BLTC Press Titles

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Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison

The Bhagavad Gita


History of California

by Elisha Smith Capron



The State of California has attained, and will long occupy, a prominent place in the public mind. Not only its great product of gold and other mineral wealth, but the adaptation of its soil and climate to the pursuits of agriculture, the proper seasons and best course of husbandry for the successful cultivation of the various crops, its influence as an independent state on the future of the American Union, its geographical position, the extent, character and variety, of its resources, &c, are all subjects of special and increasing interest to large numbers in the older states.

Beyond its own limits, comparatively little has been known of the particular history of its gold mines and mining grounds; of the toils, perils and success, of its miners; of their modes and operations of mining, and of the vast amount of capital which is invested in that adventurous business. Nor has a description of the magic city of San Francisco, as it now exists, — of its moral, social and commercial state, — before been written ; and the public, at a distance from the scene, have been enabled to view it only in a faint and glimmering light.

The opportunities of the author to gain full and particular information on all those subjects have been so favorable as to induce the compilation and publication of this volume, in the A*

belief that the statements of facts here presented will be found reliable and valuable to all who are seeking for information respecting them.

In April, 1853, the author proceeded to California, as the commercial agent of several extensive mercantile houses in New York city. In the discharge of the duties of his commission, he visited the principal cities and villages of the state, and communicated with persons of the different professions, trades and occupations. He also traversed various parts of the mining regions, and sojourned with the miners, among their valleys and mountains. During a continuance of several months in the country, in travel and research, he improved every opportunity to collect reliable information, from intelligent citizens and authentic records in the public offices, respecting all the important interests of the state, and particularly of its mining, commercial and agricultural interests. At several of the old missions he met well-informed individuals, who had long resided in the country, from whom he learned many interesting facts relating to its primitive history, and the customs and institutions of its early inhabitants.

Some of these facts have before been made public; but others, equally valuable, have not; and daily observation produced the conviction, that, although much has been written about California, but little, comparatively, has yet appeared that is of much value, respecting that vast region, on those subjects about which the public generally are most solicitous for information. This consideration has induced the author to arrange his notes of the country, which were taken on the spot, into a history of the state; and, in the execution of this task, especial prominence has been given to its agriculture and commerce, to the gold region, and to the city of San Francisco.


In speaking of the mining districts, the mines and miners, those terms, names and phrases, are used, which are current among the miners at the mines, — the only design being to present the whole view as it would there appear to the common observer.

A journal, or diary, is added, as the most effectual method of conveying a correct idea of a voyage to California. It presents the reader with the daily incidents which occurred on this particular voyage, and a faithful recital of what was seen, suffered and enjoyed. A succession of events, in many respects similar, would, doubtless, form the experience of any traveller by sea to the land of'gold.

This volume is submitted, in the belief that it will be found a faithful record; and in the hope that it may prove a useful aid to the reader in forming a just judgment of the country.

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