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Special delivery: 1886 issue of Grass Valley Daily Union sent back home

An Oct. 10, 1886, edition of the Grass Valley Daily Union was recently mailed to The Union newspaper after owner and antique collector Andrew Altum died.
Photo: Elias Funez

When Connie Altum came across the old faded document, secured behind glass and in a wood frame, she thought, “It’s time to maybe return it to its owner.”

The Oct. 10, 1886, issue of the Grass Valley Daily Union had been in her and her husband Andrew’s possession for at least 45 years, and after his recent death she found it too hard to just dispose of.

“It meant a lot to him,” Alutm said of the almost 136-year old newspaper.

“It’s always been in our house, it’s always been up on our wall. I eventually will be moving and rearranging things and just thought it’s too hard to just throw away,” Altum said.

The Altums lived in Bakersfield for many years — where Andrew was from — and he spent his time as an avid antique and relic hunter.

An advertisement for the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad lists departure and arrival times for the Grass Valley station.
Photo: Elias Funez

“He spent a lot of time in the woods looking for old bottles and antiques, and somewhere along the line he came across this and the whole time that I’ve had it, it’s been in a frame,” Altum said.

The exact details behind Andrew’s acquisition of the newspaper, unfortunately, are lost.

“To tell you the truth, he died last year and the story died with him,” Altum said.

Andrew Altum photographed before he died last year in Florida. The avid antique collector likely came across the 1886 issue of the Grass Valley Daily Union in 1970 and had it framed.
Photo: Elias Funez

Connie Altum is now 73 years old and lives in Florida, where she and husband Andrew had moved to after leaving Bakersfield.


The four front-and-back pages of Volume 33, issue No. 6913, have lots to say about what life was like in and around Grass Valley during fall 1886.

The Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad ran regular trains leaving from Grass Valley for Nevada City and Colfax, with connections to San Francisco.

Dr. Gunn’s Bitters was still being advertised as a household remedy for constipation, biliousness, torpid liver, fever and ague, all malarial troubles, dyspepsia, indigestion, nausea, nervousness, loathing of food, kidney complaint, impure blood, and general debility, etc.

The full front page of the four-page Oct.10, 1886, issue of the Grass Valley Daily Union sent to The Union by Connie Altum, who resides in Florida.
Photo: Elias Funez

The Grass Valley Brewery was advertised as an old and reliable brewery operating along Auburn Street, with beer put up in strong, iron-bound kegs holding five, 10, 15, or 30 gallons, with free beer deliveries offered.

And there’s a correspondence about a very fortuitous visit to the community of Pike and the National Exchange Hotel by the heiress of the Winchester rifle estate, Sarah Winchester.

“A correspondent says that the ledge in the Sunflower mine at Pike City has widened out from one to four feet in sinking on it a distance of ten feet, and is very rich. Mrs. Winchester, the clairvoyant now stopping at the National Hotel in this city, located the mine by a piece of ore taken from the surface,” the 1886 transcript says.

A transcript about the “clairvoyant Mrs. Winchester” is included in the Oct. 10, 1886, issue of the Grass Valley Daily Union.
Photo: Elias Funez

According to Connie Altum, her husband Andrew often said he felt he should have lived in the 19th century. His interests included sailing and he spent some time sailing in the Pacific Ocean and sailed the Newport to Ensenada race several times.

People can view the framed Oct. 10, 1886, issue of the Grass Valley Daily Union in the newspaper’s lobby at 464 Sutton Way in Grass Valley.

To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez, email efunez@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230

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