James K Polk Signed Presidential Appointment of Charles H Bennett

This document entails the appointment of Charles H. Bennett, to the rank of First Lieutenant. Bennett had served as a sergeant in the American Division of Dragoons at Fort Leavenworth, KS, and moved to Oregon to help form the Oregon Rangers in 1844. In 1847, Bennett was employed by James Marshall to help build Sutter’s Mill, where Gold was discovered in 1848. According to Stephen Staats, a close friend and eye-witness to the event, later stated that, “we furnished Bennett with an outfit and he traveled with us to California [from Oregon]. He assisted Marshall in building a mill on the American fork of the Sacramento, and he was the first one that beheld the glittering dust when water was turned into the race for the purpose of clearing it out. Notwithstanding that Marshall has gained worldwide fame as the first discoverer of gold in California, we have always claimed that an Oregon man, Bennett, was the first one whose eagle eye beheld the shining ore as it sparkled through the rippling of the water. Bennett, Salem’s pioneer citizen, first gazed upon and held in his hand the gold which made San Francisco what she is today, and had it not been for that discovery the Bennett house never would have been built.”

Charles Bennett later started what became known as the Bennett House Hotel, until volunteering to fight during the Yakima War of 1855 with the Oregon Mounted Volunteers, where he was killed at the battle of Walla-Walla on December 7, 1855.

Measurements: Frame: 33 x 21.5 inches Document: 16.5 x 11.75 inches

About the Collector
Dr. Ray Cook

Dr. Ray Cook practiced medicine in Wichita, Kansas for more than 38 years. He was born in the South, developing an affinity for history and the Civil War. Over his life-time, Dr. Cook gathered a collection of presidential documents, books, and other works on paper related to his interest in history. This rare collection is now being offered at auction.


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