California was still part of Mexico when, on March 9, 1842, Francisco Lopez discovered gold in Placerita Canyon.
As such, Lopez's discovery didn't get as much attention or newspaper coverage in the United States
as did James Marshall's discovery six years later at Sutter's Mill, at the tail end of the
war that brought California into the Union.
But Lopez's gold strike did get some play on the East Coast, as
proven in this original edition of the New York Observer from Oct. 1, 1842. The brief news item reads:
CALIFORNIA GOLD. — A letter from California, dated May 1, speaking of the discovery
of gold in that country, says: — "They have at last discovered gold, not far from San
Fernando, and gather pieces of the size of an eighth of a dollar. Those who are acquainted with
these "placeres," as they call them, (for it is not a mine,) say it will grow richer,
and may lead to a mine. Gold to the amount of some thousands of dollars has already been collected."
The item appears on page
3 of the four-page, large-format (22" x 29") broadsheet newspaper (Vol. 20, No. 4; the 1,019th edition overall).
New York's oldest weekly newspaper still in publication at the beginning of the 21st Century, the
New York Observer of 1842 was a religious and heavily abolitionist tract published by Sidney Edwards Morse, the son of
a Protestant minister and a younger brother of Samuel F.B. Morse, the inventor of Morse Code.
Sidney E. Morse (b. Feb. 7, 1794, Charlestown, Mass; d. Dec. 24, 1871, New York City)
graduated from Yale in 1811, studied theology at Andover seminary, and studied law at Litchfield, Conn. He came to New
York in 1823 and founded the Observer with his younger brother, Richard C. Morse. Like Samuel, Sidney had a flair for
invention, teaming with Samuel to patent the flexibile piston pump, then in 1839 developing (with Henry A. Munson) cerography, a method of
printing maps in color. In later life he invented the bathyometer, a device for the rapid exploration of the depths of the sea.
California's REAL First Gold COINage magazine, October 2005
Placerita Gold: Sutter & Marshall Knew They Weren't the First Santa Clarita Valley Living magazine, February 2006