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Harpending (Asbury) Papers
MS 950  
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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.
12 boxes (5 linear feet)
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