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James C.L. Wadsworth journal


Identifier: 00-2011-71-0

Scope and Contents

The James C.L. Wadsworth journal (2011-71-0) was penned by Wadsworth in 1846 and 1847. The journal chronicles his voyage from New York to San Francisco which began on November 27, 1846 and ended April 24, 1847. In the journal he discusses passing in sight of Cape De Verde, and Falkland Islands, and Cape Horn. He also writes about stopping at the Island of Juan Ferdandez. The item is currently housed in 3A Box 22.


  • created: 1846-1847
  • Other: Date acquired: 03/06/2011


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical or Historical Information

James C.L. Wadsworth was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. He was descended from Revolutionary sires, and his surname was one of the most noted in the early history of that State. He received a good education from the common schools of the day. Upon the formation of Stevenson’s Regiment, in 1846, he was offered, and accepted, employment in the sutler’s department. Not being able to obtain passage on any of the ships chartered by the government, and being firmly impressed with the belief that it would acquire and retain possession of California, and confidence in its future prosperity, he determined to go. No other opportunity offering, he shipped as a sailor on the bark Whiton, the only vessel leaving at that time (except the government ships) for this coast, paying for this privilege $100, arriving in San Francisco April, 1847. In two weeks after his arrival he proceeded to Los Angeles to take charge of the Southern department of the army, that place being the most important post in the county, as stationed there were two companies of U.S. dragoons, two companies of Stevenson’s Regiment, and the Mormon battalion of six hundred men. Upon the disbandment of the regiment, in August, 1848, Mr. Wadsworth established a trading post in the newly-discovered mines on the Mokelumne River. Early in 1849, having been successful, he established himself in the business of general merchandising in Stockton, which proved exceedingly remunerative. While there he was elected second alcalde, it being the first election held there. In about six months he sold out in Stockton, removed to San Francisco, and commenced the banking business in connection with S.W. Haight, on the northwest corner of Kearny and Washington Streets, which also proved successful. In 1849, a day or two before the funeral obsequies of President Taylor took place, Mr. Wadsworth, in company with W.D.M. Howard, Sam Brannan, B. S. Lippencott, Talbot H. Green, the writer, and some others, were taking refreshment sin Delmonico’s Restaurant, on Montgomery Street near Washington, when Mr. Wadsworth proposed that they should join the funeral procession, in a separate body, as pioneers. The suggestion was promptly adopted and carried out, and from this nucleus sprang the present Society of California Pioneers of San Francisco, of which Mr. Wadsworth may justly claim to be one of its real founders. Its constitution restricted its membership to those whose advent in California antedated the discovery of gold. In 1851 Mr. Wadsworth was permanently connected with the original Vigilance Committee, whose action resulted in ridding the community of many unsavory characters, and bringing order, and respect for law, out of chaos. He was one of the first organizers of the San Francisco Fire Department, and was a member of the first engine company, Empire No.1, afterwards named Broderick, in honor of David C. Broderick, its first foreman. In the winter of 1850 the banking firm was dissolved and Mr. Wadsworth embarked in real estate and general speculation, which business he followed successfully until 1859, when the rush to the newly-discovered silver mines in Nevada took place, and he at once went to Virginia City. He soon became largely interested in the Gould and Curry mine, and upon the incorporation of that property, in San Francisco, he was elected secretary. During his incumbency of that position, some four years, he disbursed some $10,000,000, and his duties were performed with superior ability and to the great satisfaction and profit of the stockholders. In 1864 he resigned and retired from the secretaryship and made a visit to the Eastern States. During the War of the Rebellion, Mr. Wadsworth was ardently loyal to the Union, and unstinted in effort and purse in everything tending to sustain the government. In 1883 Mr. Wadsworth was appointed secretary of the State Board of Harbor Commissioners, which position he occupied until he was appointed by Governor Stoneman, insurance commissioner. Like many other old pioneers, Mr. Wadsworth has met with many reverses, and although not now in possession of his wealth of former years, he can still be congratulated, by his host of friends, for the possession of unimpaired physical and mental energy. Politically he is a sincere and consistent Democrat, with no sympathy or tolerance for party chicanery or trickery, and has never been a seeker of office. He ranks very high in Masonry. He is a life member of the Society of California Pioneers, a high-minded, honorable gentleman, a useful citizen, and a generous, loyal friends. From Swasey, W.F. The Early Days and Men of California (Oakland, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Company, 1891).

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Method of Acquisition

Found in collection.

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Other Descriptive Information

This collection was processed with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

James C.L. Wadsworth journal
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Repository Details

Part of the Litchfield Historical Society Repository

7 South Street
P.O. Box 385
Litchfield CT 06759
860-567-3565 (Fax)