Journey Into Gold Country – Ralph Buckingham

Memories of a Forty-Niner by Ralph Buckingham
Foreword by Charles Barker 

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A Memoir of the California Gold Rush
In 1849, Ralph Buckingham (1827-1915), a younger son of a youngest son of New England Pilgrim stock, went to California from his small-town Connecticut home. Landless, with no inheritance or trade of his own, Ralph sailed around the Horn, then traveled overland from San Francisco to gold country in the Trinity Mountains. He spent four years in northern California, struggling daily to earn enough to build a future.

Sixty years later, back home in Connecticut, Ralph writes his story at the behest of the Newtown Bee newspaper man. Well-schooled in spite of his relative poverty, Ralph Buckingham quotes Boswell, Shakespeare, Dickens, Byron, and Sir Walter Scott as he describes the agonies and antics of men sluicing for gold amidst rattlesnakes and mosquitoes where Western civilization had not yet asserted itself. Recounting his adventures and the colorful—and later, famous—characters he met, Ralph describes in lively detail the geography and natural history of the lands where he traveled and worked.

The newspaper columns from 1910—originally titled Memories of a Forty-Niner— were preserved by family members for a century, handed down through generations. These Newtown Bee articles, now transcribed and edited, tell the story of a young man who went into the wilds with a sharp eye and a sharp mind, and returned to tell those who stayed safely at home how it was to dig for gold when the West was still untamed.

Journey Into Gold Country provides a newly edited edition of Ralph Buckingham’s memoir, including:

  • Text by Ralph Buckingham (1827-1915)
  • A foreword by Charles Barker, a direct great-great-grandson of Ralph Buckingham
  • Notes on geographical and literary references
  • Genealogical extract, tracing the Buckingham family back to early Puritans

Students or history and other scholars seeking access to the original text (unedited photocopies of the Newtown Bee columns): please write to Annie Pearson, editor, at jugumpress @
Read more about the editing and manuscript preparation on

Print: ISBN 978-1-939423-10-8
114 pages, with index and footnotes
Orders via Ingram
Journey into Gold Country - Ralph Buckingham