December, 1841

John Bidwell and his two friends arrived at Sutter’s establishment on November 28th, 1841. There they were given a hearty welcome by John Augustus Sutter, a German-born adventurer who had been granted a vast tract of land by the Mexican government.

Even better, they found at Sutter’s their old companion James John, who had become separated from their group in the Sierras back in October. Not knowing what had become of him, and fearing that he had been killed by hostile Indians or fallen to his death in a steep canyon,  they were delighted to meet Jimmy John again.

Bidwell later wrote, “On the eighth day we came to Sutter’s settlement; the fort had not then been begun. Sutter received us with open arms and in a princely fashion, for he was a man of most polite address and the most courteous manners, a man who could shine in any society.”

Sutter was a man with wide-ranging ideas on how to make money in California. He envisioned a valley filled with farms, mills, shops, and men, all working to develop the riches of California. And he, John Sutter, would be in charge of it all. To realize his dreams he needed manpower, and lots of it. He was hiring fur trappers, vaqueros, farm laborers, and skilled craftsmen, if he could find them.

Sutter was delighted to meet John Bidwell. This was just the kind of man he needed. A man who knew how to write clearly, keep accounts, survey property lines, and draw maps was a rare find indeed. He promptly hired him as his clerk.

For his part, John Bidwell took to Sutter right away. Sutter was everything Marsh was not: cheerful, generous, hospitable. Bidwell would work for Sutter off and on for the next eight years.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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