Virginia City: 15 November 1864. Quarto (ca. 25x19 cm). 2 pp. Brown ink on lined laid paper, blind stamp “Pacific Mills” in the left upper corner. Written in a legible hand. Fold marks, minor tears on the upper margin, but overall a very good letter.
A rare early Nevada letter related to Aurora, a booming mining town on the border with California. Founded in 1860, Aurora started to lose its residents already by the end of the same decade since its gold and silver mines slowly got exhausted. In spite of several revival attempts, Aurora completely turned into a ghost town by the 1920s. The letter was written in another Nevada boomtown, Virginia City (founded in 1859); Samuel Clements lived there approximately at the time of the letter’s creation (late fall 1862 - May 1864), working as a reporter for the local “Territorial Enterprise” newspaper; it was here that he first used his famous pen name “Mark Twain.”
Leon Salomon was most likely an Aurora gold miner who was acquainted with several of the town’s notable residents. In the letter to “Friend Graffe” he asks for money and mentions Joe J. Coddington (Nevada Territory councilman in 1863, see: History of Nevada; with illustrations and biographical sketches; Ed. A. Myron, Oakland, 1881, p. 404), Francis Garesche (banker, Aurora agent for Wells Fargo) and “Wingate” (A.M. or C.D., both merchants, A.M. Wingate built and owned the Wingate Hall, C.D. Wingate was a member of the Aurora Board of Trustees; see: History of Nevada, pp. 403, 423). The letter also mentions “great rumours” about its creator and “that women” [the spelling is original in all quotes], noting that “things have been made 10 times worst then they were” and that “everyone it seems is adding a little to it”. Overall an interesting original manuscript from the early days of Nevada as a US Territory.
Excerpts from the letter: “Friend Graffe, I ought to have written to you before this time but I assure you that I been knocking around considerably since I left Aurora. Things did not go as I expected, I’m in a […] bad fix to day, there was some great rumours in San Francisco about me and that women [sic!]. Harry Newton is at the bottom of this whole and things have been made 10 times worst then [sic!] they were. Everyone it seems is adding a little to it.
I’m here since last week expecting to find something to do here, but I can’t find nothing and even I got out of money, now I have to call on you for a favor. I wish you would send me $40.00 so that I can go down to San Francisco again, there at least I got one friend which does all his best for me and help me out again, but the same time I dare not ask him for any money, but I can get it from him when I go below.
I expected to get $95.00 from McLellan, and he refused to pay the order of Coddington so I send the order back to Levy & Co. to collect. I also thought to collect $75.00 of Wingate and he is back in Aurora again, so I have send the bill to Gareschi to collect. Gareschi has got several bills to collect for me and N. Heiner[?] owes me $250.00 yet. <…> Don’t fail to send that to me by return mail once in San Francisco <…> I send you an order for that amount on Gareschi, if he has collected anything for one he can give it to you, and if not I will send it to you from San Francisco. I need that to go to Frisco…”.
Price: $750.00 USD