Return to Diary of Johann August Sutter.
LEFT the State of Missouri (where I has resided for a many years) on the
1th April, 1838, and travelled with the party of Men under Capt Tripps,
of the Amer. fur Compy, to their Rendezvous in the Rocky Mountains (Wind
River Valley); from there I travelled with 6 brave Men to Oregon, as I
considered myself not strong enough to cross the Sierra Nevada and go direct
to California (which was my intention from my first Start on having got
some informations from a Gent'n in New Mexico, who has been in California.)
spelling is often phonetic; Dalls for Dalles.]
a good Many Dangers and other troubles I have passed the Different forts
or trading posts of the Hudsons Bay Compy, and arrived at the Mission at
the Dalls on Columbia River. From this place I crossed right strait through
thick & thin and arrived to the great astonishment of the inhabitants.
I arrived in 7 days in the Valley of the Willamette, while others with
good guides arrived only in 17 days previous my Crossing. At fort Vancouver
I has been very hospitably received and invited to pass the Winter with
the Gentlemen of the Company, but as a Vessel of the Compy was ready to
sail for the Sandwich Islands, I took a passage in her, in hopes to get
Soon a Passage from there to California, but 5 long Months I had to wait
to find an Opportunity to leave, but not direct to California, except far
out of my Way to the Russian American Colonies on the North West Coast,
to Sitka the Residence of the Gov'r, (Lat. 57). I remained one Month there
and delivered the Cargo of the Brig Clementine, as I had Charge of the
Vessel, and then sailed down the Coast in heavy Gales, and entered in Distress
in the Port of San Francisco, on the 2d of July 1839. An Officer and 15
Soldiers came on board and ordered me out, saying that Monterey is the
Port of entry, & at last I could obtain 48 hours to get provisions
(as we were starving) and some repairings done on the Brig.
Monterey I arranged my affairs with the Custom House, and presented myself
to Govr. Alvarado, and told him my intention to Settle here in this Country,
and that I have brought with me 5 White Men and 8 Kanacas (two of them
married). 3 of the Whitemen were Mechanics, he was very glad to hear that,
and particularly when I told him, that I intend to Settle in the interior
on the banks of the river Sacramento, because the Indians then at this
time would not allow white Men and particularly of the Spanish Origin to
come near them, and was very hostile, and stole the horses from the inhabitants,
near San Jose. I got a General passport for my small Colony and permission
to select a Territory where ever I would find it convenient, and to come
in one Years time again in Monterey to get my Citizenship and the title
of the Land, which I have done so, and not only this, I received a high
civil Office ("Representante del Govierno en las fronteras del Norte, y
Encargado de la Justicia").
J.; Sandwich Islands. Sutter uses the dotted German "j" for "i."]
I left Yerba Buena (now San Francisco) after having leaved the Brig and
dispatched her back to the S. J. I bought several small Boats (Launches)
and Chartered the Schooner "Isabella" for my Exploring Journey to the inland
Rivers and particularly to find the Mouth of the River Sacramento, as I
could find Nobody who could give me information, only that they Knew that
some very large Rivers are in the interior. [William Heath Davis commanded
the Isabella and Nicholas which Sutter had chartered from
took me eight days before I could find the entrance of the Sacramento,
as it is very deceiving and very easy to pass by, how it happened to several
Officers of the Navy afterwards which refused to take a pilot. About 10
miles below Sacramento City I fell in with the first Indians which was
all armed & painted & looked very hostile; they was about 200 Men,
as some of them understood a little Spanish I could make a Kind of treaty
with them, and the two which understood Spanish came with me, and made
me a little better acquainted with the Country. All other Indians on the
up River hided themselves in the Bushes, and on the Mouth of Feather River
they runned all away so soon they discovered us. I was examining the Country
a little further up with a Boat, while the larger Crafts let go their Ankers.
On my return all the white Men came to me and asked me how much longer
I intended to travell with them in such a Wilderness. I saw plain that
it was a Mutiny. I answered them that I would give them an answer the next
Morning and left them and went in the Cabin.
following Morning I gave Orders to return, and entered in the American
River, landed at the former Tannery on the 12th Augt. 1839. Gave Orders
to get every thing on Shore, pitch the tents and mount the 3 Cannons, called
the white Men, and told them that all those which are not contented could
leave on board the Isabella next Morning and that I would settle with them
imediately and remain alone with the Canacas, of 6 Men 3 remained, and
3 of them I gave passage to Yerbabuena.
Indians was first troublesome, and came frequently, and would it not have
been for the Cannons they would have Killed us for sake of my property,
which they liked very much, and this intention they had very often, how
they have confessed to me afterwards, when on good terms. I had a large
Bull Dog which saved my life 3 times, when they came slyly near the house
in the Night: he got hold of and marked them most severely. In a short
time removed my Camps on the very spot where now the Ruins of Sutters fort
stands, made acquaintance with a few Indians which came to work for a short
time making Adobes, and the Canacas was building 3 grass houses, like it
is customary on the Sandwich Islands. Before I came up here, I purchassed
Cattle & Horses on the Rancho of Senor Martinez, and had great difficulties
& trouble to get them up, and had to wait for them long time, and received
them at least on the 22d October 1839. Not less then 8 Men wanted to be
in the party, as they were afraid of the Indians and had good reasons to
and "v" with Sutter were interchangeable-- save becomes safe.]
Before I got the Cattle we was hunting Deer & Elk etc and so afterwards
to safe the Cattle as I had then only about 500 head, 50 horses & a
manada of 25 mares. One Year, that is in the fall 1840, I bought 1000 head
of Cattle of Don Antonio Sunol and a many horses more of Don Joaquin Gomez
and others. In the fall 1839 I have built an Adobe house, covered with
Tule and two other small buildings in the middle of the fort; they was
afterwards destroyed by fire. At the same time we cut a Road through the
Woods where the City of Sacramento stand, then we made the New Embarcadero,
where the old Zinkhouse stands now. After this it was time to make a Garden,
and to sow some Wheat &c. We broke up the soil with poor Californian
ploughs, I had a few Californians employed as Baqueros, and 2 of them making
Cal. Carts & stocking the ploughs etc. [manada : the Spanish
for drove or herd.]
the Spring 1840. the Indians began to be troublesome all around me, Killing
and Wounding Cattle, stealing horses, and threatening to attack us en Mass
I was obliged to make Campaigns against them and punish them severely,
a little later about 2 or 300 was aproching and got United on Cosumne River,
but I was not waiting for them. Left a small Garrison at home, Canons &
other Arms loaded, and left with 6 brave men & 2 Baquero's in the night,
and took them by surprise at Day light. The fighting was a little hard,
but after having lost about 30 men, they was willing to make a treaty with
me, and after this lecon they behaved very well, and became my best friends
and Soldiers, with which I has been assisted to conquer the whole Sacramento
and a part of the San Joaquin Valley. [The French lecon for lesson
: Sutter's polylingual accomplishments creep in here and there.]
became likewise tolerable good laborers and the boys had to learn mechanical
trades; teamster's, Vaquero's, etc. At the time the Communication with
the Bay was very long and dangerous, particularly in open Boats; it is
a great Wonder that we got not swamped a many times, all time with an Indian
Crew and a Canaca at the helm. Once it took me (in December 1839.) 16 days
to go down to Yerbabuena and to return. I went down again on the 22d Xber
39. to Yerbabuena and on account of the inclemency of the Weather and the
strong current in the River I need a whole month (17 days coming up) and
nearly all the provisions spoiled.
the 18th 
a party of White men and Indians in serch for pine timber and went not
further up on the Amer. River as about 25 miles, found and cut some but
not of a good quality and rafted it down the River. On the end of the month
of March there was an other conspiracy of some Indians, but was soon quelled
when I succeeded to disarm them.
men who crossed with me the Rocky Mountains with two others had a chance
to come from Oregon on board an Amer. Vessel which landed them at Bodega,
at the time occupied by the Russians. When they told the Russian Governor
that they wanted to join me, he received them very kindly and hospitable,
furnished them with fine horses, new Saddles etc. at a very low rate and
gave them direction whereabout they would have to travell, without being
seen by some Spaniards, which would have them brought to Sonoma in the
prison and after a many difficulties they found me at last. I was of Course
very glad having these brave men again with me, and employed them, and
so I became strong at once.
Ringold of Comadore Wilkes' Exploring Squadron arrived on the Embarcadero,
piloted by one of the Launches Indian crew; without this they would not
have found so easy the entrance of the Sacramento. They had 6 Whaleboats
& 1 Launch, 7 Officers and about 50 men in all. I was very glad indeed
to see them, sent immediately saddled horses for the Officers, and my Clerk
with an invitation to come and see me. At their arrival I fired a salut,
and furnished them what they needed. They was right surprised to find me
up here in this Wilderness, it made a very good impression upon the Indians
to see so many whites are coming to see me, they surveyed the River as
far as the Butes. [Ringgold of Commodore Wilkes' expedition.]
the Russian Govr Mr. Alexander Rottcheff on board the Schooner Sacramento,
and offered me their whole Establishment at Bodega & Ross for sale,
and invited me to come right of with him, as there is a Russian Vessel
at Bodega, and some Officers with plein power, to transact this business
with me, and particularly they would give me the preference, as they became
all acquainted with me, during a months stay at Sitka. I left and went
with him down to the Bay in Company with Capt. Ringold's Expedition. What
for a fleet we thought then, is on the River. Arriving at Bodega, we came
very soon to terms, from there we went to fort Ross where they showed me
everything and returned to Bodega again, and before the Vessel sailed we
dined on board the Helena, and closed the bargain for $30,000, which has
been paid. And other property, was a separate account which has been first
paid. [The clerk was John Bidwell.]
dispatched a number of men and my Clerk by Land to Bodega, to receive the
Cattle, Horses, Mules & Sheep, to bring them up to Sutter's fort, called
then New Helvetia, by crossing the Sacramento they lost me from about 2000
head about a 100, which drowned in the River, but of most of them we could
safe the hides, our Cal. Banknotes at the time.
did send a Clerk with some men in charge of these Establishments and left
the necessary horses and Cattle there. The Schooner Sacramento keept up
the communication between the Coast and here, and brought me as freight
the Lumber, to finish the House in the fort. I was just building and errecting
the fort at the time in Aug. & Sept. for protection of the Indians
and of the Californians which became bery jealous seeing these fortifications
and 12 Canons and a field piece mounted, and two other brass pieces unmounted
at the time. [1844 Fremont's first appearance in California.]
party of Comodore Wilkes' Exploring Squadron, arrived from Oregon by land,
consisting of the Scientific Corps, a few Naval Officers, Marine Soldiers
and Mountaineers as Guides under Command of Lieut. Emmons. I received them
so well as I could, and then the Scientific Corps left by Land for San
Jose and the Naval Officers & Marines I dispatched them on board of
one of my Vessels.
Fremont arrived at the fort with Kit Carson, told me that he was an officer
of the U. S. and left a party behind in Distress and on foot, the few surviving
Mules was packed only with the most necessary. I received him politely
and his Company likewise as an old acquaintance. The next Morning I furnished
them with fresh horses, & a Vaquero with a pack Mule loaded with Necessary
Supplies for his Men. Capt Fremont found in my Establishment every thing
what he needed, that he could travell without Delay. He could have not
found it so by a Spaniard, perhaps by a great Many and with loosing a great
deal of time. I sold him about 60 Mules & about 25 horses, and fat
young Steers or Beef Cattle, all the Mules & horses got Shoed. On the
23d March, all was ready and on the 24th he left with his party for the
an Officer of the Govt. it was my duty to report to the Govt., that Capt.
Fremont arrived. Genl. Micheltorena dispatched Lieut. Col. Telles (afterwards
Gov. of Sinaloa) with Capt., Lieut. and 25 Dragoons, to inquire what Captain
Fremonts business was here; but he was en route as they arrive only on
the 27th. From this time on Exploring, Hunting & Trapping parties has
been started, at the same time Agricultural & Mechanical business was
progressing from Year to year, and more Notice has been taken of my establishment.
It became even a fame, and some early Distinguished Travellers like Doctor
Sandells, Wasnesensky & others, Captains of Trading Vessels & SuperCargos,
& even Californians (after the Indians was subdued) came and paid me
a visit, and was astonished to see what for Work of all kinds has been
done. Small Emigrant parties arrived, and brought me some very valuable
Men, with one of those was Major Bidwell (he was about 4 Years in my employ).
Major Reading & Major Hensley with 11 other brave Men arrived alone,
both of those Gentlemen has been 2 Years in my employ, with these parties
excellent Mechanics arrived which was all employed by me, likewise good
farmers. We made imediately Amer. ploughs in my Shops and all kind of work
done. Every year the Russians was bound to furnish me with good iron &
Steel & files, Articles which could not be got here, likewise Indian
Beeds and the most important of all was 100 lb of fine Rifle & 100
lb of Canon powder, and several 100 lb of Lead (every year). With these
I was carefull like with Gold. [The Bartleson party which included John
Bidwell arrived in November, 1841 Reading and Hensley came in 1843.]
the Hudsons Bay Company I received likewise great supplies, and particularly
Powder, lead, and Shot, Beaver Trapps and Clothing (on Credit, to be paid
for in Beaver and Otter Skins). They would not have done this to everyone;
but as I has been highly recommended to these gentlemen from England and
personally acquainted, they have done so. Once I received a visit of Mr.
Douglas, who was the Commander in Chief of the establishments on the Pacific
& the mountains, after Dr. McLaughlin resigned. With such a supply
of Powder, Amunition & Arms, I made a bold appearance. The fort was
built in about 4 years of time, as it was very difficult to get the necessary
lumber we was sawing by hand Oak timber. Under Gen'l Micheltorena our Govr.
I received the rank and Title Capt. of the Mexican Army. He found it his
Policy to be friend with me, as he was all time threatened with a Revolution
of the Californians notwithstanding having about 1000 troupes (Mexicans).
Having the rank as Capt. and Military Comander of the Northern frontieres,
I began to drill the Indians, with the assistance of two good Non Commissioned
Officers from my Country, which I promoted to Capt & first Lieut't
& got their Comissions and from the time I had a self-made Garrison,
but the Soldiers to earn for their Uniforms & food etc. had to work
when they was not on Duty. During this time my Stock was increasing; had
about then 8000 head of Cattle and 2000 horses and breeding Mares and about
4000 Sheep. Of the Wool we made our own Plankets, as we established under
great Difficulties a factory. Plankets, like nearly all other articles
was very scarce and sold to very high prices at the time.
continued in small parties, just strong enough to protect themselves travelling
through a Country of hostile Indians, all of them was allways hospitably
received under my roof and all those who could or would not be employed,
could stay with me so long as they liked, and when leaving, I gave them
Passports which was everywhere respected. Was some trouble below, all came
immediately to me for protection. Of the different unfortunate Emigrations
which suffered so much in the Snow, it is unnecessary to speak of, as it
was published in the papers throughout the States.
the fall 1844, I went to Monterey with Major Bidwell and a few armed men
(Cavallada & Servants); how it was customary to travell at these times,
to pay a Visit to Gen'l Micheltorrena. I has been received with the greatest
Civil and Military honors. One day he gave a great Diner, after Diner all
the Troupes were parading, and in the evening a balloon was sent to the
higher regions, etc, etc.
the time it looked very gloomy; the people of the Country was arming and
preparing to make a Revolution, and I got some sure and certain information,
of the British Consul and other Gentlemen of my acquaintance which I visited
on my way to Monterey. They did not know that the General and myself were
friends, and told and discovered me the whole plan, that in a short time
the people of the Country will be ready to blockade the General and his
troupes in Monterey, and then take him prisoner and send him and his Soldiers
back to Mexico, and make a Gov'r of their own people etc. I was well aware
what we could expect should they succeed to do this; they would drive us
foreigners all very soon out of the Country, how they have done it once,
in the winter 1839. Capt. Vioget has already been engaged by Castro &
Alvarado to be ready with his vessel to take the Gen'l and his Soldiers
had a confidential Conversation with Genl. Micheltorena who received me
with great honors and Distinction in Monterey. After having him informed
of all what is going on in the Country, he took his measures in a Counsel
of war in which I has been present. I received my Orders to raise such
a large auxiliary force as I possibly could, and to be ready at his Order,
at the same time I received some Cartridges and some small Arms which I
had shiped on board the Alert, and took a Passage myself for San Francisco
(or then Yerba buena). If I had travelled by land, Castro would have taken
me a Prisoner in San Juan, where he was laying in Ambush for me. In Yerba
buena I remained only a few hours as my Schooner was ready to receive me
on board, having waited for me at Ya. Ba. [Yerba Buena] I visited
the Officers of the Custom house and Castro's Officer, which immediately
after I left received an Order to arrest me, but I was under fair Way to
my Arrival at the fort, I began to organize a force for the General, regular
Drill of the Indian Infanterie took place, the Mounted Rifle Company about
100 Men of all Nations was raised, of which Capt. Gantt was the Commander;
as all was under fair way and well organized, and joint with a Detachment
of California Cavallry (which deserted from Vallejo) we left the fort with
Music and flying Colors on the 1th January 1845, to join the General, and
comply with his Orders. Major Reading was left with a small Garrison of
Frenchmen, Canadians and Indians, as Commander of the upper Country.
had his Headquarters then in the Mission of San Jose. He did not expect
us so soon, as he was just commencing to fortify himself, he ran away with
his Garrison, was collecting a stronger force, and want to trouble us on
our March, but as he saw that I was on a good Qui Vive for him, he left
for Monterey to unite with the forces that was blockading the General and
his troops in Monterey, and advanced or runed for the lower Country, to
call or force the people there to take Arms against the Government. On
the Salinas River near Monterey the Genl. was encamped, and with our united
force, about 600 Men (he left a Garrison in Monterey) we pursued the enemy,
and had to pursue him down to Los Angeles. The first encounter we had with
the enemy was at Buenaventura, where we attacked him and drove them out
their comfortable quarters. While at and near Santa Barbara, a great Many
of Soldiers of my Division Deserted, over 50 men of the Mounted Rifles,
the Detachment of Cala. Cavalry deserted and joined their Countrymen the
Rebells, likewise a good number of the Mexican Dragoons.
San Fernando (Mission) the enemy occupied a fine position, and appeared
in full strength, joined by a company of American Traders coming from Sonora
and another Company of the same consisting of Traders and Trappers and
the whole force of the enemy was over thousand Men, well provided with
everything, and our force has been no more as about 350 or 375 Men, and
during the battle of Cahuenga near San Fernando, the balance of the Mounted
Riflemen, and the Artillerie deserted, and myself fell in the hands of
the enemy and was taken prisoner and transported to Los Angeles.
few days after this, the General, surrounded by the enemy, so that he could
get nothing more to eat, capitulated, and after the necessary Documents
was signed by both parties, the Genl. was allowed to march with Music and
flying colours to San Pedro, where some vessels was ready to take him and
his troops on board, and after having delivered their arms etc. proceeded
up to Monterey to take the remaining Garrison, the family of the General
and his privat property, likewise the families of some of the officers.
This was the End of the reign of Genl. Govr. Manl. Micheltorena.
new Govt. under Gov. Pio Pico, and General Castro, etc. had the intention
to shoot me. They was of the Oppinion, that I had joined Genl. Micheltorena
Voluntarely, but so soon as I could get my Baggage and my papers, I could
prove and show by the Orders of my General that I have obeied his Orders,
and done my Duty to the legal Government. And so I was acquitted with all
honors, and confirmed in my former Offices as Military Commander of the
Northern frontier, and encharged with the Justice, with the expressed wish
that I might be so faithful to the new Govt. as I had been to Genl. Micheltorena.
I was in Santa Barbara had a Conversation with Genl. Micheltorena, in reference
of the expense, etc., because at the time I had already an Account of about
$8000, without counting a cent for my own services, and for my whole rendered
services from beginning of my different Offices which I held under Alvarado
& the Genl. never they have paid me, even for a Courier, and never
furnished me with a Govts. horse. The General told me that he knew this
very well, and as he had no money, he would let me have some land, and
even if I should like the sobrante for which I applied when last in Monterey,
and which Document was mislaid or destroyed by Dn. Manuel Timeno. I told
him that I would be contented, and as we are in Campaign and might be killed
by the enemy I wish that the Document would be writen in the name of my
eldest Son and my whole family.[sobrante: an extension of area to land
Genl. did send for one of his Aid-de-Camp Capt. Castaneda, who was acting
Secretary. This Gentleman wrote the Document (he is alife yet), he has
given his testimony before the Land Commission about 2 years ago. This
Document with a many others has been given to John S. Fowler in Care while
he was acting as my Agent, and was afterwards destroyed by fire.
a return of hardship from San Fernando through Tulare Valley, we turned
all out again to our former Occupations, and arrived at the fort on the
1th April 1845.
large party of emigrants arrived. On the 30th dispatched a party of men
to assist them.
large party arrived (about 60 Wagons). Visitors and letters from the U.
Bandas (Proclamations) and Orders of Governor Pio Pico and Genl. Castro.
This was on account rumors was circulating that war had been declared between
the U. States and Mexico. On the 23d a Meeting was held of the Emigrants
at the Fort (Thursday). After the Proclamations had been translated to
the Meeting, they adjourned over until Monday next.
the Day when the Commissioner from Mexico, Don Andres Castillero arrived
at the Fort in Company with Genl. Dn. Jose Castro, Col. Prudon, Ma. Lees,
staff and Escort of Castro. A salut was fired. [Major J. P. Leese.]
having refused to let them have the fort for $100,000, or for Castros offer
for the Mission of San Jose etc, etc, they left the next day. Salut fired.
J. C. Fremont arrived again.
him 14 mules.
for the South to meet Capt. J. Walker. On the same day, two Blacksmiths
of Fremonts arrived, to take charge of one of the Blacksmith Shops, to
make Horse Shoes Nails etc. [Jos. Reddeford Walker]
was driving of Stock, some of it we got back again.
Capt. W. L. Hastings direct from the U. States crossing the Mountains with
11 men, among them was Doctor Semple, if they had arrived one day later
they would have been cut off by the immense quantity of Snow. I keept the
whole party over winter, some of them I employed.
Leidesdorff U. S. vice Consul & Capt. Hinckley, Capt. of the Port of
San francisco, arrived on a friendly Visit. On the 15th January Capt Fremont
returned, not beeing able to find Capt. Walker. As we were two officers
of the Mex. Govt. with the Vice Consul of the U. S. we put ourselves in
Uniform, and visited Fremont in his Camp, and invited him to dine with
us at the Fort, which he accepted, put himself in Uniform and joint us,
as we approached the Fort a salute was fired.
Fremonts Camp with Provisions.
Fremont with 8 of his men took passage on board my Schooner for Yerba buena.
a Visit of Major Snyder and Mr. Sublette, they brought the News of War
being declared between the U. S. & England.
was sent to me that no Mexican Troopes has arrived, which were daily expected
in the Country, and that probably California is about to be delivered up
to the U. S.
Marsh sent an Express with information of Fremonts Difficulties with Castro.
Capt. Fremont was blockaded near Monterey by Castro and his Troopes, and
refused him to proceed to the South through the Country on the Coste, etc.
The foreign Residents wanted to assist Fremont, but he refused their aid.
Fremont returned and camped on the other side of the Amer. Fork, and looking
out for the Californiens, and in a few days left for the upper Sacramento,
and for Oregon.
Lieut. A. Gillespie of the U. States Marine Corps, who had secret Dispatches
for Fremont, and wanted to overtake him on his route to Oregon. I furnished
him with Animals, he went up to Peter Lassens with my Guide. At P. Lassens
he hired Men and bought Animals to overtake Fremont. After a sharp riding
he succeeded to overtake him, and returned with him to the Sacramento Valley.
Neal passed on a secret errant for Monterey.
A. Gillespie arrived from the Upper Sacramento Valley, and left on the
1st June on board my Schooner for Yerba buena.
left in Company of Major Reading, and most all of the Men in my employ,
for a Campaign with the Mukelemney Indians, which has been engaged by Castro
and his Officers to revolutionize all the Indians against me, to Kill all
the foreigners, burn their houses and Wheat fields etc. These Mukelemney
Indians had great promesses and some of them were finely dressed and equiped,
and those came apparently on a friendly visit to the fort and Vicinity
and had long Conversation with the influential Men of the Indians, and
one Night a Number of them entered in my Potrero (a kind of closed pasture)
and was Ketching horses to drive the whole Cavallada away with them. The
Sentinel at the fort heart the distant Noise of these Horses, and gave
due notice, & imediately I left with about 6 well armed Men and attacked
them, but they could make their escape in the Woods (where Sac. City stands
now) and so I left a guard with the horses. As we had to cross the Mukelemney
River on rafts, one of those rafts capsized with 10 Rifles, and 6 prs of
Pistols, a good supply of Amunition, and the Clothing of about 24 Men,
and Major Reading & another Man nearly drowned.
Men remained on the dry places as they had no Clothing nor Arms, the remaining
Arms and amunitions has been divided among the whole, and so we marched
the whole Night on the Calaveras, and could not find the enemy. In the
Morning by Sunrise we took a little rest, and soon dispatched a party to
discover and reconnoitre the enemy. A Dog came to our Camp which was a
well known dog of the Mukelemneys, a sign that they are not very far from
us; at the same time a Courier of the party came on galloping, telling
us that the party fell already in an engagemt with the enemy. Imediately
we left galloping to join in the fight; already some of our Men was wounded
and unable to fight. We continued the fighting until they retired and fled
in a large hole like a Cellar in the bank of the Calaveras, covered with
brushes and trees, firing and shooting with their bows and arrows, but
we had them blockaded, and killed them a good many of their Men, but on
account of having no more powder and balls, we found it very prudent to
leave the Scene slowly, so that it appeared as we wanted to Camp, and so
we made a forced March and Crossed the Mukelemney, and returned from this
Campaign on the 7th June.
Lieut. Francisco Arce with 8 Soldiers & Govt. horses from Sonoma for
Lieutenant Arce for Monterey.
party of Americans under Command of E. Merritt, took all the horses from
Arce at Murphey's.
Portsmouths Launch arrived under Command of Lieut. Hunter, in Company with
Lieut. Gillespie, Purser Waldron & Doctor Duvall.
Gillespie & Hensley left for Fremont's Camp near Hock farm.
& Kitt Carson arrived with News of Sonoma beeing occupied by the Americans,
and the same evening arrived as prissoners Genl. Vallejo, Don Salvador
Vallejo, Lt. Col. Prudon & M. Leese, and given under my charge and
Care, I have treated them with kindness and so good as I could, which was
reported to Fremont, and he then told me that prissoners ought not to be
treated so, then I told him, if it is not right how I treat them, to give
them in charge of somebody else.
the Portsmouth Launch for Yerba buena. Capt. Fremont moved Camp up to the
Amer. fork, a good many people joining Fremonts Camp.
Express from Sonoma with letter from Capt. Montgomery.
Capt. Fremont with about 20 Men from Camp. Jose Noriega was detained prissoner.
Fremonts Blacksmiths were busily engaged. Vicente Peralta, who was up in
the Valley on a visit, was detained prissoner.
Fremont & Camp deposited the Packs and then camped across Amer. fork.
Major Reading and my Trappers joined the Camp, and left for Sonoma as a
strong Detachment of Californians crossed the Estrecho de Carqinas at Benicia.
Revere & Dr. Henderson of the Portsmouth with a party of Men arrived
in a Man of War Boat. A party of Men arrived from Oregon by land, which
Lieut. Bartlett of the Portsmouth and organized a Garrison.
Arrived or returned from Sonoma with his Company. On this trip or Campaign
to Sonoma some cruel actions has been done on both sides.
Montgomery did send an Amer. flag by Lieut. Revere then in Command of Sonoma,
and some dispatches to Fremont, I received the Order to hist the flag by
Sunrise from Lt. Revere. Long time before daybreak, I got ready with loading
the Canons and when it was day the roaring of the Canons got the people
all stirring. Some them made long faces, as they thought if the Bear flag
would remain there would be a better chance to rob and plunder. Capt. Fremont
received Orders to proceed to Monterey with his forces, Capt. Montgomery
provided for the upper Country, established Garrisons in all important
places, Yerba buena, Sonoma, San Jose, and fort Sacramento. Lieut. Missroon
came to organize our Garrison better and more Numbers of white Men and
Indians of my former Soldiers, and gave me the Command of this Fort. The
Indians have not yet received their pay yet for their services, only each
one a shirt and a pre. of pants, & abt. 12 men got Coats. So went the
War on in California. Capt. Fremont was nearly all time engaged in the
lower Country and made himself Governor, until Genl. Kearny arrived, when
an other Revolution took place. And Fremont for disobeying Orders was made
prissoner by Genl. Kearny, who took him afterwards with him to the U. States
by Land across the Mountains. [Sutter was second in command.]
the War I was anxious that Business should go on like before, and on the
28th May, 1847, Marshall & Gingery, two Millwrights, I employed to
survey the large Millraise for the Flour Mill at Brighton. [pre: French
abbreviation of une paire: pair.]
Anderson arrived with a Detachment of Stevenson's Regiment of N. Y. Volunteers
for a Garrison, and to relieve my Indian Soldiers from their Service.
Marshall commenced the great work of the large Millraise, with ploughs
visit of Genl Kearny and his Staff and a few other Gentlemen. A salut was
fired and the Garrison was parading.
diner given to Gen'l Kearny and Staff. Capt. Fremont a prisoner of Gen'l
Kearny. Walla Walla Indian Chiefs and people visited Fremont and wanted
their pay for Services rendered in the Campaign when they was with Fremonts
Battaillon, he then ordered one of his officers to pay them with Govt's
horses (Horses which has been taken from the people of the Country was
called Govt. horses and war horses).
Kearny, Staff & Escort etc. left for the U. States across the Mountains.
Walla Walla Indians have done a great deal of Depredations on their return
march to Oregon, stole horses of mine and other people, stole from a many
Indian tribes and maltreated them. They are a very bad Tribe of Indians
and very warlike.
all the necessary timber for the frame of the millbuilding.
with Marshall and an Indian Chief in search for a Mill site in the Mountains.
17th, 18th & 19th.
on a visit to Comodore Stockton in his Camp on Bear creek. The Comodore
left with a Strong party for the U. States across the Mountains. Made a
present to the Comodore with my best and finest horse of my Cavallada.
Great Sickness and diseases amongst the Indian tribes, and a great Number
of them were dying notwithstanding of having employed a Doctor to my hospital.
Cloud, paymaster & Capt Folsom quartermaster arrived; the former paid
off the Garrison at the fort. On the 4th, these two Gentlemen left on Horseback.
I accompanied them, and we was only but only 1/2 mile from the fort Major
Cloud fell from his horse senseless and died in the evening. The Surgeon
of the Garrison & my own Doctor have done what could be done to safe
him. On the 6th, Major Cloud was burried with military honors. Capt. Folsom
commanded the Troops, as Lieut't Anderson was sick.
Hart of the Mormon Battaillon arrived, with a good many of his Men on their
Way to great Salt Lake. They had Orders for Govt. Horses, which I delivered
to them, (War Horses) not paid for yet. They bought provisions and got
Blacksmith work done. I employed about Eighty Men of them, some as Mechanics,
some as laborers, on the Mill and Millraise at Brighton; some as laborers
at the Sawmill at Columa.
moved, with P. Wimmer family and the working hands to Columa, and began
to work briskly on the sawmill.
Sam'l Brannan returned from the great Salt Lake, and announced a large
Emigration by land. On the 19th the Garrison was removed, Lieut't Per Lee
took her down to San francisco.
more Carpenters to assist Brouett on the Grist Mill.
great many Emigrants arrived, and so it continued through the whole of
small Store was established by S'l Brannan & Smith in one of the houses
near the fort.
with a great deal of trouble and with breaking wagons the four Runs of
Millstones, to the Mill Site (Brighton) from the Mountains.
about 2000 fruit trees with great expenses from Fort Ross, Napa Valley
and other places, which was given in Care of men who called themselves
Gardeners, and nearly all of the trees was neglected by them and died.
arrived in the evening, it was raining very heavy, but he told me he came
on important business. After we was alone in a private Room he showed me
the first Specimens of Gold, that is he was not certain if it was Gold
or not, but he thought it might be; immediately I made the proof and found
that it was Gold. I told him even that most of all is 23 Carat Gold; he
wished that I should come up with him immediately, but I told him that
I have to give first my orders to the people in all my factories and shops.
[Marshall picked up the first flakes in the mill race at the Coloma sawmill
Jan. 24, 1848.]
for the Sawmill attended by a Baquero (Olimpio). Was absent 2d, 3d, 4th,
& 5th. I examined myself everything and picked up a few Specimens of
Gold myself in the tail race of the Sawmill; this Gold and others which
Marshall and some of the other laborers gave to me (it was found while
in my employ and Wages) I told them that I would a Ring got made of it
soon as a Goldsmith would be here. I had a talk with my employed people
all at the Sawmill. I told them that as they do know now that this Metal
is Gold, I wished that they would do me the great favor and keep it secret
only 6 weeks, because my large Flour Mill at Brighton would have been in
Operation in such a time, which undertaking would have been a fortune
to me, and unfortunately the people would not keep it secret, and so I
lost on this Mill at the lowest calculation about $25,000.
first party of Mormons, employed by me left for washing and digging Gold
and very soon all followed, and left me only the sick and the lame behind.
And at this time I could say that every body left me from the Clerk to
the Cook. What for great Damages I had to suffer in my tannery which was
just doing a profitable and extensive business, and the Vatts was left
filled and a quantity of half finished leather was spoiled, likewise a
large quantity of raw hides collected by the farmers and of my own killing.
The same thing was in every branch of business which I carried on at the
time. I began to harvest my wheat, while others was digging and washing
Gold, but even the Indians could not be keeped longer at Work. They was
impatient to run to the mine, and other Indians had informed them of the
Gold and its Value; and so I had to leave more as 2/3 of my harvest in
by a band of Robbers, from the Red Woods at San Francisquito near Santa
Humphrey a regular Miner arrived, and left for Columa with Wimmer &
Marshall. Entered with them in Mining, furnished Indians, teams and provisions
to this Company, and as I was loosing instead making something, I left
this Company as a Partner. Some of the Neighbors, while the Mormons left,
became likewise the Goldfever and went to the Mountains prospecting and
soon afterwards moved up to digg and wash Gold, and some of them with great
Gray (from Virginia) who purchased Silver Mines in the San Jose Valley
for a Compy and was interested himself. At the fort he learned the news
of the Gold discovery. I presented him some Speciments of Gold. He left
for the States across the Mountains. Some families are moving in the Mountains
to camp and settle there.
curious people arrived, bound for the Mountains. I left for Columa, in
Company with Major P. B. Reading and Mr. Kembel (Editor of the Alta-California)
we were absent 4 Days. We was prospecting and found Silver and iron ore
great many people more went up to the Mountains. This day the Saw mill
was in Operation and the first Lumber has been sawed in the whole upper
Country. [Kemble, later editor of the alta,was then editing the
Star,San Francisco's first newspaper.]
Brannan was building a store at Natoma, Mormon Islands, and have done a
very large and heavy business.
off all the Mormons which has been employed by me, in building these Mills
and other Mechanical trades, all of them made their pile, and some of them
became rich & wealthy, but all of them was bound to the great Salt
Lake, and spent there their fortunes to the honor and Glory of the Lord!
great Rush from San Francisco arrived at the fort, all my friends and acquaintances
filled up the houses and the whole fort, I had only a little Indian boy,
to make them roasted Ripps etc. as my Cooks left me like every body else.
The Merchants, Doctors, Lawyers, Sea Captains, Merchants etc. all came
up and did not know what to do, all was in a Confusion, all left their
wives and families in San francisco, and those which had none locked their
Doors, abandoned their houses, offered them for sale cheap, a few hundred
Dollars House & Lot (Lots which are worth now $100,000 and more), some
of these men were just like greazy. Some of the Merchants has been the
most purdentest of the Whole, visited the Mines and returned immediately
and began to do a very profitable business, and soon Vessels came from
every where with all Kind of Merchandise, the whole old thrash which was
laying for Years unsold, on the Coasts of South & Central America,
Mexico Sandwich Islands etc. All found a good Market here.
Brannan was erecting a very large Warehouse, and have done an immense business,
connected with Howard & Green; S. Francisco.
Kyburg errected or established the first Hotel in the fort in the larger
building, and made a great deal of Money. A great Many traders deposited
a great deal of goods in my Store (an Indian was the Key Keeper and performed
very well). Afterwards every little Shanty became a Warehouse and Store;
the fort was then a veritable Bazaar. As white people would not be employed
at the Time I had a few good Indians attending to the Ferry boat,
and every night came up, and delivered the received Money for ferryage
to me, after deduction for a few bottles of brandy, for the whole of them.
Perhaps some white people at the time would not have acted so honestly.
travelling to the Mines was increasing from day to day, and no more Notice
was taken, as the people arrived from South America, Mexico, Sandwich Islands,
Oregon, etc. All the Ships Crews, and Soldiers deserted. In the beginning
of July, Col. Mason our Military Governor, with Capt. Sherman (Secretary
of State) Capt. Folsom, Quartermstr, and an Escort, of which some deserted,
and some other Gentlemen, travelled in Company with the Governor.
we wanted to celebrate the 4th of July we invited the Governor and his
suite to remain with us, and be accepted. Kyburg gave us a good Diner,
every thing was pretty well arranged. Pickett was the Orator. It was well
done enough for such a new Country and in such an excitement and Confusion.
And from this time on you know how every thing was going on here. One thing
is certain that the people looked on my property as their own, and in the
Winter of 1849 to 1850, a great Number of horses has been stolen from me,
whole Manadas of Mares driven away and taken to Oregon etc. Nearly my whole
Stock of Cattle has been Killed, several thousands, and left me a very
small Quantity. The same has been done with my large stock of Hogs, which
was running like ever under nobodies care and so it was easy to steal them.
I had not an Idea that people could be so mean, and that they would do
a Wholesale business in Stealing.
the upper Sacramento, that is, from the Buttes downward to the point or
Mouth of feather River, there was most all of my Stock running and during
the Overflow the Cattle was in a many bands on high spots like Islands.
There was a fine chance to approach them in small Boats and shoot them.
This business has been very successfully done by one party of 5 Men (partners)
which had besides hired people, and Boats Crews, which transported the
beef to the Market at Sacramento City and furnished that City with my own
beef, and because these Men was nearly alone, on account of the Overflow,
and Monopolized the Market.
the Spring of 1850, these 5 men divided their Spoil of $60,000 clear profits
made of Cattle. All of them left for the Atlantic State; one of them returned
again in the Winter from 1850 to 51, hired a new band of Robers to follow
the same business and kill of the balance or the few that was left. My
Baqueros found out this Nest of thiefs in the their Camp butchering just
some heads of my Cattle. On their return they informed me what they have
seen. In the neighborhood of the same Camp they saw some more cows shot
dead, which the Rascal then butchered. Immediately I did send to Nicolaus
for the Sheriff (Jas. Hopkins) as then at the time we had laws in force?!?
After all was stolen and destroyed the Sheriff arrived at Hock farm. I
furnished him a Posse of my employed Men. They proceeded over on the Sacramento
to where the thiefs were encamped. As the Sheriff wanted to arrest them
they just jumped in their Boats and off they went, the Sheriff threatened
them to fire at them, but that was all, and laughing they went at large.
day my Son was riding after Stock a few miles below Hock farm. He found
a Man (his name was Owens) butchering one of our finest milch Cows (of
Durham stock of Chile, which cost $300.) He told the Man that he could
not take the Meat, that he would go home and get people, and so he has
done, and he got people and a Wagon and returned to the Spot but Owens
found it good to clear out. Two brothers of this Man was respectable Merchants
in Lexington Mo. and afterwards in Westport well acquainted with me. He
came one day in my house and brought me their compliments, I received him
well, and afterwards turned out to be a thief. How many of this kind came
to California which loosed their little honor by crossing the Istmus or
the plains. I had nothing at all to do with speculations, but stuck by
the plough, but by paying such high Wages, and particularly under Kyburg's
management, I have done this business with a heavy loss as the produce
had no more the Value like before, and from the time on Kyburg left I curtailed
my business considerable, and so far that I do all at present with my family
and a few Indian Servants. I did not speculate, only occupied my land,
in the hope that it would be before long decided and in my favor by the
U. S. Land Commission; but now already 3 years & two months have elapsed,
and I am waiting now very anxiously for the Decission, which will revive
bring me to the untimely grave.
the other Circumstances you know all yourself, perhaps I have repeated
many things which I wrote in the 3 first sheets, because I had them not
to see what I wrote, and as it is now several months I must have forgotten.
Well it is only a kind of memorandum, and not a History at all, Only to
remember you on the different periods when such and such things happened.
need not mention again, that all the Visitors has allways been hospitably
received and treated. That all the sick and wounded found allways Medical
Assistance, Gratis, as I had nearly all the time a Physician in my employ.
The Assistance to the Emigrants, that is all well known. I dont need to
write anything about this.
think now from all this you can form some facts, and that you can mention
how thousands and thousands made their fortunes, from this Gold Discovery
produced through my industry and energy, (some wise merchants and others
in San francisco called the building of this Sawmill, another of Sutter's
folly) and this folly saved not only the Mercantile World from Bankruptcy,
but even our General Gov't. but for me it has turned out a folly, then
without having discovered the Gold, I would have become the richest wealthiest
man on the Pacific Shore.
The Diary of Johann August Sutter
/ with an introduction by Douglas S. Watson. San Francisco : Grabhorn Press,
to the top of the page.