Dame Shirley's Letters to Sister Molly: Exploring the California Gold Rush - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1089 Words
Date:  2023-03-01


Shirley wrote a collection of letters to her sister molly. The groups consisted of twenty-four epistles and were written between 1851 September and November 1952. Dame Shirley, who is referred to as Louise Clappe, tells her sister Molly about the experiences she got in California when she visited the Gold Rush beginnings. According to Clappe, the Gold Rush is a place almost entirely for making money. All through the letters, she talks of people in bars and even describes the hostile places that the miners live, yet they are making money.

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In her first epistle, Louise Clappe starts by telling her sister molly the experiences she experienced on her way to the mining settlement that was referred to as the Rich bar. What gives the reader a glimpse is the hostile conditions that the settlers endured. She says that in the nineteenth century, the experienced difficulties in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She also describes the experience that she got with her husband when trying to travel from Buckeye rancho to pleasant valley rancho. She writes, "We expected to reach about sundown. Well, can you believe that we got lost again? I should not think that even in the day time anyone but an Indian could keep the trail in this place"(13) Based on the experiences that Clappe experienced, it's clear the conditions in a gold rush are hostile. The only reason the settlers settled there is to make money.

In her third letter, she describes an office that she visits during her California tour. According to her description, the office condition is almost unbearable only that the people there are used to it. She starts by saying that she and her husband did not expect anything different from what they saw in that office. Despite that it was the only office in that area it did not make it any better. The office does not have a floor that scares Clappe and her husband. They do not understand how the only office in the town could not be having the level. Clappe writes," To-day I visited the "office," the only one on the river. I had heard so much about it from others, as well as from F., that I did expect something extra. When I entered this imposing place, the shock to my optic nerves was so great that I sank helplessly upon one of the benches, which ran, divan-like, the whole length of the building, and laughed till I cried. There was, of course, no floor. A rude nondescript, in one corner, on which was ranged the medical library, consisting of half a dozen volumes, did duty as a table. The shelves, which looked like sticks snatched hastily from the wood-pile and nailed up without the least alteration, contained quite a respectable array of medicines. The white-canvas window stared everybody in the face, with the new information painted on it, in perfect grenadiers of capitals, that this was Dr.-'s office ".(24) The condition in the office shows that the people in the gold rush only want to make money and do not care about the conditions that they are living in together with their families (Veeman, 2016).

On page 55, the author talks about the meals. She says that they took breakfast at nine and dinner at six, where they only had a dish of soup in between. With this kind of meal, it's clear that the people living in the Gold Rush have a hectic life. She continues to say that it is likely that they will have several weeks without any potatoes, onions, or even fresh meat. The description is enough to show us that the place is only there to make money and not a place to live and raise your family. Assuming one of the miners bring his wife to live with, it is likely that she will not survive the harsh conditions. After Clappe described the meals, she had stated that the drinking water itself is not the best as it is dirty on page 120. She says, " just before one reaches the junction, there are a beautiful grove of oaks which were leaps a gay little rivulet, celebrated the grateful coolness of its waters undine by drinking a draught of her glittering in a dirty tin cup which has been suspended from a tree near the spring."

Shirley describes a funeral that she happens to pass by while visiting California. She finds it weird that only twenty-three people had attended the value with only three women. She also talks about an impromptu prayer that she found to be disturbing; despite her being a churchwoman, she found the prayer weird. She writes on page 69, "About twenty men, with the three women of the place, had assembled at the funeral. An extempore prayer was made, filled with all the peculiarities usual to that style of the petition. Ah! how different from the soothing verses of the great burial service of the church!" It is even weird that the woman being buried is only covered with a sheet, and then next is where the coffin lies. It clear that the people in this area do not care about the people's reactions because most people fear dead bodies, but those in a gold rush only covered the woman with a sheet without caring if it can be blown away by the wind or not.


In conclusion, the letters wrote by Louise Clappe to her sister molly gives the reader a clear picture of how gold rush was at the beginning. The letters have made it possible to understand the history of California through the letters. All the 24 epistles give one a bird's eye on the jokes that the miners went through. They did not care about anything, be it the newspapers, churches or concerts. They were only concerned with making money. There was a point when Clappe mentioned that the men in this settlement went to their wives even after two years. With this and other evidence from the letters, it's apparent that the settlers in the gold rush were money-oriented. It is weird that the settlers in gold rush made lots of money but did not desire to live a good life. In most cases people who lived in a place like that in California would ensure that they made the site admirable by developing the houses in the area and also make the roads. In short they should improve the infrastructure.


Veeman, K. (2016). John Shirley's Early Bureaucratic Career. Studies in the Age of Chaucer, 38(1), 255-263.

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Dame Shirley's Letters to Sister Molly: Exploring the California Gold Rush - Essay Sample. (2023, Mar 01). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/dame-shirleys-letters-to-sister-molly-exploring-the-california-gold-rush-essay-sample

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