It looks like reading old newspapers isn’t a new pastime and remains as addictive as ever …
Sonoma Democrat > 10 December 1857 OLD CALIFORNIA PAPERS.
Californian. — We are indebted to W. H. Crowell, our esteemed County Clerk, for the perusal of a file of the Californian, a weekly paper published in San Francisco in 1848. It is a medium sheet, or one-half the size of the Democrat, and considering its day, a tolerably fair specimen of typography; published by B. R. Buckelew—B. R. Buckelew and J. D. Hoppe, editors. It is quite interesting, and serves to refresh our memory in regard to the immense progress of our State within the last nine years. We have an idea that the most sanguine prophesiers of the future greatness of the village of San Francisco, at that date, never dreamed of the immense importance which it was destined to assume in so short a time.
It was then a rather unimportant place, as compared with Astoria, Monterey, and other places on the coast, now nearly forgotten. Even Sonoma, at that time, seems to have been at least her equal, if not more. For the benefit of our readers, we make some extracts. The following seems to have been the sum total of the shipping list for the week ending April 19th, 1848:
“Arrived—April 12—Am. brig Henry, Kilbourn, 23 days from Columbia river.
“April 17- Chilean bark Natalia, from Mazatlan; U. S. sloop of war Preble, Glen, 42 days from Callao, via Monterey.
“In Port —Brigs Sabine, Henry, and Flecha; bark Natalia ; sloop of war Preble.”
This is rather a meagre display for a town which, in so short a time as nine years, begins to think seriously of rivaling New York, Boston, Philadelphia. &c. in its shipping interests.
We continue our extracts;
“Our town at present appears to be in quite a thriving condition, judging from the usual activity which prevails, and the somewhat deserted appearance of the bar rooms during the daytime.— The hammer and saw of the carpenter is heard echoing through our streets, the merchants are seen hurrying hither and thither, with bustling haste, all going to show most conclusively that San Francisco is looking up, or in other words rapidly improving in size and importance. That it will eventually become the great commercial emporium of the Pacific, no impartial man acquainted with the circumstances has ever pretended to deny. The line of U. S. mail steamers along our coast once established, putting us within a few weeks journey of New Orleans, we shall soon cause our neighbors of Oregon and the Hawaiian Islands to “hide their diminished heads.”
Probably a better site than San Francisco for a city could not have been selected along the whole line of coast, from Oregon to Panama, combining, as it does all the advantages of a seaport with those of an inland town. We would not however, abrogate for San Francisco alone all the improvements which are at present going forward in California. Among those places in our more immediate neighborhood, which we would designate as flourishing towns, are San Jose, Sonoma, and Benicia, while scarcely a week passes without our hearing of some new city surveyed and named, destined, no doubt, to flourish in futurity.”
It appears that at that date the good people of San Francisco but little suspected the real locality of their most formidable future rival. The following is the only allusion we have met with, to the now city of Sacramento:
“Fisheries. —We are told that a company is forming to improve the valuable salmon fisheries at Brazoria [since Sacramento] on the Sacramento river. We wish them success in so important and beneficial an enterprise. We may expect to have our market regularly supplied, with the delicious fish that abound in such multitudes in that river.”
Though the untold treasures of the gold mines had then not even been guessed at, it was nevertheless known that California possessed much in the way of minerals ; “ A silver mine has been in operation near Monterey, (California) for some time past, and is said to be quite rich. Two Californians had also discovered silver ore in the neighborhood of the town, specimens of which had been pronounced very pure.”
“It is stated that a new gold mine has been discovered on the American Fork of the Sacramento, supposed to be on the land of W. A. Leidsdorff. Esq., of this place ; a specimen of the gold has been exhibited and is represented to be very pure.”
Among other things we find the following complimentary notice of our sister town of Sonoma, and her theatrical movements ; “ An amateur Thespian club has been organized in the flourishing town of Sonoma, which performs weekly to crowded audiences. We understand good taste is displayed in the management, selection of plays, scenery, decorations, costume, &c., and that their miniature theatre in the Colonnade building, on the public Plaza, is not only a great source of amusement to the citizens, but an ornament to the town. They perform on Saturday evenings, and their acting is as bueno as could be expected. Any of our citizens visiting Sonoma will no doubt be amused if they give them a call.”
Even at that early date, it seems that the town council were having some trouble about some alleged dishonesty of one or two of its members; and also that W. A. Leidsdorff, one of that august body was having large sums of money voted to him from the town treasury. In this respect, from all indications, we should say San Francisco holds its own to the present day.
The Californian of April 12th, enters the following complaint against the action of the council: “ Another Fact for the Town’s People,—On the 8th of March we made known to the people that the immature council of this emporium deprived us of our accustomed share of the town printing, because we published facts concerning them, that were repugnant to their senses. We also informed them that the council had gained one advantage in giving the printing exclusively to the Star, On last Monday night, the council elected E. C. Kemble for their Clerk—the person whose name stands at the head of the Star as its editor. The town and press may now be considered as united, under the firm of Town Council, Star – Press & Co.” Many other interesting items, touching the early history of California, and particularly of San Francisco, are to be found in these musty documents. We have perused them with more than ordinary interest, and hope our extracts may prove so to our readers.