by Sue Rhoades
A Collection of Victorian Glass Buttons, Golden Age Gilts (1830-1850), and China Calico Buttons
Golden Age Gilts (1830-1850) are brass buttons with gold plating. Designs are engraved, chased, and die stamped. Some are watch case construction, and some are sporting buttons.
Norwegian John Tostensen, known here as Snowshoe Thompson, carried the mail from Placerville to Genoa, Nevada for 20 years beginning in 1856. At the time it was the only mail link during the winter months from western Utah Territory to California. He also operated a freight service on the Carson-Murphy and Donner Pass-Cisco Routes. He called his skis “snow skates” or snow shoes and he made them himself from barn or wagon wood sealed with buttermilk paint. He died in 1876 and he, his wife and son are buried, side by side, in the Genoa Cemetery in Nevada.
The St. Francis Hotel, located on the lot that is now the site of the new City Hall, used this washing machine made of wood in 1890. This was a great improvement over the washboard. A hand operated lever causes the agitator to rotate back and forth, propelling clothing against the corrugated sides. A hand crank turns the wringer. During a fire at the hotel the washing machine was thrown into Hangtown Creek. Later the washer was found and rescued by the local businessman, H. E. Dillinger, who used it in a display at his appliance store. When the business was sold, Mr. Dillinger donated it to the Museum.
Stella Ralston Tracy
At the age of 19, Stella Ralston Tracy was an 1895 graduate of San Jose Normal School. She taught school for eight years before her marriage to Perry Tracy in 1903. Her mother, Georgie Congdon Ralston, taught her the musical arts. She composed music at age seven and was known for her acting and singing in plays. She was a member of the Eastern Star, Shakespeare Club, and our historical society. She donated her home and furnishings at 2956 Coloma Street to the historical society. She also left a $500,000 scholarship fund for the students at El Dorado High School.
The Tracy family’s line of fine shoes were hand made. Shoemakers used a fabricated upper of multiple parts that was stitched to a leather sole. A “last” made of iron or wood was used to form the shoe. Shoe repair was also done at Tracy’s 1860 store.
Prior to the Civil War, insulators made of porcelain and glass were used to hold telegraph wires. As communications and power grids evolved in North America, porcelain became the standard for power distribution due to its greater strength and surface resistance. Glass insulators were occasionally used on some power lines, but their primary use was on communication lines.
Insulators come in many different shapes, sizes and colors which were used depending on the voltage on the lines, predominate weather conditions (such as “fog” type that dispelled condensation more effectively) and the preference of the power company installing the lines.