The California Gold Rush
In Their Own Words and Images
 
Letter from Dr. Wm. H. G. Henderson to his wife Weltha

Omega, California

Dec. 10th, 1859

   It is with sad feelings that I sit down to pen you a few lines. I am well at present. I hope these lines will find you and the children well and enough to eat, for I have seen a number of times that I could not get enough but at present we have plenty.

   I am in hopes that we shall make something between this and next spring and then we are going into the river Yuba. The water is so high that we cannot do anything on the river, not until the first of June. Lo and I have six claims here and 2 on the River. If I make enough to pay my way home next fall, you will see one fellow taking a bee line for his Wife and Children. For a man has got to be verry (sic) lucky or else he does not make much in this country. It is just like a lottery, if a man happens to be lucky and gets onto a first rate … he makes something, if not, he makes nothing but grub and water …

   Dear Weltha, I want you to write every Steamer if you can, for I am so lonesome I am sometimes almost sick, but I have got to stay here until next fall. We are going to use the hydraulic in our claims. …

   I cannot write any more news from here, only we have got our diggings just ready to go to work in them, and I am afraid that they will not pay verry well now that we have them ready to work, but we shall try them and if we cannot make them pay, we will go into the river in the spring and there I know we can make something.

   Now, you must write as soon as you get this … My love to you all … back next fall.


Your loving
Wm. G. Henderson

Excerpts of a letter by Dr. Wm. H. G. Henderson to his wife Weltha.

Dr. Henderson never made it back home to his family. He died in Omega, California on February 10, 1861.

Courtesy Searls Memorial Library.
Copyright Captain D.L. Brown. Used by permission.


Historic image of Malakoff Diggins by Carlton Watkins

Hydraulic Mining at Malakoff Diggings
by Carlton Watkins
Courtesy the Bancroft Library

In the 1880s Malakoff Diggins was the largest and richest hydraulic gold mine in the world.
Click here to see our Malakoff image.

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