The glitter of gold attracted perhaps three hundred thousand people to California in the decade after 1848, including A. B. Clarke, an adventurous former schoolteacher and entrepreneur who took the less traveled path to California—through northern Mexico and the southwestern deserts.
Clarke took daily notes of his journey. Printed in 1852, Clarke’s journal describes in unpretentious prose the features of the land and people he passed. The outbreak of cholera and fear in Brownsville and the adobe huts and Mexican fortresses, Clarke sketches with ease.
Clarke went West to seek a suitable site for a general store. He found such a place in Marysville and went into business. In 1851, while he was in Massachusetts on some business, a fire destroyed the town’s business district, including his store. Clarke never went West again.
Together, Clarke’s journal and Anne Perry’s notes provide an interesting look, from first-hand and analytical perspectives, at an important period in the West.