Voyage to California (42) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlap (Irwin) Guion, (5) Judith Anne Guion.

The following are transcriptions of John Jackson Lewis’s diary and journal of his voyage to California in 1851. He was travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

From Wm. To Sarah; dated San Jose March 30th:

xxxxxx  S. Day’s attention is almost exclusively devoted to the farm, while I attend to the surveying.  I have been absent since I wrote to father, until day before yesterday – have been engaged in the survey of a large Spanish grant, about 15 miles from this town.  It is impossible for a stranger to form an adequate idea of the difficulties which exist here in regard to land titles, and we are anxiously looking forward to the arrival of Commissioners from the United States Government to determine the validity and extent of the several grants.  When this is done the lands of this valley will soon be brought under cultivation, but now farmers are afraid to invest their money in houses, fencing and other improvements, while the tenure of their land remains so very uncertain.  John seemed on his first arrival to think this valley as more beautiful than I had described it, indeed he said to me that it was by far the most beautiful he had ever seen. – But I shall be a little careful how I write my opinions respecting it, as I should prefer that a part of the family should remain in Pennsylvania.  Those who are accustomed to intelligent society, and have leisure to enjoy it, would probably feel the want of it very much at this time here, but I have had my time so filled up with business avocations that the loss is less sensibly observed. xxxxx

Tomorrow more on the lives of Lad and Marian as they begin their life in Trumbull.

Next week I’ll be posting letters written in 1944. All of Grandpa’s sons are scattered around the world helping Uncle Sam win the war.

Judy Guion


2 thoughts on “Voyage to California (42) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

  1. Maureen Jenner says:

    Hard to imagine the feelings of isolation these early settlers must have felt. I always put my radio on whenever I am at home;it is my constant companion. I cannot imagine life without it – yet in the early days of family camping with my husband – and later with two children, we did enjoy the solitude and the sounds of nature around us.

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