[Cheyenne & Laramie: 1871]. Three letters, totaling pp. Previously folded. Leaves of one letter separated along central fold; a few other minor separations and small chips at old folds. Light tanning and dust soiling; occasional small patches of staining. Good. Item #1894
Three interesting letters from Cheyenne resident W.H. Wheeler, who wrote to his father from Wyoming Territory in 1871 regarding business opportunities and local developments. Wheeler worked in the city's Union Pacific office, but was anxious to quit his desk job and to become a Western businessman in mining and outfitting ventures. His first letter, dated February 15, discusses his recent travels to Salt Lake City and hopes to become an investor in a new business (and, of course, his concomitant need for money in order to do so):
"My time and attention has been quite taken up with the gold excitement at Salt Lake City. I have just returned from a visit to that section of the country - the country is full of people waiting for spring to open so they can go out prospecting. I have been to the mining district of Utah, Nevada, & Montana, and Utah carries off the prize. Mining I don't care about for there are only about one in one thousand ever successful.... I have staked me out a farm on Bear River. By the way, if Congress passes the act giving soldiers of the late war Land warrents, I want you to get a few when opportunity offers to get them reasonable. I am positive there is money in it as portions of this country is bound to be settled within the coming five years."
"The business I have set my heart upon is a mining outfitting establishment. I am offered the half interest in the concern for $1500 and I lack $300 of having money enough and I cannot money here for less than 7¢ per month which is enormous. I have the refusal of the partnership until the first of March. I am confident the business will pay me 5000 or 8000 per year if I can only get the start. The place of business is situated at Evanston, Uintah Co Wyoming Ter 25 miles from Salt Lake City 25 miles fro the Silver mines 1 1/2 miles from coal mines that furning the Central Pacific RR with all their coal.... Do if possible give me a helping hand to get out of Railroading."
Having received money from his father, Wheeler wrote again on March 5, with an additional plan:
"I will turn my attention and energies to the mines. I think I have the best prospects of anybody in this country. Gen. Maxwell formerly of our regiment (you have seen him; was home with me once) Govt. land commissioner of Utah Ter. and has some 150 mining claims offers to give me - all I want to open and furnish the required means to work with. He is called at present the wealthiest man in Utah and the best of it is he dont know it. He went east before the discoveries were made and has not yet heard of his good fortune. Mining claims that have been opened sell readily for from $15000 to $50000.... I shall be able to return you the money in the course of 15 or 20 days. I shall not require it for the length of times I expected."
In the last letter present here, Wheeler is still waiting to take up his new mining prospects, but confident of profits from his investment in the store:
"I still maintain my position on the road on account of the weather being so bad nothing can be done in the mines. Was offered $2,000 in gold for my interest in the store Saturday but refused it. Genl. Maxwell has not yet returned from Washington I am expecting him every day. His arrival may change some of my prospects. The town of Evanston where our place is situated is growing very rapid. It is the starting point for all Montana freight and the mail. Building lots that sold for $100 two months ago are now worth $300 & $500, everything else in proportion. I am confident I shall be well off yet."
Engaging letters with good detail on business prospects in southwestern Wyoming and Utah Territories during the early 1870s and from an interesting perspective of this eager, office-bound employee of a Western railroad.