Waterman S Bodey

Waterman S Bodey (14 May 1814 – 9 Dec 1859 ) was a prospector whose name became immortalized in the annals of American mining history through the town of Bodie, California. Little is known about Bodey’s early life, but his story intersects with the era of the California Gold Rush, a period marked by the discovery of gold in 1848 and the subsequent influx of prospectors and fortune seekers to the Sierra Nevada region.

Bodey hailed from Poughkeepsie, New York, and like many others, he was drawn to the West by the promise of gold and a better life. In 1859, Bodey, along with a companion named E.S. “Black” Taylor, discovered gold in the hills east of the Sierra Nevada, near what is now the Nevada-California border. This discovery marked the beginning of what would later become the town of Bodie.

Despite the potential of his discovery, Bodey did not live to see the full flourishing of the town that bore his name. Tragically, in November of 1859, Waterman S. Bodey perished in a blizzard while attempting to return to his camp with supplies from Monoville, a nearby settlement. His untimely death left him largely unknown, even as the settlement he helped found grew.

The town of Bodie itself experienced a boom in the late 1870s following the discovery of a profitable gold vein by the Standard Company in 1876. This discovery sparked a rush to the area, transforming the camp into a thriving mining town with a population that swelled to around 10,000 people at its peak. The town gained a reputation for its lawlessness and rough character, epitomizing the wild and often violent nature of frontier mining towns.

By the 1880s, the boom began to wane as the mines yielded less gold and people moved on to other opportunities. Despite several periods of revival, Bodie eventually became a ghost town, largely abandoned by the early 20th century. Today, Bodie is preserved in a state of arrested decay as a California State Historic Park, drawing visitors who are fascinated by its history and the remnants of its once vibrant community.

Waterman S. Bodey’s legacy lives on through the town that bears his name, a symbol of the rugged determination and perilous fortune-seeking spirit that characterized the California Gold Rush era.


Julia Thomas

Julia Thomas, a figure of historical significance in Phoenix, Arizona, was born in the mid-19th century. Her role in the passing of Jacob Waltz serves as the foundation to the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. Though much about her early life remains shrouded in mystery, it is known that Julia was of mixed African American and Native American descent, which shaped her experiences and opportunities in a rapidly changing America.

Move to Phoenix

Julia Thomas moved to the burgeoning city of Phoenix, Arizona, in the late 1800s. At a time when Phoenix was still developing from a small settlement into a thriving city, Julia’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to establish herself as a businesswoman. She opened an ice cream parlor, which became one of the earliest and most popular establishments in the area. Her business acumen and unique offerings in the hot Arizona climate made her parlor a community hub and a beloved local fixture.

The Lost Dutchman’s Mine

Julia Thomas is perhaps most famously connected with the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. In the late 1800s, she and her husband, along with a German immigrant named Jacob Waltz (known as “the Dutchman”), became involved in the search for a legendary gold mine rumored to be hidden in the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix. According to legend, Waltz had discovered the mine but took its location to his grave when he died in 1891. Julia, having nursed Waltz during his final days, was believed to have been privy to clues about the mine’s location.

After Waltz’s death, Julia and her partners organized several expeditions to locate the elusive mine. Although they never found it, the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine grew, capturing the imaginations of countless treasure hunters and becoming a significant part of Arizona folklore. Julia’s association with this legend cemented her place in the annals of local history.

Later Years and Legacy

In her later years, Julia Thomas continued to live in Phoenix, remaining a respected and well-known figure in the community. Despite the challenges she faced as a woman of color in a predominantly white society, Julia’s resilience and entrepreneurial spirit left an indelible mark on the city’s history.

Julia Thomas’s legacy is multifaceted. She is remembered as a pioneering businesswoman who contributed to the early commercial life of Phoenix and as a key figure in one of Arizona’s most enduring legends. Her life story reflects the broader themes of perseverance, adventure, and the search for opportunity that characterized the American West during her time.

Julia Thomas passed away in the early 20th century, but her story continues to inspire and captivate those interested in the rich tapestry of Arizona’s history. Through her endeavors and the legends she helped perpetuate, Julia Thomas remains an iconic figure in the narrative of Phoenix, Arizona.

Further Reading

The Curse of the Dutchman's Gold by Helen Corbin

The Curse of the Dutchman’s Gold by Helen Corbin

The Curse of the Dutchman's Gold by Helen Corbin Helen Corbin's The Curse of the Dutchman's Gold is the first book I have read on…


Theodore Jesse Hoover

Theodore Hoover in Bodie, Calif., 1904
Theodore Hoover in Bodie, Calif., 1904

Early Life and Education

Theodore Jesse Hoover was born on January 28, 1871, in West Branch, Iowa. He was the older brother of Herbert Hoover, who would later become the 31st President of the United States. Theodore grew up in a Quaker family that valued hard work, education, and service. His father, Jesse Hoover, was a blacksmith and farm implement dealer, and his mother, Hulda Minthorn Hoover, was deeply involved in the local community.

Theodore attended Stanford University, where he pursued a degree in mining engineering. He graduated in 1901, becoming part of Stanford’s early cohorts of engineers. His time at Stanford laid the groundwork for his future career and instilled in him a passion for both engineering and conservation.

Career in Engineering and Mining

After graduating, Theodore Hoover embarked on a successful career in mining engineering. He traveled extensively, working on mining projects in various countries, including Australia, China, South Africa, and Russia. His expertise in mining engineering and his innovative approaches to solving complex problems earned him a reputation as a leading expert in the field.

In 1912, Hoover joined the faculty at Stanford University as a professor of mining and metallurgy. He brought his practical experience and global perspective to the classroom, inspiring a new generation of engineers. His teaching emphasized not only technical skills but also the importance of ethical practices and environmental stewardship in mining operations.

Arrival in Bodie

In the early 20th century, Theodore Hoover arrived in Bodie, California, a booming mining town known for its rich gold deposits. Bodie, once a thriving gold rush town in the late 1800s, experienced fluctuating fortunes as mining activity waxed and waned. By the time Theodore Hoover arrived, the town had already seen its peak population and was in decline.

Contributions to Mining in Bodie

Theodore Hoover’s contributions to Bodie were marked by his work as a mining engineer and manager. He was employed by the Standard Consolidated Mining Company, one of the most significant mining enterprises in Bodie. Under his leadership, Hoover implemented more efficient mining techniques and technologies, which helped to extend the life of the mines in Bodie. His engineering skills and innovative approaches contributed to the extraction of gold and other precious metals, ensuring that the mines remained productive for a longer period.

While Theodore Hoover’s time in Bodie did not radically transform the town, his work left a lasting impact on the mining industry in the region. He exemplified the skilled and educated professionals who were essential to the continued operation of mining enterprises during a period when many such towns were facing decline. His contributions helped maintain employment and economic activity in Bodie for a longer period than might have been possible otherwise.

Contributions to Conservation

Theodore Hoover was a pioneer in the field of conservation. He recognized the environmental impacts of mining and advocated for sustainable practices long before it became a widespread concern. Hoover’s work included promoting the reclamation of mined lands, the efficient use of natural resources, and the protection of water quality.

His contributions to conservation were not limited to his professional work. Hoover was actively involved in various conservation organizations and initiatives. He served on the board of directors for several environmental groups and was a vocal advocate for policies that balanced economic development with environmental protection.

Later Life and Legacy

In addition to his work in engineering and conservation, Theodore Hoover played a significant role in the development of Stanford University. He served as the first dean of Stanford’s School of Engineering from 1925 to 1936, where he helped shape the school’s curriculum and fostered an environment of innovation and excellence.

Hoover retired from Stanford in 1936 but continued to be active in both professional and community affairs. He authored several books and papers on mining, metallurgy, and conservation, contributing valuable knowledge to these fields.

Theodore Jesse Hoover passed away on May 4, 1955, leaving behind a legacy of innovation, education, and environmental stewardship. His work as an engineer, educator, and conservationist had a lasting impact on the mining industry and helped pave the way for more sustainable practices.

Theodore Jesse Hoover’s life was marked by a commitment to excellence and a forward-thinking approach to the challenges of his time. His contributions to mining engineering and conservation continue to be relevant today, reflecting his vision of a world where technological progress and environmental preservation go hand in hand. Through his work and legacy, Theodore Hoover remains an inspiring figure in the history of engineering and environmental science.


Manzanar California

Manzanar Enterance and sign. Photograph by Ansel Adam
Rebuilt Guardtower located an Manzanar Relocation Camp.  Photo by James L Rathbun
Rebuilt Guardtower located an Manzanar Relocation Camp. Photo by James L Rathbun

Shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, President Roosevelt ordered the forced relocation and incarceration of peoples of Japanese descent to relocation camps, one of which was Manzanar.  Initially, the American population and newspapers sided with the plight of the Japanese.  However over the next few weeks, public opinion soured against the Japanese.  The justification for this order was a fear that Japan was preparing to invade mainland USA and that the large population of would join an invading Japanese force.

As political pressure mounted, despite no evidence of any Japanese espionage, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19th, 1942 which authorized the military to designate exclusion zones, which allowed the military determine “from which any or all persons may be excluded.”  A series of proclamations and orders soon followed which along with public outcry greased the bureaucratic gears.   The end result was the illegal and immoral arrest, relocation and incarceration of over 110,000 persons of Japanese Descent, many of whom were second generation US Citizens.

Located just outside of Independence, CA, Manzanar is one of ten Japanese relocation camps used during World War 2.   The 6200 acres leased from the City of Los Angeles was set aside to inter the Japanese was started and receive its first of 11,070 prisoners in 1942 and held them until November of 1945.  The prisoners were  housed 20ft by 100ft barracks arranged into 36 quickly constructed Blocks.  

Photographer: Lange, Dorothea -- Manzanar, California. 7/2/42 Identifier: Volume 22 Identifier: Section C Identifier: WRA no. C-837 Collection: War Relocation Authority Photographs of Japanese-American Evacuation and Resettlement Series 8: Manzanar Relocation Center (Manzanar, CA) Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.
Photographer: Lange, Dorothea — Manzanar, California. 7/2/42 Identifier: Volume 22 Identifier: Section C Identifier: WRA no. C-837 Collection: War Relocation Authority Photographs of Japanese-American Evacuation and Resettlement Series 8: Manzanar Relocation Center (Manzanar, CA) Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.

In addition to Barracks, each Block communal mess hall, a laundry room, a recreation hall, an ironing room, and a heating oil storage tank.  Each family interred and Manzanar was given a 20ft by 25ft apartment barracks.  With a few exceptions, the Japanese endured their fate with quiet dignity and honor.

Photo by Ansel Adams

After the war, the Japanese detainees were released.  Many left the facility quickly, however some stayed as they no longer had a place to go.  A further indignity was again placed upon them, when once again they were forced to relocated.  Time saw to removal of much of the buildings and it quietly returned back to Owens Valley.  President George H.W. Bush issues a formal U.S. Government apology for the Japanese internment.

Manzanar is currently a historical landmark in Inyo country and offers tours of the facility.

Manzanar Summary

LocationInyo County, California
Latitude, Longitude36.7283, -118.1544
Elevation3,850 ft
Newspaper Manzanar Free Press (1942 – 1945)
National Register of Historic Places76000484
Manzanar Cemetery Monument.  Photo By James L Rathbun
Manzanar Cemetery Monument. Photo By James L Rathbun

Other Japanese Internment Camps:

  • Gila River War Relocation Center, Arizona
  • Granada War Relocation Center, Colorado (AKA “Amache”)
  • Heart Mountain War Relocation Center, Wyoming
  • Jerome War Relocation Center, Arkansas
  • Manzanar War Relocation Center, California
  • Minidoka War Relocation Center, Idaho
  • Poston War Relocation Center, Arizona
  • Rohwer War Relocation Center, Arkansas
  • Topaz War Relocation Center, Utah
  • Tule Lake War Relocation Center, California

Manzanar Map

Further Reading

Farewell to Manzanar, by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Farewell to Manzanar

Farewell to Manzanar, by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston In Farewell to Manzanar, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston recalls her childhood at a Japanese incarceration camp in this engrossing…
Manzanar (Images of America) by Jane Wehrey

Manzanar (Images of America)

Manzanar (Images of America) by Jane Wehrey Through a collection of vintage photographs, the Images of America series allows readers to explore the history that…


Herman Petrasch

Herman Petrasch ( April 6 1864 - 23 Nov 23, 1953 ), Photo by Desert Magazine January 1954 Issue
Herman Petrasch ( April 6 1864 – 23 Nov 23, 1953 ), Photo by Desert Magazine January 1954 Issue

Herman Petrasch of Phoenix, Arizona, is best known for his involvement in the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, one of the most famous treasure legends in American history. Born on June 6, 1868, in Walla Walla, Washington, Herman Petrasch moved to Arizona with his family, who were among the early settlers in the region. The Petrasch family played a significant role in the exploration and development of Arizona’s mining potential.

Early Life and Family Background

Herman Petrasch was part of a pioneering family deeply involved in the mining industry. His brother, Rhinehart Petrasch, was also a prominent figure in Arizona’s mining history. Growing up in a family dedicated to prospecting and mining, Herman gained extensive knowledge and experience in the field from an early age.

The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

Herman Petrasch is most famously connected to the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. The mine, allegedly located in the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix, Arizona, is said to hold a vast fortune of gold. The story of the mine is shrouded in mystery and has captivated treasure hunters for over a century.

The legend originated with Jacob Waltz, a German immigrant (often referred to as the “Dutchman”) who supposedly discovered the gold mine in the late 19th century. Before his death in 1891, Waltz reportedly shared the location of the mine with a few people, including Julia Thomas, a family friend of the Petrasch family.

Involvement with the Search

After Waltz’s death, Herman Petrasch, along with his brother Rhinehart and Julia Thomas, dedicated themselves to finding the lost mine. They conducted numerous expeditions into the Superstition Mountains, guided by the clues and maps left behind by Waltz. Despite their efforts, the exact location of the mine remained elusive.

Herman’s dedication to the search for the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine exemplified the adventurous spirit and determination of the time. The Petrasch brothers’ explorations added to the mystique and allure of the legend, attracting countless other treasure hunters to the region.

Later Life and Legacy

Although Herman Petrasch never found the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, his legacy is deeply intertwined with the legend. His persistent efforts and the stories of his expeditions contributed significantly to the mythos surrounding the mine. The legend continues to be a topic of fascination and speculation, drawing treasure hunters and enthusiasts to the Superstition Mountains to this day.

Herman Petrasch passed away on April 7, 1953, in Phoenix, Arizona. His life and adventures remain an integral part of Arizona’s rich history, symbolizing the enduring allure of hidden treasure and the human quest for discovery.


Herman Petrasch’s involvement in the search for the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine has made him a legendary figure in the annals of American folklore. His story, marked by determination and adventure, captures the imagination of those who continue to be intrigued by the mysteries of the past and the promise of hidden treasures.

Further Reading

The Curse of the Dutchman's Gold by Helen Corbin

The Curse of the Dutchman’s Gold by Helen Corbin

The Curse of the Dutchman's Gold by Helen Corbin Helen Corbin's The Curse of the Dutchman's Gold is the first book I have read on…


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