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Lot 164

164. WILLIAMS, John G. The Adventures of a Seventeen-Year-old Lad and the Fortunes He Might Have Won. By John G. Williams. Boston: Printed for the Author by The Collins Press, 1894. 308 pp., frontispiece plate (photographic portrait of author), 12 text illustrations (line engravings, including author’s encounter with Joaquín Murieta and Three-Fingered Jack on p. 217). 8vo, original brown cloth, upper cover and spine lettered in gilt. Moderate outer wear (extremities frayed, corners bumped with a bit of board exposed), tissue guard between frontis and title foxed, three text leaves (107/108, 129/130, 235/236) with short, clean tears at lower edge (no losses). Author’s printed slip at front and contemporary pencil note: “Rufus Holmes from Mr. Penfield” (on p. 33, the author speaks of Rufus Holmes of Duxbury, “one of the best mates that I ever found on shipboard.”

     First edition. Adams, Guns 2404: “Privately printed book in which the author gives an account of his encounter with Joaquín Murieta and Three-Fingered Jack García.” Braislin 1904. Cowan II, p. 687. Ferguson 18598. Graff 4679. Howes W465. Littell 1110. Williams made two whaling voyages and narrates gold mining in California, Australia, and British Columbia. Of interest in outlaw literature is the author’s narration of his attempt to capture Murieta and Three-Fingered Jack, into whose company he comes upon pretext of seeking a lost horse. His companion’s nerve fails, however, and the two outlaws escape the author’s plan to capture them. Other out-of-the-way information is an early description of playing sandlot baseball.

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 685:

According to the author: "The story has been written from memory forty years after the events narrated." Pages 174-308 are devoted to his California experiences. A Canadian by birth, Williams left from Boston on the Brig Atilla on January 12, 1849. The ship went around Cape Horn and reached San Francisco on July 6, 1849. Like many travelers, he recorded what he saw in San Francisco including the Parker House and monte tables. Shortly thereafter, he went off to the Southern Mines and worked at Wood's Diggings, Big Bar on the Mokelumne River, and a bar below Coyote Creek. In the Spring of 1852, he left for Australia, but after only four months down under, he returned to California. Again, Williams worked the Southern Mines near Angels Camp, Murphys, and Coulterville. Williams went off to Canada during the Fraser River excitement.

      Californian and Australian justice, law and order, and general conditions. He included a chapter on practical advice and anecdotes including his experience with the outlaw and desperado "Wah-Keen," the Vigilance Committee, and appalling condition of the Native Americans. The illustrations depict scenes in Australia and California including one entitled "Entertaining the outlaws, Wah-Keen and Three-fingered Jack, In California."


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