Skip to main content

R. B. Laughlin diary

 Collection — Folder: S2910
Identifier: S2910

Scope and Contents

This is a typed copy of the diary which R. B. Laughlin kept during the trip. The first entry is April 5, 1849, in which he lists the men of the Evansville Mining Company who left on the steamboat Embassy for St. Louis, where they arrived on April 9. Some things were stolen from them. They left from St. Joseph, Missouri, on April 20.

On May 1, the Evansville Mining Company joined the Cincinnati Company “and made our start for California.” They traveled 12 miles that day. On May 3, they became “connected with Louisville Co.” At Fort Kearney, on May 15, he mailed a letter home. On May 23, he wrote: “This thing of traveling in the rain is anything but pleasant. Saw any quantity of wolves. Also chased 3 buffalo but could not get them.”

June 4, R. B. wrote: “Last night wrote a letter to James also one to Eunice. This morning, we have rigged up out blacksmith shop and are converting our wagons into carts.” He went to Fort Laramie that day and mentions the cost of goods. On June 9, Dr. Morgan fell from his mule and broke his arm, so R. B. went for a doctor in the wagon train behind them. June 18, he wrote: “Devil’s Gate is certainly a very great curiosity, being a long valley and on both sides high rocks with the names of emigrants written as well as the date they passed.”

On July 4, Mr. Laughlin wrote: “You in the States are celebrating the glorious 4th of July over a good dinner and mingling with friends while we are eating our lonely meal of fat pork and slap jacks.” Two days later, he wrote: “Mosquitoes so bad that we could not sleep last night; in fact, a person could hardly eat for them.” On Friday, July 27, he tells about almost dying of thirst, because a man refused to share his water.

On August 1, he wrote that they “passed the cabins in which the Donner party lost their lives in 1846.” They went to investigate and found animal and human bones. He wrote: “truly it was a sad affair. The cabins are now called Cannibal Cabins.” On August 4, they passed the diggings and expected to be at work in the mines by next week. On August 7, he hired himself as a clerk to John Chatfield for ten dollars a day and board.

His last entry is: “Left Sacramento City on Sea Witch, Sept. 19th at noon. Arrived at San Francisco, Sept. 21st, here met Benj. Hugg.”


  • 1849

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

R. B. Laughlin was the treasurer of the Evansville Mining Company. He traveled to the California Gold Fields in 1849 with the company president, Alva Farnsworth, and secretary, J. R. Magarrigle. There were eight other men, listed as privates, who went on the trek, including Dr. James Morgan.


Information found within collection.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania on 1989/12/08.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed in 2013/11 by Nikki Stoddard Schofield. EAD finding aid created in 2013/11 by Nikki Stoddard Schofield.
R. B. Laughlin diary
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.