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John W.H. Baker letters : Mokelumne Hill, Calif. to Julia Ann Baker, Meriden, N.H. : ALS, 1853-1855.
BANC FILM 2748; BANC MSS 99/184 c box 1; BANC MSS 99/184 c box 2
Collection Overview

Title:

John W.H. Baker letters: Mokelumne Hill, Calif. to Julia Ann Baker, Meriden, N.H. : ALS, 1853-1855

Creator/Contributor:

Baker, John W. H., creator

Abstract:

49 letters from John W.H. Baker to his wife and children date Aug. 17, 1853-Apr. 13, 1855 and comprise a complete set of letters by every steamer during his time in Calif. Baker describes his journey via Jamaica on the steamer Illinois, the Isthmus of Panama, and the voyage on the steamer Winfield Scott via Acapulco, San Diego, and Monterey. Baker's letters contain detailed descriptions and appear not to shield his wife from the harsh realities of frontier life. Constrained to his office much of the time, Baker's situation gave him ample opportunity to write about the gold rush town around him. Segments written to his children are remarkable in describing details often overlooked as commonplace. Most of the themes mentioned come up repeatedly through the correspondence. The collection ends with Baker's preparations to come home with what he hopes is enough savings to accomplish his goals.
Topics relating to medicine include unskilled frontier doctors, medical books, giving testimony in court, and details of his practice including the office and property, finances, patients, specific treatments and prescriptions, and how much he is paid for each. He details his medical equipment and its costs, and mentions equipment he wishes for. Relating to New Hampshire he writes about named people in the community, the sum he needs to establish himself, the heavy weight of even small debt and the good status of a man who has no debt there, elections, and politics. He also writes about his practice in Meriden, compares payment for medical services in both places, and considers an invitation from the citizens of Meriden to return as their physician. His descriptions of ethnic groups include women, children, and men, and cover Chinese, Chileans, Indians, Spaniards, Blacks, Irish, Jews who share his store space in Jackson, and prejudice against non-Americans, especially in punishment for crimes. He describes the landscape, and wishes he had more time to identify wildflowers. About himself he reports on his health, depressions, and changes in appearance.
Other topics address Calif. as a poor place for families and fortune-seekers. He writes of the difficulty of maintaining a family, the high expense to make them comfortable, and the immoral environment: profane language and bad influences. He repeats his conviction that despite the pain of separation, they should stay at home. He also advises friends not to come to Calif. to seek their fortunes unless they have capital and skills, as there is little profit for general laborers. He mentions women's life, the amount earned by sewing, and emerging society. Relating to the mail he writes of presents sent home, instructions for sending him mail, sending money, and how fast express gets to her vs. mail. He reports on his finances and the small portion of his debts on which he expects to be able to collect. Other subjects are Calif. bank failures, miners and mining, lack of rain causing economic difficulties, court cases at the county seat, rebuilding 'The Hill' after the 1854 fire, an auction and entertainments such as gambling, music, theater, and a circus. Locations described are Mokelumne Hill, Sacramento, Jesus Maria and Oliver's trading post, San Francisco, Campo Seco, McKinney's Humbug, and Jackson, where he ran a second medical office.
With these letters is a letter about this collection from Baker's grandson, Norman M. Baker of Oakland, to Mr. Parker.

Date:

1853 (issued)

Subject:

n-us-ca -- n-us-nh -- ncpn---
Baker, John W. H -- Correspondence
Winfield Scott (Steamship)
Illinois (Steamship)
Physicians -- California -- Mokelumne Hill
Dentists -- California -- Mokelumne Hill
Physicians -- New Hampshire -- Meriden
Voyages to the Pacific coast
Gold mines and mining -- California -- Calaveras County
Medicine -- United States -- 19th century
Medical supplies -- California
Medicine -- Practice -- California -- Mokelumne Hill
Chinese -- California -- Calaveras County
Chileans -- California -- Calaveras County
Indians of North America -- California -- Calaveras County
Spaniards -- California -- Calaveras County
African Americans -- California -- Calaveras County
Jews -- California -- Jackson
Minorities -- California
Families -- California
Women -- California -- Calaveras County
Postal service -- United States
Finance, Personal -- California
Debt -- California
Bank failures -- California
Courts -- California -- Calaveras County
Irish -- California -- Calaveras County
Pharmacists -- California -- Mokelumne Hill
Executions and executioners -- California -- Mokelumne Hill
Mokelumne Hill (Calif.)
Meriden (N.H.)
Jamaica -- Description and travel
California -- Description and travel
New Hampshire -- Social life and customs
California -- Economic conditions
Campo Seco (Calif.)
Jackson (Calif.)
Jesus Maria (Calif.)

Note:

RESTRICTED ORIGINALS. USE PHOTOCOPY (BOX 1) OR MICROFILM COPY WITH CALL NUMBER BANC FILM 2748. : Use of original only by permission of the appropriate curator. Inquiries concerning these materials should be directed, in writing, to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library.
Also available on microfilm with call number BANC FILM 2748.
John W.H. Baker letters, BANC MSS 99/184 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Transcripts : University of the Pacific, Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections : 3601 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, California 95211
Purchase; from John Windle; 1997.
John W.H. Baker was a physician who left his practice in Meriden, N.H. to earn enough to buy a home in New Hampshire, and to set himself up in private practice. He anticipated this would take over close to 3 years. In Mokelumne Hill he partnered with Dr. Holbrook and practiced as a doctor, dentist, and druggist. Born 1843, died 1905.
In English.

Physical Description:

print
2 boxes (.4 linear ft)
1 microfilm reel (263 frames) : negative (BNEG Box 3108) and positive.

Language:

English

Identifier:

BANC FILM 2748
BANC MSS 99/184 c box 1
BANC MSS 99/184 c box 2

Origin:

California

Copyright Note:

RESTRICTED ORIGINALS. USE PHOTOCOPY (BOX 1) OR MICROFILM COPY WITH CALL NUMBER BANC FILM 2748. : Use of original only by permission of the appropriate curator. Inquiries concerning these materials should be directed, in writing, to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library.