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Benjamin A. Watson Gold Rush Letters, 1849-1851.
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Benjamin A. Watson Gold Rush Letters, 1849-1851


Watson, Benjamin A., creator


Watson, Emily.


Powell, James B.


Letters from the Overland Trail, St. Louis to Sweetwater, Wyoming written by Benjamin A. Watson; letters from California written by Benjamin A. Watson; letters from wife Emily Watson; 1 letter from James B. Powell (member of his overland Company); photocopy of Benjamin A. Watson signed constitution of his overland company adopted on January 20 1849; transcripts included for all letters.


1849 (issued)


Gold mines and mining -- California -- History -- 19th century -- Personal narratives
Overland journeys to the Pacific


Benjamin A. Watson left Springfield on March 27, 1849 and headed to California to work the mines during the Gold Rush. He left his wife Emily Watson who was expecting their second child and a 2 year old son behind. His wife gave birth sometime in the late fall of 1849. Watson's letters recount his overland journey to California. He traveled with his company from St. Joseph Missouri through Nebraska Territory, following the Platte River. Watson crossed the Green River by ferry, continued past Independence Rock, South Pass, and took the Nevada Route to California. He arrived in California sometime in August or September of 1849. He worked the mines in the Lassens and Reddings Diggings area, as well as the American River and spent much time in Sacramento city. Benjamin had only minor success at digging for gold due to the worked over country and the good claims already staked. He set up a retail business of which the exact nature is not specified in his letters. His business was very profitable and survived the great flood of January 8, 1850. At the peak of his business he and his partner were both netting $700.00 per month, or about $20,000 per month in 2010 dollars. Benjamin A Watson made a little fortune and returned home sometime late in 1850. He built a resort and hotel at Perry Springs, Illinois and was a successful business man for many years in Pike County, Illinois.
Inventory available in library; folder level control.
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.

Physical Description:

1 manuscript box; 15 1/4 x 11 3/4 x 3 in.






Copyright Note:

Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.