Chickens at Rancho Chico

In going through the John Bidwell Papers at the California State Library I came across this note from Edward Shackelford Darlington, a young man who briefly worked for John Bidwell in 1851. He is writing from Sam Neal’s Ranch, just south of Rancho Chico, to remind Bidwell to give the chickens water — just the sort of instruction that nowadays would be communicated by cell phone or email.

Letter courtesy California State Library, John Bidwell Papers.

Letter courtesy California State Library, John Bidwell Papers.

Darlington, who was only 19 or 20, can’t resist spoofing the etiquette of 19th century letters. It looks like something Mark Twain would write.

Here is the text, but the bare text cannot do justice to Darlington’s courtesy and flourishes.

Neal’s Oct. 24th [1851]


I neglected to tell you to have water placed in the chicken coop – also in the small pans around the house. This is absolutely necessary for the preservation of the health of the feathered tribe. – By complying with the requests herein named you will much oblige

Yours very respectfully

with great regard

Your obt servant

in great haste etc.

E. Shackelford Darlington

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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2 Responses to Chickens at Rancho Chico

  1. Maybe the Darlingtonia californica wild flower was named after this man?

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