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Title: Impressions of California
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationchief mate of a ship
Sender Religionunknown
OriginSan Francisco, California, USA
Recipient Gendermale
SourceThe Belfast News-Letter, Friday, 15 February, 1850
ArchiveThe Central Library, Belfast
Doc. No.101204
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 11:01:01.
Word Count393
Transcript CALIFORNIA. - Extract of a letter, dated San Francisco,
30th November, from the chief mate of a ship to his
brother in Dublin:-
" We arrived here from St. Blas on
the 5th inst., and found about 300 vessels in port from
all parts of the new and old world. I went ashore in
the first boat with the captain. The houses are all
built of wood, without any regard to regularity, but
I understand a new code of rules is now under weigh
[way?] for the purpose of compelling them to build in
a more ship-shape manner, or Bristol fashion. As for
the boggy thoroughfares they dignify with the name of
streets, it is a physical impossibility to pass through
them - the mud on average is about three feet deep. I
missed my footing and became fixed in an infernal mud-
hole - vain were my efforts to extricate myself and my
shoes, and, after a long struggle, I was compelled to
leave them behind and return to the boat barefooted.
Gambling is carried on to a frightful extent, and land
sharks are abundant. Every tenth or eleventh house is
a gambling concern. An old friend of the captain's
came on board the other day, and stated that in four
months he had realized 9,000 dollars at the "diggings."
He dined on shore that evening, brought his gold with
him, got into a gambling house, and was cleared of
every ounce of it. The next morning he asked the captain
for money to buy a pickaxe and shovel to go back and
work as a labourer where he had a short time before
employed others to work for him. One fortunate scoundrel
a few days ago won 70,000 dollars by the turn of a card,
and 30,000 more by three cards. Provisions are an awful
price. Potatoes and onions are a dollar a pound - now
a large potato weighs a pound. What would one of our
countrymen think of paying four shillings for a potato?
Beef eighteen pence a pound. Butter five shillings a
pound, and everything else in proportion. Prices are
very fluctuating, and at present are very high.
Clothing is also extremely dear - a pair of boots will
cost twenty dollars, which I'd get at home for as many
shillings. Labourers ashore receive from five to six
dollars a day. Still it is a shocking place; I would
not for all the gold in the mines spend three years