Back to Gold Rush Letters
November 4, 1849
From letter published in
the Missouri Whig , Palmyra January, 1850
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. We make such extracts as we think will be interesting to our readers. The second is dated November 4th, 1849, at Sacramento City.
MY DEAR WIFE:--- It is dark, slightly raining and gloomy, and after a very active dayís 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. I wrote to you a lengthy letter last Sunday and your brother Stanton on Monday, which I hope you will get, as they are quite important.
I did not have room to say much about this city, or what I was doing in my last, I will therefore be a little more minute in this.
This city has been entirely built up in the last five months, and it now has a population of six thousand, and all the paripharnalia of a large city. it has a theatre, Methodist E. Church, in which there were two sermons to-day, and the people talk of building several Churches right away. It is decidedly the most active, bustling and business place I was ever in. Every kind of business you can imagine is carried on here. There are hundreds of wagons continually coming in from, and going out to the mines. Boats are arriving and departing daily. A great many houses are going up, and many more would go up but lumber is high and scarce. Town lots sell very high, say from one to ten thousand. It is the finest place to give full play to the genius and energies of the active business man I ever saw. I feel as if I was in my natural element, and if I just had your prudent counsel to hold in check my rashness occasionally, I would doubtless get along better. I have been in business here since the 15th of October, and Dudley and myself have made not less than $60 per day. We are keeping a hay yard, hauling, and buying and selling mules, horses, oxen and wagons. We get hay on the ground for one and a half cents per pound. Yesterday I sold $50 worth, and to-day $100 worth, $75 of which per hundred is clear profit. Besides, Dudley is running the team, which is worth from $25 to $50 per day. Last Friday I bought a fine wagon from an emigrant who had just got in, for $125, and the next day sold it for $175---$50 profit. The day before I bought a fine yoke of oxen for $100, which are worth here $175. We will continue at the business as long as we can do well at it; but we canít get hay to continue at it more that a month or two longer. We then think of taking a stock of goods out in the mines, and there spend the winter. You may rest assured of one thing, that is, as long as I keep well I will keep stirring at whatever I think will pay the best. Dr. Anderson, of Philadelphia, is dead. Wm. Mudrow is just recovering from a severe attack of scurvy. Mrs. Neighbower has commenced keeping a boarding-house, and is doing well. I saw Cook Campbell to-day; he has been at the Mill for some time. He says Mr. Willock has been sick to some extent, but is now well and at work, and making money. I have not seen him at all. When you write tell me whether Jeptha Feagan got well or not. I saw a man a day or two ago, who had made $22,000 in the mines since last May. That is better than miners generally do. Sixteen dollars a day is considered about an average yield for those who work . Some do not make it, while others make five, ten or twenty times as much. I have not mined any yet. I think I can do as well at other business. The time which I gave myself when I left home is not long enough; yet I will be compelled to return unless you will come out, for I cannot, or will not stay from you and my little Emma any longer, if I can possibly get back. But I would much rather you and Stanton would come out in the Spring, and stay a few years, and if at any time you should get tired of the country. I will return to the States with you. I would wend you dome money if there was any certainty of your getting it. And the first time I meet with a suitable opportunity, I will send you some. My health and spirits are fine, I have never been sick a day since I left. I have never slept in a house since I left St. Joseph, yet I have never been troubled with a bad cold. I would like to see you and all the connections out here next Spring. You can come much quicker and easier by water, but cheaper over the plains.
Transcribed courtesy of Kathleen Wilham