Lot 59 of 627:
1846 letter by a future San Francisco 49er as a young seaman on the Great Lakes  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$180
$300 - $500

1846 letter by a future San Francisco 49er as a young seaman sailing the Great Lakes

Moses, William S.[chuyler}

Lake Erie, Cleveland, Detroir




Autograph Letter Signed.  Lake Erie, off Erie, Pa.; Cleveland; Detroit. May 31-June 3, 1846. 3pp+ stampless address leaf. To (his grandfather?), Schuyler Moses, Ypstilanti, Michigan.


Written 3 years before becoming the first Gold Rush Quartz Miner - later the last surviving San Francisco Gold Rush Mason  - a long account, as a 19 year-old seaman, sailing the Great Lakes on a fishing expedition from Buffalo to Cleveland and Detroit. Three years later, at age 22, Moses sailed to California. Technically, he was not a “49er”, because his ship did not sail through the Golden Gate to reach shore until the early hours of 1850. Yet, in 1912, when “Uncle Billy” celebrated his 85th Birthday in post-Earthquake San Francisco he was honored as only the oldest living Mason in the state and, reputedly, the first Gold Rush miner of Quartz, rather than Gold.

“…We have a jolly crew [of 24] on board. Enjoy ourselves first rate… Yesterday the wind blew pretty stiff. The waves ran high and I saw several of the Green hands leaning over the bulwarks rather suspiciously…We have made a berth and swing it with ropes so that it don’t roll with the vessel, when there is a sea on…We have a Buffalo skin each and a blanket to sleep on. We have tin plates. And tin cups to drink out of. Our living is pork and beans, beef and potatoes. With a kind of cracker. Which is so hard that we have to knaw them as a squirrel does a hickery …Our table is some rough boards nailed together. Set on barrels.. Good deal of discontent among the men today in consequence of the Captains not letting the men have what they want to eat… now in sight of Detroit…the waves rolled from 10 to 15 feet in height and the vessel pitched and tumbled like a drunken man. It was a beautiful sight. The moon shone brightly and the waves sparkled and glittered as they were thrown in torrents from the bows of the noble vessel…I have signed a paper…complaining of our treatment from the captain… Now he wants us to sign his shipping papers, which…contain many articles which are highly obnoxious to us… that may do… where they get the drunken sailors on board and while they are drunk make them sign such papers and when they get to sea they cant help themselves. But it is not so here… We are now in Detroit…I have learned to make nets..I am also Ship Carpenter… The men don’t like it much that they cant go [on shore]… The Captain has gone ashore and we cannot …If the Captain don’t let me put this letter in the post office Ill blow him up by the Eternal frost, so I will..."

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