In California — November 2, 1841

Tuesday, 2nd.  Capt. B. with his 7 remained to take care of the meat he had killed — while the rest of the Company went on. We passed some beautiful grapes, sweet and pleasant.  . .  Behold! This morning Jones, who left the camp to hunt on the 23rd ult. came to the camp. They (he and Kelsey) had arrived in the plains several days before us, and found an Indian, who conducted them to Marsh’s house, but he brought bad news; he said there had been no rain in California for 18 months, and the the consequence was, there was little breadstuff in the country. Beef, however, was abundant and of the best quality.

Thomas Jones and Andrew Kelsey (younger brother of Benjamin Kelsey) had gone on ahead to search for settlements, and came back with the exciting news that they had been lead by an Indian to the ranch of Dr. John Marsh. This was good news indeed, for Marsh was the man who had set the movement in motion. His letters to Missouri, read by Bidwell and many others, had painted a glowing picture of the healthful climate and fertile soil of California. It was Marsh who had enticed them across half a continent to  this new land. Now they were about to meet the man himself.

John_Marsh,_Pioneer,_1852

John Marsh in 1852

Bidwell might have been worried though, by that mention of drought. As a farmer, he was looking for a place to raise wheat, livestock, and produce. Without reliable rainfall, how could that happen?

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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