Finding Aid to the Samuel W. Brown Diary and Letters, 1848-1850, 1859 MS 236

Finding aid prepared by California Historical Society staff; revised by Tanya Hollis.
California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
415-357-1848
reference@calhist.org
2001, revised 2009


Collection Summary

Collection Title: Samuel W. Brown diary and letters
Date (inclusive): 1848-1859,
Date (bulk): 1849-1850
Collection Number: MS 236
Creator: Brown, Samuel W., 1802-1862
Physical Description:
Extent: 2 folders
(0.2 Linear feet)
Repository: California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105
415-357-1848
reference@calhist.org
URL: http://www.californiahistoricalsociety.org/
Physical Location: Collection is stored onsite.
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Diary (181 p.) handbound in six sections, describing Brown's voyage from New York to San Francisco via Cape Horn aboard the bark Selma with the Fremont Mining and Trading Company, of which he served as chairman of the board; and letters to family and friends, also detailing his trip. The diary focuses on daily shipboard life and problems with crew members, while the letters also include descriptions of Rio de Janeiro and Chile; San Francisco housing, population statistics, lynch law, and prices; and a squatters riot in Sacramento in 1850. Includes a printed notice (May 25, 1859) to Brown from John Ferguson, indicating that Brown was Postmaster in Petaluma. Letters include a pictorial lettersheet with view of San Francisco.
Physical Location: Collection is stored onsite.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to The North Baker Research Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Library Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The North Baker Research Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Samuel W. Brown Papers, MS 236, The California Historical Society.

Scope and Contents

Diary (181 p.) handbound in six sections, describing Brown's voyage from New York to San Francisco via Cape Horn aboard the bark Selma with the Fremont Mining and Trading Company, of which he served as chairman of the board; and letters to family and friends, also detailing his trip. The diary focuses on daily shipboard life and problems with crew members, while the letters also include descriptions of Rio de Janeiro and Chile; San Francisco housing, population statistics, lynch law, and prices; and a squatters riot in Sacramento in 1850. Includes a printed notice (May 25, 1859) to Brown from John Ferguson, indicating that Brown was Postmaster in Petaluma. Letters include a pictorial lettersheet with view of San Francisco.

Arrangement

Arranged in two folders: Diary in Folder 1; Letters in Folder 2.

Biography of Samuel W. Brown

Brown was a California forty-niner and physician from Connecticut.

Index to Letters

Benicia (Calif.)--Description and travel 1849 October 20
Indians of North America--California 1849 November 29
Prices--California--San Francisco 1849 October 18
Riots--California--Sacramento 1850 August 14
Sacramento (Calif.)--Flood, 1850 1850 January 8
Sailors--Discipline 1849 October 1
San Francisco (Calif.)--Description and travel 1849 October 7, November 11

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Fremont Mining & Trading Company.
Selma (Bark).
Diaries.
Gold miners--California--Correspondence.
Gold miners--California--Diaries.
Pictorial lettersheets.
Voyages to the Pacific coast.


Inventory

Folder 1

Diary 1849

Folder 2

Letters 1848-1850, 1859

 

1848 October 13

Scope and Content Note

SWB to wife, Hannah, before journey to California. Poem praising God's work.
 

1849 March 28

Scope and Content Note

Memorandum of agreement regarding shares in Fremont Mining & Trading Co.
 

1849 April 10

Scope and Content Note

SWB to wife concerning life insurance as Brown prepares to set sail for California.
 

1849 April 15

Scope and Content Note

SWB to son, Mason, detailing commencement of journey, seasickness, etc.
 

1849 May 9

Scope and Content Note

SWB to family from Rio de Janeiro, including pen and ink sketches of Cape Verde Islands, as seen from the Bark Selma.
 

1849 June 14

Scope and Content Note

Short vignette of Brown's experiences as a physician in Connecticut, "Reminiscences No. 2: The Factory Girl, By a Voyager 'Round Cape Horn". Brown hoped his wife could get it published.
 

1849 August

Scope and Content Note

SWB to wife, recounts trouble with drunken, abusive officers on ship.
 

1849 August-September

Scope and Content Note

SWB to wife, describing coast of Chile, visits there with friends from Connecticut. Calls journal he's keeping a "daily record of events, thoughts and feelings".
 

1849 October 1

Scope and Content Note

SWB to board of directors of Fremont Mining & Trading Company, detailing disciplinary action taken against crew members in July.
 

1849 October 7

Scope and Content Note

SWB to wife from San Francisco harbor, describing port and city.
 

1849 October 18

Scope and Content Note

SWB to wife regarding cost of living in San Francisco
 

1849 October 20

Scope and Content Note

SWB to wife describing Benicia, Sacramento Valley. Outlines advantages of life in California--good climate, terrain, outlawing of slavery.
 

1849 November 9

Scope and Content Note

SWB to wife on cost of living.
 

1849 November 20

Scope and Content Note

SWB to friend, providing excellent physical description of San Francisco. Observations on housing, lynch law, prices, population statistics
 

1849 November 29

Scope and Content Note

SWB to wife from diggings on American River. Poignant episode with Indians. Vivid description of primitive living conditions of miners.
 

1850 January 8

Scope and Content Note

SWB to wife in despair. Has not heard from her; reports on devastating flood of Sacramento.
 

1850 January 25, February 1

Scope and Content Note

SWB to wife concerning his resignation from executive board of Fremont Mining & Trading Co. Resolves to mine only long enough to secure a stake. Plans to set up medical practice in San Francisco.
 

1850 February 16

Scope and Content Note

SWB to son, written on lettersheet with view of San Francisco, Feb. 1850. Gold going for $16 an ounce.
 

1850 August 14

Scope and Content Note

SWB to wife details trouble in Sacramento. Land speculators allegedly bought deed from Capt. Sutter which included city of Sacramento. Riots break out as "squattors" refuse to leave their land.
 

1859 May 25

Scope and Content Note

Document indicating Brown was postmaster in Petaluma.