Native Sons of the Golden West
Native Sons of the Golden West logo.jpg
Logo of the Native Sons of the Golden West
FormationJuly 11, 1875; 147 years ago (1875-07-11)
FounderA. M. Winn
Founded atSan Francisco
Typefraternal service organization
Purpose"To perpetuate in the minds of all native Californians the memories of the days of '49 to encourage a lively interest in all matters and measures relating to the promotion of the national interests and to the upbuilding of the State of California"
ServicesHistoric preservation, Native American advocacy, anti-Asian immigration advocacy (historic)
AffiliationsNative Daughters of the Golden West

The Native Sons of the Golden West is a fraternal service organization founded in the U.S. state of California in 1875, dedicated to historic preservation, documentation of historic structures and places in the state, the placement of historic plaques and other charitable functions within California. In 1890 they placed the first historical marker in the state to honor the discovery of gold, which gave rise to the state nickname "Golden State" and "Golden West." Former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon and former Chief Justice Earl Warren were both past presidents of the NSGW.


The Native Sons of the Golden West was founded 11 July 1875 by General A. M. Winn, a Virginian, as a lasting monument to the men and women of the Gold Rush era. General Winn had lived in California during the Gold Rush and was impressed with the spirit and perseverance of the Forty-Niners. Speaking of his object in organizing the Order General Winn said, "For twenty years my mind had been running on some lasting style of monument to mark and perpetuate the discovery of gold I could not think of anything that would not perish in course of time. At last it came to my mind that an Order composed of native sons would effect the object and be sustained by pride of parentage and place of nativity while it would be an imperishable memento an institution that would last through all time."[1]

The Native Sons of the Golden West building in San Francisco.
The Native Sons of the Golden West building in San Francisco.

The chief objects of the Order as set forth in its constitution were, "To perpetuate in the minds of all native Californians the memories of the days of '49 to encourage a lively interest in all matters and measures relating to the promotion of the national interests and to the upbuilding [sic] of the State of California." Today, the Native Sons of the Golden West is open to membership from any native-born, current or former resident of California origin. The Native Sons of the Golden West is a charitable and fraternal organization. Organized locally into "Parlors," the group is perhaps best known for the large number of commemorative markers it has placed throughout the state.

They have a sister organization, the Native Daughters of the Golden West.

The Native Sons began as an organization "embracing only the sons of those sturdy pioneers who arrived on this coast prior to the admission of California as a state."[2] In the 1920s, the Native Sons took two very different stances; one on immigration and one on rights for Native Americans. In April 1920,[3] then-Grand President William P. Canbu of the Native Sons wrote that “California was given by God to a white people, and with God’s strength we want to keep it as He gave it to us.”[4] The Native Sons openly opposed Chinese, Mexican, and Japanese immigration and waged an unsuccessful legal battle for Japanese-Americans to be disenfranchised during World War II.[5][6][7][8][9] However, by contrast, the Native Sons actively fought for California Native American rights. "The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco was looking into the matter of Indian rights under the 18 treaties as early as 1909. This resulted in a special section on Indian Affairs for the purpose of making a complete study of the rights, wrongs, and present condition of California Indians in 1924. The Native Sons was one of the groups that was active in this area. Study committees were formed and publicity as to the needs of the California Indians appeared in its magazine, the California Grizzly Bear. In 1922 and again in 1925, there were articles of real importance in arousing public opinion.[10] In Nevada City, Native Sons Hydraulic Parlor No. 58 "aided the American Indians and succeeded in having the land set aside for native inhabitants. In April 1913, Indian agent C. H. Ashbury came from Reno to determine if the Indian land claims was valid and to conduct the proceedings, calling neighbors, city trustees, and member of the Native Sons and Daughters to testify..."[11]

Today, the Native Sons continue to restrict admission to California-born persons.[12]

Historical preservation

Throughout its history, members of the Native Sons have safeguarded many of the landmarks of California's pioneer days, purchasing and rehabilitating them and then donating them to the State or local governments.

Historical markers

An NSGW marker at the site of the first California Central Creamery in Ferndale, California.
An NSGW marker at the site of the first California Central Creamery in Ferndale, California.

Chapters of the organization (called "Parlors") place historical markers on buildings and on sites of historical interest. The organization maintains a list of the over 1,200 markers in place.[25] One of these plaques is featured in the movie 'The Karate Kid on the side of Daniel LaRusso's new school in California.


From 1905 through 1954 the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West published The Grizzly Bear.[26]

Notable members


See also


  1. ^ Knowland, Joseph R. (February 1908). "California's Native Sons". The Overland Monthly. Vol. 51. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  2. ^ New York Times, July 11, 1884
  3. ^ Daniels, Roger (1962). The Politics of Prejudice. University of California Press. p. 79. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  4. ^ Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, Frank H. Wu, 2002
  5. ^ "Asks U.S. Japanese Lose Citizenship". New York Times. June 27, 1942. p. 6.
  6. ^ "Japanese Citizens Win a Court Fight". New York Times. July 3, 1942. p. 7.
  7. ^ Regan v. King, 49 F. Supp. 222 (N.D.Cal. 1942). "It is unnecessary to discuss the arguments of counsel. In my opinion the law is settled by the decisions of the Supreme Court just alluded to, and the action will be dismissed, with costs to the defendant."
  8. ^ Regan v. King, 134 F.2d 413 (9th Cir. 1943). "On the authority of the fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, making all persons born in the United States citizens thereof, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, ... and a long line of decisions, including the recent decision in Perkins, Secretary of Labor et al. v. Elg, ... the judgment of dismissal, 49 F.Supp. 222, is Affirmed."
  9. ^ Regan v. King, cert. denied, 319 U.S. 753 (1943).
  10. ^ 'Five Views:An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California', 1988 Johnson, Kenneth M., California Office of Historic Preservation
  11. ^ 'Nevada City", 2005 Brower, Maria E.
  12. ^ Napa Parlor #62 website Archived September 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Boulevard, Mailing Address: 2 Marina; E, Building; Francisco, 2nd Floor San; weekdays, CA 94123 Phone:561-7000 The public information office is open from 8 A. M. to 5 P. M. PST during; Us, we will respond to all messages within two business days Contact. "The Grace Quan - San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  14. ^ "Petaluma Adobe". Office of Historic Preservation landmark listings. State of California. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  15. ^[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "El Dorado". CA State Parks. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  17. ^ "County of El Dorado Government". Archived from the original on 2010-12-04. Retrieved 2012-03-30.
  18. ^ "Marshall Monument - California Historical Markers on". Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  19. ^ "Monterey County Historical Society, Local History Pages--Monterey's Custom House". Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  20. ^ Historic Spots in California, Mildred Brooke Hoover
  21. ^ California Missions and Their Romances, Fremont Older
  22. ^ Native Sons of the Golden West, Richard Kimball & Barney Noel
  23. ^ "Sonoma". Office of Historic Preservation. California Department of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  24. ^ "Bale Mill". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
  25. ^[permanent dead link] Native Sons of the Golden West List of Dedications
  26. ^ OCLC 5809069; Also see: Stanford University Library holdings: The Grizzly Bear Volumes 1–18; 1907–1917