San Luis Obispo
July 8th, 1863

C. B. Rutherford, Esq.

My dear Sir,


I duly received yours of June 22nd and was much pleased to receive your graphic account of Virginia City. If I were a single man I think I should start off & join you immediately. As it is, I cannot but pause. A friend of mine, a Mason, also writes to me from the Soledad mines (between Santa Barbara & Los Angeles) very flattering things. Says he has "feet" to the value of from Forty to One Hundred Thousand Dollars, &c, &c, and invites me to come there and try my luck. However, I have been through the mill. My 3 years experience in the mines satisfied me for ever. Henceforth I am proof against all such temptation.

I am a little concerned to see that you have probably become weaned for good from all Mexican ideas. I suppose that you will not be apt to leave your chances in Virginia City for an uncertainty. I am all the time bent upon removal to a Spanish country, but it is with me a question of time. You have seen that the French have taken the city of Mexico, and probably conclude, with me, that it is now demonstrated that they can and will take & occupy the whole republic. What effect will that have upon the calculations of American immigrants thither?

This is, I think, the fourth, certainly at least the third, letter that I have written you since your leaving here. All were addressed care of your brother. The last was a long one enclosed in one to him, care of John McDonald, Second street, and sent by Express. This by last accounts your brother had not received. I am sorry that you have missed them, as it looks like more neglect on my part than I am willing to own to.

Dr. Clark's friend has arrived from the city, and reports that the coal sent up is first rate, and that the parties are only waiting for you. He says that he found plenty of persons in San Francisco ready to go into the enterprise, but that as you had first been spoken to, he could not propose terms to them. The proposition made by the parties here, I understand, is as follows, viz - A company to be formed, to be composed of one half from S. F. & one half from S.L.O. The S.L.O. parties to put in their discovery against the capital of the S.F. parties, in the following manner. The S.F. parties to prospect the mine at their own cost and when the true lead is struck, to put it in working order, erect machinery &c, without calling upon the S.L.O. stockholders for contribution. As soon as the mine pays, all the original outlay except that incurred in prospecting to be reimbursed to the parties furnishing the same, out of the proceeds of the mine. In this way the original discoverers put in their discovery as an offset to the use of the money necessary to develop the mine, until the mine shall prove productive. The parties here are anxious to go to work immediately and are waiting impatiently for a final answer from you, and to know if you are sure to come down immediately or not. Pray write and let them know as soon as possible.

In regards to politics here, I am not very sanguine, as my attitude towards Sheriff Castro has prejudiced me with the natives without doing me any good with the Secesh. Among the latter I am now the best-cursed man in the county, as I have warmly taken sides with the Union party and turned a cold shoulder to their bastard Fusion-Democracy. They will try and beat me at all hazards. I am about to come one of McClellan's famous dodges on them, viz, a change of base. "Strategy, my boy." I am still running for the office of Treasurer, but with the almost decided intention of drawing off from that and running for State Senator from the 3d District, composed of Santa Barbara & San Luis Obispo counties. I shall have no strong opponent; shall have Pacheco's influence to back me, all the straight-out Union men, and perhaps the De La Guerras. This last depends upon a combination we are trying to work. If we can't work it, I shall then stick to my present berth. I hope, however, to find everything right to run for the Senate, in which case you will be likely to see me above next fall. I shall try and use my position as a stepping-stone to enable me to get out of this place. It is becoming rather too Secesh for me.

I can assure you that your desire to see me & my family again is heartily reciprocated by us. I often trace your handiwork in the garden. The drought, however, has kept that institution back materially. [They were in the middle of the great drought of 1863-5, which finished off the native Californian ranchers in the Central Coast as all their cattle died and they were ruined, leaving the field clear for American immigrants to take over their lands. SH] Next year, I think, it will flourish, as a large number of the plants this year set out, will then have taken good root, and will be less subject to the vicissitudes of the season.

Frank is improving in Spanish; understands very much of it, and communicates freely in that language with those who speak no other. He does not improve otherwise. His health is good. We have a school teacher, a Scotchman, not a very good one, and the association is by no means good, so I have sent Eliza, my only scholar, to Los Angeles, with the sisters of charity. It will cost about $16 per month for everything. This I am willing to pay, for the sake of having the child educated. She has been gone a week. Anne has been gone about two weeks. We were satisfied with her, but began to think it was getting too expensive, so we quit when the six months was out.

My Josephine, the youngest, came very near dying since you left. The Doctor gave her up, but the old women managed to bring her round. I thought she was gone. She is all well now, however, and as hearty as ever. So are we all. Adela, who has been home for some time, has returned here again and is stopping with us. She thanks you for remembering her and sends her respects. So does my wife, and desires to be posted up in regard to your little girls. We learned through your letters of the illness of little Mary, and were very glad to hear that she got well again as quickly as she took sick. I once nearly lost my little Mercedes with the same disease, the croup.

Dr. Havens has gone to Peru. Is probably there by this time. I have been acting Master ever since as far as the work goes, having initiated two, passed one, and raised two candidates. I am rather green as yet, but expect to improve.

I thank you for your long letter, which I have endeavored to reciprocate, but I have not so good a theme as you, viz, the wonders of Virginia City. Write soon, and I will answer more promptly. I hope, however, that you will see the propriety of coming down to attend to the coal-mine; in which case I shall see you again shortly. Hoping that you are in good health and have improved in spirit, and that worldly prosperity will attend you.

I remain, my dear friend, Yours sincerely & fraternally,

Walter Murray