Zell Bernhard

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How a Luxembourger (Almost) Discovered California's Gold.

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Zell Bernhard

  1. 1. HOW A LUXEMBOURGER (ALMOST) DISCOVERED CALIFORNIA’S GOLD.Bernhard Zell (1715-1779) is a Luxembourg-born explorer who lived in NewOrleans from 1740 to 1759, founded a German mercantile house there, made asignificant fortune and visited Florida. After the cession of Louisiana to Spain (1764),he obtained permission to travel through Mexico, and explored California and Texas.In studying the geology of California, he concluded that the country possessedgoldmines, and addressed a memoir to the Marquis de Croix (1699-1786), viceroy ofNew Spain (1766-1771); but little attention was paid to it. Explorations sent in formercenturies to search for gold in California had failed. De Croix gave him permission toorganize an expedition; but as he refused further support, Zell returned toLuxembourg in 1770. He wrote ‘Reisen im Innern von Neu Spanien und Californien’[Travels Inside New Spain and California] containing an analysis of the soil of severaldistricts of Mexico and California, from which he concluded that California was amining country (Luxemburg 1771-2) and ‘Land und Leute der Spanisch AmerikanischenColonien’ [Land and People of the Spanish-American Colonies] (1778). Zell died inLuxembourg in 1779. California’s Gold would not be discovered until 1848. JamesWilson Marshall (1810-1885) is credited with discovering gold at Sutter’s Mill inColoma, California, triggering the California Gold Rush (1848-1855).From: Luxembourg On My Mind

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