Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

The Negro Hill Area

History of Afro American miners in the Lower American River circa 1849.

Although a few African-American miners continued to mine the Negro Bar diggings as late as 1852, the majority of African American miners on the lower American River at that time were mining claims located roughly four miles north at a mining camp known as Negro Hill. Located near Mormon Island, the claim is alleged by some early sources to have been first mined by Mormon miners as early as 1848. A man named Kelsey, an African-American from Massachusetts and a Methodist minister along with other Black miners, rediscovered the diggings in 1849. Together, these men established a community of African-American, Caucasian, Chinese, and Portuguese miners that were to grow as large as 400 persons by 1855.

The success of the diggings near Negro Hill prompted settlement of a nearby hill that became known as Little Negro Hill or Negro Flat. Both of these mining camps and their nearby claims yielded enough gold to keep them going well into the mid-1850s. The riches, however, were not enough to prevent racial tensions from boiling over at least once at Negro Hill. Historian Rudolph Lapp notes in his book Blacks in Gold Rush California (New Haven, 1977) that physical confrontations between Caucasian and African-American miners resulted in injuries, deaths, and arrests in 1855. A court in Coloma, despite the fact that an African-American miner was killed, later released the Caucasian miners involved in the incidents. Lapp also states that Caucasian miners at Negro Hill were also supportive of pro-slavery candidates in the presidential elections of 1856.

Despite these problems, Negro Hill and Little Negro Hill/Negro Flat were the home to a Black-owned store and boarding house and a church headed by a Caucasian Methodist clergyman. The camps were described by contemporary sources as being the home to "sources of hardy miners that made good wages." Negro Hill, like many placer mining camps in the Sierra foothills was non-existent by the 1860s. The placer diggings that were so plentiful in the 1850s were exhausted by this time.

Information provided by:
Clarence Caesar, Historian
California Historical and Cultural Endowment
California State Library

Questions:   Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division | CFIRD@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0881
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Share this Page

Recently Posted in History-Social Science

  • Grade Six (DOC) (added 17-Dec-2015)
    Grade Six - World History and Geography: Ancient Civilizations Global Overview: Early Beginnings to 300 CE Chapter of the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.
  • Grade Seven (DOC) (added 17-Dec-2015)
    Grade Seven - World History and Geography: Medieval and Early Modern Times Chapter of the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.
  • Grade Eight (DOC) (added 17-Dec-2015)
    Grade Eight - United States History and Geography: Growth and Conflict Chapter of the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.
  • Instructional Practice for Grades Nine thru Twelve (DOC) (added 17-Dec-2015)
    Instructional Practice for Grades Nine through Twelve Chapter of the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.
  • Grade Nine (DOC) (added 17-Dec-2015)
    Grade Nine - Elective Courses in History-Social Science Chapter of the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.

  • Grade Ten (DOC) (added 17-Dec-2015)
    Grade Ten - World History, Culture, and Geography: The Modern World Chapter of the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.
  • Grade Eleven (DOC) (added 17-Dec-2015)
    Grade Eleven - United States History and Geography: Continuity and Change in Modern United States History Chapter of the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.
  • Grade Twelve (DOC) (added 17-Dec-2015)
    Grade Twelve - Principles of American Democracy Chapter of the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.
  • Grade Twelve, Principles of Economics (DOC) (added 17-Dec-2015)
    Grade Twelve - Principles of Economics Chapter of the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.
  • Assessment of Proficiency in H-SS (DOC) (added 17-Dec-2015)
    Assessment of Proficiency in History?Social Science Chapter of the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.