Union Ranch [near Marysville, Yuba County, California]: 14 March 1854. Quarto bifolium (ca. 25x19,5 cm). 3 pp. Brown ink on wove paper, written in a legible hand. Addressed and with the stamp of the “Adams Express” service on verso of the second leaf. Fold marks, paper soiled and with ink stamps, but overall a very good letter.
Interesting original letter to noted California pioneer Jefferson Wilcoxson with an early account of cattle ranching in northern California. The letter written by Wilcoxson’s partner from the Union Ranch near Marysville named “Jack” (possibly, his brother Jackson Wilcoxson, 1817-1883), details the current trade deals with sheep and cattle, mentions other cattle farmers, and defines the locations of the Union Ranch operations: French Corral and Cherokee (Nevada Co.), and towns of Vernon and Fremont Landing (Yolo Co., both now non-existent). In the end, there is an interesting itinerary of the cattle transportation to the point of sale (across the Sacramento River to Vernon, then near the Kempton's Bridge to Vestal's ranch, and thence to the Union Ranch). The letter also states Wilcoxson's address at the time "Corn. of Burton & McCarty St., N. 125, Sacramento."
Jefferson Wilcoxson was a California pioneer (arrived in 1849 from Missouri) and one of the most notable citizens of Sacramento. In 1850-52, together with his younger brother Jackson, Wilcoxson operated a wholesale merchant business in the city and later was at "various times involved extensively in merchandising, farming, warehousing, banking, land investment, and the livestock business in Colusa, El Dorado, Placer, and Yolo Counties. Through his business dealings, he acquired property, which was estimated to be worth several million dollars in the 1890s. (https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt829023mm/entire_text/). Jefferson Wilcoxson’s papers are now deposited in the Special Collections of the General Library, the University of California, Davis (see the previous link).
Excerpts from the letter:
“I have just returned from French Corral and Cherokee, could not go conveniently any higher on account of snow. I will have some cattle byers to see to night [sic!] or to morrow [sic!]. If I succeed in selling I will go to the Ranch in one day from here about 60 miles.
I wrote to you from Vernon stateing that Dr. Dobbins and McGary had offered $60 a head for Burris’s cattle, they had not taken either of them up, but told me that we could have them for $60. I told them that I was willing to take them and would write to you and if it suited you that you would write to Jesse to stove all immediately so that they could go to branding. I told Jesse what to do in case the trade suited you. I told Peter Burris that they might consider the cattle sold on our way to Fremont [Landing] with the cattle. If you are not willing to take half the purchase, I will take them myself <…>
I had a man to see our sheep the day before I left. I asked him &15 a head for the wethers, he did not say anything against the price. He examined the sheep and pronounced them not quite fat enough for mutton. Said he would be back in two weeks. You would do well to write to Jesse the price of mutton.
You will write to Jesse to send immediately to me the balance of the fat cattle unsold, except what they call the calves unless the calves are quite fat. One of them I know is not fat. Say to him not to drive any to me that are leaner than the worst I drove with the last trip. He will drive them across the Sacramento River to Vernon the first day, good grass, no occasion for corraling, the 2nd day two miles above Kempton’s Bridge to Vestals, good grass and no occasion for corraling. Vestals will show them when to put them in an open pasture, 3rd day ¼ mile east of the Empire Ranch to this place. I have good grass here and I feel certain that can sell them all in ten days for from 17 to 18 cents per lb.
P.S. I left with Jesse 30 ozs/ 6 ½ in gold dust with instructions to send it to you, so soon as a safe opportunity offered. I paid & 17 40/100 per oz for it. Send your letters by the way of Marysville to me at Union.”.
Price: $750.00 USD