Search billions of records on

Dr. Daniel Knower describes his adventures in the California Gold Rush

"Adventures of a Forty-Niner," was published in 1894 by Weed-Parsons of Albany, N.Y. Its author, Dr. Daniel Knower sailed for California in 1849 armed with a letter of introduction from his cousin's husband, William L. Marcy, and twelve prefabricated frame houses he intended to sell in San Francisco. The book describes his business and real estate speculations in San Francisco; the city's gambling dens, their mountebanks and blackguards, and its politics on the eve of the Civil War. He provides a glimpse of life at a mining camp near Coloma and the dusty violence of a bullfight. He got into the shipping business and traveled as far inland as Stockton with a cargo of house frames.

What the book does not do is present details of interest to genealogists and family -- not even the name of the young lady who captured his heart.

He concludes, in the chapter "Peroration,"

            On my return, in looking over my finances, I was no poorer than when I left. It must be evident to the reader that I had acquired no wealth to astonish my friends with my riches, which was the visionary expectation of the early pioneers to the gold Eldorado. I have been writing from personal recollections of events that occurred forty-five years ago. Of course, there was nothing in my enterprises, or the little fluctuations of fortune that would be of particular interest to any one; but in the form of a personal narrative, it was the only way I could recall vividly to my mind, the events of so long ago. There were a series of articles published in the Century magazine two years ago, which I read with great interest, for they were truthful, but no book has ever been published that took in fully those two years when common labor was $16 per day, payable in gold. Such an event was never known to occur before, and probably never will again. I have not drawn on my imagination in the least in this narrative. I have simply attempted to portray from memory events that actually occurred under my own observation. Any Forty-niner will concede the truth of my narrative. I did not return to California as I had expected. Cupid's arrow pierced my heart in the person of a young lady, and sealed my fate. I had a cottage built in the quiet and beautiful valley of Schoharie, where I have passed more than thirty years of happy married life. While not possessing the wealth of the successful pioneer, I have been content.

The whole book may be read online. Search for "California As I Saw It: First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849-1900," and choose "Adventures of a Forty-Niner," by Daniel Knower.