Comments by the co-author
History is written about places, events and people. This is the history of the town of Hamilton, Butte County's first seat of government during the years 1850 to 1853.
Mildred Forester's interest in the town began when realizing so little had been written about a place of such importance, let alone its people. Questions begged for answers! For whom was the town named? How did it begin, and what caused its sudden demise? After a diligent search for clues in the earliest county records a picture began to appear, a picture depicting a town rich in the color of its past. Visual also were chronological events that occurred before, during and after the creation and demise of the town and its county seat. Old handwritten records named the people of the time and told of what they did for a living. The picture enlarged eventually into a mural that illustrated fully what really did occur in the all-but-forgotten town of Hamilton.
A search for the original plat map of Hamilton was to no avail. Yet, by time-consuming gathering of bits of official description handwritten accounts, a reconstructed grid map of the town slowly took form -- one that showed where each person lived, on what street, and in which building. And, as more information came into focus, so did its people. Learning about them explained clearly why the won of Hamilton reached a full life, and then died suddenly.
Following the death of Hamilton and its county seat, a few of its butilings survived to mark dimly its former existence. Among them were a hotel (the Hamilton House), the county jail, an early odd-shaped sheriff's office and holding cell, and a private home. For a while they were the last reported buildings to remain in an otherwise deserted town.
In later years the Feather River alongside the once bustling town of Hamilton was dredged for its remaining gold-bearing ore, and from this operation the last visible vestige of what was once a thriving municipality was inundated completely by a tide of dredged river rock and gravel, with one exception -- the small town cemetery on higher ground was never reached. However, in time, it became overgrown with native vegetation.
Yet, in spite of Hamilton's rude termination, it was once a proud town of exciting possibility, and it is hoped its recreation in these pages will enable others to share something of its former glory. It is hoped also that readers, particularly students of history, become aware that adventure in literary "anthro-archeology" is found in the "digs" of old documented records. Time spent mining even the "tailings" is bound to produce hidden treasures. Mildred Forester did just that, and the "unearthing" of the town of Hamilton adds another page to California gold rush history. --from preface by Roy Pence
Comments by the publisher
This is a story about what might be called the first big land scam in California history, the rise and fall of Butte County's initial seat of government, 1850 - 1853. We meet the man and his colleagues who conceived the plan and we learn the names of those who suffered the consequences. It is a true story, one so plot-ridden it reads like fiction.
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