The Native Sons of the Golden West is a fraternal service organization founded in 1875, limited to native born Californians and dedicated to historic preservation, documentation of historic structures and places in the state, the placement of historic plaques and other charitable functions within California. In 1890 they placed the first historical marker in the state to honor the discovery of gold which gave rise to the state nickname "Golden State" and "Golden West."
Our Rich History..How it all started...
General Albert M Winn, A Virginian who came to California during Gold Rush days and who was deeply impressed with the fortitude of the men and women of the period, organized the Native Sons of the Golden West in San Francisco on July 11, 1875.
General Winn sought to immortalize those pioneer fathers and mothers. He decided to gather a group of Native Californians who, dressed in the rough miner's garb of the Gold Rush days, would march in the 1875 Independence Day Parade on Monday, July 5. Twenty-one of those participating joined together on July 11 to form the Society of Native Sons of the Golden West.
What is a Native Son of the Golden West?
We must go back in history to the California Gold Rush, which 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. Partially 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. There 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. That it was only a matter of time before 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 July 11, 1875.
What do Native Sons of the Golden West do?
Long before there were such things as state historical parks and the like, in the 1880s Native Sons kicked off fund-raising campaigns to save the disintegrating buildings that were icons of early California history;
We Native Sons also began placing historical markers and partnered with the state to encourage it to do the same (most notably starting with the monument at the gold discovery site at Coloma). Today, Native Sons are still very active:
We also get involved in many other non-history related civic activities and charities. And we have our social side too. In this day and age, when it gets tiresome staring into the screen of a TV or computer monitor, we offer an alternative: The chance to look into real human faces at a multitude of dinners, family picnics, barbecues and other just-plain-fun events.
California becomes the 31st state in record time
Admission Day - Though it had only been a part of the United States for less than two years, California becomes the 31st state in the union (without ever even having been a territory) on this day in 1850.
Mexico had reluctantly ceded California and much of its northern territory to the United States in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo,. When the Mexican diplomats signed the treaty, they pictured California as a region of sleepy mission towns with a tiny population of about 7,300-not a devastating loss to the Mexican empire. Their regret might have been much sharper had they known that gold had been discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California, nine days before they signed the peace treaty.
Suddenly, the greatest gold rush in history was on, and “forty-niners” began flooding into California chasing after the fist-sized gold nuggets rumored to be strewn about the ground just waiting to be picked up. California’s population and wealth skyrocketed.
Most newly acquired regions of the U.S. went through long periods as territories before they had the 60,000 inhabitants needed to achieve statehood, and prior to the Gold Rush, emigration to California had been so slow that it would have been decades before the population reached that number. But with gold fever reaching epidemic proportions around the world, more than 60,000 people from around the globe came to California in 1849 alone.
Faced with such rapid growth, as well as a thorny congressional debate over the question of slavery in the new territories, Congress allowed California to jump straight to full statehood without ever passing through the formal territorial stage. After a rancorous debate between the slave-state and free-soil advocates, Congress finally accepted California as a free-labor state under the Compromise of 1850, beginning the state’s long reign as the most powerful economic and political force in the far West.