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1869 letter written in California by former Virginian Oliver P. Evans to his friend in Virginia, John E. Roller, Esq., Harrisonburg, Va. The letter concerns California life, business, climate, scenery, old classmates from V.M.I., Civil War references, State Legislatures of California and Virginia, and Land Speculation
San Francisco, California 1868 - 8 page letter written on lined paper dated August 31st, 1869 and addressed to John E. Roller, Harrisonburg, VA. The return address written in the upper left corner is "O. P. Evans P.O. Box 586 San Francisco Cal." Mr. Evans starts his letter enjoying the pleasure of receiving a letter from his friend and writes "I am well - contented and not married but doing no big things in the way of business still I am making a comfortable living and am very hopeful about the future." He then writes about a page on a debt collection. Evans goes on to describe California (having arrived in May, 1868) claiming it a "great country with the most pleasant places to stay he has ever been to". He writes "it takes a 12 hour train ride to to see the perpetual snows of the Sierra's". Evans describes himself as "retiring" with no interest in politics. He states "Our city is growing rapidly and promises (as we think) to be second only to New York on this continent." Oliver Evans then reminiscences about "our boys" referring to VMI graduates in California. "Rap is in Cal, practicing law in Los Angelos (spelled that way in the letter) County. He is the only V.M.I boy (of our day) besides myself that I know of in Cal. But we have two old graduates here. R. H. Sricton (sp.?) and Lewis A. Garnett - and in Los Angelos Col. Geo. Smith". The next sentence mentions the 62nd Va. He adds "And you are a "Senator" Let me see: that sounds well." Evans discuses the State legislature of California - "all members of the State Legislature are supposed to be "on the make", and to ask how "high a member costs " means what is his price. But I presume your honorable body of the "Gen Assembly of Va" will have too many true Virginians to the manor born - to be as corrupt as the usual Carpet bagging (underlined) Legislatures of the South. Evans then delves into the subject of land speculation. He is thinking of seeking out old friends in Virginia to approach about land speculation and remarks to his friend - "And it seems to me that you are the man." Evans thoughts of making money concerns an act of Congress in 1862 (he thinks) granting thousands of acres of land to add an agricultural school to Universities; "The States in Rebellion at the time were excepted from the operation of the act. But I am under the impression that an enabling act has since been past in favor of the States in Rebellion at the time. Under the act, Va - was entitled to 300,000 acres - and I think she has not received it. It is probably some act of the Gen Assembly is necessary before she can have the benefit." In a complicated explanation Evans sees an opportunity to collect "scripts" in which the States have sold. Evans asks his friend who will soon be in the (Va) assembly to "see what steps are necessary to secure the land - or script - to the State - and there let us buy from the State and locate. My position here and my facilities are such as to enable me to raise money for such a purpose - and to find valuable land." Evans acknowledges that his plan is vague but goes on to explain the scheme and provides an example of someone profiting from the speculation - " (name sp.?) here who bought the South Carolina "College Scrip" and located it in Cal and has made at least a million Dollars." Evans ends the letter with the comment - "Lets examine the matter. With pleasant recollections of the past I am your sincere friend O. P. Evans." From the Library of Virginia V.M.I. collection of John E. Roller papers 1862-1910; the following biographical information for John Edmund Roller is provided: John Edwin Roller was born in Rockingham Co., Virginia on October 5, 1844, the son of Peter Samuel Roller and Frances Allebach. In the summer of 1861, although underage for service, he briefly served with Company I of the First Virginia Cavalry. On December 31, 1861, he entered the Virginia Military Institute as a second classman (equivalent to Junior), and was graduated in July 1863. He subsequently taught mathematics
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Last Found On: 2017-10-12           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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