While this diary is unsigned, an unknown hand inscribed “Shoemaker’s Diary of 1850” on the inner flyleaf. As an author, “Shoemaker” is good at recording travelling conditions but not personal details. There are no clues within the diary as to his age, profession, or home state.
Jean Bartholomew Innis discovered Shoemaker’s diary during the 1940s at an antique shop in Placerville, California. Mrs. Innis is the grandniece of Fleury F. Keith, another diarist in the Overland collection. While Keith and Shoemaker did not travel together, the Amargosa Memorial Library published their diaries in 1961 as Two Argonauts on the Oregon Trail (although neither man traveled to Oregon). The Amargosa Memorial Library notes that Shoemaker “mined for some little time. Later he started up a cooperage shop” (18). No other clues about this diarist’s identity remain.
Shoemaker. Two Argonauts on the Oregon Trail: A Journal of Crossing the Plains. Menlo Park, CA: Amargosa Memorial Library, 1961.