Savage Landmark


James D. Savage – Update


James D. Savage Drawn by Lloyd D. Moore, Ranger Naturalist

James D. Savage
Drawn by Lloyd D. Moore, Ranger Naturalist

I recently came across another account of the history of James D. Savage. This was in an article by James O’Meara called, The White Medicine-Man published in Yosemite Notes from November and December of 1951 (Volume XXX). This article was re-printed from an article in The Californian printed in 1882[1]. In the article, O’Meara discusses Savage’s “dominion” (for the lack of a better term) over the Native American Miwok’s with whom he had immersed himself in the latter years of his life.

In the Yosemite Notes version of the article, it is accompanied by a drawing of James Savage as rendered by Lloyd D. Moore, a Ranger Naturalist active at the time of this publication. He created the drawing from the description provided by the O’Meara Article.

Besides some overview, O’Meara discusses in some extra detail the “hold” Savage had over his adopted family which I have incorporated into my original article from October 2015, James D. Savage – 1817-1852. The article also discusses Savage’s demise at the hands of Judge Walter T. Harvey. I have not incorporated those changes but they can be accessed from this link: Yosemite Notes Volume XXX, No 11 and No 12.

Central to his “charms” with the Miwoks, was the use of a galvanic battery. Battery? What use was there for a battery in the mid-1800s? What’s that all about? Well, aside from biological experiments related to nerve impulses, such batteries were used to power telegraphs and door bells.

Historically, Benjamin Franklin first coined the term “battery” in 1780. It was his work beginning with the famous experiment with a kite and a key he performed with his son (in which he’s lucky he didn’t fry his butt) was what lead to the Lightning Rod. Luigi Galvani’s work lead to research on nerve impulses. It was after him that the GALVANic battery was named. Alessandro Volta’s work creating the Voltaic Battery was the first “wet cell.” As far as I’m going to go on this, is the Daniell Cell invented by an Englishman, John Daniell. It provide an improvement over the Votiac Battery which had a comparative short battery life. It was the Daniell invention that provided the feed for telegraphs, doorbells and, eventually, telephones.[2]

[1] The Californian was a monthly magazine published from 1880 to 1882. It took over from the Overland Monthly both before and after as it was published by the same man, Anton Roman. James O’Meara was a frequent contributor along with John Muir, Joseph LeConte and Ambrose Pierce. This should not be confused with The California Newspape or the Californian Illustrated Magazine.

[2] About.Com. Specifically,