By Miriam Raftery
Photo, left via Calico Ranch on Facebook: Fred Coleman discovered gold, starting the Julian Gold Rush in 1869.
February 21, 2023 (Julian) - Many San Diego County residents have visited Julian, a historic gold rush town in the Cuyamaca Mountains. Some may know that is was founded by former Confederate soldiers after the Civil War. But many are likely unaware of the black settlers who also played key roles in the town’s history.
It was Fred Coleman from Kentucky, a freed slave and rancher who discovered gold in a stream on what is now Calico Rancho; his find started Julian’s gold rush in 1869. Coleman married a member of the Santa Ysabel tribe. He had previously been a miner in Northern California. The Coleman Mining District in what is now known as Julian was named for him, and he served as its first recorder.
America Newton, a widow and formerly enslaved black woman, and her daughter, Clara, came to Julian from Kansas and started a laundry business that served war veterans, European immigrants, Native Americans, and newly freed African-Americans. She used her work ethic to build a new life of freedom.