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Biographies Unit Biographies

Sarah Royce 1819-1891
Gold Rush Pioneer, Teacher, and Writer

Sarah Royce was born in England and came to the United States as a baby. She grew up in Philadelphia, in upstate New York, and later in Iowa. In 1849, Royce and her husband set out in a wagon train for California.

The journey was difficult. When they reached California, life was no easier. The Royces did not make any money in gold, land, or business. They lived poorly, moving from place to place. They moved eight times in five years. Finally, they settled in Grass Valley. They started an orchard and sold fruit. Royce taught school and life began to get better.

Royce was also a writer. She kept a diary that was later published as a book and called A Frontier Lady. Her diary tells about her journey west and about Gold Rush life. It shows her facing challenges head-on, without complaint. “If we were going, let us go,” she wrote, “and meet what we were to meet, bravely.”

Comprehension Check

What did Royce do after she arrived in California?

Critical Thinking

What kind of difficulties could a newcomer to California encounter during the Gold Rush era?