Wednesday, August 28, 2013

You've Got Mail

Maryland Gazette, Aug 4, 1791
   Because of current technology, it only takes a few moments to check to see if you have received any email.  Can you imagine waiting weeks for a letter or walking miles to pick up that letter?
    One feature that used to be appear in newspapers was a section that listed people who had letters waiting at the post office.  I have found a number of instances where ancestors had their names printed in a mail-waiting list.
    On Aug 4, 1791 the Maryland Gazette indicated that the was a letter waiting for James T. Gates at the Annapolis Post Office.  Unfortunately, James lived approximately 40 miles from Annapolis.  (James T. Gates was my GGGG-Grandfather and the father of Elisha Gates.) James had until October to get to Annapolis.
On July 7, 1852 the Sacramento Union printed almost two pages of names.  An estimated 3000 names were printed in the newspaper on that date.  The most likely reason for the excessive number of letters in the newspaper is the fact that the 49ers had arrived in California by the thousands and disappeared up into the foothills looking for gold.

One of the letters was for James T. Lorton.  James T. Lorton was the great grandfather of John Boyd.  (Jayme considers John as her father and John is known affectionately to us as ‘Pop’.)  In 1849, James Lorton had come west with his parents.  He was about 16 years old and both of them had died on the journey west.  In 1852, James was most likely living somewhere in the foothills of the Sierras with other miners.  He was trying to eek out a living by panning for gold. He would probably have been anywhere from 40 to 120 miles from Sacramento.  
This causes one to wonder about three things. 1)  Did James Gates or James Lorton ever pick up their mail?  2)  Who sent them the letter? 3) Could they read the letter.
  I cannot imagine that we will ever find out.

No comments:

Post a Comment