Fort Bidwell, California: 13 April 1879. Octavo (ca. 20x12,5 cm). 3 pp. Brown ink on lined laid paper, blind-stamped “Live Oak” monogram in the left upper corner. Fold marks, otherwise a very good letter.
Historically interesting evocative letter by a female settler of remote Fort Bidwell in northeastern California in the midst of the ongoing conflicts with native Americans during the Californian Indian Wars. Ellen Jones, the wife of a stock raiser David H. Jones (b. ca. 1837) from Ford Bidwell (US Census 1880), gives a short account of the latest events in the letter to her sister. Written with numerous spelling mistakes, the letter mentions growing tension between the settlers and the local tribes, American soldiers arresting “runagades” and “Indians,” the local chief visiting the “old Winamukh” (Northern Paiute War Chief Winnemucca, ca. 1820-1882), and her being “so fraid of the Indians” without her husband, who had left for two weeks. Overall an important original source on the history of the Californian Indian Wars. Fort Bidwell, founded in 1865, was the main base for the U.S. army campaigns against California, Oregon and Idaho Native Americans until the pacification and the establishment of the Fort Bidwell Reservation of California in 1897.
The text of the letter (original spelling): “Dear Sister, I received your kind and welcome letter some ago and was very glad to hear from you all. I got the rose and grap [sic!] cuttings and other thing you send and was very glad get them. I have had them all set out for some time but it is so cold that they don’t grow very fast. Mr. Jones is out to Warner, he went out there too weekes ago yesterday. I don’t know when he will come home. I don’t have one bit of peace when he is out. There I am so fraid of the Indians. They are acting real impudent, I fear they will fight before long, but it is hard to tell what they will do. The soldiers went out to Steens Mountains a fiew days ado and catured seventeen runagades. They got them in the guard house. They told on some of the Indians that are hear and they but [put?] them in the guard house to. There is about twenty five Indians in the guard house. The chief of this land hear went out to Steens Mountains to see old Winamuck no one knows what for. Mr. Jones says he don’t intend to take me and the children out to the ranch this summer. We have a hous and lot hear in town so it don’t cost a great deal more to live hear than it dose out to the ranch. Mr. Jones says he will be glad to meet you at Lake view at any time. I hope you won’t fail to come and see us. We would love to have Sallie and the girls come to if they can mary and Alice had there pictures taken day before yesterday. I will send you and Sallie one. The weather is quite cold for this time of the year. I tried to get the baby picture but couldn’t get her to sit still. I will triy her again in a fiew days…”.
Price: $1,250.00 USD