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I am in possession of a letter dated in August from you and also received one from Uncle Richard, dated Sept.15th, but nothing from the rest of the family. I am glad to know that you are all alive and well and hope you will continue so for some years, at least until I come home which I intend doing at some future time--when, the Lord only knows. I have not come 20,000 miles to turn around and go right back again like some persons who have been here and gotten homesick. I prophesy that they will be sick to come back here again when they hear of the prosperity of this great and growing country. I finished your letter from San Francisco, as you will see it you ever get it.
Shortly after, I returned to this place on the steamer 'Senator.' It really seemed like travelling again to sit on a sofa in her splendid saloon. If it had not been for the entire absence of ladies, the smoking in the saloon (this suited me, of course), and the monte tables, I could have imagined myself going down east from Boston. It was her first trip and she started the echoes for the first time on the Sacramento with a regular steamboat's bell and whistle. Great was the astonishment of the Indians as they stared at us from the bank.
Upon our arrival at Sacramento City we were greeted with the firing of cannon and the cheers of the inhabitants. She now runs regularly three times a week, through by day light, fare $25, meals $2. She must coin money.
Today is Sunday. Gloomy November, probably, with you, but here the weather is splendid, not cold enough to need a fire. Although this is the winter or rainy season it has rained about 15 days out of this month so far. When it rains it is gloomy enough and muddy enough, but as soon as it clears off the mud dries up mighty quickly.
The Sierra Nevada mountains look magnificent from here, covered with snow, but down in the valley snow seldom falls. People are planting gardens. The trees are evergreen and the grass so long parched up it is just springing up green again.
So much for the climate. I want to tell you about our domestic arrangements. We have fitted up the upper part of our store: clothed it with sheeting, carpeted it with Chinese mats, furnished it with chairs and tables and live in luxury for this country. The heaviest bill was for the cook-stove, $100 was the lowest cent we could get one for and a common one at that. Mrs. Lindley does the cooking and we furnish the material and eat it. The Captain lugs all the wood and water up stairs. We have a parlor and kitchen and begin to live like rational beings again. It costs us about $10 a week and you can't board at any place less than $20. In the evening we have a social game of whist and spend our time very agreeably. Lindley is a lawyer and his wife a New Haven girl and a lady in every sense of the word.
Captain Cole has sent the brig down to S.F. and if the rains stop the hauling to the mines and trade is dull, he may go to the Sandwich Islands with her. The rain does not stop the place from going ahead. Two large hotels are being erected and a city hospital. The city contains over 800 framed buildings, besides the tents. In the election last held, over 1800 votes were thrown. This will give you some idea of this 'right smart place.'
Trade has fallen off some since the rainy weather but week before last we sold out of our little store $1500 worth of goods. All cash trade in one day. Tell Joseph to beat that. We make a percentage here, too. The flour that I bought in San Francisco for $18 per sack (200 lbs) we sold for $44 and are all out. Flour is a little cheaper now. We sold at the top of the market and for once were lucky, for great quantities are arriving from Chile. It is now worth $35 here and $2 a lb in the mines. It costs 75¢ a pound to transport goods from here to the mines and our merchant from Weaver Creek, 50 miles from here, whose team we loaded, paid $1000 for having one load hauled. This is on account of the muddy roads.
So much for California. It has gotten to be an old story to me. The first dust that I received, $2800, on our selling two houses in San Francisco, made my eyes sparkle and my heart beat rather quickly as I spooned it into a two quart pail. But now, I receive it and weigh it out with as little feeling as I would so much sand.
I should like to be at home on Thanksgiving Day. I suppose you have had or will have one about this time. (Bake me a turnover!) Be sure and write me all about it. I look forward with great pleasure to spending a Thanksgiving with all the family once more in my life. We shall be different persons from what we were on the last we spent together, but our affections will remain the same. I know mine will. Talk to me about a man's forgetting old times and losing his interest in his home and friends--it is all humbug. The farther I am removed from you and the longer I stay, mine increases. My remembrances of home and my youth are dear to me. We were blest, Mary, with the best of parents and a happy home. Probably they were the happiest years of our lives--those that we spent at home. How much wiser a person gets to be by going abroad and mixing with the ups and downs of this world--in these truths which he never can realize until he leaves home.
- Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division
A Yankee trader in the gold rush; the letters of Franklin A. Buck