In January 1849 a group of men met in Marshall to organize the “Wolverine Rangers” who planned to make the trek across the country to the gold fields in California. They were organized by James Pratt, the editor of the Marshall Statesman who chronicled the trip with letters sent back and published in his paper.
The rangers included 50 men of which 17 were from Marshall and another seven from Calhoun County. They left Independence, Missouri on May 16 in good spirits with thoughts of getting rich. Six months later, after crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains, they staggered into the upper Sacramento Valley gold fields. Many of the Rangers were starving and in poor health.
Only a few were successful in getting their fortune. Some of the men remained in California but many returned to Michigan. One of Marshall’s earliest “men of the cloth” the Reverend Randall Hobart and his son William were key members of the Rangers.