Guide to the Levi Richard French Letters to his Family, 1850-1854.

Processed by Terry Boom
The Bancroft Library.
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
Phone: (510) 642-6481
Fax: (510) 642-7589
Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu
© 1996
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Note

History --History, California --General Geographical (by Place) --California Engineering and Technology --Mining and Metallurgy

Guide to the Levi Richard French Letters to his Family, 1850-1854

Collection number: BANC MSS 85/106 c

The Bancroft Library



University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Contact Information:

Processed by:
Terry Boom
Date completed:
June 1985
Encoded by:
Gabriela A. Montoya
© 1996 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Collection Title: Levi Richard French Letters to his Family,
Date (inclusive): 1850-1854
Collection Number: BANC MSS 85/106 c
Creator: French, Levi Richard
Extent: Number of containers: 1 portfolio
Repository: The Bancroft Library
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Abstract: Letters detailing aspects of his life in California, first as a gold miner, and later as a businessman. A few early letters (1850-1852) detail his life and relatively unsuccessful exploits in the gold fields. Most of the letters (1852-54), however, pertain to the time after he returned to California following a short visit to the East. They describe a somewhat more successful career as a teamster and businessman selling goods to miners, including wagons specially designed to handle the rugged terrain of the gold country, which were shipped from Massachusetts to him by his father. These later letters were written during periods of residence in Thompson's Flat, Onion Valley, Morris Ravine, New Philadelphia and Marysville.
Languages Represented: English

Information for Researchers

Access

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Levi Richard French Letters to his Family, BANC MSS 85/106 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

The Levi Richard French Letters were purchased by the Friends of The Bancroft Library in April 1985.

Biographical Sketch

Levi Richard French, like thousands of other men during the Gold Rush, came to California to seek his fortune. This collection of 31 letters from Levi to his father Richard French details his early exploits as a miner in California. Faring poorly as a miner, he returned briefly to Boston in 1851, returning later that year to California. His letters from Thompson's Flat, Onion Valley, Morris Ravine, New Philadelphia, and Marysville indicate a greater success as a businessman than a miner. French opened several stores selling goods to miners and wagons that his father sent from Massachusetts.
The collection includes a letter from Tammy to Aunt Grace. It is unclear if either of these people was associated with Levi Richard French. For additional information on the ship Regulus, which French sailed on, see Thomas Williams' journal of his voyage on the Regulus, call number BANC MSS 78/19 c.

Container List

folder 1

Levi R. French (San Francisco) to Father (Richard French) Sept. 12, 1850

Physical Description: 2 p.

Scope and Content Note

Not doing well in mines. Makes arrangements to settle a debt in Boston of $300. Gives father power of attorney to settle the debt between himself and J. [G.] Ball, his uncle.
folder 2

Levi R. French (Boston) to Father Feb. 3, 1851

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Coming home Wednesday on the second train.
folder 3

Levi R. French (Boston) to Father Feb. 26, 1851

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Received money father sent him. Returning to California soon. Uncle Joseph did not take promissory note from him for debt.
folder 4

Levi R. French (Boston Harbor) to Father n.d.

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Getting ready to set sail for California. Instructs father to write him in San Francisco c/o the Bunker Hill Trading Association Ship Regulus.
folder 5

Levi R. French (Thompson's Flat) to Father April 16, 1851

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Tell [?] if father needs money since his business is not doing well and he is unable to send money.
folder 6

Levi R. French (Onion Valley) to Father July 9, 1851

Physical Description: 3 p.

Scope and Content Note

Now in Onion Valley. Hopes to send money within 2-3 months if he has no more bills to pay. Describes Onion Valley. Prospects for miners are better than ever before in California. Supplies are cheap. Wishes he could send money now, attributes lack of it to his bad luck.
folder 7

Levi R. French (San Francisco) to Father Sept. 26, 1851

Physical Description: 2 p.

Scope and Content Note

Has not received any letters from home. Hotel in Onion Valley closed until spring. Sending 18 ounces of gold dust. Partner going home for winter, he has no plans yet. Write him at Sacramento City.
folder 8

Levi R. French (Morris Ravine) to Father Nov. 9, 1851

Physical Description: 2 p.

Scope and Content Note

Still has not received any letters. Continue to write him at Sacramento City. Has made no money since he last wrote. If he doesn't make some soon, he will leave the area. Expects to mine during the winter.
folder 9

Tammy (Morris Ravine) to Aunt Grace Jan. 29, 1852

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Describes typical workday mining and typical meals.
folder 10

Levi R. French (New Philadelphia) to Father Feb. 19, 1852

Physical Description: 2 p.

Scope and Content Note

Finally has received a letter. Father has shipped him wagons to sell. Will send money with the next steamer. Winter has been very dry. Business going so well he does not want to leave it to come home. Instructs father to write him at New Philadelphia by way of Marysville.
folder 11

Levi R. French (Marysville) to Father May 10, 1852

Physical Description: 2 p.

Scope and Content Note

Sends $150 draft note. Has not received a letter in some time. If he sees Willis in California, he will make Willis pay the debt Willis owes his father.
folder 12

Levi R. French (California) to Father May 17, 1852

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Sending a second draft of $150, since first one was not received. Would like a receipt to let him know the remainder of his promissory note has been cancelled.
folder 13

Levi R. French (Marysville) to Father Sept. 24, 1852

Physical Description: 2 p.

Scope and Content Note

Sending bill of exchange for $200. Leaving today for Morris Ravine. Sends regards to friends at home.
folder 14

Levi R. French (Morris Ravine) to Father and Sister (Maria) Dec. 28, 1852

Physical Description: 2 p.

Scope and Content Note

Received Nov. 4 letter. Willis affair settled. Sending $100 as his father requested. Should be able to send more money after he receives wagons and harnesses. Presently has 2 claims. Thanks Maria for letter.
folder 15

Levi R. French (Morris Ravine) to Father March 21, 1853

Physical Description: 2 p.

Scope and Content Note

Received letter. Wants father to send 12 carts as light as possible. Now trading and making daguerreotypes. Can't send money now since it's all been used to start the business. Hopes to make $200-$500 per week.
folder 16

Levi R. French (Marysville) to Father May 3, 1853

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Has not heard anything about the wagons. Wants father to send a freight bill as soon as the wagons have been shipped.
folder 17

Levi R. French (Marysville) to Father June 17, 1853

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Still has not received freight bill nor any letter concerning the wagons. Repeats instructions concerning them in case previous letters not received.
folder 18

Levi R. French (Thompson's Flat) to Father July 7, 1853

Physical Description: 3 p.

Scope and Content Note

Gives specific instructions for modifications on the design of the next shipment of wagons.
folder 19

Levi R. French (Marysville) to Father Sept. 4, 1853

Physical Description: 2 p.

Scope and Content Note

Sold one of the wagons for $575. Now has a partner named Smith and the two plan to open a second store. Business amounts to about $9000.
folder 20

Levi R. French (Marysville) to Father Sept. 10, 1853

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Has received letter with second freight bill. If father has not started the carts, he shouldn't since Levi can make more money with wagons. Business doing well. Second store is open.
folder 21

Levi R. French (Marysville) to Father Oct. 2, 1853

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Business concerns.
folder 22

Levi R. French (Marysville) to Father Nov. 8, 1853

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Received wagons. Business is dull. Leaving Marysville tomorrow for home in the mountains.
folder 23

Levi R. French (Morris Ravine) to Sister (Maria?) Nov. 23, 1853

Physical Description: 4 p.

Scope and Content Note

Received letter. Sends regards to family, advice to sister. Rainy season has started.
folder 24

Levi R. French [?] to Father April 25, 1854

Physical Description: 2 p.

Scope and Content Note

Have the wagons been sent yet? Has not been able to sell others. Money has been tight during the winter. Health is not good.
folder 25

Levi R. French (Thompson's Flat) to Father May 30, 1854

Physical Description: 2 p.

Scope and Content Note

Health improved. Business not good at present. Lost $1500 because of his partner, who he no longer has. Instructions for 3 running gears.
folder 26

Levi R. French (Thompson's Flat) to Father Sept. 3, [1854]

Physical Description: 2 p.

Scope and Content Note

Discusses money he owes father. Building a new store. Also building a ditch to bring water to miners. Has lost a total of $3000 because of his partner.
folder 27

Levi R. French (New Philadelphia) to Father Sept. 26, 1854

Physical Description: 2 p.

Scope and Content Note

Has received order for two more wagons. Instructs father on how he wants them built. Sketch of how he wants them built.
folder 28

E. K. Dodge (Vermont Hill) to Levi R. French Sept. 28, 1854

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Reorder of two wagons.
folder 29

Levi R. French [?] to Father n.d.

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Re E. K. Dodge order.
folder 30

Levi R. French (New Philadelphia) to Father Oct. 29, 1854

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Not able to send money. Waiting for the wagons to arrive. Going to San Francisco next week.
folder 31

Levi R. French (New Philadelphia) to Father Dec. 10, 1854

Physical Description: 1 p.

Scope and Content Note

Wagons must arrive by April 1. Business is dull.
folder 32

Four envelopes addressed to Richard French. Penciled dates on back may correspond to letters.

folder 32

Democratic Ticket, n.d.

folder 32

Adams and Co. California Express notice to R. French that package has arrived, Nov. 12, 1851