In the winter of 1849, William Lewis Manly, a pioneer immigrant to California, and his companions blundered into Death Valley as they turned south from the Rockies in search of a quicker route to the gold fields. The group was stranded, and Manly and another man set out on foot to find help. Fourteen days later they wandered into Mission San Fernando. They returned to their companions with supplies and brought them out of Death Valley to safety. Encouraged by his friends, Manly wrote his remarkable story, detailing his journey and rescue mission.
With an introduction by noted historian Patricia Limerick and freshly edited, indexed, and annotated in an unusually handsome edition, Death Valley in ’49 is both an important book—central to our understanding of early California—and, with its compelling narrative, a joy to read.
William Lewis Manly was born in Vermont in 1820. In the fall of 1848, Manly decided to follow the gold rush to California. This is the trip documented in Death Valley in ?49. Manly moved between California and the East for several years, eventually settling in California, where he mined, married, and settled in San Jose. Manly died in 1903.