Sterling has sailed several times to China and Asia as well as to the West Indies. Gregory added: “It was also his privilege to travel around the world, a journey that lasted nine months and twenty-six days.”
But Sterling put his life as a sailor on hold after news of the discovery of gold in California. He boarded the “Tarolinta” or “Floating Rose” in January 1849 to arrive in San Francisco on July 6, 1849.
Sterling vividly recalled San Francisco as a tent city with “… countless crowds of gold diggers coming and going with hope and despair written on their faces,” Gregory wrote. “Of course Mr. Sterling took his chance in mining.”
Soon after, Sterling returned to San Francisco and out to sea as a crew member on a ship bound for Hawaii. He returned to San Francisco aboard this ship in April 1850 and worked aboard various San Francisco steamers before returning to New York at the end of 1850.
Sterling returned to California on May 25, 1852 to accept a position as foreman at Captain AA Ritchie’s 40,000-acre Lake County cattle ranch. During her six-year stay there, Sterling married Lydia J. Wheaton, his beloved from Connecticut, in 1854. They had a child, Julia. She eventually married and had a son.
Sterling and his wife Lydia were married for 53 years before Lydia died on May 13, 1907. After her death, Sterling sold her Franklin Street home. In 1912, when Gregory interviewed Sterling, he was living in a small cottage on First Street.