S Bachman Letters

Primary Source


Looking up Market Street from the Ferry Building, 1905.

Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

to relatives in Newburyport, MA about business


May 14, 1854

Dear Brothers, Sister, and Brother in-law,

With this letter I am glad to be able to let you know that after a 29 day journey I have arrived here safely and, thank God, feel quite well...

My journey was rather troublesome as I have indicated from before. ... We were five days at the Isthmus where we had to sleep every night under the open sky; then we got off the boat and had to ride 12 miles on mules; we had to provide our own food the same as at the Isthmus; but nothing was available to eat except fruits, and these we were told were unhealthy to eat, and ... we could help ourselves by drinking river water since there was nothing else. I can assure you I wished myself back at Newburyport and not a day passed when I didn't think about it, but it was too late...

San Francisco in itself is not beautiful but will in time become an important city. Wherever one goes, one has to go uphill, since it is located on a mountain; however that matters very little to me. I like it quite well.


October 5, 1856

Dear Brothers, Sister, and Brother-in-law,

Business here is still going poorly that is, for importers, and money is being lost; I hope that it is going better for you ... I hope you spent the high holidays well; here we kept our store closed.


January 19, 1858

Dear Brothers, Sister, and Brother-in-law,

Business here is rather poor, since there is nothing to do. ... At this time I still don't know when I come home; if business does not improve, I can't before May, although I care very little about coming home since I like it here quite well. I don't wish for any better life than I have now; however my opinion may change again ...

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