EMILY SMALL 2Emily Freeman McCallum, resident of San Francisco and Oakland area from the 1850s to the 1870s!  So much I want to know about her, the mystery woman in my family! She was my great-great grandmother on my mother’s side.


Tracing and chasing the past

 Emily Freeman McCallum

Emily Freeman McCallum

After a long weekend of web searches to trace my ancestor’s genealogical footsteps, I have tentatively decided that this approach is not the best way to go.  There are leads, but not much more definitive answers for my inquisitive mind than when I started.  An example is when I found an online family tree to explore.  Emily Freeman McCallum, my great-great grandmother on my mother’s side, is case in point.  In the Katherine Ainsworth book, The McCallum Saga, published in 1974 or thereabouts, Emily is referred to as a mystery.  Not much was known about her then, and in forty years nothing new has come to light.  We are left to wonder and speculate and, frankly, to make up stories about her part in J. G. McCallum’s Palm Valley (the area now known as Palm Springs) venture.  Did she love his enthusiasm for the desert or was she always longing to return to Northern California, where they lived for twenty years.  Are there documents up north where one might find a clue? Online I have not yet even found a copy of their marriage certificate, or a date, or anything like that.  I think  it might be tucked away somewhere in an old church in Amador County!

Now that would be a find!  I think a road trip up the Hwy 49 is calling me.

Twists and Turns

My passion is writing.  I like to write about the unexpected twists and turns found in odd facts of American history.  I try to be unbiased when writing nonfiction, but since I love those twists and turns, my writing turns out to be a quirky version, yet told with honesty.  I ask the unusual questions.  I look for mystery in every situation and I love historical accounts of real life families.  I’m not the kind of historical author who follows every step of the war history.  I am a family history writer:  if a member of the family served in the U.S. army, I would write about that from a distance, as a woman might have seen her husband returning from active duty.  A film example would be from Gone With the Wind, the 1939 version of Civil War days, when Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard, the actor) is walking up the dusty road to Tara, tattered and torn from his years as a captain in the Confederate Army.  Melanie Wilkes (Olivia de Havilland, the actress), his long-suffering wife, sees Ashley from a distance and runs dramatically down to meet him.  They embrace, the music swells, and in that dramatic moment we know all we need to know about wars and long separations between families, and the agonizing longing a woman endures.

My current fascination with history centers on some of the lesser-known stories surrounding the California Gold Rush days.  In this blog, my readers will find some of the ones I’ve recently been discovering in family research and reading old books and letters.  So that is what you will find here, as we journey along the path of the 49ers, those twists and turns ‘round every corner—


This is a photo of my maternal great-great grandmother, who came to San Francisco during the Gold Rush years.  We have very little information about her personally to date, at least her early years.  She married a prominent man and after twenty years living in Northern California, they ventured south and became the first white settlers in the Palm Springs area.  So much has been written about that part of her story, I won’t go into detail here– I am looking for the intriguing mystery of her early years living in San Francisco–EMILY_2