|Mabel Brown Hibbard Collection
William Edward Goodrich
Birth 11 JUN 1827 in Kentucky
Married Mariah Crawford 08 Jul 1866 in Siskyou Co., CA
Death 1899 likely in Siskiyou, California
William E. Goodrich was a '49er who drove a team of oxen to California in search of gold. He wrote a letter back home
describing the scene at a camp four miles from Saint Joseph, Missouri, which was the main jumping off point for the Oregon
Trail. It also includes the names of others in his party. The letter is addressed to Thomas Woodruff, who was the father of
his sister's husband, Thomas Woodruff. See the original letter here. A transcription is below.
William may not have found his fortune in gold, but he found love. His wife wrote a letter to Mary in 1898. Read it here.
To Mr. Thomas Woodruff
Jo Davies County, Ill
May 5, 1850
In the camp four miles from St. Joe
Mr. Thomas Woodruff, sir, after my respects, I would inform you that we are all well. The men have all gone out of camp,
and I take this opportunity to inform you that I am here and alive. First of all, let me tell you that the red oxen is fine, all but
one, and we had to trade him off. We put him and the mere? one we got from Gaits that was the long legged one and
traded them for a pair of four year olds. They's crackers but they ain't red. We had to pay $10.00 to boot. We have got all
ready for a start as soon as the grass will permit and I am afraid that won't be before the 12th of this month; and corn is
worth 1.25 per bushel, we heard from the Bluffs yesterday, and corn was 200 dollars there. It has cost us about one
hundred and eighty dollars, and if it hadn't been for Raulos, God knows what would have been done, for I don't. We will
cross the river tomorrow and go to Wolf Creek and there stay till the grass is so that we can proceed on.
There was 12 teams got in St. Joe yesterday that had been out three hundred miles and had to come back. They had fed
out all their bread and flour to their horses and, Oh, God, if you could but see them. They had no hair on their legs and no
flesh on their ribs. The mud coming through the states; took the mud off and it was a bad sight to see the misery. They
sold their teams at auction. Horses that six weeks ago would have brought 1000 sold for 25, and they are going home with
a bad tall in their mouth; but if we are going to wait until John Startvant says start then we are sure of it. There have been
some skins cut up here. Matison and brother started for the plains without the word of command from Roberson. That is to
say that they started to run off. They started from near this place and went up the river 20 miles and crossed, but they did
not get off until he, R, found out that they were gone, and he started and caught them. This is the place to see broke men
and them from home. It has cost twice as much as anybody thought it would, and there is a great many going home on that
account. I will give you a list of the teams that will start with us. There is one team from Ollaway. Crage and Miller Murphy
and Littel and Hart and Cromer and S. Nyes and Kindols and Parkers and two others. There is 15 teams, all of the right
stripe, will start over the river tomorrow, if God is willing and the weather will permit. They are going to put themselves in a
body with John Startvant at their head, all but Murphy, and he says that there never was a man that could be Captain over
him, but, oh, it was luck that I didn't get in that snare, for it is not so pleasant as a man might think to go through with an
overseer, as they call them in this country, but I have got the greatest partners that we crossed the plain. That is I think, so
what they think of me, I can't tell, but we get along fine anyhow.
I want you to write to me and direct your letter to Sacramento City, and I will answer them as they come to hand. Nothing
more at present. Give my respect to Riley Armstrong and all the boys, if they haven't all left. You will please excuse my bad
writing and spelling.
Show this to Brother and tell him not to make any talk about Matison, but I do think that they tried to steal the team and
outfit, but Roberson and them had some firs and they fault is laid on his brother in law.
Give my love to Mother and Mary, them to keep in good heart, for if hard work and temperance and mercy will get gold, it is
Yours till death,