Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

6/1/2005 - 8/31/2005

Funding Totals

$5,000.00 (approved)
$5,000.00 (awarded)

Putah Creek: Rural Life in the Sacramento Valley, 1850-1900

FAIN: FT-53561-05

David J. Vaught
Texas A & M University, College Station (College Station, TX 77843-0001)

My book seeks to humanize what has long been thought of only as an "industry"--wheat farming in nineteenth-century California. I examine Putah Creek, a prominent agricultural community near Sacramento, from its origins in the Gold Rush, through the bonanza wheat era, and through the state's transition from wheat to fruit. This was a community of remarkable stability, despite being settled by displaced 49ers on a fraudulent Mexican land grant. I analyze farm people's experiences from their own perspectives, paying close attention to their ethnicity, class loyalties, gender identities, and family networks. While my focus is local, even personal, my narrative also pays close attention to regional, national, and international forces.

Associated Products

After the Gold Rush: Tarnished Dreams in the Sacramento Valley (Book)
Title: After the Gold Rush: Tarnished Dreams in the Sacramento Valley
Abstract: "It is a glorious country," exclaimed Stephen J. Field, the future U.S. Supreme Court justice, upon arriving in California in 1849. Field's pronouncement was more than just an expression of exuberance. For an electrifying moment, he and another 100,000 hopeful gold miners found themselves face-to-face with something commensurate to their capacity to dream. Most failed to hit pay dirt in gold. Thereafter, one illustrative group of them struggled to make a living in wheat, livestock, and fruit along Putah Creek in the lower Sacramento Valley. Like Field, they never forgot that first "glorious" moment in California when anything seemed possible. In After the Gold Rush, David Vaught examines the hard-luck miners-turned-farmers—the Pierces, Greenes, Montgomerys, Careys, and others—who refused to admit a second failure, faced flood and drought, endured monumental disputes and confusion over land policy, and struggled to come to grips with the vagaries of local, national, and world markets. Their dramatic story exposes the underside of the American dream and the haunting consequences of trying to strike it rich.
Year: 1997
Primary URL:
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 0801884977