1850-68: Franklin Farr to Osgood Parkhurst

An unidentified California Gold Seeker
(Doug York Collection)

The following letters were written by Franklin Farr (1822-Aft1880), the son of Josiah Farr (1781-1849) and Laura Allen (1786-1846) of Cavendish, Vermont. The first letter was written by Franklin enroute to San Francisco, California, in March 1850. The letter was apparently mailed from Calleo, Peru, where the ship he was on stopped after rounding the horn of South America.

The second letter was written from Calaveras county, California, where Franklin had been residing for some time. In this letter he describes the state of mining affairs in Calaveras county, transitioning to Quartz mining. He also speaks of the dangers to human life in the county which prompted San Francisco’s Daily Evening Bulletin on 7 September 1868 to report that Calaveras county was “infested with a gang of robbers and murderers who render it unsafe for anyone to travel to that locality.”

Franklin wrote the letters to Osgood Parkhurst (1808-1867) of Cavendish, Windsor county, Vermont. Osgood was married to Harriet Louisa Farr (1808-1867), an older sister of Franklin’s. The second letter was not written until 1868, a year after Franklin’s sister (Osgood’s wife) had died. Osgood was still residing in Cavendish with his daughter, Mary Parkhurst (b. 1838), however.

Curiously, from the Bellow Falls Times of 23 December 1859, we learn that the Parkhurst family had been the victims of a burglary. Awakened in the night by an intruder in the home, the burglar escaped with $23 from Osgood’s wallet.

[Note: These letters are from the private collection of Richard Weiner and were transcribed and published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]

Letter 1

March 11, 1850

I now take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well at this time and I hope these few lines will find you enjoying the same. I have not got any news to write to you now. I have enjoyed myself very well. We are in Calleo [Peru] now. We shall stop there two days and then we shall start for San Francisco. I have not got time to write but when I get there I will write more.

We have had a very pleasant passage. We can’t get there before the first of May. I don’t want you should think anything about me and if you go out West, tell them that I will come out when I come back. You will want to go out again then you may think that I don’t write much but I will write more next time. There is thirty passengers aboard and we are a going up to [ ] now and then we came back and start. We have not stopped before and shan’t stop again. That is all that I can write here to you.

This is from Franklin Farr

Letter 2

Addressed to Mr. Osgood Parkhurst, Cavendish, Vermont, United States of America

Mountain Ranch
October 18, 1868


I received your letter and was glad to hear from you and that you and family are all well. My health is good at present. There is no news that I can write you It is very dead here now and will be till water comes again. That will be in about two months. Provisions is cheap now. There is not any mining now but quartz here now and it is hard to make that pay unless a man has plenty of money to spend. It has cost me a good deal and I Han’t got any that. I think much of yet. I am prospecting some now but I don’t think it of much account.

You wrote not to let them break in my house and kill me. They hain’t yet but they have stole 500 hundred dollars. That is about as bad for what is a man good for without money or wife now days.

I have not seen Mr. Fish but I heard from him. He is not doing what he will and doing what he will do…this fall here. There is a good deal of robbing and stealing here now. There has been three men killed close by me in about a month.

I will send a paper with this. There will be one every week if you like them. That is all I think of now.

Yours truly, — Franklin Farr

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