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Gold rush letters, 1852.
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Gold rush letters, 1852
William T. Norris gold rush letters, 1852


Norris, William T., creator


Two letters: Nov. 2, 1852, San Juan del Sud, to "My Dear Sarah" from William; Dec. 12, 1852, Sacramento, to "My Dear Sarah" from William. With typed transcriptions.
William T. Norris sailed from New York on the 'Star of the West' on Oct. 21, 1852. In November he writes from San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua where he is awaiting the steamer 'Pacific' to continue on to California. He reports that he and the other "Danbury boys" have "all enjoyed excelent health to here, sea-sickness aside, and have had a fine passage."
He describes the rigors of the overland passage: "A large portion of our fellow passengers are ladies and children, members of families going to the golden regions to settle; and they seem to endure the fatigue bravely -- but I can tell you it is no place for them; a man has no business to bring his family here. He can come himself well enough, but, at present, there are no accommodations for ladies to go over this route. It will do very well till they get to the Isthmus, and then they can get along after a fashion till they cross the lake; but when they come to straddle a mule and ride twelve miles through the mud, sometimes two feet deep, over hill and through hale(?), with not a bit of road much of the way, I tell you it is awful. Before you forget this, think of a lady's walking it out in the mud and mind that is mud most of the time up to her knees and higher and then what will you say."
William makes mention of the election underway at home, referring to Pierce, Scott, and Hale, and being anxious to hear how the vote stands. He closes: "Sarah I love you now more than ever -- and shan't we love each other when I get back?"
William's second letter, sent from Sacramento, begins: "Again I write to inform you of our continued good health. We are well; we are in good spirits; and Frank Pierce is elected; three things for which we are thankful." He explains that they are in Sacramento for the winter, having not found anything to their liking at the mines.
He is employed: "Wages are from $75 to $125 per month and board, or from $5 to $8 per day without board. Board is from $10 to $15 per week. We are at work for $75 per month for a short time till something better turns up." And he offers economic comparisons: "In almost every thing but clothing there is a difference of about 1 to 4 between here and at home. A man can get $75 for doing what he might get $15 for there; board is $12. here where it would be $3. there; and a glass of grog (of which there is an immense amount sold) instead of being six cents, as there, is here twenty five cents. But clothing of many kinds is almost as cheap here as at home. Boots and shoes are rather high, say as high again as at home."
William reports that he is enjoying Sacramento -- "I like this city much. It is all go ahead, bustle and activity, and, although burnt to ashes but a few days ago, is now alive as if nothing had happened." -- and doubts that he will go back to the mines. He concludes with "Respects to all, love to some, William".


1852 (issued)


n-us-ca -- ncnq---
Norris, William T -- Correspondence
Gold miners -- California -- Correspondence
Voyages to the Pacific coast
Nicaragua -- Description and travel
Sacramento (Calif.) -- History


William T. Norris gold rush letters, 1852.
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.

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4 items







Copyright Note:

Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.