Samuel V. Tripp
The 1851-54 State of Jefferson letters of Samuel Volturner Tripp.
Trinity River, Trinity Co., California., Sept. 6th 1851My dear and loved mother,
I now again take my pen to write a few lines to send to you for which privilege I feel thankful that I possess and may they find you enjoying good health, one of the blessings of life with which I am still favored. I wrote a letter for sister Sarah Ann about three weeks ago when I was in Sacramento City on my way to this place. I arrived here safe in a week after I left the city and found everything in a favorable and flourishing condition and am quite delighted that we have so pleasant a little place. I will first give you a description of the Sacramento Valley of which there is so much talk and then a sort of description of the situation of our little farm or garden. We crossed the Sacramento River at the city in a steam ferry boat and came up on this side (west). The valley is very extensive and beautiful it is partly prairie and part of it is covered with timber of oak. The timber along the river is cottonwood and sycamore. The weather when we came up was very hot and the water in the wells along the road was very bad, so much so that it came very near making me sick, and many of the travelers are made sick by it. The water has alkali in it like that in the Humboldt. The river water is tolerable good. The valley is very handsomely situated for farming if water could be had to irrigate with but it cannot be had. The road is level for nearly the distance of 200 miles and then we turned to the left in the mountains and then came over the ridge between the Sacramento and Trinity valleys and they are so rough that wagons cannot be used, but we have our provisions to pack over mountains for about 50 miles on mules and horses. Our garden is on a small creek called Weaver Creek near where it empties into the Trinity River. It is a very good situation for a garden in the midst of a good mining district and only seven miles from the county seat where quite a town has been started and around it is very good mining. Our place is the only good one for our purpose that is in the neighborhood and vegetables sell very readily at high prices. We are surrounded on all sides by high mountains and a large and rapid stream rushes along close by yet it is a very pleasant place to me, but if you and my brothers and sister and friends were here it would seem doubly so, but I suppose that will not be possible. You may perhaps think I will or have forgotten my mother and those once dear to me and neglect my duty towards you for the flattering idea of gaining gold, but you may rest assured that my love has not been lessened by so long a separation or that I think of staying another year, but I think my reasons for my future calculations and do not censure me for so doing. I would be very glad to see you and all my friends but I wish to stay next year and work our small place and raise vegetables for the miners and people around. The chance for the next year is a good one I think and can accommodate enough if I stay here to set me out well in Ohio if I have good luck. I will not make a great deal this year as I shall give half my earnings to Levi Lamson on the 2nd day of Oct. We live in a tent now but will soon put up a log cabin for the winter. We have plenty of excellent pine timber to build with. It has rained considerable here during the past week but today the weather is very pleasant and seems like spring. We have two hired men working for us but we will soon discharge one and keep the other all winter perhaps. One of them we pay [illegible] dollars per day and the other 80 dollars per month. Our way of marketing produce is quite a novel one to those who are not used to high mountains. We have large bags made for the purpose to fasten to a pack saddles one on each side of a mule or horse that hold about 125 pounds each and fill them and make the animal carry them around to the miners up and down the river and to Weaverville. Potatoes, carrots and cabbage sell for 25 cents per pound and turnips 12½. We have two animals, a pony and a mule. We load them up and drive them before us and take our gold scales to weigh gold with. Every kind of provisions sell by the pound here and as long as that is the case business will be good.
I have not received any letter from you lately but am expecting one soon and from Levi's folks. I received one from Sarah Ann just before I came up here and sent an answer back. I have not had any from brother Wm. lately but hope he will send one soon, but I do not mean to wait for one before I write. Sister wrote to me that she thought that Washington she thought ought to be put out with some good folks. If my advice were asked I think that I should advise you to put him under the care and charge of some good family providing it corresponds with your wishes and you can find a suitable place for him where he will be kindly used, sent regularly to school and withal well brought up. I do not know who you can get to take him. But if you intend to let him go I think that you would do well [illegible] if Mr. B[illegible] will take him. He lives near Mr. Harris Hawkins on Sycamore. He is the only one that I know of who would be likely to do well by or take him; perhaps they will not want him. If they will take him and raise him he would have an excellent home. If they will take him till I come home they shall be well paid. Perhaps some of your friends down to St. Albans would like to have him. I have not much more time to write now as I must make up some bread and get supper. I wish you would write oftener and if you cannot write get Sarah Ann to write for you. If you want any money I will send you some this fall by my partner or a draft by letter as he intends to go home to Illinois this fall or winter. Give my love to Sister and brother Washington and William and Joseph Hawkins. Tell Joseph I wish that he and Sarah Ann were here.
I [illegible] please give my respects to all my acquaintances and also to those where you are.
May this reach you in good time and find you enjoying the blessings of this life and may the time be hastened that we may may meet again is the wish of your dutiful and affectionate son.
Samuel V. TrippP.S. Direct your letters to Weaverville P.O., Trinity Co., California.
Trinity Co., California, Oct. 23rd 1851.My dear and beloved mother.
I again take my pen to write to you again and can again inform you that I am blessed with good health and business prospering and if I could know that you are well and comfortable it seems to me that I could be quite contented, which I hope is the case, but it is useless to borrow trouble for God is our protector here as well and will devise His own plans and we cannot nor need we change them. I have written to you several letters since I got one from you in fact. I have only received one from you and only one from Sarah Ann. I can assure you and Sister that I am very lonesome here in the mountains without hearing from home or friends oftener than once in two months and cannot imagine why I do not unless they do not write. I could very gladly receive as many as one every week if they could be sent. I suppose you would be glad to see me in Ohio again and I indeed would be very happy to see you all again but I think I cannot return as soon perhaps as you would be glad to have me for I came here after gold and I want to stay till I get it so that my expedition may be a profitable one. The idea that many persons entertained of picking up the gold without any labor and I think many of them have by this time found out their mistake. It is about as easy to get as I supposed when I started in pursuit of it from the accounts that I had and am not disappointed nor sorry that I came but it will take me I suppose upwards of a year yet to accumulate the amount that I wish to carry back to Ohio and that is no great pile. But Mother do not think that I have forgotten you or that I do not consider that I am indebted to a parent for I still think of you as a dear mother and my heart is often filled with the pleasing anticipation of once more embracing my mother, brother and fond sister but it would not be prudent for me to give up a good business and drop everything and go without money enough to start me in the world upon my own responsibility when by staying a year can gain more here than I can at hard labor in ten years in Ohio. I regret that my good partner Mr. Lathrop is going to leave me in a few days to go home to see his family but intends to return in the spring. I think he will go to Ohio to see you for me and take you some money with this letter and he can tell you how we are situated for I have not time. I intend to keep open two stores this winter, one at home here and one at Weaverville about 6 miles from here. I just received a letter yesterday from my friend George Beardsley. I have plenty to eat, drink and wear and [a] great deal work to do. I suppose you would like to have some money to defray your expenses along and I will send 50 dollars to you by my partner Mr. Lathrop. I cannot well spare any more at present but if you want more let me know. Send Washington steadily to school and take good care of your health. You need not work hard for I can support you hereafter. It is getting late and I must close and bid you adieu for the present and request that you write soon and I wish Sarah Ann would write oftener. I am sure she has more time to write than I have. My love to you all. From your affectionate son,
Samuel V. Tripp.
Nov. 16 1851.Sister Sarah.
It is not an unpleasing task for me to sit down at the table or desk to pen a few thoughts to a sister or friend when so far from each other as it is the only method by which we can communicate to each other the train of thought while contemplating the ties of relationship existing between brother and sister but time nor distance can never efface from my memory the affection or debt of love I owe to Sister, brother or mother. I received a letter from you about two weeks ago which was dated 7th Nov. and one from Mother written about the same time and they brought joy and sorrow both to me. You may imagine to yourself how glad I was to get news from you after I had been here in the mountains some two months and upwards without receiving any communication from Milford, but you perhaps do not consider when you write for me to return so soon that it imparts sorrow to my heart as your request was. I hope the Lord will send you home this winter. I regret that He cannot, or more properly speaking, that He will not as I am so situated that it would be very imprudent for me to leave my effects here to go back to Ohio where I should be obliged to labor hard for about 10 years to get the start that by remaining here I can get in one with ordinary success.
Mother stated that she wished me to return soon and take care of her. I would be very glad to comply to her wishes and add to her comforts but if I were to return now I fear that my assistance would be but little, but by staying here I can help her more also be of more benefit to myself; true perhaps my presence and society would tend to render her more happy but not enough I think to compensate for the sacrifice I should make in going now. She has the company of yourself, brothers William & Washington; it seems you might all contribute to make her time pleasant during a year more. A year is not a great while with me. It seems to me but a short time since I left my home and friends to try for a fortune in this far West and it appears like foolishness for me to go back so soon nearly as poor as I came after enduring what I [did] to get here and working very hard to obtain a suitable situation for a future year and the only chance for me to go home sooner is that if my partner (who has gone home about three weeks ago) should come back in the spring and buy my interest in the place and other property I might perhaps go home next spring. But enough of this.
My partner having gone home I have the business to attend to with the help of two and three hired men. We have hired two men for a year. Henry Larrabee is here working for me now. Two of our best mules and a horse belong to Henry Larrabee were stolen from our garden one night last by white men. They thought to deceive me by taking off their boots there by imitating Indian tracks but we know the difference between an Indian's and a white man's track. We at first thought the thieves were Indian and Henry and I armed ourselves with each a gun revolver and knife with provisions enough for two or three days but after being satisfied that they were whites we abandoned pursuit. The two mules cost us 150 dollars but I had rather lost 200 dollars' worth of gold dust. We lost one some time ago that I paid 80 dollars for. It fell down the mountain and was killed. The weather is now rainy. We have had considerable frost this fall but no disagreeable weather such as in Ohio at this time of the year.
When it rains here in this valley it snows on the highest mountains around and when it clears off after a storm they appear like a white mass of snow. I keep a provision store here and expect to open another at a small town about 6 miles north of here called Weaverville. I suppose you know before this time where I am but perhaps I might refresh your memory with giving my place of residence. I live on Trinity River 245 miles N.W. of Sacramento City. Trinity Co. and Weaverville is the county seat. We bring our goods on pack mules over the mountains from Shasta. From there to Sacramento is a good wagon road. I have now not time nor room to give you a description of the country here and of the Sacramento Valley &c. but will endeavor to in my next. My partner intends to visit you at my request. We have a good pine log cabin here and one up at Weaverville. We also have an old Spanish cow that affords us plenty good milk. In short we live well and enjoy good health and all that we lack to make us happy is goodness and good society. I heard not long ago from my friends George and Robert. They were well. I got a letter from George Beardsley a couple weeks ago written the 4th of July last; it is the latest one from that neighborhood.
We sell potatoes for 25 cts. per pound, cabbage the same, turnips @ 2½, carrots 20, sauerkraut 30, flour 25, pork 35, ham 45, sugar 25, Chile peaches 60, butter 85, dried apples 30, corn meal 25, soap 40. Clothing is nearly as cheap here as in Ohio. I pay 5 and 6 dollars for work hands.
I believe I have written to you all I have at present to communicate and I will bring this to a close and prepare to get supper wishing that I could partake of the same with you at home but perhaps that wish will not soon be gratified.
With this I send my love to you, Joseph, your husband, brothers, Mother and all inquiring friends and those who were so kind to send their respects and good wishes to me and tell them that a kind word is never unheeded by a true-hearted friend.
But farewell and may we still be blessed by that Being who is ever desirous of promoting happiness to those who heed His call and obey and hasten the time that we meet again is the wish and prayer of your affectionate brother--
Samuel V. Tripp.Mrs. Sarah A. Hawkins
P.S. Direct your future letters to Weaverville, Trinity Co., Upper Cal.
Trinity Garden Cal. April 18th/'52.Dear Mother.
I am happy again of having the privilege of penning to you a few lines that you may know that I am yet spared life and comfortable health, for which blessings I feel thankful to Him from whom all blessings flow. When I wrote you last the 26th of March I was quite unwell. I had an intermittent fever for nearly two weeks but by my own doctoring I broke it and am now well as usual.
I have not received any communications from the east lately. I am anxiously expecting at the arrival of every mail. I am very busy with cares of business and do not get time to write as often as last winter. The spring is very pleasant and all things have assumed their former beauty and loveliness. The weather is warm during the day and cool in the evening but we have had no frost lately.
The garden begins to look green again. Our oats grow very finely. George Smith is working here packing from Shasta with the mules. I have now nine pack mules.
The Indians have not given me any trouble lately but they continue to commit their depredations. Last week a man went out from Weaverville after a few fat cattle about 8 miles from town and the Indians attacked him as is supposed and killed him and his two dogs and drove away the cattle, six in number. Search has been made for the man but no trace of [him] can be found except a part of his clothing and papers. The Indians commit many depredations but they have just cause to take revenge upon the unmerciful whites and as they cannot get redress for the wrongs done them in a civilized way I cannot blame them for taking their own way for it. They are driven in a in a measure to a state of starvation by the whites occupying their hunting and fishing grounds and they must steal their food. They have killed several men this spring and stolen many animals. We begin to have fresh fish here. A man brought me one today of the salmon trout kind which weighed 4 pounds. They are excellent. I shall go to Sacramento this spring for some merchandise for the store. I do not know yet whether Mr. Lathrop will come but expect him. The emigration to this country this season is very great by water and by accounts will be [greater?] by way of the plains. I will be very glad if Mr. Lathrop and his wife comes that we may have a lady cook, for we have become tired of the business of housekeeping in bachelor style but we may have to endure it nearly a year yet. I should like to hear from home oftener if it can be. I wish you to urge sister Sarah and brother William to write oftener. I suppose it is difficult for you to write but you can get them to write for you. I shall not be able to write as often myself this summer being too much engaged. When you write again if you have any news from the people at St. Albans I wish you to insert them as I should like to hear from the friends there. It is getting late and I must close. I wish you to have procured for Washington such books as are necessary as he improves and it is best always to pay for his books and schooling as you get them and as the bills are called for. For which purposes it is best to retain enough of the money that I have sent to you but no more.
My love to brothers William and Washington and sister Sarah Ann. I remain as ever your affectionate son,
Samuel V. TrippMrs. Nancy Kersey
Trinity Garden, Cal. May 25th 1852Dear sister.
Your kind letter of March 7th came to hand last Sunday and [it pleased] me very much to learn that you are yet spared and enjoying the blessings of health and prosperity. You will naturally wish to know if I am well. I cannot say that I am perfectly healthy but am not very ill. I have been troubled lately with a severe cold which I have taken by exposure and it has affected my lungs some but it is getting better and I think I shall soon be as well as usual. I had just arrived from Sacramento when I found your letter and with it also came one from brother William. I am very glad to hear from you at all times, as often [as] you can get time to write.
My partner returned three weeks ago with his wife which renders it more pleasant to us having a lady cook in the house as our bachelorship was getting rather tiresome. We are all very busy planting and irrigating, building, &c. We are building a sawmill on Weaver Creek about three miles up and will have it in operation perhaps in two weeks. Mr. Lathrop's brother is engaged with us in the mill. We have plenty of good pine timber to saw that will last a good while. Our sales for lumber will not be very great perhaps but if we had had it in operation three months ago [we] would have made a nice speculation of it as the town of Weaverville has been built up a great deal in that time and the lumber has been sawed by hand with whipsaws.
The cost of a mill here is no small sum of money but I think we can make something of it in the course of a year. Our crops of vegetables look tolerable well. We have as yet nothing large enough to harvest except radishes, lettuce, turnips and the like. They are plenty and we will have potatoes plenty till new ones grow. We are not done planting potatoes yet.
The weather is very warm of late and [we] are obliged to irrigate our crops. You mentioned that you wished to know of Mr. Finney. I cannot give any information respecting him whatever, not having heard of him since the fall I arrived in the country. I do not know of the whereabouts of any of the Ohio emigrants except George & Robert. George is working for us. Robert was in the southern mines the last time [I] heard of him. I do not know where Sherwood is except that he started for Oregon last summer.
Wednesday June 2nd
I again attempt to write a few lines it being the first opportunity offered since the day I commenced this communication having so much work on hand to do and work to plan for six hired men. We are through with our potato planting and are now setting out cabbage plants and will probably set out 15,000 this year. We will have new potatoes in four weeks or sooner and have them now as large as quail's eggs. The spring season of this part of Cal. Is now in its prime. Vegetation of all kinds are green and beautiful but in the Sacramento Valley it is different. Grass there is beginning to dry up in the scorching rays of the sun. When I was in the city vegetables of most all kinds were very plenty as they are during the whole year. I lived principally on salmon and oranges, of which I am a great lover. The difference of season between this place and Sacramento City is about from six to eight weeks. Here it is colder. The weather here is the most pleasant in the summer. Our nights are comfortably cool, never too warm to be uncomfortable at night. In this country we do not plaster our houses to prevent the cold but simply a board shanty or tent is warm enough. You must not be surprised nor offended if I should desire to return to California after I go home and pay you a visit although I may not yet. I somewhat fear I shall but we will not borrow any trouble about that. My partner will probably stay till a year from next spring. I expect to hear from the P.O. soon and as I will have no opportunity to mail this till next week I will close for the present and commence one for brother William.
Friday June 4th.
The mail came but no letter for me. Mr. Lathrop got one from his former home. My illness does not seem to leave me. Yesterday I was confined to the house in the afternoon with fever. I have got [rid] of my cold but a kind of dumb ague seems to linger about my system attacking me every third day but I work during the two days that intervene. We have had good deal [of] trouble this week with the miners that are working near our sawmill on account of their ugliness. They want us to pay damages for backing water on their claims after giving us permission to build our dam upon certain provisions which we have done as agreed. I hardly know how it will turn out, whether they will drive us off or not, yet they have no just claims upon us for damages but they are the strongest party and will rule.
My paper is quite used up consequently I must close and subscribe myself your affectionate brother [illegible]. My love and respects to relatives & friends.
Samuel V. Tripp
Trinity Garden, Cal. June 27th/52Dear Mother. I last week received your letter of date of 28th Apr. and never is a son more glad than I to get news from a parent, especially to learn that you are well, for health indeed is a very great blessing. I for one have found it so in this country. Had it been otherwise my stay here would [be] a source of perplexity and disappointments, perhaps for life.
I have not time to write a great [omission] this being very busy, too much so to write long letters and will probably be so till I go home. I hardly get time to think how long it will be till I get started for my native home. However I am not getting negligent nor forgetful of my mother nor my friends yet when a person is engaged in cares and, I might add, the perplexities of business, he does not have the same thoughts that he does when only engaged with the work of his own hands and of only present occupation. I can hardly realize that only two years ago, or a little more, I was living with my friends with society suitable to render one happy if taught how to enjoy it. But it is bedtime, good night.
Tues. 29th. I steal a few minutes today to write. When I left off the other evening I was thinking how fast time with me had fled and I presume it will not seem long till next spring and I have some fears that it will really be too short for me to be ready to go home at least until late in the spring as we shall have considerable to dispose of next winter and vegetables cannot well be sold at wholesale so we shall be obliged [to] retail nearly everything and that will take some time. We have a sawmill now in operation. Mr. Lathrop and his lady are there attending to that business. I stay here most of the time. My health has been very good since I last wrote to you. The general health in the country is good here especially in this part of the mines. The weather has been quite warm of late. We have been cutting hay and will soon cut our oats. We shall shut up our provision store for a couple or three months till our vegetables are ready to market more extensively. Our potatoes are nearly large enough to eat. We had a mess of green cucumbers last Sunday morning, the first that have been raised her in the mountains. But I have nothing more in particular to write this time. Mother, you will excuse my short letter for I really have not time to write much.
My love to you and brothers William and Washington and sister. Respects to friends. As ever your affectionate son,
S. V. Tripp
Trinity Garden, July 18th 1852Mother, I again attempt to pen a few lines that you may know of your boy. I am well but have changed my situation and business materially since I last wrote. I have sold my interest in our farm and sawmill to my partner Mr. Lathrop. I have taken a job of packing hay about 25 miles which will employ me for the time of three months or upwards. I expect I shall pack 60 tons. After that is done and I have good luck I shall not enter into any other speculation of consequence but will close up for the spring to go home, if home I have, as I have more now but am just as well off without as long as I have something to do. I feel just as well when packing in the mountains if there is nothing to engage my attention as I do when busy at the garden or trading, and I have been so long cooped up as it were with the cares of busy life it seems more comfortable to be more by myself. George Smith will be with me. We will pack I suppose 16 mules. We have 10 besides, each one to ride and will buy 6 more and hire another man.
I have not received any letters very lately from anybody. My last was from Alfred I believe. I am glad you received the money I sent you as I suppose you need it. But do not be too fearful in making use of it if you need it. Tell brother William and Sarah Ann I would be glad if they will write to our friends in [New] York state for me. I have neglected to write to them, having had but little time, and will probably not have an opportunity while here. I think of going to see them after I get home.
I have but little to communicate today. My love to you, Mother, sister and brothers.
Respects to all the friends who inquire.
This from your affectionate son,
Trinity Garden, July 22nd 1852.Dear sister
I this morning rec. your letter dated 30th May and need I tell you that a communication from a loved and only sister is always welcomed with gladness as it renews afresh the memory of loved companions of childhood and that however distant from the scene of those days, a brother's name is remembered by a deserving sister. I am glad that you were well. I cannot say that I am. Yesterday I was afflicted for the third time with remittent fever (or dumb ague). It was quite severe yesterday but I feel quite well today. It may surprise you some when I tell you that I have sold out my interest in the farm and sawmill and have no more a home of my own. I have just closed the bargain with Mr. Lathrop for farm [and] sawmill, crops and all except the oat crop, my part of which I have since sold except about one ton for my own use. I have the pack train. But having sold out I am not out of business. I have engagements for packing about 50 tons of baled hay 25 miles to Weaverville at a fair price. I shall pack I think 18 mules.
It will afford me business till the first of November. By this you might look for me soon but don't look for me till you see me coming, as I know not when I shall be able to start but am satisfied that I cannot start till spring. If packing is a good business I will want to continue all winter at it. You again requested to know of Mr. Finney. I am sorry I cannot give any information as I presume Mrs. Finney is very anxious to hear of him. I know of no way to find or hear of him, being here alone as it were having no acquaintances that know him. I will write some letters to him if I can learn his given name. There may be a chance of learning of his whereabouts if he is living by writing to some of the mining villages and also to Sacramento. If I hear of him I will write immediately. Well you have quite a family, a daughter and a son. I suppose you feel pretty proud over it. It is well I think. But sister you are a mother; look well to your family. Train up your children in the way they should go and you can rest assured that when they get old they will not deviate from the path of the truth and virtue if taught them in childhood. The duty of a mother is not a small task but she is responsible for the character of her children and their conduct in life I might say. I have heard some comments made upon the command given in the bible. "Train up your children in the way they should go and when they get old they will not depart from it." Some say that it cannot be. That parents may do as well by their children as they may, it will not govern them in after life. But I think if there are exceptions that they are few. But you may think I am taking rather too much liberty in giving advice, inexperienced as I am, but I am a brother and the prosperity of a sister is happiness to me.
It is said the health in Sacramento Valley is very poor. A great many have fevers at this season of the year. The mountains are [by] far the healthiest part of California. The garden here looks very well and promises a good crop. We have had potatoes for two weeks. Vegetables are being marketed plentifully now.
We shall be obliged to cook our own victuals while packing. Will have two stopping places and provisions at each but I must take some medicines and will close this.
As ever your loving brother
Samuel V. TrippLove to you and Joseph and all inquiring friends. Write soon.
S.V.T.Mrs. Sarah A. Hawkins
South Fork of Trinity River 22nd Aug./52Dear Mother.
I last week rec. your letter of June 20th and was glad to hear from you also that you were well. I also cannot complain of my own health. How thankful we should be for these and other great blessings conferred upon us up to the present time. It seems that you misunderstood my letter stating that I was sick or rather that you understood that I was very sick. It is true I had the fever and ague a short time but not to confine me to the house except the day upon which it came on. I have felt symptoms of ague slightly for some time but keep to my work which is very hard. I am packing hay from this place to Weaverville. The distance is 25 miles. A part of the road is rough and mountainous. I am very busy, so much so that I get but little time to write. I shall continue to pack till the rainy season sets in. I do not know certain what I shall follow this winter. You must not look for me very early in the winter as I do not think it prudent to go back so suddenly into cold weather. I will go as soon as I can. Sunday Aug. 29th. I again attempt to finish my communication. I hope you will not think me neglectful in not writing this sooner but my business is such that I cannot get time to write except Sundays and then sometimes but little. I last mail received a letter from my friend Robert Pitkin. He is well, working on the American River. George Smith is well, working with me. I have with me a young man from Iowa City and a Mexican. We have fine times eating watermelons when we go to the garden. We stop there once a week. If you go to St. Albans before I get back, remember me to the friends there for their very kind wishes and advice. Mr. and Mrs. Lathrop are well and doing a large business in the vegetable trade this fall. Their crops are good and prices are good. But I will close this to you and write some for brother William. Ever your affectionate son,
Samuel V. Tripp
I have a few words for you. I thank you for those few lines you sent me assuring me that I have a brother who occasionally thinks of me in my lonely situation. I hope you are a good boy striving to qualify yourself for manhood by improving the mind by gaining those good qualities so requisite to render one's existence a happy one. I am sorry that your country is so dry that your potatoes cannot grow well, as I fear you will be behind in the potato crop. Although I have none now yet I expect to boast some on those I planted as I intended to compete with you this season. Notwithstanding we have not had even a shower this summer sufficient to lay the dust, the potatoes at the garden are very nice, better than any I ever saw in Ohio. Mr. Lathrop has dug and sold one acre already. I think if some of the farmers of the East could irrigate their crops in dry seasons that they would do better. Potatoes sell this fall for from 20 to 25 cts. per lb., cabbage 25 and melons 10 to 15 cts. per pound and other things accordingly. Flour is now high and almost all articles of merchandise is from 15 to 30 percent higher than a year ago. This place is 25 miles southwest from Weaverville. The valley here is quite extensive for the mountains. Large enough to maintain quite a settlement. But few have settled here yet. The claim upon which the hay was cut that we are packing is a very good one and if I were to stay in California I should try to purchase it as it is the finest place I have seen in Cal. for some kinds of business, those of farming, dairy and ranching stock. Here are so few valleys that are rich in soil that those which are are very valuable. The Indians are getting quite friendly here. Well, I have not time to write more so I will close. Hope you will write soon and often. Respects to all inquiring friends. Yours affectionately,
Samuel V. Tripp
Trinity Garden, Cal. 12th Oct. /52Dear sister
I have not heard from you in some time by a letter from you but you perhaps would like to again hear from your truant brother and that I am enjoying very good health but am going a little farther from home (if home I have). I am calculating to start for the said-to-be-beautiful country of Oregon next Thursday. It is rather a sudden notion I have taken but I have wished to go before I go back to the States to see the country. I expect to be gone from six to eight weeks just as I can. I am going to buy hogs providing I can buy to make it pay and if not, I will probably buy cattle. If I buy hogs I shall ship them to Humboldt Bay or to San Francisco and if I purchase cattle I will bring them down by land and will probably not get back so soon as to come back by water. I shall ride a mule up by land and it probably [will] take me 14 days to go as far as the Columbia River where I ship. It will, I think, be a source of amusement to me to come down the sea coast with the bright waves playing around and the strange but once-familiar sound of squealing and grunting pigs. I suppose that Mother will think I am foolish to go to Oregon instead of going home but I cannot go home till next spring unless I come back again and I can go to Oregon and come back before I can start.
I am not done packing hay yet but will be done in about a month.
You will hear from me after I get up into the country before I start back. We have had no rain yet. The weather is cool in the morning and frost. I have not received many letters lately. Mother's letters come often and regularly. Have none lately from Levi's folks, nor from anybody else. I shall be deprived of my letters while I am gone. I have no more I believe to communicate so farewell till I write again.
Respects to brother Joseph and all the rest.
This from your ever affectionate brother,
S. V. Tripp
Mrs. Sarah A. Hawkins.
P.S. I have living with [me] a pretty Indian boy about 14 years old and smart fellow too.
Weaverville Thursday Oct. 14thI today rec. a letter from you mailed Aug. 26th and was glad to hear from you again. I am now on my way to Oregon, will start from this place after dinner. Write often and don't let Mother worry too much about me. My love to you and all.
Affectionately yours in haste,
S. V. Tripp
Trinity Garden, Cal. Nov. 15th /52Dear Mother.
I am again favored with an opportunity of writing and I gladly make improvement of the same and I suppose you will be glad also to hear from your boy after getting back from Oregon Territory, where I went a month ago from here and I have to thank kind Providence for my safety since my departure and return through a wild and mountainous country but I have not since my arrival received any news from Ohio. Sister wrote that you were not well. I hope you are now enjoying your health again. My health since I went away has been very good. I got wet riding in the rain which gave me a slight rheumatism but I think it will not be much.
I took rather a sudden notion to go to Oregon and in order to go with good company I did not take time to write except to Sister the day I left, when I wrote to her that I should buy hogs and ship them to San Francisco and then drive them up here this winter but I purchased them by going a less distance than I expected and drove them a part of the way and came on alone to see if they could be got over the mountains as these [are] high mountains to cross from Oregon here by land. By driving them by land I can do it cheaper than shipping them even if I am obliged to wait until the opening of spring to melt the snow from the mountains. I think that I cannot drive them down this winter as it has now set into raining and the streams are high and high mountains covered with snow. And I will either drive them down here to sell or sell them where they are (the latter plan I think I shall adopt). I am obliged to go back as soon as I can well get over the mountains to take care of my hogs till spring. They are 250 miles from here in the lower part of Oregon in a valley called Rogue River Valley and a very pretty valley too. I bought in partnership with another person of my acquaintance with whom I left the drove. Everything goes on here about as usual. William Smith and Robert Pitkin are boarding here at Mr. Lathrop's. George Smith is at South Fork, the place from which we have been packing hay all the fall. The hay is all packed but about two tons. I came near having bad luck since I left by the Indians stealing my mules from South Fork. The Indians stole nearly all my mules and some others, but I suppose that they were so closely pursued by Robert and William and some others that the mules got away from them and came back, not, however, till they killed 2 or 3 and ate a part of one up. After they came back one of my best ones with several others were missing and have not been found from last accounts from there. The thieving was not done by those who made peace this fall. Provisions are getting very scarce in the mines and markets. Flour is worth 50 cts. per lb. and scarce at that. I do not like the country of Oregon well enough to live there. My time for writing is short and I must close with my wishes for your health and comfort. Give my love to all. As ever your affectionate son,
S. V. TrippMrs. Nancy Kersey.
Tehama, Sacramento Valley Jan. 1st/853Dearest Sister
A happy New Year to you. I am idle and I think by writing you a few lines I will make as good use of the time as at anything else as I cannot see you to converse with you perhaps it will be some satisfaction to you as well as to me to converse with pen and paper, however limited for communicating our thoughts as I would wish, yet when there is no better alternative we should be satisfied.
How swiftly time flies away. It only seems like a short time since I was in the school room teaching the little ones but upon counting the years I can enumerate three years and they spent alone as it were away from friends and home without seeing either mother, sister or brother. But I have borne it all well so far nor am I yet at all discouraged. I should be glad to see you all today and help eat the good apple mince pies &c. but here I am on the bank of the Sacramento River in a house crowded with travelers, and the waters of the river overflowing its banks in many places and in fact it runs around on the low ground from the river so that we cannot get out to see to our mules without taking [a] skiff. This is the third rise in the river the present winter. We have had a much more severe winter than has been known since white men inhabited this country. We have been packing provisions into Shasta but the road is so bad now that we cannot well go up. Wagons can't go to Shasta anymore this winter it being so muddy. We lost two mules in coming from Shasta this week by cold wet weather. We will not be able to go to Scott Valley and Oregon till the snow melts in the spring. The steam boats run up here from San Francisco and also sometimes go up 20 miles above this place. This point is 120 miles above Sacramento City. The weather has been rainy more or less for the last five weeks. In the mountains it has been snowing and even as far as this place snow fell one day which is a very rare thing in the valley. I have been at work in all the rain but have had very good health. I provided myself with an India rubber coat reaching to my knees with a pair [of] boots of the same kind, waterproof, reaching as far as possible so that I can travel in the rain and wade in the water comfortably. I was inoculated for the prevention of the smallpox this week as the disease is along the way from Shasta to the city below. This is the hardest winter that has been known in Cal. A great many miners are leaving the mines on acct. of a scarcity of provisions and high prices. At Weaverville I suppose the snow is three feet in depth. On the mountains between Shasta and Weaver[ville] snow was five or six feet deep the last I heard from there. Flour was worth 1.25 cts. per lb. in Shasta, 50 cts. here 40 cts. and in Sacramento 24 cts. and other things in proportion. The markets in Cal., San Francisco and Sacramento are more advanced than at any previous period since the mines were discovered. I hope that times will be better in the spring. The people of Cal. cannot make much this winter if it continues as it has been. We have not been making anything on account of wet weather but perhaps we can do something in the spring to advantage and not go home quite [so] soon. This you may think is disappointing you as I have before promised to return early in the spring but you know if I am obliged to stay here all winter without making much money you cannot blame me for not going.
But here comes the steam boat. If you see any of Mr. Smith's folks tell them that George and William are well and with us yet. I do not get many letters lately being away from the office and having no permanent place of residence. I wish you to send my letters to Shasta City, Cal. Don't look for me till you see me coming but I am bound to go home if I am spared when I shall have made my pile. I wish all my letters mailed for Shasta but I suppose I shall not get many after the first of April or May.
But my sheet is nearly full and I will close hoping you are in full enjoyment of health and happiness. I have no gift to send you more than these few lines. I hope that I can spend my next New Year's in your house with you. Give my love to Mother, brothers Wm. and Wash. and Joseph and respects to all inquiring friends. Farewell, ever affectionately your brother,
Samuel V. TrippMrs. S. A. Hawkins.
Rogue Valley O.T. 16th April/53Dear sister
I am thankful that I am permitted to again converse with you with my pen and say that I am in the full enjoyment of health and spirit. I left Shasta City a week ago yesterday and arrived here after four and a half days' traveling. I found the hogs I left here last fall and the men in whose charge I left them and am well satisfied with their conduct while I was absent. The storms caused upwards of 60 to die of the whole lot and we have bought the other half making us about 140 in all.
My partner did not come with me but I left him packing in Cal. I rec. a letter from H. Larramore as I came away, none from you nor Mother lately. I shall stay here during the first part of the summer. Our hogs look well and some of them fat. I expect to butcher some soon. They live upon grass and what they can dig in the wet ground.
This valley is a pleasant one and probably the prettiest part of Oregon. It is a good farming country and gold mines all around it and only about 80 miles from the seacoast from whence supplies can [be] procured as soon as the road is open to Paragon Bay where ships can run from San Francisco. A great many emigrants have settled here who came here last fall. Everything is high at present. Grass grows very abundantly throughout.
I understand that Mother had or was going to [New] York state. I have not written to her lately not knowing where to direct if she had gone. If she has gone will you write her and tell her the news I write? I don't know when I shall go down to Cal. Robert will come up before a great while I expect. Letters come here from Cal. by express. Still direct to Shasta Cal. My time for writing is very limited and no news of importance to write so you must excuse this short letter for I have another to write today. My best respects to all. As ever your affectionate brother,
S. V. TrippMrs. S. A. Hawkins
Willamette Valley, O.T. July 25th/53Dear Levi V. Millicent
I will pen a few lines for you this morning by way of keeping you posted up as to my whereabouts, health, business, &c.
You probably know already that I left Robert at Rogue River with our stock and came down here to purchase another small drove of hogs. My health is and has been very good since I last wrote you which time I believe I have forgotten but I trust not because it has been so long. I left Robert the 6th of June and have not received a line from him since as when I left I intended to return soon but we cannot return till fall in consequence of dry warm weather. However I may go back and Robert [will] come and drive the drove in as I am obliged to go down to Cal. in the fall and think some of taking some of our Rogue River hogs down with me to market there. One of the men who stayed with the hogs last winter is with me. We have rented a large field of wheat & oat stubble for our hogs for the time of 2½ months. Perhaps you would like to know how I like the Willamette compared with other portions of the West. This much I can say for it that it has a healthful climate and level plains, beautiful timber which along the streams and skirts of the hills is plenty, mostly fir. Notwithstanding more rain has fallen this season than is usual, the weather is very warm, more so than common, and the ground is very dry. If it were not for the fresh breezes that are always stirring, the atmosphere would be very hot and disagreeable. The crops of wheat and other produce are now ripening for harvest. Wheat is tolerable good. Great complaint is made of the smut this season. I think wheat is not as good generally as it is in Ohio for [lack of] a good season. Oats look well. Potatoes are quite few. But little pains is taken with raising crops in this country. The best farms I have noticed are along the forks of the river and the Calapooia Creek. There is a great deal of land here as well as in other portions that is unfit for settling. Grass is getting very dry and the water giving out in the prairies. I think that people who live in as good a state as Ohio, comfortably situated and enjoying good health will do well to stay where they are for all the good land or claims of value are [already] taken up and settled upon.
I am stopping between the forks of the Willamette River at the farm of Mr. Stevens, a Carolinian.
The wheat harvest is now about two thirds over. The price of wheat at the present demand is about $2.00 per bush. and oats nearly that. Oregon, I presume, will not more than make her own breadstuff this season and hardly do that. But little is produced this season in the Umpqua and Rogue valleys. I find but few Ohio people in my travels but am writing this letter in a Buckeye's house in which is a nice tidy woman and a fine little Buckeye girl of 17 and you need not wonder that I am here as I have a particular liking for the Buckeye ladies They are from Zanesville and were acquainted with my old friend Mrs. Gilcrest [Gilchrist?]. What has become of Mr. Gilcrest and family, Levi? I have not heard a word of them since I left them. I should like very much to see them again and talk of Pleasant Valley as Mr. Norton used to say and tell them I have never seen many pleasanter valleys than that. I suppose that by this time you have plenty of good apples and cherries and suchlike good things that Oregonians and Californians may long for [for] many a long season.
Last Saturday I saw some apples growing on trees, the first I have seen [since] I left your orchard and I guess that there will be the first place that I will again enjoy that kind of luxury if I ever do again.
But little fruit of any kind is produced here yet and it does not appear to grow so luxuriantly here as where you live.
I have had no letters from any of you since I left Robert. Not even from Robert.
The thermometer has for several days stood in the heat of the day in the shade from 78 to 99 deg. above zero and perhaps higher.
What do you think of Uncle Tom's Cabin or haven't you read it. I am just finishing it and I think that to one who can appreciate the value of its truths and representations that it is a valuable work and deserves patronage. I have taken cognizance of the disposition and character of Southerners generally as I have had an opportunity from time to time.
But time and paper are both scarce and I guess this will be as much as you will want to pay postage on so here's my love and respects to you all and don't forget to write to Sam, Shasta City, Cal. Respects to all inquiring friends and I remain yours in respect and esteem.
S. V. TrippMr. & Mrs. Lamson
Mill Creek, Sacramento Valley 27th Dec.Dear dear sister
I again attempt to pen a few lines to you but with a rather reluctant hand for I again am under the painful necessity of telling you that my business will not admit of my returning to Ohio the coming spring as was my intention but you will not censure me will you? My reason [is] similar to the one which actuated me a year ago. Mr. Lathrop has not been able to pay me yet and I am in consequence obliged to remain as I do not feel willing to go with a part of my fortune behind me with the uncertainty of it following, for it is small at best. I have never told you nor any of you how much I have accumulated but will now. Aside from paying to Levi Lamson the half of my earnings of the first eighteen months, I have gathered by my industry and economy about the amount of 6000 dollars, a part of which is invested in stock and a part is an obligation against Mr. Lathrop which I think is certain to be cash. I do not feel disposed to urge a settlement but will [try] to give him his time as he is honestly disposed. I intend to live here this year and my business will be that of keeping a dairy. I shall keep and milk from 50 to 80 cows and will make butter and cheese for the Shasta and Weaver markets and think that I can make something in the operation. I have hired a gentleman and lady to take charge of it and will have other help.
I wish you were here and Joseph but I suppose you have no desire for California and will not urge or advise. Robert and George will probably return home in May next. I am located about 65 miles below Shasta on the east side of the Sacramento River across from the town of Tehama where steam boats run up during high water. We are having a fine winter in California. I shall start this week for Rogue River and may go to the Willamette Valley before I come back. My health has been good. I shall probably send a friend home to see you next summer and if I do you must make a party for him and invite my friends in and introduce him and he will represent me and will tell you many a California story. He went home to Michigan last winter and crossed the plains with a drove this season.
He intends to return in the spring and gather a drove next fall for the next season to come back with. If he goes I will send you a letter and a ring of my gold.
I can enjoy myself better in California now than heretofore as my acquaintances are more numerous and many valuable ones I assure you. I should like to make you a visit; to see you would be truly gratifying.
I shall have good company this summer and anticipate a goodly degree of pleasure. I shall farm but little I think but will be confined principally to the dairy. I think it will be a nice business for me. We have plenty of wild oats for cattle and hogs to graze upon.
I have not heard any late news from home but hope when I get back to Rogue River to hear from you all. You may direct my letters to Tehama P.O., Colusa Co., Upper Cal. Hoping you all are happy I bid you good night.
I remain as ever yours,
S. V. TrippMrs. S. A. Hawkins
Shasta Cal. 15th Feb. 1854Dear, dear Mother.
Your letter of date of 29th Nov. last was yesterday rec. and need I tell you gladly too as some time had passed since from you that I heard directly. I am truly glad that you were well and I can inform you that my own health is also very good and my old friends here in town all tell me that I look better than I ever did. I am fleshier than I have ever before been. I weigh 147 lbs. gross wt. and I think as tough and rugged as I ever was. You had returned to Ohio when you wrote and do you enjoy yourself better than in New York? You doubtless before this reaches you will have known that my intention to remain in Cal. another season on acct. of my business [not] being in such a shape as to allow me to close up at present but I can say that I am not detained from being involved, as many are in this country, from the decline of business and money transactions.
I wrote to Sister my reasons in full for staying still longer which you probably have seen. I also wrote to brother Wm. Since then in which I gave the particulars of my meeting with Brother Marcenia [Marcena McCombs?] at Rogue River Valley. I have heard from him since but will write a letter for him today. I am on my way down to my home in Sacramento Valley from Rogue River where Robert [is]. We have dissolved partnership and I intend to do my business alone and Robert, I think, will go home with George.
I intend to write to Uncle Samuel soon and if you write soon tell him that he may look for a long letter from California.
If Marcenia goes back this spring he will go to see you and wishes you to return home with him and I presume you will be pleased with the arrangement. I should like to know what friend it was who wrote that letter for you and give him my compliments. I have found and made some new friends of late who are cousins to Jackson Beaumont of the name of Park who used to live near Carpenter's and were related [to] that family. He has a stepdaughter or two whom I have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with and they are very worthy ladies. I live 60 miles below this place.
I have but little time to write and no news of importance to communicate but must close hoping this will find you enjoying good health with all the other blessings of life.
Write as usual to Shasta. I told sister Sarah to direct to Tehama but I think it not advisable to change my address. Tell Sister that she may look for the daguerreotype likeness of her long-absent brother as I intend to have it taken soon and will send it to her and I also should be glad to have hers if she can get it taken. Indeed I should like to have all of yours if they can be taken and sent to me. But I must close. Tender my very sincere respects to the Larramore family, Mr. Fry and all my friends who may inquire after my welfare. My love to you, sister, brothers.
This from your affectionate son,
SamuelMrs. Nancy Kersey
Samuel V. Tripp letters, 1849-1906, The Newberry Library.
Transcribed by Dale Greenley, Myrtle Point.
Last revised March 24, 2018