Home ] Services ] Publications ] Links ] About ] [E-mail HG]

 

Heidelberg Graphics home page

Up

Search site for:

Book Reviews

Plumas Sketches by Jane Braxton Little and Sally Posner
Illustrated history and stories about Plumas County, California.

"Anyone who knows Plumas County -- along with anyone who might like to get to know that place, or anyone with an eye for old buildings -- will enjoy this collection of line drawings and word sketches.

"Barns, sheds, cabins, homes, power dams, commercial buildings, banks, hotels, bunk houses, churches -- even the county courthouse have been drawn by Sally Posner to illustrate Jane Braxton Little's histories and anecdotes.

"Little... and Posner... illustrate a knowledge of county lore that goes beyond the ordinary. The work encompasses the entire county... Stories of pioneer families and histories of institutions, along with tales of incidents in the county's past, are told using the old structures as the focus.

"This is no guidebook ... but anyone who wanted to get to know Plumas County really well could use Plumas Sketches... to come up with a real understanding of the area." --Walt Wiley, Sacramento Bee

Top of page

"A pleasant drive up the Feather River Canyon east of Oroville brings travelers from the flatlands of the Sacramento Valley to rugged, tree-rich Plumas County. This is a land of quaint towns with names like Genesee, Graeagle and Greenville harbored in grassy valleys -- Mohawk, Sierra and Humbug that are surrounded by towering Sierra Nevada peaks. It is also a land rich in history, as Jane Braxton Little and Sally Posner suggest with unpretentious skill and delightful affection in their self-published book, Plumas Sketches.

"Little and Posner have chosen to sketch -- Little in words, Posner with pen and ink -- a total of 53 buildings, all over 100 years old, that embody Plumas County's history since the arrival of the first miner-settlers some 150 years ago.

" 'As researchers,' Little writers in her introduction, 'we sneezed through the dusty editions of old newspapers and everything else in print, drove back roads to visit remote cabins, and spend endless afternoons listening to the first-person accounts of these buildings' friends and caretakers.'

The result is what they call a 'whimsical outline' of Plumas County history, a collection of anecdotes -- some humorous, some happy, a few tragic -- about the residents of the county who struggles to build their lives there. Posner's drawings, while economical, are rich with detail and feeling. Little's brief histories invariably entertain. Almost every one of them contains a singular tale of life within the building's walls, and each is used not only to depict the history of that particular building, but to convey something of the history of the community in which it is located.

"We learn, for example, that Nels Olsen, one of the three sons of early settler Peter Olsen who built the Olsen Hotel in Chester, was once caught "in a whiteout somewhere between Prattville and his family ranch north of Big Meadows. He was lost, his skis buried under a foot of fresh powder. Nels damned the pouch of mail on his back that had brought him into the blizzard. Then he burned it, starting the warming fire that saved his life."

"We also meet Josephine Dotta, who with her husband Antone had survived a long trip from Europe and 'the privations of winter at 4,500 feet' only to watch three of their four children die of diphtheria within three weeks. ..."

"Plumas Sketches is a valuable contribution not only to the history of Plumas County but to the many tourists who visit. ... Visitors can learn a great deal about the older buildings -- schools and Masonic lodges, mills, hotels, homes an churches -- that contain so many of the memories of life in the early days of the county." --Robert Speer, Chico News and Review

Top of page

"An unusual book of keen nostalgic character that will ensnare the attention of those whose recollections or roots are tied to early times in the Sierra Nevada, especially Plumas County, has recently been published. ...The book is composed of more than 80 subjects. Each is illustrated by a drawing ... and accompanied by text giving historical information...

"Jane Braxton Little is the author of the text that accompanies each sketch. She was born in Palo Alto but her course led to Harvard -- not nearby Stanford. After two years in Japan and hitchhiking through Asia, she returned to the east coast and received a master's degree in East Asian studies from Harvard University.

" 'My life in Plumas County began in 1969 when my husband and I limped out from Massachusetts in a beat-up pickup truck to spend a summer ... We never left,' she says.

"Sally Posner, the artist, is a native of Chicago. ... With a baccalaureate degree in art, she not only conducts her architectural design business and teaches drafting, but also finds time to do oil paintings and drawings of old buildings. ... She exhibits at various galleries, museums and art shows. ...

"The two women may appear to have somewhat improbable backgrounds to prepare them for creating a publication on Plumas County with emphasis on historically significant structures ... [but] the book contains much factual information and researchers will bless the creators for having compiled an index. ..." --Charles Randolph, Oroville Mercury-Register

Top of page

"A gem of a local history book is appearing in bookstores throughout the area. Written by Jane Braxton Little and drawn by Sally Posner, Plumas Sketches is a superb collaboration. ... [The text] seduces the reader with tales such as the story of Miss Mary Street, teacher of the one-room Summit School building in the 1870s. ... Most Plumas County residents know the Summit School as the delicate, faded white building that welcomes travelers through Sierra Valley in a more graceful manner than any monument or commercial sign ever could.

"Little draws on her knowledge of Japanese culture to enhance her writing. She explained that it is the tradition of ink brush painting to use a few strokes to paint shapes that suggest a deeper reality. We see Eva Eyraud feeding deer and we sense that her understanding of how to live her life in these mountains may have been very different and more peaceful than our own." --Mary Rehwald, Feather Publishing Company

Top of page

"Plumas Sketches applies the basic techniques of oral history to Plumas County, California, to create a narrative that is alive with the warmth, humor and inevitable tragedy of gold miners who turned to ranching and logging with the pay dirt was played out. The book uses old buildings as stages for the human dramas that were enacted within their walls. ...

"The result is a whimsical outline of Plumas County history, a collection of anecdotes about the residents of the county who struggled to build their lives there. Posner's drawings are rich with detail. Little's historical vignettes contain a singular tale of life inside each building while also conveying the role of that particular building in the evolution of the community and county. ...

"As an example of the use of oral history techniques to reconstruct a previously unrecorded community history, Plumas Sketches is of interest to oral historians as well as local history students. It is delightfully free of historic pretension without sacrificing scholarship or accuracy." --Northwest Oral History Association

Top of page

"The chance meeting at a yard sale of writer Jane Braxton Little and artist Sally Posner proved lucky for lovers of Plumas County history. The two women combined their talents to produce Plumas Sketches, an inventory of notable structures in the county. Each sketch is accompanied by a brief historical essay on the building and people connected with it. The entire text is hand printed, adding to the book's charm." --Pat Jones, The Californians

Order Plumas Sketches by Jane Braxton Little, ISBN 0-9611886-2-6, $19.96

Order Plumas Sketches by Jane Braxton Little

Home ] Ordering ] [ Reviews ] Contents ] Other ] [Top of Page]

For best viewing use Internet Explorer set at 800 x 600. Click here to download.

This site is copyright 2002 by Heidelberg Graphics, Chico, California

E-mail Heidelberg Graphics

Hit Counter