FULLERTON, Calif. – On Sunday, Oct. 27, Appraisal & Estate Sale Specialists will present their latest auction, the antiques and artifacts of politically prominent California gold rush pioneer Francis Hamlin and his direct descendants. The lineage is traced through the Hamlin, Thrasher and Ashley families. Robert Ashley, who’s estate is being sold, was the direct descendant of these families.
The auction includes one of the largest collections of California gold rush manuscripts and diaries that have ever come to market. The journal writings span 50 years of the life of California pioneer and ’49er Francis Hamlin, who became entrenched in early state politics. Francis Hamlin served as a California assemblyman during the 16th session of Congress, helping sign into law the Constitutional Amendment, Article 13, that abolished slavery in the United States. The proud political lineage of the Hamlin family extends to the distant relative, Hannibal Hamlin, vice president to Abraham Lincoln.
The auction includes well-preserved artifacts that tell the story of the Hamlin family across several centuries. The Hamlins traveled from England to America in the 1630s landing in Barnstable, Massachusetts, an early Plymouth Colony where they endured an unforgiving new land of America. More than 100 years later Francis Hamlin chased the promise of the gold rush and early California and would endure and survive the Civil War years. With the dawn of the 20th century, Hamlin’s descendents would serve in WWI and WWII. The estate possessions include a collection of 27 firearms passed down through the family, letters and militaria and more stately items of value like sterling silver, jewelry and books.
Francis Hamlin, 1817-1902, kept an account of his life in his massive unpublished handwritten diary collection from the late 1840s until he died in 1902. He kept a daily diary of what life was like during his time in early California. There are a total of 24 journals and two financial logbooks. The journals include his amazing overland trip diary starting in Ohio and all the way out to the goldfields of California. Along with Hamlin’s daily diary collection, the auction has many personal effects, like his wallet and billfold that contain original contents.
The diaries detail life through the Civil War, the lawless wild west, into the settling of a more formal and civilized California. The journals also describe a more prosperous refined life in the wake of the California gold rush, an established government, a population boom and the historical achievement of the abolishment of slavery. After the turn of the 20th century, the diaries conclude Dec. 1, 1902, one day prior to Hamlin’s death. Life is then detailed with knowledge of world affairs as world wars break out, then college as the family attends Stanford. Mining continues with gold and asbestos mining in Tuolumne and Sutter counties.
The Thrasher family is also highlighted in this collection that includes a poll tax receipt and a letter from William Thrasher. William, born in Ohio, was also a gold miner, although it appears he did not arrive in California during the initial rush. Thrasher, in 1852, wrote a highly entertaining and informative letter to “Amos” about life in California, the places he’d been and the rituals of the people he encountered. He wrote that he planned to live in California for the rest of his life, however, he returned to Ohio and enlisted with the Union fighters during the Civil War. Once the war was over, he chose to live out his days in his home state.
Another side of the family tree is the Ashley family. The consignor is also a direct descendant of Luther Ashley, who served in the Civil War on the Union side. The Ashley side of the family were successful miners who ran mines from the 1880s well into the 1950s. The auction contains some interesting snapshots and history relating to early mining operations.
The auction will be held Sunday, Oct. 27, at 2 p.m. Pacific time/5 p.m. Eastern.