Image from the Wells Fargo Guided By History blog. (Two Felix Tracy posts on the blog are linked below.)
From Los Angels to Salt Lake.
We have been permitted by Messrs. Adams & Co. to publish the following diary of Mr. Felix Tracy, Jr., during his late journey through from Los Angeles to Salt Lake.
This diary, though brief, will be of value to those who may wish to travel through to Salt Lake by the same route, and it will also give a very correct idea of the country to the general reader. –
The indefatigable and ubiquitous Adams & Co. will soon dispatch messengers through all the principle routes to Salt Lake, for the purpose of ascertaining by direct observation the best route for an Expresr. The enterprise of this firm bids fair to establish the best route for the Pacific Railroad, while Congress is quarrelling about appropriations for engineers to do the same work.
OFFICE OF ADAMS & Co.}
City of the Great Salt Lake.}
To I.O. Woods, Esq., Resident Partner of Adams & Co., of California.
DEAR SIR: – In compliance with your request, I hand you enclosed so much of the Journal of my late trip from Los Angeles to this place as is of public interest, and calculated I think to be of value to the Pacific Emigrant Society, in which, if I remember rightly, you hold a prominent position. I have omitted all of my own speculations on the route, which I will give in a subsequent letter, and confine myself to noting the essentials for emigrants, namely: grass water and wood.
Nov. 25th. — Leaving San Francisco. as you remember, this day per steamer Goliah, at half-past 5 P.M., we reached San Pedro Nov. 28th 8 A.M., which small place of a few houses, and proportionally smaller number of people, is the port of Los Angeles, twenty-five miles inland, to which place I proceeded in Alexander & Banning’s line of coaches, on which our Express matter is carried, and reached Los Angeles the same night, 28th.
This place is too well known to you to demand description from me, and I content myself with stating a few facts to which I would specially call your attention in the future. One is that corn is said to grow here splendidly and the ears to fill and ripen equal to anything in the older States, a fact, if a fact, which is not known on the bay of San Francisco, or in the mining regions where corn is grown with difficulty. — The raising here of a sufficient supply of maize for the California demand, would enrich the country by keeping thus much of our gold at home.
The culture of grapes and manufacture of wine is destined to become a feature of this part of California, and I confidently predict that, if fostered properly by those having as deep an interest as yourself in the welfare of California, the wine of this section will cause importations to nearly cease, and we shall become large exporters, besides doing a wonderful work in the way of temperance. Drinkers of Sherry and Madeira in San Francisco are probably aware that their best English imported wines are nearly all manufactured in London, from the cheap wines of the Cape of Good Hope. Los Angeles can supply the basis in place of Cape Town, and our ingenious merchants can do the manufacturing, including stamping the boxes and copying the labels.
Dec. 1st. — Left Los Angeles this morning, 10 A.M. Eight miles this side, passed San Gabriel, an old mission, in the vicinity of which is said to be some of the best land in California. The Padres here fenced many of their fields with the cactus.
At noon, we stopped at a placed called Monte, which has about five hundred inhabitants.
Water abundant; land very fertile, one squash vine producing three squashes which weighed four hundred and thirty-nine pounds; and I also saw a corn stalk seventeen and a half feet high.
Saturday, 2d — Staid last night at an old Spaniard’s by the name of Palemeros, who has a fine, large ranch well stocked. A few years since, the Utah tribe of Indians, led by their Chief. Walker, were in the habit of driving off several hundred head of cattle, the Spaniards in this vicinity not being about to resist them.
Distance to-day, thirty-two miles.
Sunday, 3d — For twenty miles it is nearly a desert, without water. Arrived at San Bernardino, this evening. Distance to-day, thirty-two miles.
Monday, 4th — San Bernardino is the Mormon settlement, containing about one thousand inhabitants.
The Mormons have possession of some eight square leagues of land, well watered, which produces well. Timber is scarce, consequently the houses are built of adobes. Within five miles of this place are hot springs, from lukewarm to hot enough to cook an egg.
Tuesday, 5th — Left San Bernardino to-day, at 2 p.m., in company with J.B. Leach, Jas. Williams, Jacob Mozier, and Mr. Pinney. We have four mules. Camped at 6 p.m. Good road and plenty of water. Distance to-day, 12 miles.
Wednesday, 6th — Left camp at half past seven this morning. Crossed the Sierra Nevada at Hunt’s Pass, which is ten miles nearer than by Cajon, and to the south of it, although the latter is much the best for wagons, and, in fact, one thousand dollars would make it a first-rate road. Camped at 6 p.m. — Distance to-day, 28 miles; the last 20 without water, and poor land.
Thursday, 7th — Left camp at half past 7. Distance to-day, 35 miles; water half way, good wagon road, land poor.
Camped at Sugar Loaf, on the Mohave River.
Friday, Dec 8 — Started at 8 o’clock traveled 25 miles northerly, along the Mohave. The soil could be made to produce well by irrigation. Road level and sandy.
Camped at 8 p.m., near a small lake; good grass. Distance to-day, 35 miles. We have seen some alkili.
Saturday, 9 — Left camp at half past 8 a.m. To-day we have traveled 25 miles without water; road good, through a desert. Camped at 4 p.m. Water bad, grass scarce. We passed through a canon [canyon?] three miles long, through a range of low mountains; the ascent was gradual.
Sunday, 10th — Left camp last night at 8 o’clock it being thought best to travel after night on the desert. From Bitter Springs, where we camped last night, to Kingston Springs, where we camped this morning at 11 o’clock, is 40 miles, over a desert; water to be had at a small lake, about half way; road fair. We fed our mules with barley last night and this morning. Started this afternoon, at half past 3 o’clock.
Monday, 11th — Camped this morning at half past 8. all tired and very sleepy. Distance last night, 40 miles; road good, — over a desert. This place is called Mountain Springs; grass is poor, and we here fed the last of our barley. About twenty miles from Bitter Springs, we left the regular emigrant road, and came on to it within four miles of Mountain Springs, saving about forty miles, and avoiding Salt Springs, the Highlander, Resting and Stump Springs. — Left Mountain Springs at half past 11 a.m., and traveled 12 miles to Cottonwood. Road good.
Tuesday, 12th — Left Cottonwood at half past 7 a.m., and camped at 3 p.m., on the Las Vegas. This is a small stream but very rapid, and waters several hundred acres of good land.
Here there is a spring in which a person cannot sink.
It is twenty-five miles over to the Colorado River. Road somewhat uneven but not bad. Distance to-day, twenty miles without water.
Wednesday, 13th — Left Vegas River at half past 1 a.m., and camped at 7 a.m.; good bunch grass but no water, so far, to-day, and we have traveled twenty-three miles. Started again at half past 10 a.m., and camped on Muddy River, at half past 8 p.m. Distance to-day, 27 miles, without water; road uneven, grass good.
Thursday. 14 — This morning five Indians came into camp, and wished to trade for blankets &c; we gave them some tobacco. There is some good land here. The Indians raise corn, wheat, pumpkins &c.
Left camp at 8 a.m., and camped on the Rio Virgin, at 5 p.m. The road to-day has been bad, passing over some very steep hills. An empty wagon would be load enough for four mules. Distance to-day twenty-five miles, without water.
Friday, 15th — Started this morning at 4 o’clock. We have followed the Rio Virgin up to its source. Camped at 6 p.m.; road fair. Distance to-day, 33 miles. The Muddy River empties into the Rio Virgin, and the latter into the Colorado.
Saturday, 16th — The road for the first fifteen miles has been a gradual ascent, and the last ten uneven and bad. No water to-day.
Camped on the Santa Clara River. — Twelve miles below us the Mormons are building a house. The Indians have three corn-fields on this river; twelve acres in all, one of which we are encamped in. There are a few cottonwood trees along the river, which is the first timber we have seen.
Sunday, 17th — Camped at the Mountain Springs, which is also called the Rim of the Basin. The road, to-day, has been bad, being quite rough. Distance, to-day, 35 miles, without water. The land in this vicinity would produce will if there were water to irrigate with.
Monday, 18th — Camped at Iron Springs. Distance to-day, 43 miles. No water, but plenty of ice.
Tuesday, 19th — Arrived at Cedar City, on Coal Creek, this morning; this is the first of the Mormon settlements. Here iron ore is found, and the Mormons expect to manufacture iron in the course of a month. Coal is also found here. This place is surrounded by an adobe wall, ten feet high and from two to three feet thick. There are about one hundred families here, whose farms are three or four miles distant, and are said to produce corn, wheat, oats, barley, &c., the land being irrigated. All the timber found here is a few small cedar trees.
From San Bernardino to Cedar City, there is probably not 1000 acres of good land, all in one body; all there is is situated on the Vegas, Muddy and Santa Clara rivers; and there is no timber except a few Cottonwood trees on the Santa Clara. There are no streams that require bridging. The road from the Rim of the Basin to this place is splendid — from the Vegas to the Rim of the Basin, it is quite rough, that is, it is up and down.
We came through with nine mules. Mr. Leach is of the opinion that a wagon and six mules would have come through easier.
You will see by what I have already written, that there are stretches of thirty to fifty miles without water. Four or five artesian wells would probably be all that would be required. We crossed small mountains almost every day, thro’ canons.
If this route should ever become much traveled, it would be difficult to find grass for animals, for the whole country is nearly all a desert, producing nothing but a little sage brush or grease wood.
By next express I will finish copying my diary, but in the meantime would remark, that the road from Cedar City to this place is a very good one about three streams requiring bridges.
FELIX TRACY, JR.
Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Feb 17, 1855
* * * * *
Sacramento & Shasta Cos.
The agent for Wells, Fargo & Co., at Sacramento, was born at Moscow, Livingston County, New York, March 19, 1829. Left New York for California March, 1849, arriving at San Francisco, September 18th of the same year, where he engaged in merchandising until 1850. He then went to the mines, working for a time on the North Fork of the American River; afterwards in the vicinity of Downieville.
In the Summer of 1850 when he entered the employee of Sam. W. Longton’s Express, as Messenger, between Marysville and Downieville, a position full of incident and adventure, a portion of the route being at times only passable by means of snow-shoes, employing and traveling in company with Indians. In June, 1852, he entered the service of Adams & Co. as Messenger between Shasta and Marysville; made one or more trips as Messenger to Portland, Oregon, and also a trip in the same capacity between San Francisco and New York City; upon his return from this trip he entered the San Francisco office as clerk, and shortly after was sent by the company to Salt Lake City to establish an express and stage line between Los Angeles and St. Louis. This was the first express ever carried into Utah Territory.
But in consequence of the failure of Adams & Co., in February, 1855, the enterprise was necessarily abandoned. Mr. Tracy, being left entirely without means by the failure of the company, was so fortunate as to secure the position of Clerk of Quartermaster’s Department under General Steptoe, then in command of the troops then stationed at Salt Lake, and so worked his passage back to California. Arriving in Shasta in July, 1855, he was appointed by the Pacific Express Company their agent at that place, then one of the most flourishing mining towns in this State. Upon the failure of this company, in the Summer of 1857, he entered the service of Wells, Fargo & Co., at Shasta, with which company he has remained until the present time, a period of nearly twenty-one years. Mr. Tracy took charge of the Sacramento office in March, 1868, and is probably the oldest expressman in California, having been engaged in this business, with less than three months’ interim, a period of nearly twenty-seven years.
While living in Shasta, Mr. Tracy served that county two terms as its Treasurer. In Sacramento he occupied the position of School Director for the city two terms, and for three years was President of the Board. Mr. Tracy is respected and trusted by all who have the pleasure of his acquaintance. He has long been a prominent leader in the Presbyterian Church, and last year went as delegated from this State to the General Assembly held at Chicago. Though modest and retiring, Mr. T. is a first-class businessman, and so recognize not only by the firm he has so long and faithfully served, but by all with whom he has done business during his long residence in California.
From the Sacramento Historical Society: (PDF LINK)
Sacramento, June 12, 1902
TRACY – In this city, June 12, Felix Tracy, a native of New York, aged 72 years, 2 months ans 13 days.
Friends are respectfully invited to attend the funeral Saturday at 10 a.m. from the Fourteenth-Street Presbyterian Church, Fourteenth Street, between O and P. Interment private. Omit flowers.
Sacramento Evening Bee (Sacramento, CA) Jun 12, 1902
FELIX TRACY, PIONEER EXPRESS AGENT, PASSES AWAY
Felix Tracy passed away at his home in this city to-day after a period of failing health of many months duration. Mr. Tracy was one of Sacramento’s most highly respected citizens.
Deceased was one of the oldest express agents in California, his service dating back to the 50s, when he was Wells, Fargo & Co.’s representative in Shasta. He was placed in several important positions by Wells, Fargo & Co, and finally sent to Sacramento, when this was the most important office in the State, it being the distributing point for all the best mining counties.
In those days, Wells, Fargo & Co. carried all the gold dust from the mines and returned the gold coin from the Mint to the miner. In this way they caught a percentage going and coming, and the Company grew to be a wealthy corporation.
It always, however, took good care of its faithful servants. Several years ago, Felix Tracy was tendered retirement on a handsome pension, and could have done so had he listened to the importunities of his employers. However he had quite a snug fortune of his own, and he remained “in the harness” until his physical condition compelled his retirement.
He was strictly temperate in his habits, and an active advocate of temperance in others. More than one young man was reclaimed through his influence. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church and a faithful attendant to its services. He was born in New York State seventy-three years ago. The funeral will take place from the Fourteenth-Street Presbyterian Church Saturday next at 10 a.m.
MRS. FELIX TRACY, NOBLE WOMAN, DEAD
Well Known in Sacramento, She Was Typical Californian, Known for Deeds Mrs. Martha GARTER TRACY, wife of the late Felix Tracy and mother of Henry W. and Mary F. Tracy, died at the family home at 1706 P Street on Saturday evening.
Mrs. Tracy was an old-time resident of Sacramento, respected and honored wherever known. She was one of the typical women of the early days of California – splendid wives and mothers, to whom California owes as much as she does to the men pioneers. She was a woman of deep religious convictions, full of genuine kindness and charity, sympathetic at heart and keen in intellect. She was author of several excellent short stories, but found her greatest pleasure and devoted almost all of her time to her home.
A leader in the Presbyterian Church on this Coast for many years, she was widely known among the followers of that faith and held in the highest esteem.
With her brother, the late Judge Charles A. GARTER of Red Bluff, Mrs. Tracy came as Miss Garter to California in 1856, joining her father and mother, the late Judge GARTER and wife in Shasta, where Miss Garter was married to Felix Tracy, then connected with Wells, Fargo & Company. Later they came to Sacramento, where Mr. Tracy was the local Manager of Wells, Fargo & Company until his death in 1902.
Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, CA) Feb 16, 1914
PIONEER STAGE LINE.
In the summer of 1857, Col. J. B. Crandall established a tri-weekly line of stages between Placerville and Genoa, and carried the “Carson Valley express,” which was managed by Theodore F. Tracy. E. W. Tracy was agent at Placerville, and Smith and Major Ormsby were agents at Genoa. In June of that year, T. F. Tracy, accompanied by J. B. Crandall, Mark Hopkins, J. H. Nevitt, Wm. M. Cary, John M. Dorsey, Theron Foster, C. A. Sumner, and K D. Keiser, passed over the route, and established the following stations between Placerville and Genoa, viz.: Sportman’s Hall, Brockliss Bridge, Silver Creek, and Cary’s Mill. This was called the “Pioneer Stage Line,” and connected at Genoa with the Chorpening wagons to Salt Lake.
Nevada Observer (LINK)
Death of Theodore F. Tracy
Felix Tracy, agent for Wells, Fargo & Co., in this city, received news this morning of the sudden death of his brother, Theodore F. Tracy, of San Francisco, a prominent Republican candidate for State Treasurer. In speaking of his candidacy the Oakland Tribune of a late date gave this brief sketch of him:
He was for nine years a Postoffice Inspector on this coast, and in that capacity acquitted himself with distinguished ability. In the course of his inspection tours throughout the State he made friends wherever he went, and, as a natural consequence, he will add strength to any ticket on which he may be nominated. In addition to his experience in the Postoffice Department he has had a thorough business training, and he held an important position under Wells, Fargo & Co. for many years. Mr. Tracy has resided in San Francisco for the past ten years, and before that was a resident of El Dorado county.
Sacramento Daily Bee (Sacramento, CA) Aug 18, 1886