“In 1849 and 1850, the gold fields of California were the talk of the whole country and half the world. In the streets and on the wharves of New York and New England, on the farms of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, in Europe, South America. and China, men exchanged stories about El Dorado, “a land so rich in gold that they had but to stoop to pick up a fortune, where gold was so plenty that it was impossible to miss it” At Long Grove, our great-great uncle John Gridley just turned 19, heard the news and thought of joining the argonauts. Rush.”
George Gridley, aged 29 and brother John T. Gridley, age 21, had heard of the excitement and easy pickings in the gold fields of California, and like many young men of their day, decided to travel West with a small band of friends from their home in Half Day Illinois, to seek their fortune. Their letters home depict their rough and tumble adventures, and also give clues to the lives of those fearless souls who journeyed west to “see the elephant.” Great appreciation goes to Daniel Ray, who wrote the first six chapters of narrative and transcribed these letters in 1981.