First County History of Siskiyou, Well Illustrated

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613. [SISKIYOU COUNTY, CALIFORNIA]. [WELLS, Henry Laurenz]. History of Siskiyou County, California, Illustrated with Views of Residences, Business Buildings and Natural Scenery, and Containing Portraits and Biographies of its Leading Citizens and Pioneers. Oakland: D.J. Stewart & Co. [verso of title page: Pacific Press, Printers, Stereotypers and Binders, Oakland, California], 1881. [i-iii] iv-viii, [2], [9] 10-218 pp., with 38 inserted leaves of biographies (many with engraved text illustrations: portraits), 60 unattributed lithograph plates (including frontispiece; some plates with multiple images). Folio (30.5 x 22 cm), original quarter leather gilt-lettered and decorated spine over brown cloth embossed boards gilt lettered on upper cover History of Siskiyou County California, marbled edges. Spine heavily chipped at top and split, boards faded and heavily rubbed, stitching broken with many loose leaves, hinges completely split, boards and spine separated from text block, first three leaves, including title page loose, trimmed down, and wrinkled, title page lacks lower left corner with loss to border, frontispiece chipped at gutter, plate at p. 104 chipped and cut down, pp. 105/106 chipped, gutter margin moderately stained generally not affecting plates or text. Despite the litany of defects, the overall contents are very good. Scarce and often incomplete (even the master microform copy listed on OCLC is incomplete).

     First edition of the first history of this county. Bradford 740c. Cowan II, pp. 892-893 (#575) Howell 33:831. Howes S520. Rocq 14528. Founded in 1852, the county was by that point an important avenue to the California gold fields, including those in the county proper, because of the Siskiyou Trail, an ancient route used by Native Americans for eons. The immediate impetus for the volume was probably the expected arrival of the Central Pacific Railroad, which laid its tracks along the Trail in the 1880s. The arrival of the railroad opened the area to many possibilities, including those for settlers and tourists, a situation that the leading citizens were no doubt eager to exploit. The text contains extensive discussions of the Gold Rush, early settlement, and troubles with Native Americans.

     The copious lithographs illustrate prosperous businesses, ranches, farms, and elaborate residences. The inserted leaves all contain biographies, often with portraits, of leading citizens. Numerous local communities are discussed as well. The book lives up to its author’s promises, as laid out in his preface: “The work embraces a brief and succinct history of California from the discovery of the Pacific ocean to the discovery of gold; a history of the cause and progress of the tidal wave of gold-seekers that swept over the northern end of the State and developed this region; a complete political history of the county; a detailed account of its Indian wars and other historical events within its borders; a statement of its resources; a brief local history of each place of importance in the county.” His note that the volume includes an index containing “the names of prominent characters in the history” did not quite live up its promise, however, since the volume is so ponderous that a separate, complete name index was published in 1990.

     The prefatory matter includes a page devoted to John R. Ridge’s poem “Mount Shasta.” Ridge was the author of that Zamorano Eighty rare aves, Yellowbird’s Murieta.


Sold. Hammer: $400.00; Price Realized: $490.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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