Finley McDiarmid's "Letters to My Wife" was transcribed from the original letters written by the author to his wife Constantia
as he travelled to California from Wyota, Wisconsin. The journey took 5 months from May to October, 1850. The original letters
are at the Bancroft Library and the Society of California Pioneers has a typed transcript of 138 pages. The Letters have been
published as "Letters to my Wife" by Ye Galleon Press in 1997.
The "Letters" provide vivid descriptions of the trials and hardships of the overland journey to California in 1850. Throughout
he provides a count of the graves and dead livestock seen along the trail during the day. At Salt Lake City they decide
to take the Hastings Cutoff around the south side of Salt Lake and across what they were told was 40 miles of desert. It turned
out to be closer to 100 miles. They crossed the Sierras through Carson Valley and finally arrived in Placerville on October
9, 1850. McDiarmid spent from then until October 1851 trying to make a go of mining, barely "making groceries in all the country
that has been mined. Finally in October he moves to Eel River in Trinity County, makes a claim on a homestead 12 miles from
the ocean. He starts raising stock, building farm buildings and planting crops, planning to bring his family to join him.
In December McDiarmid and his brother in law, Horatio A. Merrill, were building a boat at their cabin on McDiarmid Prairie
when they were attacked and killed by local Indians.