February 20, 1850

From letter published in the Missouri Whig, Palmyra, ca ?, 1850


Extracts from letters from Mr. Thos. Hart to Thomas E. Hatcher, Esq., dated Feb 27th, and to Mr. William L. Hatcher, dated Feb. 20th:

* * * They have been gardening here for three weeks. This is a fine climate; perpetual spring in the valleys; they are green all the year round. Southern California is a good farming country, and is thickly settled by Spaniards, some of them very wealthy. Bill, you wrote to me that you are waiting to hear from California from some one you can depend on, and you are still in the notion of coming here. Now my advice to you is, stay where you are. The gold here is as plenty as is reported, but it is the lucky ones only that make such a big raise. The average I think is about $8 per day to the man; the miners are not willing to work for less than &16, or an ounce per day. There have been lumps found here in our neighborhood weighing 15 pounds, and one found in the southern mines weighing 91 pounds. These reports will not be believed at home, but they are facts.

Every vessel that arrives here is crowded with emigrants for the mines. Jo. Winlock, Ben. Ward and myself are together. Ben. Ward took out $70 at one shovel full. The largest lump we have found is worth $36. We expect to start tomorrow for Big Diggings, where we expect to make it large. A man will make from one to $300 per day; some will go home rich, while others will not make enough to take them home. But that is their own fault; a man is very apt to throw himself away in country like this. I expect to spend next winter in Palmyra, if I do not get into some good business here in doors. This is a hard life, sleeping on the ground in the woods, and hard fare, consisting of bread and meat, and meat and bread. I can stand almost any thing. This country suits me about as well, I expect, as any other; I am putting in my time here at any rate. The trip across the plains is very hard. I would rather remain here all my life, than cross them again. Woodruff Lee says he would swim around Cape Horn on a log before he would cross them again. It is strange I have not received a letter from some of you (I have only received Bill Hatcher’s and Bob Bradley’s letters,) but it is very hard to get letters here; the post office is badly conducted there is great complaint.

Transcribed courtesy of Kathleen Wilham