Full Caption: “Encampment at Sac City, Nov. 1849: My Own Tent.” Lithograph by G. W. Lewis after a drawing by G. V. Cooper. From J. M. Letts, California Illustrated including a Description of the Panama and Nicaragua Routes by a Returned Californian (New York: William Holdredge, 1852; F865.L65). Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Full Caption: “Encampment at Sac City, Nov. 1849: My Own Tent.” Lithograph by G. W. Lewis after a drawing by G. V. Cooper. From J. M. Letts, California Illustrated including a Description of the Panama and Nicaragua Routes by a Returned Californian (New York: William Holdredge, 1852; F865.L65). Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

The discovery of gold in California created interest in accounts and drawings, real and imagined, of camp life and the overland journey. J. M. Letts, a shareholder in a New York mining company, is shown sitting in front of his tent in a mining camp in Sacramento City. Letts describes a family he had met the day before in Sutterville, who “had been wandering about since 1845, without having entered a house . . . The children were all natives of the forest except the eldest. They were encamped under a large oak-tree a short distance from the river. The bed was made up on the ground, the sheets of snowy whiteness, the kitchen furniture was well arranged against the root of the tree, the children were building a playhouse of sticks, while the mother was sitting in a ‘Boston rocker’ reading the Bible, with a Methodist hymn-book in her lap.”

see caption below