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Death Valley in '49 by William Lewis Manly

Part 7 out of 8

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fellow put on his cool white coat--in fact, a white suit throughout--and
in this tropical climate he looked very comfortable, indeed, thus
attired. He filled his breast pocket with fine cigars, and put in the
other pocket a flask with some medicine in it which was good for snake
bites, and also tending to produce courage in case the man, not used to
horse-back riding, should find his natural spirits failing. The rest of
his luggage was placed on pack animals, and in fact the only way luggage
was carried in those days was either on the backs of donkeys or men.

All was ready for a start, and the captain in his snow-white suit was
mounted on a mule so small that his feet nearly touched the ground. The
little animal had a mind of his own, and at first did not seem inclined
to start out readily, but after a bit concluded to follow his fellow
animals, and all went well.

The rider was much amused at what he saw; sometimes a very lively
monkey, sometimes a flock: of paroquets or a high-colored lizard--and so
he rode along with a very happy air, holding his head up, and smoking a
fragrant Havana with much grace. The road was rough and rocky, with a
mud-hole now and then of rather uncertain depth. At every one of these
mud-holes the Captain's mule would stop, put down his head, blow his
nose and look wise, and then carefully sound the miniature sea with his
fore-feet, being altogether too cautious to suit his rider who had never
been accustomed to a craft that was afraid of water.

At one of these performances the mule evidently concluded the sea before
him was not safe, for when the captain tried to persuade him to cross
his persuasions had no effect. Then he coaxed him with voice gentle,
soft and low, with the result that the little animal took a few very
short steps and then came to anchor again. Then the captain began to get
slightly roiled in temper, and the voice was not so gentle, sweet and
low, but it had no greater effect upon his craft. He began to get
anxious, for the others had gone on, and he thought perhaps he might be

Now, this sea-faring man had armed his heels with the large Spanish
spurs so common in the country, and bringing them in contact with the
force due to considerable impatience, Mr. Mule was quite suddenly and
painfully aware of the result. This was harsher treatment than he could
peaceably submit to, and at the second application of the spurs a pair
of small hoofs were very high in the air and the captain very low on his
back in the mud and water, having been blown from the hurricane deck of
his craft in a very sudden and lively style. The philosophical mule
stood very still and looked on while the white coat and pantaloons were
changing to a dirty brown, and watched the captain as he waded out, to
the accompaniment of some very vigorous swear words.

Both the man and beast looked very doubtful of each other's future
actions, but the man shook the water off and bestowed some lively kicks
on his muleship which made him bounce into and through the mud-hole, and
the captain, still holding the bridle, followed after. Once across the
pool the captain set his marine eye on the only craft that had been too
much for his navigation and said "Vengeance should be mine," and in this
doubtful state of mind he cautiously mounted his beast again and fully
resolved to stick to the deck, hereafter, at all hazards, he hurried on
and soon overtook the train again, looking quite like a half drowned
rooster. The others laughed at him and told him they could find better
water a little way ahead, at the river, and they would see him safely
in. The captain was over his pet, and made as much fun as any of them,
declaring that he could not navigate such a bloody craft as that in such
limited sea room, for it was dangerous even when there was no gale to
speak of.

The ladies did not blush at the new and convenient costumes which they
saw in this country, and laughed a good deal over the way of traveling
they had to adopt. Any who were sick were carried in a kind of chair
strapped to the back of a native. Passengers were strung along the road
for miles, going and coming. We would occasionally sit down awhile and
let the sweat run off while a party of them passed us. Some were mounted
on horses, some on mules, and some on donkeys, and they had to pay
twelve dollars for the use of an animal for the trip.

Our night at this wayside deadfall was not much better than some of the
nights about Death Valley, but as I was used to low fare, I did not
complain as some did. This seemed a wonderful country to a northern
raised boy. The trail was lined on both sides with all kinds of palms
and various other kinds of trees and shrubs, and they were woven
together in a compact mass with trailing and running vines. The trees
were not tall, and the bark was as smooth as a young hickory. The roots
would start out of the tree three feet above the ground and stand out at
an angle, and looked like big planks placed edgewise.

It seemed as if there were too many plants for the ground to support,
and so they grew on the big limbs of the trees all around, the same as
the mistletoe on the oak, only there were ever so many different kinds.

The weather was very clear, and the sun so hot that many of the
travelers began to wilt and sit down by the roadside to rest. Many
walked along very slowly and wore long faces. The road from Panama to
Crucez, on the Chagres River, was eighteen miles long, and all were glad
when they were on the last end of it. The climate here seems to take all
the starch and energy out of a man's body, and in this condition he must
be very cautious or some disease will overtake him and he will be left
to die without burial for his body if he has no personal friends with

We started on the next morning, and on our way stepped over a large ship
anchor that lay across the trail. I suppose the natives had undertaken
to pack it across the isthmus and found it too heavy for them. Perhaps
it was for Capt. Kidd, the great pirate, for it is said that he often
visited Panama in the course of his cruising about in search of

Passing along a sandy place in the trail, a snake crossed and left his
track, big as a stovepipe it seemed to be, and after this we kept a
sharp watch for big snakes that might be in waiting to waylay us for

There were plenty of monkeys and parrots climbing and chattering around
in the trees. The forest is here so dense that the wind never blows, and
consequently it never gets cool. The sun, ever since we got down near
the equator, was nearly overhead, and the moon seemed to be even north
of us.

When we reached the Chagres River we hired a boat of an Irishman for the
trip down. I wondered if there was a place on earth so desolate that the
"Paddy" would not find it. The boat for the journey cost two hundred
dollars, and would hold passengers enough so that it would cost us ten
dollars each, at any rate, and perhaps a little more. Two natives had
charge of the boat and did the navigating. There were two ladies among
the passengers, and when the two natives, who I suppose were the captain
and mate of the craft, came on board, clad very coolly in Panama hats,
the ladies looked at them a little out of the corners of their eyes and
made the best of it. Our two navigators took the oars and pulled slowly
down the stream.

Nothing but water and evergreen trees could we see, for the shore on
either hand was completely hidden by the dense growth that hung over and
touched the water. On a mud bar that we passed a huge alligator lay,
taking a sun bath, and though many shots were fired at him he moved away
very leisurely. No one could get on shore without first clearing a road
through the thick brushes and vines along the bank. On the way one of
our boatmen lost his hat, his only garment, into the river, and
overboard he went, like a dog, and soon had it and climbed on board
again. I wondered why some of the big alligators did not make a snap at

The water in the run looked very roily and dirty, and no doubt had fever
in it. The only animals we saw were monkeys and alligators, and there
were parrots in the trees. The farther we went down the stream the wider
it became, and the current slacker so that we moved more slowly with the
same amount of rowing. At a place called Dos Hermanos (two brothers) we
could see a little cleared spot near the bank, which seemed to be three
or four feet above the water. There were no mountains nor hills in
sight, and the whole country seemed to be an extensive swamp. It was
near night that we came to a small native village of palm huts, and here
our boatmen landed and hid themselves, and not being able to find them
we were compelled to stay all night, for we dare not go on alone. The
place looked like a regular robbers' roost, and being forced to sleep
outside the huts, we considered it safest to sleep with one eye open. We
would have gone on with the boat only that we were afraid the river
might have more than one outlet, and if we should take the wrong one we
might be too late for the steamer, which even now we were afraid would
not wait for us, and getting left would be a very serious matter in this

We had very little to eat, and all we could buy was sugar cane, bananas,
monkeys and parrots. We kept a sharp eye out for robbers, keeping
together as much as we could, for we knew that all returning
Californians would be suspected of having money. Most all of them were
ready for war except myself who had no weapon of any kind. All of these
people had a bad name, and every one of them carried a long bladed knife
called a Macheta, with which they could kill a man at a single blow. But
with all our fears we got through the night safely, and in the morning
found our boatmen who had hidden away. We waited not for breakfast, but
sailed away as soon as we could, and reached Chagres, near the mouth of
the river, before night.

The river banks here are not more than three feet high, and farther back
the land fell off again into a wet swamp of timber and dense vegetable
growth. The town was small and poorly built, on the immediate bank, and
the houses were little brush and palm affairs except the boarding house
which was "T" shaped, the front two stories high, with a long dining
room running back, having holes for windows, but no glass in them.

Before the bell rung for meals a long string of hungry men would form in
line, and at the first tap would make a rush for the table like a flock
of sheep. After all were seated a waiter came around and collected a
dollar from each one, and we thought this paid pretty well for the very
poor grub they served afterwards.

No ship had as yet been in sight to take us away from this lowest,
dirtiest, most unhealthful place on earth, and the prospect of remaining
here had nothing very charming about it. The river was full of
alligators, so the bathing was dangerous, and the whole country was
about fit for its inhabitants, which were snakes, alligators, monkeys,
parrots and lazy negroes. It could not have been more filthy if the
dregs of the whole earth had been dumped here, and cholera and yellow
fever were easy for a decent man to catch.

My companion and I went out on the beach a mile or two to get the salt
water breeze, and leave the stinking malaria for those who chose to stay
in the hot, suffocating village, and here we would stay until nearly
night. Across a small neck of water was what was called a fort. It could
hardly be seen it was so covered with moss and vines, but near the top
could be seen something that looked like old walls. There was no sign of
life about it, and I should judge it was built at some very early day.
Surely there was nothing here to protect, for the whole country did not
seem able to support even a few barefooted soldiers.

Some men who wandered along up the river bank, following a path, said
they had seen some dead human bodies thrown into the swamp and left,
probably because it was easier than putting them under ground.

For a bedroom I hired a little platform which a store keeper had placed
before his store, where I slept, and paid a dollar for the privilege.
Some one walked around near me all night, and I dared not close more
than one eye at a time for fear of losing a little bag of gold dust.
This little bag of gold was getting to be a great burden to me in this
sickly climate, and the vigilant guard I had to keep over so small a
treasure was very tiresome.

The second night no steamer came, but on the third morning the steamer
was riding at anchor three or four miles out, and soon after a ship came
in from the Atlantic end of the Nicaragua route with one thousand
passengers, there being no steamer there for them to take a passage home
on, and so they had to come here for a start. This filled the little
town to overflowing, but as the ship that had arrived was the Georga,
one of the largest afloat, all could go if they only could endure the

We now had to go in small boats from the shore to the ship, and the trip
cost two dollars and a half. I waited till I had seen some of the boats
make a trip or two, and then choosing one that had a sober skipper, I
made the venture. It was said that one drunken boatman allowed his boat
to drift into some breakers and all were lost.

I tell you I was over anxious to get out of this country, for I well
knew that if I stayed very long I should stay forever, for one like
myself raised in a healthful climate, could not remain long without
taking some of the fatal diseases the country was full of.

We made the trip to the vessel safely, and as our boat lay under the
ship's quarter, the men holding the ropes, I looked up, and when I saw
the swinging rope ladder on which I was expected to climb up to the
ship's deck, it seemed a pretty dangerous job; but I mustered up courage
and made the attempt. The sea was pretty rough out here for the small
boats, and the ship rolled some, so that when persons tried to get hold
of the ladder they were thrown down and sometimes hurt a little. A man
held on to the lower end of the ladder so that the one who was climbing
might not get banged against the side of the ship and have his breath
knocked out of him, I mounted the ladder safely and climbed away like a
monkey, reaching the deck all right. Ladies and weak people were hauled
up in a sort of chair with a block and rope.

It took the most of two days to get the people on board, and when they
were counted up there were one thousand four hundred and forty, all
told. This steamer had a very long upper deck and a comparatively short
keel, and rolled very badly; and as for me, I had swallowed so much of
the deadly malaria of the isthmus that I soon got very seasick, and the
first day or two were very unpleasant. I went to the bar and paid two
bits for a glass of wine to help my appetite, but it staid with me no
longer than time enough to reach the ship's side. When night came the
decks were covered with sleepy men, and if the weather had been rough
and all sick, as was the case when we left San Francisco, we should have
had more filthy decks than we had even on that occasion.

Approaching the harbor at Havana, Cuba, we seemed to be going head
foremost against a wall of solid rock, but when within speaking distance
an officer came in sight on the fort right before us, and shouted
through his speaking trumpet, saying:--"Why don't you salute us?" Our
officer said, "You know us well enough without." Our ship had a small
cannon on the forecastle, but did not choose to use it, and I suppose
the Cuban officer felt slighted. We now turned short to the right and
entered the beautiful harbor, which is perfectly landlocked and as still
as a pond. The city is all on the right side of the bay and our coal
yard was on the left at a short wharf at which we landed.

A lot of armed soldiers were placed a short distance back on the high
ground and no one was allowed to go beyond them. We now had a port
officer on board who had entire charge of the ship, and if anyone wanted
to go to the city, across the bay two or three miles, he had to pay a
dollar for a pass. This pass business made the blue bloods terribly
angry, and they swore long and loud, and the longer they talked the
madder they got, and more bitter in their feelings, so that they were
ready to fight (not with sugar-bowls this time.)

The weather here was very warm and the heat powerful, and as these
fellows saw there was only one course to be pursued if they wanted to
get on shore, they slowly took passes good for all day and paid their
dollar for them, and also another dollar each to the canoe men to take
them to the city. Myself and companion also took passes and went over.

Arriving at the city we walked a short distance and came to the plaza,
which is not a very large one. Here was a single grave nicely fenced in,
and across the plaza were some large two-story houses in front of which
was stationed a squad of cavalry standing as motionless as if every man
of them was a marble statue. We kept on the opposite side of the street,
and chancing to meet a man whom we rightly supposed to be an Englishman,
we inquired about the grave on the plaza and were informed that it was
that of Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of America.

Just then we noticed the cavalry moving up the street at a slow gallop,
and so formed that a close carriage was in the center of the squad. As
they rushed by and we gazed at them with purely American curiousity, our
new English friend raised our hats for us and held them till the
cavalcade had passed, merely remarking that the Governor General was
within the carriage. We spoke perhaps a bit unpleasantly when we asked
him why he was so ungentlemanly in his treatment of us as to remove our
hats, but he said:--"My friends, if I had not taken off your hats for
you as a friend, some of those other fellows would have knocked them
off, so I did for you an act of greatest kindness, for every one removes
his hat when the Governor General passes." He also informed us that the
special occasion for this rather pompous parade was the execution of
some criminals at a park or prison not far away, and that this was done
by beheading them.

Our friend proposed that we also walk out in that direction, and we went
with him to the edge of the city, but when he turned into a by path that
did not seem much frequented, we declined to follow farther, and turned
back along the open road. The path looked to us a sort of robber's
route, and not exactly safe for unarmed men like us in a strange

The man followed us back and took us into a large, airy saloon, in the
center of which a big fountain was playing, and the great basin in which
the water fell was filled with beautiful fish. Our friend called for an
iced drink for each of us, and as we sat at the table we tasted it and
found it rather intoxicating. For this they charged us one dollar each,
but we noticed that our friend paid nothing, and we set him down as a
sort of capper, after the style we had seen at the gold mines. We sat a
few minutes and then so coolly bade our friend good-bye that he had not
the face to follow us further, and continued our walk about the streets
which seemed to us very narrow, and the houses generally two stories

A chaise passed us, containing two young ladies with complexions white
and fair, and eyes and hair black, in striking contrast. The carriage
was drawn by two horses tandem, the horse in the shafts being mounted by
a big negro of very dignified appearance, dressed in livery and having
top boots that came to his knees. This was the only vehicle of the kind
we saw on the streets.

We did not dare to go very far alone, for with our ignorance of the
Spanish language we might go astray and not get back to the ship within
the lifetime of our passes, and not knowing how much trouble that might
cause us, we were naturally a little timid; so we took a boat back to
the ship, and when on board again we felt safe. We had only about four
dollars cash left.

A big gang of darkies were coaling the ship. Each one carried a large
tub full of coal upon his head and poured it down into the ship's hold.
All the clothes these fellows wore was a strip of cloth about their
middle. When they were let off for dinner they skimmed off all they
could get from the ship's slop barrel which stood on the wharf
alongside, to help out their very scanty food. The overseer stood by
them all the time with a big whip and made them hurry up as fast as
possible, talking Spanish pretty vigorously, and though we could not
understand, we made up our minds that a good part of it was swearing.

The next morning the steamship Prometheus came in and tied up near us,
and soon word was brought that she would take the New Orleans passengers
on board and sail immediately for that port. It now occurred to me that
I could get nearer home by going up the Mississippi River than by way of
New York, so I went on board the Prometheus, and we soon sailed out of
the harbor, passing under the gate of the fortress called, I think, San
Juan de Ulloa.

Nothing special occurred during our passage till we were near the mouth
of the Mississippi River, when, in the absence of a pilot boat or tug,
our Captain thought he would try to get in alone, and as a consequence
we were soon fast in the mud. The Captain now made all the passengers go
aft, and worked the engine hard but could not move her at all. The tide
was now low, and there was a prospect that we should have to wait full
six hours to get away. We worked on, however, and after a few hours a
tug came to our assistance and pulled us out of the mud and towed us
into the right channel, up which we steamed on our way to New Orleans,
one-hundred-twenty miles away.

The country on both sides of us was an immense marsh--no hills in sight,
no timber, nothing but the same level marsh or prairie. When we were
nearer the Crescent City some houses came in sight; then we passed
General Jackson's battle-field, and in due time reached the city.

On board this ship I became acquainted with Dick Evans who lived in the
same county that I used to in Wisconsin, near Mineral Point, so the
three of us now concluded to travel together.

New Orleans seemed to be a very large city. Near the levee a large
government building was in course of construction for a Custom House. It
was all of stone, and the walls were up about two stories. We put up at
a private boarding house, and the first business was to try and sell our
gold dust. So we went to the mint and were told we would have to wait
ten days to run it through the mill, and we did not like to wait so
long. We were shown all through the mint and saw all the wonders of coin
making. Every thing seemed perfect here. Beautiful machinery was in
operation making all sizes of gold coins, from a twenty dollar piece
down. Strips of gold bands about six feet long and of the proper
thickness for twenty dollar pieces are run through a machine which cuts
out the pieces, and when these are cut they can stamp out the pieces as
fast as one can count.

This was the most ingenious work I ever saw, and very wonderful and
astonishing to a backwoodsman like myself, for I supposed that money was
run in moulds like bullets.

As we could not wait we went to a bank and sold our dust, getting only
sixteen dollars per ounce, the same price they paid in California. We
now took the cars and rode out to Lake Ponchartrain--most of the way
over a trestle work. We found a wharf and warehouse at the lake, and a
steamer lay there all ready to go across to the other side. The country
all about looked low, with no hills in sight.

When we returned to the city we looked all about, and in the course of
our travels came to a slave market. Here there were all sorts of black
folks for sale; big and little, old and young and all sorts. They all
seemed good-natured, and were clean, and seemed to think they were worth
a good deal of money. Looking at them a few minutes sent my mind back to
St. Joseph, Missouri, where I saw a black sold at auction. From my
standpoint of education I did not approve of this way of trading in
colored people.

We continued our stroll about the city, coming to a cemetery, where I
looked into a newly dug grave to find it half full of water. On one side
were many brick vaults above ground. The ground here is very low and
wet, and seemed to be all swamp. The drainage was in surface gutters,
and in them the water stood nearly still. It seemed to me such water
must have yellow fever in it.

For a long way along the levee the steamboats lay thick and close
together, unloading cotton, hemp, sugar, hoop poles, bacon and other
products, mostly the product of negro labor.

Here our friend Evans was taken sick, and as he got no better after a
day or two, we called a doctor to examine him. He pronounced it a mild
case of yellow fever. His skin was yellow in places, and he looked very
badly. The doctor advised us to go on up the river, saying it was very
dangerous staying here with him. Evans gave me most of his money and all
of his gold specimens to take to his wife, and when he got well he would
follow us. We bade him good-bye, and with many wishes for his speedy
recovery, we took passage on a steamer for St. Louis. This steamer, the
Atlantic, proved to be a real floating palace in all respects. The table
was supplied with everything the country afforded, and polite and
well-dressed darkies were numerous as table waiters. This was the most
pleasant trip I had ever taken, and I could not help comparing the
luxuriance of my coming home to the hardships of the outward journey
across the plains, and our starvation fare.

Our boat was rather large for the stage of water this time of year, and
we proceeded rather slowly, but I cared little for speed as bed and
board were extra good, and a first cabin passage in the company of
friends, many of whom were going to the same part of Wisconsin as
myself, was not a tedious affair by any means.

At night gambling was carried on very extensively, and money changed
hands freely as the result of sundry games of poker, which was the
popular game.

We reached St. Louis in time, and here was the end of our boat's run.
The river had some ice floating on its surface, and this plainly told us
that we were likely to meet more ice and colder weather as we went
north. We concluded to take the Illinois River boat from here to Peoria,
and paid our passage and stepped on board. We were no more than half way
through this trip when the ice began to form on the surface of the
water, and soon became so thick and strong that the boat finally came to
a perfect standstill, frozen in solid.

We now engaged a farm wagon to take us to Peoria, from which place we
took regular stages for Galena. Our driver was inclined to be very
merciful to his horses, so we were two days in reaching that town, but
perhaps it was best, for the roads were icy and slippery, and the
weather of the real winter sort. From here we hired a team to take four
of us to Plattville, and then an eighteen-mile walk brought me to
Mineral Point, the place from which I started with my Winnebago pony in
1849. I had now finished my circle and brought both ends of the long
belt together.

I now went to a drug store and weighed Mr. Evans' specimens, wrapping
each in a separate piece of paper, with the value marked on each, and
took them to his wife, to whom I told the news about her husband. In two
week's time he came home sound and well.

I was quite disappointed in regard to the looks and business appearance
of the country. It looked thinly settled, people scarce, and business
dull. I could not get a day's work to do, and I could not go much
farther on foot, for the snow was eight or ten inches deep, and I was
still several hundred miles from my parents in Michigan. So my journey
farther east was delayed until spring. The hunting season was over, and
when I came into Mineral Point without a gun, and wore good clothes,
making a better appearance than I used to, they seemed to think I must
be rich and showed me marked attention, and made many inquiries about
their neighbors who started for California about the same time I did.
The young ladies smiled pleasantly when near me, and put on their best
white aprons, looking very tidy and bright, far superior to any of the
ladies I had seen in my crooked route from San Francisco through
Acapulco, Panama, the West Indies and along the Mississippi.

After a few days in town I went out into the neighborhood where I used
to live and stopped with Mr. E.A. Hall, who used to be a neighbor of Mr.
Bennett, as he had invited me to stay with himself and wife, who were
the only occupants of a good house, and all was pleasant. But
notwithstanding all the comfort in which I was placed, I grew lonesome,
for the enforced idleness, on account of the stormy weather, was a new
feature in my life, and grew terribly monotonous.

After some delay I concluded to write to my parents in Michigan and give
them a long letter with something of a history of my travels, and to
refresh my memory I got out my memorandum I had kept through all my

As my letter was liable to be quite lengthy I bought a quantity of
foolscap paper and begun. I took my diary as my guide, and filled out
the ideas suggested in it so they would understand them. I soon ran
through with my paper and bought more, and kept on writing. The weather
was cold and stormy, and I found it the best occupation I could have to
prevent my being lonesome; so I worked away, day after day, for about a
month, and I was really quite tired of this sort of work before I had
all the facts recorded which I found noted down in my diary. My notes
began in March, 1849, in Wisconsin, and ended in February, 1852, on my
return to Mineral Point. I found, as the result of my elaboration, over
three hundred pages of closely written foolscap paper, and I felt very
much relieved when it was done. By the aid of my notes I could very
easily remember everything that had taken place during my absence, and
it was recorded in regular form, with day and date, not an incident of
any importance left out, and every word as true as gospel. I had neither
exaggerated nor detracted from any event so far as I could recollect.

I now loaned Mr. Hall, with whom I lived, six hundred dollars to enable
him to cross the plains to California and try to make his fortune. To
secure this I took a mortgage on his eighty-acre farm, and he set out to
make the journey. I had another eighty acres of land near here which I
bought at government price before going to California, but I could not
now sell it for what it cost me. When I went away I had left my chest
and contents with my friend Samuel Zollinger, and he had kept it safely,
so I now made him my lawful agent. I placed my narrative and some other
papers in the chest and gave the key into his charge, while I went
north, across the Wisconsin River, to visit my old hunting and trapping
friend, Robert McCloud. Here I made a very pleasant visit of perhaps a
week, and the common prospects of the country were freely talked over.
It seemed to us as if the good times were still far off; every day was
like Sunday so far as anything going on; no money in circulation, many
places abandoned, and, like myself, many had gone to California to seek
gold instead of lead. (The mines at Mineral Point are mostly of lead,
with some copper.)

Looking at matters in this light it did not need a great deal of
McCloud's persuasion to induce me to go back with him to California, all
the more so as my little pile seemed to look smaller every day, while
three or four years ago it would have seemed quite large. Deciding to
go, I wrote to Mr. Zollinger to send the account I had written to my
parents in Michigan, reading it first himself, and admonishing him not
to lend it. I also wrote to my parents telling them what they might look
for in the mails, and cautioning them never to have it printed, for the
writing was so ungrammatical and the spelling so incorrect that it would
be no credit to me.

I afterward learned that in time they received the bundle of paper and
read it through and through, and circulated it around the neighborhood
till it was badly worn, and laid it away for future perusal when their
minds should incline that way. But the farm house soon after took fire
and burned, my labor going up in smoke.

When the news of this reached me I resolved to try to forget all the
trials, troubles and hardships I had gone through, and which I had
almost lived over again as I wrote them down, and I said to myself that
I would not talk about them more than I could help, the sooner to have
them vanish, and never write them down again, but a few years ago an
accident befell me so that I could not work, and I back-slid from my
determination when I was persuaded so earnestly by many friends to write
the account which appeared a few years ago in the Santa Clara Valley now
the Pacific Tree and Vine, edited by H.A. Brainard, at San Jose,
California. The diary was lost, and from memory alone the facts have
been rehearsed, and it is but fair to tell the reader that the hardest
and worst of it has never been told nor will it ever be.


McCloud and I now took his skiff, and for two days floated down the
Wisconsin River till we reached the Mississippi, boarded the first
steamboat we could hail, and let our own little craft adrift. In due
time we reached St. Louis and boarded another steamer for New Orleans.

At a wood-yard, about dark, a lot of negroes, little and big, came on
board to sell brooms. The boat's clerk seemed to know negro character
pretty well, so he got out his violin and played for them. For a while
the young colored gentry listened in silence, but pretty soon he struck
a tune that suited them, and they began to dance in their own wild

In seven days from St. Louis we landed in New Orleans, and found the
government steamer, Falcon, advertised to sail in two days. We went
together to one of the slave warehouses. Outside and in all was neat end
clean, and any day you could see men, women and children standing under
the shed as a sign of what they had within, and the painted signs "For
Sale" displayed conspicuously. We were very civilly treated, and invited
to examine the goods offered for sale. There were those of all ages and
all colors, for some were nearly white and some intensely black, with
all the shades between. All were to be sold, separately, or in families,
or in groups as buyers might desire. All were made to keep themselves
clean and neatly dressed, and to behave well, with a smile to all the
visitors whether they felt like smiling or not. Some seemed really
anxious to get a good master, and when a kind, pleasant looking man came
along they would do their utmost to be agreeable to him and inquire if
he did not want to buy them. We talked it over some between ourselves,
and when we thought of the market and the human chattels for sale there,
McCloud spoke up and said:--"I am almost persuaded to be an

I now went on board the steamer Falcon, in command of a government
officer, to try to learn something about the family of Capt. Culverwell
who perished alone in Death Valley. He told me he had once belonged to
the Navy and had his life insured, and as I was an important witness for
his family I wanted to learn where they lived. The Captain looked over a
list of officers, but Culverwell's name was not there. I then wrote a
letter to Washington stating the facts of his death, and my own address
in Sacramento, California. I also stated that I would assist the widow
if I could, but I never received an answer.

We soon started down the river, having on board about one hundred
passengers, men going to work on the Panama Railroad. At Chagres we
found a small stern wheeled river steamer and took passage on it for
Gorgona, as far as the steamer could well go up the river. While going
up we met a similar boat coming down, and being near a short bend they
crashed together, breaking down our guards severely, but fortunately
with no damage to our wheel. A few miles above this a dark passing cloud
gave us rain in streams, and we had to drift in near shore to wait for
the storm to pass. I never before saw water fall so fast, and yet in
half an hour the sun was out and burning hot.

Before we reached Gorgona we got acquainted with a man named John Briggs
from Wisconsin, and Lyman Ross from Rhode Island, and concluded to
travel in company. Our fare thus far was ten dollars, and two horses to
Panama for which we paid twelve dollars each. We now rode and walked
turn about, and when we inquired about the road we were told that being
once in it we could not possibly get out except at the other end, and
would need no guide, and at the end of a very disagreeable day's work we
reached the big gate at Panama and entered the ancient city.

We waited but little here before taking the steamer Southerner, bound
for San Francisco. Three days after we sailed away one of our passengers
went overboard, a corpse, and three or four more died and were buried
alongside before we reached Acapulco.

Here we took on water and coal and were soon at sea again. McCloud soon
had to take his place in the sick ward, and I attended him most of the
time, but was not allowed to give him anything without a permit from the
doctor, and the long delays between the administrations of medicine made
the sickness hard to endure. The sick could see the dead sewed up in
blankets with a bucket of coal for a weight; then resting on a plank
with sailors on each side, the mate would read the brief services
appropriate to a burial at sea, the plank was tilted, and the lifeless
body slid down into the depths. Such scenes were no benefit to the
suffering, for each might think his turn was next, when a bright hope
and prospect would be better for his recovery.

One forenoon the fire gong rang out sharply, and all was in confusion,
supposing the ship to be on fire, but nothing could be seen but a dense
fog, except as a gentle wind lifted it a little and there, dead ahead,
was a rocky island, against which it seemed we must dash to destruction,
for there was no beach and very little chance for any one to be saved.
Ten minutes more in this direction and we were lost, but the officers
quickly changed the course, and we passed the pile of rocks scarcely a
rifle shot away. Whose fault it was, this danger so miraculously
avoided, we did not know, the captain's or the imperfect chart, and
opinions were freely given both ways.

About those days the air felt cooler the fog less dense, and the foggy
rain-bows we had seen so much when the sun tried to shine, were scarce,
while a more northern wind created a coolness that made sick folks feel
refreshed and hopeful. It gave me a chance to cheer up my sick friend
who was still in bed, and tell him it would continue to be cooler as we

On the Fourth of July the officers produced the ship's full supply of
flags, and the sailors climbed high and low, fastening them to every
rope till we had a very gay Independence day appearance. In this gay
dress we steamed into San Diego harbor to leave the mail for a few
soldiers stationed there, and get their letters in return.

I could see no town in San Diego, but a beautiful harbor, and some poor
looking mustard wigwams some way off seemed to contain the good people
of that place.

A boat with a small crew pulled out and came alongside to get the mail
and deliver theirs, and then we turned to sea again. The country all
around this beautiful little harbor looked mountainous and extremely
barren, and no one wanted to go on shore.

About dark we had made sufficient offing and turned northward, plowing
through large fields of kelp. The next morning the forward watch
announced land ahead, which could dimly be seen as the fog rose. The
officers rushed on deck and could see not far ahead a sandy beach, and a
moment more showed that we were headed directly for it, and that it was
not more than a quarter of a mile away. Quickly the helmsman was given
orders to steer almost west instead of the north course he had been
following. He was asked why he kept on his north course when he saw
danger ahead, and answered:--"It is my business to steer according to
orders, even if the ship goes ashore, and I can not change course unless
ordered to." The Captain now examined his chart and decided he was in
San Pedro harbor, off Los Angeles.

The sun came out bright and clear a little later, and I got McCloud out
of his bed and gave him a seat at the ship's side where he could see the
green grassy hills near the beach, and larger hills and mountains
farther back. We could see cattle feeding in the nearest pastures, and
the whole scene was a pleasant one; and as we sat on the eastern side of
the ship and snuffed the cool breeze which came from the north, we
thought we were comparatively happy people, and hoped that, if no
accident befell, we would soon be at the end of our voyage.

On the seventh day of July, 1851, we entered the Golden Gate, this being
my second arrival in California. On our trip from Panama seven or more
had died and been buried at sea, but the remainder of us were quite safe
and sound. We found the heart of the city still smoking, for a fire had
broken out on July fourth and burned extensively, and these broad,
blackened ruins were the result. Some said the work had been done by the
Sidney "ducks" and their numerous helpers, who were really the rulers of
the city. The place now looked much worse than it did when I left in
November before. These Sidney "ducks" were English convicts from
Australia, and other thieves and robbers joined them as agreeable
companion, making a large class that seemed to glory in destruction and
a chance for booty.

I walked around over the hills where I could see the burned district and
the destruction of so much valuable property, and when I thought the
civil law was not strong enough to govern, it seemed to me it would be a
good place for such men as the Helms brothers of Georgetown to come down
and do a little hanging business, for they could here find plenty to do,
and they could carry out their plan of letting no guilty man escape.

About four o'clock one afternoon we went aboard the Sacramento steamer,
Antelope, paying our passage with half an ounce apiece, and were soon on
our way past the islands and up the bay. When we were beyond Benicia,
where the river banks were close, McCloud sat watching the shore, and
remarked that the boat ran like a greyhound, and it seemed to him, beat
the old ocean steamer pretty bad.

He seemed to be nearly well again, and complimented me as the best
doctor he ever saw. Since he had been sick I had paid him all the
attention I could, and he gave me all the praise I deserved, now that he
was getting to feel himself again.

At Sacramento we changed to another boat bound for Marysville, which
place we reached without special incident. Here we invested in a
four-ounce donkey, that is, we paid four ounces of gold for him, just an
ounce apiece for four of us--W.L. Manley, Robert McCloud, Lyman Ross and
John Briggs. We piled our blankets in a pack upon the gentle, four-ounce
donkey, and added a little tea and coffee, dried beef and bread, then
started for the Yuba River, ourselves on foot. We crossed the river at
Park's Bar, then went up the ridge by way of Nigger Tent, came down to
the river again at Goodyear Bar, then up the stream to Downieville. This
town was named after John Downie, a worthless drunkard. I remember that
he once reformed, but again back-slid and died a drunkard's death.

We found this a lively mining town about sixty miles above Marysville,
on the north fork of the Yuba River, and only reached by a pack trail,
but everything was flush here, even four aces. The location was a
veritable Hole-in-the-Ground, for the mountains around were very high,
and some of them wore their caps of snow all summer, particularly those
on the east. The gold dust we found here was coarser than it was where I
worked before, down south on the Merced River. Before I came to
California I always supposed that gold dust was really dust, and about
as fine as flour.

We went up the North Fork about a mile or two above town and camped on
Wisconsin Flat to begin our mining operations. Our luck was poor at
first, and all except myself were out of money, and more or less in debt
to me. We made expenses, however, and a little more, and as soon as Mr.
Ross got his small debt paid he said he was discouraged mining, and with
blankets on his shoulders started up the trail towards Galloway's ranch,
on the summit south of town. Mr. Ross said the work was too hard for
him, for he was not strong enough to handle pick and shovel, and he
believed he could go down to Sacramento and make more by his wits than
he could here. I went with him to town and saw him start off with a fair
load on his back, and watched him as he toiled up the steep mountain
trail for about two miles, when he went out of sight.

The rest of us kept on mining. Our luck was not very good, but we
persevered, for there was nothing to be gained by fainting by the way. I
went into an old abandoned shaft about ten feet deep and found the
bottom filled with a big quartz boulder, and as I had been a lead miner
in Wisconsin, I began drifting, and soon found bed rock, when I picked
up a piece of pure gold that weighed four ounces. This was what I called
a pretty big find, and not exactly what I called gold dust. It was quite
a surprise to me, for the gravel on the bed rock was only about three or
four inches thick.

We kept on drifting for some time, sometimes making good wages, and on
the whole so satisfactory that we concluded to stay. We now located some
claims back in the flat where the ground would be thirty feet deep, and
would have to be drifted. These we managed to hold until winter, and in
the meantime we worked along the river and could make something all the

We put in a flume between two falls on the Middle Fork, but made only
wages, and I got my arm nearly broken, and had to work with one hand for
nearly a month.

One afternoon I went crevicing up the river, and found a crevice at the
water's edge about half an inch wide, and the next day we worked it out
getting forty ounces, and many of the pieces were about an inch long and
as large around as a pipe-stem.

Winter was now near by, and we set to work to build a cabin and lay in a
stock of grub, which cost quite a good deal, for the self-raising flour
which we bought was worth twenty cents a pound, and all kinds of hog
meat fifty cents, with other supplies in proportion. Our new claims now
paid very well. Snow came down to the depth of about four feet around
our cabin, but as our work was under ground, we had a comfortable place
all winter.

In the spring McCloud and I went to Sacramento and sold our chunks of
gold (it was all very coarse) to Page, Bacon & Co. who were themselves
surprised at the coarseness of the whole lot. When our savings were
weighed up we found we had made half an ounce a day, clear of all
expenses, for the entire year.

We now took a little run down to San Francisco, also to Santa Clara
where we staid a night or two with Mr. McCloud's friend, Mr. Otterson,
and then went back to our claims again. In taking care of our money we
had to be our own bankers, and the usual way was to put the slugs we
received for pay into a gallon pickle jar, and bury this in some place
known only to our particular selves, and these vaults we considered
perfectly safe. The slugs were fifty dollar pieces, coined for
convenience, and were eight-sided, heavy pieces. In the western counties
the people called them "Adobies," but among the miners they were
universally known as "Slugs."

The winter proved a little lonesome, the miners mostly staid at home and
worked. During the year we had been here I had not seen a respectable
woman in this mining country. There were few females here, and they were
said to be of very doubtful character. As a general thing people were
very patient with their wickedness, but not always.

Twice only in the history of California were women made the victims of
mob violence, once at Los Angeles and once at Downieville. The affair at
the last-named place occurred in 1851, and the victim was a pretty
little Spanish woman named Juanita. She and her husband, like many
another couple at that time, kept a monte game for the delectation of
the miners who had more money than sense, but beyond this fact
absolutely nothing was said against her character.

There was an English miner named Cannon living in town, who was very
popular among a large number of gamblers and others. He got drunk one
night and about midnight went to the house occupied by the Spanish woman
and her husband and kicked the door down. Early the following morning he
told his comrades that he was going to apologize to the woman for what
he had done. He went alone to the house, and, while talking with the
husband and wife, the woman suddenly drew a knife and stabbed Cannon to
the heart. What had been said that provoked the deed was never known,
further than that Juanita claimed she had been grossly insulted.

She was given a mock trial, but the facts of the case were not brought
out, as the men who were with Cannon were too drunk to remember what had
happened the previous night. It was a foregone conclusion that the poor
woman was to be hanged, and the leaders of the mob would brook no
interference. A physician examined Juanita and announced to the mob that
she was in a condition that demanded the highest sympathy of every man,
but he was forced to flee from town to save his life. A prominent
citizen made an appeal for mercy, but he was driven down the main street
and across the river by a mob with drawn revolvers, and with threats of
instant death. The well-known John B. Weller was in town at the time,
and was asked to reason with the mob, but refused to do so.

The execution was promptly carried out. A plank was put across the
supports of the bridge over the Yuba, and a rope fastened to a beam
overhead. Juanita went calmly to her death. She wore a Panama hat, and
after mounting the platform she removed it, tossed it to a friend in the
crowd, whose nickname was "Oregon," with the remark, "Adios amigo." Then
she adjusted the noose to her own neck, raising her long, loose tresses
carefully in order to fix the rope firmly in its place, and then, with a
smile and wave of her hand to the bloodthirsty crowd present, she
stepped calmly from the plank into eternity. Singular enough, her body
rests side by side, in the cemetery on the hill, with that of the man
whose life she had taken.

On Sundays Downieville was full of men, none very old, and none very
young, but almost every one of middle age. Nearly every man was coarsely
dressed, with beard unshaved and many with long hair, but on any
occasion of excitement it was not at all strange to see the coarsest,
roughest looking one of all the party mount a stump and deliver as
eloquent an address as one could wish to hear. On Sunday it was not at
all unusual for some preacher to address the moving crowd, while a few
feet behind him would be a saloon in full blast, and drinking, gambling,
swearing and vulgar language could be plainly seen and heard at the same
time, and this class of people seemed to respect the Sunday preacher
very little. The big saloon was owned by John Craycroft, formerly a mate
on a Mississippi River steamboat, who gained most of his money by
marrying a Spanish woman and making her a silent partner.

One enterprising man who was anxious to make money easily, took a notion
to try his luck in trade, so, as rats and mice were troublesome in shops
and stores, he went down to the valley and brought up a cargo of cats
which he disposed of at prices varying from fifty to one hundred dollars
each, according to the buyer's fancy.

During the summer Kelley the fiddler came up in the mines to make a
raise, and Craycroft made him a pulpit about ten feet above the floor in
his saloon, having him to play nights and Sundays at twenty dollars per
day. He was a big uneducated Irishman, who could neither read nor write,
but he played and sang and talked the rich Irish brogue, all of which
brought many customers to the bar. In the saloon could be seen all sorts
of people dealing different games, and some were said to be preachers.
Kelley staid here as long as he could live on his salary, and left town
much in debt, for whiskey and cards got all his money.

One of the grocers kept out a sign, "CHEAP JOHN, THE PACKER," and kept a
mule to deliver goods, which no other merchant did, and in this way
gained many friends, and many now may praise the enterprise of Cheap
John, the Packer. Prices were pretty high in those days. Sharpening
picks cost fifty cents, a drink of whiskey one dollar, and all kinds of
pork, fifty cents per pound. You could get meals at the McNutty house
for one dollar. The faro and monte banks absorbed so much of the small
change that on one occasion I had to pay five dollars for a two dollar
pair of pants in order to get a fifty dollar slug changed.

No white shirts were worn by honest men, and if any man appeared in such
a garment he was at once set down as a gambler, and with very little
chance of a mistake. One Langdon had the only express office, and
brought letters and packages from Sacramento. I paid one dollar simply
to get my name on his letter list, and when a letter came I had to pay
one dollar for bringing it up, as there was no Post Office at

Newspapers were eagerly sought for, such was the hunger for reading. The
Western folks bought the St. Louis papers, while Eastern people found
the New York Tribune a favorite. One dollar each for such papers was the
regular price. It may seem strange, but aside from the news we got from
an occasional newspaper, I did not hear a word from the East during the
two years I remained on Yuba river. Our evenings were spent in playing
cards for amusement, for no reading could be got. The snow between
Marysville and Downieville was deep and impassable in winter, but we
could work our drifting claims very comfortably, having laid in a stock
of provisions early in the season, before snowfall. The nights seemed
tediously long and lonesome, for when the snow was deep no one came to
visit us, and we could go nowhere, being completely hemmed in. All the
miners who did not have claims they could work underground, went down
below the winter snow-line to find work, and when the snow went off came
back again and took possession of the old claims they had left.

After the snow went off three German sailors came up and took a river
claim a short distance above us on a north fork of the north fork of the
stream, where one side of the canon was perpendicular and the other
sloped back only slightly. Here they put logs across the river, laid
stringers on these, and covered the bottom with fir boughs. Then they
put stakes at the sides and rigged a canvas flume over their bridge
through which they turned the whole current of the river, leaving a
nearly dry bed beneath. This we called pretty good engineering and
management on the part of the sailor boys, for no lumber was to be had,
and they had made themselves masters of the situation with the material
on hand.

They went to work under their log aqueduct, and found the claim very
rich in coarse gold. They went to town every Saturday night with good
big bags of dust, and as they were open-hearted fellows, believing that
a sailor always has the best of luck, they played cards freely, always
betting on the Jack and Queen, and spent their money more easily than
they earned it. They were quite partial to the ladies, and patronizing
the bar and card tables as liberally as they did, usually returned to
camp on Monday or Tuesday with a mule load of grub and whiskey as all
the visible proceeds of a week's successful mining; but when Saturday
night came around again we were pretty sure to see the jolly sailors
going past with heavy bags of gold. They left one nearly pure piece of
gold at Langdon's Express office that weighed five pounds, and another
as large as a man's hand, of the shape of a prickly pear leaf.

They worked their claim with good success until the snow water came down
and forced them out. I went one day to see them, and they took a pan of
dirt from behind a big rock and washed it out, getting as much as two
teacupfuls of nuggets, worth perhaps a thousand dollars. When they went
away they said they would go to Germany to see their poor relatives and
friends, and one of them really went home, but the other two had spent
all their money before they were ready to leave San Francisco. These men
were, without doubt, the inventors of the canvas flume which was
afterward used so successfully in various places.

While I was still here the now famous Downieville Butte quartz mine was
discovered, but there was no way then of working quartz successfully,
and just at that time very little was done with it, but afterward, when
it was learned how to work it, and the proper machinery introduced, it
yielded large sums of bullion.

The miners had a queer way of calling every man by some nickname or
other instead of his true name, and no one seemed offended at it, but
answered to his new name as readily as to any.

It was nearly fall when we found we had worked our claims out, and there
were no new ones we could locate here, so we concluded to go prospecting
for a new locality. I bought a donkey in town of a Mr. Hawley, a
merchant, for which I paid sixty dollars, and gave the little fellow his
old master's name. We now had two animals, and we packed on them our
worldly goods, and started south up the mountain trail by way of the
city of six, where some half dozen men had located claims, but the
ground was dry and deep, so we went on.

We still went south, down toward the middle Yuba River and when about
half way down the mountain side came to a sort of level bench where some
miners were at work, but hardly any water could be had. They called this
Minnesota. We stayed here a day or two, but as there seemed to be no
possible further development of water, concluded to go on further.
Across the river we could see a little flat, very similar to the one we
were on, and a little prospecting seemed to have been done on the side
of the mountain. We had a terribly steep canon to cross, and a river
also, with no trail to follow, but our donkeys were as good climbers as
any of us, so we started down the mountain in the morning, and arrived
at the river about noon. Here we rested an hour or two and then began
climbing the brushy mountain side. The hill was very steep, and the sun
beat down on us with all his heat, so that with our hard labor and the
absence of any wind we found it a pretty hot place.

It was pretty risky traveling in some places, and we had to help the
donkeys to keep them from rolling down the hill, pack and all. It took
us four hours to make a mile and a half or two miles in that dense
brush, and we were nearly choked when we reached the little flat. Here
we found some water, but no one lived here. From here we could see a
large flat across a deep canon to the west, and made up our minds to try
to go to it. We went around the head of the canon, and worked through
the brush and fallen timber, reaching our objective point just as night
was coming on. This flat, like the one we had left, was quite level, and
contained, perhaps, nearly one hundred acres. Here we found two men at
work with a "long tom"--a Mr. Fernay and a Mr. Bloat. They had brought
the water of a small spring to their claim and were making five or six
dollars per day. We now prospected around the edge of this flat, and
getting pretty fair prospects concluded we would locate here if we could
get water.

We then began our search for water and found a spring about three
quarters of a mile away, to which we laid claim, and with a triangle
level began to survey out a route for our ditch. The survey was
satisfactory, and we found we could bring the water out high on the
flat, so we set to work digging at it, and turned the water in. The
ground was so very dry that all the water soaked up within two hundred
yards of the spring.

By this time we were out of grub, and some one must go for a new supply,
and as we knew the trail to Downieville was terribly rough, I was chosen
as the one to try to find Nevada City, which we thought would be nearer
and more easily reached. So I started south with the donkeys, up the
mountain toward the ridge which lies between the middle and south Yuba
Rivers, and when I got well on the ridge I found a trail used some by
wagons, which I followed till I came to a place where the ridge was only
wide enough for a wagon, and at the west end a faint trail turned off
south into the rolling hills. I thought this went about the course I
wanted to go, so I followed it, and after two or three miles came to the
south Yuba river. This seemed to be an Indian trail, no other signs on
it. I climbed the mountain here, and when I reached the top I found a
large tent made of blue drilling, and here I found I was four or five
miles from Nevada City with a good trail to follow. The rolling hills I
then passed through are now called North Bloomfield, and at one time
were known as "Humbug."

I started along the trail and soon reached the city where I drove my
donkeys up to a store which had out the sign "Davis & Co.." I entered
and inquiring the prices of various sorts of provisions such as flour,
bacon, beans, butter, etc., soon had selected enough for two donkey
loads. They assisted me in putting them in pack, and when it was ready I
asked the amount of my bill, which was one hundred and fifty dollars.
This I paid at once, and they gave me some crackers and dried beef for
lunch on the way. Davis said--"That is the quickest sale I ever made,
and here the man is ready to go. I defy any one to beat it." Before sun
down I was two or three miles on my way back where I found some grass
and camped for the night, picketed the animals, ate some of Mr. Davis'
grub for supper, and arranged a bed of saddle blankets. I arrived at
camp the next day about sun down.

Next day I went on up the divide and found a house on the trail leading
farther east, where two men lived, but they seemed to be doing nothing.
There were no mines and miners near there, and there seemed to be very
little travel on the trail. The fellows looked rough, and I suspected
they might be bad characters. The stream they lived near was afterward
called Bloody Run, and there were stories current that blood had been
shed there.

Here was a section of comparatively level land, for the mountain divide,
and a fine spring of good cold water, all surrounded by several hundred
acres of the most magnificent sugar pines California ever raised, very
large, straight as a candle, and one hundred feet or more to the lowest
limbs. This place was afterward called Snow Tent, and S.W. Churchill
built a sawmill at the spring, and had all this fine timber at the mercy
of his ax and saw, without anyone to dispute his right. He furnished
lumber to the miners at fifty dollars or more per thousand feet. Bloody
Run no doubt well deserves its name, for there was much talk of killing
done there.

I, however, went up and talked to the men and told them I wished to hire
a cross cut saw for a few days to get out stuff for a cabin, and agreed
to pay two dollars a day for the use of it till it came back.

We cut down a large sugar pine, cut off four six feet cuts, one twelve
feet, and one sixteen feet cut, and from these we split out a lot of
boards which we used to make a V-shaped flume which we placed in our
ditch, and thus got the water through. We split the longer cuts into two
inch plank for sluice boxes, and made a small reservoir, so that we
succeeded in working the ground. We paid wages to the two men who
worked, and two other men who were with us went and built a cabin.

I now went and got another load of provisions, and as the snow could be
seen on the high mountains to the east, I thought the deer must be
crowded down to our country, so I went out hunting and killed a big fat
buck, and the next day three more, so fresh meat was plenty.

About this time a man came down the mountain with his oxen and wagon,
wife and three or four children, the eldest a young lady of fifteen
years. The man's name was H. M. Moore. We had posted notices, according
to custom, to make mining laws, and had quite a discussion about a name
for the place. Some of the fellows wanted to name it after the young
lady, "Minda's Flat," but we finally chose "Moore's Flat" instead, which
I believe is the name it still goes by. Our laws were soon completed,
and a recorder chosen to record claims. We gave Mr. Moore the honor of
having a prospecting town named after him because he was the first man
to be on hand with a wife.

I became satisfied after a little that this place would be a very snowy
place, and that from all appearances it would fall from two to four feet
deep, and not a very pleasant place to winter in. An honest acquaintance
of mine came along, Samuel Tyler and to him I let my claim to work on
shares and made McCloud my agent, verbally, while I took my blankets and
started for the valley.

The first town I passed through was a newly discovered mining town
called French Corral. Here I found an old Wisconsin friend Wm. Sublet,
the foster father of the accomplishen wife of Mayor S.W. Boring of San
Jose. From here I went to Marysville. The storm had been raging high in
the mountains for some days, and the Yuba river rising fast, overflowing
its banks as I walked into town, and the next day the merchants were
very busy piling their goods above high water mark. I went to a hotel
and called for a bed. "Yes," says the landlord "Is your name John or
Peter?" I told him William, which he set down in his book and we went up
stairs to the best room which was fitted up with berths three tiers high
on each side, and only one or two empty ones. He looked around for
covers, but none could be found unoccupied, but one fellow who was sound
asleep and snoring awfully, so he took the blanket off from him saying:
"He wont know a thing about it till morning, be jabers, so don't say a

Next morning the river was booming, its surface covered with all sorts
of mining outfit such as flume timber, rockers, various qualities of
lumber, pieces of trees as well as whole ones, water wheels and other
traps. The river between Downieville and here must have been swept clean
of all material that would float, including "long Toms." The water
continued to rise till it covered the Plaza, and in two days a steamer
came up and sailed across the public square. This looked like a wet
season to me, and when the boat was ready to go down the river I went on
board, bound for Sacramento. Here it was also getting terrible wet and
muddy, and the rain kept pouring down. In the morning I worked my way up
J street and saw a six-mule team wading up the streets the driver on
foot, tramping through the sloppy mud, occasionally stepping in a hole
and falling his whole length in the mud. On the street where so much
trouble was met by the teamsters, a lot of idlers stood on the sidewalk,
and when a driver would fall and go nearly out of sight, they would,
like a set of loafers, laugh at him and blackguard him with much noise,
and as they were numerous they feared nothing.

Suddenly a miner, who had lately arrived from the mountains, raised his
room window in the second story of a house, put out one leg and then his
body, as far as he could, and having nothing on but his night clothes,
shouted to the noisy crowd below:--"Say can't you d----d farmers plow
now?" At this he dodged back quickly into his window as if he expected
something might be thrown at him. The rain continued, and the water rose
gradually till it began to run slowly through the streets, and all the
business stopped except gambling and drinking whisky, which were freely
carried on in the saloons day and night.

While here in Sacramento I was sufficiently prompted by curiosity to go
around to the place on J street where the Legislature was in session. I
stood sometime outside the enclosure listening to the members who were
in earnest debate over a question concerning the size of mining claims.
They wanted them uniform in size all over the state, but there was some
opposition, and the debate on this occasion was between the members from
the mining counties on one side and the "cow" counties on the other. The
miners took the ground that the claims were of different richness in the
different mining localities and that the miners themselves were the best
judges of the proper size of claims, and were abundantly able to make
their own laws as they had done under the present mining customs, and
their laws had always been respected, making any further legislative
action unnecessary.

While this wrangle was going on. Capt. Hunt, of San Bernardino (our
guide from Salt Lake in 1849), came along and stopped where I stood,
shaking me heartily by the hand, inquiring where I was from, and when I
told him I was from the mines he said he thought the cow county fellows
were trying to make the miners some trouble. I told him the present
mining regulations suited us very well, and after he had talked with me
a little he went inside and whispered to some of the silent members that
the miners wanted no change, for he had just consulted a miner to that
effect. When occasion offered he called for a vote which resulted in the
defeat of the cow counties and a postponement of the measure

My next move was to try to find a dryer place so I took a boat for
Benicia, then for Stockton, where I found a sea of mud, so that a man
needed stilts or a boat to cross the street.

Here in a livery stable I found my old Platte River boss, Chas. Dallas,
for whom I drove in 1849, but he did not seem to know me and took no
notice of me, but talked "horse" and horse-racing to the bystanders very
loudly. I suppose that Dallas had made money and did not care for a poor
ox driver, and on my part I did not care very much for his friendship,
so I walked away and left him without a word.

Every way I looked was a sea of black, sticky mud; dogs mired in the
streets and died, and teams and animals had forsaken the usual route of
travel. The gambling houses and saloons were crowded, gum boots in
demand, and the only way to get out of town was by water. I took this
way out, and on the same boat by which I came, going to San Francisco.
This was high and dry enough to be above the highest floods of Yuba,
Sacramento or San Joaquin, but all business except the saloons was dull.
Fronting on Portsmouth Square was the Hall of Corruption. Inside was a
magnificently furnished bar, more than one keeper and various gambling
tables, most of them with soiled doves in attendance. The room was
thronged with players and spectators, and coin and dust were plenty. The
dealers drew off their cards carefully, and seemed to have the largest
pile of coin on their side.

I climbed Russian Hill and to take a look over the city. It seemed
poorly built, but the portion that had been burned in July 1852, had
been built up again. The business part was near the beach and north of
Market street.

I had never lived in a town and did not know its ways, so I strolled
around alone, for without acquaintance I did not know where to go nor
what to look for. I therefore thought I would see some other part of the
country. I found that a schooner was about to sail for San Pedro, near
Los Angeles. I took hold of a rope to help myself on board, when it gave
way and I found myself floundering in the water. They helped me out and
the Captain gave me a dry suit to put on, I was profoundly grateful for
the favor, and found him a generous man.

We sailed away and stopped at Monterey for 24 hours which gave me a good
chance for a good look at the old Capitol houses, which were of adobe,
and to find that this city was also liberally supplied with gambling,
card and billiard tables. The majority of the people were Spanish and
fond of gaming, and the general appearance of the place was old and
without good improvements, though there were more two-story houses than
in most places in California.

Some houses were of stone, but more of adobe, and there seemed to be no
fertile country round, and the hills about had small pines on them.

Some of the sailors went out and gathered a large bag of mussels and
clams, from which they made a liberal allowance of chowder for the
table. After seven or eight days we arrived in San Pedro, and found the
town to consist of one long adobe house. The beach was low and sandy,
and we were wet somewhat in wading through a light surf to get on shore.
We had on board a Mr. Baylis, who we afterward learned came down with
Capt. Lackey on a big speculation which was to capture all the wild
goats they could on Catalina Island, and take them to San Francisco for

The goats were easily captured and taken on board the schooner, and
thence to shore but many were drowned in the transit, and when driven to
San Francisco the dead were scattered all along the route. Although wild
they seemed to lack the vitality that tame goats possess. The
speculation proved a disappointment to the projectors.

At the adobe house, kept by a Spaniard we had breakfast, then shouldered
our packs for the march of ten leagues to Los Angeles for there was no
chance to ride. It was night before we reached the City of Angels, and
here I staid a day to take a look at the first city I saw in California
in March 1850.

I inquired for my mining companion, W.M. Stockton who worked with
Bennett and myself near Georgetown in 1850, and found he lived near the
old mission of San Gabriel nine miles away, whither I walked and found
him and family well and glad to see me. He had jumped an old pear
orchard which was not claimed by the Mission Fathers, although it was
only three-fourths of a mile away. The trees were all seedlings and very
large, probably 50 or more years old. Some of the Mission buildings were
falling down since they had been abandoned, and the Americans would go
to these houses and remove the tile flooring from the porches and from
the pillars that supported them. These tiles were of hard burned clay,
in pieces about a foot square, and were very convenient to make fire
places and pavements before the doors of their new houses. Out-side the
enclosed orange and fig orchard at this place were some large olive and
fig trees, apparently as old as the mission, being a foot or more in
diameter and about 50 feet high. I had never seen olives, and when I saw
these trees covered with plenty of fruit about the size of damson plums
I took the liberty of tasting it and found it very disagreeable, and
wondered of what use such fruit could be.

Mr. Stockton fenced his orchard by setting posts and tying sycamore
poles to them to keep the stock away, built an adobe house on the claim
and called the property his. I went to work for him at once, pruning the
trees, which improved their appearance, and then turned on a little
stream of water which ran through the place, and on down to the mission.
With this treatment the trees did well without cultivation.

I bought one half the stock consisting of some Spanish cows, one yoke of
oxen and some horses, worked enough to pay my board, watched the stock
and still had plenty of time to ride around over the adjoining country.

When the pears were ripe the Spanish men, women and children eagerly
bought them at 25 cents per dozen and some Sundays the receipts for
fruit sold would be as high as $100. That taken to town would bring from
$5. to $8. per box, the boxes being a little larger than those in
present use. An Indian woman, widow of a Mr. Reed, claimed a vineyard
near the orchard, and laid claim to the whole property, so Stockton gave
her $1000 for a quit claim deed.

Near by was a small artificial lake made by a dam of cobble stones, laid
in cement across a ravine, which was built perhaps 50 years before, and
yet the tracks of a child who had walked across before the cement was
dry, were plainly seen.

Stockton and I visited Mr. Roland, an old settler who lived south of San
Gabriel river, and staid all night with him, finding him very sociable
and hospitable. All his work was done by Indians who lived near by, and
had been there as long as he. He had a small vineyard, and raised corn,
squashes, melons and all that are necessary for his table, having also a
small mill near by for grinding corn and wheat without bolting. The
Indians made his wine by tramping the grapes with their feet in a
rawhide vat hung between four poles set in the ground. The workmen were
paid off every Saturday night, and during Sunday he would generally sell
them wine enough to get about all the money back again. This had been
his practice for many years, and no doubt suited Mr. Roland as well as
the red men.

Roland was an old Rocky Mountain trapper who came to California long
before gold was discovered, and during the evening the talk naturally
ran to the subject of early days.

Mr. Roland related that while his party were in camp in the upper
Colorado they were visited by a small band of Indians who professed
friendship and seated themselves around the fire. Suddenly they made an
attack and each trapper had an Indian to contend with, except Mr. Roland
who was left to be dispatched afterwards. But as he ran, a squaw among
them followed him, and after a while overtook him and showed friendship.
He had neither gun or knife and so concluded to put faith in the woman
who safely guided him in a long tramp across the desert where they both
came near starving, but finally reached Los Angeles Valley, when the
brave squaw mingled with her own people and he lost sight of her

No white man could alone have traversed that desert waste and found food
enough to last him half the journey.

He gradually learned to speak Spanish, and was granted the piece of land
he applied for, and where he then lived; married a Spanish girl, with
whom he had a happy home and raised a large family, and grew rich, for
they were both industrious and economical. The first wife died, and he
was persuaded to marry a Texas widow, and now had to buy the first
carriage he ever owned, and furnish a fine turn-out and driver for the
lady, who wore much jewelry and fine clothes, and spent money freely.
Roland was not a society man, his thoughts and habits were different
from his wife, and he staid at home, better contented there.

There were many other pioneers in the neighborhood, Dan Sexton, Col.
Williams, of Chino ranch, Workman, B.D. Wilson, Abel Stearns, Temple,
Wolfskill and many others, Scott and Granger were lawyers. Granger was
the same man who read the preamble and resolutions that were to govern
our big train as we were about to start from Utah Lake.

Scott was quite a noted member of the bar, and when Gen. Winfield Scott
ran for President, some wide awake politicians caused the uneducated
Spaniards to vote for their favorite lawyer instead of the redoubtable
general, and they did this with a good will for they thought the famous
avocado was the best man, and thus the manipulators lost many votes to
the real candidate. Scott was afterward retained by many of the
Spaniards to present their claims for their land to the U.S. Government
and was considered a very able man.

Mr. Stockton related that when he left his family here to go to the
mines he rented one half a house of Michael Blanco who had a Spanish
wife and children, and these and his own were of course constant
playmates. When he returned in the fall he found his children had
learned to speak Spanish and nearly forgotten English, so that he had to
coax them a great deal to get them to talk to him at all, and he could
not understand a word they said.

I now tried to learn the language myself. I had money to loan, and the
borrowers were Spanish who gave good security and paid from 5 to 25 per
cent interest per month, on short time. Mrs. Stockton assisted me very
much as an interpreter.

I bought young steers for $8. each and gradually added to my herd. I got
along well until next spring when the beef eating population began to
steal my fat cattle, and seemed determined I should get no richer. The
country was over-stocked with desperate and lawless renegades in Los
Angeles and from one to four dead men was about the number picked up in
the streets each morning. They were of low class, and there was no
investigation, simply a burial at public expense.

The permanent Spanish population seemed honest and benevolent, but there
were many bad ones from Chili, Sonora, Mexico, Texas, Utah and Europe,
who seemed always on an errand of mischief a murder, thieving or

Three or four suspicious looking men came on horseback and made their
camp near the Mission under an oak tree, where they staid sometime. They
always left someone in camp while the others went away every day on
their horses, and acted so strangely that the report soon became current
that they were stealing horses and running them off to some safe place
in the mountains till a quantity could be accumulated to take to the
mines to sell. On this information the Vigilance Committee arrested the
man in camp and brought him to a private room, where he was tried by
twelve men, who found him guilty of horse stealing, and sentenced to be
hung at once, for horse stealing was a capital offence in those days.

To carry out the sentence they procured a cart, put a box on it for a
seat, and with a rope around his neck and seated on the box, the
condemned man was dragged off by hand to an oak tree not far away,
whither he was followed by all the men, women and children of the place,
who where nearly all natives. While preparations were being made under
the tree some one called out that men were riding rapidly from the
direction of Los Angeles, and from the dust they raised seemed to be
more than usually in haste. So it was proposed to wait till they came
up. It was soon known that an Indian had been sent to Los Angeles to
give news to the man's friends there, and they had come with all the
speed of their horses to try to save his life. They talked and inquired
around a little and then proposed the question whether to hang him or to
turn him over to the lawful authorities for regular trial. This was put
to a vote and it was decided to spare him now. So the rope was taken off
his neck, and he was turned over to Mr. Mallard the Mission Justice of
the Peace, much to the relief of the fellow who saw death staring him in
the face.

The Santa Anita ranch, now owned by E.J. Baldwin, was owned by Henry
Dalton, an Englishman, who came with a stock of goods worth $75,000,
years before, but now had only the ranch left. The Azuza, a short
distance south was occupied by his brother.

I became well acquainted with many of these old California natives, and
found them honest in their dealings, good to the needy and in all my
travels never found more willing hands to bestow upon relatives, friends
or strangers ready relief than I saw among these simple natives. Their
kindness to our party when we came starving on the desert in 1850, can
never be praised enough, and as long as I shall live my best wishes
shall go with them.

I was one day riding with Vincent Duarte down toward Anaheim when he
suddenly dismounted to kill a large tarantula by pelting him with
stones. It was the first one I had seen, and seemed an over-grown
spider. I asked him if the thing was harmful, and he replied with
considerable warmth, "Mucho malo por Christianos" and I wondered if the
insect knew saints from sinners.

This spring we concluded to go to the Mormon settlement at San
Bernardino and secure some American bulls to improve our stock, and
starting late one day I rode as far as the Azuza Rancho where I staid
all night with Mr. Dalton, reaching the holy city, a branch of Brigham
Young's harem next day. Here I found a town of log houses in a circle,
enclosing a plaza. There was a passage between the houses. I stopped at
the principal hotel kept by a vigorous and enthusiastic Mormon woman,
who delighted to preach the doctrine.

Walking around on the outside of the fortifications I came across Capt.
Hunt, the man who was hired in the fall of 1849 to bring the big train
from Salt Lake to San Bernardino.

I told him who I was, and what I wanted, and he seemed to know me,
inviting me in the most friendly and social manner to take supper with
him, which I did. He sat at the head of the table and introduced me to
his three wives. The furnishing of the house was cheap and common, but
the table was fairly provided for. He said he would help me to find the
animals I wanted, and in the morning showed me two which he had, that
were young and suitable, and a larger one which he said I could have if
I could drive him.

I soon found out that I had better move or sell my cattle, for with all
my watching I could do they gradually disappeared, and hungry thieves
who could live on beef alone, visited my little band of cattle too often
and took what they wanted, and I could not detect them. I soon sold to
four buyers from the north, L.D. Stevens, David Grant, Sam Craig and Mr.
Wilson, and hired out with my two horses to help them drive the band
north, at a salary of $100 per month.

Disposing most of my money with Palmer, Cook & Co., I went to see my
mine at Moore's Flat. There were two boats leaving at about the same
time, one for Stockton, and one for Sacramento, the latter of which I
took, and Rogers the other. Both landed at Benecia, and when we swung
away from that wharf Rogers and I saluted each other with raised and
swinging hats, shouted a good bye, and I have never seen him since.

At Moore's Flat I found my mine well and profitably worked by Mr. Tyler
and as his lease was not out I returned to San Jose, as I had learned
from Rogers that Mr. A. Bennett was at Watsonville, and Mr. Arcane at
Santa Cruz, and I desired to visit them. I rode back across the country
and found Mr. Bennett and family at the point where the Salinas river
enters Monterey Bay. They were all well, and were glad to see me for
they did not know I was in California. Mrs. Bennett was greatly affected
at our meeting and shed tears of joy as she shook hands.

Bennett had a nice Whitehall boat and we had a genuine happy time
hunting, fishing and gathering clams, and also in social visits among
the neighbors and old acquaintances, among them one Jacob Rhodehouse of

While here I rode my horse around to Monterey and to Carmel Mission,
where I staid two or three days, with Mr. Gourley, a brother of Mrs.
William M. Stockton, who was here engaged in raising potatoes. I walked
along the beach near some rocky islands near the shore, and on these
rocks were more sea lions and seals than I supposed the whole ocean
contained--the most wonderful show of sea life on the California coast.
Returning I staid all night at the crossing of the Salinas with a
colored family who gave me good accommodations for self and horse. I
heard afterward that this family was attacked by robbers and all but one

Mrs. Bennett's father D.J. Dilley lived near here also, and I had not
seen him since the time in Wisconsin, when he hauled my canoe over to
the river in 1849. One day while fishing on the beach we found the body
of a man, which we carried above the tide and buried in the sand.

I gave one of my horses to Geo. Bennett, and went over to Santa Cruz,
where I found Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Arcane and son Charles in a comfortable
home, well situated, and overjoyed to see me.

He knew everyone in town, and as we went about he never missed to
introduce me to every one we met, as the man who helped himself and
family out of Death Valley, and saved their lives. Arcane was a very
polite Frenchman and knew how to manage such things very gracefully, but
with all his grace and heartiness it made me feel quite a little
embarrassed to be made so much of publicly and among strangers. He took
me in his buggy and we drove along the beach, and to the lime-kiln of
Cowel & Jordan, also to the court house when court was in session.

Upon the hill I met Judge Watson, the father of Watsonville, and a Mr.
Graham, an old settler and land owner, and on this occasion he pulled a
sheet of ancient, smoky looking paper from beneath his arm, pointed to a
dozen or so of written lines in Spanish and then with a flourish of the
precious document in Watson's face dared him to beat that, or get him
off his land. I must say that never in my life was I better entertained
than here.

From Santa Cruz I crossed the mountain on a lonely and romantic trail to
San Jose again, finding very few houses on the road. Here I went to work
for R. G. Moody building a gristmill on the banks of the Coyote Creek,
to be run by water from artesian wells. When the mill was done I went
for my horse, and on my return I ran very unexpectedly upon Davenport
Helms, to whom I had sold my little black mule in 1850. Our talk was
short but he told me he had killed a man in Georgetown, and the sheriff
was looking for him. He was now venturing to town for tobacco, and would
hurry back to the hills again where he was herding cattle.

He said he kept them off at one time by getting in a piece of chaparral
and presenting his gun to them when they came near, they dare not
advance on him. Then he laughed and said--"And all the time my gun was
empty, for I did not have a d----d thing to put into it." "I tell you
they don't catch old Davenport. Now don't you tell on me. Good-bye." I
saw him no more after that.

The town of San Jose was now more of a town than it was a few years
before. The "Forty Thieves," and others, commenced building a city hall
of brick on the top of old adobe walls, and this was the principal
improvement, except the Moody mill near the Sutter house, one street
north of Julian.

After finishing work on the mill I drew my money from the bank in San
Francisco and started for the mines on horseback. Near French Camp, on
the east side of the San Joaquin Valley, many cattle were feeding on the
plains, and among them, much to my surprise I found "Old Crump," the ox
that brought Bennett's and Arcane's children safe through from Death
Valley in February, 1850. He was now fat and sleek and as kind and
gentle as when so poor upon the terrible journey. I got off my horse and
went up to him, and patted my old friend. I was glad to find him so
contented and happy, and I doubt not that he too was glad. I met a man
near by and asked him about the ox, and he said that the owner would not
sell him nor allow him to be worked, for he knew of the faithful part he
performed in the world, and respected him for it.

At Sacramento I deposited my money with Page, Bacon & Co., a branch of
the St. Louis firm of the same name, considered the safest bank in the
United States. Their bills were taken in payment of Government land.
Some rascals had some counterfeit bills on their bank, and traded them
off for gold with the Missourians who were going home, and the poor
fellows found themselves poor on arrival.

Going to my mine, where I left only a cabin or two, I found quite a
village with two hotels and a post office.

News soon came that the banks had closed their door, and Page and Bacon
also, so I concluded that I was broke. The "Pikers" said Page and Bacon
could not, nor would not fail, but news was against them. The boys now
tried to persuade me to go to Sacramento, and try to get my money and if
I succeeded, to bring up a good stock of goods and they would buy of me
in preference to any one else. On this showing I went down, and finding
my old friend Lyman Ross (well known in San Jose) who was keeping a
fruit store. I told him my business and he took me to L.A. Booth, Carrol
& Co., and I stated to him the facts about my money in the bank and the
doors closed. I told him if he would assist me I would buy $2000 worth
of his goods, and send them to Moore's Flat. I endorsed the certificate
over to him, and in half an hour he came back with the coin. How he got
it I never knew, but he did me a great favor, and we have been good
friends ever since. I was no merchant, nor had I any mercantile
education, so I took lessons from Mr. Booth, and allowed him to make out
for me a bill of goods such as he well knew I needed. With these we
loaded up two 6 mule teams, and started for the mountain.

I had about $700 left besides paying for the goods, but I felt a very
little troubled as to my prospect for success, for it was a new business
to me. Mr. Booth in a business way was a true father to me, and the much
needed points in trade which he gave me were stored away for the use I
knew I would make of them. Of all those whom I bear in grateful
remembrance none stand higher than this worthy man.

I went first direct to Nevada City to take out a license that I might
best protect myself against oppositions and from there I had a walk of
18 miles over a rough mountain trail to my selected place of business.
Climbing the great hill of the S. Yuba river I often tired and sat down
to rest, and I used this time to study my bill of goods, and add the
freight and profit to the cost, so as to be well posted, and able to
answer all questions readily when I unloaded the stock. The new trade
seemed quite a task to learn, but I felt that I was compelled to
succeed, and I worked manfully at it.

When I reached Moore's Flat I found that the boys had rented a store for
me, and their welcome was very hearty when they found how lucky I had
been in securing my money and starting out as their "grub supplier."

Four of us now located some mining claims, and began a tunnel both to
drain the ground, and to work through the bed-rock. This we named The
Paradise, and we expected that three or four months would elapse before
we made it pay, but there was in truth two years of solid rock-work
before we got under the ground, but it paid well in the end.

The largest nugget of gold ever found before this time was a quartz
boulder from the Buckeye sluice, about 8 by 10 inches in size, and when
cleaned up at the San Francisco mint the value was about $10,000.

Two of my partners in the work, L.J. Hanchett, and Jas. Clark ran out of
funds at the end of the first year, and I took as much of the expense as
I could upon my own shoulders.

About this time learning by a letter from her father that Mrs. Bennett
was lying at the point of death at Mr. L.C. Bostic's in San Jose, I left
H. Hanchett in charge of my business, and in four days I stood beside
the bedside of my friend, endeared through the trials when death by
thirst, starvation and the desert sands, stared us in the face with all
its ghastliness.

She reached out her arms and drew me down to her, and embraced me and
said in a faint whisper--"God bless you:--you saved us all till now, and
I hope you will always be happy and live long." She would have said
more, but her voice was so weak she could not be heard. She was very low
with consumption, and easily exhausted. I sat with her much of the time
at her request and though for her sake I would have kept back the tears
I could not always do it. Two doctors came, one of them Dr. Spencer, and
as I sat with my face partly turned away I over heard Dr. S. say to his
assistant--"He is a manly man."

This presence and the circumstances brought back the trying Death Valley
struggles, when this woman and her companions, and the poor children, so
nearly starved they could not stand alone, were only prevented from
sitting down to die in sheer despair by the encouraging words of Rogers
and myself who had passed over the road, and used every way to sustain
their courage.

She died the following day; with Mr. Bennett, I followed her remains to
Oak Hill cemetery, where she was buried near the foot of the hill, and a
board marked in large letters, "S.B." (Sarah Bennett) placed to mark the
mound. The grave cannot now be found, and no records being then kept it
is probably lost.

I went home with Mr. Bennett to his home near Watsonville, and spent
several days, meeting several of our old Death Valley party, and Mr.
D.J. Dilley, Mrs. Bennett's father. Mrs. Bennett left surviving her a
young babe.

I returned to Moore's Flat, and soon sold out my store, taking up the
business of purchasing gold dust direct from the miners, which I
followed for about two years, and in the fall of 1859 sold out the
business to Marks & Powers. I looked about through Napa and Sonoma
Counties, and finally came to San Jose, where I purchased the farm I now
own, near Hillsdale, of Bodley & McCabe, for which I paid $4,000.

In the fall of the same year my old friend W.M. Stockton of Los Angeles
Co. persuaded me to come down and pay him a visit. His wife had died and
he felt very lonely. I had been there but a few days when my old friend
A. Bennett and his children also came to Stockton's. The children had
grown so much I hardly knew them, but I was glad indeed to meet them.

I found Mr. Bennett to be a poor man. He had been persuaded to go to
Utah, being told that a fortune awaited his coming there, or could be
accumulated in a short time. He gave away the little babe left by his
wife to Mrs. Scott, of Scott's Valley, in Santa Cruz Co. and sold his
farm near the mouth of the Salinas River. With what money he had
accumulated he loaded two 4 mule teams with dry goods, put his four
children into his wagon, and went to Cedar City, Utah.

He gave a thrilling account of passing through Mountain Meadows, where
he saw, here and there little groups of skeletons of the unhappy victims
of the great massacre at that place of men, women and children, by J.D.
Lee, and his Mormon followers and told me the terrible story, which I
here omit.

Smarting under the terrible taxation of one tenth of everything, Bennett
grew poorer and poorer and at last resolved that he must go away, but
his wife could not leave her own people, and so he set off with his
children, somewhat afraid he might be shot down, but he reached Los
Angeles Co. in safety. One daughter married a lawyer in San Bernardino,
and died a few years afterwards. The other married a Capt. Johnson of
Wilmington, and Bennett and two sons went to Idaho.

A few years ago in passing from San Jose to the Coast, my wife and I
spent Sunday at Scott's Valley. Mrs. Scott invited us to visit them in
the evening at the house when all would be at home. Mrs. Scott was the
lady to whom Bennett gave his girl baby when he started away for Utah,
and I felt very anxious to see her now she was grown up. Mrs. Scott
introduced us, and I sat and looked at the little woman quite a long
time, but could not see that she resembled either father or mother. My
mind ran back over the terrible road we came and I pictured to myself
the woman as she then appeared.

I studied over our early trials, crossing the plains over the deserts
and our trying scenes out of Death Valley and turned all over in my mind
for some time and finally all came to me like a flash and I could
clearly see that the little lady was a true picture of her mother; I now
began to ask questions about her folks, she said her father lived near
Belmont, Nevada, and her grand-father died at the Monte, Los Angeles
county Cal.. Our visit now became very interesting and we kept a late


Since writing the connected story which has thus far appeared, I turn
back to give some incidents of life in the mines, and some description
of those pioneer gold days.

I have spoken of Moore's Flat, Orleans Flat and Woolsey's Flat, all
similarly situated on different points of the mountain, on the north
side of the ridge between the South and Middle Yuba River, and all at
about the same altitude. A very deep canon lies between each of them,
but a good mountain road was built around the head of each canon,
connecting the towns. When the snow got to be three or four feet deep
the roads must be broken out and communication opened, and the boys used
to turn out _en masse_ and each one would take his turn in leading the
army of road breakers. When the leader got tired out some one would take
his place, for it was terrible hard work to wade through snow up to
one's hips, and the progress very slow. But the boys went at it as if
they were going to a picnic, and a sort of picnic it was when they
reached the next town, for whisky was free and grub plenty to such a
party, and jollity and fun the uppermost thoughts. On one such occasion
when the crowd came through Orleans Flat to Moore's Flat, Sid Hunt, the
butcher, was in the lead as they came in sight of the latter place, and
both he and his followers talked pretty loud and rough to the Moore's
Flat fellows calling them "lazy pups" for not getting their road clear.
Hunt's helper was a big stout, loud talking young man named Williams,
and he shouted to the leader--"Sid Hunt, toot your horn if you don't
sell a clam." This seemed to put both sides in good humor, and the
Orleans fellows joined in a plenty to eat and drink, rested and went
home. Next day, both camps joined forces and broke the road over to
Woolsey's Flat, and the third day crowded on toward Nevada City, and
when out and across Bloody Run, a stream called thus because some dead
men had been found at the head of the stream by the early settlers, and
it was suspected the guilty murderers lived not far off, they turned
down into Humbug, a town now called Bloomfield, and as they went down
the snow was not so deep. They soon met Sam Henry, the express man,
working through with letters and papers, and all turned home again.

A young doctor came to Moore's Flat and soon became quite popular, and
after a little while purchased a small drug store at Orleans Flat. In
this town there lived a man and his family and among them a little curly
headed girl perhaps one or two years old. She was sick and died and
buried while the ground was covered thick with snow. A little time
after, it was discovered that the grave had been disturbed, and on
examination no body was found in the grave.

Then it was a searching party was organized, and threats of vengeance
made against the grave robber if he should be caught. No tracks were
found leading out of town so they began to look about inside, and there
began to be some talk about this Dr. Kittridge as the culprit. He was
the very man, and he went to his drug store and told his clerk to get a
saddle horse and take the dead child's body in a sack to his cabin at
Moore's Flat, and conceal it in a back room. The clerk obeyed, and with
the little corpse before him on the horse started from the back door and
rode furiously to Moore's Flat, and concealed the body as he had been

Some noticed that he had ridden unusually fast, and having a suspicion
that all was not right, told their belief to the Orleans Flat people,
who visited the Doctor at his store and accused him of the crime, and
talked about hanging him on the spot without a trial. At this the Doctor
began to be greatly frightened and begged piteously for them to spare
his life, confessing to the deed, but pleading in extenuation that it
was for the purpose of confirming a question in his profession, and
wholly in the interest of science that he did it, and really to spare
the feelings of the parents that he did it secretly. He argued that no
real harm had been done, and some of his friends sided with him in this
view. But the controversy grew warmer, and the house filled up with
people. Some were bloodthirsty and needed no urging to proceed to buy a
rope and use it. Others argued, and finally the Doctor said that the
body had not been dissected, and if they would allow him, and appoint a
committee to go with him, he would produce the body, and they could
decently bury it again and there it might remain forever. This he
promised to do, and all agreed to it, and he kept his word, thus ending
the matter satisfactorily and the Doctor was released. But the feeling
never died out. The Doctor's friends deserted him, and no one seemed to
like to converse with him. At the saloon he would sit like a perfect
stranger, no one noticing him, and he soon left for new fields.

The first tunnel run at Moore's Flat was called the Paradise, and had to
be started low on the side of the mountain in order to drain the ground,
and had to be blasted through the bed rock for about 200 feet.

Four of us secured ground enough by purchase so we could afford to
undertake this expensive job and we worked on it day and night. Jerry
Clark and Len Redfield worked the day shifts, and Sam King and Wm. Quirk
the night shift. When the tunnel was completed about 100 feet, the night
shift had driven forward the top of the tunnel as a heading, leaving the
bottom, which was about a foot thick, or more, to be taken out by the
day shift. They drilled a hole about two feet horizontally to blast out
this bench. King would sit and hold the drill between his feet, while
Quirk would strike with a heavy sledge. When the hole was loaded they
tramped down the charge very hard so as to be sure it would not blow
out, but lift the whole bench. One day when they were loading a hole,
King told Quirk to come down pretty heavy on the tamping, so as to make
all sure, and after a few blows given as directed, there was an
explosion, and Quirk was forced some distance out of the tunnel, his
eyes nearly put out with dirt blown into them, and his face and body cut
with flying pieces of rock. He was at first completely stunned, but
after awhile recovered so as to crawl out, and was slowly making his way
up the hill on hands and knees when he was discovered and helped to his
cabin where his wounds were washed and dressed.

Then a party with lighted candles entered the tunnel to learn the fate
of King, and they found him lying on the mass of rock the blast had
lifted, dead. On a piece of board they bore the body to his cabin. There
was hardly a whole bone remaining. A cut diagonally across his face,
made by a sharp stone, had nearly cut his head in two. He had been
thrown so violently against the roof of the tunnel, about 6 feet high,
that he was completely mashed.

He had a wife in Mass. and as I had often heard him talk of her, and of
sending her money, I bought a $100 check and sent it in the same letter
which bore the melancholy news. King had a claim at Chip's Flat which he
believed would be very rich in time, so I kept his interest up in it
till it amounted to $500 and then abandoned the claim and pocketed the

We made a pine box, and putting his body in it, laid it away with
respect. I had often heard him say that if he suffered an accident, he
wished to be killed outright and not be left a cripple, and his wish
came true.

After this accident the blacksmith working for the Paradise Co., was
making some repairs about the surface of the air shaft, and among his
tools was a bar of steel an inch square, and 8 or 10 feet long, which
was thrown across the shaft, and while working at the whim wheel he
slipped and struck this bar which fell to the bottom of the shaft, 100
feet deep and the blacksmith followed. When the other workmen went down
to his assistance they found that the bar of steel had stuck upright in
the bottom of the shaft, and when the man came down it pierced his body
from hip to neck, killing him instantly. He was a young man, and I have
forgotten his name.

Those who came to California these later years will not many of them see
the old apparatus and appliances which were used in saving the gold in
those primitive days. Among them was the old "Rocker." This had a bottom
about 5 feet long and 16 inches wide, with the sides about 8 inches high
for half the length, and then sloped off to two inches at the end. There
was a bar about an inch high across the end to serve as a riffle, and on
the higher end of this box is a stationary box 14 inches square, with
sides 4 inches high and having a sheet iron bottom perforated with half
inch holes. On the bottom of the box are fastened two rockers like those
on the baby cradle, and the whole had a piece of board or other solid
foundation to stand on, the whole being set at an angle to allow the
gravel to work off at the lower end with the water. A cleat was fastened
across the bottom to catch the gold, and this was frequently examined to
see how the work was paying, and taking out such coarse pieces as could
be readily seen. To work the rocker a pan of dirt would be placed in the
square screen box, and then with one hand the miner would rock the
cradle while he poured water with the other from a dipper to wash the
earth. After he had poured on enough water and shaken the box
sufficiently to pass all the small stuff through he would stir over what
remained in the screen box, examining carefully for a nugget too large
to pass through the half inch holes. If the miner found that the dirt
did not pay he took his rocker on his back and went on in search of a
better claim.

Another way to work the dirt was to get a small head of water running in
a ditch, and then run the water and gravel through a series of boxes a
foot square and twelve feet long, using from one to ten boxes as
circumstances seemed to indicate. At the lower end of these boxes was
placed the "Long Tom" which was about two feet wide at the lower end,
and having sides six inches high at the same point. The side pieces
extend out about 3 feet longer than the wooden bottom, and are turned up
to a point, some like a sled runner, and this turned up part has a
bottom of sheet iron punched full of holes, the size of the sheet iron
being about 3 feet by 16 inches.

The miners shovel dirt into the upper end of the boxes slowly, and
regulate the water so that it dissolves the lumps and chunks very
thoroughly before it reaches the long tom where a man stands and stirs
the gravel over, and if nothing yellow is seen throws the washed gravel
away, and lets the rest go through the screen. Immediately below this
screen was placed what was called a "riffle box," 2 by 4 feet in size
with bars 4 inches high across the bottom and sides, and this box is set
at the proper angle. Now when the water comes through the screen it
falls perpendicularly in this box with force enough to keep the contents
continually in motion, and as the gold is much heavier than any other
mineral likely to be found in the dirt, it settles to the bottom, and
all the lighter stuff is carried away by the water. The gold would be
found behind the bars in the riffle box.

These methods of working were very crude, and we gradually became aware
that the finest dust was not saved, and many improvements were brought
into use. In my own mine the tailings that we let go down the mountain
side would lodge in large piles in different places, and after lying a
year, more gold could be washed out of it than was first obtained, and
some of it coarser, so that it was plainly seen that a better way of
working would be more profitable. There was plenty of ground called poor
ground that had much gold in it but could not be profitably worked with
the rocker and long tom. The bed rock was nearly level and as the land
had a gradual rise, the banks kept getting higher and higher as they dug
farther in. Now it was really good ground only down close to the bed
rock, but all the dirt had some gold in it, and if a way could be
invented to work it fast enough, such ground would pay. So the plan of
hydraulic mining was experimented upon.

The water was brought in a ditch or flume to the top of a high bank, and
then terminated in a tight box. To this box was attached a large hose
made by hand out of canvas, and a pipe and nozzle attached to the lower
end of the hose. Now as the bank was often 100 feet or more high the
water at this head, when directed through the nozzle against the bank,
fairly melted it away into liquid mud. Imagine us located a mile above
the river on the side of a mountain. We dug at first sluices in the rock
to carry off the mud and water, and after it had flowed in these a
little way a sluice box was put in to pass it through. These were made
on a slope of one in twelve, and the bottom paved with blocks, 3 inches
thick, so laid as to make a cavity or pocket at the corner of the
blocks. After passing the first sluice box the water and gravel would be
run in a bed rock sluice again, and then into another sluice box and so
on for a mile, passing through several sluice boxes on the way.
Quicksilver was placed in the upper sluice boxes, and when the particles
of gold were polished up by tumbling about in the gravel, they combined
with the quicksilver making an amalgam.

The most gold would be left in the first sluice boxes but some would go
on down to the very last, where the water and dirt was run off into the
river. They cleaned up the first sluices every week, a little farther
down every month, while the lower ones would only be cleaned up at the
end of the season.

In cleaning up, the blocks would be taken out of the boxes, and every
little crevice or pocket in the whole length of the sluice cleaned out,
from the bottom to the top, using little hooks and iron spoons made for
the purpose.

The amalgam thus collected was heated in a retort which expelled the
quicksilver in vapor, which was condensed and used again.

When they first tried hydraulic work a tinsmith made a nozzle out of
sheet iron, but when put in practice, instead of throwing a solid
stream, it scattered like an shotgun, and up at Moore's Flat they called
the claims where they used it the "shotgun" claims.

From that time great improvements were made in hydraulic apparatus until
the work done by them was really wonderful.

In 1850 there lived at Orleans Flat and Moore's Flat, in Nevada County a
few young, energetic and very stirring pioneers in the persons of lads
from 10 to 15 years of age, always on the search for a few dimes to
spend, or add to an already hoarded store, and the mountain air, with
the wild surroundings, seemed to inspire them always with lively vigor,
and especially when there was a prospect of a two-bit piece not far

In winter when the deep snow cut off all communication with the valley,
our busy tinner ran short of solder, and seeing a limited supply in the
tin cans that lay thick about, he engaged the boys to gather in a supply
and showed them how they could be melted down to secure the solder with
which they had been fastened, and thus provide for his immediate wants.
So the boys ransacked every spot where they had been thrown, under the
saloon and houses, and in old dump holes everywhere, till they had
gathered a pretty large pile which they fired as he had told them, and
then panned out the ashes to secure the drops of metal which had melted
down and cooled in small drops and bits below. This was re-melted and
cast into a mould made in a pine block, and the solder made into regular
form. About one-third was made up thus in good and honest shape.

But the boys soon developed a shrewdness that if more fully expanded
might make them millionaires, but in the present small way they hoped to
put to account in getting a few extra dimes. They put a big chunk of
iron in the mould and poured in the melted solder which enclosed it
completely, so that when they presented the bright silvery bar to the
old tinker he paid the price agreed upon and they divided the money
between them, and then, in a secure place, they laughed till their sides
ached at the good joke on the tinman.

In due time the man found out the iron core in his bar of solder, and
thought the joke such a good one that he told of it in the saloon, and
had to spend at least $5 in drinks to ease off the laugh they had on him
as the victim of the young California pioneers. And these young
fellows--some have paddled their own canoe successfully into quiet
waters and are now in the fullness of life, happy in their possessions,
while some have been swamped on the great rushing stream of business,
and dwell in memory on the happy times gone by.

The older pioneers in these mining towns were, in many respects a
peculiar class of men. Most of them were sober and industrious, fearless
and venturesome, jolly and happy when good luck came to them, and in
misfortune stood up with brave, strong, manly hearts, without a tear or
murmur. They let the world roll merrily by, were ever ready with joke,
mirth and fun to make their surroundings cheerful.

Fortunes came and went; they made money easily, and spent it just as
freely, and in their generosity and kindly charity the old
expression--"He has a heart like an ox" fitted well the character of
most of them.

When luck turned against them they worked the harder, for the next turn
might fill their big pockets with a fortune, and then the dream of

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