Sonora, California: 1852. This stampless folded letter measures 17” x 10.75” unfolded. It is datelined “Sonora Cal. 2th Sept 1852”. The front of the cover bears a circular “10” rate mark, handstamped in blue. It is postmarked with a double circle Sonora postmark dated “Sepp / 28”. The letter is in nice shape although a 2” x 2.5” blank piece of the reverse cover margin is missing from when it was opened.In this letter, William Furman writes his brother at home in Georgia thanking him for his advice to start a farm in California, suggesting that he had wasted much of his time there, perhaps mining for gold. “Had I been governed by such a course all my time since I have been in California I would long ere this have had a splendid fortune. . . . I am now in the Southern mines & own the best farm in this part of the country. I now have about ten men employed in the way of cutting hay. I have already of 200 tons cut & cured. I sold 50 tons yesterday at $70.00 per ton amounting to $3,500. It will be worth from $100 to $150 per ton as winter advances. . . . I have good offers for my farm it strikes me I could sell out in time.”. Very good. Item #009355
“After gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, most prospectors began to descend on the foothills above Sacramento, however a few came south and found that gold was plentiful at a creek location first discovered by a man named Benjamin Woods. Camps along Wood’s Creek began to blossom and soon a small village named Jamestown was established. Drawn by reports of success, large numbers of Mexicans from Sonora moved into the region and soon the original miners were overwhelmed by immigrants from Mexico augmented by a few from Chile, Peru, Argentina, China, and Australia. As a result, the town acquired a strong Mexican flavor with the colorful brush houses as well as a central plaza. Gambling, particularly the Mexican national game of Monte was everywhere, as were saloons and liquor. Fandango houses and bullfights were popular. A town government was formed, primarily from U. S. citizens, many of whom were merchants that catered to the Mexican miners. The situation in Sonora was not unique as many other original mining locations had also been fortune-hunters from around the world. Seeing a lucrative cash cow, the California legislature imposed a Foreign Miners Tax that required all foreign miners to pay the state $20 per month. Of course, most miners could not afford the fees and simply left for home. At Sonora, the population decreased from 5,000 to 1,000 creating havoc with local economy. Although the tax was eventually reduced to only $3 per month, the city never fully recovered although several significant “pocket” mines continued in operation until the 1860s.” (See The History of Sonora at sonoraca.net for more information.) The Furmans were part of a prominent South Carolina family and grandsons of the man for whom Furman University was named. No doubt most of William’s sales were to the miners and townfolk of Sonora.