Early Yosemite Valley by Doodleduncan

What is doodleduncan?

This is a journey that began with an inherited box.  A musty, stinky box filled with albums and scrapbooks of people nobody knew and collections of article clippings without any meaning.  Another box to be stored and forgotten.

Over 15 years and three house moves, this box never made its way out of garage storage.   Oh sure, we’d take a glimpse from time to time.  We’d pop open the top, but just long enough to remember that this was a box for someday, never today.

And then “Today” finally came.

While trying to think of the perfect way to honor my husband on Father’s Day,  I thought about how little he knew about his father’s family.  His father had died while he was in college, and his grandfather had died before he was born.  All that was left were his childhood memories…and that box.

So I started with that box, and began the quest to uncover his father’s family’s story.

Discovering historical journeys

As I opened the box, with this new sense of purpose, I saw the threads of a rich tapestry, just waiting to be woven.

Those albums of camping pictures meticulously labelled with names of people we never knew?  Those were early 1920’s Sierra Club trips to Yosemite Valley and other National Parks that my husband’s grandparents took.  Many of these photos were strikingly similar to famed Ansel Adams photos.  Did they know each other through these trips and a shared love of photography? And those goofy dress-up photos? That was from their trip to the 1915 Pan-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.  The group of travelers in the open car driving through the since-fallen Mariposa Tree?  Look closely, and there is famed “Pioneer Attorney”  Will D. Gould, who you’ll read a lot more about.  He turned out to be the key that unlocked this box of family mystery.

Over what has become years, I’ve read through hundreds of newspaper articles and other publications.  I've also visited old addresses of places people lived and worked.  I’ve even wandered through cemeteries and last resting places, uncovering the stories of people and places from photos in this box.

Sharing strange stories

With all of this discoveries, I've uncovered many strange and interesting stories. There are the stories of ancestors who have fought for our freedom in the Revolutionary War.  There are also stories of pioneers who crossed the country over land and by sea to seek their fortune in the Gold Rush.  Most notable, however, are the stories of one forward-thinking leader who helped build the City of Los Angeles grow from 5,000 inhabitants to what is now the second largest city in the United States.

Yet there are also wonderful stories of teachers, preachers, farmers, salesmen, and scientists.  These are the people who volunteered freely for a greater good, honored civic duty, and were the backbone of communities old and new.

In my husband’s father’s family, I see people who have helped shaped our country and somber tales of inescapable tragedies. Doodleduncan captures this personal historical journey of America.

About family and friends who are no longer living

This website is a living book about people no longer living.  It is a work-in-progress that celebrates the lives that were hidden away in this box.  In a strange way, it also exposes how these past lives and their journeys are very much intertwined with the journeys we take today.

I hope you enjoy reading these stories. Most of all, I hope they inspire you to discover your own journey.

Meet the Writer

writer at doodleduncan

Lisa Duncan

Lisa Duncan is a wife, mom, business owner and all-round dabbler and doodler.  This project has been a labor of love, and helps her entertain a persistent fantasy of being hold up in a cottage by the sea, writing by day and dancing by night.   When she's not doodling about dead people, she can be found helping businesses and nonprofit organizations solve their business and marketing challenges.