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Guide to the Waterman family papers, 1839-1906
BANC MSS C-B 491  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Waterman Family Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1839-1906
    Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 491
    Creator: Waterman family
    Extent: Number of containers: 14 cartons, 17 boxes, 4 volumes and 3 oversize folders Linear feet: 28
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Abstract: Papers of Robert W. Waterman, governor of California, 1887-1891, his wife Jane, and their six children. Included are letters, diaries, legal and financial records, account books, speeches and clippings. Some papers relate to his governorship and to politics. Letters written by him in the 1850s cover his journey to California and experiences in the mines. The bulk of the papers, however, relate to the family's business interests--mines, railroads, ranch and dairy, and cattle breeding.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Waterman family papers, BANC MSS C-B 491, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Material Cataloged Separately

    Photographs transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library (
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC PIC 1905.94221-.04377--PIC
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC PIC 1905.04563-.04569--PIC
    Drawings transferred and shelved as
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC PIC 1953.010--AX


    Robert Whitney Waterman was born in Herkimer County, New York, December 15, 1826. In 1839 he moved to Illinois and worked as a clerk in a general store. By 1847, the year of his marriage to Jane Gardner, he owned his own store at Belvidere.
    On March 20, 1850, Waterman started overland for California. He bought passage on a wagon train at St. Louis, left St. Joseph on May 8, and reached Sacramento on September 7. His mining activities were confined to Butte County -Stringtown, Wild Yankee Ranch and Bidwell Bar. In addition to mining, he and several Illinois friends kept a boarding house on the North Fork of the Feather River. In the fall of 1851, he returned to Illinois.
    Shortly after his return, Waterman moved to Wilmington, where he opened a general store. He remained there until the spring of 1873, when he went again to California for his health and to locate a home for his family. For a time he traveled along the coast as an agricultural machinery salesman for Baker & Hamilton, and in September he went east to bring his family to California. In August 1874, they settled near San Bernardino on a ranch which Waterman purchased. He continued in the employ of Baker & Hamilton (until about 1877) while developing his ranch, Waterman's Hot Springs.
    From 1880 to 1886, Waterman and his mining partner, John L. Porter, discovered and developed a number of gold and silver mines near Barstow, including the Alpha, Omega, Front, and Silver Glance mines.
    In 1886 Waterman took possession of the Stonewall Mine, San Diego County, and a large portion of the Cuyamaca Rancho on which it was located. In the same year he established a dairy on his ranch near San Bernardino and began breeding holstein cattle. He was also elected president of the San Diego, Cuyamaca and Eastern Railway Company.
    The Republican Party in 1886 nominated Waterman for Lieutenant Governor of California; he was one of the few Republicans who won office that year. On the death of Governor Washington Bartlett in September 1887, Waterman became governor and served the remainder of the term.
    Refusing the nomination for a second term, Waterman moved to San Diego and returned to his mining, railroad and other interests. He died on April 12, 1891.
    Several of Waterman's children were active in the family business, particularly while Waterman was governor. Mary Pamelia (Waterman) Rice managed the ranch and dairy at San Bernardino from 1886 to about 1892. Waldo Sprague Waterman, who was graduated from the University of California in 1886 with a degree in mining engineering, served as superintendent of the Stonewall Mine from 1886, and from 1890 was general manager of the San Diego, Cuyamaca and Eastern Railway Company.
    Two of the children took up medical careers. James Sears Waterman, who first managed his father's mines near Barstow from 1881 to 1886, then studied medicine in New York and became a noted physician and surgeon. Helen Jane Waterman became a physician and practiced for many years in Berkeley and San Francisco.

    Scope and Content

    The Waterman papers were preserved by Irving Murray Scott, Jr., Robert W. Waterman's son-in-law, and were given to The Bancroft Library by Mr. Scott's nephew, C. Emlen Scott in 1952 with additions in 1953 and 1955. Some of the papers relate to Waterman's governorship, but the bulk of the material concerns the family and business interests. Early letters from Waterman to his family describe his overland journey to California and experiences in the Northern Mines. There are also letters from miner friends written to Waterman after his return to Illinois.
    A key to arrangement follows.