Famous #GoldRush Figures: The Sutters

If you've ever heard about the famous California Gold Rush, you've probably heard of John Sutter, or perhaps his discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill. Interestingly, while the Sutters are perhaps the Gold Rush's most famous figures, they themselves spent more time on land negotiations than actual gold-hunting! 

John Sutter Sr.

John Sutter Sr. via Wikimedia

Originally, John Sutter actually planned to build a city around his sawmill. Sutter hired his friend James Marshall to help inspect the areas where he would lay additional foundations. To his surprise, Marshall returned with major news: There were nuggets of what appeared to be gold on their property! Together, the men tested the nuggets and decided that they had, in fact, found very valuable land. While Sutter hoped to continue his original plans for construction, he also decided to expand his land ownership in the area. While the men tried to keep their discovery quiet, a newspaper editor himself returned from the property with gold and spread the word publicly. Many hopefuls flocked to Sutter's land, and Sutter decided to deed the land he could still control to his son. From then on, John Sutter, Jr. began building what would later become Sacramento. While his father had hoped to name the town Sutterville, Sutter Jr.'s different plans caused a divide between the pair. As the younger Sutter's health declined, he made a small fortune by selling the land to businessmen in Sacramento. 

John Sutter Jr.

John Sutter Jr., Wikimedia

What would you do if you came across unclaimed land full of gold? Would you keep things very quiet, gather some gold and then sell the land, or cut a deal with a businessman?

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Posted by Jenna Gulica

Jenna Gulica

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