AUGUSTA — A Kennebec Historical Society presentation is set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the Viles Arboretum, 153 Hospital St. The program will be preceded by a 4:30 p.m. potluck supper and a 6 p.m. annual meeting and election of officers and directors.

Hundreds of men and women left Kennebec County to seek fortunes after news of California gold reached Maine in late 1848. In three years of research, Jan Eakins has woven letters, diaries and other clues from the Kennebec Historical Society and collections across the country to provide insights and stories. Researchers learned why the rate of departure from Maine to California was one of the highest in the nation. Kennebec gold seekers were traced as they head West by way of Cape Horn, Panama, Mexico and overland through Missouri, according to a KHS news release.

Researchers examined their lives in California, their successes, failures, deaths and — for the fortunate few — their return with gold in hand. Participants can learn of Franklin Glazier, Horace Williams, Henry T. Hoskins, Allen Lambard, William Bodfish, Hosea Dudley, Amariah Kalloch, E. K. Perry, Henry W. Severance, Seth Whitehouse, Grenville H. Child, Charles L. Scammon, Francis Chipman, Peter H. Brinsmade and others, many in their own words.

Speaker Jan Eakins, has studied Mainers in the West for 20 years and is writing a book on their role in the California gold rush. She is a trustee of Maine Historical Society, teaches history at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and is a docent at Fifth Maine Regiment Museum. She taught journalism and history at Plattsburgh State University in New York, was curator of c.1641 Fairbanks House in Massachusetts, and led tours and trained guides at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia.

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