William Porter Jones wrote three letters while living in Virginia, California 1860-1861. These letters provide a rare view of the life of a placer miner: "I am mining and I now regard my prospects as better than they ever have been since I came here. I have always had money to get what I needed and now I have a good claim and I owe no man in California a cent but have money owing to me. My claim has paid better than I expected. I have only been washing for three weeks and have done well - the expense of opening my claim has been great therefore I have saved but little but now I am ready to save what I take out of it so you see I am in fine spirits...I am still 'hoisting grit' some days making several dimes and others but precious few." These excerpts express the optimism of a young man seeking his fortune while acknowledging the harsh realities of a placer miner.
Virginia was a placer mining camp located along the Aurora Ravine, about 20 miles south of Grass Valley. While the town of Virginia did not survive, the site is located about half-way between Lincoln and Auburn. It is interesting to note that most modern roads follow the alignment of the roads shown on the historic map dated 1892.
The William Porter Jones letters are housed in the Sharlot Hall Archives: