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Lyceums of Crescent Mills & Plumas County, California

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  • Bent the Spritualist (deceased)
    The machinations of the Spiritualist movement included an ambition to employ the methods of the Lyceum movement (see remote file) research Might Maggie O'Leary's 1st husband, referred to by her 2nd...
  • Outlaw Billy Thompson (b. - 1893)
    a member of the Hough-Lowry Gang : see timeline that includes clippings" Plumas County Bulletin (Greenville, California); 16 Mar 1887, Wed., Page 3 (in hiding) Plumas County Bulletin (Greenville,...
  • Francis Gleason, gold rush prostitute (1827 - d.)
    lived in a mining camp called Rich's Bar in Plumas Co., CA on 1860 with her daughter Ella who was then five. research This may be Francis Lowes of the 1850 census of Claveras Co. That would indee...
  • Feather River Bulletin (Quincy, California) 03 Nov 1883, Sat Page 3
    Arabella Elizabeth Young (1841 - 1922)
    The Young and Garvin families lived next door to each other in sparsely populated Indian Valley in 1860. ~• see family #s 1085 and 1086 in the 1860 United States Federal Census.... So was this how Ar...

Background and Focus

"Lyceum movement started in the 19th century in the United States to foster adult education. It took its name from the Lyceum, a school near Athens where philosopher Aristotle lectured to students. The movement promoted adult education through lectures and debates in which speakers like Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke on platforms to teach about areas such as science, literature or moral philosophy. The movement also promoted activities to encourage the building of libraries and general participation in other reform movements. The movement began to decline with the outbreak of the Civil War."

Purpose of Project

Conceived to better understand the social fabric of Quincy, Crescent Mills, Taylorsville, Greenville in the 19th century. The goings-on in a series of cultural productions shepherded by William Leek in Indian Valley and nearby communities. The players (and those excluded = the Maidu) create an interesting portrait.

The township of Plumas was divided along a mountain ridge distinguishing Plumas (proper) from Indian Valley in 1855. Indian Valley is to the north of its neighboring American River valley to the south.

  • A gathering place for the people of Plumas County who participated in these presentations organized for several years by William Howard Leek (at right), an educator. The Location was in Plumas County, California, in the gold-rush era.
  • Also included are other notable people who lived in this set of small, out-of-the-way Sierra Mtn. communities.
  • Documents have been assembled in this project to better understand the people who participated in several Lyceums, social gatherings, and theater groups. The sources allowed for the expansion of an appreciation of Plumas County families.



Extra-curricular gatherings of young people (and adults) in the interest of developing many skills were widespread in this era. The Lyceum movement shows up across the nation. In a twist from common traveling shows, these were local productions.
Minstrel themes, singing, plays, debates... all were quite common. Topics are indicative on what was part of contemporary culture and value systems of the day.
Adult members of casts also belonged to the Masons. Witness Finley McLennan , for one. Finley married another player, Jennie Roedde, the sister of Annie who later died of the plague.


footnote 1: Evidently the play was a perennial favorite. It was shown in the county many years before: Feather River Bulletin (Quincy, California) 06 Feb 1869, Sat., Page 2.
footnote 2: Blacks in CA, 1870 United States Census = 2,845 ; in Plumas Co. = 2 (Abba Fort (GA domestic), Stanton Johnson (Jamaican miner)
Blacks in CA 1880: 3,470 ; in Plumas Co, = 2 (Stephen Johnson; b. England (1829) miner; Stephen Josephes (SC) (1811) prospector
footnote 3: "Although anti-miscegenation amendments were proposed in United States Congress in 1871, 1912–1913 and 1928, a nationwide law against racially mixed marriages was never enacted. Prior to the California Supreme Court's ruling in Perez v. Sharp (1948), no court in the United States had ever struck down a ban on interracial marriage."
footnote 4: Native American miscegenation laws
footnote 5: There were at least two Taylor families living in the area: one, of TN; one of PA (not related).
footnote 6: The Feather River, named by Spanish explorer Captain Luis Arguello as Río de las Plumas in 1820.
footnote 7: Do not forget the Chinese community. They do not make much of an appearance in the newspapers of the day until it was time for tax assessments. See: A complete tax list (1880) appears in the Feather River Bulletin (Quincy, California) 04 Dec 1880, Sat., pages 1 and 4