Wednesday, May 13, 2015

J. C. Martin to Cousins Tom and Andrew Bell, 26 January 1853, courtesy of Alyssa Bentz at Wells Fargo

After seeing the "envelope" addressed to Tom Bell in a Wiltsee Collection photograph of postmarks, I telephoned Wells Fargo this morning and woman who answered very quickly told me that she knew just the person to handle my request to see the letter. I thought there would be one sheet folded to show the address on the reverse, but the letter was longer than one page. Amazing efficiency and courtesy! Alyssa Bentz sent me scans. All I had to send back to her were gorgeous photographs of Cousins Tom and Andrew.

Just excerpts here, hastily transcribed. This dates Andrew's trip back to Kentucky and Illinois to 1851 possibly or very early 1852 and his eventful return with several members of the Bell family to before July 1852, when Tom wrote Martin. The Gentleman speculator I am afraid is a Confidence Man, but I will see if a ditch was dug from Mad River to the beach. "Union" is not on a list of Humboldt ghost towns, even, but it was a real little place for I found it as a town in the 1860 census. I don't know why the Wives and Daughters were apt to be taken by the people of Union. It could be a jocular reference to current polygamy. I have not found a high Mormon presence in Humboldt just at this time, although of course the papers are full of information on Mormons in the West. 

Apparently Tom told Martin that Andrew had escaped some potentially disastrous marriage. As it turned out, Andrew married late. Good women were scarce.

I Rec’d a letter from A. N. soon after I came here (I should say dated soon after) I think it was also, a year old. I did not answer it for that reason for it stated that you thought of moving residence before that time. I have ever been anxious to hear from you & enquired for you often but in vain. Andrew I congratulate you as a Bachelor would a Friend reclaimed & converted from a great Error—But alas!! who is there to sympathize with me in my sad hours of desolation—Not the Fair dispellers of human woes, and Bachelor’s Sorrows, for they are not here, nor can I go to Ky. as you have done if I could I should have liked to have borne you company— . . . .

 . . . my confidence has never relaxed in the final success and prosperity of this country, or fraction of a country that Confidence & hope have now become a certainty we now have 4 Saw Mills in Successful opperation & the amt. of our exports compared with the Population, I think will compare favorably with any any place in the World and this is but the beginning. I am informed that Humboldt Lumber now has a controlling Influence on the Market in San Francisco. One of those mills makes some 50 to 60,000 ft. per day, next Spring there is an enterprize to commerce at Union of great magnitude, it is to bring Mad River into the Bay at Union, which is a matter of very easy accomplishment, there was a Gentleman came there  last fall with ample means, he told me the other day he had Surveyed the Rout and finds 38 feet fall, he says he can use the water 3 or 4 times it gives him a Monopoly of unequaled forests of Timber on Mad River and about Union, he is a Gentleman well known to many in Union and of the highest order of enterprize and every good and generous quality. I have the good fortune of being favourably acquainted with him by which my humble efforts to serve my old Friends might not be entirely vain I speak thus, believing as I do that there is a field open for you Both, it is unnecessary for me to detail to you the many advantages of beginning at the first of a work like that. Come up at all events and see for yourself I will promise to Show you the best Land you ever saw and the most valuable Ranch in this country. We are Farming & getting timber. I bought Chaplain out 2 years ago next June he went to the mines I heard from him the last time last fall a year ago. C. Gilman is in San Francisco practicing Law, Swain lives about a mile from me. My place is the high Plateau adjoining to the claim taken by Judge Lansing. Howard still lives at Humboldt has a large [Hxxx? torn] a fine Monument on the grave of a dead Son. David Buck was last  on the Steam Ship Warren at the Mouth of Columbia River at his place is a Saw Mill and a one hors[e] Town . At Eureka are 3 Mills and man Loggers in the Woods there, Money is plenty & Business good. Union hold her own, and more too, for they often take other people’s Wives & Daughters, nearly all the mines are supplied from there, the trade there is considerable I believe the morning of our prosperity is now come or at least it seems so to us who have bene so long in the dark. Last Summer was very dry and this winter very wet.

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