photo of Russel Perry Mace
Russel Perry Mace

The Captain

The Mace Project 1990-91

The Mace Project was conducted in the 1990-91 school year by students from the following classes at Thomas Jefferson Junior High School, Madera California: Bill Atwood’s history classes; Bill Coate’s history classes; Robin Dompeling’s history classes; Terri Dompeling’s English classes.

Russel Perry Mace began his life of adventure at the age of 16 when he ran away from his Boston home and signed on as a cabin boy on a coaster. After jumping ship in New Orleans, he made his way west, entered the employ of the American Fur Company, and established himself in the Santa Fe trade.

With the outbreak of hostilities with Mexico in 1846, Mace returned to New Orleans where he was made Captain of a volunteer Louisiana company. When the war was over, he joined the California gold rush.
Once the placer mining played out, Mace turned to other pursuits.

For a while he raised cattle. Later he operated a hotel, but he came into his own when he was elected to the California Assembly in 1864. For a dozen years, the Captain influenced the direction of California politics from the floor of the Assembly.

By the time of his death in 1894, there was very little of the pioneer life that he had not sampled. His fascinating biography is a prime example of history as high adventure.

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