Gold Rush Letters

Donated by: Boxwell Hawkins

Transcribed by: Kathleen Wilham

Index of Names in Letters

Letters by Date

1849 Letters

Click the link on the date column to read the letter

Date First Line of Letter
April 28, 1849 MR. SOSEY -- According to promise, I will write to you and give you a brief history of my travels up to this time
May 10, 1849_a Dear Sir: We reached here to-day, all well, after a trip of three weeks. We travelled leisurely, finding the grass not sufficient to sustain our cattle without grain.
May 10, 1849_b We left the line the morning of the 7th. Since then we have been driving pretty rapidly, passing train after train. Ours is still considered a crack team.
May 23, 1849 I embrace this opportunity to let you and all my friends know that I am well, and in fine spirits. My comrades that left Warren with me, are all in good health. We are 326 miles from St. Joseph, and 520 miles from home. We have had no accident to happen any of us worth notice. Our wagon is the only one that came to this place without having to double teams
June 17, 1849 We have travelled two weeks upon the banks of the Platte river, the valley through which it runs varies from five to ten miles in width, the river generally running in the centre, but sometimes the bluff makes directly up to the river, on the side we are travelling; then we have to pass over them until we come to the bottom again.
July 8, 1849 A friend has permitted us to make some extracts from a letter written at the Mormon City, by Mr. John Hazlit, a citizen of our town, who left for California last spring. The writer had been sick with the mountain fever, but had recovered. Mr. Thos. Hart and Mr. Joseph Winlock, of the same company, were slightly unwell when the letter was written.
July 15, 1849 FROM SANTA FE---- The Indians in New Mexico are becoming very troublesome, the citizens being in open hostility with four powerful Tribes, the Eutaws, Camanches, Apaches and Navijos. There appears to be union of action and combination of purpose between these tribes
August 5, 1849 We give extracts below from a very interesting letter from our old friend Kemp P. Anderson, Esq., received in this place a few days since, and which has been politely furnished us.
August 13, 1849 Out of more than one hundred men who started in our company, only three died, one of sickness, and two were drowned in Green river.
August 24, 1849 The Republican has a letter dated Stockton, Cal., August 24. The writer with his company, reached the Sacramento valley on the 11th of August, with men and mules completely broken down.
September 2, 1849_a The following are extracts of a letter from Edward Murphy, Esq., formerly of this place, who started overland last Spring, and dated at "Camp near Weaver’s Creek, Sept. 2nd, 1849." Mr. M. sends in specimens of the California gold, which the curious may see by calling on Rev. H. H. Hayes
September 2, 1849_b Dear and Respected Mother:-- I take this most favorable opportunity to write to you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along in the mines. We here worked eight days in the mines and made about $700: there is five of us which is $140 apiece
October 7, 1849 The last Paris Mercury published several California letters, from which we make liberal extracts. The following dated "California Mines, Oct. 7," is from Mr. S. S. Williams, who went from this county last spring, to his brother, A. G. Williams, of Monroe county
October 27, 1849 Three letters were received in this place last week from Mr. C. F. Kirtley, of which we made brief mention in our last paper. Two of them were to his wife, residing in this place, and one to his brother-in-law, Stanton Buckner, Esq
ca November, 1849 "I want you to come out and bring Louisa, Virginia, Fanny, Bill and John. be certain to bring Bill and John (negro boys.) I want one of them, and will pay you as soon as you get here what either of them would be worth in the States
November 4, 1849_a CALIFORNIA-- A letter was received in this place , by last night’s mail, but which we have not yet seen, from Mr. C. F. Kirtley. The letter is dated the 4th of November. at Sacramento City. Mr. K., we learn, had done very little of mining, having reached the country only a short time before the commencement of the rainy season.
November 4, 1849_b MY DEAR WIFE:--- It is dark, slightly raining and gloomy, and after a very active day’s business (Sunday as it is) is over and I find my self snugly ensconced in my wagon, I know of no better way of employing the evening, than writing to you, which, under the circumstances is the most agreeable employment I can engage in.
November 11, 1849 We are now in California, but how long to stay I cannot tell. On our trip across the plains, I was taken sick at the South Pass of the mountains, with the mountain fever, and lay 12 days without change---I here thought I should "step aside," but under the care of Hugh Glenn, I was raised again
November 15, 1849 By giving a place in your paper to the following communication, written during the breakfast meal at a boarding tent, you will aid the writer in fulfilling a promise made to many friends who are readers of your journal. The promise was to inform them of what I had seen, as well as heard, after having been awhile in California.
November 16, 1849 Dear Stanton, I wrote to you some time ago asking you to come out and bring Virginia with you. That was sent by a private conveyance. I have since written a lengthy letter to you, in which I gave you various instructions in relation to crossing the plains, thinking that they would be useful to you in the event that you should conclude to come to this country by the way of the plains
December 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
December 25, 1849 -- I have just received your kind and very acceptable letter of the 16th August and I assure you I never received a letter which did me so much good. Just imagine for a moment, that for the last nine months, I may say with great truth, I have been out of the pale of civilization, and to get a letter from home was truly gratifying
1850 Letters
January 1, 1850 Dear Brother-- I arrived in California on the 18th August on Bear River, and have not done much since I arrived. I am now about five miles above Sutter’s mill on the Americano in Kelsey’s Dry diggings
January 20, 1850 On my arrival in the golden regions, I intended immediately to have sent you a communication for the benefit of my Marion county friends who may be disposed to wend their way to this distant land, which I have delayed too long
February 14, 1850-a The following letter is from Mr. Sprat Ellis, who went with his father and others overland last spring. They were ten months on the route, and this is the first tidings of them since they left. The letter is dated 14th February, 1850:
February 14, 1850-b Dear Brother --I now take my pen to inform you of our arrival in the gold regions of California, the great place which we have been toiling for the last ten months. We left home on the 18th day of April, and arrived here on the 10th day of February.
February 20, 1850 They have been gardening here for three weeks. This is a fine climate; perpetual spring in the valleys; they are green all the year round. Southern California is a good farming country, and is thickly settled by Spaniards, some of them very wealthy
March 10, 1850 The horrors of war and its demoralization are much talked about, but let me assure you, those of gold hunting are far greater. Hardships, privation, sickness and death, present themselves in the mining districts in their most shocking forms.
March 17, 1850 I came to this place last August, and have remained, My health was feeble during the fall, and during the rainy season. I believed it imprudent to go into the mines, for a man of my age, who loses his health, has quite a struggle to regain it, under the privations incident to a life in the mines
May 25, 1850 I have nothing of importance to write, though there is every thing going on here that you could think of. I cannot say that I am at all disappointed in the mines as regards their riches.
June 24, 1850 Being rather an invalid at present, I avail myself of the temporary leisure thus afforded, to drop you a line for the gratification of your readers; as I learn that private letters, never intended for publication, frequently find their way into the public prints.
September 15, 1850 Mining, I am sorry to say is not so profitable as it was last year, and a great many emigrants are going home, utterly discouraged.
October 6, 1850 I found here a number of my old acquaintances who came out last year, to wit: Robert Shaw, Dudley Phears, Harvey Wilson, Isaac and Joel Riperdan, Macur Ocheltree and C. F. Kirtley of Palmyra, Mo.

Transcribed courtesy of Kathleen Wilham