Augustus F. Unger papers
Collection Scope and Content Note
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While clearly not the complete correspondence of Augustus F. Unger during his California sojourn, this collection of nine letters and one document provides a vivid portrait of the experiences of a typical failed forty-niner. The letters span the entire period of time from his departure from home to his return; all were addressed to his wife, Sylvia, with four also being addressed to his "brother" (probably either a brother-in-law or "brother" Odd Fellow) Harmanus H. Bridges.
Unger was an excellent, enthusiastic writer and his letters are filled with the sorts of details that evoke a sense of the hardships and bad luck that he faced. During his first year in the west, almost regardless of the difficulties encountered, his letter remained unfailingly optimistic, yet his repeated failures at mining eventually did take their toll, and his last letters are marked by an abject dejection and the hope that somehow he might be able to learn from his experiences. The descriptions of prospecting, building a raceway, and mining have just enough gritty detail and the descriptions of his living quarters, of the camps, and of the journeys overland and to the mines are of particular interest.