Reviving lost voices
Meet our ancestors… the people who shaped this land and our societal narrative. The people who form the foundation of our own personal narratives. They are ones we celebrate, the ones we have converted into fictional legends, and, most of all, the ones whose whispers we can barely hear.
Harriet Hill owned a silver mine at a time when this simply wasn’t done. This served as inspiration for numerous women in Mineral King, a historic mining district now located in Sequoia National Park.
Can one forty-year-old mother change the course of history? Determining the source of social change is rarely easy. In the case of Mineral King, Harriet was the undisputed source. But what motivated her? The impetus for Harriet to claim mining ground may have been new mining legislation that neglected to explicitly exclude women. It could have been the dawning women’s enfranchisement movement supported by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. And it could have been something innate to Harriet. What we know is this: On June 14th, 1874 she became the first woman to sign her name on a document that declared ownership of a twenty-acre mine claim in the Mineral King Mining District. The document was then placed in a rock monument next to a precipitous cliff. This astonishing act inadvertently gave Harriet the right to vote in District elections thirty-seven years before women were legally permitted to vote in California, and forty-six years before they gained the right to vote in Federal elections. And yet this astonishing act was just one moment in a remarkable life. Come along with us as we explore Harriet’s tale