Idaho City, I.Ty. 11 February 1867. Octavo bifolium & additional single Octavo leaf (ca. 19x14,5 cm). 5 pp. Brown ink on wove paper. Written in a legible hand. Fold marks, paper slightly age-toned, but overall a very good letter.
An interesting content-rich letter describing the life of an Idaho gold miner in the years following the Boise Basin Gold Rush (1862-64). Having stayed in the Idaho Territory for two years, the miner talks about his experiences on working the claims of the Salmon River/Lemhi Basin and the Boise Basin near Idaho City. The letter is addressed to his “Friend Draper” from Oregon who also thought about “turning honest miner once more”, the author discourages him from going to the Lemhi Basin which was a “d-d big bilk,” and talks more favourably about the Idaho City claims. There are also interesting mentions of the Idaho City’s winter amusements which generally consisted of “balls (which I never attend) and now and then a chicken fight…” Overall a rare early letter adding to the history of the Idaho Gold Rush.
Excerpts from the letter (original spelling): “…I suppose you know that I have been up in this country now nearly two years (2ys in May) with the exception of a few months “that I spent in the Black foot” and “Salmon River” country last summer or as the latter is called the Lemhi Basin. I was in Lemhi about 4 weeks; they are kicking up a big excitement up this way about it now, and it may extend to where you are, for some of the discovery party are from O. There were 2 or 3 brothers by the name of Mulky in the party. Since my return I have made up my mind that the country is not what I thought it was while I was in it, for the very reason that so many encouraging letters come from it. But at the same time I shall not go to it again for I cannot get it out of my head, but what it is a “d-d big bilk,” for the purpose of getting a big crowd there and steamboating them on a poor lot of claims. I owned one and was interested (1/2 each) in 2 others. We gave them a thorough prospecting and then tried to sell them; we could not get recording money for them ($250 apiece), so we concluded to leave them, they were all creek claims.
When I returned to this flourishing city I found that the jewelry business was very dull and no chance of getting to work at it, and having a little cash in the bank yet, “after my summers roving and doing nothing but spending the bail,” I concluded to invest it in mining ground hoping thereby [sic!] to make my winters expenses. My partner and myself have worked “drying” most of the winter and have done as well as I anticipated viz. just about made expences, nothing more. I am satisfied for I detest this laying idle all winter. We have been working in a “Bar Claim” and have a small interest in a [Hill?] which we shall commence working just as soon as weather & water will permit, probably by the last of March or first of April. Do not anticipate making much out of it, but shall give it a trial to see if the thing will pay. No one has up to the present time washed any dirt on this hill, but all that own on it think it will. It has got to be good to pay for water is selling at 60 cents per inch.
Edwin tells me that you think some of turning honest miner once more. How it is: are you going to give it one more trial. I do not know as there is any news up in this locality that I can send you that would be least bit interesting, for this is a quiet camp on the winter. About all we have for amusements are Balls (which I never attend) and now and then a chicken fight. I have been to one of the latter this season. The weather has been very mild this season compared with what it was a year ago, less snow and not near as cold. Last year it was snapping cold for 20 days, about 20 d. below zero…”.
Price: $950.00 USD