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Letters written during honeymoon trip to California and Oregon, 1872.
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Letters written during honeymoon trip to California and Oregon, 1872


Eleven letters dated April to July 1872 from a newly married couple traveling in California and Oregon on their honeymoon trip. Eight are addressed to "My dear Mother" and sent to William's family home somewhere near Poughkeepsie, New York. Two are from "Em" and one is incomplete and lacks a signature. Transcriptions included.
The three letters dated in April were written as the couple traveled by train from Chicago. On April 30th from Carlin, Nevada, William describes their encounter with local native Americans: "We are waiting at the station for a freight train that is some fifteen minutes late and there are a dozen or more Indians about the train. Squaws with their papooses on their backs begging for something to eat or some money. As an inducement for either they will show you their papoose." Later he adds this note "I shall be pleased to get settled in our hotel at San Francisco & I do so want a dish of strawberries" and closes as he does in all his letters "Em joins me in love to all & a kiss for Annie. Your boy Wm."
On June 6th the first of their California letters were written from Murphys after the couple spent the day touring the Calaveras Big Trees. William describes the trip to his Mother: "We have had about 32 miles stage ride. We saw at the grove of big trees the stump of that wonderful tree on which stump it is said 32 couple danced at one time." And Em sends her impression of the experience to her Mother: "I felt of them, looked up at them then went off at a distance sat upon a stump and looked again. I left [i.e., felt?] a veneration for the very soil they grow upon. Oh! how I shall remember these days."
William's June 13 letter from San Francisco recounts at great length their next trip to mineral springs in Napa and Sonoma counties where they visited White Sulphur Springs and Geyser Springs, respectively. En route back to San Francisco they encountered one of the area's pioneers: "Next morning being Friday we took the stage to Healsburg were driven down the mountain by Mr. Foss the King of stage drivers. On that portion of the ride we had six horses to our stage."
In letters written on June 15th and 16th, both William and Em recount their impressions of the just-completed trip to Yosemite. William talks of their trip to Glacier Point: "Here we had a grand view of the valley and we could see mountain tops in every direction much higher than the one upon which we stood. Glacier Point juts out into the valley and its side is so precipitous that a stone dropped from the top falls nearly to the bed of the valley before it hits upon the side of the mountain." Em mentions several of their fellow guests in the valley, including the poet, Joaquin Miller, and describes an avalanche she experienced: "A mass of stone thousand of tons in weight fell from 'the cap Liberty' at a height of 2000 ft. The noise was like the crack of doom and the dust that filled the air for a few minutes was stifling. It was an awfully grand sight." She sums up her experience there: "I saw the wonderful circular rainbow -- and Mirror Lake and all the other wonderful things. All these sights are food for a life time."
The final three letters detail the couple's Oregon trip. They went by ship to Portland but, as William experienced extreme seasickness, they returned to California overland by stage and train. William's description of their Fourth of July layover in Yreka is evocative of that time and place. "You should have seen this procession. It consisted of a band of four pieces, the two hand fire engines of the city drawn by about a dozen men, the hook and ladder truck drawn by six mules & a hose carriage drawn by about six or eight boys and the prettiest part of all was a large waggon arranged with pyramid seats with a muslin canopy. This waggon contained was full of young girls dressed in white with blue sash & a strip of ribbon upon which was printed the name of each state in the union so each girl represented a state. They stopped in front of the hotel & sang Star Spangled Banner. They all seemed to enjoy it. Farmers young & old for miles about came in to see & join in celebrating."


1872 (issued)


n-us-ca -- n-us-or -- n-us---
Tourists -- California -- Correspondence
California -- Description and travel
Oregon -- Description and travel
Yosemite National Park (Calif.) -- Description and travel
Calaveras Big Trees State Park (Calif.) -- Description and travel
Yreka (Calif.) -- Description and travel
Hot springs -- California
Coaching (Transportation) -- California -- History
Railroad travel -- United States -- History
Foss, Clarke


Letters written during honeymoon trip to California and Oregon, 1872
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.



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11 items







Copyright Note:

Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.