard
  • Frequently walked around barefoot
  • Sung Irish ditties from treetops ‘broadcasting’ through an old Victrola horn
  • Many women were attracted to him
  • Running naked through the woods
  • Sneaking up on young lovers and bursting into song
  • Good aim when shooting
  • Participated in an armed stand-off with sheriff outside Ebaugh’s home (1935) – peacefully resolved
  • Sheriff searches Ebaugh’s room and confiscates a double-barrel shotgun, an automatic shotgun, a revolver and an automatic pistol (1935)
  • Arrested for disturbing the peace (1937) – Willow Valley Road
  • In public, Bill boasts that he won’t be taken alive
  • Charged with the rape of neighbor (1939) – acquitted
  • Charged with buying a miner’s wife for $20 and holding her captive (1937) – charges dismissed
  • Charged with stealing cows (1943) owned by Charles Morandi
  • Hiding from Sheriff
  • Broke into cabins stealing food and trinkets

Local Culture of the Time

Young men were away at war. Newspapers touted articles about spies and communism. Food and necessities were rationed. To buy beef, a special coupon was needed.

To better understand the local culture during World War II, watch the video below.

 

 In Nevada County, it was said that women and children were afraid of the ‘wacko’ living in the hills.

Local Sheriffs were on edge, having multiple run-ins with Bill Ebaugh.

Additional Information:

There may have been an illegal beef selling operation (not requiring government issued red-dot coupons) in the Willow Valley area.

As a miner, Bill built a rock crusher. With it, he helped disguise gold pocketed by hard rock miners working for local mines. He kept their identities secret.

Tension Inciting Language about Ebaugh Published in the Newspaper

Hermit of the hills
Phantom of the hills
Bad Character
Desperate character
Man long feared
Eccentric resident
Terrorizing neighbors
Reign of terror
Menace to society
Killer
Alleged to be an escapee from a State Hospital
Threatened the Sherriff
Crafty and resourceful fugitive
People in his home section will breathe easier once he’s behind bars

Finding Lewis’s Body and the Hunt for his Killer

After hearing two shots and a multi-day search, Henry’s body was found by his Uncle Jack. It was face down in the Snow Mountain Ditch.

A Boyscout troop discovered Ebaugh’s mine tunnel living quarters about a mile away. Inside, Sheriff Tobiassen recognized items belonging to Ebaugh, including a Victrola horn and wet clothes. The Sheriff directed the search party to change course from looking for Henry Lewis to hunting for Willliam Ebaugh.

Uncle Jack commented that he didn’t think Ebaugh was dangerous. He and Henry had been friends for years and Bill probably didn’t know Henry had been killed.

Blood spots, a rifle, and a bullet with bone and hair were discovered about 15 feet from Ebaugh’s tunnel. It was determined that this is where Henry had been shot in the back.

Injustice

A fear-drenched community with mob mentality contributed to flawed decision making for public protection and private gain. 

Armed volunteers combed the hills for weeks looking for Bill Ebaugh. If Bill wasn’t the shooter, then the killer had ample time to disappear.

For nine days, the Grass Valley-Nevada City Morning Union published a Dead or Alive Notice on page two. The Reward offered by a citizens committee headed by Grove Celio.

Bill Ebaugh’s executioner was 24-year-old Irvin Woodrow Davis, a P.G. & E. Carpenter. He wasn’t part of the posse group photographed above but lived near the old cabin where Ebaugh had been hiding since his tunnel was discovered.

Early one morning, Irvin moved into a sniper position. 

Bill was unarmed and standing on the front porch; he’d just finished his morning wash-up. Bill must have seen or heard the man holding him in his gun sight because he was diving for cover when Irvin’s shot hit its mark, killing Ebaugh on the spot.

A coroners jury decided that Irvin’s actions were “justified and excusable.” 

While citizens appalled by the mishandling of the case were concerned about retribution, they sent an inquest petition to the Attorney General.

The Attorney General sent an investigator to review the case.  No additional action was taken.

Bill had no family to hold authorities accountable;  no one paid a price for painting a bulls-eye on Bill’s back and opening a free-for-all.

William Ebaugh didn’t have a chance to answer the charges or defend himself in front of a jury of his peers.

Multiple Losses 

  • The Lewis family lost a beloved son.
  • A misunderstood mountain man was gunned down by a carpenter.
  • The reward money was unlikely adequate compensation for a life lived with that memory (Irvin Davis), and
  • the community would harbor lingering doubt about the men working to protect and serve in Nevada County.

Liberties with the law were taken and those entrusted to guard it looked the other way.

 

Editor’s Note: When viewing history through your own place and time, it’s impossible to fully comprehend. Research revealed that it was common to have citizen groups assisting the Sheriff’s department, similar to Volunteer Fire Fighters.

This editor would like to believe if William Ebaugh lived today, he may have had social support services and he might not have become an instantaneous target.

 

Want more? Check out Anthony House Aflame Under Lake Wildwood.

Resources:

 Dead or Alive When a Local War Hero Died Mysteriously Vigilante Justice was Swift – The Union

Draft Card Found article (Bill Ebaugh)

Gravesite – Henry Lewis

Gravesite – Willian Ebaugh

The Wild Bill Ebaugh Story by Bob Paine

Stories in the Media:

Capital Public Radio – Controversial Side of Local History Explored in Foothill TheatreListen to the radio show

Dakota Sid & – Amazon song – The Ballad of Wild Bill Ebaugh      

Foothill Theater Company production ‘Long Shadow’ (2005) – Show Script           

The Saga of Wild Bill Ebaugh – Dale Pendell

True Detective Magazine – March 1945 & December 1945

 

Cleaning out Ebaugh’s ‘den’, highlighting his Victrola horn.

Clothing in 1944

By studying the clothing styles popular in the 1940’s, one can see why journalist Bob Paine called Bill Ebaugh Nevada County’s ‘first hippie.’ 

Kent State Museum – WWII  – Civilian Clothing

 Clothing and Uniforms from WW II

Compilation image (with a model) showing how Bill Ebaugh may have dressed.

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