John Ryerson

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Correspondence discusses family matters and details of Sacramento business. In addition, there is a letter, unsigned, dated Jan. 7, 1849, from Panama, describing a voyage to California. **Please note that historical materials in the Gold Rush Collections may include viewpoints and values that are not consistent with the values of the California State Library or the State of California and may be considered offensive. Materials must be viewed in the context of the relevant time period but views are in no way endorsed by the State Library. The California State Library’s mission is to provide credible information services to all Californians and, as such, the content of historical materials should be transcribed as it appears in the original document.

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[top right] Panama January 7th 1849

Having an opportunity to send a letter by the purser of the Cresant [Crescent] City I hasten to improve it and will undertake to give you a short description of our pasage [passage] thus far we sailed from quarantine on the morning of the Dec 11th with a fair wind which continued for four days we then laid Westward for five days floating on just where the current took us we got a fair wind which lasted until we arrived at Chagres which is just no place at all it lays on a low spot of ground and the houses are built of Cane with roofs made out of Palm leaves in the shape of hay baracks [barracks] and about the same size of one only one room and a loft no floors below and only poles above the most miserable things in the world A lot of the most Irish huts you ever saw are palaces to them and the Negroes['] compares with the huts except one thing I believe them to be the most honest people in the world. We arrived there on the 30th and started the same Night for Cruses a town similar to Chagres about 50 miles up the river and rode all Night in the rain it beaing [being] the rainy season here it took three days and Nights to go up we then hired a shanty on our arrival for $ [?] 1 c per day and done our own Cooking and had hard work to get enough to eat at any price we stayed two days and then started off our baggage is beeing [being] put on Negroes['] backs. We [had] to get a mule for Steenberger he beeing [being] lame and could not walk the rest of us taking on foot acrossed [across] the Mountains throug[h] the mud and rain we walked about half way over and came to some mules and hired each of us one it is about 22 Miles acrossed [across] from Cruses to Panama and the worst road

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that ever was traveled by human beaings [beings] through deep ravines through the rocks some places not more than three wide and as much as 20 to 30 feet in depth and either up a presapice [precipice] or down and other places over an emince [eminence] pile of paving stones and then and then again in the mud and water up to our neys [knees] and some times deeper I cannot describe it as bad as it is we arrived at Panama about seven Oclock in the eavning [evening] as wet and mudy [muddy] as we could with out any change of cloths [clothes] and had not been dry from the time we left Chagres we have good quarters here now and our baggage has arrived and we are a dooing [doing] very well all in good health and what is strange none of us have caught coalds [colds] it is very warm here as warm as the warmest weather we have in New York in the Sumer [Summer] we had green corn roasted for Dinner on New Years day and thus [this] was nearly all we could get. Panama is an oald [old] Spanish town but so'what [somewhat] run down but it is a place of some considerable business the buildings are of brick covered over with plaster but built diferant [different] from any other buildings I ever saw it is a very oald [old] place strongly fortified and all walled in we had to enter by a gate we are [in a] large hotel called the United States and is a good house and we have a plenty to eat of the best kind more diferant [different] dish[es] on the table at once than I ever saw and I do not know what one half of them are nor do not taste of them nor do I eat of which there is a great plenty of all kind of tropicals fruits I only eat what I have been used to for fear it would not agree with me it beeing [being] so warm the Boys are equaly [equally] careful I cannot say when we shall leave here as the steamer has not yet arrived nor hav [have]

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nor been heard from the Pacific is much better to navigate than the Atlantic it beeing [being] smother [smoother] and not subject to gales of wind The winds blow North and South from the eaquator [Equator] at all times of the year on the Pacific which is something I cannot account for you however it does not extend more than one hundred miles along the coast and the winds shift from time to time as it does in other places we have all been well since we left except sea sickness and all feel well and in good spirrits [spirits] as Could be expected from any one who ha[s] left their families far far behind and all theire [their] friends and relatives There is in Panama some four hundred persons wating [waiting] for pasage [passage] up the Pacific and some two hundred more on their way from Chagres to this place and the Steamer will not be able to accomidate [accommodate] more than one half of them and the rest will have to remain here paying from $2 $9 per day for Board which will come very hard for some of them as the expense of crossing the Isthmuss [Isthmus] is so much hevier [heavier] than was expected I will tell you what five of us and baggage to get acrossed [across] the net sum will be over $900 you can judge for we calculated it would not be over one hundred

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January 28 -1849

Mr John D Ryerson my sun [son] you & my self have hertofor [heretofore] had some words about our old Consernes [Concerns] But I flong [Flung] that all over my sholders [shoulders] Long ago & have as good afeling [a feeling] Towords [Towards] you as aney [any] of my uther [other] Children if I Say it my self I think a grate [great] Dele [deal] of all my children for they are all respekble [respectable] Children as aney [any] uther [other] man has for so larg [large] a number & the Chancs [chances] they have had

ass [As] For my Part I begun the world poor & I have allways [always] workt [worked] hard Late & areley [early] wet or Dry raane [rain] or shine & maid [made] a grate [great] Dele [deal] of money in my time By my industrey [industry] & whut [what] has become of it all I No [know] what become of a good Dele [deal] of it I Lost a grate [great] Dele [deal] by the Facter [factor] of uther [other] Peopels [peoples'] faling [failing] that owed me & part Burnt up

If I Raded [Raided] along Family in the ferst [first] plase [place] & give [gave] them all good Lerning [learning] wich [which] cost me a good Deel [deal] of money for my Nabors [neighbors] was very careless about the scool [school] & giveing [giving] there [their] Children Lerning [learning] so I was obldge [obliged] to Send you away from home to get your Lerning [learning] or have Note [not] & so it has Ben [been] for the rest I Done [did] my Duty towords [towards] my Children I got a good Exsampel [example] for them in one Cenes [Sense] allaway [always] sober & industryess [industrious] wich [which] is moor [more] than many rich men Can say

in the next plase [place] I have Laid out thousends [thousands] of Dollars of my hard ernings [earnings] on them lands in the Prossings [possession] of my Childned [Children] in pay intrest [interest] & Prinsiple [principal] & Clereng [clearing] the Land so as to make it profeteble [profitable] to the Present holders if they will Content them selves to stay at home & Live Comfortevble [comfortable] on said Land wich [which] is & will be aplesher [a pleasure] to me to se [see] you all succeed & keep to Land wich [which] has maid [made] a slave of me make you all comfortbe [comfortable] well I leve [leave] & & keep it out of the hands of uther [other] Peple [people] I am shure [sure] I Cant [can't] stay much Longe [longer] with you at the Longest But if culd [could] se [see] you & Peter & Nicholas have good Look [luck] to keep your farms & Live Frendly [friendly] as Brothers out to Due [do] & good Nabors [neighbors] I Dont [don't] mind Dying poor my self

For that reson [reason] I haught [ought] to se [see] you go away as Long as you are the onely [only] one that is able to asest [assist] the others if aney thing [anything] shld [should] befall them in ther [their] Beseness [business] & you are comforetly [comfortably] at home Now & I wold [would] much rather you shuld [should] all Stay at home for we have But one Life to Live & ther [there] is No beter [better] thing then be at home with you [your] fameley [family] But if you will go & due [do] go I hope god will be on your side & Carry you safe ther [there] & Back gold or No gold & I will make it my Bisness [business] wen [when] I go home to Look at your & Eve's farms & afares [affairs] & if I Can Due [do] aney [any] good By advison [advising] your Pepel [People] I will due [do] so & wen [when] you get aney [any] opertunety [opportunity] pleas wright [please write] to me to the uper [Upper] Bulls head wen [when] you get to Califonea [California] you inquier [inquire] for David Allington & Arche Allington They are ther [there] Now & old Mr Stenbergen Look out for him he got all your mony [money] from your frend [friend] & 3 others

Nicholas Ryerson

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John Ryerson Carry this Letter with you & rember [remember] me & This grate [great] man Stenbergen I told you on ther [the] uther [other] side of this Lere [Life] to Look out or he wold [would] get all your money is so he is awondfull [a wonderful] smart Likely man wold [would] make you beleve [believe] that he wold [would] make you wrich [rich] & you mite [might] beleve [believe] him But Look out & keep your funs [funds] if you have aney [any] out of your his hands But if you Can get aquanted [acquainted] with him & David Allengton & Arche Allengton they wold [would] be very glad to se [see] you there they are Clever smart Boeys [Boys]

If this Stenbergen is avere [a very] fine Looken [Looking] man & avery [a very] smart Biseness [business] man if you shuld [should] get aquantted [acquainted] with him mite [might] due [do] you agoodele [a good deal] of good he paed [paid] David Allengton & Arche Allengtons & young Mr Lords Fare to go with him he touk [ttok] 60 thousnd [thousand] Dollars with him out of the North River Bank But he have Brook 3 or 4 times goiest to Mopelies [Montpelier] Most of the suthern [southern] Cattel [Cattle] Beseness [business] & Brook Arestes [arrested] Wheten David Allengton & George Allergten & still they like him for he is the clevest [cleverest] & smarthes [smartest] man or Dutcheman [Dutchman] ther [there] is alone in the United State [States] wold [would] make you beleve [believe] the moone [moon] was maed [made] of Green Ches [cheese] he may Due [Do] you aworld [a world] of good But you must Look out & keep to staf [staff] in your owne [own] hand if you got aney [any] for the world is acheet [a cheat] & you No [know] not hue [hew] to fast that is the resen [reason] I wrote this for you may fall afoule [afoul] of Steenbergen & the Allengtons if you here [hear] from them try & find them & tell them I sent you to try & find them & they may Due [Do] you good But put No funds of yours in None of there [their] poawer [power] for feer [fear] you Never get it Back so take Care of your one [own] Property if you have aney [any] you & Eve & Let No man No [Know] that you have aney [any] money with you more than to Bare your Expses [expenses] & be Carefull [careful] that you Dont [don't] By [buy] spures Gold Dust that is No vallue [value] in it Ther [There] will be aplenty oferd [offered] for Sale & sold that is Not worth any thing wen [when] you have is good for nohing [nothing] Dont [Don't] be to [too] greedey [greedy] to git [get] to [too] much & then Lues [Lose] all But wen [when] you git [get] hold of a good thing Come home

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