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Bob

As Thoreau says in Economy, "I should not obtrude my affairs so much on the notice of my readers if very particular inquiries had not been made...," so:

My name is Bob Graham. I am 74 years old (2016)--old enough to remember when being called Bob wasn't funny. I live in Sacramento, California with my wife of fifty years, Jane, and Chloe our Lakeland terrier.. We have twin sons who both live on the San Francisco Bay Peninsula. Bob is an aerospace engineer at Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, and Bill, who is married to Susan, is President of Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City. Bill and Susan have two children--Will and Meg.
Our own youngest, Clara, graduated from Caltech with a degree in engineering and applied science and moved to Redmond, Washington, where she took a job as a software engineer with Microsoft. She currently works as software developer for Russell Investments at their new global headquarters tower in downtown Seattle.

I used to raise pears in the Sacramento River Delta. Shown here as a 13 year-old fork lift driver in the summer of 1955. I also raised corn, wheat, tomatoes, safflower, and sugar beets, but I always thought of myself as a pear grower. I was always interested in progressive agricultural methods, and was a pioneer in Integrated Pest Management. I frequently worked with the University of California Extension Service in studies and test plots. My own projects also included a ten-year study of pear growth rates, and the writing of a program to forecast coddling moth flight peaks. I was also, for a period of twenty years, a trustee of, and manager of, Reclamation District No. 349 - Sutter Island in the Sacramento River Delta. I was also a landowner (a requirement) on that island, so this was a catch 22 conflict of interest, but also expedient, and I did send out the lowest maintenance assessments of any Reclamation District. But when an opportunity to sell out came my way a few years ago, I made the decision to take advantage of an offer that doesn't come along often, and I sold.
This was the buyer: http://www.stillwaterorchards.com/
So, now I have a lot of fun doing things like this.

Here is our house, which was built in 1929 by an architect/builder known locally as "Squeaky" Williams. It is in an area called the Land Park in Sacramento--in the 1850's it was the town of Sutterville, surveyed by Lt William Tecumseh Sherman--three miles south of Sutter's Fort. Not untypical of the whimsical Williams, the 2-story living room and library loft are of actual post and beam construction: adzed finished, and assembled with mortise and tenon joints secured with wooden treenails.

Why this Frémont interest?
My 3-great grandfather was Captain John Grigsby.
Grigsbys were farmers, stockmen, and frontiersmen--from Aaron Grigsby's arrival in Virginia from England in 1660. By 1808, they were moving into Tennessee, and later, ever westering, they were in Missouri.
The next step was necessarily a big one; John and his family left Missouri for Oregon in 1845. But when they got to Fort Hall, they encountered mountain man Caleb Greenwood.
"Old Greenwood," as he was called, and indeed, he was 82 years old at the time, had been sent out as a roving-agent by John Sutter to recruit settlers to New Helvetia (Sacramento) with the free offer of, as party member B. F Bonney recorded, "six sections of land of his Spanish land grant." A party, called The Grigsby-Ide Party, was formed to follow Greenwood to California. Late that year, they crossed Truckee Pass (called Donner Pass after the 1846 tragedy) and arrived at Sutter's Fort in October, 1845.

But when they arrived they were advised that all foreigners had been ordered by General Jose Castro to leave California within forty days. With their animals worn out from the long journey, and without money or supplies, they decided to remain. John Grigsby moved his family to the Napa Valley, and obtained land from George Yount, and later, from Salvadore Vallejo.

I want to keep this short. John Grigsby, rather than leave California, chose to become a member of what became known as The Bear Flag Party. Thirty of them captured the Military Garrison at Sonoma one morning and declared California an Independent Republic. They didn't know it yet, but war had broken out with Mexico. Frémont soon became active in the Bear Flag Revolt, and commissioned John Captain of the Garrison. Some months later, under a commission by Commodor Robert S. "Fighting Bob" Stockton, he served as Captain of E Company in Frémont's California Battalion of Mounted Riflemen on the march to Los Angeles and The Capitulation of Cahuenga, which ended the hostilities in California.

My 2-great grandfather, William "Uncle Billy" Edgington, who came overland in 1846 and married John Grigsby's daughter Teresa, also served in the California Batallion in Captain Lansford Hastings' F Company. Capt. Grigsby's brothers Jesse and Franklin, and his son Granville, served in John's E Company.

Back to Frémont : In 1992 (I wrote it down) I bought a $12 copy of Upham's 1856 Life of Frémont at an antique store 1/2 mile from my home. Published for Frémont's 1856 presidential candidacy, it contained excerpts from Frémont's expeditions, including the Sierra crossing in 1844.
I had spent much of my youth in the Sierras. My grandfather took up fly fishing about 1910, and we were always off fishing and hiking and birding in the Sierras. When I read Frémont's vivid descriptions of the route, I realized that "I know these places!"
I started buying more books -- anything to do with Frémont's Expeditions. When I eventually obtained an original Senate edition of the 1845 Report, I found all of Frémont's Barometrical and Astronomical Observations and determinations of positions in the back -- a bonanza! Except for one thing...

I didn't know anything about celestial navigation.
I set out to learn.
I bought a lot of books, including ephemerides for the period, and I bought a GPS receiver.
I also studied how Frémont had made his determinations of altitude. I had no computer then, but I had written lots of programs for my old HP 67 card-reading calculator (I still use it). I wrote programs to crunch through all of his determinations of altitude. I studied how Frémont had made his determinations of latitude and longitude, and, with the tables printed in the 1845 Report, I was able to work through his reductions. I found out that then the north star, polaris, wasn't even in the same place in the sky that it is today. I also noted that some coordinates printed in the narrative portion of the 1845 Report were either typos or transpositions (never corrected to this day), and by using the latitude determinations reported in the Report's Astronomical Tables, and adjusting for errors of time in Frémont's longitudes, I was able to absolutely locate his 1844 campsite at Carson Pass in the Sierra Nevada. I am continuing with this all the time.
go Polaris has moved.
go See the Long Camp site.

And the navigation thing grew!
In the fall of 1998 I went to a meeting where Brian Kelleher was speaking about his suggested Drake landing site at Campbell Cove on Bodega Head. I had followed the debates of twenty years ago, so I was interested in what Brian had found in his studies of the records that remain of the voyage. Brian, an environmental engineer from Silicon Valley, had done much statistical analysis of the accuracy of Drake's determinations of longitude. Brian had shown the range of error in Drake's determinations, but not the reason for the error. If Drake had been at Brian's Campbell Cove site (N38 19) in the summer of 1579, why would he report the latitude as N38 30? Was this just a matter of error in using the instruments of the time?

When we talked about it later, Brian said, "Bob, Why don't you look at the latitude problem?"
I started to look at it, and Brian would point me to source materials. I located the books on-line, and books were arriving for weeks. I spent four months busting my head on the problem. I found the errors in Wm. Bourne's then-current Tables of Solar Declinations, and I did a spreadsheet analysis (I now had one of my daughter's castoff computers) of Drake's possible determinations by putting a virtual sun in his sky for each day of the sojourn. And then one day I emailed Brian--Read the email exchange.
This was very exciting and a lot of fun. I later built an astrolabe, and used it for a well attended on-site media demonstration to show the accuracy that Drake could have obtained. The determination came out exactly as predicted. I am looking forward to a Department of Parks and Recreation dig on the site -- this summer I hope. If the State finds no evidence, it will not prove Drake was not there: extensive digs over many years on all the other proposed sites, expecially in the Drake's Bay area. have not yielded any evidence of Elizabethan era occupation. But we will know that Drake's conuenient and fit harborough at N 38 deg 30 min was Campbell Cove, under Bodega Head, at N 38° 19"
go See it.

This is just a hobby.

The Internet has proved to be my best resource for just about anything.
Books that I had spent years searching for I found were available from dealers all over the world.
Web sites were also something I knew nothing about, but I have had a lot of fun learning to use html and javascripts and creating graphics. In addition to this site, I now have three others that I have created or maintain for others.
The best part of the Internet and the website is all the friends and contacts I have made, like this email from a Forest Service nature guide

I am gratified to find that my site has acquired links from many educational web sites and resource sites, including he following:
  • The National University of Singapore
  • The University of Bonn
  • Celestial Navigation in the Classroom
  • World Book online
  • Lehrstuhl für Didaktik der Physik Würzburg
  • Columbia University
  • Southern Polytechnic (Georgia)
  • United States Corps of Topgraphical Engineers
  • University of California San Diego
  • Education on the World Wide Web
  • Trails West --Markers of the California Trail
  • Indigenous Peoples Institute
  • Education America Network
  • The University of Kansas
  • Four Directions Institute
  • Plebius - Architecture of the Mind
  • BigTome.com
  • Lassen County California: History and Culture
  • Minnesota Public Radio: The Writer's Almanac
  • ENFIA -- The Eldorado National Forest Interpretive Association
  • Mill Valley Schools
  • Wirtualna Polska
  • Museum of Local History; Fremont, CA

The articles and information on this website are ephemeral--when I am gone away, it goes away. For those finding it of more permanent value, it is also available archived on CD or thumb drive.

H-CALIFORNIA, H-NET.MSU.EDU
[Editor's note: Bob tells me that the Long Camp site is his hobby. And what a hobby!
The camp site referred to above is depicted on the site in a photo that Bob took after hiking to it in snowshoes!! The site has a number of other Fremont-related links.. DSS]

And in these recently published books:

Pathfinder; John C Fremont and the Course of American Empire, Tom Chaffin's 2002 classic in a new University of Oklahoma Press edition.

A very nice mention and the URL to this website on the first page of the introduction. Wow!

John Charles Frémont: Western Pathfinder, Barbara Witteman, Capstone Press: Bridgestone Books, Part of Exploring the West Biographies, New York, 2002

This one is from a series of youth books. It contains links to the publisher's accompanying Internet search feature--FactHound--which leads to this website. A credit and url are also in the book.


Devil's Gate: Owning the Land, Owning the Story , Tom Rea, University of Oklahoma Press, 2006.

The history of the Sweetwater River valley in central Wyoming--a remote place including Devil's Gate, Independence Rock, and other sites along a stretch of the Oregon Trail.

And the Eldorado National Forest Interpretive Association's new guide, Hiking in the Greater Carson Pass Region, contains a map and hiking directions to Frémont's Long Camp, the historic site first discovered and presented on this website.


Navigational Aids, Linda D. Williams, Cavendish, Marshall Corporation, 2007

A look at tools used to get from one place to another, dating 5000 years ago right up to the present.

Andrew Menard, Sight Unseen: How Fremont's First Expedition Changed the American Landscape will be published by the University of Nebraska Press in Fall 2012.


Way Across the Mountain: Joseph Walker's 1833 Trans-Sierran Passage and the Myth of Yosemite's Discovery, Scott Stine, Arthur H. Clark, San Francisco, and the University of Oklahoma Press.

Over the decades the tale of Walker's discovery of Yosemite has hardened to folklore. Dozens of historical works have construed it as a towering moment in the opening of the West. But in fact this tale of Yosemite's discovery has no basis or support in firsthand accounts of the 1833 Sierran crossing...
It's an Earthshaker!


I like to fish; I'm a 3rd generation Sierra fly fisherman. I usually fish the West Fork of the Carson, and the Silver and South Forks of the American. I've been tying flies since I was about 10 years old. My favorite rod (there is NOTHING I would trade this rod for!) is a little 7 1/2 foot 2 3/4 ounce cane rod made in the 1930s by George Varney when he was manager of the Montague Rod Company. Fittings are all nickel silver, including the patented Varney ferrules.These rods were made by planing 6 pie-shaped segments of cane and glueing them into a hexagon. The tips of this rod, though assembled from six separate strips, measure only 3/64" across the flats. It carries a first series 1930's Pfleuger Medalist 1492 reel with plain click, and I still prefer Phoenix handmade tapered silk lines.
In the spring, when waters are high, I usually use my dad's 8 1/2' Edwards, which he bought in the late 1930s.

I also like just hiking around in the mountains. Jane and I like the coast as well, and we get there frequently. We are also VolksWalkers and cyclists. Every morning at 7 a.m. I ride my black 1971 Raleigh Sports the two miles to Freeport Bakery for cappuccino and an apple pinwheel and a read. Rain or shine.

"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race."--H.G.Wells (1866-1946)

go Something I'm really glad I have never run into in my scouting around!


©1999, 2007
Bob Graham