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Title Journal of adventures to California [manuscript]: 1849-1851
Author Mott-Smith, John (1824-1895)
Document Type Diary; Travel Journal
Description From the Newberry Library Catalogue: Holograph journal kept by John Mott-Smith, Mar. 6, 1849 - Feb. 4, 1850, and on his 26th and 28th birthdays (Nov. 13, 1849, and 1851), mainly describing his voyage to Chagres, trip across the Isthmus, Panama City, and gold mining at Mormon Island, Natoma, Calif. Travel entries, Mar. 6 - Mar 28, 1849, contain observations on the ocean voyage and ports of call (Havana, New Orleans, Mississippi River plantations); Isthmian scenery, foods, wildlife, and transport; and Panama City customs, dwellings, water supply, government, religious traditions, etc. Mining entries, Nov. 15, 1849 - Feb. 4, 1850, discuss mining and living conditions in the rainy season, merchants and prices, partners and neighbors (including George Payson), amounts earned per day, etc. Birthday entries review accomplishments and goals; the 1851 entry also notes Smith’s departure from the mines and arrival in Hawaii.
Names Payson, George (1824-1893)
Places Chagres, Panama City, Panama; Mormon Island, Natoma, San Francisco, California, New Orleans, Mississippi River, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Keywords frontier, pioneer, gold, gold rush, transportation, custom, culture, government, religion, migrant, travel, travelogue
Theme Observation, Representation and Cultural Encounters
Culture Area Caribbean, California, Southeast
Additional Information Albany, N.Y., dentist; California forty-niner; and Hawaiian dentist, businessman-planter, and government official. Seeing no prospects for wealth in his N.Y. dentistry practice, Smith (as he was then known) joined the Rensselaer County Exploring Company as one of twenty operators sailing to California in search of gold. On Mar. 8, 1849, he sailed for Chagres aboard the mail steamer "Falcon," journeyed across the Isthmus by boat and mule train to Panama City, and eventually sailed to San Francisco, probably arriving in August or September of 1849. Smith worked sixteen months in the gold fields (Mormon Island near Natoma, Calif., and Ford’s Bar in Eldorado County), quitting Dec. 25, 1850, with a $400 profit. In February, 1851, Smith sailed for Honolulu.
Library The Newberry Library
Copyright The Newberry Library
Collection The Edward E. Ayer Collection
Reference VAULT Ayer MS 3139
Catalogue Link The Newberry Library Catalogue