Christmas in Coloma
© 2004 by Anthony M. Belli


image of Miner PanningNot much is known of the 49er’s first Christmas in California, not many wrote of it in diaries, letters or journals. From those who did a picture emerges of a very somber time. Most 49ers had only been in the diggings but a few months, they were thousands of miles from the places they called home and from those they loved. For most Christmas during those first epic years of the Gold Rush was nothing more then a painful reminder of what comforts they’d left behind; it often passed with little recognition or celebration. From the narratives of some Argonauts we can get a glimpse of what Christmas in the Mother Lode was like during those early years, this excerpt from one Gold Rush letter describes Christmas in the diggings …  

“This morning we got up by daylight. As we had no invitations to any Christmas parties: and feeling no inclination to go on a bust, we thought we might spend the day as profitably by going down to our diggings and working like fine fellows, even if it was Christmas.”

Andrew Hall Gilmore
dated December 25, 1851
Pine Cottage, Hangtown