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First Printed Description of the Southern Route Via Camargo-Chihuahua-Sonora-Arizona

21. CLARKE, A[sa] B[emet]. Travels in Mexico and California : Comprising a Journal of a Tour from Brazos Santiago , through Central Mexico , by Way of Monterey , Chihuahua , the Country of the Apaches, and the River Gila, to the Mining Districts of California. Boston : Wright & Hasty’s Steam Press, 1852. 138 pp. 12mo, original beige printed wrappers, sewn. Blank margins of fragile wraps slightly chipped, (especially at head of spine, wraps lightly browned and with a few spots, lower wrapper with three old paper repairs, lower hinge strengthened). Except for minor spotting to outer blank margins of text, interior fine. Overall a very good copy of a fragile item. Fred Rosenstock had a goodly stack of these, but this is the last one from that stash.

     First edition. Bauer 68. Cowan I, p. 48. Cowan II, p. 128. Edwards, Enduring Desert, p. 49: “Clarke’s description of the desert crossing is dramatically impressive.” Etter, To California on the Southern Route 1849, p. 68 (#32): “Clarke’s book is particularly valuable for studying the Mexican portion of the journey.” Graff 746. Hill II: 302: “An important and rare overland account.” Holliday 205. Howell 50, California 376A: “First printed description of the route north from Camargo , Mexico , through Chihuahua and Sonora to the Gila River of Arizona .” Howes C451. Jones 1275.

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 138: “Clark, a native of Conway , Massachusetts , sailed from New York on January 29, 1849 , as a member of the Hampden Mining Company. After arriving in central Mexico , he proceeded westward via Arizona and the Gila River . He arrived in Los Angeles on July 9. In the Gila area, he met Dr. [Joseph E.] Field, one of the two survivors of the infamous Fannin massacre. By August 2, the New Englander labored in the Tuolumne Diggings. He spent the winter of 1849 and 1850 in San Francisco and in the summer of 1850 worked on the Yuba River . Only the last five pages of his account describe life in the mines.... According to a note, dated July 2, 1852 , [Clarke] published this account for his friends.” Littell 175. Mintz, The Trail 534. Norris 796. Plains & Rockies IV:210. Sabin 13393. Siebert Sale 864. Streeter Sale 3169: “Though this is not one of the rarest ‘overlands,’ it is one of the most interesting... [the author’s] route had not previously been described.” Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 41.

This well-known overland contains some material relating to California ranching history: remarks on Warner’s Ranch; the superiority of California cattle; assessment that the land from Santa Barbara to San Diego “is the best grazing country,” etc. Clarke stopped at various ranches along his California route and describes one near Santa Barbara : “Crossing a high and steep mountain, we came to a valley stocked with thousands of cattle, belonging to a rancho at which we arrived at 10 o’clock . As it is a fair specimen of the Spanish ranches in this section, I will give a short sketch of it. The ground in front of the house was strewn with the offal of cattle, on which scores of buzzards and crows were feeding in quiet security; and, as is commonly the case, the skulls and skeletons of animals, had been allowed to accumulate, making a perfect Golgotha. Nothing was to be had for food, but beef, and hence arises the name of ranches.”

Walter Lewis Burn of Los Angeles comments in a note with the book that on p. 120 is possibly the “earliest reference in print to petroleum in Los Angeles .” However, in 1543 Cabrillo waterproofed ships with pitch deposits found at Carpenteria , California . This book is also a little-known source on Dr. Joseph E. Field, the “roving and adventurous” (Streeter, Texas 1202) surgeon who escaped death at the Goliad Massacre by tending the wounded Mexicans. “Field and Clarke became messmates at the Pima village in Arizona ...and made the rest of the trip together” (Streeter). ($1,200-2,400)

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