John Marsh’s letters were a prime motivator in getting John Bidwell to California. Marsh, already living in California, wrote to Missouri newspapers and extolled the attractions of his new home. That, plus the tales told by Antoine Robidoux, convinced John Bidwell to start up the Western Emigration Society and gather folks to go with him to a place 2000 miles away.
At the end of their trek the Bidwell-Bartleson party of exhausted pioneers were welcomed by John Marsh himself, who fed them and told them what their next moves should be (get a passport, find a job.) At the time Marsh was living on a Mexican land grant in an adobe house. That house is long gone, but Marsh’s later house is still standing, although in desperate needed of restoration.
The John Marsh Historic Trust has taken on the task of restoring the house, and Marsh Creek State Park is the newest state park in California. Together the trust members and state parks crews are working to renovate the house and someday open it to the public.
On Saturday, October 11, the John Marsh Historic Trust is hosting a FREE Heritage Day at the rancho with tours, booths, Native American dancing, roping and riding, speakers (including me), and lots of activities for the kids. This is a great opportunity to get a rare look at California history at a state park that is not yet open to the public (except on this one special day).
The park is located just south of Brentwood, near Mt. Diablo. Here’s a picture of the house I took about a year ago. You can find better photos at http://www.johnmarshhouse.com.