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Weston (Francis E.) Diaries
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These four diaries provide interesting daily journal entries regarding Francis Weston’s preparation and passage from St. Louis, Missouri to California, shortly after the discovery of gold. The diaries span from April 7 to December 1, 1849. Weston recounts details of his travels across the American frontier including the sinking of his boat, cold weather, hunting buffalo, encounters with Pawnee Indians, beautiful natural wonders, and a stop in Salt Lake City. Also included is his account ledger which runs from 1840-1849.
Francis E. Weston (1825-1900) was born in Maine and moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1846 to live with his Uncle, Increase Sumner Weston (I.S.W.). On Easter Sunday, 1849, just four months after the discovery of gold, Francis Weston decided that he “had better go to California”, so he packed up his belongings and made a quick start on his journey to the Pacific. He had his daguerreotype taken for his mother and secured a $350 loan from I.S.W. On April 13, Weston boarded a boat in St. Louis, only to sink on the 25th and lose a fair amount of supplies. He managed to save all of the mules and the wagon, remaining determined for California, despite the setback. On May 3, Weston noted that the journey was at last underway, although the weather was usually cold and wet. Two days later he optimistically wrote that he was beginning to see the charm in “this kind of life”. By the 13th, Weston reported that he was in good spirits and ready to leave the United States behind, along with his former life. The following trip through America’s frontier resulted in many struggles and adventures. Weston often procured little food or sleep and harsh, rainy conditions made travel difficult. He learned to hunt buffalo and enjoy the “peculiar, wild” taste of their meat. Weston encountered many “Californians” making his same journey as well as native Pawnee Indians. He escaped a prairie fire, overcame illness, and managed his own ailing horse. Weston was awestruck by the many natural wonders like Independence Rock and surprised by the “well meaning” Mormons in Salt Lake City. He eventually met Edwin Bryant, the author of "What I Saw in California", which Weston read at the onset of his overland passage. Finally, Weston arrived in El Dorado County around August 17-20, 1849, where he mined for some time before eventually opening his own store.
2 folders (4 diaries, 1 ledger)
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