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Photo--black and white, matted: Farm house owned by Mr. William J. Downie in Hessel. Mr. Downie, Mrs. Downie and a neighbor at the front of the house tending a garden. Water tower, windmill and barn seen at the right background. The property was sold in the 1950s and burned down in the late 1950s. Background: William Downie (1820-1893) was a Scottish prospector and explorer involved in the gold rushes in California and British Columbia of the mid-19th Century. In gold rush-era California, Downie led an expedition up the North Fork of the Yuba River. Major Downie's travels are documented in his 1893 autobiography, "Hunting for Gold" Downie was the first mayor of Downieville, California, in 1849, until which time it had been named "The Forks." The house burned down in the 1950s.