Letters From Gold Rush Days Tell Grandfather's Quest to Make His Fortune

To make his fortune, man risked everything to cross the country during the Gold Rush days.


| Good Old Days


Anna Ryan Greenwell of Lakenan, Missouri, has a packet of 13 letters over a century old written by her grandfather, Alden Rice Grout, as he made his way across the plains to California during the Gold Rush days and labored there hoping to make his fortune. The letters were written on thin blue and white paper. When the writer had covered the pages, he turned to the margins and filled them with last-minute thoughts. One space in the center was left for the address, and the page was sealed with a dab of sealing wax. Here are excerpts from the letters:

"Richmond, Mo., April 22, 1849 – If practicable, I wish to go on to California as I have been foolish enough to start, and try to be paid for some of the trouble and anxiety I have already felt by leaving a pleasant home for the miserable life I am now enduring."

There was a disagreement among the leaders of the 32-wagon train. At Ft. Laramie, Wyoming, Mr. Grout and seven other men broke away to form their own company. He wrote: "The captain, as good and clever a man as ever lived, wished to please all; the consequence was nobody was pleased."

Estimating that they had passed 1,000 dead oxen in 150 miles of alkali plains along with deserted wagons, tools and clothing, he says: "I can think of nothing I ever read to compare with it except Bonaparte's excursion to Russia."



The company arrived at the diggings near Sacramento on Sept. 16, 1849. Mr. Grout's letters soon were filled with admonitions to his friends in Missouri to remain there. There were days when he dug $200 worth of gold from the hills, but these days were preceded by weeks of labor that netted nothing. To a friend asking his advice about making the trip, he wrote: "I doubt not but you almost weekly hear of this one and that of having taken out his pounds and pounds of gold. But do you hear of the one thousand and one that have died, or are lying sick, unable to labor for their bread and not any means to buy it with?"

The fantastic prices took their share of his hard-earned gold. At one time he wrote of flour being $2 a pound; onions, $1.50; potatoes, $1. Hay was $10 for 100 pounds, and cornmeal $25 a barrel.







mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: June 2-3, 2018
Frederick, MD

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE









Subscribe today

Capper's FarmerWant to rediscover what made grandma’s house the fun place we all remember? Capper’s Farmer — the newly restored publication from the rural know-how experts at Grit.com — updates the tried-and-true methods your grandparents used for cooking, crafting, gardening and so much more. Subscribe today and discover the joys of homemade living and homesteading insight — with a dash of modern living — that makes up the new Capper’s Farmer.

Save Even More Money with our automatic renewal savings plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 4 issues of Capper's Farmer for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $22.95 for a one year subscription!




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265