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December 20, 1849

From letter published in the Missouri Whig , Palmyra March 28, 1850

CALIFORNIA LETTER

We make some extracts from a letter from Gen D. Willock, to his wife residing in this place. The letter is dated Sacramento City, Dec. 20, 1849.

Dear Wife- Another probable chance presents by which a line may reach you. A gentleman of New York informs me he is starting home by the way of the Isthmus of Panama and promises to mail my letter at New orleans or some other post office in the States.

My last was written from Sacramento City on the 10th inst. I left the city .........and reached home at 8 o’clock P. M. on the 15th. The 12th, 13th and 14th rained incessantly during which time my clothes were entirely wet. The night of the 12th was a terrible night; it rained furiously all night. I encamped with some wagoners, who were hauling provisions to the mines. We had no tent, and but two of the wagons could be used to lie in, owing to the nature of the loading, so that part of us had to take the rain all night. I had some things in one of the wagons, and travelled with it. We labored hard all day, and gained some seven miles, where we got a cabin to lie in, which was literally crowded with human beings, without a dry garment or blanket among them. Lying by one day, I waded home the next, with a pack of between 60 and 70 pounds on my back, (a distance of 17 miles.) passing many poor mules and oxen which had sunk in the mud never to rise again. This is part of the life of gold hunters in California during the rainy season. Many men are sinking to the grave through extreme privation and exposure; but I am happy to inform you that my health is very good, and I weight heavier than I have done for several years. Wash’n Leaman says I look younger than when he kept a store in Palmyra.

K. P. Anderson’s health is restored, and he now thinks he will not probably go home in the spring. I did not see James Dudley when I was in Sacramento. He had gone to then mines with a wagon load of provisions. Mr. Kirtley was well; he has built a snug little framed house in the city, and takes in boarders. Sacramento City presents about the same bustle of business that St. Louis does; and it must seem like a tale of romance to you, when I tell you it was commenced building last spring, a little before I arrived.

I met a great many of my old Marion county acquaintances in the city. William Muldrow has leased a rancho a few miles from the city, and is commencing a dairy. A part of his company are with him, and part are scattered in the mines and elsewhere, working on their own hook. I presume Muldrow will make money, whether his company does or not. * * * A man will soon starve here if he goes idle; this you will see when I inform you that Anderson and I brought up a barrel of pork, (as we are boarding ouselves,) which cost us delivered here $130, which is $70 less than it would have cost if we had purchased it here. Four of us have formed a mess, purchased a large round tent, in which we have a sheet iron cook stove, and board ourselves. The expenses of the mess do not exceed $8 per day; whereas to pay board at a boarding house would cost for the four upwards of $20 per day.

 

 

Transcribed courtesy of Kathleen Wilham