Cosumnes, Sacremento [sic!] Co., Cal. 4 February 185[9?]. Quarto (ca. 25x20 cm or 9 ¾ x 7 ¾ in). 3 pp. Brown ink on lined paper bifolium. Fold marks, paper aged, otherwise a very good letter.
Interesting letter of a young rancher from California’s Cosumnes River Valley, nowadays one of American Viticultural Areas. The author, a 23-year old “Wanderer” from Vermont, described his life in the valley to his mother, Adah R. Averill (1813-1899). In 1862 or 1863 Wales Averill married Christina McLaulin and spent most of his life in the Nevada county, farming at Lake Tahoe and near Virginia City (The Averell-Averill-Avery Family: A Record of the Descendants of William and Abigail Averell of Ipswich, Mass/ Compiled by C.A. Avery. In 2 vols. Vol. 1, 1906. Pp. 819-820). One of his daughters, Harriet Teresa Averill, later Haas (1874-1951) became a notable California attorney, a member of the Piedmont Board of Education, California Bar Association, American Association of University Women, etc. (Women of the West: A Series of Biographical Sketches… 1928 Edition/ Ed.-in-chief M. Binheim. Los Angeles, 1928, p. 50).
Written with numerous spelling mistakes, the letter describes the climate of the Consumnes Valley, wages of women that are higher than those of men, Averill having learned how to cook, wash and sew, etc. Overall a lively description of a young rancher’s life in the Consumnes Valley in the late 1850s.
Excerpts from the letter (original spelling): “The times have been quite dull here this winter but they are some better now. Thare has been quite a freshett here latly, the felds are green with grass and grain, about the same as in May in Ills. We have no winter here, thare has not been any snow here this winter, the ground has not frozen to the debth of an inch. Here the peach trees will be in bloom in a few days. Some kinds of vegetables grow all winter, such as cabbages & potatoes. I am at work on a ranch about one half mile from whare I worked last sumer. I shall probably stay here until next fall and maybe longer <…> I have not made much this winter. I think this will be the last year that I will work out by the month in this country, for one is never sure of his pay <…> The place whare I work is a bachelor ranch. Thare is not a woman on the ranch. They men do the cooking and make the butter. We milk about 30 cows and shall have 10 more soon. The wages for women are better that men, they can get 40 dollars per month. [Lists prices for the staple foods – flour, corn, potatoes, butter, eggs, chicken, turkey, etc.] <…> Tell Lewes if he had his chicken here he could sell them for lots of money. I gues he had beter drive them across the plains next spring. <…> [His aunt Hannah] would have laugh to see me put pach on my pants today <…> tell her I can cook, wash and sew as well some of the young ladies nowadays…”.
Price: $750.00 USD