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Connecting in Coloma Lecture

Saturday, November 11, 2017 | 10 a.m. | Gold Discovery Museum Theater

Dr. William Harlan, a descendant of the Harlan family who crossed the plains with the Wimmer party, will be providing insight into that trek and life in Coloma during the Gold Rush. "Connecting in Coloma” – Peter and Jennie Wimmer came to California in 1846 as part of the wagon train led by Peter’s brother-in-law, George Harlan. Harlan was an enthusiastic supporter of the book An Emigrant’s Guide to Oregon and California by Lansford Hastings. Hastings himself showed up on the trail and offered to lead people on a new shortcut to California. Those families like the Harlans, Wimmers, and Donners discovered too late Hastings’ incompetence which was a direct factor in the tragedy of the Donner Party. After the Harlans-Wimmers arrived in California, the Wimmers chose to stay and work for John Sutter while the Harlans dispersed to San Jose, Napa Valley and San Francisco and had many adventures. In the spring of 1848 Wimmer wrote the Harlans about the discovery of gold, and two Harlan boys, Joel and Jacob, purchased supplies and took them to Coloma to open one of the first stores in town. They had many interesting experiences, including selling serapes to the Indians and giving birth to the first American child born in the diggings. When they left Coloma in the winter of 1848, the Harlans sold their store to the disgraced trail guide Hastings and returned to further adventures in the new state. Later they welcomed the Wimmers boys into their extended family in San Ramon.

Contact Jerrie Beard at

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