Lewis Campbell left Springfield, Ill., for the gold mines of California in 1849. His "Memorandum of my travels to California" provides a brief record for most days of his journey west between Mar. 26 and Sept. 18. He took note of the conditions of the route, the miles covered, and the health of himself and others in the company. He also noted the game that were hunted and the Native Americans who were encountered. The party typically "laid in camp" on Sunday and heard a preacher.
Campbell formed several mining partnerships, and chopped wood near Sacramento, before leaving California after only nine months. He returned to Illinois by sea through the Isthmus of Panama, went north to Havana, New Orleans, and St. Louis, and finally reached Springfield on Nov. 5, 1850. The following year he opened a dry goods store in Clinton, Ill. A decade later he turned to farming in which he was engaged until buying a home in town in 1910.
Eugene Campbell of Yorkville, Ill., owned the diary when it was transcribed. Only the last four pages of the 32-page typescript relate to Lewis Campbell's life after his overland trek to California. The Library acquired a photocopy of the typescript through the assistance of Thomas F. Schwartz in 1985.