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Title: John Orr, Sacramento, To Rev. John Orr, Portaferry.
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileOrr, John M/19
SenderOrr, John Malcolm
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationminer (gold digging?)
Sender Religionunknown
OriginSacramento, California, USA
DestinationPortaferry, Co. Down, USA
RecipientRev John Orr
Recipient Gendermale
SourceCopyright Retained By John McCleery, 80 Circular Road, Belfast, BT4 2GD.
ArchiveThe Ulster American Folk Park.
Doc. No.9702139
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 10:02:97.
Word Count884
NoteN.B. John Malcolm died in 1851 (Did various jobs and decided to go west where he expected to do some kind of business)
Transcript[Post Mark]
CAL. Rev.d John Orr,


Co. Down


Sacramento City, Cal [California?] 13 June 1850

My Dear Father

I arrived here on Saturday from the southern
mines and was in hopes to find some letters from home
but was disappointed. I know that you have written
but what has become of the letters I dont know nor can
I find out, since I arrived in California, I have got
but one letter from Jane Ellen, dated about the last of
Aug 49, and one from Thomas Warnock dated 29 Jany
in which he says you were all well the last that he heard
and that Mrs Chermside was dead, this is all the news that
I have got from home for 13 months and I am a little
anxious to hear from you soon, Thomas W [Warnock?] in his
letter says that he will come here if he can get our old
business settled up in time, and that he would remit the
balance of my money to you as soon as he could sell the
boats &c.
In such a place as this has been I presume you
would think that without laws or government a state
of anarchy and outrage would be unavoidable, but such
has not been the case, a more peaceable set of people is
difficult to find, and if any crime was committed
and the criminal caught, he was generally strung up
as soon as his guilt was proved, there have been some
little disturbance with the Indians on Yuba & Feather
rivers, but some companies of US troops and some miners
went out and chastised them pretty severely, killing
300 to 400 while they only lost 3 men killed.
With regard to our own mining we have done about an average
falling of course far short of the expectations we
entertained before coming here, we have made since I may say
the middle of Jany about œ125.0.0 clear without any capital
invested, and the next three months I can do a great deal
better cutting hay that is what we have come up here for; if
we can get 50 Tons each we can make at least $150, per Ton
clear profit and perhaps more for feed is a scarce commodity
3 months from this time. In my first letter I gave you a
description of the City since I left all the tents have
disappeared and good farm buildings have been put up in place
it has alas grown a large place, some 10,000 people; just
think of it, one year since then there was not 500 here,
there are some 12 or 15 steamboats running every day besides
any quantity of schooners &c, but it is an awful place in
winter at least 3 feet water in the streets and all over the
plains except a few low hills they have to go in boats from
one house to another, such a state of things continues some
six weeks, thousands of oxen were drowned and great numbers
of houses, several houses have been floated off their
foundations and turned sideways to the streets, a tax of
$250,000 has been voted for to levee the bank of the river so
that there will be no danger of its over flowing
again, the weather is getting warm but there is a fine
breeze every day, it is astonishing what numbers of emigrants
are arriving with every boat. The latter part of last years
emigration across the plains who wintered at Salt Lake
are arriving now, also some of those who have left the
Missouri this year with pack mules have already got in,
being only 60 or 70 days on the road, a great number of those
who came this year will wish they never had left home as they
will be terribly disappointed, indeed several who have come
round the Cape have gone home before they were a month
here, gambling is carried on to great excess here,
many of the young men who have not been used to hard work
as soon as they come from the mines with a few hundred
dollars set up a Monte table & set to gambling, this class
of emigrants will undoubtedly be spoiled in California
for they are too idle to do any good, and men must
work here, if you hire a man to work it costs about $10,00
a day, as I will be here for some time to come I will
write very soon again. I will also write to E & R K [Swigh?]
of San Francisco to enquire them if there be any letters for
I hope those that I wrote arrived safe, my partner Griggs
just received an answer to the letter that he sent
in Nov; I should like to hear the Fresh news very much
I suppose very exagerated [exaggerated?] accounts reach you
of the scarity of Provisions, sickness &c, provisions are
still high but not scarce potatoes are yet worth 25 cts
[cents?] per lb.
I must now fill up the remainder of this page by assuring
you that I am well and brown as an Indian, and hope that
this will find all at home in same state, in regard to
health as also all other friends and acquaintences
[acquaintancees?], give my love to mother, Sisters & William

I remain Dear Father

Yr [Your?] affect [affectionate?] son John M [Malcolm?] Orr