Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Marshall, James Wilson

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MARSHALL, James Wilson, discoverer of gold in California, b. in Hope, Warren co., N. J., in 1812; d. in Coloma, Cal., 8 Aug., 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, Kan. In 1844 he emigrated to California and entered the service of Gen. 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 Gen. Sutter in Coloma. On 18 Jan., 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 had found both gold and platinum and hidden their pile of treasure, and that this was the deposit that was accidentally found by Marshall. It is said that he never denied this statement. A bronze statue of Marshall is to be placed on the spot where the discovery was made.