James W. Marshall

1810– 1885

Discoverer of gold in California; born in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Left for Oregon in 1844 from Missouri. Traveled to the Sacramento area to John A. Sutter's colony. Worked as a handyman for Sutter. Went into partnership with Sutter and set up a lumber mill in Coloma in 1848. Discovered gold while working near the mill in January 1848. Marshall's land, buildings, and animals were damaged in the ensuing influx of miners. The courts refused him compensation. The state legislature finally awarded him $9,600 in compensation in compensation (paid in monthly increments) in 1872. Died in poverty in 1885. (Dan L. Thrapp, Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography [Glendale, Calif.: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1988], 945; Theressa Gay, James W. Marshall, the Discoverer of California Gold: A Biography [Georgetown, Calif.: Talisman Press, 1967]; George Frederic Parsons, The Life and Adventures of James W. Marshall, the Discoverer of Gold in California [Sacramento: James W. Marshall and W. Burke, 1870].)