1864: Anna Maria Dore to Edwin F. Briggs

This letter was written by Anna “Maria” Dore (1837-1901), the orphaned daughter of John Dore (1801-1863) and Elizabeth Stafford (1807-1844). Maria was born in Harmony, Maine, but relocated to Princeton, Green Lake County, Wisconsin, with her father in 1850. She taught in the public schools of Princeton, Wisconsin, until after her father died. She then journeyed to California in 1864 and taught in the San Francisco schools for about thirty-five years. After she retired from teaching, she had a home built in Berkeley, California, where she died 28 December 1901. She never married and lived alone all her life.

Headstone of E. F. Briggs

Maria wrote this letter from San Francisco soon after her arrival. She may have traveled there in company with an older sister (Mary Dore) who went to California in 1854 with her husband William Treat. After his death, Mary married Rev. George B. Taylor of San Francisco.

Maria addressed the letter to Edwin F. Briggs (1842-1921), the son of Sidney Briggs (1809-18xx) and Esther Simonson (1814-1912). He was married to Susan M. Miller (1847-1936) in March 1866 in Green Lake County, Wisconsin. During the Civil War, Edwin served in Co. C, 32nd Wisconsin Infantry.

In her letter, Maria mentions a visit to the Lone Mountain Cemetery in San Francisco where she wrote that nine thousand people had been buried by that time. This cemetery was opened in 1854 and was renamed Laurel Hill Cemetery in 1867. The cemetery was closed in the early 20th century and the forty-seven thousand bodies exhumed for reburial elsewhere.

Lone Mountain Cemetery in San Francisco

Addressed to Mr. E. F. Briggs, Jefferson Barracks, Missouri
Postmarked San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California
August 4th 1864

Dear Friend,

Yours written sometime in June reached me yesterday. I was indeed pleased to hear from you, it being the first time for several months. I am always pleased to hear from old friends and presume I shall be doubly so now as I am so far removed from all my friends and associates of the past. A letter from you — a schoolmate and friend — will always be received with the greatest pleasure, and hope I shall be favored with a message from you frequently.

I was surprised to learn that you was in the hospital on account of being sick yourself. I knew that you had been there to assist in taking care of the sick and wounded. Hope you are quite well before this time. I also received a letter from Mother. She stated in hers that you had been home on furlough — or rather was at the time she wrote — but expected to leave soon. Presume you had a happy visit, but it could not have seemed much as it used to in Princeton. So many have gone from there.

You must tell me all about the people &c. I was there but four weeks in the Spring. It did not seem much like home to me but it is very uncertain when I shall visit there again.

You desire me to tell you of the many things I have seen here. I will first tell you a little about our voyage. I sailed from New York at noon the 4th of July. Were nine days in reaching Aspinwall. It was quite rough the last three days before reaching there. We were about three hours in crossing from Aspinwall to Panama — a distance of forty-seven miles. It was very pleasant — not very warm — everything looked delightful — it was so nice and green. We saw some beautiful flowers. They seemed better to us no doubt by our being out of sight of land for several days. The fruits to be obtained there were pineapples, mangoes, limes, bananas, cocoa nuts, &c.

The steamer that we took on this side was an old steamer and our accommodations were not very good. The weather was exceedingly warm until we reached Cape St. Lucas. After passing the cape, it was much cooler and we all felt better. We reached here on the afternoon of the 30th of July. Found my friends well and glad to see me.

I like [it] here very well thus far. Have been around some through the city. I visited Lone Mountain Cemetery today. It is indeed a city of the dead. Some nine thousand have been buried there within the last ten years and doubtless many more will find a resting place there.

Fruits are ripe and abundant — peaches, plums, pears, grapes, melons, apples, blackberries, strawberries, &c. They tell me they have had strawberries ever since the first of April. The fruits are very nice. They grow larger here than at home.

I will close hoping to hear from you soon. You will please give me all the news. I sincerely hope the War will close soon but the people here do not know much about it yet. They are so far removed from it. We receive telegraphic dispatches from the East daily so we know what is being done.

From your old friend, — Maria

Direct to San Francisco, Cal. — A. M. Dore

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