Guide to the California Gold Rush Sermons

Processed by D. Tambo
Department of Special Collections
Davidson Library
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Phone: (805) 893-3062
Fax: (805) 893-5749
Email: special@library.ucsb.edu
URL: http://www.library.ucsb.edu/speccoll/speccoll.html
© 2003
Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Guide to the California Gold Rush Sermons, ca. 1852-1863

Collection number: Wyles Mss 22

Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara

Contact Information:

  • Department of Special Collections
  • Davidson Library
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Santa Barbara, CA 93106
  • Phone: (805) 893-3062
  • Fax: (805) 893-5749
  • Email: special@library.ucsb.edu
  • URL: http://www.library.ucsb.edu/speccoll/speccoll.html
    Processed by:
    D. Tambo
    Date Completed:
    24 September 2003
    Encoded by:
    David C. Gartrell
© 2003 Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: California Gold Rush Sermons,
Date (inclusive): ca. 1852-1863
Collection Number: Wyles Mss 22
Extent: .4 linear feet (1 document box)
Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special Collections
Santa Barbara, California 93106-9010
Physical Location: Del Sur
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

None.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

Preferred Citation

California Gold Rush Sermons. Wyles Mss 22. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 1985

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection contains 18 handwritten sermons and other theological notes by a Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Silas Solon Harmon, who established and maintained a church in Sonora, California from 1852 to 1863. Harmon came from New York State with his wife and children, as part of the American Home Missionary Society efforts to instill the unruly gold rush settlements with a more New England Puritan model of society.
Most of the sermons are numbered, have titles, and apparently many were used several times at various churches over the years, since Harmon provides lists of dates and places for each. Generally they focus on theological issues, emphasizing moral rectitude and only referring obliquely, at best, to the problems of the day. His final sermon, however, is entitled "Farewell at Sonora," May 3, 1863, and it reflects frankly and in detail on the often trying circumstances of establishing and maintaining a church in such a setting.
UCSB history professor Richard E. Oglesby, who closely examined the sermons, recounted his findings in the UCSB Libraries annual publication Soundings (1998). In his article, Oglesby provides useful historical context for the tumultuous times in the southern California goldfields in general, and Sonora in particular. He describes at length the animosity and violence of American miners, particularly against other Mexican and Chinese miners, the general lawlessness, drunkenness, gambling, frequent fires, thefts, murders and lynchings, as well as the economic hardships brought on by the high cost of staples.
According to Oglesby, after they left Sonora, Silas and Frances Harmon became the first principals of the Female College of the Pacific in Oakland, and later Silas was a founder of the First Presbyterian Church in Ventura. In 1869 the Harmons helped establish an academy in Santa Barbara, one of the predecessors of today's University of California, Santa Barbara.

Collection Contents

Box 1: 1

"Gratitude to God for the Bible," No. 45, n.d.

Box 1: 2

"Roman Catholicism destroyed Religious Freedom," No. 60, n.d.

Box 1: 3

"Peace & Prosperity of the Church," No. 72, n.d.

Box 1: 4

"The Eldership," No. 76, n.d.

Box 1: 5

"A Great Door Opened," No. 89, n.d.

Box 1: 6

"Bible Qualifications of Rulers," No. 93, n.d.

Box 1: 7

"Wide is the Gate & Broad is the Way," No. 107, n.d.

Box 1: 8

"Philippians 1:15 - 30," No. 115, n.d.

Box 1: 9

"Thy Will be Done," No. 165, n.d.

Box 1: 10

"Cursed be he that removeth his Neighbor's Land-Marks," No. 180, n.d.

Box 1: 11

"The Harvest Plentious, Laborers Few," No. 190, n.d.

Box 1: 12

"The Path of the Just Shineth More & More," No. 197, n.d.

Box 1: 13

"Exposition, James v. 13-16," No. 254, n.d.

Box 1: 14

"Exposition, James v. 19-20," No. 256, n.d.

Box 1: 15

"Where is He?" No. 265, n.d.

Box 1: 16

"Isa[iah] 5:2. And he looked that it sh[ould] Bring forth grapes", n.d.

Box 1: 17

"The Living Sacrifice", n.d.

Box 1: 18

"Notes from J. Pye Smith's Scripture & Geology", n.d.

Box 1: 19

[Untitled unfinished sermon], n.d.

Box 1: 20

"Farewell at Sonora," May 3, 1863, 1863