When—and Where—Leland Stanford Hit the Mother Lode
You might be familiar with the name Leland Stanford, founder of Leland Stanford Junior University. Perhaps you know that Stanford, Sr. was one of the “Big Four” who founded the Central Pacific Railroad, part of the transcontinental railroad that linked east and west. As a native Californian, I also know that Stanford was one of the Golden State’s early governors.
What I didn’t know is where Stanford got the money that funded his many ventures. Well, I didn’t, that is, until I wrote my final Love Inspired Historical, Their Mistletoe Matchmakers, which releases this month. My research provided the answer.
Stanford passed his bar exam in 1848 and left his native New York for Wisconsin, where he practiced law for three years. In 1852, he headed west to California, where his brothers had opened a shop for miners in Cold Springs, just down the road from where I worship today at Cold Springs Community Church. Although that shop didn’t do well, the Stanford brothers did end up making a good deal of money selling supplies to miners.
In 1859, Leland Stanford took the Union Mine in the town of Sutter Creek as payment for a customer’s debt, renaming it the Lincoln Mine. He was ready to write the mine off as a loss, but Robert Downs, the mine foreman, persuaded Stanford to give the mine one last chance.
Listening to Downs was one of the wisest moves Stanford made. Within a year, a major vein of ore was tapped, and the Lincoln Mine began to produce. Between 1860 and 1873, over $2.2 million in gold was taken out. Stanford eventually sold his interests for $400,000.
Stanford used his proceeds from his Sutter Creek mining endeavor to help fund the Central Pacific Railroad, which contributed even more to his growing wealth. He went on to become the first Republican governor of California and serve as a U.S. Senator. As mentioned earlier, he and his wife founded Leland Stanford Junior University, where my retired teacher husband earned his Master’s in Education.
Discovering Stanford’s ties to the small Gold Rush town of Sutter Creek was a wonderful surprise. I enjoyed working this historic figure into Their Mistletoe Matchmakers, which is set there.
This story will be my last because I’m retiring from writing so I can spend more time with my great guy. The first big adventure my husband and I embarked on after I turned in my final edits was to take a road trip to Colorado. We saw some great places on the way there and back. I foresee more trips in my future.
I have two copies of the book to offer as a prize. To enter the giveaway, which runs through November 4, answer one of the following questions in a comment.
- If you retired, what would be one of your first adventures?
- If you’re already retired, what was your first major undertaking?
A Christmas Match
The best Christmas possible—that’s what Lavinia Crowne intends to provide before taking her orphaned nieces and nephew home to Philadelphia. But carrying out her plan may be harder than she expects, with their handsome, stubborn uncle, Henry Hawthorn, insisting on raising the children in rough-and-tumble Sutter Creek, California. Lavinia can’t bear to lose her late sister’s children, though, or go against her father’s demand to bring them home.
Henry believes his nieces and nephew need affection and security more than a lavish lifestyle. But as the children conspire to bring their aunt and uncle together, a new vision fills his head—of future Christmases spent with sweet, determined Lavinia and their growing family. Can three little matchmakers, and the spirit of the season, bring the gift of a very happy beginning?