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Henry Sterling Bloom gold rush letters and Bloom family miscellany, 1850-1867
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Henry Sterling Bloom gold rush letters and Bloom family miscellany, 1850-1867
Gold rush letters
Bloom family miscellany


Bloom, Henry Sterling.


Kerns, T. J. (Thomas Jefferson), 1838-1900


This collection is a miscellany centering on Henry Sterling Bloom and his family. There are two letters written by Bloom to his wife, Eliza, in Illinois dated 1850 (from Deseret, Utah) and 1851 (from Downieville, Calif.); associated with the Downieville letter are three small wreaths of braided hair from Bloom's children. Other Bloom family letters include: 5 letters from Eliza Bloom's brother, T. J. Kerns, written in Grizzly Flat 1863-1865, 1 to Eliza and 4 to her daughter, Hilda; 1 letter to Hilda from her cousin, John McIntosh, written from Huntsville, Alabama in 1865; 1 letter written in Lakeport, Calif., to "Dear Mother" from Louis dated 1895. Other items include: 9 photographs (mostly copies); 5 ephemera -- copy of a pension application for David Bloom (1927); letter to Postmaster in Louisville, etc.; and an exchange of correspondence in the 1960s regarding a proposal to publish Bloom's diary.
Henry S. Bloom writes to his wife, Eliza, from Deseret on July 23, 1850. He is en route to California to join his father, David, in Greenwood where he runs an inn and acts as postmaster. Bloom talks of the hardships encountered so far on the trail, reporting the latest from an emigrant just in "-- who says that the sickness and death back on the road is horrible -- he says that he saw lots of teams straggling about without a single living soul to claim them or one that knew anything about them." In Bloom's view "A shining dust dug from the bowels of the earth etc. seems to be the great attractive power that allures men on this perilous journey but not all the gold in California (knowing what I now know) would ever tempt me on this route again with such an immense emigration as there is this season -- for it is as much as a man's life is worth to try it."
His stay in Deseret coincides with the third anniversary celebrations of the Mormon arrival in that place and Bloom describes the festivities in detail, noting "the parade and pomp and pageantry was ahead of anything I ever saw in the States". He also is appreciative of the area: "We are encamped on a bench of the mountain about 3 miles from the City and about 80 rods from a boiling spring that is very strong of salt and sulphur and some other minerals -- from the top of the Mountain above our encampment we have a splendid view of Salt lake with its mountain islands and its glittering shores of white -- caused by an incrustation of chrystallized salt -- And such glorious sunsets I never saw before as we have here ..." Before he leaves ("we have sold our wagon and shall pack through from here on Hastings Cut off which is represented to save from 250 to 300 miles -- but there is one very bad desert of 70 or 80 miles without feed or water") he sends his blessings and "... a faded flower in this that I have carried in my journal over six hundred miles, also a few seeds of the Rocky Mountain flax".
Bloom's second letter is written from Downieville on July 6, 1851. He has been mining there and had mixed luck. "I continued prospecting till the last of June when I came back to this place -- nearly worn out climbing over these cursed mts. and completely straped 'ie' out of money -- however I am not in the least discouraged for I have been in this fix before --." Bloom talks of family matters and reports on other miners from back home, even the rumored death of one at Sutter's Fort from cholera. He is most grateful for news from home and comments on the enclosure in his wife's last letter: "I thank you dearest for those braids of hair -- and oh! how vividly it called to my heart my lovely wife and children, and may heaven bless you and them is my constant prayer --"
T.J. Kerns was the brother of Eliza Bloom. His letters from Grizzly Flat, California, to her and her daughter, Hilda, were written during the 1860s. Kerns encourages his niece to write and advises her to attend to her education: "I am well pleased to learn that you have a great desire to go to school and I think is too bad that you are not at school all the time. now is the time to lay the foundation for an education, you will find that it is easier to apply your mind to study now than when you get older."
Several letters refer to the ongoing Civil War and Kerns is most forthright in expressing his views: "Times are very hard in this State as it doubtless is in all parts and A. Lincoln the man who is celebrated for nothing but smutty jokes and unconstitutional edicts is elected to guide the national ship for four years longer if the all-wise provider does not see fit to remove him from our earthly midst which I hope he will if Abe does not pursue a different course."
A final letter of note is from Hilda's cousin, John McIntosh, who is serving in the Union army in Huntsville, Alabama. He talks of his loneliness and sends this description of his surroundings: "Hilda this is a very curious looking place to compare with Illinois. Here look which way you may nothing But mountains and timber meets your gaze. Mountains from three to five milles high it is on Such Mountains as these that those Bush whackers Stay."


1850 (issued)


Folder 1: Bloom letters and braided hair (transcriptions included). -- Folder 2: Other letters: T.J. Kerns, J.McIntosh, Louis (transcriptions included). -- Folder 3: Bloom family items. -- Folder 4: Greenwood (Calif.) items. -- Folder 5: Misc. -- Folder 6: Documentation.


Bloom, Henry Sterling -- Correspondence
Kerns, T. J. (Thomas Jefferson) -- 1838-1900 -- Correspondence
Gold miners -- Correspondence
Gold mines and mining -- California
Greenwood (Calif.) -- History
California -- Gold discoveries
Overland journeys to the Pacific
Mormons -- History
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865


Henry Bloom kept a diary during his gold rush adventure. Excerpts from this diary were arranged by Burt E. Burroughs and published in the Kankakee daily republic from May 27 - July 3, 1931 and a transcript of these articles was produced in 1935 under the title "Tales of the pioneers of the Kankakee: taken from the diary of Henry S. Bloom" (CALIF qB B65).
Henry Sterling Bloom was born on Aug. 5, 1820 in Bradford County, Pa. His family emigrated to Kankakee County, Ill. in 1837 and became pioneer members of that community. Bloom married Elizabeth A. Kerns in 1844 and together they raised a family of 13 children: Guy, Hilda, May, Inez, Ivan, David, Linda, Victor, Osburga, Thomas, Maggie, Belle, Harry. In 1850 Bloom traveled overland to participate in the California gold rush. He joined his father in Greenwood, Calif., and spent the next two years helping him run an inn there when not prospecting throughout the mining region.
Upon his return to Illinois in 1852 Bloom became active in county politics; he was one of the commissioners who organized Kankakee County in 1853 and served in various local offices over his lifetime. He was also active in the Kankakee Agricultural and Horticultural Society, the Grange of Illinois and other local Illinois Granges. Bloom died on Feb. 3, 1899 in Kankakee.
T.J. (Thomas Jefferson) Kerns was born in 1838 in Kankakee County, Ill. He left home at 15 and made his way to the California gold fields where he mined in El Dorado County. In the late 1860s he relocated first to Sonoma County and then to Los Angeles where he prospered through dairying and fruit growing. He married Fannie G. Moores in 1874 and had 6 children: Eva, Mary Alma, Fannie, Edith, Willie and Florence. T.J. Kerns died in Nov. 1900.
Henry Sterling Bloom gold rush letters and Bloom family miscellany, 1850-1867
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.



Physical Description:

1 ms. box (circa 40 items) : ill., ports.







Copyright Note:

Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.

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