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    [Indian Content]. John Franklin Godrey Archive comprised of ten letters (some of them partial letters) spanning the years 1858 through 1874. John Franklin Godfrey (1839-1885) was a native of Maine who began a career as a seaman at a young age. When war broke out back home, he "threw up everything and came home and entered the army," serving under "Butler and Banks." Godfrey had enlisted as a private and by December 1863 had reached the rank of lieutenant colonel of the 2nd Maine Cavalry, a post he held until his resignation on May 4, 1864, due to a "long continued debility caused by a fever contracted in the swamp of Louisiana."

    Having recovered his health sometime in late 1864 or early 1865, Godfrey embarked on a journey west to seek his fortune. In one undated letter [circa 1865], he eloquently describes his journey, in part: "On went the stage, further towards the far west, further from friends and foes, further from trouble and disappointed expectations, further from scenes both pleasant and sad, nearer to a new world." The following year, Godfrey found himself a member of an expedition to Yellowstone, though in what capacity is not certain. Writing to his mother from Virginia City, Montana, on April 25, 1866, he describes a run-in with Indians, in part: "The Yellowstone party of which I was one were driven back by indians. We had one man killed. I went one hundred and thirty miles thru' a hostile country and on foot and reaching settlements in safety raised a party of men and rescued the passengers whom we found surrounded by indians and on the verge of starvation." Five days later he sent a second letter, this time to his father, again recounting the trouble with the Indians, adding that he "lost everything I had by the indians and were it not for the present of the passengers I should be destitute."

    An additional partial letter (the first page is missing and the letter is undated, but probably written sometime around 1866) also describes a battle with Indians though it remains unclear if this was a separate incident or whether it was a continuation of the above engagement. Again writing to his parents, Godfrey explains that several were "killed or wounded. I fired cooly and think I did some execution[?]. Had one bullit pass between my legs grazing one of them, but escaped all right, tho' a good many passed very close. We were corralled here twelve days. At length the indians left us."

    In a final letter, dated October 19, 1874, Godfrey has left the upper Midwest and arrived in San Francisco, California, where he intends to practice law: "This is a beautiful country . . . I think it a better chance for a lawyer in any part of California . . . than in Maine." He would go on to serve two terms as city attorney for Los Angeles, but contracted an unknown illness and died in 1885.

    Other than the usual folds and slight fading, the letters are in very good condition.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    3rd Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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