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3 California Gold Rush Letters, Each with Great Postal Markings: “SAN FRANCISCO, Cal.”, SEP., OCT. & NOV. 1851 – “TELL THE MAJOR NOT TO COME DOWN YET. THE VIGILANCE COMMITTEE ARE STILL IN SESSION, AND THEY ARREST PEOPLE HERE UPON THEIR LOOKS.”

These 3 letters are written by John A. Snyder, who lived in Belleville, Illinois prior to leaving for California in 1849. Fred is writing his brother, John F. Snyder, who came to California in the early part of 1851. Following his adventures in California, John would get both a medical and law degree and serve in the 4th Missouri Cavalry, CSA when the war broke out. We don’t know too much about Fred other than he tried his hand at mining in 1850, found it to be too hard and ended up working in San Francisco… our letters pick up there.

• San Francisco, A. C. Sep. 28, 1851. Dear John: This morning I received your letter of the 25th and Tim’s of the 21st. There are no news here at all. Gov. Bigler Purdy and Marshall together with many other big Democrats are here receiving the congratulations of their friends in being elected. When Bigler came down, we gave him a glorious reception.

• We turned out in a procession with transparencies and bands of music and brought up the old man in a carriage drawn by four grey horses. We got even with the Whigs down here at last.

• The whole state ticket is elected by about 2,000 majority. Well, Lou Buyatte and Julie Rirard went home. I sent your daguerreotype, but Louis was afraid to take your box for fear of not being able to transport it across the isthmus. I shall send it to St. Louis by Adams & Co. Express. That is the shortest and safest mode of doing it.

• I suppose I get no more letters from home than you do. What I get I send to you invariably. The “Major Jacob R. Snyder” that was elected to the Senate is a banker of the firm of James King of Wm. & Co. in this city. He is a good Democrat, has been in the country for ten years and was originally from Pennsylvania. I think he is a distant relative of us.

• Capt. John H. Adams leaves this evening on the steamer Columbus for home. The Captain says he will immediately return with his family. By him I sent my daguerreotype to Mother. When I first seen it, it made me blush. I did not know I was half as good looking until I saw myself in a frame.

• TELL THE MAJOR NOT TO COME DOWN YET. THE VIGILANCE COMMITTEE ARE STILL IN SESSION, AND THEY ARREST PEOPLE HERE UPON THEIR LOOKS. He had better come down in January when the Legislature is in session at San Jose for I expect to be there then. Regards to the boys. This is a d – – n poor pen and worse paper. Your brother Fred A. Snyder

The letter is 2 pages written in nice dark ink. There is some staining and small hole from opening the wax seal. There is a nice mention of the political situation, “getting even with the Whigs” and the early use of daguerreotypes. Mention of the Steamer Columbus and the Vigilance Committee make this letter really special. Being a “folded letter” it has a beautiful cancelation with early Washington dark orange 3 cent stamp. It is addressed to “Dr. John F. Snyder Coloma, El Dorado, Co. A. C.”

• San Francisco A. C. Oct. 3, 1851. Dear John: The steamer North America arrived here yesterday in thirteen days from Panama. The news she brings is of an exciting nature.

• Gen. Lopez had been captured and serrated and nearly all his men taken prisoners. The steamer Falcon had been fired upon.

• Among the passengers I notice the arrival of Scipio Beard direct from St. Louis. He and his brother Vince left here on a sailing vessel last January. Went to Realejo across Central America; took the English steamer to Chapes and from thence to New Orleans and home.

• He says he saw William in Belleville, all well. Narcius Pensonean was about the same old thing. Dave Hopkins and family are there in Belleville. Dave has given up all his property to his securities and now a poor dishonest loafer. Dr. Illinskiff’s wife died in St. Louis on the morning of the 7th of August at her daughter’s residence. Scip is on his way to Nevada where his brother William is engaged in mining. Joe Piggott and Levi leave tomorrow for San Juan del Sur by the steamer & clipper Pence. I shall write home by them. No further news. All well. Regards to Tim and Major. Your brother Fred A. Snyder. Dr. J. F. Snyder

The letter is written on one side of legal size stationery. The reverse of the second sheet has a fine “OCT. 3 SAN FRANCISCO, Cal.” postmark and a “5”. It is addressed to Dr. John F. Snyder, Coloma, El Dorado, Co. A. C. Box 10. The mention of General Lopez is of course Santa Anna. Guess it took quite a while for the news to make it to California! Santa Anna served as President of Mexico 7 times between 1839 and 1855. This is the guy that staged a funeral for his amputated leg. Illinois soldiers captured his prosthetic cork leg as a battlefield trophy!

• San Francisco, A. C. Nov. 12th, 1851. John: Your letter of the 9th and Tim’s were received by me this morning. The only information that I can give you about the San Quick Islands would be of little use. The port of Honolulu in the Hawaiian Kingdom is distant from here about 2300 miles. The only way of access is by sailing vessels, who have no regular time of sailing. The cabin passage is about $40; no deck passengers taken and the time occupied in reaching there is about twenty days.

• Several hundred of our citizens have lately gone there to settle. It is said a filibuster expedition is getting up to displace King Kamehamaha. I will endeavor to get all information for you and forward it as soon as possible.

• Murray Morrison was married at Sacramento City day before yesterday by Rev. Mr. Ingoldberg. Jake is well and doing well. Inge Gelincks is here. That damn monomaniac.

• Shade is here with his dog – par mobile farm! Why didn’t you pitch him in some hole when he was up there to see you? I don’t see how the Mayor had the patience to stand him? They appear to be particular finds. Send me the old Belleville papers you received. Regards to the boys. Write. Your brother, Fred A. Snyder (To:) Dr. John F. Snyder

The letter is one page, in nice dark ink, written on legal size stationery. The address label is on the back of the second page and has a fine “NOV. 13, SAN FRANCISCO, Cal.” postmark. Like the previous letter it is addressed to Dr. J. F. Snyder in Coloma. Isn’t the mention of the settlers in Hawaii, and the displacing of King Kamehamaha interesting?

3 nice letters from Illinois men seeking riches in California.

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