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Edward Smith Diary
MSS 18  
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This diary is one of only seven known California Overland Trail accounts that chronicled the westward trail experience prior to the 1849 Gold Rush.
Edward Smith was a native of Ulster County, New York. His wife, Jane Whitaker, was a native of Kingston, Ulster County, New York. Edward and Jane were married in Kingston and four of their children were born there, the others were born in Illinois. One of Smith’s daughters, Leah Margaret, married John Breen, a member of the Donner Party. Smith and his family came overland from Springfield, Illinois to California in 1848, leaving Springfield in April of that year. He kept a diary of the journey beginning in Missouri on April 29, until November 11 when he and his family arrived in San Francisco. In San Francisco, he worked as a merchant until November of 1849, and then moved to live a short time in Santa Cruz. In January 1850, he and his family then moved to San Juan. He practiced law, since he had previously studied English and American law. In July of 1850, with a Colonel Allen, he established the San Juan post office, and became the area’s first postmaster. He also worked as a land surveyor of Monterey County. Edward Smith died in 1853 probably at the end of September or early October.
One Volume 12.75 in H x 8 in W x 0.5 in D
Copyright has not been assigned to the Fresno County Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Society archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Fresno City and County Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.
Collection is open for research by appointment only. Email archives@valleyhistory.org with inquiries. Visit www.valleyhistory.org for researcher policies and instructions.