Gold Rush Letters-April 28, 1849

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April 28, 1849

From letters published in the Missouri Whig , Palmyra ca May, 1849


Correspondence of the Missouri Whig.

ST. JOSEPH, April 28, 1849.

MR. SOSEY -- According to promise, I will write to you and give you a brief history of my travels up to this time, As you are well acquainted with what is going on in St. Louis, it is unnecessary for me to say much about that place. I found everything somewhat higher there than expected. And I also found a great many emigrants for California, though I think the number has been greatly exaggerated. I left St. Louis on the 18th of this month on the Belle Creole, a large, fine running boat. But about the time we started, the Missouri River commenced falling so rapidly that she could not venture farther up than Camden, A little town twenty miles above Lexington, There she made a retrograde movement, and landed the most of her cargo and passengers, myself among the rest, at the last mentioned place. I remained in Lexington near two days, and availed myself of the opportunity of visiting the new Masonic College, and the young city generally. The College is a fine building, though it received considerable damage from a storm last year. Professor Patterson says the prospects of the Institutionís doing well, are good. Lexington is one of the most lovely places I ever saw. It presents the appearance of a city springing up in the midst of a forest. The houses are nearly all new, and built in good taste, and bear the impress of wealth and fashion. But few emigrants start from this point.

I next got on the Meteor, and she laid by at Independence landing about half a day, and afforded me a fine opportunity of visiting Independence. This is also a beautiful place, situated in a fine country, and seems to be improving rapidly. The streets were very much crowded with emigrants; besides the whole country is literally covered with camps and wagons. I took some pains to find out from the citizens the probable number of emigrants that were in that vicinity, and that had left there this spring, and their estimate was from five to seven thousand, though I think that rather an extravagant estimate. Col. Russelís company of about ninety left Independence, or near there, on last Tuesday, for the plains. Col. Willock commands the company.

After a journey of ten days from St.Louis, I arrived safe in this place on yesterday, with all my freight, Every Hotel and boarding house is filled to overflowing; besides camps and wagons can be seen in every direction. If you recollect anything about the bustle on the levee in St. Louis, you can form some idea of this place. The streets are very much crowded with all sorts of men, animals and wagons. And not a few are tired of the trip, and are selling out their outfits very low. It would have been much better for us it we had bought all our heavy articles here, as every thing can be bought here as cheap as in Palmyra. Bacon can be had for four cents per pound; the best Flour for four dollars per barrel, or two dollars per hundred pounds; Corn for one dollar and fifty cents per barrel in the country, or two dollars in town, and all kinds of goods in proportion. This place has been most scandalously lied upon

The citizens of this place estimate the number of emigrants who are in this vicinity, and have crossed, at from five to seven thousand. But I called upon the editor of the Exchange, who has kept an account of the arrivals, and up to this time he reports 4200. From the best information I can get on the subject I think the number of emigrants has been greatly exaggerated, and that there will be about twelve or fifteen thousand who will cross the plains this year. George Milton, Isham White and old Mr. Corder are here. Winlock, Hazlip & Co., arrived here safe, and have crossed the river, and camped six miles from this place. This morning P. Kizer and company were in 15 miles of town, and the Palmyra companies thirty miles behind. I have heard of no accident to any of them. You shall hear from me again.

C. F. K.


Transcribed courtesy of Kathleen Wilham