Huckster in Alpine County

Alpine C0unty 1870

Isaac, Harriet and family moved around, probably in an attempt to make a living – or their fortune! They followed the Carson Route of the California Emigrant Road, now highway 88. In the mid 1800’s this was the overland route for those attracted by the gold rush in Sacramento.

In 1870 we find Isaac, Hattie and daughters in Alpine County, California. Alpine is the easternmost county in California, located on the crest and eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, next to the border with Nevada. In fact, they lived just across the state line from Isaac’s property in Douglas County, Nevada. Read more here: IG Real Estate.

In 1850 Alpine County was part of El Dorado County. The map below shows the location of Alpine County close to the California/Nevada state line, south of Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Valley.

Location of Alpine Country

Read more here about the early history of Alpine County 

On June 18th 1870 the family was registered in the 1870 census living in Township number four under the Woodfords Post Office:

Isaac, then aged 33, worked as a huckster and had real estate valued at 500 dollars and a personal estate valued at 1 200 dollars, according to the census returns. Isaac and Harriet owned a house of some kind and lived there with daughters Mary Ann aged 9 and Emma Jean aged 8, Harriet “keeping house” and Mary Ann attending school but not Emma Jean. Isaac was not a US citizen.

 Old wooden storehouseOld Store in Woodfords, abt 1920

Woodfords, named after Post Master Daniel Woodford became Pony Express Remount Station no. 805 in 1860.


 Community of Markleeville 1880Markleeville 1880

Markleeville was the name given to Township No 4 (named after Jacob Marklee, killed in a dispute over title to the land of the town in 1861), the county seat of Alpine County since 1875. Markleeville is due south of Woodfords.

Woodfords and Markleeville

Separated from the rest of California by the imposing escarpment of the Sierra Nevada range, the county seat of Markleeville and nearby Woodfords have developed a close association with the communities of Western Nevada. Just as many of Alpine County’s pioneer families trace their roots to the Carson Valley, today’s citizens depend on essential goods and services available from the Silver State.

Read more about Woodfords and Markleeville today here.

What is a huckster?

A huckster is “One who sells wares or provisions in the street; a peddler or hawker or one who uses aggressive, showy, and sometimes devious methods to promote or sell a product”.  Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.  Etymology: Middle English hukster, from Middle Dutch hokester, from hoeken to peddle or hawk. Peddler or hawker.

 The term Huckster is often used in negative sense to describe behaviour or an occupation of doubtful repute. However, hucksters were a common sight in the pioneer days, travelling around to sell their wares to customers around the countryside – farms, settlements, mining camps or just passing through on their way West.