Scope and Content of Collection
Title: N.A. Chandler Gold Rush Era Letters
Claremont Colleges. Library. Ella Strong Denison Library.
Claremont, California 91711
Physical location: Please consult repository.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English and
Collection open for research.
All requests for permission to reproduce or to publish must be submitted in writing to Ella Strong Denison Library.
[Identification of item], N.A. Chandler Gold Rush Era Letters. Ella Strong Denison Library,
Libraries of The Claremont Colleges.
Gift of John I. Perkins, 1942.
Alternative Forms of Material Available
Digital collection available via The Claremont Colleges Digital Library: N. A. Chandler Gold Rush Era Letters - http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/col/cng/.
Newton Amos Chandler (1818?-1880) was a late-arrival to the California Gold Rush scene in
1855. He was from the 4 Corners area of Hartland Vermont, and came alone to California. He
left behind his wife Jane and two children named Liss (sometimes named May) and Willie.
Within a short time he found several acquaintances from the Hartland area and worked with
them in organized companies. He worked in the Northern mines, spending much of his time
while in California at the Alpha and Omega diggings, where he owned several mining claims,
participated as a partner in several quartz mills, and helped dig water distribution ditches
that would directly influence the feasibility of hydraulic mining operations.
Chandler, with a company of miners, became one of the first prospectors to claim mining
areas near Virginia City. In May of 1860, the Pyramid Lake War broke out between the Paiute
Indians and newly arrived Anglo-settlers, including Chandler. By many accounts, he barely
survived the encounter.
While in Virginia City he invested in mining stock, including the Lady Bryan Mine. He
traveled back to Hartland Vermont once in the latter part of 1860, and returned by April
1861. As a result of investment earnings, Chandler became quite wealthy and was able to
purchase properties in San Francisco and a ranch near Sonoma. However, due to poor
investment decisions and external economic influences including the Civil War, his mining
investments came to an end around 1865, leaving Chandler a pauper. Chandler considered
himself a Copperhead and held anti-abolitionist views.
In the final years of his life, Chandler joined with other miners in the White Pines Rush.
He wrote from Hamilton and, later, Eureka Nevada. His arrival to Eureka was in the early
years of Eureka history, and he had an opportunity to make friends with important people
including Reinhold Sadler, the future Governor of Nevada. Jane died in 1873, during his
Eureka years, and his son Willie died in 1876. Chandler supported himself as a stonecutter,
and lived in Eureka until he died on July 30th 1880 by suicide. His obituary and a related
story in the Eureka Sentinel newspaper from Eureka, Nevada cited his excessive debt of no
more than 2500 dollars and mounting personal sadness that befell him.
N.A. Chandler's family members include N.A. Chandler's spouse, Jane M. Chandler
(1826-1873), and children - Willie Chandler (1847-1876), Mary Elizabeth Chandler (1852-1860)
(in the letters as Liss or May), and Myra Jennie Chandler (1861-1948).
Scope and Content of Collection
The N. A. Chandler Gold Rush Era Letters Collection consists of fifty-four handwritten
letters from 1855 to 1872. Fifty-three of these letters are from N. A. Chandler to Jane M.
Chandler and one letter is from Jane M. Chandler to N. A. Chandler. Three letters were
written on picture sheets, two from California displaying Gold Rush motifs and one from
Lowell Massachusetts displaying statistics of Lowell Manufactures for 1859. The arrangement
of these letters is chronological from earliest to most recent, and the bulk of these
letters are from 1855 to 1865. Almost all of these letters have notations by John I. Perkins
in pencil on the first page at the top. Pencil marks also exist to highlight certain parts
of the text pertaining to the titles.
Chandler wrote these letters from San Francisco and the California mining camps of Long
Bar, Alpha, Omega, and Gaston Ridge. Chandler's later letters are from Virginia City in
Nevada and the Nevada silver and gold rush locations of Hamilton and Eureka.
These letters are a unique source of California and Nevada history. Chandler's
participation in early Nevada history as outlined in these letters is especially
interesting. Hubert Howe Bancroft's History of Nevada, Colorado, and Wyoming 1540-1888
mentioned Chandler briefly by name as a participant in the Pyramid Lake War of 1860. These
letters mention some events surrounding this conflict and add to this important chapter of
Nevada history. These letters also offer insights on life in San Francisco, Virginia City,
Civil War opinions in California and Nevada, and the opportunities and discouragements of a
prospector. In addition, Chandler's letters provide some information on the settling of
Nevada, Native American interactions, and the mining history of Northern California and
Nevada. One letter features the writing of a "Chinaman" named Ah Pay who associated with
Chandler's party at Gaston Ridge.
Of the fifty-four letters, only one is from Chandler's wife, Jane M. Chandler. This letter
offers an additional voice in the life of N. A. Chandler, and an insight into the economic
struggles that Jane faced as a "California widow." Her voice is also evident from the other
letters, especially as it pertains to finances and family.
Arranged chronologically from oldest to newest.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the
library's online public access catalog.
Chandler, N. A.
California--Social life and customs--19th century
Frontier and pioneer life
Gold mines and mining
Genres and Forms of Materials
The University of Nevada, Reno Special Collections has one letter from N.A. Chandler to
Jane. M. Chandler, written correspondence, 1860 July 10. The Bancroft Library Robert B.
Honeyman Jr. Collection of Early Californian and Western American Pictorial Material
includes one letter from N.A. Chandler under the title, "Miner's Life: Illustrated." The
Nevada Historical Society also has a folder listing N.A. Chandler.