1848 Shipping List — Part 2

Here is the rest of Bidwell’s letter to McKinstry on November 1, 1848. It is chiefly concerned with that most important trade item — cattle. Demand was going up, and so were prices.

I learn here that Cordua has raised the price of Cattle to from 40 to 50 dollars on Feather River and that Yates has a letter from Covillo to this effect which he showed here yesterday. I shall go down to Cordua’s today – I think Rolfe had better come down tomorrow, & bring all the pack animals, with him. By him I want to hear from you, with your opinion how much you are willing to give for cattle – I mean to highest price; I will get them, of course, as low as I can, but I will not close a bargain to give over $30 before I hear from you. I met old Goda the Frenchman, here this morning, & exchanged a pick with him, & and then sold the other dull Pick to another Frenchman for $8. I let Goda have the bolt of Stripe drilling which you will see on Norris’ Bill at $32. I borrowed $10 & paid him which just squared his bill. I have charged all the things on this bill in my memo here. Send by Rolfe $10 & repay this sum.

I think it is doubtful if we get any cattle this week – but I shall use all possible means to get up this week. I wish Baptish and his Vaquero would get their horses from the other side & hold themselves in readiness to help drive the cattle in the corral – say on Saturday – I may possibly be in camp before I come with the cattle.

It may be that I can make a King “Jumping” bargain with Yates about the cattle which will come somewhere near the mark etc.

Yours etc.  J. Bidwell

John Yates was an English sailor who came to California in 1842. For a time he worked for Sutter as the master of his launch, and in 1845 he, along with William Dickey, was located on Rancho del Arroyo Chico. Later he owned Yates Ranch, a few miles south of Oroville. He must have been a restless man, for in 1851 he left California for Hawaii. Bidwell referred to him as a “tough old sailor.”


Charles Covillaud in later years

“Covillo” was Charles Covillaud, a Frenchman who was in partnership with Theodor Cordua. Cordua was struggling to keep his ranch going as all his vaqueros and other employees headed for the goldfields. Covillaud had a trading post where he sold beef and other goods to miners and Indians. In 1848 he married Mary Murphy, a survivor of the Donner Party, and named the town that grew up on Cordua’s ranch Marysville, after her.

I don’t know who “Goda the Frenchman” was. Wish I did.

I also can’t identify “Baptish,” unless he is Jean-Baptiste Trudeau, who was often called Baptiste.  He was a surviving member of the Donner Party of 1846. Bancroft lists him as Jean Baptiste (without the Trudeau), and says he was one of the earliest miners, but also notes that “there are several of this name not to be identified.”

And what is a “King “Jumping” bargain””? I have no idea.

I always welcome your comments, especially if you can solve any of these mysteries!


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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