Thomas Gilman Freedom Papers
Despite California’s status as a free state, many Southern gold miners brought slaves with them to work the diggings during the Gold Rush. This presented an opportunity, as some of these men and women were able to purchase their freedom. Thomas Gilman (1830-1911) purchased his freedom for $1,000 in 1852. Born into slavery in Tennessee, Gilman was brought to California in 1850 to work in the gold mines near Shaw’s Flat. Within two years he earned enough money to free himself. He spent the rest of his life in Tuolumne County, mining and farming, until he passed away in 1911.
This collection contains Gilman’s “freedom papers,” letters, poll taxes and other receipts.