Two notable gold rush black men

James Beckwourth joined the Rocky Mountain Fur Company in 1826 and spent years as a trapper and mountain man. He lived with Crow Indians, took a Crow wife, and rose to be an important chief.

James Beckwourth

In 1844 James was trading along the Santa Fe Trail. When war broke out with Mexico he took 1800 Mexican horses back to the United States as spoils of war.

In 1848 he came to California and opened a store in Sonoma, but soon sold it to become a gambler in Sacramento. In 1850 he discovered Beckwourth Pass then pioneered the Beckwourth Trail from Pyramid Lake to Marysville, avoiding the dangerous Donner Pass and saving immigrants 150 hard miles. Afterwards he owned a ranch in the Sierra that grew into Beckwourth, California. But in October 1866, back among the Crow, he died.

The pyramid at Pyramid Lake

Edmund Wysinger

In 1849 the 32 year-old Edmond Edward Wysinger made it across Donner Pass to California. After a year working the mines for his owner, Edmond had earned the $1000 needed to buy his freedom. He met Pernesa Wilson in Miles Creek, Mariposa County in 1853 after she arrived on a wagon train from the south. They were married and in 1862 moved to Visalia where they raised six boys and two girls. Edmond worked as a laborer and part time preacher. When the local school refused to allow his son an education, Edmond sued, and in 1890 the California Supreme Court ruled that public schools districts could not have separate schools for African American and Native American children. Edmond died in 1891.



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