Friday, Aug. 27, 1847?made a contract and entered in partnership with Marshall for a sawmill to be built on the Amer. Fork.
So wrote John Augustus Sutter, methodically recording the agreement that led to California's astonishing gold rush. Sutter left Germany for the United States in 1834, after several years in the Midwest, reached the Sacramento Valley in 1839. A year later he received a 48,000-acre land grant from the Mexican government and began creating a small empire near the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers.
Sutter needed lumber to expand his fort and a partner to help built a sawmill. He joined forces with James Wilson Marshall, a carpenter from New Jersey, and construction began in the fall of 1847. Marshall had almost finished the sawmill when he found gold in the tailrace. Ironically, the discovery that enriched so many brought ruin to its key figures - both Marshall and Sutter died in near-poverty.