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Finding aid of the Henry William Bigler Diary C059079
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Two pages of Henry Bigler's original diary, with the first written mention of the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill. Though the first discovery of gold in California had been attributed to James W. Marshall of Sutter’s Fort in Coloma, on January 19th, 1848, there was some dispute about the accuracy of the date. A committee was appointed to investigate the matter, using the research of John S. Hittell, and explored the diaries of both Henry W. Bigler, who claimed the date of discovery as January 24th, 1848, and Azariah Smith, who corroborated Bigler’s claim by recording the date of discovery as falling in the week before January 30th. Bigler was a companion of Marshall’s; Smith was a laborer at Sutter’s Mill. Because Marshall did not keep a diary, these statements are the most accurate available. (Source: The Discovery of Gold in California (1919). California State Printing Office, Sacramento. Pamphlet in General Info file)
Henry William Bigler was born on August 28, 1815 in Shinnston, Harrison County, Virginia (now part of West Virginia) to Jacob and Elizabeth (nee Harvey). At the age of 19 he and his family became Mormons. He was part of the Mormon Battalion, the only religious military unit in U.S. history. The battalion arrived in San Diego on January 29, 1847, just a couple weeks after the fighting had ended in California with the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga. The men were put to use in various other duties throughout Southern California until they were eventually discharged in Los Angeles on July 16, 1847.
1.0 folder (1 page from diary)
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Collection open for research