The last entry in the diary was apparently November 3, 1849.  He eventually did reach San Francisco later in 1849.  The following is a letter that Rev. Benjamin Franklin Stevens wrote to his wife Sarah after he got to San Francisco, California:


                                    December 31, 1849

Dear Sarah,

I received yours of 17 July and was truly happy to hear that you were all well.

I wrote you a long epistle yesterday but in my haste to get it finished in time to send it by a Mr. Booth who left here this morning for the States, I forgot, or rather, had not room to give you any information in relation to the time in California.

This Mr. Booth started from the States about the time I did last spring with ox team and now he is ready to return to his family in Iowa with $11,000.  Some have made $18,000 that did not start earlier than we did.

It was a bad arrangement of the Captain's to think of being one year in coming to the mines.  If he had let us know that was his intention before we left, none of us would have thought of coming with him, so it was we who are the sufferers and he himself will lose all in trying to over reach.

We came here with him, that is, we started to come here with him expecting when we got here he would have means to provide for us if provisions should be high, instead of that he brought us by a round about way and we were left to shift for ourselves in the middle of the desert hundreds of miles from settlements among hostile Indians.

But through the goodness of Kind Providence here we are.  To be sure it goes a little hard to come into such a city as San Francisco without means to pay one's board for one week and to be compelled from necessity to go to work in the streets or digging of wells.

Mr. Richmond and the two Mr. Munsons are working in the streets.  Myself and Henry Stevens are digging a well.

When we arrived here on the first day of December, a loaf of bread weighing twenty ounces cost fifty cents.  They now cost 37 1/2 cents.  Ham, 75 cents per pound, pickled pork from 3 to 4 bits per pound, molasses two dollars per gallon, onions, one dollar a pound, cabbages twenty dollars per dozen, have been as high as $5 apiece.  Pumpkins and potatoes one dollar per pound.  I have not seen any corn since I have been here.  Barley is fed to their animals and it is now worth 16 2/3 cents per pound.  Eggs, new laid, are worth one dollar apiece.  Chili eggs which are imported here are worth four dollars per dozen.  A good hen here is worth more than an ox in the States.

Provisions are looking down a little and I think they will be much cheaper than they now are but they will no doubt always command a high price here.

Board is from $16 to $21 per week.  That is good common boarding but you know in the best houses it is a great deal more, but I mean boarding for well diggers.

I will tell you our bill of fare the first week I came here at a boarding house: roast beef, steak pie, pot pie, perhaps a small potato, bread pudding, rice pudding, which all were very good.  I forgot the first course, macaroni soup.

After the first week, we bought a tent and are now living in a tent on the outskirts of the city where we have plenty of brush wood, one quarter from town.

Wood is fifty dollars a cord in this place; dry goods as cheap and many things cheaper than in the States.  There is very little washing done here as it is as much to wash a garment as to buy a new one.

You may see all over the city, shirts and drawers, cotton and woolen, thrown away that have only been worn until they wanted washing.

There is more waste of everything here than I ever saw anywhere.

A bag of flour, beans, nuts or any thing else dropped from a cart is seldom picked up.  If a man's hat blows off, he does not pick it up but goes and buys another.

There is more gambling done than you can imagine.  Bands of music playing every night in a large number of houses, and the houses crowded with gamblers and the monta and rola and wheel of fortune.  I don't know how many other kinds of tables are loaded down with gold coin gold dust and silver.

One large piece of gold weighing five pounds lay on one of the tables at the Eldorado the other evening when I went in to see the piles of money.  It is astonishing to see how foolish many men are.  They work all week and make good wages and throw it all away at the gambling tables.

You will see an account of the fire we had here on Monday the 24th.

I should like you to let Brother Gano have this letter to read and let Mr. Gyle Buchanan have the newspaper I sent you as soon as you have read it please.

Let the editor of the Journal keep as long as he may want for he may want to publish some of it in his paper.  I wish you would tell Mr. Buchanan to send me the Hannibal paper sometimes.  I should like to have it once a month if you or some friend or Benjamin can send it, that is, get the editor to put it in an envelope and direct it to me at San Francisco.  Once a month is as often as I want it sent as I shall be some distance off and cannot get it without much loss of time.

The letters we get here cost us from six to twelve dollars and we are obliged to wait our turn.  Now at this moment there are more than 200 men standing in a row for their turn at the post office.

Some men sell their turn from 6 to 12 dollars.  Time is worth much here.  Dear Sarah, do not pay the postage of your letters to me.  They will come just as well without.

Now I can give you but little information  about the mines as there are so many conflicting statements.  Some men have come from the mines tired of them and will not go again because they have been unsuccessful and others are going straight back.  I do not know how I may succeed.  I can make here at the job I am on now at from 8 to 10 dollars a day.  I could make money if I could stay long enough.  Provisions are very high in  the mines on account of the roads being so bad.  Flour $2 a pound at some and meat the same.

Those that  went by the South Pass got there in time to lay in their provisions and secure a little cabin and are making money.

I could not venture up until about the first of March.  I shall have to go 150 or more miles.  I hope, Dear Sarah, to be ready to come home next winter.

My health is remarkably good and so is Henry's.

Mr. Hubbard has taken his company to the mines and provisions.  I hope he will do well.  He did all he could to get his men into the mines, had a good outfit and had it not have been for our Captain we would have been there in July or August.

There was a paper, the price current published today especially for the States.  I went to get one this morning at ten o'clock and they were all gone.  I intended to send it to Mr. Buchanan.

The last I heard of Captain Roberts he was at New ??? a thousand miles from here.  His oxen not able to travel.

House rent is enormous $200 to $300 a month.  $200 a month for a room.


                                    B. Stevens

Cover    Preface
April    May    June    July    August

September     October    November 

Final Note    Appendix