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| 27. DAVIS, William
Heath (1822-1909). Sixty Years in California: A History of
Events and Life in California; Personal, Political and Military, under
the Mexican Regime; during the Quasi-Military Government of the Territory
by the United States, and after the Admission of the State into the Union,
Being a Compilation by a Witness of the Events Described. San Francisco:
A. J. Leary, Publisher, 1889. xxii, 639 pp. Thick 8vo, original purple
pebbled cloth, spine gilt-lettered, marbled edges. Spine sunned and
with a few stains, head of spine with 2-cm-square chip, foot of spine
frayed, corners bumped, hinges broken, front free endpaper absent; title
detached, lightly soiled, and short (1 cm), clean tear to blank outer
margin, text very fine. Preserved in a brown board slipcase.
First edition. Adams, Herd 659: “A scarce book with chapters on the cattle industry of California.” Barrett, Baja California 647. Cowan I, p. 64. Cowan II, p. 160. Graff 1020. Gudde, California Gold Camps, p. 393. Hill, pp. 396-97. Howell 50, California 407: “One of the most trustworthy sources for the period before 1850.” Howes D136. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 27. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 170a. Libros Californianos, pp. 47, 50-51 (Powell commentary); pp. 67-68 (Hanna list). Norris 939. Rocq 9092. Streeter Sale 3006: “Good copies of the first edition, such as mine, are rather scarce.” Walker, A Literary History of Southern California, p. 37: “Episodic and discursive, light-hearted and amiable, [Davis] supplements the more effective contemporaneous accounts found in Pattie, Dana, and Robinson.” Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 55. Zamorano 80 #27. ($100-300)
27A. DAVIS, William Heath. Seventy-Five Years in California: Recollections
and Remarks by One Who Visited These Shores in 1831, and Again in 1833,
and Except When Absent on Business Was a Resident from 1838 until the
End of a Long Life in 1909. San Francisco: [Lawton & Alfred
Kennedy for] John Howell–Books, 1967. xi  345 pp., color frontispiece
portrait, 19 plates (4 folding, some in color). Large 8vo, original
gold cloth. Very fine in slightly faded and chipped d.j.
William H. Davis, the noted California pioneer and merchant, wrote
the most extensive memoir of California for the time period it covers.
If Harris Newmark’s recollection (q.v.) could be acclaimed as the “Pepys
Diary of Los Angeles,” Davis’s highly detailed recollection could rightly
claim that appellation for the entire state. The text is indispensable
for its account of pre–Gold Rush Alta California, providing a wealth
of detail on its pastoral days. As one of H. H. Bancroft’s assistants
stated: “Though not an educated man, he had excellent powers of description
and a marvelous memory of little incidents and details of events.” Sixty
Years in California is an essential companion to the firsthand accounts
of Richard Henry Dana (q.v.) and Alfred Robinson (q.v.).
——Gary F. Kurutz
Additional sources consulted: Biographical Files, California State Library; Andrew Rolle, An American in California: The Biography of William Heath Davis, 1822-1909 (San Marino: Huntington Library, 1956); “Two Pioneer Records,” [book review] in Overland Monthly, New Series, vol. 14 (July 1889), pp. 103-107.