Collection contains the original and typed copies of correspondence describing life in the gold fields of California in the 1850s, an account of crossing the desert on the way west, and a journal describing the sea voyage home. Also, two newspaper images relevant to the gold rush and Mr. Hackman's obituary. He sent many letters home to his family in which he related the details of his experience, hardships of finding gold, the high prices and lack of provisions, observations of life in mining towns, his health, and asked for news from home. He also wrote letters to his sweetheart, Harriet B. Miller asking her to write him back, and his uncle, regarding family financial information.
David Baer Hackman (1827-1896) was the second child of David Heistand Hackman and Susanna Frantz Baer. He was a third cousin, once removed, of Milton Hershey. David left Lancaster in the fall of 1849 with the hope of finding gold in California. In the spring of 1850, he went to Ohio and joined others headed west. They boarded a steamboat in Cincinnati that was bound for St. Louis and then travelled by wagon train to Sacramento City, where they arrived in September 1850. David found enough gold to buy food and supplies, and then had modest success in 1853. In 1854, he decided to return home, this time travelling by steamer and train from San Francisco to New York via Panama.
The adventure of travelling westward and his life in the gold fields of California are described in detail in David's journal and correspondence. He sent many letters home to his family in which he related the details of his experience, hardships, the prices and lack of provisions, observations of life in mining towns, and asked for news from home.
David also wrote to his sweetheart, Harriet B. Miller (1829-1870), the daughter of Adam and Rebecca Miller of Manheim. Although he did not receive any letters from her, they reunited upon his return to Lancaster in 1854 and married soon after. They had one son named Augustus, who became a minister. Harriet passed away in 1870. David later married Ella C. (1851-1907) and they had five children, Frank, Mabel, Harry, Walter, and Edith.
David's obituary shows that he was involved in the grocery, clothing, hat, and shoemaking businesses. In the 1860 Census he is listed as a hatter, and in 1880 as a saloon keeper. He was well-liked and respected in the community. David and Harriet are buried in Manheim Fairview Cemetery.
Processed and finding aid prepared by DT, 1999; revised by JK, 2016. Added to database 30 October 2018.