Alden Rice Grout (November 4, 1817—March
2, 1862, age 44)
Alden Rice Grout (November 4, 1817—March
2, 1862, age 44)
Overview of the Gold Rush
My Heckart/Missouri connection to the Gold Rush
Heckart burials at Clear Creek in California
Descendents of John Adam Jr. Heckart to date
Monroe and Shelby County Missouri 49er's
The Grout Letters on the way to the Gold Rush
Grout Letters from the Gold Fields
Cost of supplies around the Gold Fields
The 49'er's, a quick overview on the Gold Rush before moving on to the letters of Alden Rice Grout---
Sutter's Mill, where it all started
....There were rumors and reports in 1848 of gold in California, but when
President James K. Polk told Congress about the gold in California the rumors
were confirmed. The golden dreams were true, creating a restlessness that
poured a human tide into San Francisco bay and sent hundreds of caravans over
plains and mountains.''
.....From the east coast, the emigrants sailed for California, but from the middle west--which had been a frontier itself only 20 or so years before, the travelers headed for the Missouri, which was where the trees ended; across the river was the wilderness. The west.
....From the eastern states, after a voyage down the Ohio River and up the Missouri at St. Louis to St. Joseph, as far as the eye could see was the great emigration. One could see nothing but wagons. The town presented a striking appearance--a vast army on wheels--crowds of men, women and lots of children and last but not least the cattle and horses on which life depends. St. Joseph--everybody called it St. Joe--was the end of the continent.
....Across the wide Missouri (river) in the 1840's was an almost unknown land. California, which had a European population of 15,000 and an Asian population of three. Now has 33+ million people and an economy larger than Italy.
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My connection to the 49'er' of Missouri:
Adam and Florian Heckart are my ggguncles. Both would travel to the gold
fields with Alden Grout and others from Monroe and Shelby County. The
surnames below are very common family names in NE Missouri. Many of these
men were veteran pioneers. Almost all of them had the multitude of skills
and crafts needed to build, travel, farm. These are physically tough,
hardened men with great survival skills. Most of these men had been in NE
Missouri for at least 5-10 years, when the area was still frontier land.
They had learned frontier skills from their fathers. Trained and hardened,
when this group received the word of gold in California, they were already on
the frontier with the skills to set out for the gold field and make a successful
trip. They had wagons and oxen, tools and supplies of their own.
They were "ready to go." Thus most of these men were very
successful in making the trip while others from farther to the east were not
only behind in time and distance, but also behind in the "training"
needed to make a successful trip. The trail west would be absolutely lined
with equipment and bodies of men and animals, but not the men of the Missouri
frontier. Many of the men from NE Missouri were also successful in the
gold field because of their background skills and work ethic.
....The Heckart brothers would return within two years to NE Missouri. Adam Heckart's family had a close link with the family of his sister, John and Elizabeth Heckart Strayer. While Adam was away at the gold fields, his family would live with the Strayer family at Clinton/Jonesburg, on the Salt River in Monroe County, Missouri. Adam Heckart and John Strayer would move to Freeport, Winnishiek County, Iowa, in late summer 1852, to build a major mill on the Upper Iowa River. Two Heckart families, John Adam Sr and Jost, and a young 20 year old John Strayer moved to NE Missouri in 1838 and had been river men, millwrights and farmers on the Susquehanna River Valley in eastern Pennsylvania. The sons of John Adam Sr. and John Strayer would be involved in the building of the mill for Mr. Walker in Shelby county and run the mill at Walkersville from 1840-1848. By probably the winter of 1848, John Strayer and Adam Heckart would buy lots in Clinton/Jonesburg, plus the grist/carding mill and land. Adam Heckart's family would stay under the leadership of John Strayer while he was away. Adam probably returned in 1851. While in California the Heckart brothers, Adam and Florian, apparently struck off from the Weberville area where Alden Rice Grout stayed until returning to Shelby County. One has to speculate the Heckart brother's being experienced river men and mill wrights, felt very comfortable "exploring" river systems in and out of the mountains to the north of Weberville.
Adam Heckart would remove with John Strayer in late summer 1852, to Freeport, in NE Iowa. They would build a major mill similar to the one they were involved in building at Walkersville. John Strayer would remain in Freeport and run the mill until his death in 1878. In 1865, Adam Heckart would set out once again for gold country by wagon train. His family would remain in Butte Co, around Oroville, with many of the next generation remaining in Butte County, California. Other Heckart lines would also move west. By the late 1860's only the Florian Heckart line would remain in Shelby County, Missouri, while the Jost Heckart line would remain around Ralls and Green Counties, Missouri, or move into Wapello Country around Ottumwa, Iowa. Thus the results of the gold rush had a significant influence on my family. One has to speculate that the gold brought back by Florian Heckart was used to buy land in Shelby County and keep him there the rest of his life. Gold probably helped build the big mill in Freeport, Iowa in 1853. Gold experience brought Adam Heckart back to California in 1865, where he would use his millwright experience to build a major flume on the Feather river. Great men, great times, the Missouri Connection.
Heckart burials in California
Link to Clear
Creek Cemetery, Butte County, California
Burial location of John Adam Jr. and Elizabeth Boyd Heckart and some of their offspring.
Lat: 39°39.48N, Lon: 121°36.50W
Contributed by Stan Carman, Mar, 26, 2001. Total records = 268.
Clear Creek Cemetery is located 6 miles South of Paradise, Butte County, California, USA off of Highway 191 on Clear Creek Cemetery Road. Highway 191 is also known as Clark Road.
Stone inscriptions for the Heckart clan in Clear
Heckart, Adam, d. 1 Sep 1897, age: 84y
Heckart, Catherine L, b. 15 Oct 1848, d. 4 Apr 1926
Heckart, Elizabeth, d. 25 May 1903, age: 86y
Heckart, Emily G, b. 8 Oct 1855, d. 6 Apr 1933
Heckart, Francis A, b. 6 Dec 1852, d. 15 Feb 1928
Heckart, William B, b. 26 Oct 1839, d. 13 Aug 1933
Heckart, William B, d., Co I 2 IA. INF
And other possible family connections:
Boyd, Alice, b. 1867, d. 1898, Mother
Boyd, Martha, d. 25 Feb 1892, age: 66y
Hefner, Ralph Heckart, d. 1992
Descendants of John Adam
(NOTE: as of May 2001, this is all of the Heckart data I have regarding the family of Adam and his removal to California. If you are linked to any of these lines and can supply some information, please post.) email@example.com
1 John Adam Heckart, Jr. b: July 19, 1813 in Northumberland Co., PA d: September 01, 1897 in On ranch, Mesilla Valley, 6mi S of Paradise, Butte Co, CA Burial: Clear Creek Cemetery, near Pentz, Butte Co, CA Migrated: 1865 Pentz area of Butte Co, CA Note: 1849 Went to the gold fields, returned 1851. Note: 1849 Went to the gold fields, returned 1851. Occupation: Bef. 1838 Mill Wright, farmer, river pilot.
- +Elizabeth Boyd b: Abt. 1817 in PA d: May 25, 1903 in Pentz area of Butte Co, CA Burial: Clear Creek Cemetery, Butte Co, CA m: in Butler Co., in western PA Note: Bk A, #083 Note: Bk A, #083 Note: Bk A, #083
-- 2 Mary Elizabeth Heckart b: 1837 in Butler Co. in western PA d: 1865 in Wagon train to Calif., after giving birth.
----- +Henry C. Snyder m: May 13, 1858 in Freeport, Winneshiek Co., Iowa
------ 3 William Snyder b: 1860 in Freeport, Winneshiek Co., Iowa
------ 3 Fannie Mae Snyder b: 1863 in Freeport, Winneshiek Co., Iowa
------ 3 Alice Snyder b: 1865 in On wagon train, in CO, mother died during birth.
-- 2 William Boyd Heckart b: October 26, 1838 in Shelbyville, Shelby Co., MO d: August 13, 1933 in Oroville, CA Burial: Clear Creek Cemetery, Butte Co, CA Occupation: 1884 Miler on Pentz Ranch
-- 2 Christiana Ann Heckart b: 1842 in Shelbyville, Shelby Co., MO d: 1892 in Colusa, CA Note: Married older, no children. Note: Married older, no children. Occupation: Teacher
----- +William Jasper
-- 2 Nancy J. Heckart b: 1844 in Shelbyville, Shelby Co., MO d: in Oroville, CA Note: Had many children. Note: Had many children.
----- +John P. Leonard Occupation: Judge
-- 2 Catharine Louise Heckart b: October 15, 1848 in Shelbyville, Shelby Co., MO d: April 04, 1926 in Oroville, Butte Co, CA Burial: Clear Creek Cemetery, Butte Co, CA Note: Never married Note: Never married
-- 2 Francis Augustus Heckart b: December 06, 1852 in Freeport, Winneshiek Co., Iowa d: February 15, 1928 in Oroville, Butte Co, CA Burial: Clear Creek Cemetery, Butte Co, CA Note: Older when married, no children. Note: Older when married, no children. Occupation: 1884 Farmer at Pentz Ranch
----- +Annie Pearce
------ 3 Joseph Heckart
-- 2 Gertrude Emily Heckart b: October 08, 1855 in Freeport, Winneshiek Co., Iowa d: April 06, 1933 in Oroville, Butte Co, CA Burial: Clear Creek Cemetery, Butte Co, CA Note: Never married. Note: Never married.
1849 California emigrants from Monroe
John Sears, Alexander Mackey, Hugh Glenn, Frank Buckner, William Buckner, Daniel Good, Jefferson Wilcoxon, D. A. McKamey, James Bridgford, Jefferson Bridgford, George Waller, James Waller, Thomas Withers, James Glenn, James Hill, Wesley Hill, Stephen Hill James H. Smith, Boon Helm, David Helm, Fleming Helm, Samuel Sproule, Samuel Gaines, George Kipper, Joseph Donaldson, Alexander Thompson, Joseph Thompson, John Thompson, John Poage, William Poage, Thomas Cleaver, Thompson Holliday, William Holliday, Marion Biggs, Thomas Farley, Green Featherstone, Charles Featherstone, William Williams, Curren Foreman, Edline Chapman, David Heninger, Joseph Heninger, Thomas Dry, Benjamine Davis, Hiram Collins, John M. Bates, Saul Threlkeld, Jesse Allen Harrison Williamson, Will Sparks, John Goe, George Goe, Isaac Stalcup, George Bondurant, Vincent Worland, James Worland, Zimmerman Zigler, Malk Ashcraft, Adam Heckart, James Gough, James Lasley, William Gibson, David Craig, David Major, William Gilbert, Frank Williamson, Gose McBroom, Thomas Maupin, Taylor Barton, William Fitzpatrick, William Greenwell, Dr. Marcellus Gough.
1849 California emigrants from Shelby
John F. Benjamin, J.M. Collier, William Dunn, John Dickerson, Capt. J.A. Carothers, Dr. Mills, C. M. Pilcher, Benjamine Forman, Bob Marmaduke (slave), Joe Dunn (slave), Calvin Pilcher, William Robinson, Charles Rackliffe, Lafayette Shoots, John, Robert and William Montgomery, Robert and Newton Dun and Florian Heckart.
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THE GROUT LETTERS
Information supplied by Barbara Greenwell, RR, Shelbina, Missouri, 2001. Keeper of the original Grout letters.
The gold Rush of 1849 holds a special thrill for a rural Shelbina, Missouri, native, Anna Ryan Greenwell. In the spring of 1849 her maternal grandfather, Alden Rice Grout, left his home and family to strike out for the gold fields of California. The letters Alden wrote to his wife Harriet Ann Gough Grout, while he was away for two years seeking his fortune, give a detailed record of the dangers, difficulties and uncertainties experienced in his travels. These letters also stand for the life of the other Monroe and Shelby County, Missouri, early pioneers who traveled west.
The Grout family emigrated to the Midwest from Essex County, Vermont in the 1830-‘s and early 1940’s. They were straight-laced New Englanders, and found life in Missouri very difficult compared to what they had experienced in Vermont. They were educated and came as teachers to the frontier territory. Grandpa Alden Rice and his maiden sisters, Prudence Helen and Harriet S. John Grout taught some of the earliest schools held in NE Missouri. Their father, Reuben S. Grout is buried in the Salem Baptist Cemetery, northeast of Paris in Monroe County.
It was the lure of gold, or as many termed it, "gold fever," that caught Grout’s imagination, and like so many other able-bodied men of Shelby and Monroe Counties, he planned his trip and left in early April, 1849.
Letters from Alden Rice Grout (1817-1862) from the journey to the 1849 Gold Rush, to his wife back in Shelby County, Missouri, Harriet Ann Gough Grout (1817-1863)
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The Gold Rush of 1849 through the letters of
Alden Rice Grout (1817-1862)
Published in the Shelbina Democrat, Wednesday, April 11, 1979. Information supplied in 2001 by Barbara Greenwell, gggranddaugher of Alden Rice Grout, RR, Shelbina, MO. Letters from Alden Rice Grout (1817-1862) from the journey to the 1849 Gold Rush; most were sent to his wife back in Shelby County, Missouri, Harriet Ann Gough Grout (1817-1863)
....The gold Rush of 1849 holds a special thrill for a rural Shelbina, Missouri, native, Anna Ryan Greenwell. In the spring of 1849 her maternal grandfather, Alden Rice Grout, left his home and family to strike out for the gold fields of California. The letters Alden wrote to his wife Harriet Ann Gough Grout, while he was away for two years seeking his fortune, give a detailed record of the dangers, difficulties and uncertainties experienced in his travels. These letters also stand for the life of the other Monroe and Shelby County, Missouri, early pioneers who traveled west.]
....The Grout family emigrated to the Midwest from Essex County, Vermont in the 1830-‘s and early 1940’s. They were straight-laced New Englanders, and found life in Missouri very difficult compared to what they had experienced in Vermont. They were educated and came as teachers to the frontier territory. Grandpa Alden Rice and his maiden sisters, Prudence Helen and Harriet S. John Grout taught some of the earliest schools held in NE Missouri. Their father, Reuben S. Grout is buried in the Salem Baptist Cemetery, northeast of Paris in Monroe County.\
....It was the lure of gold, or as many termed it, "gold fever," that caught Grout’s imagination, and like so many other able-bodied men of Shelby and Monroe Counties, he planned ;his trip and left in early April, 1849.
Excerpts from the letters follow:
April 15, 1849, four miles east from
.…The roads are lined with California bond wagons. We have passed many teams (oxen) on the road that ;will hardly reach St. Joseph, )Missouri), let alone California. Our teams are considered about the best that have passed ;this road, and we have passed through some of the worse places on the road ;that I ever saw wagons go, without difficulty We travel about 12 miles a day, could travel farther but we hear that corn is very scarce near St. Joseph and are in no hurry to get there before grass comes.
April 22, 1949, four miles west of
Richmond (Missouri), Ray County
.…We also have terrible accounts of the cholera at St. Joseph and camp fevers… Perhaps you would like to know our way of keeping camp. Well, I will tell you something about our different service. Mr. Miner and Donaldson each drive teams and are thereby exempt from further duty. T. Glasscock and myself attend to the cooking department, E. Steele and John McKey to feeding the teams. I have great success in baking wheat bread, find it not so difficult as I had expected. I have not yet tried the hop yeast but think I shall be successful, we all have the most voracious appetites of any six men you ever saw.
May 3, 1849, Savanna Ferry, 10 miles
above St. Joseph, Mo.
.…Mr. Miner will hand you this, and will tell you of my situation better than I can, under existing circumstances, write it. I regret very much his declining going with us, for many and various reasons, but as he thinks it prudent to return I must submit to it. I myself was very near returning back with him as it looks quite discouraging to see so many thousands going on, and I may many times wish I had, but you know if there is anything like a good chance to get to California I want to be one of the number that go. Our oxen are the best on the road, we have good wagons and not very heavy loads, and ;it does seem that our chances to go through more than an average one. Mr. Miner will tell you abut the cholera, smallpox, emigrants….
May 10, 1849, Great Nemaker Agency
….If you could see me at this time, I doubt not you would say, "O Mr. Grout: Go back to Monroe (County, Missouri)! But ;it seems as difficulties and trials arise, I am the more anxious to ‘conquer or die’….. We have attached ourselves to a company consisting of persons from Monroe and Shelby County. Dr. Williams of Monroe is captain. I am much pleased so far with the company and officers. In our company from Monroe are the Kirkland's, Jo West, Bog Austin, Messrs. Hickman, Heckartz, and from Shelby County, Radcliff, Dr. Mills, Caruthers, Pilcher, Parker, all of whom are first rate fellows and mostly old acquaintances.
June 15, 1849, near Fort Laramie
.…I stated we had separated from Dr. Williams’ Company. I will now write more particularly about the separation and present prospects. Dr. Williams’ company, styled the "Salt River Emigration Company" at one time consisted of 32 wagons, mostly from Monroe and Shelby Counties. They had a constitution whereby all who signed it were bound as a bond of brothers, to assist each other, through thick and thin, until the journey’s end. They had a list of by-laws as long as the moral law to govern and keep order among the members. A captain and score or more of other officers were ;elected to execute and put in force these laws and regulations. When our wagons joined or agreed to travel with Dr. Williams and some of the number above mentioned. Wagons, with heavy loads and rather indifferent ;teams were attached to the company by which means according to the constitution those who had good teams and lighter loads (like us) became bound to help in all probability these heavy wagons through and get neither pay or thanks for it. It is plain to see before an organization of this kind can be made to be equally fair, each should have very nearly the same amount of freight and team. Another difficulty was some were in favor of having their oxen tied up, others of having them carelled in, driven into an enclosure made by the wagons, and chains, others wished their oxen to range unrestrained wherever they wished to go. Our captain, as good and clever a man as ever lived wished to please all, the consequence was, nobody was please, but there was no open war, still I think those who still cling to the original company look upon those who have left as being s et of rather unprincipled men. I suppose we are some 30 miles in advance of Dr. Williams’ company, if they do not start earlier in the morning than they did when we was with them. I have no time or space to mention several other reasons why we separated nor should I be so particular in those mentioned but presume there was misrepresentations of our separations sent back. We are now travelling along in peace and harmony, eight wagons of us together. Adam Heckhartz (Heckart) and brother (Florian), J. and J. Kirkland, Z. Zigler and Greenwell, Dr. Mills of Shelby County and others you are not acquainted with.
….We hear of the cholera having been very fatal on the emigrants behind us; for the last two or three hundred miles we have passed but very few graves, but the first 300 (miles) after leaving St. Joseph we passed a great many, three of whom killed themselves by the accidental discharge of their guns. I am inclined to think there is as yet no cholera ahead of us, but it may be with us any moment. The weather for some days back has been rainy or rather we have had severe storms of rain and some of the sharpest lightning I ever saw….We are now about one their of the way from St. Joe to San Francisco, if we meet with no serious difficulty we will reach the gold diggings sometime in September (1849) Dr. Bower is somewhere ahead of us, probably 100 miles. Let Mr. Steele’s folks know that Edger is in good health and fine sprites. I ell you he is no. 1 in our crowd and no mistake…
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July 7, 1849,
on Green River, 75 miles west of the South Pass
.…We are getting along thus far without anything like serious difficulties, all are in good health and fine sprits; our oxen are in nearly as good condition as when we left Missouri. This cannot be said however of all the cattle in our company, some half dozen are now dead and some others are in bad condition. Kirkland's and Gibson's and Co. have left one wagon and joined teams, another wagon of our company has been left and men and teams distributed out. We have taken Wm. Greenwell into our mess, he having lost one of his oxen and his mess broke up. By his coming into our mess with provisions and baggage, we were obliged to lighten our loads by throwing out our blacksmith tools. There is now six wagons of us in company. We have now just got across a stretch of what is called "Subletts cut off" of 51 miles ;without one drop of water for our oxen, it is laid ;down in guide books as 35 miles, but have proved 51 by measurement. Oxen stood the trip without seriously injuring them. For about 100 miles east of the South Pass the ground in places is white with alkali, the water also in places is strong with it. Cattle seem fond of eating and drinking it, and the consequence is that those who have not guarded their cattle with the utmost vigilance have lost at least a part of their teams. I do not think I would overrate the number of dead oxen we have passed in the last 150 miles f I should say 1000. The road is literally lined with them. In one day I counted for 12 miles and made the number in sight of the road 23. I never saw or even heard of nothing to compare with the destruction of property on this route and back of us I know must be a great deal worse. IN viewing the dead oxen and deserted wagons, tools, chains, and clothing strewn along the road I can think of nothing that I ever read of to compare with it except Bonapart’s Excursion to Russia…
….We possibly can on account of there being such an immense throng behind us. It is thought all that are before us will get through, if they did not drive too hard, but what is to become of those back it is fearful to think about. When I wrote you from Laramie it was thought there were about 3000 teams in advance of us, the number now is from 15 to 20 hundred (20,000). Perhaps you will infer we are rushing too hard, but I will explain how it is we pass so many. Some whom we pass rushed too hard at the start and have broken down their teams, others started with indifferent teams and they are obliged to drive slow, others are too lazy to guard their cattle at night to graze and cannot start soon in the day or travel late in the evening. Our method is to have the oxen up eating before day, start soon after sunrise, stop through the hottest part ;of the day to rest our teams. Some of us also are always ahead of the teams looking out for a good little spot of grass, so you will see that we have a plenty to do to keep us pretty busy. I have found men on the route who know something about every body I was ever acquainted with I believe, some who are well acquainted with our connections in Wisconsin, also a Mr. Pinkum from Lancaster, N.H…. By the time you receive this if all things go well with me I shall be in the gold diggings, say sometime about the last of August or first of September. I hope and sincerely pray all may be well with you and may dear children and that I may yet live to see you all well and happy. But life is so uncertain and the time I have set to be away so long that it seems as ;if our chances to meet or to be forever separated in this world about equal, but dear Harriet, our lives, if prolonged to the oldest age, cannot be brought into comparison with the never ending ages of Eternity. Then let us strive by all means to spend our eternal life together, and do all in our power to raise our children that they to may meet us in that happy world. Since starting this trip I have more than ever been brought to think of death and futurity and to consider what could by my condition if I should die knowing that I was still in the ‘gall of bitterness and bonds if iniquity.’ These reflections I have kept to myself and are known to no one but to you and my God. I have joined no church or creed, but hope a merciful God has blotted out my numerous transgressions, and will receive me at last as a wanderer home. Harriet ;this letter is for you and sister P.H…….
….Tell Mr. Greenwell’s family that William is in good health and is doing well. Also. E. Steele, T. Glasscock are all in excellent health. John McKey would be well if he did not eat so much. J. Donaldson is well. Adam and Florian Herchartz (Heckart) are well, so are Jacob and John Kirkland. John Quigley, Z. Zeiger, M. Ashcraft are all in good health and in our company. Dr. Bower’s company is supposed to be about 4 days advance of us. James Quigley died of cholera a few weeks since near Fort Laramie. No cholera near us, nor do we ever see any graves on the road now.
.…Tell Herbert I think of him a great many times every day, but on his birthday I shall think of him more than ever. Poor boy, it is hard for me to think it doubtful if I ever see you again, and to think of him more world it is for you to battle with. Tell Selden he must not forget how I look for if he does, I might go by when I come back to see him, for he will be such a great big boy I might not know him. Harriet Ellen knows so little of me, that it is not worthwhile to write to her---I am foolish enough to mark a little place here and seal it with a kiss for you all." Your affectionate,/s/Alden Rice Grout (1817-1862)
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September 16, 1849, California
Dear Harriet, …Here I am at last in the midst of the gold diggin!! I am in good health and as good spirits as the nature of the case will admit of. It would be as unnecessary as impossible for me to attempt to narrate anything like an account of the difficulties and trials of our trip across the plains, but let it suffice for the present that we arrived here on the 8th (September), all in good health, and quite strange to relate with every one of the oxen we started with.
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November 14, 1849, Weaverville, California
Weberville is gone, it is now Stockton, California: The town of Weberville (aka
Weaverville), was one of the first places overland immigrants stopped upon
arriving in the area between 1848 and 1852. In 1849, near where gold had
been discovered at Sutter's Mill, Charles Weber and his partner, William Gulnac,
started a store and then a town, Weber's Camp or Weberville. Unlike Stockton,
which Weber also founded, Weberville was one of the many towns that failed to
survive beyond the excitement of the Gold Rush. The county seat of San Joaquin
County, California, also is named for the navel officer Robert Stockton..
It was Captain Charles M. Weber, the river town’s founder, who changed the
.…Not having heard one word from you or any of
my friends since leaving home I sometime since declared I would not write to
anyone again until I should receive a letter from the states, but I may have
been wrong, for the fault may not be in my friends so much as in the mails,
which are very irregular and uncertain.
.…It is unnecessary for me to write my anxiety about you and my children. If not unnecessary it is impossible. Had I thought or conceived before leaving home that by going to California I could not even hear from you for 7 months. I certainly should have stayed at home. How much longer I am to wait God only knows. I trust it has been different with you in relation to myself. I have since leaving embraced every opportunity of sending you letters, some of them at least have reached you.
.…I am still at the same place where I was when I last wrote you, in good health and would be in good spirits could I know that you and my relation at home were well. I hope for the best, but shall endeavor to be prepared for the worst. Brother Samuel is with me is also in good health. We are tolerably well fixed for the winter in company with Will Greenwell and two other men from Illinois. We have a comfortable cabin and provisions in pickled pork, hard bread and flour to do us until spring.
.…Pretty rough living here I assure you, as well as very expensive, not having much else to write about I will just state the prices of some things at this time and place, in some parts of the country things are much higher, in other portions lower.
.…Flour 75 cents per pound. Fresh beef 50 cents. Salt pork 75. Onions only $1.50 per pound. Potatoes $1. Other eatables in proportion. Boarders are paying from $20 to $25 per week for board without lodging. The rainy season having commenced it s thought prices will come up a little soon. It is supposed by many that the retail price for flour here by new year will be $2 per pound. There seems to be no apprehensions abut starvation, for notwithstanding the numerous population, provisions though high will be abundant. You of course from the above "prices current" will suppose I must be making money pretty fast to be able to live. Well I will tell you how it is. We bought us a team some weeks since and bought our winter’s provisions at Sacramento City, at the following rates. Flour $15 per 100, salt pork $48 per barrel, which is much cheaper to us than buying at this place. Had we kept or purchased a team when we first came here and gone to hauling, we probably could have done well. We keep the team still hauling and may yet make something at it, though the roads since the rain have become very bad. Also there is no feed for stock between this place and the city (50 miles) and feed for cattle and mules is pretty high. Hay $10 per 100lbs., corn meal $25 per barrel. "Ain’t California some" as Selden used to say?
.…I wish I could write you as flattering an account of success digging gold as some persons of my acquaintances have had, but I cannot inform you of any great success as yet, still I have done better than some. I have yet hopes, if life and health is spared, to return next fall somewhat better off than when I left, certain it is I shall try hard enough. Digging gold is a very hard and uncertain business. I do not believe one half the miners in California will more than support themselves this winter.
.…But could you see the result of brother Samuel, myself, and another man’s work today, you would think we were getting rich fast. We washed out five ounces and one half of the pure metal valued here $16 per once, but such luck does not happen to us often, I assure you. One day however I did by myself take out $79, but I was nearly a week digging off the dirt before I got down to the gold!! David Moss has cleared about $2,000, Armstrong of Paris (MO) about the same I am informed. They are on Middle Fork about 25 miles from this place. Jo Rogers has had very good luck also, is now at work for Hawkins of Hannibal driving teams at $250. I saw John Nickles not long since, he has %400 he told me which he wants to send home. Edger Steele and the other boys that came with me left here for the Middle Fork some after we came in…I do not know their success. Heckhartz, Kirkland's, Henninger and Gillespie have gone somewhere to the south where they expect to find H. Henninger and richer diggings. I have not heard from them since they left, although Heckhartz promised to let me know if he found a chance for a fortune. There is, you will discern, neither form nor order in this letter, as I write about things just as I happen to think of them. How can anyone fashion into form a letter in California!! I can’t, nor shall I try!
Thomas Edgar Steele of Monroe County, Missouri traveled to California by wagon train with Alden Grout to work the gold fields. His father David Steele, died in 1850 while he was away. He stayed in California nearly three years before returning home by way of the Isthmus and New Orleans. He made a second trip to California around 1854 or 1855 to take a drove of livestock, but returned home soon after.
.…I wrote you in my last something about renting the farm to Mr. Roby; I wish you and G.B. Gough to fix that matter as circumstances may seem best. You know Harriet the place I designed for an orchard. I wish you would contrive some way to have 50 good apple trees set out next spring. On the notes I left due me at Christmas, collect enough for your and the children’s use. By another Christmas I hope to be with you and if my life is spared I think I shall. As ever, yours with more than affection. A.R. Grout
....P.S. Tell Mr. Greenwell's family that William is in good health and doing well. We are together and presume we shall stay together while in California. He is at this time gone to the city with the team after provisions. If John or Ben or anybody else that I care anything about or for whose welfare I feel an interest want to come out here to dig gold, I would say to them, do anything else!
.…My love to Herbert, Selden and Harriet Ellen and all others who thing enough of me to inquire abut me. If you can contrive to send me letters by way of New York they will be much more certain to come I am told. I want to think that P.H. is teaching somewhere near you and Herbert going to school to her. If I knew her and sister Harriet’s whereabouts I should write to them, but between now and spring it will be better to direct them to this place, via "Weaverville by way of Sacramento City." I shall write to G.B. Gough and L. Saunders soon, also to Frank Minor.
...NOTE: Alden Grout’s family was very distressed when they learned Alden had not received their letters from home. Harriet, his wife, had written him faithfully, but the letters were evidently lost in the overland mail. Additional letters which Grout said he wrote were not delivered, also. After Alden’s family was instructed to send the letters by way of New York, he received them. The mail was carried by boat down the coast of South America, around Cape Horn and up the western coast to San Francisco.
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Weberville, California, March 13,
....LETTER: written by Alden to George B. Gough, brother-in-law of Alden Grout, who then passed it on to Harriet Grout his sister. Dear Friend (George B. Gough) I promised when I last saw you that when I had seen the prospects in California I would at an early period report my observations and experiences. As yet I have remained silent to you directly though in my numerous letters to Harriet I have endeavored to dissuade any of my friends, married ones in particular, from ever coming here. Not because gold is not abundant enough, but the changes of a person ever returning from here are almost ten to one. I acknowledge I am somewhat extravagant in this conjecture, but I will hazard all my dust on my second one and that is that not one out of twenty that came here will ever return to the states with $5,000. Well less than that sum cannot pay a man for the labor and excitement incident upon a trip here and say a two year’s residence.
.…I doubt not but you almost weekly hear of this one and that of having taken out day his pound and pounds of gold. But do you hear of the 1000 and one that have died, or are lying sick, unable to labor for their bread and not any means to buy it with? Now I am coming to the truth, could a person be insured his life and health here, it would most unquestionably be one best openings to acquire wealth ever presented. I believe the climate here far preferable to Missouri, for were you in that country to do, as we are here necessarily compelled, it would almost be inevitable death. I am aware this letter will lack connection, one apology for this, I am endeavoring to write while nursing a fellow mess-mate who is very dangerously ill. It is now almost 12 months since I left home, and strange to say not one work have I yet heard from there. What can be the reason? Am I forgotten by all my friends, or are they all dead, and there is none left to let me know it. I have sent to San Francisco time after time, and when the letter man comes there are always letters for everyone but Will Greenwell and me. Could Wm. Get letters it would probably enable me to hear something from you all, but the long looked for boon is by me pretty much given up. I shall write one more letter from California if life is spared ere my promises are all fulfilled, after that, I am done.
.…Wm. Greenwell left us a few days since for the city, partly to see if there were letters there for us, and also to see the chance for speculation thereabouts. His health is good. Brother Samuel has just returned from a mountain excursion of about 70 miles in search of richer diggings. He found more snow than gold, the former being five feet deep when he left and still falling, still he thinks he found where as soon as spring opens he can get his pile. With the exception of a cold he is well. Through the month of January, I was sick, but lost not time, being rainy or snowing all the time. My health was never better than now, and if prudence and care will preserve it, I intend to keep it, for as dearly as I love gold, I prize god health most. We last fall purchased a team and hauled quite a large quantity of provisions to this place. At one time we could have sold as a handsome profit, but wished like others for more, there being an open spell of weather during the winter large quantities of provisions were brought here on pack mules, which brought prices down and we now are glad to sell out for about cost, with loss of time. The mines in this vicinity are pretty well exhausted, still when the water leaves the creek and branches, I am satisfied much good remains to be taken out. I shall probably make this my home through the summer thought I intend to make a tour through the mines this summer. It probably seems strange to you we do not wander abut more and find the rich placers, well it is not so easily done as you my imagine. In the first place you cannot prospect without tools, to d this a mule must be had to pack. The price of mules if from $100 to $300. It will also cost you 60c a pound for barley to feed this mule. If you do not take provisions, each meal will cost from $1.50 to $3.00. Should you be long in finding a place to go to work at, you will see it requires considerable capital to commence tramping on. For the last month hundreds have left here, some going north and some south and we are continually hearing of rich mines, first on the river and then at the head of that river. If I had no further responsibility in this world than to look out for myself, I would break out and would make a big raise or none, but being situated as I feel myself, I think it advisable to be content with a small allowance and try to preserve it together with my health. Perhaps you are anxious to know how I have been doing. Well I have laid by just $800 all told. My luck seems though but small at best, to come and go by "fits and spurts." I have labored hard for a week or more and hardly paid expenses, another week I may make $200. I am well convinced there are plenty of places on the rivers where during the low waters a man can average $20 every day, but then he is in the water all the time, and subject to the heat of a burning sun. Nearly all who work in the "wet diggins" get a great deal of gold, a majority of them lose their health, if not their lives. As I have but little more space I will close by naming all from Monroe County (MO) that I know of having died---Dr. Williams, Tate Packwood, Mr. Graves, Thomas Tyson, Mr. Martin, Mr. Blain, Henry Maggard from Carroll County, John Sharp formerly from Monroe is probably dead, and Spotswood Williams a week since lay at the point of death. I do not know where the Clinton boys any of them are. With sentiments and the most sincere esteem to all my friends, I am, yours truly. A.R. Grout
.…Appendix: 17th of March, 1849….I have no doubt but you have made a good sale of your cattle this spring as I suppose there is a very great demand for both oxen and mules for the California emigration, but I will suggest to you that more can be made speculating in mules than cattle. Oxen do well to cross the plains, but mules decidedly better, and the latter are worth so much more after arriving here. As long as there is gold mining and gold hunting in California (and that will be longer than you or I will live) there is bound to be a great demand for mules. There can be no substitute for them, they being the only animal that can pack burdens into the mountainous regions of the mines. Mules are said to never die in the states, not so here. Their days are few and full of trouble. We had remarkable good luck with our oxen in crossing the plains, landing here with every one safe and sound, not so good luck with my horse. The Indians stole him from me on the Carson River. A word to Harriet---On your birthday I thought I would work for your benefit, the result was at night I had two and one half ounces of gold for you. Poor Selden’s birthday came on Sunday, but he shall have proceeds of some other day when I am in a rich place. Herbert’s shall also be remembered, and also little Harriet Ellen’s. My most ardent love to you and my dart children, though we are very far distant from each other, may the Lord grant we may yet meet again and live together in peace and prosperity. Affectionately, A. R. Grout
....P.S. March 20, 1850---I have broken open this after having it sealed to inform you hat Mr. Greenwell has returned from the city and with him brought me a letter , yes sir a letter, and better than all I was by that informed I actually, as of the 2nd of December, 1849, friends still alive!! Ten thousand thanks to good sister P.H., for hers and she may expect a good long letter from me the next mail after this. Wm. Greenwell bought news that S. Williams is nearly well.
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May 30, 1850, Weberville, California
My Always true sister P.H.,
.…You speak of having written me monthly and say you will continue so to do, for kindness I do mores sincerely thank you and acknowledge I owe you an apology for the rather severe rebukes or reflections cast toward my friends at large and in general in some of my letters for lack of attention to duty. But it may be my letters have met the same fate of yours, delayed and probably destroyed on the way. I am in great hopes I may now hear from you every month, as by the one received I see you have taken the plan of sending by way of New York which is a good idea. Persons from the eastern part of the States get their letters and have all winter with great regularity. I have not heard directly from Samuel for 3 or 4 weeks, was he sick or seriously so he would be certain to let me know it.
.…I have before written about his separating from me, but will write again. Last winter there was a good deal of excitement here about some diggings somewhere on head waters of the Sacramento (River) where some men had last fall taken gold by the mule load. A great many parties left here in search of these rich mines, in the midst of the rainy season. Business being pretty dull with us, Samuel concluded to along. I was altogether opposed to the plan, particularly at that season, but you know to oppose Sam is but to urge him on. He has been back twice, thinks he has found where he can get just as much as he wants of the big chunks, as soon as the snow and water leave so as to work to advantage. How he will succeed is very uncertain for you must know though there are thousands of rich deposits of gold in California, it is but few in comparison to the number of persons searching for them. I will venture one remark respecting brother Sam---if you ever see him he will have gold in abundance. It will probably be years before he finds his pile, but he will not leave California without it. Neither would I if it was not that there are those I love more and better than gold. How often have I thought, O could California have told her treasures about the time I left you in Maryland, how happily I could have toiled on here until my "wishes were all freighted," but less will do me now than would at that period of my life.
.…Among our near neighbors last winter was an old bachelor and his nephew originally from East Tennessee, but from Buchanan County, Missouri to this place. The nephew died last January. I was with them a god deal during the sickness of the young man, and never saw more devoted attention than this old man paid his poor nephew. Well, when Samuel and William Greenwell both left me, I accepted the old man’s invitation to live and work with him. His name is McCray, and should I die without other arrangements, he is my confidant.
William Greenwell, one of the forty-niners from Monroe County, Missouri accompanied Alden Rice Grout to the Gold Rush in California, stands holding his shotgun. He never married.
.…It is not possible to write just what we make per day, as there is no regularity as to the amount of gold a man can make digging for it. It is a "streak of lean and a streak of fat," more streak of lean than fat!! But for the last two months, we have averaged about $5.50 per day each, though some days we have made $50, other not one!
.…Sister P.H., your kindness towards Herbert and Selden can never by me be repaid, but it likewise will never be forgotten. Tell them I am more anxious for them to be good boys in school and learn fast than I am to get much gold. Yours truly,/s/A.R. Grout
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To Harriet Ann Grout: My dear Wife,
.…Yours is at hand, I had entirely given up all hopes of ever receiving a line from you, but how often are we deceived in things of this world. On this I am twice deceived, you were the first one I looked for a letter from, and I find you last to get one from. But late as it has been in coming, most gratefully it is received.
.…I rejoice that you are more willing to deprive yourself the company of Herb and Sel than that they should not be at school now while it is so important they should be learning something.
.…You say James Gough is for California this spring. Well, if he has not now got his foot in it, I would not say so, but let him come on. If there is not some shaking hands when I get to see him here, it won’t be my fault. You say all the young men except those who have married since I left are for California. Well just as they can afford, but if they would take my advice they would stay where they are, or anywhere before California. If they expect to get rich by merely coming here as thousands of others have seemed to imagine, they could just as well turn right around and go back. Crowds are here who because they can’t just by digging a hole and going to washing get gold, and that too by the ounce or two a day, curse the diggings and turn to roving from one part of the mines to another. But if one will persevere and not become discouraged, he can make some come sure. I have been writing this letter at intervals between working in the morning, noon, and night while bread is baking. My partner and I have washed out since Monday morning $180 at $15 per ounce, try. If we would work tomorrow I am satisfied we could make out $200. You may think this does not sound much like $5 per day; to explain this, you must understand, as this prospect where we got this out I presume is pretty nearly exhausted. We may try for months before we find another as good. If I could only have such diggings every day, I would soon be ready to return home. As it is, I cannot tell when I will, though I hope to in the fall.
.…I am obliged to Buren that he still remembers 'em, but I do not know as I now think of anything to write that would interest him particularly, but should he think of coming out here I will just inform him that though tobacco is very cheap, whiskey is $6 per gallon, no insinuations, of course, if taken I presume he will consider where they come from. Thinking of Buren brings Ring to mine: I hope and trust Buren has been true to his promise and is taking good care of his honor.
.…I am not over agreeably situated as to eatables, we can get no vegetables except at such enormous rates that a person might almost as well starve as to buy them. We live altogether on fresh beef and bread. Beef is now only 30 cents per pound, it always has been much higher. We live in a snug little cabin 10 feet by 19 feet, have a comfortable bed to sleep on, no children to trouble us, but mosquitoes, lizzards, and pismires are somewhat troublesome. I make light bread from the yeast you prepared me which is hard to beat, but we lack good butter to eat with our hot rolls. What butter we get is as strong as a yoke or oxen and is $2 a pound at that. I do not really wish you here Harriet, but were you, there is but little doubt we could in 122 months time make money enough to do us our lifetimes. Men who have the right kind of wives here are making more money than any others by keeping tavern. $1.50 is the price of a meal here that does not really cost more than 25 cents, and there are many places where they are crowded all the time with customers. There is not at this time any sickness at all among the miners as far as I can learn, but it was dreadful here during the rainy season. They were dying daily like sheep with the rot among them. Tell L.A. Saunders he may soon expect to hear from me, also B.J. Gough, I have written F. Minor and George B. Gough, but perhaps they never received the letters. Give my respect to all inquiring friends, your mother and family in particular and believe me as every your affectionate husband./S/A.R.Grout
July 7, 1850, American Fork House
(this is in reference to the south fork of the American river)
.…It is no 9pm and I am very tiered, but think I must not let another mail leave California without letting you know I am still alive and well. You perceive by this letter I changed my residence. I am now living 10 miles from Sacramento City, on the big road leading to the mines from the city. I am waiter, servant, steward, chief cook and bottle washer, either or all if you please, in a large hotel. The proprietors of the house I became partially acquainted with last winter, and one of them happening at Weberville about 8 weeks since asked me what I would charge per month to assist them in their business. I told him $200 per month; he told me come on. This accounts for my quitting the diggings, but unless they raise my wages, I shall return to the mines, for my work is too fatiguing for my wages. I am up at four in the morning and do not get to bed until ten. Through my work is not hard, I am kept almost constantly on my feet, otherwise I am pleasantly situated. It may be I shall not return to the mines as I am informed I give great satisfaction to my employers. They may raise my wages.
.…I have not heard a word from brother Samuel or W. Greenwell for more than a month. The last I did hear they were not doing much as the snow and water had not sufficiently left the mountains for good mining operations. The emigrants by way of the plains are now coming in daily, but I have not seen any from Missouri. I hope I shall soon have the pleasure of seeing James Gough, but presume he did not start so early as those who are now coming in.
.…Last week I received a letter from Marcellus, dated April 1 one month later than your 1st that I have received. He writes he had abandoned the notion of coming to California for the present. I think he has acted wisely by so doing, but I have not time now to give my reasons why. I intend as he has requested to give him my views on the subject the first chance I have of writing a long letter. I saw John Nickels the other day, he is driving a team from the city to the mines. I think he told me he received $8 per day. He looks better than I ever saw him. I had but little time to talk to him, he said he had heard that one of the boys who came in mess with me was dead, he thought it was John McKay
.…Next Wednesday is Herbert’s birthday. Well, as I am not at work in the mines I will make him a present of my wages, and interest on money loaned out for that day. I have just figured it up, I find it amounts to a little over $9 per day. Sundays included. And little Hatty’s is not far off, though I hope to be getting a little more by that time. Silden if he learns well at school and is a good boy which I have no doubt he is, shall have my best day’s work in California Herb, it isn’t because I love Sell better than you, it is because the poor boy has been unfortunate in losing one of his eyes.
.…I am very tired and sleepy, and that isn’t all, the fleas are so troublesome I can hardly sit still. When I begin to write you I have so much I would like to write I do not know how to condense it into a letter. Continue to write me monthly, as ever I am sincerely yours, /S/A.R. Grout
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October 21, 1850, American Fork House
My Dear wife,
.…I write this to inform you when, if not before, I shall positively (Life being spared) start for Missouri. I shall start ether on the 15th of December or more probably 1st of January streamer. I am not making and could continue through this winter to make more money than since I have been here, but my health is not as good as I could wish and I do not feel willing to risk staying through the rainy season. Do not infer that there is anything of a serious nature the matter with me, the fact is I am nearly broke down with constant hard work. I have not the least doubt but a few weeks rest would completely restore me to my former good health.
.…James Henry Gough is at this time hauling hay for me. His health is good. He has often and repeatedly promised me he would write home, and I shall not let him know that I have written this in hopes he may still write by next steamer. I know his friends, wife particular are anxious to hear from him. He knows it too, but he is just the same old easy Jim Gough he used to be. There is a great deal of sickness among this year’s emigration, and we often hear of cholera at the city, but I think so far there has been none.
James Henry Gough, a brother of Harriet Ann Gough Grout and George Bevan Gough, traveled to California in 1850 to join Alden Grout in prospecting for gold.
.…this is the last letter I expect to write from California until I see you. Brother Samuel has sold out his blacksmith shop and gone again to the mines. He was in good health and spirits two weeks since. He does not know when he will return but seems more anxious to have me go home than I am to go myself. I have a specimen each from him to sisters Harriet and P.H. I commenced sometime ago to write to Marcellus, but lacked opportunity to finish it. He will now have to wait for a personal interview for a description of existing things in Goldom from me.
.…I think probably I shall return by way of New York on account of visiting sisters Mary and Ellen. The difficulty of traveling through that part of the states at that season may deter me from it. No more until I see you. Affectionately yours,/S/A.R. Grout
.…Alden Grout returned to his home and family in Shelby and Monroe County, Missouri, in December of 1851 or early in 1852, as a baby daughter, Mary Lyon, was born to the couple December 26, 1852. Four more children followed, Fran Minor in 1852, twins Ann r. and Alden Rice, Jr., born in 1856, and the youngest, Lillian Isabelle, in 1858. Their 13 year old son Selden died in March of 1857, and the youngest son Alden, Jr. in 1861.
.…Alden Grout died in 1862 and his wife Harriet Ann in 1863, leaving their children orphaned. They were looked after by their aunts and uncles and lived to be grown. No doubt Alden Grout used some of his earnings from the Gold rush to buy additional land. A land transaction is recorded in 1853 in the Court House at Shelbyville. The final settlement of Alden Grout’s estate was made in 1877 when his youngest child became of age. His legacy of letters which reveal so much of his noble character and personality will continue to be a source of interest and inspiration for his descendants and scores of others for many years to come.
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George Bevan Gough, a brother of Harriet Gough Grout, acted as an overseer of Alden Grout’s farm while he was away panning gold in California. Gough ‘s body was first interred in the St. Peter’s Cemetery at Jonesburg/Clinton (Northfork). Many years later his son Will Gough had his body moved to the St. Mary’s Cemetery in Shelbina. Many of the Gough Family are still interred at Jonesburg/Clinton.
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EARLY CALIFORNIA PRICES CURRENT.--Delano's "Life on the Plains and at
the Diggings," gives the following as the prices paid at Lassen's Ranch, on
September 17, 1849:
Flour, per 100 pounds .......... $50.00
Fresh beef, per 100 pounds .......... 35.00
Pork, .......... 75.00
Sugar, .......... 50.00
Cheese, per pound .......... 1.50
H. A. Harrison, in a letter to the "Baltimore Clipper," dated San Francisco, February 3, 1849, gives the following price-list:
Beef, per quarter .......... $20.00
Fresh Pork, per pound .......... .25
Butter, per pound .......... 1.00
Cheese, per pound .......... 1.00
Ham, per pound .......... 1.00
Flour, per barrel .......... 18.00
Pork, per barrel .......... $35 to 40.00
Coffee, per pound .......... .16
Rice, per pound .......... .10
Teas, per pound .......... .60 cents to 1.00
Board, per week .......... 12.00
Labor, per day .......... $6 to 10.00
Wood, per cord .......... 20.00
Brick, per thousand .......... $50 to 80.00
Lumber, per thousand .......... 150.00
William D. Wilson, writing to the "St. Joseph Valley Register," on February 21, 1849, gives the following schedule of prices at Sutter's Fort:
Flour, per barrel .......... $30 to $40.00
Salt Pork, per barrel .......... 110 to 150.00
Salt Beef, .......... 45 to 75.00
Molasses,.......... 30 to 40.00
Salt Salmon .......... 40 to 50.00
Beans, per pound .......... .20
Potatoes, .......... .14
Coffee, .......... 20 cents to .33
Sugar, .......... 20 cents to .30
Rice, .......... 20 cents to .30
Boots, per pair .......... $20 to 25.00
Shoes,.......... 3 to 12.00
Blankets .......... 40 to 100.00
Transportation by river from San Francisco to Sacramento, he says, was $6 per one hundred pounds. From Sacramento to the mines by team at the rate of $10 for every twenty-five miles.
John H. Miller, writing to the "St. Joseph
Valley Register," October 6, 1849, gives the following prices at Weberville,
60 miles from Sacramento:
Wagons .......... $40 to $80.00
Oxen, per yoke .......... 50 to 150.00
Mules, each .......... 90 to 150.00
Board, per meal, $1.50, or per week .......... 21.00
Beef, per pound .......... 40 cents to .75
Salt Pork, per pound .......... 40 cents to .75
Flour, per pound .......... 25 cents to .30
Sugar, per pound .......... 30 cents to .50
Molasses, per gallon .......... $2 to 4.00
Mining Cradles .......... $20 to 60.00
Mining Pans .......... $4 to 8.00
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