Mary Jane Megquier in San Francisco

Mary Jane, known as Jennie, arrived in San Francisco on June 13, 1849. Her husband, Thomas Megquier, was a medical doctor and planned to practice medicine and open a drug store. Jennie knew she could make money running a boarding house, if she could just get a house. (Their name, by the way, was pronounced “Me-gweer.”)

. . . you may bless your stars [she wrote to her daughter] that you are not here at present, report says there are six thousand people here that have no shelter, but some are going and coming from the mines, so we got a small room the size of my bedroom in Winthrop for five of us with our luggage, your Father and me lie on a single mattress on the floor with one small pillow. Col. Hagen, wife, and little girl lie on a hard mattress on the bedstead  . . .

. . . some kind of provision are cheap as in the states such as beef pork flour, but vegetables are enormously high . . .We have been here three days and have had nothing to eat but beef, pickled fish, and poor flour bread.

. . . money is plenty as dirt if you have any means of getting hold of it, but we have not been here long enough to tell whether we can make anything or not, but if your Father can get practice there will be no doubt but we can get money enough in a year or two to come home, there is seven million dollars in gold dust in this little place besides thousands of coined money . . .

Jennie would soon find how to make her own way in San Francisco, where, as she wrote:

everyone must do something, it matters but very little what it is, if they stick to it, they are bound to make money.

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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