1858: A. John Camblein to his Mother Margaret

This letter was written by A. John Camblein (1826-1859). He was married to Elizabeth Jane Sroufe (1832-1863) and together they had three children—Margaret Josephine (1853-1924), David Anthony (1856-1935) and George (1859-1863). In the 1850 US Census, John was enumerated in Diamond Springs, El Dorado county, California. According to the mortality schedules in California, John froze to death in November 1859 when he was 33 years old. John’s wife Elizabeth died of breast cancer in 1863.


Minersville, [California]
July 3rd 1858

Dear Mother,

Your kind letter of the 24th of April has come safe to hand. I had almost despaired of ever receiving another from you but thank God, through the kind dispensations of His providence, it come, and upon breaking the seal and glancing quick as lightning over the heading and discover it commences, “Dear Son”—Oh! what an inexplicable thrill of happiness bursts like a tornado upon my soul. My mother is yet alive! I am glad to hear Mary and William and family are well but I would much rather have them coming West than going to Robinsons and as he has no disposition to come to California, you had better persuade him to come to Missouri—Kansas—or Nebraska. If Peter moves to where Patrick lives and William would move to either of the above mentioned places, you could come with them and you would in all probability not be as far apart as you are now. And in either of these three states, there is thousands of acres of vacant land to be entered at one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre and better land than ever was in Ohio.

I am glad to hear that Jonathan is doing so well. He is in a money making part of the world. I am well acquainted with all that country. I helped build a Fort the winter of 1847 where Nebraska City now stands. The site of the city and the surrounding country is delightful during the summer but the winters are extremely cold.

But now a few words in regard to California. As for the mines, I see but little difference to what they were eight years ago. For health and pleasant sleeping, she is unsurpassed on the habitable globe. For morality and religion she has no equal of her ago. I am still living in Trinity county. We are all well. Margaret Josephine is getting to be quite a smart girl. She will be five years old the first of September. Is fat and very healthy. She is quite a scholar. She can read the Bible or any book or paper you give her. David Anthony was two years old the 11th of last month. Is stout and hearty. Talks plain.

There is a great many leaving California at present and going to some new gold mines which have been discovered on Frazier River. This river is in the fifty-fourth degree of North latitude. The mines is said to be very rich. However, I shall not go to see them as I am perfectly satisfied with a comfortable living and intend to spend the remainder of my life with my family.

Eliza Jane and the little ones send their love to you and long to see you, if such a thing could be.

[A sheet follows addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Shimers]

— A. E. Camblein

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