Gold Found at Sutter’s Mill!!!

2019 West Again, California, Road Trip, States

One of the very early wagon train travelers across the American continent was John Sutter, a Swiss immigrant who became a Mexican citizen and landowner in what was then Alta California, a Mexican province. There he proceeded to build a settlement where Sacramento is today. In 1847 he partnered with James Marshall to build a water powered sawmill on the South Fork of the American River. The 1848 events there that led to the discovery of gold, the 1849 California Gold Rush, and California’s statehood in 1850 are well known. Norm, our tour guide here at Marshall Gold Discovery Historic State Park did a great job of telling the story of the people coming from across the continent as well as from Europe, South America, and Asia in a frenzied attempt to obtain instant wealth. Another docent in the museum gave us an additional valuable insight. The mill construction workers in January 1848 were young men who had signed up for the Mormon Battalion in Council Bluffs in mid 1846 and were discharged from the US Army in mid 1847. At the time they were working to earn money for travel to the Great Salt Lake to rejoin their families. With his assistance we searched for references to Uncle William in the archives to no avail but we did locate information about him in a book entitled Mormon Gold: The Story of California’s Mormon Argonauts. That led later in the day to an internet search find of a reference to Uncle William’s 1848 discovery of gold in Nevada in a USGS Report published in The Miscellaneous Documents of the House of Representatives for the First Session of the Forty-Seventh Congress 1881-’82 Volume 16 No. 51. It’s so much fun when family history intersects with big events in American History!

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