Details For Cover ID# 26533

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Cover Type: USA domestic stampless
Entered by: ramingee
Added on:Nov 21, 17
Edited on:Nov 21, 17
Postmark: Mar 15, 1849 (First eastbound US contract mail from SF via Panama)
Origin: San Francisco, California, UNITED STATES
Destination: Shawnee Mound (Tippecanoe Co), Indiana, UNITED STATES

Letter datelined "St frisco California, Decr 11th, 1848." Unpaid 40¢ rate cover to Indiana. San Francisco town and March 15 (1849) manuscript postmark, dated for the expected departure of Peruvian bark Callao, (actually departed March 19).

This is the only known privately held example of the first eastbound contract mail from SF via Panama (one other item with the same date exists in the Oregon Historical Society, but only these two total items are known to exist from this first sailing).

Contract steamer PMSS California was intended to carry the first mail from the SF PO, however nearly all her crew deserted to the gold fields upon her arrival (Feb 28, 1849) and it was badly in need of repairs from the long journey so it sat idle in the bay for weeks (the PMSS Oregon and PMSS Panama had yet to arrive). Ironically, the very first contract mail out of SF, via Panama, actually left on a non-PMSC vessel.

The letter is translated below: Mr. Thomas Meharry. Dear brother I have only a short time to give you a sketch of things and times here as the ship is about to start to Oregon when I will leave this place. My family was well when I left home. I have been in the gold mines and am now in possession of near five thousand dollars in gold dust or 25 lb of dust at 16 Dolls per oz.

I have been at work one month but I have near four times as much as is commonly made in the same time and I have more than any other person made in the mines at the same time and when I was at work in the mines 50 Dolls pr day can be made by any person that will work lively by going to the best places. The gold is in the Canions [sic] in the California Mountains and cold and disagreeable in winter and when high water combs. I think there will be but little made though there is some places they can work perhaps through the winter, from August on to Oct it tis said to be sickly through out California except on the sea coast. I expect to come back here in the spring and give the mines another short turn. This town is as near Hell as I ever seen on Earth all sorts of gambling and drunkenness going on even on the Sabbath. Oregon is my country I could not under any circumstances consent to live in California.

Prices of flour in the mines where I was at work 2 to 4 Dollars per pint. Dried beef 2 Dolls per lb. Coffee 2 Dollars per lb. Sugar salt and all most every thing else that is to eat the same. Boots 40 Dolls pr pare. [sic] Shoes 20 Dolls pr pr. Clothing in proportion. Things will come down in time. I have made as much as 220 Dollars by my own work pr day. Money will be very plenty in Oregon there is near they say 1500 men from Oregon in the mines and the most of the support for flour, pork, butter and cheese will come from there. I have never seen such a prospect for a fortune as appears to be open here and in Oregon. Now if you should come to this country please take up all that there is against me in Cincinnati if there is any place that full satisfaction is not made and it shall all be rite when you come here.

Yours Truly (signed) “Matthew Patton”

Certificate? No
For Sale? No
Stampless? Yes