Copy of letter in possession of Marvin Slinkard, Sacramento, California
John Randol, Jr.
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
I take up my pen for the first time since my arrival here to write you a few lines by the goodness of providence I am in Good health, at this time and hope that these few lines may find you and family enjoying the same, as I promised you to write you after I had arrived here a detail of our route and matters and things in general. I now find time to commence the task as to our route across the plains, God save me from ever having another such task to perform. Our suffering of hardships and privations were innumerable, though we could not grumble seeing thousands of others enduring full as many as we were and some more, we met with no accident on the road or any note, save those of loosing one of our mules by drowning in swimming across North Platte River, we enjoyed Colorado. Good health during the whole route and made landing in Sacramento Valley on the 12th day of August after being on the road just 94 days from the time of our departure from the line of the State of Missouri. The road was generally good until we encountered the Sierra Nevada Mountains, or California Mountains, from the summit of the California Mountains, to the Valley of the Sacramento River. The road is very rocky and mountainous, many places almost impassable for wagons, this. Country west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is very monstrous though splendid bodies of land lay along the foot of the mountains and in valleys of the water courses, which will be in a short time cultivated, and large farms made a great many persons are now settling and making preparations for farming; a great portion of this country is very desirable for farming purposes. The climate is much more temperate than that of Missouri but at this season of the year very disagreeable on account of continued raining, but when the rain ceases for one or more days, the sun comes out delightfully and is very pleasant. These Sierra Nevada mountains are fit for nothing, but the precious metals they contain on account of their rocky and craggy nature, many places are impassable the miners have much difficulty in transporting their provisions over them to their place where they chose to operate as to the gold that these mountains contain, there is but one option prevailing here among those who have token the trouble to go out; in the mines to pig and hunt for gold and that is that the gold that these mountains contain cannot be dug out during the next fifty years to come and many think the mines inexhaustible. I would not persuade or induce any friend to leave his comfortable home as I did and stray away off here, but I just say to you that many could benefit themselves by so doing any nothing of the privations and sufferings that they would be compelled to endure.
Thousands have lossed their lives by coming to this country while many have made fortunes, and some improved their condition as respects their health. I am stouter than I have been for some years, any man having an active constitution, end be prudent here may be benefited, but one who is weak and feeble and get prostrated here is gone. Mining is very hard labour many men kill themselves at it. During the time our company had to operate after we got in we all did tolerable well making from ten to fifty dollars every day we worked. My biggest days work was eighty dollars many were doing better and a great many much worse. We got in too late to do much this last fall but will be cut as soon as the rainy season is over. Provisions are high here flour in the mines one dollar per 1b, pork $1.25, sugar 1 dollar, potatoes 1 dollar per lb., beans 1 dollar per lb., rice 1 dollar per lb. All of these articles can be bought for about one third of that price at Sacramento City but the transportation is so difficult that it makes everything comes very high out in the mines. I am doing business in a large mercantile house in this place at reasonable wages and will continue during the winter, the boys have all dispersed some up and some down the Sacramento River they were all well when they left I have George here with me, doing what he can as chopping wood for he is faithful and honest.
Isaac Williams and the Smith boys, Uriah Thompson and Wm Terly, left the mines before we did to go to James· Williams below Son Francisco, Squire and John Williams both died sometime during the last season.
I have seen nor heard nothing of Frank J. Allen's boys. I suppose he thought it a bad speculation and unsafe to go any further. Give my respects to your family and all enquiring friends, when I will see you all again is quite uncertain. Adeu
Editor Note: None of the above mentioned "boys" are on the 1850 Cape County census. There was no date on the letter.