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Title: James Williamson, California, to Robert Williamson, Richhill
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileWilliamson, James/1
SenderWilliamson, James
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationgold miner
Sender Religionunknown
OriginCalifornia, USA
DestinationRichill, Co. Armagh, N.Ireland
RecipientWilliamson, Robert
Recipient Gendermale
SourceT 2680/2/6: Copied by Permission of W. P. Williamson, Esq., Ahorey House, Richhill, County Armagh. #TYPE EMG James Williamson, Boner [Boners?] Ravine, Auburn, California, U.S.A., to Robert Williamson, Richhill, County Armagh, [Ireland?], 2 January 1853.
ArchivePublic Record Office, Northern Ireland.
Doc. No.9007148
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
Log31:07:1990 S.C.#CREATE created 29:10:1990 CD input
Word Count1329
TranscriptTo:- Mr Rob[er?]t Williamson
Co[unty?] Armagh
From:- Boners Ravine January 2nd 1853

My Dear Robert
I received your letter
dated Oct[ober?] 5th on the 27th December was greatly grieved
to hear of Fathers death I am sure it was a
great blow to you all especially to Mother
so sudden & so expected tho[ugh?] we have every
hope that he has left this world for a better
It just seems to me although I am thousands
of Miles from you all that there is a void here
that never can be filled up & that I have lost my
best friend. I get a thinking sometimes that
if ever I should happen to go home that it
will not be a Fathers house I shall go to
but that dont trouble me any there will or
would be still a vacancy one that I can't
explain. I will now give an account of my
journey to Cal[ifornia?] In the first place W[illia?]m wrote
me a letter while I was in Belvidere wanting
to know if I would like to go to Cal[ifornia?] this was
about a year ago I answered his letter & told
him that I would for I thought I might as
well be there as where I was I at that time was
only getting $4.00 per month. Well it ran along
through to fall when I received a Check from
him for $300 to pay my passage to Cal[ifornia?] This
money I received on the 12 Sept[ember?] & I started
on the 16th for New York I reached there on the
22nd sailed the next day for Aspinwall Navy Bay
when I arrived after a nice voyage on the first October
we landed in the morning about 9 OClock & took the Cars
to barbacoes [Barbacoas?] 27 miles which cost $8,00 we then took
a small boat up Chagres river to Gorgona where
we arrived after dark we put up an awning & stopt [stopped?]
in the boat all night it is very warm there next day
we took our baggages to the Transportation office
where we paid 12 1/2 cents per lb to have it packed
to Panama on mules I had 27 lbs it is 27 miles
across from this place I & three more started on
foot & such a road I never see before nor since
very hilly Country & most all red clay & sticky
it makes hard travelling we arrived in Panama
about noon next day tired & worn out well we
got washed up & rested we then wanted to find
what time the Wenfield Scott steam vessel would sail we
heard from the agent of the Co[mpany?] that she would
not sail before the 15th there was another there
the Golden Gate she was to sail in a day or 2
well we had through tickets from New
York for which we paid $150.00 this was to
pay our passage from New York to San Francisco
the Agent said he would either pay our
board or refund us the balance of our passage
money we took our money & he took our tickets
as well we did not have any notion of going
of[f?] without our luggage & it had not come
in so we sent before the first steam vessell [vessel?] sailed
& bought our tickets for the Winfield Scott
for $62 1/2 we were 22 days on the Isthmus altogether
we sailed from Panama the 22 October & were 19
days to San Francisco we had head winds all the
voyage we arrived there the 10th Nov[ember?] [?] evening
we started for Sacramento on a small steam
boat and landed just about daylight it was
most all burned down then 2 weeks & groups of men were standing
around large fires because the[y?] had no place to go
I took a stage for Auburn I got there about noon
it is 35 miles from Sacramento to Auburn I commenced
to make enquiries for W[illia?]m I found he was about
16 miles from Auburn at a place called Paradise
I got there on the 12th W[illi?]m had been very sick
with dysentery but was getting better fast
Artimisea was in good health he is keeping
a store & boarding House & I believe is making
money fast I am now mining & making from
4 to 8 dollars per day we live in a log Cabin
10 f[ee?]t by 12 the roof is drilling drawn tight it keeps
out rain very well our door is made of 4 strips
of board covered with drilling and leather hinges.I cant tell you much about the appearance of the Country as I have not had time to
see much of it it is very hilly & woody
some of the trees are green the year round
& I have not worn any Clothes only shirt & pants
only when it rains. I think after I get
through here I will go at Something again
as I think I can get from $100 to 125
per month besides and will not be so apt to
be sick as when you are at work in the
water all the time I send you a specimen
of the Gold we dig some places the Gold
is coarse & some places very fine so that
you can hardly see a gra[i?]n of it. Now Ill [I'll?]
tell you how we spend our time we rise
about daylight one cooks breakfast they [the?] rest
go a diggin[g?] or cutting firewood there
are 4 of us in Co[mpany?] Geo[rge?] Sands Sam Sands & W B [Selbles?]
after breakfast we dig to noon eat our dinner
& dig to night we Clean our gold eat supper
put on a good fire & then we talk over
matters a little or else go a fiddling up have
no less than 3 fiddles when we get through
we go to bed The tools they have for saving gold
consist of a Tom Cradle & sluices The tom is about
12 f[ee?]t long 3 f[ee?]t wide at one end about 14 in[ches?] at the
other it is lined with sheet iron & about 4 f[ee?]t at
the widest End is punched full of 1/2 inch holes
attached to this is a rifle box the same width
as the big end of the tom the sides are about
4 1/2 high about 1 f[oo?]t from the end (it is open on
one end) is a strip nailed across it which
makes a riffle & the gold runs through this
tom falls into the riffle & Cant get any farther
we use about 8 inches of water to run a tom
first rate. The Cradle is about 4 feet long
with a screen box at one end in this you
Throw the dirt & keep a raking & pouring water
on the dirt to you wash 10 buckets then you Clean
up your gold wash more & so on the sluices are
made of 12 or 16 feet boards nailed together
& a piece of wood on 1 1/2 high put in the bottom
the sluices are sometimes attached to the tom
we dont use any tom we use sluices with blankets
tacked in the bottom the Gold is so fine that we
cannot save it any other way Now I want you
to write & give me all the news you can scrape
up. I am very much pleased with the Choice
you have made for a wife & I wish you every
happiness that this world can afford
W[illia?]m Thompson has gone to Australia I cant
tell what time I have heard that Tom McClure
arrived safe I would like to know how Hugh gets
along & all the rest of the family I will now
Conclude with kind love to you & all the rest
of the family & believe me to be your afft [affectionate?]
Brother Jim Williamson
and Excuse this scrawl as I had
a very bad pen
& no remedy