Monday, March 24, 2008

The next story

"One Man's Gold: The Letters and Journal of a Forty Niner" was first published in 1930, and there's a good reason that it's still in print. Enos Christman's account of his odyssey of more than three years and the letters to and from his fiancee and a fellow apprentice may be the definitive fist-person account of the California Gold Rush.

What makes this a particularly intriguing read is the local connection: Christman became part owner of The Reporter in 1857 and 20 years later made the weekly a daily newspaper. He was a decorated Civil War veteran and one of the most important and influential citizens in Washington's history.

The contents of "One Man's Gold" were extracted from old letters and papers found in a box in Christman's West Prospect Avenue home after his death in 1912, and were edited by his niece, Florence Morrow Christman. It is a harrowing tale of a 222-day voyage from Philadelphia to San Francisco around Cape Horn, of the violent, boisterous and risky life in the gold fields, and of a return to Ellen Apple, the love of his life, only after a voyage during which 17 of the passengers died from disease.

This is great reading, but it covers only a few years of a fascinating life. During research for this newspaper's bicentennial, I have learned much more about Enos Christman, which I will share with readers of this blog in yet another serialized story.

We'll call it "Life of Enos."

No comments: