I hope you’re enjoying Striking Up Gold Mountain! On CD #2 you’ll meet “Overland Girl” ~ a novella about a family traveling to California on a wagon train. Along the way, the McCorkell* Family is befriended by a man traveling alone. The character’s name is Taurone, and he is a Wyandotte (Wendat/Huron) Indian. And here one of the places where facts and fiction become intertwined, the essential hallmark of creating Historical Fiction!
(*My grandmother’s maiden name was McCorkell. She married into the Wyandotte Tribe when she married my Wyandotte grandfather Kenneth “Tyanonka” Walker.)
I grew up with a story that one of my “greats,” a grandfather, came to California during the Gold Rush. He was a member of the Wyandotte Tribe, and was one of the men who founded the Wyandotte Mining Company, which worked a claim in today’s Yuba County.
Finding documentation for this story is an on-going project. There are little snippets along the way, like evidence of the Wyandotte Mining Company in logs of registered mining claims from the early 1850’s. Plus, there is a geographic spot on the Yuba River, known as Wyandotte Camp. Those little discoveries are pure gold!
During my research, I found out that one of our tribal chiefs, Nicholas Cotter, had come to California before the 1849 Gold Rush. He had been a member of at least one the John C. Frémont expeditions. But again, trying to find documented proof is a bit like trying to catch a feather on the wind. Here is an example of me trying to grab that feather as it blew right past me. Below is a bit of email correspondence between me and a historian, who has been researching Frémont’s expeditions: