For students writing reports on California history, I recommend reading this article carefully before deciding whether or not to use it as a source. Some of the linked sources might be useful.
HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA
FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES.
WRITTEN FOR THE GOLDEN ERA
CHAPTER FIRST. — THE DISCOVERY.
Sir Francis, unmindful of harbor regulations, sailed through the heads without a pilot. He landed at North Beach, laid out Montgomery street, then sailed up country and founded San Andreas.
San Andreas is a very nice place. Sir Francis never ‘raised the color’ in California, and so far as the real benefit of his discovery is concerned he might as well have staid home.
CHAPTER SECOND. — EARLY HISTORY OF THE COUNTRY.
The rivers ran undisturbed over tons of treasure. Millions of money laid idle in the flats and gulches. The Digger wandered over these stores of wealth in a miserable but happy state of unprogressiveness.
He fished, hunted, slept and gratified his epicurean tastes with crickets and grass hoppers.
The inhabitants of Castillian descent lived in a sort of vitalized doze.
Ignorant enough to be contented, they cared little whether school kept or not.
As a general thing school did not keep.
CHAPTER THIRD. — CONQUEST AND DISCOVERY OF GOLD.
Fremont, guided by a grizzly, discovered a pass through the Rocky Mountains. Some say Fremont went first through the pass, and others contend that the grizzly did.
Hence the adoption of the bear flag.
Commodore Stockton founded the city bearing his name, situated at tother end of the slough at the head of mud hen navigation.
Fremont founded the Mariposa estate, while Commodore Sloat found nothing, and left in disgust for the East.
Sloat’s example has frequently been followed since.
Shortly afterward ensued the discovery of gold. Everybody rushed to the diggings. Everybody got rich. Everybody in other portions of this sublumunmary sphere who could beg, borrow or steal the means, came to California. They also got rich.
Regarding prosperity the country started at the point where others culminate.
The most fortunate gold hunters were drunken sailors. Men of morality and steady habit were invariably unlucky. Virtue was another name for starvation. Shooting and cutting were almost as common as at present. Hanging was a domestic, not a judicial institution, and was administered for nearly all relapses of honesty.
In addition to the hanging the natural ignorance of mankind regarding the proper method of making light bread, and the proper manner of cooking pork and beans caused the mortality for the first year or two to be very great.
At length a saviour arrived who instructed the people not to commence boiling the salt pork at the same time with their beans.
After this the country became more healthy. Hanging also disappeared as an epidemic, and has not troubled us much since.
In those flush times whisky was four bits per drink.
Whisky is now but one bit per drink.
To the political economist this points unerringly to the fact that the country is but one fourth as prosperous as in ’49′ and ’50.’
CHAPTER FOURTH. — INVERTED GROWTH OF CALIFORNIA.
In 1854 and 1855 a large proportion of the rich miners either went home or started for home.
A number got as far as the nearest camp, some to Sacramento or Stockton, some to San Francisco, and a few actually went on the steamer.
In every case they spent all their money, and then went back to the mines for more.
But just about this time the mines commenced ‘petering.’
To ‘peter’ is a phrase of California origin and pertains to ‘non est inventus.‘ The derivation of the phrase is lost in the obscurity of early times, but it probably germinated from some ‘strapped’ miner by the name of Peter.
‘Strapped’ is also a word of California growth, and partakes of the same signification as ‘broke.’
‘Broke’ means ‘panned out.’
‘Panned out’ means ‘gone up the flume.’
‘Gone up the flume’ differs in no wise from ‘gone in.’
‘Gone in’ is to be ‘busted.’
‘Busted’ is not to be able to ‘raise the color.’
Not to be able to ‘raise the color’ is to possess no ‘kale seed.’
Without ‘kale seed’ is to be without ‘nary red.’
Such are a few of the California roots of the phrase ‘to peter,’ and may throw some etymological light on the signification of the term.
Many of these victims of the ‘petering’ of the mines are still resident in the same localities where they ‘struck it’ in ’49.’
‘Struck it’ is a term synonymous with ‘making a raise.’
‘Making a raise’ is identical with ‘making a stake.’
These victims are generally characterized by dungaree pants immoderately worn at the further antipodal extremity, and a lofty contempt for anything less than ‘ounce diggings.’
They are often sorely annoyed by the conduct of the present race of country merchants who refuse them credit and object to wait for money until it comes out of the ‘bed of the river.’
CHAPTER FIFTH. — INVERTED GROWTH CONTINUED — FORTY YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS.
From 1856 to 1866 California has been waiting for foreign capital to develop her resources.
In the mean time the inhabitants of many of the smaller camps, like Cow Bar, Shiriville, Horseopolis, Joshtown, Murderville, and Cat-your-diaphragm-out Flat, have shut up their stores and cabins and left temporarily until the foreign capital emigrates hither from Europe and the East.
Most of them are now rushing around like the Israelites in the wilderness to strike a ‘big thing.’
These rushes are periodical and spasmodical.
They have rushed up to Gold Bluffs, then down to Kern river, then up again to Frazer, then down again to Colorado, then up again to Cariboo, then down again to Arizona, then up again to Idaho and Montana, and lastly down again to Barbacoas.
In ’59′ and ’60′ there was a big side rush to Washoe.
They persist in these rushes despite the advice of the Press which ever tells them that it is better to stay and starve to death at home.
In these various rushes many have through disease, heat, cold, accident, murder and starvation gone to ‘that bourne‘ supposed to be located near the Tropics.
These rushes will continue for the next thirty years. When the forty years are fulfilled and the old generation have rushed completely out, there will be a cessation.
CHAPTER SIXTH. — THE CHINESE, RESOURCES, QUARTZ, COPPER.
The Chinese have been a great blessing to this State. They have saved the Americans the trouble of working about one-half of their diggings. They were among the first to render the condition of male humanity tolerable by the introduction of females. The collection of the foreign miners tax, to which they liberally contributed has enriched many worthy men.
Quartz is a fine white rock and sometimes holds a great deal of the precious metal. Much gold can be put in quartz and it will retain it so firmly that you may never get it out again. It is difficult to ascertain whether quartz or river mining has proved most efficacious in cleaning men out of their piles gathered from the placers.
Copper ranks next to quartz in importance at least so far as the cleaning out process is concerned.
To be cleaned out it to arrived at the finale of the process of ‘petering.’
Our most learned geologists (some of whom have made this science a study for weeks) say that a belt of copper extends through the entire State.
There are a few paying claims. The remainder only require depth and more assessments.
The proper method of working a quartz or copper mine can best be learned in a broker’s office on Montgomery street.
There is some oil in California, but it requires for its development depth, assessments and foreign capital!
Above picture, along with many other awesome ones can be found HERE: San Francisco in the Past in Black and White
CHAPTER SEVENTH. — TOWNS AND CITIES.
San Francisco is the principal town in California. Sacramento comes next in importance, Stockton next, and Dutch Flat next. San Francisco is situated directly opposite Goat Island, and is noted chiefly for its earthquakes and for being General Halleck‘s Thomas Maguire’s and Samuel Brannan‘s stamping ground.
A large portion of the city is built over the water. The early settlers were not aware for several years that there was any land back.
With the exception of Telegraph Hill it has several times been destroyed by fire.
San Francisco is also noted for the number and variety of its local novelists, and the pomp and splendor of its lunch tables. The principal public buildings are the Station House, and the old Bulletin office in Merchant street.
The old Bulletin office is of the ironical style of architecture, and is ornamented outwardly with fresco a’la poster.
San Francisco also boasts an extensive zoological collection at North Beach, and a public gallery of modern and unique statuary at the Willows.
The inhabitants are Cosmopolitan, Mongolian, and Ethiopian. A few small American traders and mechanics still linger in its precincts.
Trade and commerce flourish to some extent in San Francisco, but the principal occupation of the people consists in building new school-houses, growling about high fares on the street railroads, fighting the Moore claim, paying poll taxes, and all sorts of taxes, and getting run over by the Market street cars.
Sacramento by the way is the capital of California, and is noted for its humidity in the rainy season.
CHAPTER EIGHTH. — SOCIETY.
California society is generally mixed. The females are generally ‘fast.’ Males ditto. Marriage is expensive and unpopular. Divorces are cheap, and often prove a never-failing relief in time of need.
A brilliant future is in store for California, and the day is not far distant when she may rank next to many other States in the Union.
The Golden Era (San Francisco, California) – Jun 24, 1866