The Watrous Trip to California


When Ellen Goff married Benjamin Watrous and traveled back to California with him, she took with them her father’s Bible.

Inside the Bible I had found the advertiser for the US mail line to California.  Presumably this was the passage they booked to California.

In Ben’s 1890 biography it is stated: “Mr. and Mrs. Watrous set out for California a few weeks after their marriage, leaving New York in October, and arriving by way of Panama and San Francisco in Chinese Camp, Tuolumne County, November 13, 1863.

The trip took them from New York to Aspinwall.  Aspinwall was founded by Americans in 1850 on the Caribbean side of the isthmus of Panama in conjunction with the construction of the Panama railroad.  This was the first transcontinental railway in the America’s spanning 48 miles across the isthmus.  It was established for the California gold rush and was completed in January 1855.  From the Pacific side the trip to California was completed by steamer.  Today Aspinwall is better known by its Spanish name, Colón.

Once in California, Ellen & Ben used the Bible to meticulously record the births, marriages and deaths of her family.  The last entry is her own death on July 24, 1893 when she passes away at the age of 46.

© Ken Piper 2016