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The Life of Bret Harte
With Some Account of the California Pioneers

written by "Merwin, Henry Childs"
...y might receive the longed-for letter at the earliest possible moment. The coming of three women on a steamer from New York in 1850 was mentioned by all the newspapers as a notable event. In May of that year the “Sacramento Transcript” contained an advertisement, novel for California, being that of a “Few fashionably-trimmed, Florence braid velvet and silk bonnets.” A month later a Sydney ship arrived at San Francisco, having on board two hundred and sixty passengers, of whom seventy were women. As soon as this vessel had anchored, there was a rush of bachelors to the Bay, and boat-loads of them climbed the ship’s side, trying to engage housekeepers. In 1851 women began to arrive in somewhat larger numbers, and the coming of wives from the East gave rise to many amusing, many pathetic and some tragic scenes. “You could always tell a month beforehand,” said a Pioneer, “when a man was expecting the arrival of his real or intended wife. The old slouch hat, checked shirt and coarse outer garments disappeared, and the gentleman could be seen on Sunday going to church, newly rigged from head to foot, with fine beaver hat, white linen, nice and clean, good broadcloth coat, velvet [Pg 145]vest, patent-leather boots, his long beard shaven or neatly shorn,—he looked like a new man. As the time drew near many of his hours were spent about the wharves or on Telegraph Hill, and every five minutes he was looking for the signal to announce the coming of the steamer. If, owing to some breakdown or wreck, there was a delay of a week or two, the suspense was awful beyond description.”[58]   THE POST-OFFICE, SAN FRANCISCO, 1849-50A. Castaigne, del.Copyright by the Century Co.   The great beards grown in California were sometimes a source of embarrassment. When a steamer arrived fathers might be seen caressing little ones whom they now saw for the first time, while the children,...

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