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Register of the John K. Wallis California Diary, 1851-1857
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: John K. Wallis California Diary,
    Date (inclusive): 1851-1857
    Collection number: Mss131
    Creator: John K. Wallis
    Extent: 0.25 linear ft.
    Repository: University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
    Stockton, CA 95211
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], John K. Wallis California Diary, Mss131, Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library


    John Wallis was born in Cornwall (1828) and brought to Wisconsin while still a child (1835). His family had been miners in Cornwall but farmed at their new home. There, at age 13, John experienced a religious conversion which influenced his attitudes and behavior for the rest of his life.
    Following marriage to Elizabeth James (1851), he sailed for California via Panama, arriving in San Francisco in January (1852). He went immediately to Springfield, near Sonora, and there spent much of the next five years preaching the gospel in his spare time and mining gold. Wallis also tried farming in eastern Stanislaus county (1853-1854). In the fall of 1857 Wallis returned to Wisconsin. His narrative ceases with a description of his first few days at home.

    Scope and Content

    The Wallis Diary entries are well-organized, and--though often terse--form an easily understood, readable description of a miner's and farmer's daily life. Wallis is particulary informative with respect to the business aspects of early placer mining. He describes in some detail his claims purchases, partnership agreements, gold sharing arrangements (including specifics on the amount of gold shared), and his work agreements with various employers. His descriptions of stock breeding and grain farming under the adverse conditions prevailing in California at that time are both touching and informative.