This collection contains twelve letters written by John C. Cabaniss, a proprietor of the Folsom Street coal yards in San Francisco, California to his mother, Mrs. Nancy Hill [Nancy Sink Cabaniss Hill] in Franklin County, Virginia. Cabaniss moved to San Francisco during the Gold Rush.
Most of his letters mention that he is coming home soon, is in good health and the business is doing well. For a time, a friend from home, Moses G. Noble, lives with him. The letters also mention the collapse of the banks in San Francisco in 1855 and his family's slaves. He tells his mother that he will pay to hire or buy Mariah's husband. He often sends money to his mother, once asking her to give Mariah, and others, $25. By 1855, he also owns a ranch and still works at the coal yard.
John Cabiness committed suicide on April 25, 1858 and a copy of the April 26, 1858 Sacramento Daily gives details of his death. A copy of a typed partial biography of John Cabaniss, possibly written by the seller and mostly unsourced, hints at an earlier bankruptcy in Alabama.