IMPORTANT MORMON LETTER ABOUT THE FIRST MAJOR CALIFORNIA GOLD STRIKE. POMEROY, IRENE. 1835-1860. Autograph Letter Signed ("Irene"), 4 pp recto and verso,
Lot 189
IMPORTANT MORMON LETTER ABOUT THE FIRST MAJOR CALIFORNIA GOLD STRIKE.
POMEROY, IRENE. 1835-1860.
Autograph Letter Signed ("Irene"), 4 pp recto and verso,
Sold for US$ 7,500 inc. premium

Lot Details
IMPORTANT MORMON LETTER ABOUT THE FIRST MAJOR CALIFORNIA GOLD STRIKE. POMEROY, IRENE. 1835-1860. Autograph Letter Signed ("Irene"), 4 pp recto and verso,
IMPORTANT MORMON LETTER ABOUT THE FIRST MAJOR CALIFORNIA GOLD STRIKE.
POMEROY, IRENE. 1835-1860.
Autograph Letter Signed ("Irene"), 4 pp recto and verso, 4to (conjoined leaves), [Salt Lake, Utah], October 13, 1848, to Wilson Andrews in Massachusetts, some tape repair and a tiny hole to p 3.

DETAILED REPORT ON THE DISCOVERY OF GOLD IN CALIFORNIA WRITTEN BY A YOUNG WOMAN PIONEER whose father was a mill wright at Sutter's Mill. Irene Pomeroy was 23 years old when she joined the Mormon Battalion for Nauvoo, Illinois. From there, her husband was chosen by Brigham Young as a member of the advance party blazing west to Salt Lake. She joined him with her mother and brother a few months later. She writes the present letter to her cousin and to her grandmother back east, a little over a year since settling in Utah. Irene's father, Ashbel Haskell, worked as a mill wright for J.A. Sutter and (according to the biography in the H.I.R Foundation records) is the man who first recognized gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848. Irene's news comes from a man who traveled with her father in 1847 on the ship which carried the Mormon Battalion to California, the Brooklyn. In part, "There is a very extensive gold mine discovered lately in Califor and every body is digging gold the whole population ... it was found by two of the Mormon Soldiers one of the soldiers dug seven hundred and fifty dollars in one forenoon the company of soldiers only staid two or three weeks before they started for this place and most all of them dug one thousand dollars worth and some more they dig up with dirt and wash it out it looks like little flitters of melted lead only the color of gold sometimes there is little pieces one fellow has a piece about half as big as a butternut worth 50 or 60 dollars weighing 3 or 4 oz it is current at 16 dollars per oz." See The Mormon Battalion its History and Achievements, 1919 (a copy of which is included with this lot) and the biography of Thales Hastings Haskell at hirf.org. This letter also includes interesting detail on the Utah settlement: their house and gardens, where the men and women bathe, the price of gingham, the regularity of the mail, a mention of Bishop Whitney, the second Bishop of the Mormon Church, etc. Many of Irene Pomeroy's other fine and interesting letters are housed in institutions.

It is extremely unusual and interesting to encounter such a detailed letter about the discovery of gold in California pre-dating the forty-niners and the Gold Rush proper.

Footnotes

  • "There is a very extensive gold mine discovered lately in Califor and every body is digging gold the whole population ... it is only 25 days travel from here to the gold you must come and dig you love money so well"
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