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Herman Scharmann, Journey to California

Overland journey of the Sharmann family from New York to California


The California gold rush brought thousands of immigrants to the new territory, including a family of German immigrants. Another in a series of narratives, provided by the Library of Congress, this is the story of that German family's journey from New York to the new territory by wagon in 1849. It is a sobering counterpoint to the gold-fever enthusiasm characteristic of 1850's California. Intended to aid researchers who wish to understand the large context in which ancestors lived, this father's narrative recollects the death, deprivation, and exploitation many settlers faced after arriving on the west coast.

Extended Description

Herman Scharmann left Germany as head of a company of gold-seekers bound for California in 1849. Scharmann's overland journey to California (1918) describes his family's journey from New York to their wagon train in Independence, Missouri, and the trip across the Plains via Fort Kearny and Fort Laramie. When his wife and daughter die shortly after reaching California, Scharmann and two sons push ahead to the gold fields at Feather River and Middle Fork, and the American River and Negro Bar. He offers a brutal picture of the exploitation of emigrant parties and of the drudgery of prospecting and of towns like Marysville, Sacramento, and San Francisco, 1849-1851.

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