1st Edition

The Townsend Family in the Emerging American West, 1856-1926 Searching for the Motherlode

Edited By Susan E. James Copyright 2025
    306 Pages 32 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the life of the Townsend family and the events that occurred during the period of 1856-1926 that shaped an expanding American West.

    Bryant and Julia (Riley) Townsend and their three children were born into an age of rapid change and competing cultures. Witnesses to a century of events that shaped a nation, their lives define the complexities and challenges of incomers who arrived in an expanding American West. From the Gold Rush to the California oil boom, from slavery to female suffrage, from Indian Wars to World Wars, the Townsends lived through violent upheavals, outlasting cities, societal beliefs, and entire ways of life. Married in a mining camp in Nevada and relocating frequently, the couple embraced the momentary riches, shattering losses, and personal disasters faced by a vast number of immigrants, foreign and domestic, striving to survive in an often-hostile landscape.  Their lives and those of their three children, Minnie Edith, Bryant and Persia, form the architecture supporting an examination of multiple facets of the Western experience and are exemplars of the different populations that merged to form the American identity.  

    This volume will be of value to students and scholars interested in American History, Social and Cultural History and Modern History.  

    1.  Westward Ho!   2. Gold Hill, Nevada, 1864   3. Newlyweds on the Comstock, 1864-1868  4. Bonanza and Borasco, 1868-1878   5. Interlude: San Luis Obispo, 1878-1879   6.  Return to the Motherlode, 1878-1886  7. Death and Consequences, 1886-1896  8. Waiters, Abusers and Julia’s Ghost, 1890-1900  9. Identity, Independence and Entrepreneurship, 1901-1922  10. How It Ended, 1906-1963


    Susan E. James is an independent researcher who has published articles on the American West as well as three books on sixteenth-century English history: Kateryn Parr: The Making of a Queen (1999), The Feminine Dynamic in English Art, 1485-1603: Women as Consumers, Patrons and Painters (2009), and Women’s Voices in Tudor Wills, 1485-1603: Authority, Influence and Material Culture (2015).