By: Oscar Penn Fitzgerald (1829-1911)
Here we meet all sorts of characters and situations in California’s early history: gunmen, outlaws, lynch mobs, raging storms, mining camps, lost clergymen, freed slaves, Northern sympathizers, Southern sympathizers, soldiers…. Oscar Penn Fitzgerald was a Methodist clergyman, journalist and educator. He served as California Superintendent of Public Instruction (1867–1871). His California Sketches were published in two series (1879 and 1881) and a consolidated volume (1895). This reading is based on the consolidated volume (Sections 1-48) with the addition of the sketches from the first books that were omitted in the last one (First, Sections 49-50; Second, Sections 51-57). The listener is alerted that the author exhibits the very common nineteenth century white man’s low opinion of Native Americans. The sketches are of church and nonchurch folk. Even those not interested in religious matters may be entertained by this view into the psychology and culture of early Californians, as well as the challenges and rewards of the land and climate themselves.