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eightee n days after giving birth on 26 April, just a few days afte r her rhirtieth binhday. The remainder of Alexander Va n Valen's life in New York, after his rerurn from the California gold field s, is largely undocumeO[ed . The 1860 census recorded rh at he lived in Rochester, N ew York, and an eighreen-year-old serva nt, Marga rer Kane, was also lisred in the Van Valen household rhar yea r, presumably ro help rhe widower in rhe care of his four daughrers and household. In 1863 ar rhe age of fony-four, Va n Valen regisrered fo r the C ivil Wa r draft in Rochesrer as a merchant, but norhing is know n of any mili ra ry ca reer. H e survived the co nAict and died on 22 N ovember 1869 ar rhe age of 50. Alrhough he died premarurely, Alexa nder Van Valen's srory li ves on as a remarkable testimony to the lure and realities facing rhe prospecrors of rhe Ca lifornia gold rush, as seen rhrough the eyes and pen of one of irs panicipams. His vivid words bring rhe unique evem ro life once more and illusrrare rhe srrengrh , bravery, and persistence of mid-nineteenth-cemury emrepreneurs out ro seek their fo rrunes and determined ro improve their lives and those of their fa milies. Va n Valen may not have come back wealthy from the emerprise, but his painstaking and detailed record of hi s experience and the voyage ch ar m ade ir happen enriches us roday. J,

~n ~fen's sketch ofthe California gold fields was drawn fo r his wife Susan back in N ew Yo rk. H is company, the California Gold Mining Comp any, worked in the southern gold fields along the Mokelumne River. Sutter's M ill is marked by an 'X" along the South Fork ofthe American River in the northern gold fields.

Dr. Paul F J ohnston is Curator ofMaritime H istory at the Smithsonian's National Museum ofAmerican H isto ry, and secretary of the Council ofAmerican Maritime Museums. Items from the Van Valen Collection are on display as part of the museum's "On the Water" maritime history exhibit. The museum is located on the National Mall, at 14th Street and Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D C (http://americanhistory.si. edu).

each of rhe rhree miners wo uld receive one-rhird, or $661.44 . In his las r lener home ro Susa n dared 18 Augusr 1850, Va n Valen meO[ioned rhar he was in rhe eleveO[h hour of his veO[ure, and rharhe planned ro leave as soon as ir was healrhyar rhe Panama Isrhmus. This indicares a rerurn voyage ro N ew York by sreamer, bur ir is nor known exacdy when he left California. Mosr commonly, rhe Pacific Mail Srea mship C ompany rook homebound prospecrors from San Franci sco ro rhe wesrern side of Panama, which rhey crossed overland ro rhe mourh of rhe C hagres Rive r. The Ad amic leg was cove red by US M ail Sreamship C ompany sreamers or any number of rhe comperirors rhar spra ng up ro accommodare homesick prospecrors. CoO[emporary sources indicare rhar rhe rerurn rrip on sreamships was a good bir more expensive rhan rhe $150 ourbound ricker on a sailing ship-up ro rwice as much. In Van Valen's case, rhe cosr probably came our of his miner's share. H e musr have lefr California fairl y quickly and arrived ar N ew York around rhe end of D ecember 1850, for his fifth daughrer was born nine momhs later on 30 Seprember 1851. A final child, a sixth daughter, was born ro rhe Van Valens on 8 April 1853. Susan Va n Valen died (right) This small, well-worn daguerreotype of Susan ~n ~!en and her twin baby daughters Sarah and Catherine is believed to have accomp anied A lex on his California gold rush adventure. For as much toil and hardship as many 49ers endured, their struggles were shared at home by those left behind.

SEA HISTORY 13 7, WINTER2011-12

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Sea History 137 - Winter 2011-2012  

10 The War of 1812: Year Three-1814, by William H. White • 18 Measure of the Earth: Navigation, Science, and the War of Jenkins's Ear, by L...

Sea History 137 - Winter 2011-2012  

10 The War of 1812: Year Three-1814, by William H. White • 18 Measure of the Earth: Navigation, Science, and the War of Jenkins's Ear, by L...

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