Register of the John K. Wallis California Diary, 1851-1857

Processed by Don Walker; machine-readable finding aid created by Don Walker
Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
University Library, University of the Pacific
Stockton, CA 95211
Phone: (209) 946-2404
© 1998
University of the Pacific. All rights reserved.

Register of the John K. Wallis California Diary, 1851-1857

Collection number: Mss131

Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections

University Library

University of the Pacific

Contact Information

Processed by:
Don Walker
Date Completed:
March 4, 1994
Encoded by:
Don Walker
© 1998 University of the Pacific. All rights reserved.

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.


Box 1: John K. Wallis Narrative, 1851-1857


Folder 1: Early years in Cornwall; conversion in Wisconsin; marriage; trip to California via Panama; California Diary--- mining at Springfield near Sonora, 1851-1852 [47 pp.]


Folder 2: California Diary---mining at Springfield (cont.); starts pig farm on San Joaquin River near Empire City, 1853 [28 pp.]


Folder 3: California Diary---pig farm (cont.); fever; return to Springfield, 1854 [26 pp.]


Folder 4: California Diary---mining at Springfield, 1855 [28 pp.]


Folder 5: California Diary---working for Mr. Cook; brief visit to pig farm; mining at Springfield, 1856 [24 pp.]


Folder 6: California Diary---mining at Springfield; working at pig farm (March-May); mining at Springfield (June-September); return to Wisconsin (October) & Lead Mining, 1857 [36 pp.]