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John Hemsley was born in 1828 in County Durham, Northumberland, England. It is believed he immigrated to the United States in the 1850s with his brother William where they settled in West Virginia and became coal miners.
Sometime in 1858 Mr. Hemsley migrated to California and was living in Foresthill, Placer County, was married with a small child and working as a miner. He was elected as Chief Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate in December 1863 and was a delegate from Alpine County to the Union State Convention in 1864.
In January 1865 he left to work in the gold mines of Idaho, he later sent for his wife and young son, who later drowned in the Brother Jonathon shipwreck off the coast of Oregon. In 1868 he was working for the California State Senate again (see letter written by John Hemsley). Mr. Hemsley remarried in February 1870 and lived in San Francisco where he died in 1905 at the age of 77.
John Hemsley served as Chief Sergeant-at-Arms from 1863-1864.
(Information provided by a relative of John Hemsley)
Letter written by John Hemsley to his brother William.
Click on the thumbnail below to read the original letter.
Click on the thumbnail below to read the transcribed version of the letter.