September 15, 1850

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


We make a few extracts from a letter from Elisha C. Winchell, Exq., formerly of this place. It is dated Sacramento City, September 15th, 1850:

* * * * Mining, I am sorry to say is not so profitable as it was last year, and a great many emigrants are going home, utterly discouraged. I myself saw a boat leave the wharf for San Francisco, yesterday, literally crowded with passengers. Many of them appeared in poor health, and all of them wore saddened countenances, indicative of misfortune and disappointment. An industrious young man from Monroe told me yesterday that he had just come in from the mining districts—had worked nine days, and dug out in that time nearly seventy-five cents worth of gold! And a good many similar cases have come under my observation. But this is not the fortune of all. Some have been as successful as they were last year, though these constitute but a very small proportion to the mass. I saw John Glover, (brother of Samuel T.) Last night. His health is good; but though he arrived in June via New Orleans and the Rio Grande, he has yet made nothing. He had been 60 or 70 miles below in search of a school, found one with a salary of $250 per month, but was advised by some friend not to take it, lest he should get into difficulty with some of the older scholars. He is now unsettled—does not know whether to try again at the mines, hunt up another school, or go to practicing.—He is just in my fix, out of capital to start upon. Dr. John L. Taylor came in a day or two ago on foot, and commenced suit against the proprietors of his train, McPike & Strother, for throwing away part of his baggage. All the passenger trains will lose several thousand dollars each on their enterprise……………

I am writing in the office of my old friend and office mate, Dr. Heitz, of Paris. The window opens upon I street, the “Broadway” of Sacramento, which presents a very busy, and to me, (greenhorn that I am,) quite a novel appearance. Drays, carts and wagons constantly moving in either direction, cram the streets, and render it almost impossible to cross. Auctioneers, criers, &c., …. swell the confusion and deafen the ear. The sound of innumerable hammers reaches out from every direction, and gives notice of the improvements which are constantly going on. Over the tops of the buildings you see the masts of shipping, and the smoke of the steam boats in the river, and were it not for the dirty looking Indians, and the slovenly Mexicans that stroll or furiously gallop through the streets, you might think that you were near the waters of the Atlantic. Occasionally, too, a load of gold washers, picks, pans and shovels, goes by, packed on the backs of mules. This reminds you of the miners.

But I cannot tell you much of California at present; I must speak of my acquaintances, numbers of whom have asked me to mention them when I write home. I did not get the situation that I mentioned, and I am glad of it. I am confident that I can make more at almost everything else. I think now of going into practice. That is my favorite pursuit. As soon as I settle I will let you know. A. C. Campbell (brother of Jno. I.) is located at the capital, San Jose, in practice, doing very will. Sunderland, of Hannibal in Sacramento, in partnership with Judge Ralston, of Quincy, doing ditto; Radcliffe, of Shelby, and Kemp Anderson, at Coloma, making $400 per month. Saw W. Anderson, Jas. Poor, Aubrey Anderson, Samuel Culbertson, Volney Mann, and Robert Tilley, the other day— all well but Mann—chills.— William James and Aubrey had been mining, making $5 per day—were not discouraged, and went back to it next day. * * * John Chick, Wm Anderson, Edward Coe and brother, got in safely, and are now mining. Frisby and James McCullough, at Nevada City, 80 miles from Sacramento, mining. Do not know with what success. My friend Bryant is severely sick with dysentery.

Don’t think I am discouraged. I can make money here, and with the continued blessing of God, am going to do it.

Transcribed courtesy of Kathleen Wilham