“. . . the gold fields they do not meet the
expectations of the people generally . . .”

Eldorado County California
~ 11 January 1851 ~

Copyright © 2000, Frederick Smoot. All Rights Reserved.

Stampless folded letter sheet.
Circular red postmark with 40 cent rate:

Culloma postmark
JAN 28

Mrs. Frances B. Williams
Hartford P. O.
Forsythe Cty
Recieved this the 22nd of Marcy
W. S. Williams

Calafornia Jan 11 1851
Dear wife and Children
I have delayed writing for some time for tow reasons first to get well secondnly to be able to tell more about the mining operations as I knew that these two things would be of important considerations I would just say as regards my health that I am nearly entirely recovered so much so that I have commenced work I have not entirely gained my strength but considering how low I was then I canot have expected though I been here four weeks my bourd has cost me nothing all the kindness that could have been shone any man has been shone to me.
As regards the gold fields they do not meet the expectations of the people generally but still I think I can make as much as I expected or nearly so when we are at work we can make from five to ten dollars a day and occasionally make a large days work say from twenty five to fifty dollars. The mines are very much worked out and I never saw any thing to compare with the number of men at work as there are here if I were to say thousands it would give no idea, hundreds of thousands would be a little word as it regards the state of society I never saw more peace there is nothing about these parts to interrupt a man that will do right. Our fare the Children will want to know who cooks for pa some times I cook and some times some of the others and what di I have to eat what bread hog meat beef and coffee we can have cheese butter molasses unions potatoes and just about any thing else we want if we will pay a large price for them which we some times do for the sake of vanity and to prevent disease the skirvy and other things.
But Lucy will say who! master make up wheat doe I am getting to be a very good cook for my practices.
As it regards the face of the country it is remarkably rough and hilly there are very few places in the mining region where any thing like a farm could be made but the worst is no land here will bring a crop of scarecly any thing without watering I know that a good many will want to know my opinion about the prospects of coming to this country I do not feel able to give advise I know that money is hard to get in the states and there are a great many that need it very much and I know that there is a pretty good chance yet to make it here yet I would not advise any man to come here no matter what may be his situation If I were now at home knowing every thing as I do I would not come although I would not be willing to leave here now nor dont wish myself at home or expect to come unless some providential occurrence calls me there untill I accomplish the desighn of my coming at least in part.
I wrote about the death of Robert King and James Midlock which latter I expect you have got or will get long before you get this I have received no letter from home yet though it is hardly time I want you to write me a full letter the next day after you receive this as I shall have to shift mty residence and it may be my post office when summer comes on (writ to Calome Calafornia). Tell the black ones howdy for me. Give my respects to all my neighbours especially to the society and all who meet at the prayers meeting. I want their prayers I am trying to do and get good as I have opertunity.
My dear wife I know that a heavy burden rests on your shoulders I think of you I feel for you dont be discouraged God is suffrage and strength in time of trouble if I get home on time I expect to stay there.
As ever Your Husband W. S. Williams

Gold was discovered at Coloma California on 24 January 1848. This occured during saw-mill construction on the American Fork River (a.k.a. South Fork of the American River). On 5 December 1848, President James K. Polk, in his annual message to Congress, wrote: “The accounts of an abundance of gold are of such an extraordinary character, as would scarcely command belief were they not corroborated by the authentic reports of officers in the public service.”
California's Gold Rush was on. By the end of 1850, more than ninety thousand Americans who had made the journey to the California gold fields. There were also thousands who came from Europe, South America, Mexico, Hawaii, Tahiti, Australia, and China.
Most who came were in pursuit of riches, not to settle. Today, we call them 49ers, they called themselves Argonauts, after the mythical Greek heroes who sailed on the Argo with Jason in search of the Golden Fleece.
The Spanish word “ALTA” (as seen in the postmark) was commonly applied to California. Alta California is upper California but the term is not applied today, however to the south is Baja California or lower California which is divided into two Mexican states.
The postmark shows the 40 cent rate, the required rate from the Pacific Coast to the eastern states.

About W. S. Williams.
William S. Williams married Frances Winn. They lived in the old Vann (James Vann) Tavern Building. Frances’ father had Winn’s Ferry on the Hall County side. Hartford Post Office was cut off from Winns Post Office Hall Co. It existed from 18 July 1843 to 16 Feb 1860. Hartford is always shown on the old Federal Road west of Winn’s Ferry. Rev Williams is buried in the Mount Zion Cemetery, an abandoned cemetery located just south of 369 in the Oscarville community (just west of the Vann Tavern area). Vanns Tavern building was removed from Forsyth County when Lake Lanier was made and flooded. It was moved to New Echota.

(Notes on W.S.Williams by Donna Parrish

The 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Forsyth County Georgia shows in Household number 962.
William S. Williams  43m  Clergyman  4,000 GA
Frances D.           36f                   GA
Howard M             18m  Farmer           ga
Jefferson P.         16m  Farmer           ga
Thomas C.            14m                   ga
George A.            12m                   ga
Mary E.              10f                   ga
William R.            8m                   ga
Martha A.             6f                   ga
Willis B.             4m                   ga
Amanda McCoy         20f                   ga
(Census transcription by Sharon Bennett Williams)

From the Collection of Fred Smoot
Provenance: Charles Deardorff Meyer, 1999.

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