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Inventory of the Sylvester Allen Ballou Papers, 1836-1968, bulk 1855-1899
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Politics and government in Civil War-era California, ocean travel to and from California in 1865 and 1866, mining in California and Colorado, farm life in Illinois, Ballou family history
Sylvester Allen Ballou (1828-1899) first came to California in 1849 from Ohio with his brother Volney in search of gold. Miner, trader, temperance advocate and school teacher while a resident of the Golden State, his active involvement in Democratic politics led him to serve four terms in the state legislature. A well-respected politican admired by colleagues and by the press, his career was marked in particular by his advocacy of Sacramento as permanent state capital and by his ardent support of popular sovereignty as a solution to the question of slavery in the territories. During the Civil War, he served in the Union Army's Department of Subsistence, being present at the siege of Vicksburg in 1863 and after war's end held the post of Chief Commissary in the Department of CAlifornia for a year. Returning once more to the family home (now in Naperville, Illinois), he settled with his first wife, Julia Hills (Barnard) Ballou, who had accompanied him to California in 1865, until her death in 1869. Although he never again lived in California, he did return to the West several times, notably in 1873 when he revisited California and in 1879 when he participated in the Leadville, Colo. silver rush (without notable success). Returning to Naperville, he remained there with his family including his second wife, Eliza (Norton) Ballou, whom he had married in 1874, until his death in 1899.
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