1853: Achmet Benjamin Vincent to Mary Vincent

This letter appears to have been written by Achmet Benjamin Vincent (1808-Aft1867) to his wife, Mary Vincent. In the 1867 California census, Vincent is enumerated as a California farmer. Nothing more could be found on this family.

Early Sketch of Mokelume Hill

Early Sketch of Mokelumne Hill

“Mokelumne Hill was one of the richest gold mining towns in California. Founded in 1848 by a group of Oregonians, the placers were so rich that the miners risked starvation rather than head to Stockton to replenish their supplies (one finally did and made it rich by becoming a merchant). Soon after, gold was discovered in the nearby hills, so much so that miners were restricted to claims of 16 square feet (1.5 m2), and yet many of those claims were reported to have paid up to $20,000.

By 1850 the town was one of the largest in the area, with its population reaching as high as 15,000 with people of all nationalities: Americans, Frenchmen, Germans, Spaniards, Chileans, Mexicans, Chinese, and others. Besides racial tensions, the easy gold attracted criminal elements, and the town gained a reputation as one of the bawdiest in the area. Notorious bandit Joaquin Murietta is said to have been a frequent visitor to the gambling venues. Violence was a major problem as well. In 1851, there was at least one homicide a week for seventeen consecutive weeks. A “vigiliance committee” was formed and by 1852, the worst of the crime was eliminated. That year, the town became the county seat. By the 1860s the gold started to run out and the town’s population and importance diminished. When San Andreas became the new county seat in 1866, Mokelumne Hill’s status declined even further. The town today is a quiet place, with lots of tourism due to its historic status.” [Source: Wikipedia]

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mrs. Mary Vincent, San Francisco, Adams Express Office

Buckeye Precinct
4 January 1853

Expecting, my dearest Mary, that you will be in San Francisco by the middle or end of February, I have deposited at Adams & Co. Office, San Francisco $50 for you which will be handed to you forthwith on demand. I have requested them to advise you respecting a conveyance to Mokelumne Hill. The road via Stockton is now impassible — the plains being inundated by the late heavy rains altho’ ‘ere you arrive that route may be quite passible. If the badness of the roads should prevent you getting your luggage on with you, then get it stored either at Stockton or Sacramento as the route may be. I would not advise you to leave it at San Francisco. If you leave it at Stockton, enquire for Friend Hall, Edward Hall, Steam Washing Establishment of Davis & Hall. He will advise you and be glad to see you. Enquire at Adams’ & Co., Office. They will direct you to his location. I can give no directions respecting the Sacramento route. Neither will it be any benefit for me to come and meet you as I could neither control or expedite anyway.

If you leave orders to have your luggage forwarded, let it be directed to Cadwallader &c., Mokelumne Hill. On your arrival at the latter place, enquire for Madame LaFoy. Just tell her you are Mrs. Vincent and then if you don’t hear somebody talk, I’ll give up Mr. Fergusons at Adams Express Office will direct you to her location. If you can possibly bring your bed with you, do so. While at San Francisco, get a few garden seeds, summer savory, Thyme, parsley, and if you find any red currant slips in the market, get a few. They will not be cumbersome, altho’ expensive. Get for yourself and daughters a pair of boots each, or stout shoes as they are dear at this place, and Mary, if you have not one on hand, bring a church prayer book with you.

Courage, my Mary. Get through the mud with a good heart for on reaching the mountains, it will be clean walking and where, if the Father of Mercies grant, you will also meet your own, — Achmet

Mrs. Vincent will please open and read before leaving the office.


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