On February 20, 1849, twenty nine-year-old attorney George W. B. Evans set out from Defiance, Ohio, determined to make a fortune for his wife and family in the gold rush. He kept a painstaking record of his journey to California on one of the least known of the overland routes, crossing northern Mexico on the wild, little-used trail through Chihuahua and across the deserts of southern Arizona. Along the way, he faced many perils and hardships, including cholera outbreaks, Indian attacks, and long, waterless treks. Evans reached the Agua Fria diggings on the Mariposa Grant in late October that year but failed to strike it rich. Moving on to work as a customs inspector in San Francisco and then as an auctioneer in Sacramento, he became weakened by disease and overwork and died at age thirty one on December 16, 1850.
George W. B. Evans (1819–1850) kept a vivid, detailed diary of his journey to California via Mexico to join in the Gold Rush. Peter J. Blodgett is the H. Russell Smith Foundation Curator of Western Historical Manuscripts at the Huntington Library.