Monday, December 10, 2018

Early days in west Australia

The Irishman John Fletcher Moore, a colonial administrator and an early sheep farmer in Western Australia, was born 220 years ago today (the day after, in fact, John Benn Walsh who would become an important landlord in Ireland - see An infinity of petty squabbles below). Moore kept diaries during his first ten years as a colonist with the express purpose of mailing them home to Ireland for friends and family. Some of them were first published, astonishingly, without his knowledge; it wasn’t until 50 years later, at the end of his life, that he himself approved publication of a more extensive set of the diaries. They are now considered an important primary source of information about the early years of colonisation in Western Australia.

Moore was born on 10 December 1798 in Donemana, County Tyrone, Ireland, the second son of Joseph Moore and his wife Anne, née Fletcher. He was educated at Foyle College, Londonderry, and at Trinity College, Dublin. After being called to the Irish Bar he practised for six years; but, seeing little prospect of promotion, he decided to seek a legal post in the colonies. Armed only with a letter of recommendation to the then Governor of Western Australia, he arrived at Fremantle, Australia, in October 1830, to find the governor had been replaced and his letter, therefore, worthless. However, he obtained a land grant, which he called Millendon, on the Upper Swan river, and set about developing it as farm land. In early 1832, he was appointed a Commissioner of the Civil Court. For the next 20 years or so, he combined various administrative duties (including, later, a seat on the colony’s legislative council) with expanding his farm interests, becoming one of the largest sheep farmers in the country.

Moore is particularly remembered for his interest - unusual at the time - in indigenous Australians. He took a scholarly interest in their language and customs, he advocated compensating them for the loss of their land, and he promoted the idea of converting them to Christianity. He also compiled and published a dictionary of their language. In the mid-1830s, he went exploring inland, making various discoveries, and was responsible for confirming that two named rivers - the Swan and Avon - were in fact one and the same. Moore returned to Ireland for two years (1941-1943), and then in 1846 married Fanny, stepdaughter of Governor Andrew Clarke. When, later that year, Clarke fell ill, Moore was appointed acting colonial secretary, and remained in that position until the new colonial secretary arrived in early 1848. But the colony was suffering hard times, and its leaders hitherto, including Moore, were unpopular.

In 1952, Moore again returned to Ireland, ostensibly to visit his father, but, it is also thought, he had serious concerns about the mental health of his wife. She then refused to return to Australia, and Moore, wanting to extend his leave, fell into a conflict with the colonial office, one which ended with his resignation. He never returned to Australia, and subsequent years were blighted by his wife’s illness. After her death, he moved to London. He died in 1886. Further information is available at Wikipedia or the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

From the moment Moore left Ireland for Western Australia he kept a journal with the aim of sending the entries, in batches, back to his friends and colleagues in Ireland. Here is Moore’s own explanation: ‘My friends were doubtful as to the prudence of such a hazardous step [i.e. going to the colonies], but I reconciled them to it by a solemn promise that I would keep them fully informed, by each available opportunity in my power, of every incident and circumstance of my position and life there, whether good or bad, and leave them to judge of my success or failure. This was the cause of the “Diary or Journal” [. . .]. It was written solely for the information and satisfaction of my father, brothers, sisters, and immediate friends in this country. It was commenced soon after my embarcation from Dublin, and was a great source of relief and consolation to myself during the voyage, as well as through all the difficulties, dangers, labours, and eventful incidents.’

Intriguingly, as early as 1834, Moore’s journals, covering the first four years of his colonial adventure, were published in London, but without Moore’s knowledge or approval. This came about because Rev. William Hickey, an Irish writer and philanthropist, met Moore’s brother in Dublin, and was shown the diary extracts. He subsequently edited them for publication (using the pseudonym of Martin Doyle) as Extracts from the letters and journals of George Fletcher Moore, now filling a judicial office at the Swan River Settlement. The work can be read freely online at Internet Archive, Wikisource or Googlebooks. Hickey’s explanation, in the preface, as to how he came to the decision to publish the diary extracts is no less than flabbergasting.

‘In short, I suggested the publication of them, to which my host reluctantly assented, waiving a very serious obstacle, viz. the probable displeasure of the absent brother, at the publication of letters solely intended for his own family-circle. This objection I over-ruled by the assurance that they contained nothing discreditable to the head or the heart of the writer. If, therefore, they prove deficient of interest and neatness of arrangement, the blame consequent on their failure will be solely attributable to my want of judgement, and clumsiness of connexion. Should the emigrant himself be much offended at the unauthorised liberty now taken with his name and papers, I have the comforting consideration that he is too far off to quarrel with me in a very personal way; and that if ever he should return to this country, his resentment will have had sufficient time to evaporate altogether.’

A couple of years before his death, M. Walbrook published Moore’s own version of his Australia diaries as Diary of ten years eventful life of an early settler in Western Australia and also a Descriptive Vocabulary of the Language of the Aborigines. (Moore only wrote his journal for about ten years, until his first trip back to Ireland.) This can be found online at Internet Archive or Wikisource. Moore’s preface explains how he came to publish: ‘The history of the original letters may possess some little interest. They were from the first carefully preserved by those to whom they were sent in this country. But, after the lapse of many years, they were confided to the care of a near relative in the colony, who had expressed a great desire to see them. This lady was well acquainted with Sir Thomas Cockburn Campbell, the able Editor and owner of the paper called “The West Australian.” The letters were shown to him, he begged to be permitted to publish extracts from them seriatim in his paper, according as space would admit of. He sent to me a copy of each paper which contained an extract. I cut out those extracts and gummed them into an album. This has enabled me to publish them all here afresh.’

An annotated new version of the diaries, edited by J. M. R. Cameron, was brought out by the Australian publisher Hesperian Press in 2006 as The Millendon Memoirs. The publisher says: ‘This is probably the most important colonial work to be published in WA. There are no other diary or letter sequences of such content from such a central figure in the early colony. Dr Cameron has assiduously bought together the documents that were omitted from the “Diary of Ten Years”, together with that material, to form an altogether different volume, with three times the content of “Ten Years”. The correct order and full expression of the letters gives quite a different picture to that previously portrayed. This is an absolutely essential volume for anyone interested in, or studying, colonial history,  policy, or the lives of the colonists and the land around them.’

Here are a few extracts from the Diary of Ten Years.

24 February 1835
‘Went to Guildford to examine a bridge, and took the opportunity of visiting my flock, which is now there. Some are affected with a blindness of the eyes. A person called Solomon has a small establishment now near my grant, on the other side of the hills. I think of sending a part of my flock there. He proposes to take them at the rate of £25 per hundred for the year. He has just imported some sheep, and a fine-wooled ram. I have my men busied in planting potatoes. It is an experiment to put them down at this time of the year on dry ground. I have made use of the natives in breaking the hard clods with mauls. Two boys, rejoicing in the euphonious names of Tunagwirt and Manyumerra, have been quartered here by their father, with a sort of hint that his family was large enough without them. I think I shall try to keep the first of them. He tells me that white men call him “Tommy,” which is certainly more familiar and easy than that long native name. Just after I returned from Perth, Letty came with a face of woe to tell me there were but two pieces of beef in the barrel. Awkward announcement!’

31 August 1835
‘We have had much rain during all the last week and strong winds. Two blind sheep have been turned out daily for some time on the plain to graze; one of them was furnished with a bell, by the sound of which the other became accustomed to guide itself. Some days ago, the one with the bell was killed, and the other poor thing wandered about, went astray, and could not be found readily. James armed himself with the bell of the dead one, and went ringing through the bush. The lost one answered the signal immediately, and so we found a new way of catching sheep. Planted yesterday a number of cuttings of vine, peach, and fig trees. It is rather late, but I got them from the Governor’s garden, and will give them a chance. I have heard that the packing in which I was obliged to put my wool last year, went all to pieces at the Isle of France, in transhipping it. There are Indian gunny bags to be got here now at 7s. 6d. I am in doubt about buying, as I make sure of your sending some by the first vessel. When is it to arrive?’

28 January 1839
‘Yesterday one of my boys succeeded in catching a young emu alive. It is a wonderfully tame, even silly thing - like a young turkey; by the way, the same boy also succeeded in shooting a turkey, which I had to-day at dinner. It was delicious. I intended to have devoted this day to writing letters, as the mail is to be closed to-morrow, but here came Mr. Shaw with complaints about natives and other things, and I had to mount my horse, and I have been out all day. Have been making an experiment in wine. Have made five bottles just to try it. I have nearly written my eyes out in answering 33 questions about natives, to which the Governor has required replies. I think I may send them to you at some time. Baptist Noel would be glad to get the sketches I sent, if you do not wish to make any use of them.’

13 July 1839
‘I have fallen out of my habit of regularity, and find it difficult to recover it. We have advanced here to such a pitch of civilization, as to have private theatricals. The play of “Love, á la militaire” was performed on Tuesday night to a fashionable audience, among whom not the least delighted spectators were the young folks of the town and vicinity of Perth. Most of them having never seen a play, were wonderfully amused. On Thursday a rumour arose that fifty sheep or upwards had been driven away from a flock near Guildford by the natives, and there was great excitement in consequence. A party is gone out in pursuit, but what is the result I know not. It is singular that not one of the murderers of the woman and child on my farm has been taken or met with since the occurrence, and yet parties have been out frequently. We are no match for them. They can hide in a manner that baffles all our search. The only way to match them is to make use of them against one another. I did not get home from Perth before Friday night. We are here still busy getting wheat into the ground, and also some potatoes. Only think we have to give £2 a cwt. for potatoes for seed.’

The Diary Junction

Sunday, December 9, 2018

An infinity of petty squabbles

‘All these arrangements gave birth to an infinity of petty squabbles, extremely difficult to settle or even understand. However, I am sanguine in my expectations that a little time & perseverance will compose all the jarring elements. Everything confirms my first opinion that setting to the occupying tenant, though more troublesome, is in the end much more advantageous to the landlord. I am well persuaded that if the times continue tranquil & the prices as at present, this portion of my property will gradually rise most considerably in value - if I continue to visit & superintend it.’ This is from the journals of John Benn Walsh, the first Baron Ormathwaite, born 220 years ago today. He was an English politician and landowner, having inherited vast estates in England, Wales and Ireland from his wife’s uncle. The extensive journals are held by the National Library of Wales, but only a small fraction of them - concerning his regular trips to Ireland to oversee his property and tenants - have been published.

Benn Walsh was born on 9 December 1798 at the family home of Warfield Park near Bracknell in Berkshire. His father, originally called Benn, had inherited large estates in England and Ireland from his wife’s uncle, Sir John Walsh (who had also required his father to assume the Walsh name). John was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. He married Jane, daughter of George Grey, 6th Earl of Stamford, in 1825. They had two sons and two daughters. Also in 1825, on the death of his father, he inherited the family estates. He entered Parliament for the borough of Sudbury in 1830. After losing that seat and campaigning unsuccessfully for others, he was elected, in 1840, for Radnorshire, a seat which he then held for nearly 30 years.

Benn Walsh was a noted advocate of social and parliamentary reform. He also acted for a while as a Justice of the Peace and High Sheriff in Berkshire and later for Radnorshire. He regularly visited his estates in Ireland, where he was considered an exacting landlord, though he saw himself as benevolent and progressive. He was created a baron in 1868 (Baron Ormathwaite). As a writer he published various pamphlets, such as one comparing astronomy and geology, and another on the lessons of the French Revolution. He died at Warfield Park in 1881. A little further information (but not much) is available at Wikipedia, Royal Berkshire History, and Cracroft’s Peerage.

However, Benn Walsh was a committed diarist, and many of his manuscript journals are extant, and held by the National Library of Wales. Indeed, the library provides, on its website, this summary of the journals: ‘In many respects the diaries are similar in contents to his mother’s (i.e. personal and domestic) but with more emphasis on the London season and politics and they are, in general, far more detailed. The earlier diaries are dominated by his obsessive ambition to make a mark in society. By endeavouring to create a web of connexions he sought to become known to the most powerful and fashionable aristocratic families in England. Such connections would, he hoped, fulfil both his marital and political ambitions. He has some very pertinent things to say about the closing down of the avenues of advancement after the end of the Napoleonic wars when the aristocracy closed ranks. After his marriage in 1825 the diaries, naturally, are more domestic: the pleasures and pains of parenthood and later of grand-parenthood, family holidays, his wife’s relations, etc.’ (Further information about his mother’s diaries can also be found on the same website here.)

There are no printed biographies of Benn Walsh, nor have his diaries been published, except for those concerning his near-annual trips to oversee his estates in Ireland. These were edited by James S. Donnelly, Jr. and appeared in successive volumes (1974 and 1975) of the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (volume 79, pages 86-123; volume 80, pages 15-42). Both parts of The Journals of Sir John Benn-Walsh Relating to the Management of His Irish Estates, 1823-64 are freely available on the Society’s website. Here is an extract from Donnelly’s introduction.

‘Not only was Benn-Walsh a great landowner in Great Britain and Ireland, with some 26,300 acres altogether by the 1870s, but he regarded his estates very much as a business enterprise and constantly strove to increase the profitability of his landed investments. His keen interest in superintending the development of his properties prompted him to make repeated journeys to Ireland. Between 1821 and 1864 he visited his Cork and Kerry estates in twenty different years, usually during late summer and for a period of about two weeks on each occasion. While making these tours of inspection, he either wrote a daily journal or made entries as regularly as possible from notes and from memory. The volumes of his journals for the years 1821, 1825, and 1829 are missing from the collection. [. . . The] surviving records constitute an unvarnished, wonderfully detailed, and invaluable account of an absentee proprietor’s relations with his tenants during a momentous epoch in Irish agrarian history.’

And here are several extracts from the journals. They include references to the impact of the potato famine, and to the benefits of the new railway connection to Holyhead.

16 September 1824
‘We left Limerick by the steamboat, which took us down the Shannon to Tarbert - from whence we took a chaise to Listowell, where we found Mr Gabbett busy receiving rents for me. I did not keep my journal regularly during my stay at Listowell, which I left on Wednesday 22nd. I was occupied while there in arranging the affairs of Tullamore, which is now set for the six months, & as Julian has no intention of redeeming it, I ordered it to be surveyed & valued by Kane & McMahon. I likewise allotted the new divisions I have caused to be made at Derrimdaff, & the tenants are to take possession of them in March next. All these arrangements gave birth to an infinity of petty squabbles, extremely difficult to settle or even understand. However, I am sanguine in my expectations that a little time & perseverance will compose all the jarring elements. Everything confirms my first opinion that setting to the occupying tenant, though more troublesome, is in the end much more advantageous to the landlord. I am well persuaded that if the times continue tranquil & the prices as at present, this portion of my property will gradually rise most considerably in value - if I continue to visit & superintend it. This is absolutely necessary. Gabbett is in many respects a useful agent. He is a good lawyer, a man of excellent understanding, good disposition, & integrity. His practice at the police office & his naturally conciliating character gives him a great readiness in managing the (205) lower orders, & he is a ready accountant & man of business. But he is a nonresident, he is not deeply interested in the business, he has many partialities in the country, & he would go over the business in a very slovenly, negligent manner if I were not to accompany him.’

14 August 1834
‘This morning I went to Tullamore & inspected the banks & road. I also visited Julian’s house, which seems to want repair, & as he has been a punctual tenant lately, I determined to allow him a gale’s rent. The banks are all to a trifle completed & the road is made through three-fourths of the farm. These are great & real improvements, & I think that Tullamore is now very moderately set. But on some of the divisions, Shronoun & Shronedrislig, there are far too many tenants. Mr McMahon, the surveyor or land valuer recommended by Spring Rice, came to meet me today; he has lately mapped & surveyed Ballyhaurigan &Ballyrehan, the two farms Mr Hilliard holds upon a very old lease. Date, I think, 1773. He now pays £220 a year & McMahon computes the rise at £447; when out of lease, they will set for £687. I have a good opinion of his fairness & integrity.’

24 August 1844
‘We went with Mr & Mrs Gabbett & their family on the lake in a boat. I once before visited this lake with poor Digby in 1824. We had a fine day & enjoyed our excursion very much. In the evening we heard a singular concert, a blind Irish piper of the name of Gantsey & his son accompanying him on the violin. He was really a wonderful performer & drew sounds from his Irish pipes which quite surprised us. He was a fine old man, full of taste & enthusiasm in his art, & put me quite in mind of Wandering Willie in Redgauntlet. But Gantsey is a celebrated person in his way, & two years ago he travelled to Edinburgh & gave a concert at which he realised £50. The Irish bagpipe is far softer than the Scotch.’

3 October 1848
‘I went off by the express train at 9 & arrived at Holyhead by 6 [the station at Holyhead had opened two months earlier]. Here I embarked in a fast new steamer, the Scotia. It blew a gale of wind, but we made our passage to Kingstown by eleven & I got to Morrison’s Hotel, Dublin, by twelve. Mr Matthew Gabbett met me at the station & we agreed to set out for Limerick by the 10 o’clock train.’

2 September 1851
‘I left Cork with Mr M. Gabbett by the 9 o’clock. We arrived in Dublin by four & I went down to the hotel at Kingstown. . . . Mrs Gabbett sent me an invitation to dinner & I had the pleasure of another evening with my old agent, for whom I have a real regard. However, his son Matthew is a much more active & efficient agent than he ever was & enters far more fully into all my views. I think that it is greatly owing to his good management that I have a chance of getting through the crisis which has been fatal to so many Irish proprietors. I leave Ireland with far more hope & in better spirits than on any of the three former occasions since the potato failure. First, I see that the poors rates are diminished owing to our having got rid of outdoor relief & diminished the size of the electoral divisions. Between Matthew Gabbett & Captain Larcombe, my farms have been put into the best electoral divisions of the union. Secondly, my own estates have been very much weeded both of paupers & bad tenants. This has been accomplished by Matthew Gabbett without evictions, bringing in the sheriff, or any harsh measures. In fact, the paupers & little cottiers cannot keep their holdings without the potato &, for small sums of 1£, 2£, & 3£, have given me peaceable possession in a great many cases, when the cabin is immediately levelled. Then, to induce the larger farmers to surrender their holdings when they became insolvent, I emigrated several, either with their whole families or in part. This was expensive, but it enabled me to consolidate & make comfortable sized farms of from £30 & £40 up to £140 per annum. Then, the improvements I have carried on have greatly increased the value of the farms & given the tenants courage. I have introduced some good new tenants of a solvent description. From all these causes I see the estate coming round, the tenantry more comfortable, & though there are still great fallings off in the receipts, yet things are righting themselves.’

17 October 1852
‘Mr Gabbett came into town early & took me to his parish church at his new purchase about 8 miles from Limerick. The farm he has bought under the Encumbered Estates Court is in the centre of the property of his family. We passed a little stone tower, something like a martello tower . . ., which this Mr Matthew Gabbett’s uncle (whom I remember meeting at Rome in 1819) built as a fort & place of refuge in the Irish Rebellion of 1798. After church we drove again into Limerick. Mr Gabbett returned to his farm. He goes by an early train to Dublin & we meet at the Dublin terminus at 4. I dine with my old agent Mr Gabbett, Senior, at Bray, & on Tuesday I cross the water. . . .

So ends this visit to my Irish estates. How easily is the communication & transit made now, compared with what it was. My first visit to Ireland in 1821 was in the first year of the establishment of mail steam packets. I well remember the alarm felt when, about mid channel, something in the machinery broke & we were left floating without any progress for about an hour. It then took three good days to travel from London to Holyhead, one to cross, three to get from Dublin to Listowel. Now I get easily from London to Dublin in one day, from Dublin to Cork or Limerick in another. I can visit all the estates & return to London in little more time than it took me then to travel to and fro. But even the facilities I then enjoyed were very great compared with those which existed when my great uncle Walsh made the purchases in 1764 & subsequent years. His motives for his Radnorshire investments were intelligible enough. Its contiguity to Shropshire, where the first Lord Clive had established himself, & the smallness of the county, giving him a prospect cf acquiring parliamentary influence, explain this selection, but what first led him, an Englishman returned from India, having no Irish links or associations that I ever heard of, to select such a remote county, the very ultima Thule of Ireland itself, I have never heard explained. I don’t think that my dear mother had ever heard of it. She often spoke of his love for scattering his investments & mentioned that he had even bought an estate somewhere in Scotland which he subsequently sold. She quoted a criticism which her father Mr Fowke passed upon him. “There’s Walsh now has bought land in Ireland, Scotland, & Wales & has ended in seating himself down at Warfield where he can’t shoot a partridge.” Yet I have always great respect & regard for the memory of my great uncle, who died before I was born, but to whom I am so largely indebted, & who may be considered the founder of our family. His Irish investments, though singular, were not unwise. He bought very reasonably in those days what has turned out a valuable and improving estate &, now that the famine crisis is past, promises still to prove so.’

The Diary Junction

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Sutter’s Gold Rush

One hundred and seventy years ago today, President James Knox Polk confirmed to the US Congress that there was an abundance of gold on the west coast, in California. In fact, gold had been discovered nearly a year earlier at a mill owned by Johann August Sutter, a German immigrant. Sutter’s diary provides an interesting account of those early gold rush days.

It is widely accepted that the California Gold Rush began on 24 January 1848, when the metal was discovered by James Marshall, a carpenter and sawmill operator at Sutter’s Mill, Coloma, some 130 miles northwest of San Francisco. Rumours about the gold began to spread, first being published in a West Coast newspaper in March. Later that year, in August, the New York Herald, on the East Coast, reported that there was a major gold rush.

On 5 December 1848, the gold rush became official, as it were, when President Polk wrote to congress as follows: ‘The accounts of abundance of gold are of such an extraordinary character as would scarcely command belief were they not corroborated by the authentic reports of officers in the public service.’ And the news continued to spread so that eventually some 300,000 men, women, and children travelled to California - from the rest of the US in covered wagons, and from overseas by boat - often undergoing great hardships on the way. At first, the prospectors retrieved the gold from streams and riverbeds using simple techniques, such as panning, but more sophisticated production methods evolved over time.

The effects of the California Gold Rush were substantial, Wikipedia says. San Francisco grew from a hamlet to a boomtown, while roads, churches, schools and other towns were built all across the area. By 1850, California had been admitted as a state, and soon new methods of transportation, such as steamships and railroads, were being developed, as was the land for agriculture. The rest is history - today California is the richest of the United States, accounting for 13% of the US’s GDP.

There are many first hand accounts by forty-niners (the name given to those who made the journey to California in search of gold) in letters and diaries. The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco is a good place to start, as is The California Gold Country - Highway 49 Revisited. Gold Rush Saints: California Mormons and the Great Rush for Riches by Kenneth N. Owens, which can be previewed at Googlebooks, uses a lot of original diary material.

To return to Sutter, though, the mill owner. He was born in 1803 in Kandern, southwest Germany, but was schooled in Switzerland, and joined the Swiss army rising to the rank of captain. However, in 1934, he left Europe for the New World to escape creditors. After extensive travels in North America, he settled in California in 1839, then part of Mexico, where he founded New Helvetia colony near the Sacramento river. Although the discovery of gold happened on Sutter’s land, it was eventually to ruin him. His land and property were over-run and destroyed by gold diggers, and thereafter he spent many years and much money on legal battles trying to defend his ownership or in seeking compensation. He died in Washington in 1880, apparently a poor and embittered man.

Excerpts from Sutter’s diary first appeared in 1878 in the San Francisco Argonaut, and were then published by the Grabhorn Press in 1932 as The Diary of Johann August Sutter (with an introduction by Douglas S. Watson). This is freely available to read online at the Library of Congress website book, and many extracts can also be found at The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco website (which notes that the entries were probably written retrospectively).


28 January 1848
‘Marshall arrived in the evening, it was raining very heavy, but he told me he came on important business. After we was alone in a private Room he showed me the first Specimens of Gold, that is he was not certain if it was Gold or not, but he thought it might be; immediately I made the proof and found that it was 44 Gold. I told him even that most of all is 23 Carat Gold; he wished that I should come up with him immediately, but I told him that I have to give first my orders to the people in all my factories and shops.’

1 February 1848
‘Left for the Sawmill attended by a Baquero (Olimpio). Was absent 2d, 3d, 4th, & 5th. I examined myself everything and picked up a few Specimens of Gold myself in the tail race of the Sawmill; this Gold and others which Marshall and some of the other laborers gave to me (it was found while in my employ and Wages) I told them that I would a Ring got made of it soon as a Goldsmith would be here. I had a talk with my employed people all at the Sawmill. I told them that as they do know now that this Metal is Gold, I wished that they would do me the great favor and keep it secret only 6 weeks, because my large Flour Mill at Brighton would have been in Operation in such a time, 45 which undertaking would have been a fortune to me, and unfortunately the people would not keep it secret, and so I lost on this Mill at the lowest calculation about $25,000.’

7 March 1848.
‘The first party of Mormons, employed by me left for washing and digging Gold and very soon all followed, and left me only the sick and the lame behind. And at this time I could say that every body left me from the Clerk to the Cook. What for great Damages I had to suffer in my tannery which was just doing a profitable and extensive business, and the Vatts was left filled and a quantity of half finished leather was spoiled, likewise a large quantity of raw hides collected by the farmers and of my own killing. The same thing was in every branch of business which I carried on at the time. I began to harvest my wheat, while others was digging and washing Gold, but even the Indians could not be keeped longer at Work. They was impatient 46 to run to the mine, and other Indians had informed them of the Gold and its Value; and so I had to leave more as 2/3 of my harvest in the fields.’

19 May 1848
‘The great Rush from San Francisco arrived at the fort, all my friends and acquaintances filled up the houses and the whole fort, I had only a little Indian boy, to make them roasted Ripps etc. as my Cooks left me like every body else. The Merchants, Doctors, Lawyers, Sea Captains, Merchants etc. all came up and did not know what to do, all was in a Confusion, all left their wives and families in San francisco, and those which had none locked their Doors, abandoned their houses, offered them for sale cheap, a few hundred Dollars House & Lot (Lots which are worth now $100,000 and more), some of these men were just like greazy. Some of the Merchants has been the most 49 purdentest of the Whole, visited the Mines and returned immediately and began to do a very profitable business, and soon Vessels came from every where with all Kind of Merchandise, the whole old thrash which was laying for Years unsold, on the Coasts of South & Central America, Mexico Sandwich Islands etc. All found a good Market here. Mr. Brannan was erecting a very large Warehouse, and have done an immense business, connected with Howard & Green; S. Francisco.’

21 May 1848
‘Saml Kyburg errected or established the first Hotel in the fort in the larger building, and made a great deal of Money. A great Many traders deposited a great deal of goods in my Store (an Indian was the Key Keeper and performed very well). Afterwards every little Shanty became a Warehouse and Store; the fort was then a veritable Bazaar. As white people would not be employed at the Time 50 I had a few good Indians attending to the Ferry boat, and every night came up, and delivered the received Money for ferryage to me, after deduction for a few bottles of brandy, for the whole of them. Perhaps some white people at the time would not have acted so honestly.’

This article is a revised version of one first published 10 years ago on 5 December 2018.