James Louis Gillis was born in Richmond, Iowa on October 3, 1857. His family journeyed to California in 1861 and settled in Sacramento six years later. After a brief period in San Jose, and 22 years of employment with the Sacramento Valley Railroad, Gillis held positions with various state agencies until his election as California State Librarian in 1899. Known for numerous innovations during his tenure, Gillis remained State Librarian until his death in 1917.
James Wilson Marshall was born in Lambertsville, New Jersey on October 8, 1810. Traveling west in 1834, Marshall spent time in Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri before arriving in California in 1845. There he met John Sutter, served under John C. Fremont in the Bear Flag Revolt, and in 1847 entered into a partnership with Sutter to construct a sawmill at Coloma, along the American River. On January 24, 1848, Marshall found gold in the tailrace of the mill, and California was soon overrun with gold seekers from all over the world. Marshall was never able to profit from his discovery, and died in Kelsey, California on August 10, 1885.
From the description of James Gillis and Newton Spencer correspondence regarding James Marshall materials, 1913. (California State Library). WorldCat record id: 237005948