QUESTION: Please note the many mistakes in the recent inquiry regarding Belle Mooney. Miss Mooney was not part of the Donner Party. However Leanna Donner App was. She was married and moved to Jamestown a young bride, living in the now dilapidated white house just west of Jamestown. The doll mentioned in the story belonged to Patty Reed.

ANSWER: This is exactly correct. Somehow, we managed to combine three families into one folktale. Big mistake. Big. Belle Mooney and Leanna Donner App were wives of mine owners in Jamestown and were women who apparently kept to themselves. That's about where their shared similarities end.

App was 23 years older than Mooney and came to California in 1846 as a member of the ill-fated Donner Party from Springfield, Illinois. When the pioneers reached the Sierra, they encountered an early and brutal winter and lacked proper housing and provisions to make it through.

Forty-six of the 87 lived, some of whom resorted to cannibalism.

Family members say Leeanna App was told never to talk about the experience and she didn't until the last years of her life. In the book, “History of the Donner Party,” she is quoted as saying, “We had no time to build a cabin. The snow came so suddenly we barely had time to pitch our tent, and put up a brush shed, as it were, one side of it was open.”

When she and several others were rescued four months later, she said, she was emaciated and could barely walk. Often, she sat down and cried and waited to die.

Twenty-five days later, the group reached Sutter's Fort in Sacramento.

After they married in 1852, she and her husband John App moved to a ranch in Jamestown, where he owned the Quartz Mine. Family members say she rarely left the ranch and was reserved. She rarely smiled, they said, but didn't fault her knowing her early life's hardship

The doll on display at what is now Sutter's Fort State Historic Park belonged to another member of the Donner Party, Patty Reed, who was 8 when her family set out for California. She was told not to bring anything extra along on the journey but smuggled the doll, Dolly, overland in her skirt.

John App died in 1898 and his wife lived another 32 years on their Jamestown ranch. They are buried in the Jamestown Public Cemetery.



QUESTION: In the News of Record there are often calls listed about excessive noise. Does law enforcement respond to these calls? Why is there no noise ordinance in the county? Recently Sheriff Mele was quoted as saying in response to outdoor marijuana cultivation, "They have the right to do what they want with their property, but they don't have the right to impede on my pursuit of happiness." Wouldn't this also apply to excessive noise from neighbors?

ANSWER: Sgt. Andrea Benson of the Sheriff’s Office said deputies do respond to excessive noise complaints.

“Most of the time just opening up the communication between neighbors and residents to come to an agreement on what they feel is excessive or an annoyance resolves any disputes,” she said.

It does happen that citations are issued for disturbing the peace, she said, but it is rare,

“In order to do this the complainant must be willing to sign a citizen’s arrest complaint,” Benson said.

Tuolumne County Administrator Craig Pedro said he doesn't remember the Board of Supervisors having a definitive discussion on establishing a noise ordinance.

“The few times I have heard this subject come up locally and amongst my peers in professional association meetings, two major challenges have been raised: 1) establishing “acceptable thresholds” is much more subjective than one might think (people don’t readily agree on what is acceptable or not depending on the circumstances); and 2) enforcement is problematic (e.g. having to be in the right place at the right time to observe and measure and availability and priority of staff time in general).”

The miner, whose picture for many years graced the masthead of The Union Democrat, wants to hear from you. Anything you're curious about? Wondering whatever happened to something or someone? Want more information on a certain subject? Send your questions to editor@uniondemocrat.com .

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