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

Rock41 From our California Correspondent.No. XLI.Mountain View, Santa Clara Co.,Cal., Jan. 18th, 1857. DEAR ROCK:--
Rock42 From our California Correspondent.No. XLII. Mountain View, Santa Clara Co., Cal., Feb. 3d, 1857. DEAR ROCK: -- Of the numerous, and various reptiles which infest the mountain regions of California, the rattlesnake may be set down as the most dangerous, although few are the instances of anyone being bitten by them, notwithstanding the carelessness of miners and travellers, in making their camps, and sleeping on the ground where these deadly reptiles are known to abound.
Rock43 No. XLIIIMountain View, Santa Clara Co. Cal.Feb 18th 1857. Dear Rock: *(poetry verse in here.) on last page
Rock44 From our California Correspondent.No. XLIV.Mountain View, Santa Clara Co.,Cal., March 3d, 1857. DEAR ROCK: -- Among the emigrants from the different parts of the States, which help to make up the population of California, it is quite amusing to note the little peculiarities of habits, looks, and speech, which distinguish the natives of each particular State or portion of the Union from each other.
Rock45 From our California Correspondent.No. XLV.Mountain View, Santa Clara Co.,Cal., March 17th, 1857. DEAR ROCK:--
Rock46 No. XLVI.Mountain View, Santa Clara Co Cal April 3d, 1857 Dear Rock,
Rock47 From our California Correspondent.No. XLVII.Mountain View, Santa Clara Co.,Cal., April 18th, 1857. DEAR ROCK: - In my last letter I spoke of the general predisposition of the California public generally, to use spirituous liquors as a common beverage, and showed forth some of the causes which induce many to partake of the intoxicating glass, and too often, to form a habit which may eventually lead them on, in that well-beaten downward path, which endeth in misery and ruin.
Rock48 From our California Correspondent.No. XLVIII.Mountain View, Santa Clara Co.,Cal., May 3d, 1857. DEAR ROCK: -- In former years, before the great gold discovery had called the attention of people of all nations, and induced them to flock from all quarters of the globe, to this land of deferred hope and golden promise, California was known and read of as a province of Mexico, whose people were of the Spanish race, and the language of the country was Spanish.
Rock49 From our California Correspondent.No. XLIX.Mountain View, Santa Clara Co.,Cal., May 19th, 1857. DEAR ROCK: --
Rock50 From our California Correspondent.No. L. Mountain View, Santa Clara Co., Cal., June 4th, 1857. DEAR ROCK:-- Harvest is now with us fast commencing, and throughout the state, the waving grain is fast falling before the steel of the reaper. The barley and oat crops ripen first, and as yet, no wheat has been harvested. New barley, even now, is in market for sale, but it does not command as good a price as old barley, as it weighs heavier, and is not so good for animals, or for brewing purposes.