Businessman (1813-1878) who was one of the 'Big Four' of the Central Pacific Railroad along with Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, and Collis Huntington. Rare LS signed by Mark Hopkins, Collis P. Huntington, and nine other California businessmen, one page, 7.75 x 9.75, no date but circa 1861-1863. Letter to R. J. Stevens, superintendent of the mint at San Francisco. In full: "Mrs. Henry A. Crabb is desirous of obtaining employment at the Branch U. S. Mint at San Francisco. Her husband as you are probably aware was formerly a prominent politician in this State and was massacred at Cavorca some years since. His wife, who is a member of one of the oldest and most respectable Spanish families of California, has, by means of his death and disasters that have followed her family which at the time of her marriage, was wealthy, been reduced to penury. She moreover has at present two children depending upon her for support. We cheerfully recommend her to you as a fit recipient of your patronage, being assured that her appointment would in fact be a true charity." Signed at the conclusion by Mark Hopkins, Collis P. Huntington, Edwin B. Crocker, Joseph W. Winans, Cornelius Cole, A. K. P. Harmon, Theodore J. Milliken, George Rowland, L. H. Foote, B. C. Whiting, and one other. In fine condition, with intersecting folds.
This letter stands as a significant Central Pacific Railroad piece based on its autographs alone—Hopkins and Huntington were two of the 'Big Four' founders, Edwin B. Crocker was the brother of co-founder Charles Crocker and worked as the railroad's attorney, and Cole, Harmon, Milliken, and Rowland were all early investors in the company. The content of the letter elevates it even further—they write in support of the widow of Henry A. Crabb, who had once been a member of the California State Senate. In 1857, he was killed when he led a disastrous attempted invasion of the northwestern Mexican state of Sonora.
After raising a small army of about one hundred ex-miners, Crabb marched south toward the town of Caborca, where he expected to meet little resistance. From April 1-6, 1857, a fierce battle ensued, culminating in Crabb's surrender. The next morning, Crabb and his fellow survivors were executed by firing squad; only one sixteen-year-old was spared. Crabb's corpse was decapitated and his head preserved in a jar of alcohol—a symbol of victory and a warning to other would-be colonizers. His widow, a member of the prominent Ainsa family, apparently fell on hard times in the aftermath of the tragedy. The recipient of this letter, Robert J. Stevens, had been appointed by President Lincoln as superintendent of the San Francisco Mint in 1861, but was dismissed in 1863 after investigations into his professional conduct; it is unknown whether or not Mrs. Crabb was given a position at the mint. Hopkins is a great rarity in American autographs, and he was the first of the Central Pacific's 'Big Four' to pass away. Combined with the signatures of Collis P. Huntington and other prominent Californians offering support for the widow of the leader of California's most notorious filibustering expedition into Mexico, this letter is especially significant.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.