San Francisco, Hardy’s Landing, Hardyville, and Sacramento: 1862-1868. Twenty letters written on single pieces of paper or bifoliums, from ca. 20x12,5 cm (8x5 in) to ca. 25x19,5 cm (9 ¾ x 7 ¾ in), in all over 45 pp. Of text. Brown ink and pencil on bluish and creamy laid and lined paper, some leaves with blind stamps of paper makers, several also watermarked; one letter docketed at the time in brown ink on verso of the second leaf; four letters with period arithmetical calculations on versos. Fold marks, minor creases, and occasional tears on the extremities, but overall a very good collection.
Historically significant collection of twenty letters dating back to the 1860s and comprising of the correspondence between two Californian pioneers and participants of the California Gold Rush. William Hardy, the author of nineteen of the letters, became famous as the founder in 1864 of the town of Hardyville on the Colorado River (now Bullhead City) and an active political figure in the newly formed Arizona Territory (est. February 1863), establishing a post office and a ferry crossing in Hardyville and a toll road to the territorial capital Prescott. Hardy came to California during the hot phase of the gold rush in 1849 and in the early 1850s opened a general merchandise business with one Samuel S. Kennedy, selling provisions and mining equipment, dealing in gold dust and at some point, serving as a Wells Cargo agent. Starting in Big Bar (CA), the company moved to Forest Hill in 1856 where it built the town’s first fireproof building two years later. The letters’ addressee (and the author of one of them) John Garrison was Hardy’s business partner, who joined “Hardy and Kennedy” in 1856, and after Hardy had left to establish the new settlement on the Colorado River in 1863, Garrison became a co-owner of the company’s main branch in Forest Hill. The two men were if not friends, but very close, and the letters contain detailed descriptions of Hardy’s business deals, instructions to Garrison on money transfers and payments, Hardy’s opinions about his business partners etc.
Very interesting are three Hardy’s letters written from “Hardy’s Landing” during his first months there, with the first one noting that the town is just “ten days old.” Often written with spelling mistakes, the letters from Hardyville include the notes on the progress of the town construction and gold and silver prospecting nearby, Hardy’s rides to Prescott, skirmishes with the “Indians” which resulted in deaths and burning of settlers’ houses, the establishment of the “Hardy and Kennedy” branch in Prescott, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln etc. Garrison’s letter written from San Francisco contains some interesting notes on the Cariboo Gold Rush. Overall an important first-hand account on the early days of Hardyville and the Arizona Territory provided by a key-figure in the events.
A collection of Hardy’s manuscripts with memoirs about his life in the Arizona Territory in 1867-87 is now stored in the Autry Museum of the American West (https://www.worldcat.org/title/william-h-hardy-manuscript-collection-1867-1906/oclc/856241846). “Hardy and Kennedy” store records from 1856 to 1869 are deposited in the California State Library (https://oac.cdlib.org/search?style=oac4;Institution=California%20State%20Library::California%20History%20Room;idT=001567894).Some excerpts from the letters:
7 February 1864, Hardy’s Landing: “Well here I am in a brush house, not a very nice place in a sand storm, but as our neighbours have no better, we have content hoping by next week to have adobes ready and then we will commence something permanent. I will not attempt to describe the country and the mines but one thing I am satisfied that this is a rich mineral country and that we will have neighbors enough soon. We have a town started ad I have been out today looking out roads and tomorrow I go to look at some silver load, and next day I will go to look for timber. So far my location is highly satisfactory I believe that this is the point and I shall be mistaken if there is not a town built up at this point of ten thousand inhabitants within two years and in time a large city. Nature has done his part, natural roads cross the river here and the best point for a ferry and the river is clear and deep bold bank and not like to overflow. There is all the stirs of a new mining town and yet only ten days old…”
22 March 1864, Hardy’s Landing: “As for this place we a getting along fine but grub is scarce. Beans and bread strait now with the prospect ahead of commencing [?] to beans, yet we make every day count. Yesterday I caught a fine fish weighing 22 lbs, this made a fine meal. The Indians kill a horse every week <…> but the river is raising and if the steamboat does not come up shortly, we will get steamboated. There is but little prospecting done at present, all are waiting for supplies. I think that every thing looks encouraging, for my part I am stuck after this country. I believe that I will come out all right.”
20 September 1864, Hardy’s Landing: “I have just returned from a trip to Prescott & Walter Diggins & found a fine country between here and Prescott and a fine country around Prescott. I have established a store and placed Chas. Ott [?] in charge in the new City of Prescott…”
10 April 1865, Hardyville: “we have had a number of days of warm weather and south wind so that the river commenced raising in March and now it is nearly as high as it was last year. The Indians prophecy [?] that we are to have a great overflow this year, but the Indians do not know any more about the weather than white men do. <…> A prospecting party starts this mining for the gold bullet digging. They may find where the Indians found the gold to make the bullets of, but I think that they will get disappointed. Six men well armed and fitted out, prepared to fight their way through…”
24 April 1865, Hardyville: “I have just returned from Prescott, it is like running the gauntlet to take a trip through at present, yet I am in hopes that matters will be easier as soon as the troops get here. This trip my teamsters got into a fuss with the Indians and one of the teamsters was killed and one wounded, they killed a Chief and four other Indians, I came up a few minutes too late, I got on my horse and rode through to Ft. Whipple ninety miles in thirty hours and started back a pile of soldiers. The Indians finally frightened the settlers along the road and they all moved to Prescott. When I returned all the houses had been burned. I came through safe relying on my rifle and horses <…> At Prescott matters are in a very bad fit [?] as the Indians have it all their own way, but when the miners have a chance they make in count. Some of them brought in large purses of gold dust, it looked like old times. I believe that when the Indians are driven out, then Arizona will come out and not before, at present it is worth a fortune to live here.”
13 May 1865, Hardyville: “…the assassination of our President, the great man of the age, discourages us. It threw doubt and gloom over the future and we know not what a day may bring further.”
2 October 1865, Hardyville: “I have just returned from Prescott, times is rather looking up in that section once the Indians are getting scarcer. I am still prospecting on the silver load. I have not stuck it yet, but expect to soon…”
21 April 1867, Hardyville: “We have troops enough here in the territory to make life and property a little more safe, but I do not fancy a band of hostile Indians. I have just arrived from Prescott. I rode seventy-five miles the last day and a part of the night <…> Business around Prescott looks rather more lively since the arrival of troops.”
31 May 1867, Hardyville: “… as the troops stir up the Indians, it makes them worse. They got five of my mules the other day and I followed them about three hundred miles. Will start out again next week and will follow as long as there is a track.”
With one letter signed by John George Garrison (San Francisco, 4 March 1862) and addressed to “Messrs. Hardy & Kennedy” [the spelling is original]: “I am sorry to here that Hardy has got his nose frost Bitten as it will spoil his good looks. <…> Business is dull at present, their is no Goods shipped up country. But their is considerable amount shipped at Caraboo Mines. <…> Men are flocking from all parts of the country to go to the new mines. They [sic!] is two Bark and four schooners up for Victory and Caraboo Mines, besides steamer. I am writing this letter in the Halls of Assembly. There is so much noise that it confuses me. “It is Mr. Speake.” The gentlemen from El Dorado, and so on, everyone wants to have something to say at once, and there is no one to listen…”.
Price: $12,500.00 USD