The California Gold Rush
In Their Own Words and Images
Excerpts of a letter from Hiram Dwight Pierce to Jas Harlow

Washington flat 33 miles above Capt Cutlers on the Mersais
April 28th, 1850

Brother Harlow,

   I will scratch a few lines to let you know where I am. I received your letter at Mariposa & was glad to hear from you & grateful that you take so much interest in my welfare. I became satisfied that if I stayed at Mariposa I should either have to beg steal or starve & not liking either. I pulled up stakes & packed over on to the Mersais starting on the first day of April.
(Note: we assume the river refered to as Mersais is the Merced River).

Miners and equipment, 1850
Miners and Equipment, 1850
Courtesy The Bancroft Library

   On arriving at the river & getting over on this flat I found a house ready for me (which was an oak tree) I made it my home & boarded at that house & went at work until Messrs Ward & Thompson invited me into their tent as it began to rain soon & rained 2 days. … I worked with Mr. Ward & did not make out much. Week before last I dug $116 1/2 last Monday dug $23 1/2. I then took a tramp 30 miles down the river & was gone 4 days to prospect a hole with the view of a Sumers work being employed at an ounce a day until I returned so I made about 100. But the water is to high to do anything to advantage, but I think this is the River to work on when the water is down.

   My health is good, but my back is lame & I am very sore from my recent tramp. I have bought 1/2 of a tent & am now at home & I would like right well that you were here with me.

   Martin Depriest a clerk of Tator & Co. formerly is here. All others are strangers but mostly fine men no gambling but little drinking Sabbath breaking or swearing, & we have a very peaceable kind community at present. We have a meeting on the Sabbath. If I keep my health I expect to average my 2 ounces. I have got over that one day but we shall not have the best diggins until August or Sept. If you should come here in the Mountains bring the best pick & shovel that you can find. I would like to know whether you have become acquainted with the Rev. George W. Denhem. The last I heard of him he was in San Francisco. He is a Congregational Minister from New Bedford. Mr. Hunt the Cong. Minister in San Francisco can tell you about him.

   Mr. Denhem wants to go to Troy, & it is possible he may yet become our minister. I think him a very fine man & there is a man here Mr. Dean that was a member of his Church that says he was much liked. I wish you would enquire of Mr. Hunt for him & if not to late invite him for me to come up here & join me. There is a fine field here for his heart & hands. Remember me to Don Santeago (Mr. Taylor) & all others of our Co. & my acquaintance & please tell me where they are & what they are doing. I want to write to Mr. Comstock but feel restricted in material having left nearly everything in my chest which is yet on the plains I suppose. Please give my best respects to Messrs Comstock & Root & Jenkins all other I reckon I have seen something of the Elephant among the mountains & on my recent tramp. I stayed one night at Savages camp among his Indians. But I will not further tax your patience but will close hoping we may meet again to talk these things over under happyer (sic) circumstances that this Country can afford. I Subscribe myself your Brother.

Excerpts of a letter from Hiram Dwight Pierce to Jas Harlow.
Courtesy California State Library

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