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News & Tall Tales. 1800s.


Bridge to the Castle.

100,000 People in California by November 1849

"In an article published in the Alta California on 2nd July last, we stated the probable population of the country at that time at 30,000 souls.

As the recent election has failed to bring out more than one quarter of the legal voters in the country, and as the hopes which that contest held out of approximating to the number of inhabitants have failed, we have thought it proper and necessary to give the following statistics. They are made up in some instances from actual records, in others from the best estimates we have been able to procure.

California Gold Rush.

"The population of California, on the first day of January, 1849, may be set down as follows, viz:

Californians, say, 13,000
Americans, say, 6,000
Foreigners, say, 5,000
Total, 24,000

"From that time down to the 11th day of April, 1849, there were a great many arrivals by sea and a few by land. If we set down the arrivals by sea in round numbers at 5,000 (of which one-half were Americans) and the arrivals by land (principally from Sonora and Lower California) at 1,000, we shall then have the following result, viz:

Californians, 13,000
Americans, 9,000
Foreigners, 9,000
Total, 31,000

"From the 12th of April down to the present time (November 28, 1849), we are enabled to give, through the politeness of Edward A. King, Harbor Master, reliable statistics of the arrivals by sea.

They are as follows:

Month American Foreign Male Female Total
Apr/ May/ June 3,944 1,942 5,677 209 5,886
July 3,000 614 3,565 49 3,614
Aug 3,384 509 3,806 87 3,893
Sept 4,271 1,531 5,680 122 5,802
Oct 2,655 1,414 3,950 119 4,069
Nov 1,746 490 2,155 81 2,236
Totals 19,000 6,500 24,833 667 25,500
Wooden framd houses on stilts along San Francisco's waterfront. 1800s.
Wooden Framed Houses.
San Francisco's Waterfront. 1800s

"Admitting, then, that on the 11th day of April last there were 31,000 inhabitants in the country, as above stated; if we add thereto the 25,000 arrived by sea, as shown by the table above, we have a total of 56,500. To this must be added some 6,000 Mexicans who came into the country by land, and of which probably 2,000 still remain.

Further than this there have run away from the several vessels now in this port, at least 3,000 seamen.

There have arrived at other ports in California 500 souls; and there have come into the country by the Santa Fe and southern route, at least 2,000 . . . the number of the emigration by the way of the Plains is variously estimated from 30,000 to 40,000. Our own impression is that it will not be found to vary much from 30,000 . . . we have a total of 94,000 souls, as follows:

Americans, 62,000
Californians, 13,000
Foreigners, 18,500
Total, 94,000

"There cannot be a doubt that the figures given above are below the mark and we have no hesitation in saying, and we think the figures will bear us out in the assertion, that the population of California now exceeds one hundred thousand."


Immigration at the Golden Gate: Passenger Ships, Exclusion, and Angel IslandImmigration at the Golden Gate. Immigration to California.
Robert Eric Barde
Perhaps 200,000 immigrants passed through the Angel Island Immigration Station during its lifetime, a tiny number compared to the 17 million who entered through New York's Ellis Island.

Nonetheless, Angel Island's place in the consciousness of Americans on the West Coast is large and out of proportion to the numerical record. Angel Island's Immigration Station was not, as some have called it, the Ellis Island of the West, built to facilitate the processing and entry of those welcomed as new Americans. Its role was less benign: to facilitate the exclusion of Asians, starting with the Chinese, then Japanese, Koreans, Indians, and all other Asians.

The Children of Chinatown: Growing Up Chinese American in San Francisco, 1850-1920Children of Chinatown. 
Wendy Rouse Jorae

Family Skeletons: Exploring the Lives of our Disreputable Ancestors.San Francisco. Family Skeletons.
Simon Fowler, Ruth Paley
Most families have a skeleton. You may have already discovered yours via the grapevine or your own research. Or you may simply be intrigued by the dark side of our past. This popular history explores the behaviour of our disreputable ancestors from the unfortunate to the criminal, and introduces a host of colourful characters including 17th century witches, 18th century 'mollies' and Victorian baby farmers. Thematically arranged by skeleton, the text also describes how society punished and provided for its 'offenders' - as well as the changing attitudes that could ultimately bring acceptance.

Italy on the Pacific: San Francisco's Italian Americans (Italian and Italian American Studies)Italians in San Francisco.
Palgrave Hardcover)
Sebastian Fichera
San Francisco’s Italian immigrant experience is shown to be the polar opposite of Chicago’s. San Francisco’s Italian immigrants are shown as reintegrating into the host society fairly smoothly, whereas the Chicago group’s assimilation process broke down in dramatic ways.

Migration in World History.Migration in World HistoryMigration in World History. 
(Themes in World History) 
Patrick Manning
Drawing on examples from a wide range of geographical regions and thematic areas, noted world historian Patrick Manning guides the reader through trade patterns, including the early Silk Road and maritime trade, effect of migration on empire and industry, earliest human migrations, major language groups, various leading theories around migration.

Russian San Francisco (Images of America)Russian San Francisco. (Images of America)
Lydia B. Zaverukha, Nina Bogdan, Foreward by Ludmila Ershova, PhD.
Even before San Francisco was founded as a city, Russian visitors, explorers, and scientists sailed to the area and made contact with both the indigenous people and representatives of the Spanish government. Although the Russian commercial colony of Fort Ross closed in 1842, the Russian presence in San Francisco continued and the community expanded to include churches, societies, businesses, and newspapers. Some came seeking opportunity, while others were fleeing religious or political persecution.

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California, various Maritime Museums around the world.

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