Gold and “newcomers” both have played a big part in the history of the state of California, and both of them played a big role in the formation of the Native Sons of the Golden West
The California Gold Rush was one of the unmatched marvels of American history. In 1848, California was a tranquil wilderness where the population density was so low that, on average, only one human being dwelt per each 528 square miles. But after President James K. Polk made the official announcement on Dec. 5, 1848 that gold had been discovered, things ramped up very quickly. Gold seekers (mostly young men) came in droves from all corners of the earth.
Within a short time, 100,000 people were living in California. They were industrious, civic-minded people. They held a Constitutional Convention, and activated a state government on Dec. 20, 1849. They acted so rapidly that it took Congress almost a year to catch up with them because California was not officially declared a state until Sept. 9, 1850. It was an unparalleled phenomenon; no other American state has been organized in such “can-do” circumstances.
But by the mid-1870s, many more new residents were flooding into California. They were Civil War veterans seeking grants of public lands, and were people who could enjoy the convenient transportation of the newly completed transcontinental railroad. Old-timers shook their heads and worried that, with the nature of the population changing so rapidly, the colorful history of the Gold Rush and early-day statehood soon would be forgotten and neglected. So they hit upon an idea: Why not form an organization of men who had been BORN in California whose mission it would be to preserve the state’s history?
And that’s exactly what happened, causing the Native Sons of the Golden West to be formed on Sept. 11, 1875. The Redwood Parlor #66 was founded on August 15, 1885.