LGBTQ* “Rush” of History
“Mountain” Charlie Darkey Parkhurst
Legend states that Parkhurst started his young life by running away from his parents, being placed in an orphanage and escaped with only his trousers and shirt to set out as a farm and ranch hand. From there, Parkhurst went on to work his way towards California as a stagecoach driver.
Parkhurst was one of the toughest stagecoach drivers to ever work for Wells Fargo and command the mountains during the California gold rush. It is even said the Parkhurst shot and killed at least one bandit during the rush. Respected by miners and Wells Fargo, feared by those who upset the balance of the miners and a man of legend, Parkhurst was one of the most known individuals in California in the mid-1860s.
Upon death, as neighbors prepared Parkhurst’s body for burial, it was discovered that Parkhurst was born biologically female. This information was not shared with newspapers or others. Both Parkhurst’s neighbors and doctor only shared with others that they would remember Parkhurst as one of the most impressive drivers and men of their time.
Parkhurst has since made one of California’s “first-to-do-so” lists. Parkhurst is credited as being California’s first female born individual to cast a vote in an election (1868).
(note: The above photo is from Wells Fargo’s Blog and I highly recommend reading their blogger discuss sharing the story with grade-schoolers.)