Santa Clara Co., California: 12 September 1852. Quarto bifolium (ca. 25x20 cm). 3 pp. Brown ink on watermarked laid paper, written in a legible hand. With the original envelope addressed to “Mr. B.P. Hinch, Esqr., Newhaven, Ills.,” ca. 8x14,5 cm (3 x 5 ½ in). Paper slightly age-toned, fold marks, but overall a very good letter.
Early letter describing farming in the Santa Clara Valley. The writer, Toliver Gholson, was a farmer from New Haven (Gallatin, Illinois), who worked in the valley in the early 1850s. The letter, addressed to his friend - a New Haven merchant at some point a postmaster Benjamin Pell Hinch (1812-1861), talks about Gholson buying and selling a property lot, lists prices for the main agricultural produce and cattle, briefly mentions the increased immigration, and notes that the “valy is healthy and pleasant and is bound to bee a wealthy place.” Gholson also mentions his first wife Celina Mayhew (1826-1870) and several New Haven residents, including local doctor Augustus Bernard Gilpin (1812-1879). Most likely, Gholson returned to New Haven the next year.
The text of the letter (the spelling is original): “Dear Friend, Your letter of the 15th of July came to hand last week. It gave me a great deal of satisfaction to hear of the health of my family and to hear that they ware doing well and also to hear so much of the general nuse. That is nothing gives me so much satisfaction as to have friends write to me and give me the nuse. I will answer your letter with pleasure in my awkward manner, but I hope that you can understand the most of it. My health is tolerabl good at presant and I am doing moderately well. I have taken a crop of barly to thrash for the […?] and I am about to take[?] that job and I do not know what I shal do now but thare is plenty of chances her to make money if a man is industrious. I hav bought a lot of barly at 2 ½ cts. per pound with the intention of making something of it. It is suppos that barly will bee worth 5 cts. per pound by Feb. next. Flower is worth $25[?] per barel in San Francisco. At this time provisions are all vary high. At this time the Emigration is coming in of the plains vary fast. They say they have had a vary good time […?] This season a good true horse wagon will bring from one hundred and 50 to $200, […?] cattle of the plains brings $100 per yoke, a good milck cow will bring about the same. Wages her is from 60 to 75 dollars per month or up to 5 dollars per day for good hands. Money is worth 4 percent per month interest. This valy is healthy and pleasant and is bound to bee a wealthy place. I bought a claim on a piece of land her last spring and had some thought of making this my home, but I have sold it again and calculate to return home next spring at furthest and spend the remainder of my days among you.
I am truly thankful to learn that yourself and Dr. Gilpin, Mr. Grant and others hav proved such kind friends to my family. Since I left I am in hopes that I shall bee able to return these favors . If Celina wishes to git anything out of the store you will please let her have it and I will pay you the money with interest.
There is nothing keeping me her now but the season of the year the cold is vary bad at different points on the way and I don’t like coming home in the winter. If I was thare I could not do anything until spring and I hope my family will do well. If I thought it necessary, I would send them some money but money is worth a great deal more here than thare.”.
Price: $950.00 USD