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Jennie Mace lands in Madera

For The Madera Tribune

Jennie Mace arrived in this area after leaving Indiana at the age of 18. She married Cpt. R.P. Mace and became the First Lady of Madera.


The young Madera County pioneer woman, Jennie Cunningham Gilmore, finally settled into her new home on Finegold Gulch. She had come with her husband, John, on their honeymoon journey from Indiana to California in 1855. John mined for gold up and down Finegold Creek while Jennie kept the home fires burning in their “picket and canvas lean-to” that she called home. 

At first her neighbors were few and far between. She had been there two years before she saw another white woman, a Mrs. Lewis, who perhaps assisted in the delivery of Jennie’s first child, Matilda (Tillie), in 1857. Jennie was to write later of her inability to express “the pleasure it gave her to talk with one of her own.”

Like many of the gold seekers, John and Jennie Gilmore decided after a while to mine the miners. They opened a store in what is now the O’Neals area, and “often the day’s receipts would be $1,000, using gold scale weights to designate the amount.” Jennie found that the gold dust, which was the coin of the realm on the Madera County frontier, was stunning. “Nothing looked richer or prettier than grains of gold,” she wrote. 


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