Antonio Coronel was a Mexican Californio who like many other Spanish speakers was ejected by Anglos from his claim in the Gold Rush, about April, 1849. Quoting from the published translation of his memoir, Tales of Mexican California:

I was elected captain of the group in order to lay down some ground rules to ensure our safety. ... No one was to go to Sutter's Mill. ... In Ramon Carrillo's party there was an Irishman, long established in the country -- a good fellow, but fond of his whiskey. ... Féliz and the Irishman had gotten over two pounds of gold between them in the first week. ... But Saturday night the Irishman disappeared with his share of gold to Sutter's Mill. He got drunk and revealed all our business, plans, rules, and so forth. ... Every day more and more armed men came by to make inquiries, as before, but they were so familiar with our affairs that by Saturday the gunmen had set up camp beside us. ... At about 10am, a hundred of those soulless bandits invaded our claims, while we were down in them.

Who was the Irishman?

One prominent Irish immigrant in Northern California was Timothy Murphy, previously known to buy liquor at Fort Ross; nonetheless, as a mission administrator and rancho grantee, he seems unlikely to have mined in someone else's party.

  • 1
    Can you add a precise date for these events? (always useful when looking at timelines)
    – justCal
    Feb 27, 2018 at 19:20
  • The dates of these events aren't given, but from context I think they probably happened in April of 1849. Feb 27, 2018 at 23:38

2 Answers 2


There might be more Irish then the few discussed in earlier times in California by this time. No specifics on this man, but there was an earlier proposal for Irish immigrants to help populate California. The Irish had the Catholic faith in common with Mexico, and besides Macnamaras' plan there were Irish soldiers who deserted and fought for Mexico during the Mexican–American War. Irish immigrants were coming to the US in record numbers:

In October 1845, a serious blight began among the Irish potatoes, ruining about three-quarters of the country's crop. This was a disaster as many people in Ireland depended on the potato as their chief food. The blight returned in 1846 and over the next year an estimated 350,000 people died of starvation. The famine stimulated emigration of a scale that made Fr. Macnamara’s proposal look almost irrelevant. In 1846 data shows that 92,484 Irish arrived in America and the figure doubled the next year to 196,224. While most of the Irish arrived and stayed on the east coast hundreds made their way to California.

Another site on the history of San Francisco says:

In the last half of 1849, immigrants arrived at the rate of one thousand per week by sea alone.

So once the Gold Rush began, and due to the massive immigration to the US due to the potato famine, I think you may have trouble narrowing down a single unnamed Irishman at this time in California history.

  • True, but this Irishman was "long established in the country". Feb 28, 2018 at 0:14
  • Good point, but I have seen this story in a couple different forms, and I'm not sure that same phrasing was used everywhere. I'll have to look closer at that part...The book entry here places it earlier, which seemed off to me with the discussion of gold.
    – justCal
    Feb 28, 2018 at 0:22
  • If you have access to the book, this account is on pp. 64-65 and there is no date given after the massacre Coronel witnessed at the end of March 1849. Feb 28, 2018 at 0:58

This Irishman was a trusted member of Ramon Carrillo's party. Ramon's home base was Santa Rosa and secondarily Sonoma (where he headed off to, leaving the Irishman in charge). Might the Irishman be one of the locals: Jasper O'Farrell, Patrick Mc Christian or John Read (the longest established)?

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    Hi and welcome to History SE. Could you add a source for this? Nov 15, 2021 at 2:00
  • Of course. The first sentence comes from Coronel's Tales of Mexican California':"In Ramon Carrillo’s party there was an Irishman, long established in the country – a good fellow, but fond of his whiskey. I mentioned to Carrillo my worry that he would let out the secret. Carrillo assured me he was entirely trustworthy. When we were settled in, Carrillo went to Sonoma, and we got to work.". The names of Irish pioneers in Sonoma is from sonomanews.com/article/news/…. Nov 15, 2021 at 5:41

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