- Created on Wednesday, 05 September 2012 17:26
- Written by IVN
San Francisco, California - Brothers Ethan and Hosea Grosh left Pennsylvania in 1849, joining young men from all over the world intent on finding a fortune in the California Gold Rush. Their search for wealth took them across Mexico, by land and sail to San Francisco, to gold country in the Sierra foothills, and finally into Nevada's Gold Canyon, where they discovered a deposit of silver near the fabulous Comstock Lode. Never before published, the Grosh Brothers' letters are among the most historically significant documents of the Gold Rush era.
Unusual among early "49ers", the Grosh brothers were well-educated, and their lengthy letters are thoughtful and eloquent. Filled with excitement and optimism, they draw a vivid picture of the heartbreaking labor and frustration of mining, detailing life in 1850s San Francisco. Their youthful enthusiasms ranged from the politics of abolition to fruitless schemes of perpetual-motion machines. Always, however, the search for wealth drew them back into the mountains. But their adventure came to an early and tragic end in 1857. Born less than two years apart, the brothers died within a few weeks of each other. The Grosh brothers' story slipped into folklore and legend, for their three journeys into Nevada's Great Basin had brought them tantalizingly close to discovering the Comstock Lode.
The letters - disintegrating, scorched by fire and nearly illegible - were preserved as evidence for family lawsuits claiming a share of the wealth. The Nevada Historical Society purchased them in 2007, after ten years of negotiation with the Grosh family. With this publication, the true story of the Grosh brothers is finally told in their own words. Greatly enhanced by the annotations and introductions of editors Ronald James and Robert Stewart, this is an essential contribution to Gold Rush history, separating harsh reality from romantic myth. In the end, these letters form a real treasure: fascinating, insightful, and poignant.