William H. Zerbe Diary
Scope and Contents
A manuscript diary recording the experiences during the California gold rush of William H. Zerbe of Berks County, Pennsylvania. Most of the volume consists of daily diary entries running from 1 July to 16 November 1850, a period roughly corresponding to the time between Zerbe's abandonment of mining and his departure from California. Entries are typically brief, of 20 to 50 words, though the occasional entry runs to 100 words. Much of the content of the diary relates to the author's efforts to find work, and his travels to that end, between San Francisco and the gold fields. Entries made during Zerbe's trip home in 1850-51 are irregular and brief. There are also a few financial records (accounts), probably postdating Zerbe's return to Pennsylvania.
- Creation: 1850-1852
- Zerbe, William H., 1824-1894 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
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Biographical / Historical
William H. Zerbe was born on 19 August 1824, probably in Berks County, Pennsylvania. In July of 1850 he was in California, working a gold mining claim near Rough & Ready in what is now Nevada County. Soon thereafter, on 9 July, Zerbe left the mines, resolving to either cash in on his claim and ship for home or find temporary work in San Francisco. Both cash and work proved elusive, however, and it was not until 1 November 1850 that he was able to embark. After a two-month stay in Callao, in Peru (March-June 1851), Zerbe successfully returned to the United States. On 24 December 1853, at Reading, Berks County, he married Caroline Leitner (1833-1896), with whom he had several children. Zerbe died in 1894.
Language of Materials
A manuscript diary recording the experiences during the California gold rush of William H. Zerbe of Berks County, Pennsylvania.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The date of the acquisition of this diary by the Hesburgh Libraries is not known.
The Zerbe diary is a single leather-bound volume (13 cm.) of 62 leaves, with around 88 pages of manuscript entries in Zerbe's hand. The first leaf (1r) bears the inscription "Memorandum Book" and the signature "W H Zerbe.".
- George Rugg
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