The California Gold Rush
In Their Own Words and Images
Excerpts of a letter by Tallman H. Rolfe to Samuel Rolfe

September 12, 1855

   … Children are not numerous in California. The birth of a child is an inspiration for celebrating. I happened to pass through Rough and Ready late in '49 and experienced the excitement due to the arrival of a daughter at the home of Henry Sales, who was probably the most prosperous and popular resident of that lively district. The miners had come miles to get a peek at the baby and to contribute to the gifts of dust and nuggets. Strong men wept in memory of their home folk and the Indians who swarmed that section brought a unique supply of beads and feather ornaments. The Sales were very happy for the time and simultaneously with the birth of the child very rich ground was discovered on their claims by one of the company who saw gold shining in a pool as he stooped to get a drink of water. … He settled his wife and baby in a little house of bark and canvass at Marysville and expecting to be gone a year, reluctantly left them. That was the year of the flood in that section and when he returned there was no trace of the family or property … (his) claims were stampeded and all retaken. … A broken hearted man, but always hopeful of hearing of his family, he stayed in the locality.

Courtesy Searls Memorial Library

Tallman H. Rolfe arrived in California in 1847. During his early years in California he worked for the California Star, the first newspaper published in San Francisco (then known as “Yerba Buena”). In 1851 he joined his brother Ianthus at the new city of Nevada (Nevada City) and worked at the Nevada Journal. He became one of the prominent citizens in town. In 1854 Tallman and Ianthus purchased the Young America newspaper and changed the name to the Nevada Democrat.

The Land of Glittering Dreams
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