Category Archives: John Sutter

When the Russians Left California

In 1841 the Russian-American Fur Company decided to leave California. They sold their holdings — lock, stock, and barrel — to John Sutter. The contract was signed in December, 1841, not long after John Bidwell arrived at Sutter’s Fort. Sutter … Continue reading

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More about Sutter and the Mormons

At the same time that Captain Sutter was bragging to General Vallejo (in Spanish), about his wheat fields and his new saw mill and flour mill, he was also writing to Thomas O. Larkin (in slightly awkward English) on the … Continue reading

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The Best of Days for John A. Sutter

1847 was a good year for Captain John Sutter. Things were going well and prosperity lay all around. Here is a letter written from John A. Sutter to Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo on October 31, 1847. (The original letter, in the … Continue reading

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Kanakas in California

When John Sutter came to California it could hardly have been by a more roundabout route. Born in Switzerland, he migrated to America in 1834, leaving behind his considerable debts (thousands of francs) and his considerable family (wife and five … Continue reading

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Diversity at New Helvetia

The colony that John Sutter gathered around him in California was nothing if not diverse. When John Bidwell made his way to John Sutter’s settlement in November 1841, he found Sutter living amongst a motley crew gathered from the far … Continue reading

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Amethyst and Adobe

What do amethysts and adobe bricks have in common? A tale told by John Bidwell about Sutter’s Fort and a treasure thrown in the dust. In January 1892 John and Annie Bidwell visited old Sutter’s Fort, which by then was … Continue reading

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The Adventures of the Sutter Gun, Part 1

A couple of years ago I wrote about the French Army muskets that ended up at Sutter’s Fort, after Johann August Sutter bought Fort Ross from the Russian-American Fur Company. Dismantling Fort Ross and sending every bit of useful equipment … Continue reading

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Bidwell Learns of the Gold Discovery

John Bidwell was still doing occasional work for Sutter, but at the time of Marshall’s gold discovery in Coloma he was near Chico, building a log cabin, surveying some land, and digging an irrigation ditch. In August of 1845 he … Continue reading

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December, 1841

John Bidwell and his two friends arrived at Sutter’s establishment on November 28th, 1841. There they were given a hearty welcome by John Augustus Sutter, a German-born adventurer who had been granted a vast tract of land by the Mexican … Continue reading

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Bidwell and Sutter

“Sutter was a man who treated everybody well, especially strangers. He had unbounded confidence in other men–in fact, too much, at times. Everyone was welcome at his table, and at his fort. . . He treated me with great consideration, … Continue reading

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