Edwin Temple Hickman
This is a letter Edwin Temple Hickman wrote to his son, William Adams Hickman, who was then living in Utah Territory. Note that this was written during the great excitement of the California Gold Rush, but Edwin was more interested in the possibilities of gold in Utah:
Randolph County, Mo.
May the 6th, 1849
Dear Children: I avail myself of the present opportunity of informing you that we are all in good health at present and sincerely hope that you are enjoying the same blessing. We received yours of the 12th of Februaryóand one of a later date. They gave us great satisfaction to hear of your health and posterity. You complain of my not writing to you before this time, the reason was when you wrote to me from Sandhill I expected you would make your promise good and I would once more have the satisfaction of seeing you in this life and I waited in hope of seeing you until it got too late for a letter to pass from me to you, and when the winter broke I expected er long before a letter could pass to you that you would be searching for gold but not in California, report say that there is plenty at the Salt Lake, if so your folks [the Mormons] arenít smart or they would of kept it dark, report say that two of them brought in forty-five thousand dollars of the gold found at the Salt Lake to barter for goods.
I would like to know if gold was plenty at the Lake. I have had no notion of being a Mormon but if I could see a good prospect for gold it would be a great inducement at least for a while. Your brothers D.[*] and Easom has injured themselves by taking the gold fever they have made the necessary preparation, wagon, oxen, etc., etc., to go to California but one that agreed to go with them and bear his part of the expense of the outfit backed out and they had strained every nerve to make their part of the outfit and when he backed out it disappointed them and a great loss they gave a high price for a wagon and sixty dollars a yoke for cattle (they had three yoke) they had him bound in a bond and the last I heard from them they were going to law.
You stated in your last letter that Bernetta had written to her father. I doubt whether he got the letter he has married his aunt the Widow Hobbs, and has moved to Howard County and is living in or joining New Franklin. Right here I must give you a good one. I think but you can judge for yourself. You know the old man and me was very thick and confidential by times, so just before he was married he came to see me and told me all about it (for he couldnít talk of anything else), that the widow had four negros that one was a fine Smith and he intended to put him in a shop at Milton, etc., etc., but behold between the time they agreed to marry and the wedding day she slipped the negros out of her hands privately and it werenít known for months, then Old George made a sham sale of all his negros to the Dr., it is believed to be a sham sale at any rate or Frederick has got them all. When the old man married he sent word to your mother that he was a perfect happy man nothing lacking how he is now I canít say, I will leave it with you to Judge. Catharine Burchartt and Squire Benj. Haley married a few weeks past, more big kin folks, there has been a great many deaths and marriages since you was here, the widow Whitenburg is living at Old Georgeís place at Milton. Health has been very good in this section for the last twelve months, your brother George was well the first of last month and stated in his letter that he intended coming home in July if he didnít marry, he is in fine health complains of nothing but being too fleshy. O how my children is scattered and still going. Jo starts for Illinois in a few days, my family is getting small, home is a lonesome looking place, nothing flourishing in the way of improvement, but I have plenty bread and meat. I have bacon for sale and could spare one hundred barrels of corn. Write on reception and write every opportunity. I would have been very glad of seeing you once more but it is doubtful whether I ever see you again in this life, kiss the little children for me and tell them I want to see them.
M.D.[*] and Easom is living in Adair County.
--Hope Hilton, Edwin and Elender Webber Hickman, Some Progenitors and Descendents, 3rd ed., 1978, p. 107-109
*Edwinís sixth oldest child, Martin Dickenson Hickman (born 1823) was known in the family as D. or M.D. While panning gold in Colorado in 1859 with his brothers Thomas J. and Warren D., he was killed by a claim jumper.