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ILLINOIS HISTORICAL SURVEY
^ ^ %
HELLEN AND HANNAH HINMAN
Hellen was born in ISJ^U
Hannah was born in 18 US
TEN LETTERS BY CHARLES G. HINMAN
WRITTEN DURING HIS TRIP OVERLAND FROM
GROVELAND, ILLINOIS, TO CALIFORNIA
IN 1849 AND HIS ADVENTURES IN
THE GOLD FIELDS IN
1849 AND 1850
COLT OX STORM
EVERETT D. GRAFF
by Gordon Martin, Chicago
In 1954, 1 published a narrative of Daniel McLaughlin's
trip from Omaha to the Salmon River and the gold fields
of Eastern Oregon. A number of my friends who re-
ceived the little book expressed their interest in such
material and, consequently, this year I am sending
them this series of letters by a "Forty-Niner." The
original letters were acquired some years ago from my
friend Miss Louise Stegner of Omaha. In her years of
experience. Miss Stegner has searched for and dis-
covered many interesting documents relating to the
history of the Transmississippi West. I am grateful to
her for sharing with me her historically valuable finds.
Mr. Storm and I are also grateful for the enthusiastic
cooperation of Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Biggs of Clarinda,
Iowa; Clyde C. Walton of the Illinois State Historical
Society; and Joseph C. Wolf of the Newberry Library
in preparing these letters for publication.
I hope my friends who receive this little volume at
Christmas time will think they, too, have enjoyed "a
pretty fair view of the Eliphent."
Everett D. Graff
"To see the elephant" was a common expression in the
United States from the eighteen-forties through the
-seventies. At first, it meant to see the world and gain
worldly experience; later it was applied specifically to
a trip to the California gold fields. The phrase was
occasionally used during the Civil War, in the past
tense, when one had been in battle. The overland mi-
gration of 1849 from the Mississippi River to California
was, in every sense of the phrase, a great experience,
and nearly all of those thousands of men, women, and
children who took part in it had "a pretty fair view of
Dale L. Morgan, in commenting on the quantity of
material in print about the Gold Rush, concluded that
although the mass of information is large, "much pains-
taking investigation will have to be undertaken, and
many fortunate finds made, before we can feel that at
any point we are approaching the limits of the subject."
The present publication is a record of a "fortunate
find" of a series of ten letters written on the trail to
California and from the gold fields by an Illinoisan in
1849 and 1850. We hope the scholar who writes the
definitive story of the 1849 Gold Rush will find some-
thing of value here.
Charles G. Hinman, the writer of this series of letters,
was born in Connecticut on November 2, 1808, 1810, or
1811 (he gives all these dates at various times). Very
little is known about him for any other period than the
time he traveled from his home at Groveland, Tazewell
County, Illinois, to California. During his trip he kept
a Journal* and sent this series of ten letters to his
family in Illinois. He may have been the Charles Hin-
man who operated a horse-powered sawmill in Tazewell
County in 1830 although, since his elder son was born
in New York in 1835, this is unlikely. His wife, Sarah H.
was his junior by five years. At the time Charles went
to California, there were five children in the family,
Charles S., Josephine, Charlotte, Hellen[5ic], and Han-
nah. They lived at Groveland, a post hamlet seven and
one-half miles south-south-east of Peoria. Mrs. Hinman
and four of the children probably did not remain in
Groveland, for they are unlisted in the 1850 Census for
Tazewell County; Charles S. is listed as a laborer in the
household of the West family. That Charles G. Hinman
was a man of some substance in his community in 1849
becomes obvious from both his letters and his journal.
He apparently built his own wagon for the overland
journey (he named it the "Groveland Belle"), yet he
was able to buy supplies and oxen for cash before he
set out and on the road, to buy out one of his partners,
and to pay all necessary ferry costs without complaint.
His journal was started a few miles west of Peoria on
April 2, 1849, and the last entry in California is dated
March 24, 1850. The first letter was written to his wife
♦The original diary is in the Western History Department,
The Public Library, Denver, Colorado. We are grateful to
the head of the department, Mrs. Alys Freeze, for a chance
to consult it.
from St. Joseph on May 3, 1849, and the last from
Cahfornia on February 17, 1850. Through February
and March, 1850, Hinman and his associates had made
no great fortune and they may never have "struck it
rich." Some time before September 1853, Hinman re-
turned from Cahfornia to Groveland, for on May 27,
1854, a second son was born to Sarah and Charles and
named Edward B. Hinman. The family continued to
live in Groveland for awhile and the senior Hinman
was Supervisor of the Township of Groveland in Taze-
well County in 1855. Four years later he had estab-
lished the first carriage and wagon factory in Hawley-
ville, Page County, Iowa. Hawleyville, one of the
earliest towns established in the county, is located seven
miles northeast of Clarinda. It was then a flourishing
town, but the railroad passed it by and it dwindled.
Charles G. Hinman lived in Hawleyville until his
death on August 27, 1868. He is listed with his family
in the 1860 Census, in which his occupation is given as
carriage maker. His factory is not mentioned in the
Iowa State Gazetteer for 1865. Sarah H. Hinman died at
Clarinda in 1877. In 1865, at Hawleyville, Edwin Hen-
shaw of Clarinda married Hannah Hinman, one of the
two little girls whose portraits appear as a frontispiece
to this volume. In 1872, after Hannah's death, Edwin
Henshaw married Hellen Hinman, the other little girl
in the frontispiece, and they lived in Des Moines.
Josephine had married Joseph Lyford in 1855 and re-
mained in Illinois. Charlotte probably died young.
Charles S. Hinman, to whom one of the letters in the
series was written is listed in both the 1860 and 1870
Censuses as a farmer at Hawleyville; later he lived in
Clarinda. His son, Roj^al G. Hinman, to whom the
letters were given, moved to Omaha, where he lived
from 1897 to 1936.
Only the years of Hinman's "view of the Eliphent"
interest us, however, and the records of his great ad-
venture are adequate. The journal, a manuscript of
fifty pages, comprises a day-by-day account of miles
traveled, scenery observed, the character of the water
and grass available, the weather, etc. It is, for the most
part, an impersonal record. The series of ten letters
printed here is a good, personal record of an 1849 over-
land trip. The record is one of neither insuperable ob-
stacles nor thrilling moments of danger; it is simply an
account of how most of the thirty thousand emigrants
traveled from the Mississippi to California during the
summer of 1849. The tale is well told, even though
Hinman's spelling and punctuation are erratic. I have
retained both the original spellings and the strange
capitalizations of words, but because the punctuation is
so baflfling in many places, I have re-punctuated the
entire series of letters. A few duplicated words have
been omitted; several words or parts of words (those
which appear between square brackets) have been sup-
plied. They are missing from the letters either because
the writer neglected to write them out or because they
were torn from the paper when the wax wafer which
sealed the letter was broken. Footnotes have been kept
to a minimum, since almost everything in the letters
is self explanatory.
All of the letters except the third are addressed to
Mrs. Sarah G. Hinman, Groveland, Tazewell County,
Illinois. The address leaf with postal markings is present
in each case except one. The third letter is addressed to
the writer's son, Charles S. Hinman.
Mr. Graff's advice and encouragement were invalu-
able in the preparation of this introduction and the
notes for the text. To all those generous friends who
found answers to questions go the warmest thanks of
St Joseph, May S**!, 1849.
I received yours yesterday, by Hughs,^ and was much
Gratifyed to learn that you all are in so Good Health.
I commence a letter to day because I have a little spare
Time. Yesterday we was verry Buisey packing Flour,
Cleaning up &c. Our Bacon has not come yet. It will
in a day or two; then we shall have a muss^ again, and
get across the River as soon as posable as the Feed for
Oxen is better and we are less liable to sickness on the
other side. There is some colera^ and Small Pox here.
I do not Fear it however. I go wherever duty or Buisness
calls me. Hughes had an Attack of Cholera on the Boat,
but has almost recovered. Our mode of Life will make
him Hearty. Crandall of Peoria lost one of his men of
Cholera by the name of Kingsley. Another Boat that
came in to this port at the same time they did lost
Eleven men from St Louis up with the same dissease.
You wish to know how I enjoy myself. Just imagine
yourself in my situation and under the same circum-
stances, and your Immagination will answer [the] Ques-
tion. We have had some disagreeable wether, some bad
Roads and Weary Limbs since we left, but not any
thing to what we expect too. I have been into but 3
Houses except Burtons^ since I left. I am getting used
to the Lin^ Boards for Fethers. My shoulders and hip
Bones complained a little at first, but I have slept on
nothing but the Ground or boards with one Blanket
under me since I left. I should be glad to see you all,
but my stakes are set for Two Years. I think I fully
realize my situation. I know that my path is, and will
be, surrounded with dangers, But I do not fear to Die,
and if it is the will of Providence that I shall not return,
I hope I shall cheerfully submit.
Chum^ is Quite a Favorite. I heard the Sunday I went
to Peoria that a Capias' was out for me, but I staid til
Monday 10 oclock and heard no more of it and saw no
more of Chums Claimants. I Concluded that Barns had
turned his attention to Hughes and since Hughes ar-
rival I find it was the case. But I was a little fearful I
should meet Him at Canton. I got to Canton just at
Night and staid til next morning.
It has just commenced Raining (9 oclock) I think for
all day. If it continues I may fill this sheet; if I do I will
write again before I leave. A few Lines from Mr
Breden in yours was verry acceptable, but I am sorry
if my comeing away on Sunday Causes Him diffculty.
And as for Walker and others of his stamp, I care as
little for them as I do for Barns, and although I firmly
believe the Prayers of the Righteous availeth much, I
as firmly believe the Five dollars H. Hancock gave me
will avail me more in going throug my Journey than
the Prayers of Walker and the whole Cabinet on Dea-
con St would for two Years. Give my Respects to
Breden and Wife and all others that you know I do
Hughes sayes my second Girl expects a Pony. I shall
bring them all something Fine if they are Good and
try to help their Mother. I will leave it to your discre-
tion to send to school or not, if you think it right under
the circumstances and feel Able to send I have no ob-
jection. Your Letter by Hughes is all I have received
since I left Home, but I thought some others would
write. Gay promised He would.
Jackman^ and Horrace^ are in good Health and have
got another Partner. The OBrien^° Boys stand the Trip
so far well. Jackman and I will subscribe for the St
Joseph Gazette for six months. One of the Editors is
going across the Plains this Spring and will Report back
and we think that we can not spend 50*=** each that will
gratify our Families more than by sending them the
Paper. We will send it to Sam but you will be Entitleed
to one half of it.
As near as I can Judge from the information I can
get there will be about 50,000^^ People attempt to cross
the Plains this season. There is 12 crossing places on
the Missouri. I think about 1400 Teams will cross at
this Place; about 500 have crossed allredy. I think
about one M of those who start to go through will back
out. A great many are doing so now, and about \i will
Die. They deserve too before they start and some of
them are dying. A large majority of the Californians
are desperate Fellows and they practice most all kinds
of crime, and of course they will, in many instances, pay
the Penalty before they get through.
We have been as regular in our Habits as circum-
stances would allow. [We] are generly in Bed about 8
oclock. I weighed the day I left Peoria 135 lbs. I stept
on the scales when I got here and weighed almost 141
making a gain of nearly 6 lbs in 4 weeks. I lay it to the
good cakes my Female Friends furnished me with.
Shall not forget them when I get to the Gold dust. The
cakes lasted nearly 3 weeks. We had just got out of
Flour and Hams as Hughes come. You can judge of our
Appetite when you think of 3 of us Eating in 4 weeks
100 lbs Flour, 100 lbs Hams, Bacon, and Beef, with
what Eggs and Potatoes we wanted, the cakes you saw,
and a Bag full Mrs OBrien sent. But our Labor and
Fatigue have been some. We missed it in sending by
Water. There is 3 steam mills here. Flour four dollars
the Barrel, Bacon smoked four dollars pr-hundred
cheaper than we bought at Home, and more things than
we had Dreamed of, and as cheap as Hughs bought in
We shall try to get across the river this week, but
shall not make a final start short of a week or 10 days.
It is about 60 miles of Timber and Prairie to the Plains
and they are 13 or 1400 miles across, and then about 7 or
800 miles through the Mountains. The 357 miles we
have come we consider but a small beginning. I shall
continue my Travels to Charly, evry opertunity, and
if I should not Live to return, He may not be sorry if
He keeps them. Tel Damy I shall not forget Her Kind-
ness. I hope your Letter will come before I start. I
think if you write by the 1^* July, if I get through at all,
it will be as soon as the Letter will.
I[t] is about clearing off though & we will have a
shower towards Night. It is now about Noon. I am
writing on one of Crandalls stoves [which] we brought
to our camp for Him Yesterday. His Teams have not
come in yet; [he] is looking for them to day. About 100
Teams at the Ferry all the time. As soon as one is gone
his place is filled. 2 Boats running take across 40 Teams
in 12 hours and they run all Night. I have to close. Will
write again. Promised Charley^ ^ to give a description
of a chiefs dress but [not] now.
I shall go or send to Town to day and will have this
on the way. Have not Time to look it over. Guess,
when you find a mistake.
I am much gratifyed with the Childrens Gifts. Shall
keep them. Ben sayes he is going down Town. I tel him
hold on and I will send this by him, and he is waiting.
C. G. Hinman
The most that Troubled me on the Road was the
Fear of Bad news from Home, when I would get here.
I Feared for Your Health.
Think every Night of a thousand things to write, but
forget them now. But may you be Blessed and pre-
served til I return is the Wish of Your affectionate
C. G. Hinman
St. Joseph, May 8*^ 1849.
I learned from Mr Hains last night that you was well
the 25*^ April. He received a Letter from his Wife.
Haines and Crandall and all my acquaintance are
receiving Letters from their friends and Families, but
the one Hughes brought is all I have received since I
left Home. As St Joseph is the last place that I can
receive Letters for many months I did think some of my
Friends (if not my Family) would write to me, but I
have been to the office every other day and as often
am disapointed and I can not but co[n]clude where
there is so much indifference about writing there must
be as much about hearing from me.
Where I shall be, or on what Route, when you receive
this God only knows. The Pioneers^^ are holding a meet-
ing now at 2 oclock on a mound near the River. Some
are for going the Santa Fe Route (and I am convinced,
in view of the Great numbers that have gone the Route
we are on) that the Santa Fe is the route we ought to
take, but Hughes sayes he will not go that route. He
wants to back out but wants us to pay him the money
down. We have offered him our Notes with Interest,
but he will not take them. He pours down cholera
drops, camphor, Laudnum, Brandy, or something all
the time, which would make any of us sick, and my
opinion is he will not Live to get through if he attempts
it, but he will not attempt it. He only wants an excuse,
and if we go the Santa Fe route it will be an excuse.
He was so Frigtened he staid in St Louis only long
enough to buy our Sugar, Coffee, and Rice. He left
the Bacon with one man, gave money to another to buy
Sea Bread, to another to buy soap and candles, and
what little Freight he brought with him is all we have
received. We shall wait one day more and if they dont
come we shall buy here and go on and loose them. From
what Garrett and Crandall of Peoria told me he has
not the Nerve to stand the Journey and perils. [He]
cried all one day on the Boat for Fear he should die.
We are about the 20*^ Team from the Ferry; yester-
day morning the 70*^. We crowd up as fast as [we] can.
300 Teams [are] waiting to get over.
A Boat was to leave for St Louis about sun down and
as Holland of Washington^" had Freight below, he said
he would go down and see about it and ours. But just
as the Boat was leaving, he came and told me he could
not go and I must go. I had but just time to snatch up
my coat and get on board before she left. 65 miles to
Weston^^ by Water, 30 by Land. Got in there the next
morning at 8 oclock and found our Bacon and Sea
Bread was shipt the night before. And now to get back.
The Stage had left and but one Boat in, and she had
lost over 40 passengers with the cholera since she left
St Louis. She was crowded full and I thought I would
take the Land Route. Started on foot at 9 oclock and
got to St Joes at Vi past 5 with confident expectation
of finding a Letter as it was the day for the mail, but
I was doomed to be dissapointed, and I will not
attempt to paint to You my feelings or how much I
felt hurt that I must go from here and not be noticeed
by a single one that I left behind.
I found my mess across the River and 6 miles out, a
good dayes walk for me. Crandall, Hains and others in
No 32 have withdrawn from the pioneers and started
for Santa Fe. Was sorry to part with Hains. Not likely
I see him again unless it be in Illinois. Hughes has laid
in the Tent all day while we have been packing our
Loading. He has mixed the Bread for us once only, and
when we travel rides in the waggon. What we shall do
with him I dont know.
It [is] now nearly Night. Ben^^ is going to St Joes for
a few thing[s] and I can send this in by him. To morrow
Address leaf of Hinman's letter
dated from Fort Childs, May 27,
18U9, showing postal markings.
we start again, and before another Eastern mail gets
[here] I shall be far beyond the reach of it. The ballan[ce]
of the pioneers are here and will Travel to gether. I am
writing on a Barrel head and it [is] rough and uneaven.
Dont know as you [will] be able to make out what I
write. I think I shall occasionally write to Charley, but
when I write with the expectation of getting an answer
it will be to some one that I think will answer it. We
have had a hard dayes work and I cant write as much
as I would be glad to. Ben is ready to go and I must
stop, and it may be I have censured you to much
allready for not writing, but you should immagine
yourself in my circumstances and think whether you
would like to hear from your family. I send my respects
to all and Love to Yourself and Children.
Cha^. G. Hinman
Fort Childs,!' May 27*^ 1849.
I have had opertunities to send Letters but no time
to write them. Until we left St Joes we was verry buisey
prepareing to leave and settleing with Hughes &c. We
gave Hughes our Notes with Interest payable when we
return, allowed him for all he said he had paid, though
he had no receipts to show that he had paid any thing,
5 dollars he said he gave to Philips^ ^ to buy candles and
soap with, but we have not seen Philips, candles, nor
soap, but we allowed it, and then we gave 3 dollars to
have him carried back to St Joes and glad to get him
ofiF our hands so. I get along with Ben and Jesse first
rate. They are willing to bear their proportion of all
the burthens and that is all I ask.
We have had good health the most of the time since
I wrote, but there has been many Deaths in some of
the Companies, mostly of cholery. Some 6 or 8 have
shot them selves pulling their Guns from their waggons.
Our Company dont allow of Guns or Pistols to be
carried in the waggons with the caps on. We have 20
Waggons and 60 men in our company. We generly
start in the morning at 6 oclock, travel til 11, stop 13^
hours, then travel til from 5 to 6. We drive our waggons
at night in a circle leaving a hollow of about 5 rods
in diametar. The forward team drives up, then the next
with the team in side the forward waggon, and far
enough ahead to fasten the tung to the hind wheel,
and so on with the train, which leaves the Oxen en-
closed, and in case of an attack from the Indians, we
can soon form an enclosure for our Oxen, and all we
will have to do will be to defend our selves. As soon as
the CurrilP^ is formed we on yoke the oxen and 4 men
drive them out of an opening (left for the purpose)
between the forward and hind waggons. They herd
them out til dark, when they are drove in and tied to
stakes drove in the ground. The stakes commence 8
feet from each waggon and run towards the centre of
the ring. By haveing the oxen a little distance from
the waggons, it gives us room to Fight with our waggons
between us and the enemy. Arfter the oxen are secureed
4 men stand guard out side til 12 oclock, then 4 more
are called who stand til 3, then they call for the Oxen
to be loosed and each mess have to get up and untie
their oxen. Then 4 men drive them out to feed til 6,
when they are drove in and yoked. It takes 16 to herd
and guard each day, and we drive about 20 miles,
leaving but little time to play. If I had a good Horse
and owned the whole outfit and was released from the
burthens of the Journey, I should enjoy it much, and
as it is I enjoy it. There is something exciting all the
time. The first 2 dayes arfter we left the missourie
River we saw a few Indians. There is a Govonment
Agent lives 30 miles from St Joes, also a Catholic mis-
sion, about M dozen houses in all. 2° There we saw the
last Indians selling moccasins to Emigrants. They
looked filthy, had on Blankets that were fastened tight
round their throat an[d] come down to their ancles
The most Beautiful country I ever saw is up the
little Blue River. It is nearly level, dry, and the soil
good. The stream is about 60 ft wide and 6 deep, runs
swift, and has a small strip of timber, Gotten wood,
willow and occasionally a small cluster of ^Miite Oak.
I saw no place where it over flows, and it is full of
Gatfish. We [cjrossed the wright fork of it. We got to
the Piatt River Friday noon and to where we now are
yesterday noon and shall not leave til to morrow
[(]monday). We struck the Piatt 20 miles below the
head of Grand Island and 12 below the Fort. The
Island is 52 miles long and about 2 wide and the most
of it is timbered with Gottenwood and Elm. The Fort
is about 1 mile from our camp in plain sight. I Ha[ve]
not been to it, but am told there is 8 or 10 Houses,
Store, sm[all] Shop &c. The mail is carried from here
to the States every month.
We are in the Pawnee Gountry but most of them
have gone south a Hunting, as it is too early for the
Buffalo to come north. We occasionally see an Antelope
and am told when we get a week further ahead wee
will find Buffalo. There is no Timber this side the Piatt
for 90 miles above. We are cooking anough to last us
and shall take along anough [wood] to boil our coffee
with. By driving a little from the road we have found
wood anough for [our] purposes. It is 280 miles from
here to St Joes and we have not passed through 5 rods
of timber in all since we left the timber on the missourie
River. Last 2 weeks have been so cold, we have worn
over coats. We have been running North a good deal
and up hill which accounts, I suppose, for the cold
wether. The Piatt is the Swiftest running stream I have
seen and is thick with sand. It is high now, runs over
in many places, but the water runs in again soon and
makes little Island [s]. The Banks in the highest places
I have seen is not above 2M ft above the water. The
bottom as far as we have come is about 6 miles wide,
and so level you can see a man anywhere on it. Should
the River rise 3 ft higher it would overflow the whole
Bottom. The Bluff is nothing, round sand Hills and
but little higher than the bottom. The River above the
Island is said to be /^ of a mile wide, and from what I
hear I should judge it runs about as swift as Roes
About 3000 Teams have passed the Fort.^^ About 500
are a few miles above, recruiting their Teams which
have run down from hard driving and poor feed. Our
Team and Waggon is as good as the best we see and
the Team is improoving, but we bought meal and have
fed them nearly all the way. The Quarter marster— at
the Fort saves if we dont hurry too fast our Teams
will go through, and 5 Teams is anought to protect
themselves against the Indians.
I shall keep the Presents you and the rest sent me.
Should be glad to here from you. I have received but
one Letter since I left home and that one Hughes
brought. Give my Love to your Mother and Sisters, be
a good Boy and write by the first of July to your
C. G. Hinman
There is an Eterrnal wind in this country so strong
we had to pack away our Hats and wear our caps. If a
Hat blows off it [is] useless to go arfter it unless you
are on a fleet Horse.
The next Fort is about 340 miles from here and is
Fort Laramie. I shall write from there and perhaps
The mule Teams find they cant get through with
their large waggons and are selling out and packing
their mules. Waggons that cost 125 dollars are selling
for 20 and 30 dollars, Bacon one cent a pound, Lead
one cent a bar, other things in proportion.
June 7*^ 1849.
A Mail carrier from the Salt Lake has just stopt at
our camp, and offers to wait half an hour for one dollar
and fifty cents and six of us have agreeed to pay it. He
will take this as far as St Josephs Mo. Our folks are
all well. Jackman is well. We are within 170 miles of
Fort Laramie, It is a Beautiful day and we have stopt
to clean up, air our loading, &c. We are a few rods from
the right fork of Grand River on the south side and
50 miles above the Junction with the South fork. We
have got along verry well [and] stand the hardships of
the Trip about as well as I expected to. The Wether
has been verry cold especially at nights. My time is
nearly up but I will keep on til hee sayes stop. I hope
you and the children will not forget the Relationship
we bear each other, and that you may prosper til I
return is my Prayer.
I suppose we are behind about 3000 Teams. How we
will get through the mountains we cant Guess, and
how soon I will have another opertunity of writing I
dont know but will improve the first. Our Team looks
well. The Gnats have troubleed us some. They bit
Jesse so his Face and head was much swolen and he
could not do any thing for a day or two, but he [is]
We have a pleanty of Buffalo, Dear, and Antelope
and some exciting races after them. Tuesday last, while
eating dinner, we saw 4 Buffalo crossing the River
2 miles below. We gave chase and killed them all. No
timber in this country except a few cottenwoods and
Willows on the Island, which we have to wade for.
Some of our company have used Buffalo chips for fuel
but we have not been compelled to and I dont think
we will. The valley of the Piatt is Beautiful, from 4 to 8
miles wide, and the atmosphere is so clear a man 10
miles off looks almost as large as life.
I should be glad to see you all, but would not return
with out going through for the value of Groveland.
The carrier is waiting. Yours with Affection. Hope you
C. G. Hinman
Fort Laramie, June 17^^, 1849.
I have an opertunity of sending you a Letter by
paying 25*^** if the fellow dont lie. I sent you one on
the 7^^ but you may not get it. We have got along as
well as I expected to. Have turned our Waggon over
once and broke 3 bows, 2 stakes and my Rifle. It was
close by an Indian Traders and Black smith shop, and
it hapened one of our company was taken with the
cholera at the same time, which caused us to camp,
and during the arfternoon we had every thing in repair.
The man Died about 10 oclock the same night (last
Thursday). W^e buried him at 8 oclock the next morning
with as much decency as if he had been in the States,
put a sand stone up with his name. Age, &c cut on it,
and left him. He was a young man and left a Wife and
one child in Indian Tow^n, 111. His name was Dunn.
You will probbably hear exagerated accounts of cholera
on our route. It is true it is sweeping off many, but I
think not any more than it would from the same
number if they were at home. Benj™., Jesse, Horrace,
Jackman, and all of us are a little unwell occasionally,
but we are as prudent as we well can be. We are
alwayes up at 3 oclock in the morning and generly go
to Bed from 9 to 10, which leaves us but 6 hours rest,
and out of that we have to stand our proportion of
7 Teams have withdrawn from our Company leaving
but 15 Teams and 46 men, and I wish one half of them
would withdraw as the larger the Train, the more time
it consumes in starting, stopping, crossing Streams, &c.
Fort Laramie is Ij^ miles above the junction of the
Laramie and Platte Rivers. We are camped just below
the Fort. Forded Laramie River, a swift stream 200 ft
wide and SH deep, had to put blocks under the Bodies
and on the Bowlsters 6 inches to raise the Bodies above
the water. Got across at 12 oclk and shall stay here til
morning when we shall moove on a few miles. We dont
camp two nights on the same ground. I shall write
again as soon as I have an opertunity of sending it.
Our company have not decided whether they will go
by Fort Hall or through the Mormon settlement at
Salt Lake. The largest crowd go the latter route, but
we fear we shall sufiFer for Grass on that route. It is said
there never was such [a] Grass season here before, nor
such a cold, wet one. Our cattle are in good condition.
WTien the sun shines in the middle of the day, we are
more comfortable with our coats off, but we need them
on at night and often two. We sleep in our clothes,
except our Hats, Coats, and Boots, and under two
quilts. The water up the Platte is not good. We occa-
sionally find a good spring, but usually use the water
from the Platte or dig a hole from 2 to 4 ft deep and
water will run in shortly. Our Roads have been the best
(for the length), I suppose, that can be found in the
United States, but we are told we will pay for it ahead.
Chum keeps fat. I have seen a great many dead Dogs
by the way, and am told that but few live to travel over
600 miles, but I dont allow Chum to run about. [I] tie
him under the Waggon every night, and I think he will
stand it through. We Washed last night, thinking we
might want to write to day. Brought our Clothes along
wet, and have them out drying, and I must attend to
them soon. Cannot write as much as I would for lack of
time. I keep a Journal of each dayes travel, the wether
andc, but cant write to Charley on account of my time
being ocupied and I dont know whether he was pleased
with what I did write. I should like to hear from you
all, but do not expect to in a good while, if ever, but
dont see why I may not and have good Luck in every
thing, for I have seen all the new Moons over my right
shoulder, but my mind is made up to take what comes
with the best grace I can.
One of our men (a Universal minister) has just
returned from the Fort. Saw a Trader there who sayes
if we keep mooving and loose no time, we can get
throug[h] without diflSculty, but the last of the Emi-
grants must suffer for want of Grass and Water, and
I fear the last end of the Train will suffer much from
sickness. Our man that died walked 8 miles and had
15 operations of the Bowels before he took medicine,
and then it was too late and he Liveed but 12 hours
after he made his situation known. He has a Brother
and Uncle in our company.
I dont fear for any of You except from the cholera,
but I fear that will thin the ranks of Illinoians more
than the Gold Fever has. It is a satisfaction to me to
know that You have Phvsitions convenient. We have
one in our company. I have no more time now. Tel
my Friends [they are in] my thoughts dayly.
C. G. Hinman
City of the Lakes, July 20*^, 1849.
I got to this place yesterday at 4 oclock, found the
mail is to start for the States at 12 to day, and I will
write you as much as [I] can get time to. You will
wonder why we took this route, if I dont tel you. When
we commenced crossing the Black hills we found the
Grass verry scarce and our Oxen began to fail. Up the
Platte and the Sweet water, the Bottoms are narrow
and the Grass was ate off close to the ground. Then,
over the South pass, 4 dayes travel to Paciffic Spring
3 miles over, there was scarcely any Grass at all, thence
to little Sandy River 23 miles no water and but little
Grass. Here we saw a man just from Big Sandy 12
miles. He said there was no Grass there. From Big
Sandy to Green River is 35 miles without water or
We had ascertained that the Mormons had sent out
100 teams to the mines this Spring and was told that
the Grass was good on this route, and as the Roads
forke here (at little Sandy) we determined to take this
route, but could not prevail on the whole Company to
do so. Some were afraid the Mormons were not teling
the truth. Some thought there would be more danger
from the Indians, and they all reminded me of a man
in Iowa, when teling us of a better and shorter road,
"I dont suppose" (sayes he) **you will take it, for where
the first Californian went, they will all follow [even]
if he went to the Devil." And so it is, the great crowd
all follow each other up and try to get ahead, and in so
doing they are killing their Oxen by hundreds.
Some of our company that started with 4 good Yoke
of Oxen have but two yoke left, and some have left
their waggons and hiched their teams together. We
have taken all the care of our teams we could and have
not lost any of them yet, [but we] have sold some Bacon
and thrown off our Side Boxes, Partitions, extra bolts,
&c. We have seen a great deal of Provision thrown
away, a great many dead Oxen, and a good deal of
sickness. Our health has been good generly. Jesse was
sick 8 or 10 dayes over the Black hills and up the
Platte. We thought for 2 or 3 dayes we would loose
him but we kept the cholera off and he is well now.
There was a couple of men from neare Chicago with
one team, Holland Wood, Tucker and Collins from
Washington with another, Jackman and Horrace, and
our Team, making 4 Teams is all that withdrew from
the Company, and we left 19 Teams with the Boat.
They agreed to sell the Boat at Green River and save
our proportion of the avails of it. A man and Son from
Missourie by the name of Abbot (Brother in Law to
Elder Phelps) has joined us on the Road.
We have got just about two thirds of the way to the
Diggings from home, have come 16 hundred miles and
750 to go. We strike the Fort Hall road 120 miles beyond
the Fort. By taking this route we get along 400 miles.
go no further and get good Grass. We think we shall
get on to the Big road with our Teams so well recruited
that we can get through without much loss. But the
roads are some. Some Hills 12 miles up and 18 down.
Day before yesterday, we had to lock both hind wheels
and hich 3 Yoke of Oxen to the hind Axletree to hold
the waggon back for M of a mile, and yester we was
over an hour comeing one mile up a Hill. Chum keeps
fat but cant stand it long without water, but I shall
provide for him. We see Indians only about every 400
miles; they dare not show themselves.
The 4th we was in the South Pass, spent half the day
in burning Powder, getting the best dinner we could,
drinking Ice and snow water, and some mixed some-
thing else with it. In the morning we found Ice in our
Buckets nearly ^ inch thick, and the 5th (the day we
went over the Pass) we went over snow banks 12 feet
deep. Have seen large quantities of snow on the moun-
tains every day for a month and often have it to mix
with our water at Noon. I keep on two shirts, drawers,
vest, and pants all the time, but take off my coat in the
middle of the day and at Night when I go to bed.
Change shirts every week and once in 2 or 3 weeks have
on now the drawers Mrs Hancock gave me. Shall give
Her a good dayes work if I live to get to the mines.
Boots and Pants dont last long on this route, but the
rest of our clothing wear out slow.
Cant give you a Journal of our Travels now but I
keep one for every day.^^ Will read it to You in the
long winter evenings when I get back. I think we have
had a pretty fair view of the Eliphent, but from ac-
counts expect to get a much nearer sight when we climb
the Serra Nevada Mountains, but we shall then be near
the end of our Journey.
I want you to write all the particulars about how you
get along, about Aunt Ruths Family, about Hughes,
and all the changes that have and are taking place
among the Neighbours. I dont expect to go to the City
of San Francisco this fall. The mines are from 2 to 3
hundred miles this side. But direct your Letters there
and I can have them forwarded to the Office nearest
to us. I have not heard from Home since I left St Joes.
I would like to verry much and yet I dread to on
account of the cholera and other sickness. I shall not
have another opertunity that [I] know of writing til I
This City is at the South end of Salt Lake, is laid
off verry Pretty, about 4 miles square, and has about
7000 Inhabitants. Houses mostly small, some built of
mud, some of Logs, and some of unburnt Brick. They
are building a verry nice Council House of stone. I
went directly to the Post Office where I enquired for.
and was directed to, the old Man Riches. He knew me
but had forgot my name. Staid with him an hour and
agreed to call again before I leave Town which will be
to morrow morning. We are now at the uper end of
Town and have got 2 Boys to herd our cattle at 2
cents a head.
This is a Beautiful vally surrounded with mountains,
some of them covered with snow, and yet it [is] verry
warm here. Snow falls from 6 to 18 inches here. The
Lake has two large mountains in it. The Mormons have
large herds of cattle on the neares[t]. The water is not
swimming deep to the first, but [it] is many miles. No
Fish, but in the Utah Lake and the out let (or River
Jordan the Mormons call it) is a pleanty of Fish. The
out let is a large stream and runs 13^ miles West of the
city. Many large streams empty their waters with a
perfect rush into Salt Lake which has no out let.
Tel Rulandus I have within a few dayes caught lots
Tel John Thomas Dobson is at Council Bluffs, Mo.
Our Labours are not so hard as they are constant.
A good place for a lazy man without a Horse. He must
root. Pig, or die.
Readings Diggins,^^ Oct 7'\ 1849.
I take the first opertunity to let you know of my safe
arrival here and all the pioneer company (since I last
wrote) except Mr Jackman who Died August 3P* of
what He supposed to be Irrecipalis, but I have learned
since that it was the Scurvy. His feet and legs com-
menced swelling and turning purple til they got so
large and sore that (for the last four weeks) he was
oblieged to ride in the Waggon, and the last week we
had such poor water and [it] so affected his Bowels that
he could not recover. Doct Greenman of Indian Town,
111.25 attended on him. A short time before he Died he
was walking about. I had been out nearly all day a
Hunting, had killed an Antelope, and stept to his
waggon to see if he would have a piece. He said he did
not know whether [he] could eat any or not. He felt
faint. I gave Horrace some and told him to make some
Broth. Soon after I heard Jackman call Horrace and I
stept to him. He said he felt cold and thought he should
have a chill. Horrace got into the Waggon and covered
him up. In about ten minutes Horrace called to me and
said he believed Jackman was Dead. I told him to run
for the Doctor (who was but a few rods off) and we
took him from the waggon immediately but could not
save him. This was about a half hour before the sun
We pitched our Tent over him, Shaved, washed, and
Dressed him for the Grave the same night. The next
day we lay by, made a Box of his and our waggon decks
and partitions and Buried him in it in the middle of the
Road at one oclock.^^We put all his Old Clothes on top
of the Box. Every thing else belonging to him Horrace
brought through and we shall see that they are dis-
posed of to the best advantage, and Horrace will be-
come accountable for the amount they bring. I made
a little sketch of the road in my Journal while others
were digging the Grave and took the distances from the
Spring and ledge of Rock and sutch notes that I can
describe the place so a stranger can find it.^^
We come on to the main road from Salt Lake behind
every pioneer Team, but our Teams had so well re-
cruited that we soon passed them and but one of the
company got to the mines in advance of us, and he
came by Salt Lake. Only about one half the Oxen and
Waggons of our Company got through. Some left their
waggons and doubleed Teams. Others were oblieged to
leave their all except what they could pack on their
backs. And yet ours is considered a fortunate company
in comparrison to the most of them. We traded two
Yoke of Oxen for one at the Lake. AYe got a splendid
Yoke of cattle, but the dust and heat killed one of them
in three weeks. We bought another for $20 and got
through with 4 Yoke in verry good condition.
We left Marys River 230 miles down and took the
California and Oregon road which is further but has
less travel on it. We got to Lawsons^^ Settlement on the
Sacrimento River Sept 25 and to Readings Diggins
Sunday the 30^^, 70 miles above and 4 miles west of
the River in a perfect Mountainous country. We are
200 miles above Sacrimento City whis[ch] is at the
head of navigation and tide water and is 200 miles
above San Francisco. Last Spring it had but one house
in it; now it has 10 thouson Inhabitants.
We have nine of us in Company at present, Tucker.
Holland Wood, and Cullen of Washington, Jackmans
partner that he took in at St Joes, Benj and Jesse
OBrien, Horrace and myself from Groveland.'^ We
left Holland at Lawsons with 4 Yoke of ox[en] and
2 waggons, put our provision in one waggon, and with
the other 5 Yoke come here. Got here last Sunday [(]a
week today). Monday morning 5 of us went 13^ miles
down one of the 5 creeks in theese diggins and worked
hard all day and got nothing. Tuesday we went again
and got 6 dollars worth. Wednesday 7 of us went and
left one at the camp and [got] $70, Thursday we raised
$134, Friday 117, and yesterday 162 making in the
first week near $500. It is verry hard work, and there
is but few average an ounce a day. How long we shall
stay here or where we shall go when we do leave, I
know as little as you do. But you will direct your
Letters to Sacrimento City, I sent an order to the P.M.
by J. Hittle^" to forward all that is there up. Cullen
and I start tomorrow for the City for a load of pro-
vision. Shall not seal this til I get there.
Chum had a hard time on a desert of 70 miles. He
lay down to Die one night and howled for some time.
I tried to coax him along but he would not get up. We
had but l"^ miles further to go til we would find Water.
I took about a pint (the last we had) and carried it
back \}4 miles to him, which so revived him that he
got along 7 miles further, when he lay down again.
Howled and whined, but would not come along. I
beged a pint of Water of Jackman for him which gave
him strength to get through and he is now with Holland.
Have just received an invitation to a Funeral at half
past 4 oclock. They are of dayly occurrence. But the
greatest distress is back on the road. We got through in
advance of most of it. I dont think over 1000 Teams
beat us through. The settleers of this Country are send-
ing out two hundred thousand dolls worth of provision
and cattle to the Emigrants on the Road.
But few regard the Sabbath. Our company of 9
Persons that I have named have agreed to not go into
the mines to work on the Sabbath. Death for the 2d
offence of Stealing here.
Hope you will write often. I will answer anyone that
will write. Have not heard from Home since I left
St Joes. Uncertain how soon I can send another Letter
down to the City. Here, Pork, Flour, Beans, and Sugar
is one dollar pr Pound.
Sacrimento City, Oct 18, '49.
I got into this City of Tents and Canvass Houses this
morning and the first man I met that I knew was our
old Friend Thorp. He is here with his Family, Teaming
and keeping a Boarding House. Told me where I could
find his Tent and if I would stop with him my Fare
should be verry cheap, but I have been running about
all day to find where I can do the best in buying our
provisions. Cullen is with me. We went to the post
Office the first place arfter getting in but found nothing
for us. There has been no mail here for two months
and may not [be] for two to come. There is but little
attention paid to the mails. I shall not, in all probbabil-
ity, be here again til Spring, and I was in hopes of find-
ing some Letters and papers here, but it seems if I am
to know any thing that is transpireing at Home I will
have to go there.
I saw Thomas Briggs three dayes ago. He is going to
the diggins with us. Rob* Briggs is here and sick. He
will leave in a day or two for Home and kindly offers
to deliver this to you. I wish I had earned something
that I could spare to send You, but our load of 30
Hundred will cost us over four Hundred dollars which
is about all we have. We have found all we want to
buy. Shall be able to get our load and leave here to
A number of Pioneers have Died lately. Col May of
Peoria Died here about 3 weekes ago.
I would like very much to be in Groveland unob-
served a few dayes to see how people manage things
and what is said and done. I would like to know, too.
how Our Children spend their time, especially Charley
and Josephine. They are able to help their Mother a
great deal and I hope they do. Charlotte, I suppose,
learns as fast as any of her age, and beats them climbing
fences. Trees, Houses, and wearing out clothes. Hellens
black eyes, I hope, sparkle as bright as ever. I suppose
she goes to school, and I suppose Hannah gets lone-
some and wants to go to school too. I hope they will all
be good Chillren and remember that it [is] for them that
I stay in this unproductive, unhealthy and un Christian
Briggs will (if you ask him) give you a better de-
scription of the City, country, people, &c than I can in
a Letter, and all I will say about it is that I would not
give Tazewell County for all the Land I have seen this
side the Missouri River, except the Gold region, and I
will never recommend the over Land route to get here,
for it is Death to many and the next thing to Death
to all that come this route. I am told that the road from
the Sink of Marys^^ over the mountains is blocked up
with Snow, and that all the ballance of the Emigration
will have to come the road that I come. If this be true,
hundreds must perish.
It is about 10 oclock at night. [We] are in the Waggon.
Cullen has just finished his Letter and I must mine.
Give my respects to all, and especially to my Cores-
pondents. I intend to dig a little for each of the children
if they are good and I have not forgot who else I
promised to dig for. I have slept out many nights with
but one Blanket and only my Boots for a pillow.
C. G. Hinman
I should like to receive a Letter from Doct Alexander
Dodge, John, Walter, or any one that would take the
trouble to write.
California, Jan 16^^ 1850.
Not haveing heard from Home since I left the States,
I hardly know what to write, but a man from Napier-
ville. 111. starts for Home to morrow, goes through
Peoria, and takes Letters for fifty cents a piece, and I
think it my duty to write. When I wrote last, CuUen
and I was at Sacrimento City for a load of provision.
We had got about one half the way back to the mines,
when we received notice from our Company to wait til
they come along as they had concluded to winter further
South. W^e waited two weeks for them. At the same
time the fall Rains came on and raised Sacrimento
River so high they could neither cross it or get down
with an Ox team. We, not expecting to see them again
this winter, thought we would act for ourselves. We
sold the Load for double the cost, returned to the City,
bought a load, and went to the mines 50 miles east,
borrowed a Tent to store them in, cut and hauled Logs
for a cabin, and returned to [the] City for another load
of provision, where we found the rest of our company.
They had sold the Oxen, left the Waggon and dug out
canoes, lashed them together, and brought our clothes
and tools down in them.
[Two] of them (Wood and McMahill[)] concluded to
winter in the city, the rest (seven of us) bought another
load of provision, took what clothes and Tools we need
for the Winter, and started again for the Mines.
We have built a cabin 50 mis from City within two
miles of the South fork of the American River. ^^ Seven
of us are in company in the provisions and all Live
together. One brings the Water, three cut the wood, and
three do the cooking. I am one of the cooks. Ben and
Jesse OBrien are all the partners I have in digging. We
have been to work here about a month and have dug
about two hundred dollars worth a piece. We shall
probbably stay here two or three months longer, when
I think we shall go far into the mountains, where we
hope (if the mountain Fever and Indians spare us) to
make our pile and get Home in two years. But we have
not decided for certain where we will go in the Spring.
We can everage in the Summer about here and on the
River only about one Oz of Gold per day which is worth
here but sixteen dollars. We think it insufficient to pay,
when we take every thing into account. Gold is being
dug in this country all along from North to the South
for nine hundred miles and where the richest portion is
is not known. We may find a rich deposit and we may
only make our liveing. We can make but little at
present on account of the Rain which falls nearly
I suppose that within five miles of us are five thousand
Inhabitants. I see many men every day, but form no
acquaintances. I have not spoken with a Woman since
I have been in the Country. I saw H. Kneeland in
S. City. Said he expected his Daughter would spend
the winter in Groveland. H. Tarbell sold the most of
Jackmans things at the first mines we went to and
while I was gone to the City. He sold them w^ithout
leting any of our company know of it, and what there
was or what they brought I dont know.
I can give you no advice with regard to things at
Home as I know not the state they are in. There is an
indipendant mail line from here to Sanfrico.^^ I sent by
it six weeks ago and it was to return in three weeks,
but it has not come yet. I agreed to give 50 cents for
each paper and 2[.00] for each Letter. News papers sell
here at 1 dollar a piece. The water courses here have
been verry high. The whole of Sacrimento City is 15
feet under water. It is now nearly noon. It has been
snowing all the morning but melts as fast as it falls.
It has froze water a few nights 3^ inch thick. My health
has been verry good the most of the time, but mining
is the hardest and dirtiest work I have ever done, and
yet it is pleasant in some respects and verry exciting.
The Gold is found from the size of the smallest dust to
pieces that weigh a number of pounds. Six and seven
dollars is the largest I have found. I send you anough to
show the color.
C. G. Hinman
It would be verry gratifying to me to get a Letter
[from] you, but I see but little prospect of it.
I hope Charly and the Girls will be good to their
Mother til I get back. I would send them some gold
if I had any way to do it. Give my respects to all and
write me all the changes that have taken place. C.G.H.
California, Feb 17'\ 1850.
Haveing an opertunity of sending a Letter to Peoria
by a man going to Chicago, I think it my duty to write,
although I get no Letters from you and have but little
to write that will interest you. I have sent two and
three times a week to Sacrimento and San Francisco
for Letters and Papers, but am disapointed every time.
Week before last, about thirty of us gave a man five
dollars a piece to go expressly for our Letters and
papers, but he brought no news from Groveland, and
all the news we do get is from the Tribune and Herald
of New York, and we have to pay one dollar a piece
for them. The price of bringing Letters from the Bay up
here is two dollars, papers fifty cents.
We have had no Rain this month and I think we
shall have no more til next fall. The snow fell to the
depth of nine inches in January, but all was gone in
three dayes. There has been none a few miles west of
us and five miles East it stayes til June. About one half
the Trees shed their leaves the forepart of Winter, but
they are Budding out again. Wild Goose berries are in
the Blow. This is a Beautiful pleasant Sabbath. We all
have our Coats and Vests ofiF and it seems like Summer.
People are leavenig [leaving] their Winter quarters, and
are scattering all over the Country.
We have not determined what we will do or where go.
The snow will keep the streams up til June as it melts
gradually on the mountains. I am in favor of going
into the mountains til the strams get low, but it is
considered unsafe to go in small companies and I do
not know as we can get a company large anough to
ensure success. That there is abundance of Gold in the
mountains I have no doubt, but to find it and dig it is
attended with much fatigue and some danger. We can
average only from 8 to 12 dollars per day here, not
anough to pay for the privations and fatigue we have
to endure to obtain it. The most Ben, Jesse and I have
dug in one day is 125 dolls. ^Ye may continue to make
our Cabin our head quarters and work in the neighbour-
hood a year longer. I am confident we would be more
likely to enjoy good health to do so, but not so likely
to make so much money, but I shall let you know as
often as I can what we are doing.
I give the man 50 cents to carry this to Peoria pre-
fering to trust it with him to the mail. I lay the blame
of my getting no Letters all to the mail. I can account
for it in no other way, for I can hardly believe there
is not one in Groveland that is willing to spend an hour
in ^Titing to me. I would cheerfully pay 100 dolls for
a Letter from Home. A mail will be here this week, but
will it bring me any thing? I have been disapointed so
much that I hardly dare hope. If I have an opertunity
of sending by an acquaintance, I shall send you some
money. I could spare 500 dolls now, but hardly dare
send it by a stranger. I fear you will need some before
I get Home. If you do, I would prefer to have you
apply to Squire OBrien^^ than any one else as I am in
company with his sons and if any thing should hapen
to prevent my return, they will have charge of my
Effects which, I hope, may be suflScient to pay all debts
and help you some.
I shall have abundance of clothing to last as long as
I expect to stay here except Boots. I have had to buy
two pair already (coarse ones) at 8 dolls a pair. We
have liveed verry cheap this winter (in comparrison to
Board) as we bought our provision in the City and
hauled them with our own Team, except some fresh
Beef which we pay 50 cents [a] pound for. Fresh Pork
is 75 cents a pound. I think our provisions have not
cost us more than one dollar and fifty cents a piece
per-day, and we have liveed as well as they generly do
at the boarding Houses in the mines. It is soon told
what we live on, for it is only Flour, Pork and Beef,
Beens, Rice, Sugar, Molasses, Vinegar, Coflfee and Tea,
and dried Apples. We have had no greater Luxuries
than theese for 10 months. There is more in the market,
however. Eggs 8 dolls a dozen, Butter 1 doll & 50 cents
a pound. Potatoes 50 cents a pound, Apples 25 cents
a piece, milk 1 dollar per quart, all little dainties pro-
portionably high in price, which will not allow of our
indulging in them.
I have lost Chum. I loaned him to Holland the first
time I went to the City and when he went to the City,
he lost him. I was verry sorry. He was so good a Guard
he would not let any one come round in the night, nor
an Indian in the day time. I still hope to find him. Give
my respects to my Friends, if you know that I have
any, and tel them they would confer a great favor by
writing to me and direct to Sacrimento City.
Love to yourself
C. G. H.
Tel the Children I should like to see them all verry
much. I expect they will be much altered in appearance
by the time I return. I hope you will be able to tel me
they have been first rate Children. I keep all the
presents they sent me, but find no market for their
Jewelry or my Watches. How is Charlies Colt and
I wish you to send the Children to School as much as
you posably can. Write me about the Schools and
Cha^ G. Hinman
1 Hughes was a neighbor of Hinman's in Groveland. He
later withdrew from the company. Neither the Journal nor
the letters give Hughes' first name, nor, indeed, the first
names of most of Hinman's associates. Where they are
known, they will be mentioned.
3 Cholera was widespread on the Plains during the summer
of 1849 and was probably the cause of most deaths en
route. Small pox appears to have been infrequent on the
4 The only place Hinman mentions where he might have
stayed overnight in a house was his brother's home near
Canton, Illinois. Possibly his brother's name was Burton.
6 Chum was a dog whose further adventures are described
in later letters.
7 A writ to arrest a named person.
8 Jesse Jackman, also called Uncle Jesse, of Groveland.
9 Horace Tarbell, of Groveland.
10 Benjamin and Jesse O'Brien, sons of a Groveland neighbor
later referred to as Squire O'Brien.
11 Current estimates are that about 30,000 persons crossed
the Plains to California in 1849. Another 500 went to
Oregon. See Dale L, Morgan, Ed.: The Overland Diary of
James L. Priichard . . . ([Denver] The Old West Publish-
ing Company,' 1959), page 17.
12 Charles S. Hinman, then aged fifteen, the Hinmans' eldest
13 The emigrants who came from Groveland and the vicinity
of Peoria called themselves the "Pioneers." Hinman had
named his wagon the "Groveland Belle," while two other
wagon names were "Star of Groveland" and "Grey Eagle
14 Probably the town of Washington, Tazewell County, Illi-
nois. Holland remained with Hinman all the way through
15 A village on the Missouri River downstream from St.
16 Benjamin O'Brien.
17 Fort Childs was the original name of the "new" Fort
Kearny. "Old" Fort Kearny is now Nebraska City. The
site of Fort Childs had been selected in the fall of the
preceding year and when Hinman' s party passed it the
fort was being constructed slowly.
18 A merchant in St. Louis.
20 This was the Kickapoo Agency near the present town of
Powhattan, Brown County, Kansas. The mission had been
established by Father Van Quickenborne in 1836 nearer
Fort Leavenworth, but moved farther west with the Kick-
21 According to a count kept at Fort Kearny and reported by
Morgan (op.cit, pages 21-22), 300 wagons had passed by
May 17 and 6,116 by June 24.
22 Captain Stewart Van Vliet.
23 This is the Journal in the Western History Department,
The Public Library, Denver, Colorado.
24 Reading's Diggings (which has now vanished) was near
the present Douglas City, Trinity County, California. It
was there that Major Pierson B. Reading, formerly an
associate of John A. Sutter, made the first discovery of
gold in the county on Clear Creek.
25 Now Tiskilwa, Bureau County, Illinois.
26 Burial in the road was a common practice of overland
pioneers. It usually prevented discovery of the grave by
either Indians or wolves.
27 Hinman measured the distances, as he states, but there is
no accompanying sketch in his Journal.
28 A common contemporary spelling of Lassen. The settle-
ment was in the Honey Lake Valley and was a popular
halt on the trail.
29 In his letter of January 16, 1850, Hinman mentions the
name of the ninth associate, McMahill. Cullen, incidentally
appears elsewhere as Collins.
30 John Shertzer Hittell, journalist and author, was born in
Pennsylvania, graduated from Miami University, and while
living in Ottawa, Illinois, decided to join the 1849 gold
rush. He spent the winter of 1849-50 at Reading's Diggings.
By 1852 he was in California where his connection with the
Alta California started him on a writing career.
31 Sink of the Humboldt. Fremont named the river in 1848;
previously it had been called Ogden's, Mary's, or St.
32 Hinman was then camped between the present city of
Folsom and Mormon Island on the South Fork of the
33 San Francisco.
34 John O'Brien, one of the first settlers of Groveland. O'Brien's
sons Jesse and Benjamin were among Hinman's com-
Two hundred copies
printed for private distribution
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