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‘To the Land Of Promise: The Extraordinary California Gold Rush Journal of Lewis Meyer’ presented by Sal Manna

August 10, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


‘To the Land Of Promise: The Extraordinary California Gold Rush Journal of Lewis Meyer’ presented by Sal Manna.
Hear about a never-before-published Gold Rush journal by a German immigrant who sailed from New York, around the Horn, to San Francisco in 1849. Lewis Meyer would farm and live in then-Analy Township in Sonoma County from the mid-1860s to mid-1880s
To The Land Of Promise: The Extraordinary California Gold Rush Journal of Lewis Meyer marks one of the last, if not the last, major first-person contribution to the history of the Gold Rush. A gold mine of observations and experiences, Meyer’s journal of his 1849 voyage from New York, around Cape Horn, to San Francisco has never been published, in part or in whole, or even been available for research purposes to any historian, until now.

‘To the Land Of Promise’ is a rarity. Few other journals published to date are as complete with daily and extensive entries that go far beyond simply commenting on the weather and noting a ship’s longitude and latitude, and touch on everything from learned observations of the natural world to perceptive reflections on human nature. Few other first-person accounts published to date include a mining company’s constitution and bylaws. Few other diaries of voyages include a bill of fare detailing daily meals. Only a few others convey the reality of six months living on a sailing ship in the mid-19th century. Faster steamships as well as faster clipper ships soon dominated the Gold Rush trade. The travails of sailing ships rounding the Horn became the stuff of legend.

Yet ‘To The Land Of Promise’ is even more of a rarity with what has been added: No other publication has included as many biographies of a Gold Rush ship’s passengers and crew, offering an unique opportunity to contemplate the lives of these bold adventurers. While none of them were particularly noteworthy when they embarked, it would turn out that the Panama held within her a formidable number of important figures of the Gold Rush and early California history. Shipmates of Meyer included a famous lawman who would nab stage robber Black Bart, two of the founders of the city of Oakland (including its first mayor), two of San Francisco’s pioneer printers (strangely one who was also its first coroner), a well-known actor who strode the same stage with the legendary Edwin Booth, the first artist to sketch the Yosemite Valley, the architect who designed the state capitol, and an Italian musician who helped give singer Lotta Crabtree her start, as well as an early druggist in Sacramento, undertaker in Stockton, candy-maker and jeweler in San Francisco, and a handful of state legislators. Oh, and there was also a brother of the man who would become one of the most heinous serial killers in American history. There were four women too, three of them accompanied by their husbands and a widowed fourth who was surely one of the first California “golddiggers,” an unflattering description that has nothing to do with acquiring precious metal by digging in the earth. Also on board were merchants and grocers (such as Meyer) as well as doctors, farmers, hotelkeepers, carpenters, seamen, stone masons, an insurance agent, a cabinetmaker, a soda manufacturer, an expressman, a livery stable owner (San Francisco’s aptly-named Pioneer Stables), a stockbroker and, of course, a few who remained what they were when they disembarked—miners.

‘To The Land Of Promise’ does not end in San Francisco because neither did Meyer. He continued to write daily about his first experiences in California, from September to December of 1849, and a transcript of that diary accompanied his Panama journal. His description of his prospecting trip to Stockton and the southern mines and back to San Francisco marks a fitting conclusion to his extraordinary adventure.
Tentative date August 10th


August 10, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Sonoma Valley Historical Society
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Sonoma Community Center
276 East Napa Street
Sonoma, CA 95476 United States
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