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Hi, I have a family member who went to San Francisco in 1849. He went by steamer out of New York City around the Horn and up the west coast of South America.
He actually went to California several times, but I'm not sure how he travelled on the later trips.
He was a merchant and a writer, and he sent regular dispatches back to his hometown of Portsmouth, NH, which were published in the Journal of Literature and Politics.
I have several copies of his personal notes to his wife and nephew, and also copies from the newspaper items, and I am currently publishing some of these letters in the Essex Genealogist.
His name was Ezekiel Fitzgerald, Jr. (1810-1864) He was my great-grandfather's uncle.