Finding aid of the George H. Baker Diary, Vol. 3. C058751

John Davis/Pat Keats
Society of California Pioneers
101 Montgomery Street, Suite 150
Presidio of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94129


B-V-8f / B001632

Contributing Institution: Society of California Pioneers
Title: George H.Baker Diary, Vol. 3
Creator: Baker, Geo. H. (George Holbrook), 1827-1906
Identifier/Call Number: C058751
Physical Description: 1 folder 1 Diary I bound diary
Date (inclusive): 1849-1850
Abstract: This file contains the hard bound and hand written, in ink, personal journal of G. H. Baker. This diary, vol.3, is in good condition with the spine still intact with the paper pages suffering some yellowing but are also in good condition. In this journal G.H. Baker discusses his business creating lithographs,located in San Francisco, California.
Language of Material: English .

Scope and Contents

George Holbrook Baker's 1849-1850 diary covers a period of slightly more than a year after his arrival in California. After a week working in the gold diggings on the North Fork of the American River, he leaves the diggins "to find a more comfortable business." While his original intention was "to illustrate California in the manner it deserves", the next 14 months are spent in extensive travel through the Central Valley, the gold fields and a trip to the Columbia River in Oregon. His diary is a descriptive narrative of the country, people and places. After leaving the mines, he makes Sacramento his headquarters and gives merchandising a try. Looking for opportunities he travels to San Jose, Livermore and Stockton. In January he boards the "Aurora" to the Columbia River. The journal contains two handdrawn charts, one of the Columbia River mouth at the Pacific Ocean, and the second a map of the Columbia River from Astoria to Oregon City. He finds Oregon "Not prosperous, Rainy, wet and desolate". In May he returns to San Francisco to experience several of the series fires that ravaged the City. His merchandising venture had failed by this time. He started "The Baker Express" to deliver mail and newspapers to the mining camps. In one trip he covered over 160 miles travelling through the gold fields. The Express was a failure because of the number of miners who either refused or couldn't afford to pay. At the end of the diary, he talks of the final sale of all of John Sutter's remaining holdings to a group of four investors including Arnold Gillespie.

Biographical / Historical

George H. Baker joined the Gold Rush to California, arriving at San Francisco in May, 1849. His sketch of th"The Port of San Francisco, 1849" was lithographed and published in the NY Tribune in August, 1849. From 1852 to 1862 Baker worked in Sacramento running several merchandising businesses; he also edited and published two periodicals, continued to sketch (mostly mining scenes), and made a series of woodcuts of California views. He drew and published a large and detailed lithograph of Sacramento as it looked in 1857 (his account book listing subscribers and advertising costs is housed at the Soc. of Cal. Pioneers). He moved back permanently to SF in 1862, establishing a lithography and publishing firm. Specialized in posters, advertising cards, views of buildings, stock certificates,maps, letter sheets and birds-eye views.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection open for research

Conditions Governing Use

No restrictions on access

Preferred Citation

George H.Baker Diary, Vol. 3. The Society of California Pioneers

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs George Lilly (daughter) and Charles H. Baker (son), 1931

Existence and Location of Originals

The Society of California Pioneers, 101 Montgomery St., Suite 150 The Presidio of San Francisco, San Francisco CA, 94129

Related Materials

The Society has 3 of George H. Bakers Diaries: C058749, covering the first leg of his journey from Boston to New Orleans in January 1849; C058750, covering painting in New England in 1848; C058751, covering his arrival in California his arrival in California in May 1849 and his time in California until Aaugust 1850. The Society also has the Subscription Book for his Birds Eye view of Sacramento, C058752. Finally the George Holbrook Papers, C057707.

Related Materials

George H. Baker was a member of The Society of California Pioneers. The Society has the following institutional records for him: Archives Record, vol.1, p.29 and Mortuary Record, 1892-1906, p. 200. He joined the Society on March 2, 1863.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Sacramento (Calif.)-History-19th century.
San Francisco (Calif.) - 1850
Columbia River
Frontier and pioneer life – California
Gold mines and mining -- California -- History.
Pioneers -- California -- History -- 19th century
McKinley, Sheriff