At the peak of Lorenzo White’s success his holdings stretched from Oakland to Fort Bragg. He owned stores, ranches, sawmills, hotels, ferries, saloons, restaurants, real estate, a fleet of ships, and several logging railroads. He commanded the attention of powerful politicians statewide and held sway over four California counties. White’s ambition at times seemed limitless and was the driving force in amassing a considerable fortune. So what can we conclude about L. E. White from this jumbled legacy he’s left us? Was he a mean spirited, ruthless villain and thief or a generous benefactor, a savvy businessman, a civic leader, and an all around stand up guy? Continue Reading →
One of the biggest challenges in writing historical fiction is managing the facts. Sometimes those facts are inconveniently arranged. Other times, there is a paucity of information. The former requires careful structuring of the story. The latter, however, presents a perfect opportunity for the historical novelist to exercise a little freedom in shaping the story. To illustrate this point, we’ll look at two real people who appear in my story, how I used reliable facts, and how I invented history for the gaps or stitched seemingly unrelated facts together. Continue Reading →
The idea for a historical novel set in 19th century Mendocino County first came to me in the small town of Albion, California. I was spending a weekend in an old converted water tower and reading about William Richardson’s first lumber mill in Albion. Three years later, after extensive research that has led me as far afield as Saint Louis, Nicaragua, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Hong Kong, I am halfway through the second draft of the story. In that time, my eyes have been opened repeatedly to the breadth of the saga I’m attempting to write. Continue Reading →
The Mendocino coast at that time was largely virgin wilderness, much of it unexplored. There were few settlers besides the local Pomos. The heavily forested bluffs and mountains were home to large numbers of elk, black bear, grizzly bear, wolves, pumas, and coyotes. As a result, loggers were often confined to their remote lumber camps for months at a time. Put a large group of men together under those circumstances and you’re likely to hear some pretty colorful language, some of it downright profane. Continue Reading →
My discovery of 19th century African American lithographer and painter Grafton Tyler Brown began with a search for a character for my novel-in-progress. Little did I know I would uncover such an intriguing story about an important and overlooked figure in northwestern art. Little did I know that the story would be found in a book that had yet to be released.
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The rise and fall of Englishman William Richardson, first settler of Yerba Buena, Port Captain of San Francisco Bay, and owner of three Mexican ranchos. This article focuses on Richardson’s impact on the Mendocino town of Albion. Continue Reading →
Passing through the village of Albion in Mendocino County, it’s hard to believe it played a pivotal role in one of the most dramatic periods in California history. Traveling north on Highway 1, you’ll reach a stretch of road that is mercifully free of the endless hairpin turns that plagued you farther south. You’ll settle into a relaxed drive through undisturbed ranch land as the Pacific Ocean disappears and reappears in darting vistas on your left. You’ll cross the picturesque white bridge over Salmon Creek, noting the tranquil Whitesboro Cove at the creek’s mouth. In a few hundred yards, you’ll see a sign for Albion. Then two roads — one winding up to Ledford House on a bluff to the left, the other climbing a hill to the Albion Store and Post Office on the right. In another click, you’ll blur past a scattering of houses that trail down the Continue Reading →