1941-1948. Binder of Notes and Research Materials for a Book by a Noted Female California Historian, 1941-1948
11 ¼” x 9 ½” three-ring binder containing approx. 70 pp. manuscript research material, 10 pp. letters and 2 pp. list of mining terms. Very Good condition: binder lightly worn and soiled; a few pages detached from one ring, a few lightly toned at edges.
This is a binder of notes and research material compiled by noted author, publisher and California historian Marcia Wynn Samelson (aka Marcia Rittenhouse Wynn) for her 1949 work “Desert Bonanza: Story of Early Randsburg, Mojave Desert Mining Camp.”
A review for the book in “The Quarterly: Historical Society of Southern California,” Vol. 31, No. 1/2 (March and June 1949) posited that “the author has done a book that will be needed in every library of Californiana. She was reared in the Mojave Desert and spent much of her life in Randsburg. Never before has a full book been written on Randsburg by an authority...and aside from its historical value the book is just about as interesting reading as your reviewer has seen in a long time.”
The bulk of the binder (70 pp.) is composed of Samelson’s typed transcription (with handwritten annotations) of George W. McPherson’s “History of the Rand Mining District of California.” McPherson, the Secretary of the Rand District Board of Trade, authored this work in 1899 and Samelson noted that she “finally located and borrowed” a full copy from the family of John Kinyon (one of the book’s main subjects) in November 1947. Samelson wrote, “On p. 11 of McPherson’s book began the Kinyon story” and McPherson’s story follows:
“In the early part of August 1895, less than three months after the original discovery of the first mines in the district by Messrs. Moore, Singleton and Burcham, John Kinyon arrived in camp, soon followed by his brother William and his father…Being workers and experienced prospectors, it was not many days before they located the mine which has since been known as the Kinyon…It is a veritable bonanza locked in Nature’s great treasure vault, to which Mr. Kinyon and sons hold the key.”
The binder also contains two other small sections, one labeled “Letters (Mother’s and others of family)”. There are six typed letters to Samelson from her mother (each with handwritten addenda and corrections), dated between 1941 and 1948, as well as three pages of handwritten notes. The letters include current life updates along with reminiscences of earlier days, no doubt in response to her author daughter’s prodding research questions. In 1944 her mother wrote:
“I received your letter and manuscript. I think Marcia your book is going to be a great success, you have a swing to it that makes you want to keep on reading, I do not know just how to describe it, you have a natural way of telling things, and too your heart is in it, you have always loved the desert and of course that is your birth place, just like I feel towards Columbus.” In a 1941 letter, which Samelson transcribed, her mother recounted the family’s trip to Goldfield, Nevada in 1905. Next to one section, Samelson penciled the word “Use”: “There were three women on the stage. I guess they were from the red-light district, as every time the stage stopped, they would take a drink out of a bottle. Each time they offered me a drink. I think they felt sorry for me as…I had a sick husband and a sick little girl, and I guess they thought I needed it. Of course, I did not take a drink but realized they meant well.” The final section is a two-page list of mining terms which Samelson noted were from the Report of the State Mineralogist.
Rare manuscript and research material on an important mining town in California. OCLC locates no holdings of McPherson’s work, nor any of Samelson’s manuscript material. Item #401