New England to Gold Rush California

New England to Gold Rush California

The Journal of Alfred and Chastina W. Rix, 1849-1854

Book - 2011
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On July 29, 1849, after an eight-year courtship, two young schoolteachers were married in a small town in northern Vermont. Their story could easily have been lost to history, except that Alfred and Chastina Rix had the foresight to begin recording their observations in a joint journal. Their unique husband-and-wife account, which captures the turbulence of life and events during the gold rush era, is also a personal--and compelling--chronicle of a singular family's separation and reunion.

When the Rixes began their journal, abolition, temperance, and the westward movement dominated New England culture and politics. Stricken with "gold fever," Alfred headed to California, while Chastina stayed behind. Alone with their young son in Vermont, Chastina continued the journal, describing her loneliness and fatigue as she labored to maintain the household, and summarizing Alfred's frequent letters.

After establishing himself economically in San Francisco, Alfred urged his wife to join him. Chastina and their two-year-old son traveled by ship, via Panama, to California, where the couple resumed their journal, continuing the pattern of alternating entries and detailing life in the burgeoning city. Alfred's concluding notes at the end of the journal are an abrupt reminder that, just as now, life in the middle of the nineteenth century could bring unexpected and personal tragedy.

In her careful editing of the journal, Lynn A. Bonfield has preserved its original spelling and punctuation while enriching the story with photographs and insightful annotations. Her lively chapter introductions place the journal in the context of both New England and California history and culture.

Publisher: Norman, Okla. : Arthur H. Clark Co., 2011.
ISBN: 9780870623929
Branch Call Number: 979.4/RIX
Characteristics: 400 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


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