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

Rockns11 California Correspondence. NEW SERIES – No. XI. Milpitas, Santa Clara Co.,Cal., Nov. 18th, 1859. DEAR ROCK:- Time flies on; but yet little news of much interest transpires within the Golden State. Our annual state and county fairs are now all over with for this year. The fair in this county closed a few days ago, and it decidedly surpassed any previous one that has been held here, and in some points rather went ahead of the state fair which was held at Sacramento.
Rockns12 California Correspondence. NEW SERIES – No. XII. Milpitas, Santa Clara Co., Cal., Jan. 1st, 1860. DEAR ROCK:-
Rockns13 California Correspondence.NEW SERIES – No. XIII.Milpitas, Santa Clara Co.,Cal., March 19th, 1860. DEAR ROCK:-- We have but little news in this quarter now-a-days, worth writing about, therefore, of course, I can tell you but little. All classes of us are anxiously looking forward and wondering who are to be the two great nominees for the presidency and our standard bearers in the approaching campaign.
Rockns14 California Correspondence.NEW SERIES – N. XIV.Milpitas, Santa Clara Co.,Cal., May 20th, 1860. DEAR ROCK:--
Rockns15 California Correspondence.No XVMilpitas, Santa Clara, Co., Cal.,Aug. 17th, 1860.
Rockns16 California Correspondence.No. XVI.Milpitas, Santa Clara, Co., Cal.,Oct. 17th, 1860.
Rockns17 California Correspondence.No. XVII.Milpitas, Santa Clara Co., Cal.,Dec. 25th, 1860. DEAR ROCK:--
Rockns18 No. XVIII Dear Rock The news from your side of Uncle Sam's ranch are of paramount importance, and most eagerly looked for and discussed by us of the Pacific just at the present time. Every time the Pony Express comes in, you should see what a deep and intense interest there is manifested by every one in the newly arrived intelligence from headquarters.
Rockns19 No. XIX.Santa Clara Co CalMilpitas April 5th, 1861 Dear Rock For some weeks past, nothing of special interest has transpired worth writing about. The farming community were busy putting in their crops, and the townspeople in their usual way traded, gossiped, dabbled in politics, drank whiskey, and discussed the weather.
Rockns20 California Correspondence.No. XX.Milpitas, Santa Clara Co., Cal.,May 20th, 1861. DEAR ROCK: -- The difficulties which existed with the settlers on the Chabolla Grant, of which I wrote in my last, came to the culminating point on the 9th ult., and on that day a most bloodless battle was fought, in which the defendants became the assailants, and were victorious to a degree almost unparalleled in history.