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Gillespie, Edgar D (ca. 1822-1875). Historically Interesting Original Letter by One of the Earliest Residents of Suisun Valley, California, Talking about his Pioneering Farming Activities, the Scarce Demand for Hay in Sacramento City, and the High Cost of Ropes Reducing Profits. Mountain Valley Upper Suisun, California: 25 May 1852.



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Quarto (ca. x cm. or x in). 2 pp. Brown ink on bluish wove paper. Fold marks, slightly age toned, but otherwise a very good letter written in a legible hand.

Historically interesting autograph manuscript letter documenting California forty-niner’s early farming endeavors in Suisun Valley, Solano County, California.

Suisun Valley is a former Mexican land grant awarded by General Mariano Vallejo to Francisco Solano in 1837. During the California Gold Rush, the area saw a tremendous influx of settlers, transforming the valley into a hub of farming activity. In 1982, Suisun Valley was established as a wine appellation after wine grapes became the main crop of the area.

The author, Edgar F. Gillespie (ca. 1822-1875), originally from West Farms, New York, arrived in California in November 1849. He initially engaged in mining in Hangtown (now Placerville) before transitioning to a mercantile business in 1850. In 1851, Edgar moved to Suisun Valley for farming and haying, remaining there until 1853. He then started a business in Vacaville, becoming a Wells Fargo agent in 1857. He was elected Supervisor in 1858, Sheriff in 1863, and Justice of the Peace in 1869.

In the letter to his brother George, the author talks about the progress of his crop farming activities (mostly successful), the scarcity of hay in Sacramento City, and his hopes for an anticipated rise in demand when stock arrives from the Plains. He outlines his plans to continue cutting hay as long as the grass remains green and advises George to stay in the mines for another month. Edgar also complains about the high cost of ropes impacting his profits and calculates future expenses. In the rest of the letter, the author talks about the upcoming barley and wheat harvest and the three trusted mowers he hired for $75 each. Overall, historically interesting original letter by Suisun Valley’s pioneer farmer.

The text of the letter: “I wrote you last week announcing the arrival of “Don Rector” the old fellow is quite well lively and almast fat. The wild oats seem to agree much better with him than the grazing on your blak hill sides or the snags in your deep ravines. I am going ahead pretty lively with the hay now. I have three mowers at work at seventy five dollars per month. I could have got hands for less but those I have are whom I know and I preferred having them because I can rely upon them. Hay is quite low in Sac City but I do not anticipate a rise or demand in or for the article untill the grass is gone and the stock from over the plains comes in. We shall not be able I think to get any Hay into market before the 1st of Jul and that will be soon enough. I wish to cut as long as the grass remains green and suitable which may probably be three weeks from this time. So if you make anything by remaining in the mines a month longer you might do so, I fear we shall have to pay for rope it is now worth c’v + 60cents pay this will make it cost between three and four dollars per tone for rope alone to – with. It will reduce the profits considerably perhaps may be some in in a short time. I have nothing from home since I last wrote you. Things quiet here. Looking for Barley harness in the course of a couple of weeks shall have about 15 acres to cut myself of Barley and wheat. Hope to get done cutting hay by time it comes in.

Item #MB66
Price: $950.00