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

Rock21 No. XXI.From our California Correspondent.San Francisco, March 18th, 1856. FRIEND ROCK: During the past month there has bat very little rain fallen, consequently the young grass was fast drying up, and the farming interest was beginning to suffer. All the newspapers from the interior, reported "dry times" there, and great consequent discontent among the miners, in regard to the weather. On the 14th inst, however, we had a glorious rain throughout the country; but more is needed soon, or the crops will turn out small this season.
Rock22 From our California Correspondent.No. XXIV.San Francisco, May 4, 1856. DEAR ROCK:
Rock23 From our California Correspondent.No. XXIII.San Francisco, April 19, 1856. DEAR ROCK:
Rock24 From our California Correspondent.No. XXIV.San Francisco, May 4, 1856. DEAR ROCK:
Rock25 Our California Correspondent gives a very interesting and detailed account of the excitement in San Francisco, consequent upon the murder of James King. Read Ben Bolt’s letter. From our California Correspondent. No. XXV. San Francisco, Monday May 19, 1856. DEAR ROCK:
Rock26 From our California Correspondent.No. XXVI.San Francisco, June 4th, 1856. DEAR ROCK:
Rock27 From our California Correspondent.No. XXVII.San Francisco, June 19th, 1856. DEAR ROCK:
Rock28 No. XXVIII.From our California Correspondent.San Francisco, July 5th, 1856. DEAR ROCK: Saturday, the 21st of last month, was another of those days of deep and terrible popular excitement which have been so characteristic of San Francisco in the last few weeks.
Rock29 From our California Correspondent.No. XXXIX.San Francisco, July 20th, 1856. DEAR ROCK:
Rock30 No. XXXSan Francisco Aug 3rd 1856 Friend Rock, And yet again has the pistol of the assassin done its murderous work, and once more has a bloody tragedy been publicly enacted in our very midst, and in the broad light of day. Again has justice through the instrumentality of the Committee of the People been meted out to the murderer, and two more blood thirsty assassins have gone to swell the list of the victims of the hangman.