Dayton (Oregon): 27 November 1858. Octavo (ca. 20,5x16 cm). 2 pp. Brown ink on laid paper, written in a legible hand. Paper slightly age-toned, fold marks, but overall a very good letter.
A fascinating survival from the Fraser River Gold Rush (1858-63), this letter was written by an American prospector (named "C.B.") who tried to convince his friends not to come there. Full of spelling mistakes, the letter dates to the end of the first Rush year when many prospectors left Fraser River without success, and mentions 15 thousand people who didn't get a cent out of it, and about 500 men who drowned trying to get to the goldfields. In the author's opinion, the Rush was a "humbug" and was all done "to cary people thare and get all of thair money." The author also refers to the Fraser Canyon War (July-August 1858), mentioning about 50 men "kild by the Indians." The letter was written in Dayton, Oregon, which was then just a "small place <…> right in the woods," founded just eight years before (1850). Overall a valuable historic document with an ingenious contemporary account of the Fraser River Gold Rush.
[Original spelling]: “Wall Leewis I have received a letter from you at last. I have left Portland and have gone to a small place called Dayton right in the woods of about 35 miles from Portland and I am very sory to say to you that I have bin very sick indeed since I have bin here but I am about well again. I do not no much news to rite but I want you to do one thing for me sure that is to tell Silas and all of my friends and every body that is excited about that Fraser river gold mines to drop it at once to not think eny thing more about it, because it is all a humbug and nothing els. It is a specklation among the steam boat men. Thare was a young man that went thare and was about 2 months a getting thare and it coast him about three hundred dollars to fit out. Now he has come back and has not got a cent and thare has ben about 15 thousand people thare and all come back the same way.
Now be sure and tell Silas and all of the folks that thinks that thare is so much gold out here in that river that thare is nothing in it at all. It is all a humbug. I come very ner goin thare my self but I did not go and I think that I was very luckey for not goin and every body tells me so that has ben thare, there has ben about 50 kild by the Indians and about five hundred drowned a getting thare.
I am very well a quainted with 8 or 10 of the boys that has ben thare and they say that thay are never going to go to eny more of these excitements fr. it is all done to cary people thare and get all of thair money. So you can have just as good a gold river thair as we have here…”.
Price: $950.00 USD