Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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MARSHALL, James Wilson, discoverer of gold in California, born in Hope, Warren County, New Jersey, in 1812; died in Coloma, California, 8 August, 1885. He received a plain education, learned the trade of coach and wagon builder, and about 1833 bought a farm on the Platte river, near Fort Leavenworth, Kansas In 11844 he emigrated to California and entered the service of General John A. Sutter. He volunteered in the Bear Flag war, serving through the entire campaign that resulted in a treaty, recognizing the independence of California, that was signed in March, 1847. After his discharge Marshall returned to Sutter's Fort, but abandoned the stock farm that he had established and entered the lumber business with General Sutter in Coloma. On 18 January, 1848, while superintending the construction of a mill-race, he found a nugget of gold, and, collecting several ounces of the ore, took the specimens to Sutter's Fort. His discovery brought a great influx of adventurers into California, many of whom, knowing that gold had been discovered in Coloma, went there, seized Marshall's property and stock, and divided his land into town-lots, even disputing the title to the land that he had purchased prior to his discovery, and he became reduced to extreme poverty. Another version of the story is that two Mormons who were employed by him to dig the mill-race had found both gold and platinum, and after washing the ore had hidden their pile of treasure until they could accumulate a large quantity, and that this was the deposit that was accidentally found by Marshall. It is said that he never denied this statement.
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