Scope and Content
Title: John K. Wallis California Diary,
Date (inclusive): 1851-1857
Collection number: Mss131
John K. Wallis
Extent: 0.3 linear ft.
University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
Shelf location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Collection is open for research.
[Identification of item], John K. Wallis California Diary, Mss131, Holt-Atherton
Department of Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
John Wallis was born in Cornwall (1828) and brought to Wisconsin while still a child
(1835). His family had been miners in Cornwall but farmed at their new home. There, at
age 13, John experienced a religious conversion which influenced his attitudes and
behavior for the rest of his life.
Following marriage to Elizabeth James (1851), he sailed for California via Panama,
arriving in San Francisco in January (1852). He went immediately to Springfield, near
Sonora, and there spent much of the next five years preaching the gospel in his spare
time and mining gold. Wallis also tried farming in eastern Stanislaus county (1853-1854).
In the fall of 1857 Wallis returned to Wisconsin. His narrative ceases with a description
of his first few days at home.
Scope and Content
The Wallis Diary entries are well-organized, and--though often terse--form an easily
understood, readable description of a miner's and farmer's daily life. Wallis is
particulary informative with respect to the business aspects of early placer mining. He
describes in some detail his claims purchases, partnership agreements, gold sharing
arrangements (including specifics on the amount of gold shared), and his work agreements
with various employers. His descriptions of stock breeding and grain farming under the
adverse conditions prevailing in California at that time are both touching and