Consists of correspondence, deeds, agreements, accounts, receipts, manuscript maps, and other papers reflecting Asbury Harpending's
business and speculative activities in the Western United States, Kentucky, New York, and Latin America between the years
1862 and 1919. Although the collection contains some letters written by Harpending (mostly to his children), the bulk of the
correspondence was written to Harpending by his friends and business associates—including and especially George D. Roberts—and
concerns the many mining enterprises in which Harpending was involved. Deeds, accounts, receipts, and other financial records
reflect Harpending's interests in numerous mining properties in the Western United States, Mexico, and Colombia. Of particular
significance are papers related to Harpending's involvement in the Diamond Hoax (1871-1873), including letters and telegrams
written by Philip Arnold, William C. Ralston, and George D. Roberts documenting events leading up to the discovery of the
hoax in 1872, and the scandal's personal, legal, and financial aftermath.
Asbury Harpending was a native of Princeton, Kentucky. At the age of fifteen, he ran away from home, joining William Walker
on his filibuster expedition to Nicaragua. In 1857, he traveled to California, making a fortune in gold mining in Camptonville,
California, and, later, in Mexico. In 1860, he returned to San Francisco from Mexico a wealthy man. In the early 1860s, Harpending
participated in Confederate conspiracies to establish a secessionist Republic of the Pacific (1860) and to intercept ships
carrying gold bullion from San Francisco to the national capitol (1863). For the latter attempt, he was arrested, convicted
of treason, and imprisoned at Alcatraz. He served ten months in prison before he was pardoned by President Lincoln.
(5 linear feet)
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Director
of Library and Archives, North Baker Research Library, California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA
94105. Consent is given on behalf of the California Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. Restrictions
also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational
Collection is open for research.