[New York to California 1849, via New Orleans and Mexico]

This trip to the California gold fields may rank as one of the most poorly planned on record. It has been well-documented in the writings of John Woodhouse Audubon, and in the diary of Jacob H. Bachman.

1. Audubon, J. W. 1852. Illustrated notes on an expedition through Mexico and California. Self-published, New York, New York. Reprinted in: The Magazine of History, Extra Number 41, 1915.

2. Audubon, J. W. 1906. Audubon's western journal: 1849-1850, being the record of a trip from New York to Texas, and an overland journey through Mexico and Arizona to the gold-fields of California. Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark Company.

3. Van Nostrand, J. S. and J. H. Bachman. 1942. Audubon's Ill-Fated Western Journey: Recalled by the Diary of J. H. Bachman. California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Dec., 1942), pp. 289-310.

The California Historical Society Quarterly article has many details of the people on the trip, and the route taken. It is the source of the highlights given below. [Many libraries have the "California Historical Quarterly." If your local library subscribes to the JSTOR database, you can read the article on-line, or download a PDF.]

  The company was organized in January 1849 in New York City. Start-up funding was supplied by Daniel C. Kingsland, Ambrose Kingsland and Cornelius Sutton. They drew up company papers and rules of conduct, and 98 men were selected to join. The leader, Colonel Henry Livingston Webb, was apparently a friend of the benefactors, and was chosen for that reason. He had served in the Mexican War and was familiar with northern Mexico, which is the reason the party followed such an unusual overland route to California. Audubon was chosen as second in command.

  The group left New York 8 February 1849, took a steamer to Philadelphia and Baltimore, and then a train to Cumberland. From there, they traveled in fourteen stagecoaches to Pittsburgh, then went by boat down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans. A steamer took them across the Gulf of Mexico to the mouth of the Rio Grande, where they arrived 13 March 1849. A number of deaths to cholera, theft of some of the company's money, and leadership problems almost forced the trip to be aborted. Colonel Webb and about a dozen others decided not to stay with the party. Audubon became leader of those remaining, and they set out up the Rio Grande. Traveling across northern Mexico and into Arizona, the party finally reached San Diego 1 November 1849. From there, some went by ship to San Francisco, while the rest traveled overland through the desert and San Joaquin Valley to the gold fields.

  Following are the names of men known to have been on the trip, as given in the "Historical Quarterly."

AUDUBON, John Woodhouse: born Louisville, Kentucky 30 November 1812; returned to New York City after the California trip, died there 21 February 1862

AYRES, Venancio (or Venancia): known to have made it to California. BACHMAN, Jacob Henry, of New York. He remained in California, mining and farming in Calaveras County, where he died ca 4 June 1879.

BAKEWELL, J. H. (or Howard), one of Audubon's cousins. He may have died on the trip

BARCLAY (or BARKLEY), William B., left the company at the Rio Grande.


BENSON, Leffert S. (or Leffert L.), left the company at the Rio Grande. BENSON, Robert J., left the company at the Rio Grande.

BLACK, John Alexander, from Pennsylvania; living as a farmer at Copperopolis, Calaveras County, in 1867.

BLOOMFIELD, John J., known to have made it to California.

BODEN, Hamilton J., died at the Rio Grande camp.

BOGGS, Biddle. Known to have made it to California; might be the "B. E. Boggs" who voted in Stockton in 1852.

BRADY, Henry: left the company at the Rio Grande

BRADY, John: left the company at the Rio Grande.

BROWN, left the company to go on with another group via Mazatlan. 

BROWNING, Robert L., U. S. Navy; made it to California, drowned while on a survey of Trinidad Bay 27 March 1850. 


CARROL, Frank, of Baltimore; known to have made it to California; was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in December 1883.

CLEMENT (or CLEMENTS), James B. Made it to California, remained in Stockton and became a fruit grower.

COMBS (or COOMBS), Frederick S., died en route to California.

COWDEN, Henry, left the company at the Rio Grande.

COYLE, Peter

CREE, William J. Known to have made it to California.

DAMON, Luke. Known to have made it to California.

DAVIS, Girardus P. (or Girardus T.)


DOUBLEDAY, Ulysses, of New York.

ELY, Justin, Jr., left the company at the Rio Grande.

EMSLIE, James J., born in Aberdeen, Scotland, 19 July 1819; returned to New York, but then came back to California, eventually settling in the San Joaquin County, where he died 2 September 1894.

FLEMING, Charles

FOLLEM, Augustus, left the company at the Rio Grande.

FULLER, died en route

GRAHAM, A. Clason, left the company at the Rio Grande.

GRAHAM, A. Spencer, left the company at the Rio Grande.

GRAHAM, Montrose Charles, of New York; accidentally wounded and left behind at Saltillo.


HALL, Thomas J., Jr. (or Thomas H., Jr.), died at the Rio Grande.

HARRISON, W. A. (or W. H.), died near Mier.

HAVEN (or HAVENS), Langdon A., made it to California, returned later to New York.

HEWES (or HEWS), Frederick, of New Orleans; made it to California.

HINCKEY (or HINKLY), Lyman F., a carpenter; made it to California, living in San Francisco in 1852.

HUDSON, David, made it to California and remained there.

HUTCHINSON, William A., made it to California, living in Mokelumne Hill, 1867.

KASHAW (or KASHON), Israel: made it to California, became a grocer in San Francisco.

KEARNY, Dr. John, died at Fort Ringgold.

LAMBERT, Edward A., known to have arrived in California.

LAMBERT, John Booth, died at the Rio Grande camp. He was a lawyer from New Canaan, Connecticut. His nephew and brother [next] were also in the company.

LAMBERT, John Robert, known to have arrived in California.

LAMBERT, John S., made it to California


LAYTON, Robert, made it to California; was later in San Francisco.

LEE, Augustus S. (or T. or F.) Made it to California, was in mining partnership with Bachman.

LIPSCOMB, Samuel A. (or H.), died at the Rio Grande camp..

LIPSCOMB, William A. (or H.), made it to California

McCUSKER (or McKUSKER), Peter. Made it to California, returned to New York by 1851.

McGOWN, Andrew J., made it to California

MAHONEY, Dennis (or Denis), born July 30, 1816, at Mitchelstown, County Cork, Ireland. Came to America in 1838. He arrived in California, but apparently with some other party who made it earlier than Audubon.

MALLORY, Henry C, made it to California and remained there.


MITCHELL, James (or William), of Illinois. Made it to California.

MIX, A. A. Allegedly expelled from the company, but made it to California some way, and was living in San Joaquin County.

MOLINEAR (or MOLENAOR), William D., of Harlem, New York. Presumably arrived in California and returned to New York, where he died August 1851.

NEVIN, Andrew N. (or M.)

OSGOOD, Edward W. Planned to join another company, but apparently changed his mind and arrived in California with Audubon

PENNYPACKER, of Pennsylvania; made it to California

PERRY, Dr. Arrived in California.

PLUMB, John H. Left Audubon's company at the Rio Grande to continue with another by way of Mazatlan.

POWELL, Emmet (or Emmett)

RENNIE, William Rhoades

RODGERS, John Kearny (or Kearney), Jr. Illness caused him to leave the company.

SHERWOOD, James W., died near the Rio Grande.

SHERWOOD, Richard W.

SHIPMAN, Aaron T. Was very ill enroute, may have died.

SIMSON, Robert. Stayed in California, died in Alameda about 1900.

SLOAT, Lewis Warrington, born November 26,1815; apparently stayed in California, but died in New York City 15 November 1878.

SNYDER Joseph, known to have arrived in California

STEELE (or STEEL), George C. (or D.), known to have arrived in California.

STEVENS, John, stayed in California until 1856; died while returning to the East Coast when his ship in a storm off Cape Hatteras.




STIVERS, William D.

TALLMAN, Harmon (or Harmon), left the company at the Rio Grande. TELLER, died at Parral.

TONE, John Henley, born March 19,1826, New York City; reached California, and apparently stayed.

TRASK, John Boardman, M.D., born at Roxbury, Massachusetts, about 1824, died San Francisco 4 July 1879.

VALENTINE, Charles. Reached California with Audubon, stayed there.

VALENTINE, Matthias B.


VAN BUREN (or VAN BEUREN), George T. (or F.). Arrived in California, stayed until ca 1858, then returned to New York City.

WALKER, W. W. Left the company at the Rio Grande.

WALSH, Nicholas J., born in Ireland. Reached California with Audubon, settled near Stockton, where he drowned in 1864.

WATKINSON, Joseph S. Known to have reached California.

WEBB, Edward C.

WEBB, Lispenard S.

WEBB, Watson

WEED (or WEAD), George. Known to have reached California.

WHITTLESEY, Edward W. Died at the Rio Grande. Mar. 17,1849.



WILLIAMSON, Isaac H. (or J. A.)

WILSON. Left the company enroute.

WINTHROP, Francis B.


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