The Rock

In addition to his daily entries in his diaries, Alf Doten also wrote a regular column in the form of letters to his home town newspaper, The Plymouth Rock, summarizing his Western experiences for Massachusetts readers. He began this practice in 1854 when he was mining in Calaveras County, California and ended it in 1867 when he was working long hours as a reporter for local papers in Virginia City and journalism had become his profession. He published a total of 93 letters that began “Dear Rock.” Eighty of the letters originated in California, with 13 from Nevada. After his first 50 letters, Doten began numbering a “new series,” beginning with NS1 and ending with NS43.0. He saved the clippings for 81 of the letters, and for the rest, he saved his handwritten drafts. Two photostat copies of missing clippings were added to the collection later. The letters were transcribed during the process of editing Doten’s journals for publication in the 1960s, and Walter Van Tilburg Clark included 42 of them in their entirety within the three-volume publication. For most of the rest, Clark included summaries or partial transcriptions. We now present a complete and searchable archive of the entire collection of transcripts of Doten’s letters to The Plymouth Rock, alongside the clippings or handwritten originals. Our assistant Challen Wright digitized the clippings and prepared the transcripts for the project. We hope this online collection will be useful to researchers of the West as the region unfolded during a pivotal time.

- Donnelyn Curtis and Christopher Church, editors

Rock11 No. XI. From our California Correspondent. Fort John, Amador Co., Cal., July 20th, 1855. "My native country! thee, Land of the noble free, Thy name I love; I love thy rocks and rills, Thy woods and templed hills; My heart with rapture thrills, Like that above." DEAR ROCK: - I intended to have written sooner, but the Atlantic mail left here for San Francisco earlier than I had expected, so I was belated; but, as the old saying is, "better late than never."
Rock12 No. XII. From our California Correspondent. Fort John, Amador Co., Cal., Aug. 11th, 1855. FRIEND ROCK:--
Rock13 No. XIII. From our California Correspondent. Fort John, Amador Co., Cal., Aug. 27th, 1855. FRIEND ROCK: - I attended an Indian "fandango" the other day, and presuming that an account of the "doing" on that occasion may not prove uninteresting to your readers, I'll make it the subject of this letter.
Rock14 No XIVFort John, Amador Co., Cal.,Nov 1st 1855 Friend Rock
Rock15 No. XV.From our California Correspondent.Fort John, Amador Co., Cal.,Nov 30th, 1855. “Resounding through the vale below,He hears the pick and spade,And hastes to join the busy throng,And join their delving trade.” FRIEND ROCK:
Rock16 No. XVI.For our California Correspondent.San Francisco, Jan. 2, 1856. FRIEND ROCK:
Rock17 No. XVII. From our California Correspondent. San Francisco, Jan. 18, 1856. FRIEND ROCK: The principal topic of interest in this city at present is the trial of Charles Cora for the murder of Gen. Wm. H. Richardson on the evening of Nov. 5th. This trial has occupied about two weeks thus far, and the Jury in the case was yesterday discharged, being unable to agree upon a verdict; they stood ten for conviction and two for acquittal.
Rock18 No. XVIII.From our California Correspondent.San Francisco, Feb. 3d, 1856. FRIEND ROCK:
Rock19 No. XIX.From our California Correspondent.San Francisco, Feb. 19th, 1856. FRIEND ROCK:
Rock20 No. XXFrom our California Correspondent.San Francisco, March 4th, 1856. FRIEND ROCK: