Posts Tagged ‘John C. Fremont’

Genesis of the Republican Party

September 10, 2011

Image from the Tarrant County Republican Party website 

Genesis of the Republican Party.
[S.F. Bulletin.]

The States, Maine, Wisconsin and Michigan — each claims to have organized the Republican party. Perhaps Wisconsin is really entitled to the honor. On the last day of February, 1854, a meeting had been held at Ripon in that State, comprised of both Whigs and Democrats, that resolved that in the event of Congress passing the Kansas-Nebraska bill, they would fling their old affiliations to the wind, and join in a determined movement to oppose the further extension of slavery.

The first convention on this platform — which may be called the first Republican platform — convened on the 6th of July of that year, and nominated

Kinsley S. Bingham for Governor, who was elected by an overwhelming majority.

Ohio followed Michigan in the same direction, and at a State Convention nominated a ticket that swept the field.

The next year, in 1855, New Yorkers in convention abandoned their old name of “Whig” and adopted the Wisconsin name “Republican.” In other States the party of “bolters” from both the Whig and the Democratic ranks were designated as “Anti-Nebraskas.” In 1856 they met in a National Convention and nominated John C. Fremont for the Presidency, and the Republican party for the second time under that name came into existence.

Daily Nevada Journal (Reno, Nevada) Jul 16, 1884

Richland County Observer (Richland Center, Wisconsin) May 6, 1856


Having appeared before you as a candidate for the office of Clerk of the Board of Supervisors of Richland county, I deem it my duty to lay before my friends and the public generally, my position in regard to the present campaign.

For the election of President, I have but one choice, and that is for Fremont; deeming him not only to be the republican candidate, but the only true democratic candidate in the field. For him I shall labor arduously, and hope successfully. For Congress and State, as well as all law-making offices, I shall support the republican ticket throughout.

For county offices I shall endeavor to vote for those men who are the most capable to fill the offices, without regard to party nominations. Holding to the true Republican doctrine of Thomas Jefferson, viz: Are they honest, are they capable?

Respectfully yours,
Richland Center, August 9th, 1856.

Richland County Observer (Richland Center, Wisconsin) Aug 19, 1856

Richland County Observer (Richland Center, Wisconsin) Aug 19, 1856


“We intend the Constitution to be THE GREAT CHARACTER OF HUMAN LIBERTY to the unborn millions who shall enjoy its protection; and who should never see that such an institution as slavery was ever known in our midst.” — James Madison.

“Slavery exists in Kansas under the Constitution.” — James Buchanan.

The former expresses the view of the Republican party; the latter the views of the so called Democratic party.

Richland County Observer (Richland Center, Wisconsin) Nov 24, 1857

John B. Weller: Gold Rush Era Politician

April 28, 2009
John B. Weller (Image from

John B. Weller (Image from

While searching for “California Gold Rush” news articles, I ran across and transcribed the following article, assuming John B. Weller was was of the many “49’ers” who hailed from Ohio. However, after a little research, I realized he went to California for a different reason. As it turns out, he was an Ohio politician, who seemed to be in the midst of a scandal, which might have been the push needed to go elsewhere. Fortunately for him, the scandal didn’t follow him, and he eventually became the fifth governor of California.

First, some background on John B. Weller:

In this Ohio government biography, it states he was married four times! His wives seemed to just keep dying, although that was NOT the scandal I mentioned. I just thought it was interesting. This is a pretty good biography, although it seems to be written with a rather positive slant.

From the “Governors of California” bio, which is quite short, I quote the following interesting tidbits (emphasis mine):

He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, served in the Mexican War, and was U.S. Commissioner of International Boundaries. …[Later, after a scandal] he was removed from the commission by President Taylor. Somehow recovering from the scandal, Weller entered politics in California first serving as State Senator. As Governor, he intended to make California an independent republic if the North and South divided over slavery, and he personally led an assault on San Quentin Prison to take back possession of it from a commercial contractor.

This Journal News article (1990) gives a good time line of his life, including the following:

In two of his three House elections, Weller defeated Lewis D. Campbell, who had been his roommate when both first came to Hamilton. Weller declined to seek a fourth term and returned to his law practice in Hamilton.

When the Mexican War started in May 1846, Weller enlisted as a private, helped raise troops in Butler County and rose to colonel and commander of the Second Ohio Regiment when its colonel was killed in the Battle of Monterey Sept. 24, 1846.

After the war, he was the Democratic candidate for governor in 1848, but lost to Seabury Ford, a Whig, during a questionable vote count. One tally gave Weller a 259-vote victory. But the version accepted by the Ohio General Assembly Jan. 22, 1849, made Ford the winner by 311 votes.

While the election was in doubt, Weller’s third wife, Susan, died in Hamilton Dec. 22, 1848, and was the second person buried in the new Greenwood Cemetery. (His first wife, Ann, also was reburied there.)

**The one above about his wife dying, is particularly of interest, given the mean-spirited poem written about the Weller family that you will find posted further down.

In January 1849, two months before the end of his term, President James K. Polk, a Democrat, appointed Weller chairman of the commission to determine the boundary line between the United States (California) and Mexico under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Political changes in Washington led to Weller’s recall in 1850 by the new president, Zachary Taylor, a Whig.

In 1851, the California legislature elected him to the U. S. Senate as a Union Democrat to succeed John C. Fremont. In the Senate from Jan. 30, 1852, until March 3, 1857, Weller supported building a Pacific railroad and homestead bills and was regarded as a pro-slavery Democrat.

In 1867 he moved to New Orleans to practice law. He died there of smallpox Aug. 17, 1875. The body of the former Hamilton lawyer was returned to San Francisco for burial.

Finally, from the National Governors’ Association comes this:

Weller also dealt with an ongoing feud between opposing factions in the Democratic Party, which was led by U.S. Senator David C. Broderick and U.S. Senator William M. Gwin. The feud culminated in September 1859 when David S. Terry, a former judge of the California Supreme Court, killed U.S. Senator Broderick in a duel.

Now, on to the newspaper articles, this first one being the one I mentioned at the beginning of the post:

From California.

We give the following extract from a letter dated San Francisco, Sept. 15th, 1850.

We have had a hard time of it here in the money market, during the past month, and many large houses have failed. The credit system is creeping into the profession, and although business is plenty, it is more difficult to collect. I have now three cases on hand, where success in either would give me as much as I want.

This city is improving more rapidly than any city in the world — the most extensive improvements have been made in every direction since you left. The city is fast running out into the Bay, and large and extensive business houses erected 500 yards from the shore on a line with the principal streets. And yet while all this is going on, money commands 10 and 12 per cent per month.

The miners are not so successful this year as last. Upon some of the rivers nothing is found. I doubt very much whether the average will be $2 per day — this may perhaps have a salutary effect upon the State, as it will drive the mechanics to their trades, and the farmers to agriculture. Thousands are leaving the mines and seeking employment in the cities.


Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Nov 19, 1850


Some further research turned up the following articles that give some political background, although it should be noted some are written by the opposing political party newspapers. In contrast, the article from the Mountain Democrat is from a “friendly” paper.

The Youth of Weller.

When a man by the aid of his genius, the lustre of his acts, or the force of circumstances, is ushered very prominently into the public view, his personal history becomes a topic of interest from his youth up, and a host of literary gossips are sent down to search out all the leading events of his babyhood.

As Mr. WELLER has been taken up by the Locofoco party of this State, for the purpose of making him a very great man, in short a Governor, it is proper to investigate his biography a little, in order that we may understand how his past achievements, are to coincide with his future honors.

We clip the following “incident” from a file of ’44 campaign papers, which was first published in the Richmond Palladium, of course sometime before Mr. WELLER was thought of in either of his military characters, as the Hero of Monterey or Generalissimo of the Revolutionary Forces in Ohio. We add to it another chapter, which is going the rounds of the press, and we presume that other chapters will come to light, until by the time that their interesting subject is comfortably seated in the gubernatorial chair, we shall receive from the hands of some publisher, an elegant edition of “The Youth of Weller,” complete in one volume, which will fit, in all our public libraries, cozily and decorously beside “The Youth of Shakespeare.”

AN INCIDENT. — Some ten or twelve years ago, a young man dressed in the tip top of the fashion of that day, with his ruffles floating at his breast, his fingers engemed with rings, his hat cap-a-pie, and the airs of the dandy pervading the whole of the thing called a man, appeared in the town of Centerville, as our hero no doubt thought, much to the astonishment of the natyves. He soon found his way to the Courthouse, which was then occupied by the circuit Court. He pompously entered within the bar, and seated himself among the lawyers. After a while a case was called, wherein Mr. A. of the State of Ohio, had sued Mr. B. of this county on a plain note of hand. Our hero, the dandy, appeared as Counsel of the plaintiff, and stated to the Court that he presumed there would be no difficulty in the case, it being a plain and simple obligation to pay money. —

One of the Whoosier lawyers, having a little fun in connection with his other qualifications, concluded to contest the case, and put in various pleas containing several foolish and untenable positions. Our hero, arose in surprise, and stated that he was not prepared to meet the case nor form the issue, as he had not anticipated any opposition, and concluded by asking a continuance of the case. It was continued by our hero paying the cost. At the next term of the Court, our county was again honored with the presence of the Ohio dandy. His case was again called, and he was about to proceed with it, when the impudent Whoosier asked permission to file some additional pleas, equally foolish with the first, saying that certain facts had come to his knowledge since the last term, which it might be important to have brought forward in his case; he was permitted to file them. Our hero, being thus nonplused again, asked for a continuance of the case until the next term. The next and third term of the court arrived, and with it, our effeminate, and astonishingly fine dressed hero. He was this time accompanied by his client, a plain and highly respectable man. The case was again called, but our fun loving Whoosier lawyer again rose to file more pleas. The client of our hero, fearing that his attorney would again be foiled, applied to one of the lawyers then residing in Centreville, to attend to the case, saying that he was under the impression that his attorney was not acquainted with the practice in this State. The lawyer thus applied to after pocketing a pretty fair fee, went into Court, and asked that the case might be brought up. —

The lawyer who had been putting in pleas, immediately rose and said that he confessed judgement! So ended the case; and our chop-fallen, peacock hero, dropped his feathers, and skulked out of town, and did not for some years show his face in the town of Centreville, and in conclusion we are compelled to say that our coxcomb hero, was a Mr. WELLER.

WHO IS JOHN B. WELLER? A writer in the Cleveland Times attempts to tell the public the answer to this mighty question. And the Telegraph, in its simplicity copies the article for the enlightenment of the people in this region who have been endeavoring for the last fifteen years to find out who is John B. Weller.

The writer tells us that Col. W. was born in Hamilton county, and has his home there; and then he tells us how the said Weller has been often elected in Butler county; that he was elected Prosecutor in 1835 by an overwhelming majority, over a very popular opponent, and re-elected the next term by acclamation, “no one being found willing to run against an individual so endeared to the people!!!” —

The people here recollect something like this:

–Mr. Weller was a very forward young man who studied law with Jesse Corwin, and was a Whig, and was Secretary of a Clay meeting as soon as old enough; but on entering business he turned Loco, and run for the office of Prosecutor, against his benefactor, Mr. Corwin, and in a county giving some 1500 majority, he was elected by the overwhelming majority of seventy-five!!! If the people did not remember this they might ask, who is John B. Weller?

He then run for Congress, says the narrator and was elected by a large majority, and in 1840, re-elected by a large majority. This majority, was just 57!! where two years before he received 800! But the people in this district were beginning to know “who is John B. Weller?”

In the late history of the Lieutenant Colonel his biographer seems better informed, and he tells how the Colonel volunteered as a private and was elected Captain, then Lieutenant, and went to Mexico; to which he adds much of the glorifying usually claimed for him here. —

But some how or other he has either forgotten or never heard all about the Colonel in Mexico. He never tells anything about the way he domineered over the men, and assumed airs of consequence, and rendered himself ridiculous generally — nor does he mention the great prudence of the Colonel in choice of positions, and a variety of other things that must yet be told in answer to the question, “who is John B. Weller?”

As material for another writer, it might be said that Lieutenant Colonel Weller has never run up with his party, in any instance when he was a candidate — that he is reserved and haughty in his demeanor, and anything but a favorite with the people — a demagogue of the most unmitigated character. But he is known here and may be known pretty well over the State this year. After the knowledge is attained, we trow no Locofocos will enquire “who is John B. Weller?” (Hamilton Intelligencer.)

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) May 9, 1848


A Locofoco Jewel.

“Consistency is a jewel,” and so is the Sandusky City Mirror. When the Baltimore nominations were received, it sturdily refused to support Gen. Cass, because he was a doughface, or Gen. Butler, because he was a slave-holder. We notice that it has just unfurled the Barnburner flag, for VanBuren and Dodge; but it is patched with a most unseemly accompaniment —

After a conscientious delay of several moons’ duration, it has at last put up the name of Col. Weller. as its candidate for Governor; a man who has been the most abject slave of the slaveocracy that ever shamed the halls of Congress!

The fact has raised a difficult issue in our mind, which we will leave out to a baker’s jury of one dozen — which is the greatest doughface, Lewis Cass, John B. Weller, or the Editor of the Mirror?

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jul 4, 1848


COL. WELLER’S DEFENSE. — The Commissioners of Butler county filed their bill in Chancery against John B. Weller, charging him, as one of the commissioners of the Surplus Revenue Fund, with being indebted to that fund in the sum of eleven thousand dollars and interest, which he does not pay, &c. &c.

To this Col. Weller comes and defends. And in what does that defence consist? Why, Col. Weller does not deny that he has the money. He does not traverse the facts set forth in the bill. But he says that he ought not to be called upon to answer the charges and allegations of the complainant’s bill, because, he says the said suit was commenced by and in the name of the commissioners of the county of Butler, whereas in fact said suit ought to have been commenced by and in the name of the Procecuting Attorney of said county.

He stands up to the fight at law, just about as well as he did in the wars.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Aug 1, 1848


Colonel Weller
Has been into Clermont county, and he made a speech there which did not very much “astonish the natives.” The Courier thus sums it up:
The positions assumed, and the sum total of the speech, were as follows:
1. Abuse of the Whigs generally.
2. Abuse of General Taylor.
3. Abuse of Seabury Ford.
4. Polk did not annex Texas.
5. The war was brought on by Mexico.
6. Abuse of Senator Corwin.
7. Laudation of John B. Weller.
9. The “mouse in liquor,” like Weller at Montery.)
10. The dying soldier’s request — tears &c.

1. The Eleven Thousand Dollars Defalcation! Forgot that entirely!
2. The Ohio Banks, and the Hard Money issue.
3. The Tax Law.
4. The Dorrite proceedings of the 10th of May, for which he took strong ground at the opening of the campaign, urging his friends to be prepared to march to Columbus next winter, and, if need be, drive the Whigs out of the State House “at the point of the bayonet!”
5. Cass’ Federalism.
6. Cass’ extra pay.
7. Cass’ bill reducing the allowance of the volunteers from $3,50 to $1,91 per month.
8. The much talked of “principles” of the party.

Not one of these subjects was deemed worthy of notice by Col. Weller, in his speech to the “democracy of Clermont.”

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Sep 8, 1848


Keep it before the People,
That John B. Weller declared that the Apportionment Bill, passed at the last session of the Legislature, should be modified, if it had to be done at the point of the bayonet!

That John B. Weller is in favor of abolishing every Bank in the State, and of Hard Money Currency.

That John B. Weller was one of the Fund Commissioners of Butler county, and that he is now a defaulter to the amount of eleven thousand dollars!

That John B. Weller compared all men who are in favor of Free Soil to “Ragged and Scurvy Sheep.” and said that he would not thank them for their votes!

That John B. Weller, while a member of Congress, voted against the right of petition! Can the people of Ohio vote for such a miserable doughface? —Tusc Advocate

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Sep 11, 1848


**This is the poem I mentioned earlier in the post:

From the Zanesville Courier.
AIR — Governor Tod.

Colonel Weller ran home in a hurry,
The Locos were shouting like fun;
Said he, Mrs. Weller, don’t worry,
I’m Governor! sure as a gun.

The cannons were booming like thunder,
The rockets went off in a whiz;
Said she, My Dear Colonel, I wonder
If me you aint trying to quiz?

Oh no! said the Colonel; keep shady —
I pledge you my honor upon it —
Now, since you’re the Governor’s lady,
My Dear, you must have a new bonnet.

And you must be dressed in the fashion,
In silks and in satins so fine;
A shawl you must have of Circassian —
The Governor’s Lady must shine.

But spoke Mrs. Weller, contending,
Our children must have some new clothes;
Their trowers I’m tired of mending,
Their shoes are all out at the toes.

The Colonel was highly excited
When each little dirty nosed Weller
Came running — their Papa, delighted,
Wiped each little Governor’s smeller.

Come, hold up your heads, little “fellers,”
And play with your neighbors no more;
These children of Governor Weller’s
“Must slide on their own cellar door.”

Be still, boys, don’t make such a racket,
And you shall be dressed in new suits;
Long tails shall be put to your jackets,
High heels shall be tapped on your boots.

We’ll start for Columbus soon — “may be;”
So children, look very sedate;
Your “Ma” is a Governor’s Lady,
And I’m the big man of the State.

A shout — a Whig shout — comes astounding,
Great “noise and confusion” was heard
High o’er the hill-tops resounding,
Hurra for Old Cheesebury Ford.

Colonel Weller he heard it, astonished;
Mrs. Weller she said with a tear,
Naughty fellow, you ought to be punished,
“Such castles to build in the air.”

So, smoothing her apron so tidy,
At the Colonel she looked with a leer —
“I have a queer sort of an idea,
You’re not yet a Gov’ner, my dear.”

The Colonel was left in great trouble —
The little young Wellers looked sad,
For they all got spanked with a shovel,
And squalling they ran off to bed.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Nov 21, 1848


The California fever is raging here to a considerable extent, three companies are forming to start on the 1st of April next, and some of the best citizens of Columbus are of the number; they all take the overland route.
Colonel Weller starts from Cincinnati next Wednesday and proceeds to New Orleans, where he will make the final arrangements for his expedition. He goes first to Santiago on the Pacific, I believe, and takes with him a company of 36 Engineers, Surveyors, Clerks &c., among the number is H.H. Robinson, of the Eagle, who goes as Secretary. I wonder if that nice Silk Hat won’t go without brushing — that near setting coat won’t get a little rumpled, that fine satin vest, and snowy shirt bosom won’t get a little soiled, those tight pants won’t want another pair of straps on, and if his boots won’t want heel tapping before he gets back; I think, myself, quite likely they will.

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Feb 10, 1849


Colonel Weller, with his surveying party, left Cincinnati on Saturday morning on the “Daniel Webster,” for New Orleans. The Nonpareil says he proceeds direct to San Diego, to meet a similar party from the Mexican government, and from thence they run the boundary line between the two countries.

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Feb 27, 1849


We learn from the Cincinnati Enquirer that Colonel Weller and suite left that city on Saturday last, on board the steamer Daniel Webster, for Mexico. — Ohio Statesman

We suppose, of course, this is the same suit that has been so long pending against the Colonel in Butler county for those $11,000, and that since his defeat for Governor, he has concluded to “change the venue.” — Dayton Journal.

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Mar 1, 1849


From his time in California:

John B. Weller.

We have, for some time past, says the Sierra Citizen, been intending to speak of the services of this retiring Senator in behalf of the State he so ably represented, when the following statements, made by a correspondent of the San Francisco Herald, writing from Washington, met our eye; and embodying, as it does, an undisputed record of the acts and doings of this faithful servant, during his stewardship, we substitute it with pleasure for any remarks we had intended to make of our own. We must, however, be allowed to say, in this connection, that we have known John B. Weller from our boyhood, — we know his faults, but we know his virtues as well, — and to those acquainted with our relative positions, anything we might say in this connection will have doubly the weight that parties not cognizant of our relative positions, in our intercourse in the Atlantic States, will accord it.

We are familiar with the personal and political history of John B. Weller ever since he entered upon his public career, which was as the State’s Attorney in a County in Ohio, where all our own brothers and the greater portion of our own relatives reside. A warm friend, he was ever open and generous, — bitter, it might be, in the advocacy of his party’s interests, and unsparing in political warfare — he was ever generous even to his opponents, and, although possessing faults, no one was more popular in his private relations. Although time, that softens all bitter feelings — that in the end “makes all things even,” — has mellowed down much of his party acerbity, — yet John B. Weller, when the question was vital between his personal and his party’s interests, never hesitated to sacrifice himself upon the altar of his party. Had he, like his opponent of the Gubernatorial Chair of Ohio, in 1848, caught at and pandered to the popular “isms” of the day, he would have made his “calling and election sure,” beyond all doubt or cavil, but he spurned the idea, and, as the standard-bearer of the true in contradistinction to the bastard Democracy, that went astray after false Gods, he preferred an honorable political defeat to a victory won by dishonorable sacrifice.

Now that John B. Weller is a private citizen, all parties unite in according to him that mood of justice which his services deserve. He has signified his intention to resume practice of his profession, and retire for a season, from the political arena, in which he has figured through life. But, if there is anything in the gift of the people of the State of California that he will accept, it is his, beyond all doubt or peradventure. If he prefer, however, to retain that “post of honor,” — a private stations, — it may be said of him, as of the Roman Patriot:

Alone, more proud the great Marcellus feels
Than Caesar with the Roman Senate at his heels

*The article goes on to talk about the money he brought to the state and the bills he tried to get passed, but I didn’t transcribe that part.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) May 30, 1857

Ex-Senator Weller Wants to be a Commodore.
{From the Seneca (Ohio) Advertiser.}

While in Washington we heard a good story in regard to Uncle Abe and John B. Weller, “the Mexican killer.”

Weller was at Washington settling his accounts as Minister to Mexico. After their adjustment, he concluded to pay his respects to Mr. Lincoln, with whom he had served in Congress. He called at the Presidential mansion, and was courteously received.

“Mr. President,” said Colonel Weller, “I have called on you to say that I most heartily endorse the conservative position you have assumed, and will stand by you so long as you prosecute the war for the preservation of the Union and the Constitution.”

“Colonel Weller,” said the President, “I am heartily glad to hear you say this.”

“Yes, Mr. President,” said Weller, “I desire an appointment to aid in this work.”

“What do you want, Colonel?” asked Abraham.

“I desire to be appointed Commodore in the Navy,” said Weller.

The president replied:

“Colonel, I did not think you had any experience as a sailor.”

“I never had Mr. President,” said Weller; “but judging from the Brigadier-Generals you have appointed in Ohio, the less experience a man has, the higher position he attains.”

Lincoln turned off, with a hearty laugh, and said — “I owe you one, Colonel.”

Davenport Daily Gazette (Davenport, Iowa) Feb 11, 1862

If you are interested in reading more about David Smith Terry, the politician with a temper, try these links:

The Virtual Museum of San Francisco

Dateline Sunday U.S.A.

Col. Fremont’s Tragic Expedition

March 31, 2009
John C. Fremont

John C. Fremont

Very Late from Santa Fe — Col. Fremont Safe — twelve of his Party Lost.
St. Louis, March 29.

We have news from the 25th of February. Col. Fremont arrived there on his way to California, taking Cook’s route. He lost twelve of his men in the mountains, among whom were Wise (of St. Louis,) and King and Preuss, (of Washington.) The names of the other nine have not been received.

Col. Fremont did not reach the top of the mountains, which he had reached when Col. Benton last heard from him. He was compelled to retire to the valleys, where the snow fell to the depth of thirty to forty feet, covering up all his outfit and killing his mules. After this, he left the valley and took to the hills, and sent out a party to obtain relief and to return at stated periods. The party not returning, as agreed upon, he started after and overtook them, and in six days got to Taos, where the sufferers were relieved. Freemont was furnished with an outfit to proceed, by the Quarter Master and Commissary, Lieutenant Beale. He was last heard from at Sorocco, getting on without difficulty. He would be in California in thirty days.

A New California Production. — A letter recently received by a merchant in St. Louis, from one of Col. Fremont’s party, announces that the Colonel has despatched to Corpus Christi a living nondescript animal, which his party succeeded in capturing near the river Gilia, after a chase of three days. The letter days that the animal resembles a horse in many particulars, except that it is covered with a heavy coat of wool, closely curled, being in color and fineness of its texture, very similar to camel’s hair. It has no mane, and its tail is like that of an elephant. The fleetness of the animal is surpassing that of the deer, and it leaped with all ease obstructions ten feet high.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Apr 3, 1849

Colorado Rivers Map: image from

Colorado Rivers Map: image from

The first chunk of this article explains Fremont’s location at the time of the tragedy, in which you may or may not be interested, although there is also some good background information in that section as well.  Fremont’s own account starts at the bold type, “TAOS, NEW MEXICO, Feb. 6, 1849.”

From the National Intelligencer.

Col. Fremont and Party — Further and Final Accounts.

We resumed the extracts from Col. Fremont’s Letters, prefacing them with some brief description of the localities made memorable by disaster, for the information of those who have not recent maps at hand.

It is known that the great Rocky Mountain chain, with a general direction north and south, sends out a branch towards the southeast from between the heads of the Arkansas and the Rio del Norte; and this branch forms the dividing ridge between the upper valleys of these two rivers, and between the head waters of the Red River and the del Norte; and having accomplished these purposes it subsides and disappears in the plains of Texas.

The highest part of this branch chain, and the governing objects in it to travellers, are the Spanish peaks, first made known to American geography by the then young Lieut. Pike. These Peaks are about in north latitude 37 1/2 deg., and west longitude from London 105 degrees and about on a line longitudinally with the puebles of the Upper Arkansas distant from them half a degree, and in sight. They are seen at a great distance and are guiding objects to travellers. The road to Santa Fe passes below these peaks, and crosses the chain about two degrees south. Col. Fremont passed above them, and entered the valley of the Del Norte high up above the Mexican settlements, and above Pike’s stockade, and intended to follow the Del Norte to its head, and cross the great Rocky Mountain chain though some pass there to be found. He was therefore, so to speak, going into the forks of the mountain — into the gorge of two mountains — and at a great elevation, shown by the fact of the great rivers which issue from the opposite sides of the Rocky Mountains at that part — the Arkansas and Del Norte on the east, the Grand River fork of the Colorado of the gulf of California on the west. It was at this point — the head of the Del Norte — where no traveller had ever gone before, that Col. Fremont intended to pass, to survey his line across the country between the Mississippi and the Pacific, and crown the labors of long explorations by showing the country between the great river and the great sea to be inhabitable by a civilized people and practicable for a great road, and that on several lines, and which was the best. He had been several years engaged in this great labor, and wished to complete it. It was the beginning of December that he crossed the chain from the Arkansas valley into the valley of the Del Norte; and, although late with the full belief of the old hunters and traders at the pueblos, the guide inclusive, whom he there engaged, that he would go through. He was provided with every thing to carry the men to California, and with grain to carry all the animals across all the mountains into the valleys of the tributaries of the great Colorado of the West, where the snows would be light, wood and grass sufficient, game abundant, and the hardships of the expedition all surmounted and left behind. In two weeks he expected to be in these mild valleys.

Unhappily, the guide consumed these two weeks in getting to the head of the Del Norte — a distance which only required four or five days of travel, as Col. Fremont showed in coming back. — This was the cause of the first calamity — the loss of the horses and mules. The same guide consumed twenty-two days, when sent with a party for relief, in making the distance which Col. Fremont (with Godey, Pruess, and a servant,) without a guide, on foot, in colder weather, deeper snows, and half famished made in six. That was the cause of the second and irreparable calamity — the death of the men.

The immediate scene of suffering in this great disaster, where the ascent of the great mountain was forced and its summit scaled, must have been about north latitude 38 1/2 and west longitude from London 107, the elevation above twelve thousand feet, and the time that of dead winter — Christmas! From this point the noted objects, Pike’s Peak and the three Parks, would bear about E.N.E. and the Spanish Peaks about E.S.E.

With this notice of localities to which a mournful interest must long attach, we proceed to give extracts from the remaining and final letters from Col. Fremont. The first of these is dated —

“TAOS, NEW MEXICO, Feb. 6, 1849.

“After a long delay, which had wearied me to the point of resolving to set out again myself; tidings have at last reached of my ill-fated party.

“Mr. Vincent Haler came in last night, having the night before reached the Little Colorado settlement with three or four others, including Mr. King and Mr. Prouix,” we have lost eleven of our party.

“Occurrences, since I left them, are briefly these, so far as they came within the knowledge of Mr. Haler; I say briefly, because I am now unwilling to force my mind to dwell upon the details of what has been suffered. I need reprieve from terrible contemplations. I am absolutely astonished at this persistence of misfortune — this succession of calamities which no care or vigilance of mine could foresee or prevent.

“You will remember that I had left the camp (twenty-three men) when I set off with Gody, Pruess, and my servant in search of King and succor, with directions about the baggage, and with occupation sufficient about it to employ them for three or four days; after which they were to follow me down the river. Within that time I expected relief from King’s party, if it came at all. — They remained seven days and then started, their scant provisions about exhausted, and the dead mules on the western side of the great Sierra burried under snow.

“Manuel — (you will remember Manuel — a Christian Indian of the Cosumne tribe, in the valley of the San Joaquin) — gave way to a feeling of despair after they had moved about two miles, and begged Vincent Haler, whom I had left in command, to shoot him. Failing to find death in that form he turned and made his way back to the camp, intending to die there; which he doubtless soon did.

“The party moved on and at ten miles, Wise gave out — threw away his gun, blanket — and, a few hundred yards further, fell over into the snow, and died. Two Indian boys — countrymen of Manuel were behind. They came upon him — rolled him up in his blanket, and buried him in the snow, on the bank of the river.

“No other died that day. None the next day.

“Carver raved during the night his imagination wholly occupied with images of many things which he fancied himself eating. In the morning he wandered off, and probably soon died. He was not seen again.

“Sorel on this day (the fourth from the camp) laid down to die. They built him a fire, and Morin, who was in a dying condition, and snow blind, remained with him. These two did not probably last till the next morning. That evening (I think it was) Hubbard killed a deer.
“They travelled on, getting here and there a grouse, but nothing else, the deep snow in the valley having driven off the game.

“The state of the party became desperate, and bro’t Haler to the determination of breaking it up, in order to prevent them from living upon each other. He told them that he had done all he could for them — that they had no other hope remaining than the expected relief; and that the best plan was to scatter, and make the best of their way, each as he could, down the river; that, for himself it he was to be eaten, he would, at all events be found travelling when he did die. This address  had its affect. They accordingly separated.

“With Haler continued five others, Scott, Hubbard, Martin, Bacon, one other and the two Cosumne Indian boys.

“Rhorer now became despondent and stopped. Haler reminded him of his family, and urged him to try and hold out for their sake. Roused by this appeal to his tenderest affections, the unfortunate man moved forward, but feebly and soon began to fall behind. On a further appeal he promised to follow, and to overtake them at evening.

“Haler, Scott, Hubbard and Martin now agreed that if any one of them should give out the others were not to wait for him to die, but to push on, and try and save themselves. Soon this mournful covenant had to be kept. But let me not anticipate events. Sufficient for each day is the sorrow thereof.

“At night Kerne’s party encamped a few hundred yards from Haler’s with the intention, according to Taplin, to remain where they were until the relief should come, and in the mean time to live upon those who had died, and upon the weaker ones as they should die. — With this party, were the three brothers Cerne, Captain Cathcart, McKie, Andrews, Stepperfeldt and Taplin. I do not know that I have got all the names of this part.

“Ferguson and Beadle had remained together behind. In the evening Rhorer came up and remained in Kerne’s party. Haler learnt afterwards from some of the party that Rhorer and Andrews wandered off the next morning and died. They say they saw their bodies.

Haler’s party continued on. After a few hours Hubbard gave out. According to the agreement he was left to die, but with such comfort as could be given him. — They built him a fire and gathered him some wood and then left him — without turning their heads, as Haler says, to look at him as they went off.

“About two miles further, Scott — you remember him; he used to shoot birds for you on the frontier — he gave out. He was another of the four who covenanted against waiting for each other. The survivors did for him as they had done for Hubbard and passed on.

“In the afternoon the two Indian boys went ahead — blessed be these boys! — and before night-fall met Godey with the relief. He had gone on with all speed. The boys gave him the news. He fired signal guns to notify his approach. Haler heard the guns, and knew the crack of our rifles, and felt that relief had come. This night was the first of hope and joy. Early in the morning, with the first grey light, Godey was in the trail, and soon met Haler and the wreck of his party slowly advancing. I hear that they all cried together like children — these men of iron nerves and lion hearts, when –dangers were to be faced or hardships to be conquered. They were all children in this moment of melted hearts. Succor was soon dealt out to those few first met; and Godey with his relief, and accompanied by Haler, who turned back, hurriedly followed the back trail in search of the living and the dead scattered in the rear. — They came to Scott first. He was yet alive and is saved! They came to Hubbard next; he was dead, but still warm. Those were the only ones of Haler’s party that had been left.

“From Kene’s party, next met, they learnt the deaths of Andrews and Rohrer; and a little further on, met Ferguson, who told them that Beadle had died the night before. All the living were found — and saved — Manuel among them — which looked like a resurrection — and reduces the number of the dead to ten — one third of the whole party which a few days before were scaling the mountain with me, and battling with the elements twelve thousand feet in the air.

“Godey had accomplished his mission for the people: a further service had been prescribed him, that of going to the camp on the river, at the base of the great mountain, to recover the most valuable of the baggage, secreted there. With some Mexicans and pack mules he went on; and this is the last yet heard of him.

“Vincent Haler, with Martin and Bacon, all on foot, and bringing Scott on horseback have just arrived at the outside Pueblo on the Little Colorado. Provisions for the support, and horses for the transport, were left for the others, who preferred to remain where they were, regaining some strength, till Godey should get back. At the latest, they would have reached the little Pueblo last night. Haler came on to relieve my anxieties, and did well in so doing; for I was wound up to the point of setting out again. When Godey returns, I shall know all the circumstances sufficiently in detail to understand clearly every thing. But it will not be necessary to tell you any thing futher. You have the results and sorrow enough in reading them.

Evening. — How rapid are the changes of life! A few days ago, and I was struggling through snow in the savage wilds of the upper Del Norte — following the course of the frozen river in more than Russian cold — no food — no blanket to cover me in the long freezing nights — (I had sold my two to the Utah for help to my men) — uncertain at what moment of the night we might be roused by the Indian rifle — doubtful, very doubtful, whether I should ever see you or friends again. Now I am seated by a comfortable fire, alone, pursuing my own thoughts writing to you in the certainty of reaching you — a French volume of Balzac on the table — a colored print of the landing of Columbus before me — listening in safety to the raging storm without.

“You will wish to know what effect the scenes I have passed through have had upon me. In person, none. The destruction of my party, and the loss of friends, are causes of grief; but I have not been injured in body or mind. Both have been strained, and severely taxed, but neither hurt. I have seen one or the other, and sometimes both, give way in strong minds, and stout hearts; but, as heretofore, I have come out unhurt. I believe that the remembrance of friends sometimes gives a power of resistance which the desire to save our own lives could never call up.

“I have made my preparations to proceed. I shall have to follow the old Gila road, and shall move rapidly, and expect to be in California in March, and to find letters from home and a supply of newspapers and documents, more welcome perhaps, because these things have a home look about them. The future occupies me. Our home in California — you arrival in April — your good health in that delightful climate — the finishing up my geographical and astronomical labors — my farming labors and enjoyments. I have written to Messrs. Mahew & Co., agricultural warehouse, N.Y., requesting them to ship me immediately a threshing machine; and to Messrs. Hoe & Co., same city, requesting them to forward to me at San Francisco two runs, or setts of mill stones. The mill irons and the agricultural instruments shipped for me last autumn from New York will be at San Francisco by the time I arrive there. Your arrival in April will complete all the plans.”

[These extracts in relation to Col. Fremont’s intended pursuit are given to contradict the unfounded supposition of gold projects attributed to him by some newspapers. The word gold is not mentioned in his letters from one end to the other, nor did he take gold mining the least into his calculations when he left Missouri, on the 21st of October last, although the authentic reports brought in by Lieut. Beale, of the navy, were then in all the newspapers, and fully known to him.]

February 11. — Godey has got back. He did not succeed in recovering any of the baggage or camp furniture. Everything was lost except some few things which I had brought down. The depth of the snow made it impossible for him to reach the camp at the mountain where the men had left the baggage. Amidst the wreck I had the good fortune to save my large alforgas, or travelling trunk — the double one which you packed — and that was about all.

SANTA FE, February 17, 1849. — In the midst of hurried movements, and in the difficult endeavor to get a [party] all started together, I can only write a line to say that I am well, and moving on to California. I [will] leave Santa Fe this evening.

“I have received here from the officers every civility and attention in their power, and have been assisted in my outfit as far as it was possible for them to do. I dine this evening with the Governor (Col. Washington,) before I follow my party. A Spanish gentleman has been engaged to go to Albuquerque and purchase mules for me. From that place we go on my own animals and expect no detention, as we follow on the old Gila route, so long known, and presenting nothing new to stop for.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) May 8, 1849