Archive for April, 2009

The Ohio 49’ers: Some Stay, Some Return

April 30, 2009
Placer Times August 18, 1849

Placer Times August 18, 1849

From the Sandusky Mirror.

Capt. Dibble has handed us a number of the Placer Times, printed at Sacramento City, California, dated August 18, 1849. It was forwarded by Mr. Stewart E. Bell. It is a trifle larger than a foolscap sheet and contains about as much news matter as two columns of our Daily, and is printed weekly at $10 per year by T.R.Per Lee & Co.

Mr. Bell writes that of the eleven young men from Sandusky, who were in the first overland company that arrived in California, he was unable to recognize one of them, although intimately acquainted with all of them last January. So great was the hardships they had endured, they were but the shadows of men. They had recruited and Mr. L. McGee was at work at his trade in Sacramento City. Mr. B.B. Barney was clerking at $400 a month. The other nine of the company, including Messrs. Jennings, Whipple, Pettibone and Johnson, had gone to the mines.

The mules of the Sanduskians were sold on their arrival, at three to four hundred dollars each. The baggage they started with had nearly all been left after leaving Salt Lake.

Mr. J.K. Glenn, of Lower Sandusky, arrived here yesterday morning, we understand, in the Queen City, direct from San Francisco. He went out last winter with a large cash capital, to purchase gold dust, and comes back, we learn, dissatisfied with the country, and satisfied that nothing can be made at the business he intended to engage in.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Oct 30, 1849

American House Advertisement 1849

American House Advertisement 1849

From the Sandusky Mirror.
Letter from California.

F.D. Parish Esq., has received a letter from Orlando McKnight, Esq. from which we are permitted to make the following extracts:

I have only time to say that I am keeping the American House in this place, and that I am doing a good business, board $3 per day without lodgings. But rent and expenses are enormous, I pay my cook $300 per month. Rent at the rate of $2,400 per year. This place contains 3,000 or 4,000 inhabitants and is growing very fast. There are about 20,000 persons in the mining country and about 30,000 more coming.

Persons in the mines can make 1 oz. per day, which is worth here sixteen dollars 00 some make more. The Mansfield and Tiffin company have made 2 to 9 oz. per day per man. Mr. S.E. Bell is here, gets $16 per day and board; laborers get $10 per day or $1 per hour. This is the greatest country in the world for a poor man but a rich one better stay at home. There is a great deal of sickness at this place, but mostly caused by imprudence, sleeping out doors and living like brutes. Gov. Shannon was here last week with a company of 20 men; they are now at work on the Uba river, about 70 miles from here.

The Lower Sandusky company arrived last week. The Sandusky company are well, and doing well. I know some men who have been getting 1 lb. per man per day but they have had great luck, 1 oz. is near the average of those who are able and willing to work. Goods are sold for less than they are in New York, provisions are getting to be very cheap. Flour $18 per bbl.

O. McKnight

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Oct 30, 1849

From the Sandusky Mirror June 4th.
Californian Returned.

Mr. Stewart E. Bell, of this city, arrived from California on Saturday evening last. He comes back in good health and good spirits. He has been one of the fortunate adventurers, having had good health during his entire absence from home — about one year and three months — and, we understand a fair share of success in business.

He has been engaged in ship building at Sacramento City, and in trading and mining at Weaverville, in company with Messrs. Wensinger and Pettibone, of this city, to whom he sold his interest in the establishment when he left.

Mr. Bell informs us that every thing in California depends on luck and chance, and that the chances of being sick and undergoing much suffering and misery are greater than those of being healthy and successful.

Mr. Cornwall, formerly of Mansfield, arrived in the same steamer with Mr. Bell.

Before leaving, he sold his interest to his partner in business, Barton Lee, formerly of this city, for 450,000. Mr. Cornwall has been absent about three years.

Mrs. Lee, and family of children came out in care of Mr. Bell; and Mr. Lee will return to this country as soon as he can arrange his business satisfactorily in California.

(Mrs. Lee and children we understand, are now at the residence of Benjamin Lee, Esq. in Bronson in this county.)

Our friend McKnight was doing a successful business in Sacramento City, although in poor health. He had erected a splendid hotel in this new made city.

Messrs. Walter and Lathrop were trading at Weaverville. They had not been very successful.

H.U. Jennings has been sick through the past winter. Messrs. Whipple and Johnson have not been heard of since they left for Oregon to regain their health.

Mr. Bell informs us that cities are spring up all over the mining country with the most astonishing rapidity, where real estate is held at prices above lots in New York city. Sacramento City, when Mr. Bell arrived there, contained but 3 houses; — when he left, in less than one year, it contained 30,000 inhabitants. It enjoys the advantage over San Francisco, in commerce, that vessels pass close beside the bank of the river and land their cargoes without lighterage. Vessel property is now worth but little in California. There were hundreds of vessels at San Francisco without anything to do. Vessels that cost $30,000 in New York, could be bought for $10,000.

While some were making fortunes in California, many more were finding premature graves, and others wearing out a miserable existance, afflicted with disease, and without the comforts of civilized life.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jun 11, 1850

** The Placer Times Newspaper images can be found HERE.

The Milan Company Arrives in Gold Country

April 29, 2009
Placerville, CA (Image from

Placerville, CA (Image from

According to an article I will be posting at a later date, the Milan Company consisted of the following men:

Ebenezer B. Atherton, (Captain), Martin Smith, Harvey C. Page, Robert Smith, Samuel Wickham, Jno. G. Norton, Hiram Allen, Snow Edison, Geo. C. Choate, Chas. Goodrich, J. Gregory and Wm. Jennings.

Good News.

We have been favored with the following interesting letter from E.B. ATHERTON, Esq., the Captain of the Milan Company of California emigrants, which conveys the gratifying intelligence that they had all nearly arrived at the end of their journey, in good health and spirits: — Milan Tribune.

SACRAMENTO CITY, Aug. 25th, 1849.
MESSRS. H. CHASE & Co., — Dear Sirs:

I arrived here on the 23d, in advance of the Company, who are perhaps five or six days behind. They thought best that I should come through in advance of them, and examine the different mines, means of operating, and get such other information as would be of advantage to the company. I left them on Carson river, and made the journey here in eight days, with a small Indian pony, (distance, 242 miles,) packing my provisions, one pair of blankets, one buffalo robe and cooking utensils, over the California mountains. The distance over the mountains is about 70 miles. The road is difficult. There are several places to ascend, where a good team cannot more than draw up an empty wagon, and going down require the wheels all “locked” and the utmost caution, to prevent accidents. This route is a new one, and is called the Southern or Left-hand route, which is taken three miles west of the sink of Mary’s river; it strikes the Carson river 45 miles from that point, and 20 miles above the sink of Carson river. —

Carson River

Carson River (Image from

This route is preferred to the northern one, on account of the pass over the mountains; the emigrant being obliged to pack his goods and wagon some seven miles over the summit, on the northern route. In descending the mountains, I struck Pleasant Valley, which I followed about 60 miles, and struck the American river 10 miles above this city.

When I arrived here I found myself and horse nearly “used up,” he having traveled several days without food, except weeds or browse, Grass may be found in the valleys, by going away from the road, from one to three miles. I was obliged to descend into one of these valleys on one occasion, after 10 o’clock at night, having traveled 34 miles over the worst portion of the mountains without grass, and sixteen miles without water. —

The whole distance from St. Joseph’s, Missouri, to Sacramento City, 2,000 miles. The teams will make the journey within four months’ time. We have found much on the route that has been interesting and pleasant to us while the whole journey is one of continual hardships and privations. Our company have enjoyed good health generally, except slight attacks from colds, and excessive fatigue, being in several instances obliged to travel all night to pass long stretches of sand without grass or water — a distance of from 20 to 45 miles. I have seen the men so much worn down with fatigue and loss of sleep, that they would sink down on the road and fall asleep.

These were hard times, but none murmured. Fording and ferrying the streams, is both hard work and dangerous; the water being generally cold, deep and rapid, requiring the utmost care, and frequently getting wet, beside the trouble and risk of swimming our mules and horses over these streams, there being no other mode of getting them over, the ferry boats being made expressly for wagons and packs.

Fording a River (Image from

Fording a River (Image from

We made the journey up to the time I left he company, without accident, except breaking a wagon hound, which did not hinder us more than two hours to repair.

The Indians have killed and stolen many horses, mules and cattle on the route; but we have lost none, our mules and horses have been strictly guarded to prevent such difficulties.

I have visited some portions of the mine, and think they fully meet my expectations. An industrious man can dig an ounce per day, ($16) and sometimes much more. I think it safe to say that a man can average from $10 to $20 per day, by working hard. The wet “diggings” are thought to be the best until the wet season, say until the 1st of December next; when the miners will go further into the mountains.

This city is on the Sacramento river, about 100 miles from its mouth. It has come into existence within the last three months, and now contains about 7,000 inhabitants. The buildings are principally built of canvass or cotton cloth, which is drawn over stakes and poles. In many instances common tents are used for stores and dwelling houses; the goods being mostly outside. Lots sell from $500 to $10,000 each.

These canvass houses are filled with the choicest goods, while the sides of the streets and river banks are covered with every variety of goods that our eastern cities can furnish. The utmost order and regularity prevail here; crime and thefts are punished with the rifle, pistol or bowie knife. Common labor is $10 per day; mechanics get $16. Flour is worth $16 per bbl.; Mess pork $40; fresh beef 25 cents per lb.; lumber $450 to $500 per M.; sugar 16 cts per lb.; baker’s bread 50 cts. per loaf; horses, cattle and mules are comparatively cheap. Money is plenty; any one can have it by digging after it.

Gold Rush Town (Image from

Gold Rush Town (Image from

I think our company will be here in time for us to commence operations within eight days, after which I will try to give you a less confused, and more particular description of matters and things here.

The Scipio and Norwalk companies will be here within two days; I passed them on the mountains; they were all well. Mr. J.V. Vredenburgh and son are some distance behind; they travelled in company with Captain Newton, of Norwalk, as far as Bear river. Dr. Thompson, (Dentist,) from Mansfield, Ohio, is here. Mr. Baker, of Monroeville, Cook, of Bellevue, and George Goodhue, will be here to-morrow.

The Milan company wished Mr. Waggoner to publish, for the benefit of their friends, the fact of their good health and highest expectations of success. I shall be glad to hear from you, and all others who will be kind enough to write to me, and will answer such letters with pleasure. You will please to remember me to your families, my friends in Greenfield, and others generally. We wish all letters sent to any member or members of our company, to be directed to Sacramento City. The next steamer sails from San Francisco on the 1st Sept. I am obliged to send this letter to that place by messenger, to be mailed in time, which gives me twenty minutes to write what I don’t believe you can read.

Yours sincerely,

P.S. Don’t fail to write often, and send papers frequently. Recollect I am a great distance from you — and bound to make some money before I see you again. I will try to give you a more full description of our route, and of this country in my next letter. I hardly know what I have written in this. E.B.A.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Oct 30, 1849

**For more articles about the Gold Rush and some of the men mentioned here, click on my “Gold Rush” category on the right.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

April 28, 2009
Mammon by George Frederic Watts (image from

Mammon by George Frederic Watts (image from

A tale of sickness, death and loneliness in the Gold Country.

Life and Death in California

We quote the following from the California Journal of A.G. Lawrence, Esq., published in the Cleveland Herald. Its melancholy picture is no doubt too true, and shows how little of real humanity and human happiness can exist in a land where Mammon is the only God, and selfishness reigns supreme:

“A great percentage of the inhabitants are sick, and I have seen more dejected countenances and pale faces here than I ever saw in the same length of time before. I should think that one half of the population sleep in tents, and are consequently exposed to the weather, which is more changeable than I have ever known in any other country. It is not safe for any one to be out after dark, as the air is so damp and penetrating that no clothing, however thick and warm, affords security.

I never saw so many with colds, and colds here are of a more malignant character than elsewhere; they affect every part of the system at the same time, making a man unfit for anything. For instance, I have known persons in perfect health, and by going into crowded rooms but for one minute, and out again, have, on going into the air, taken a cold which was almost equal to being smitten with the plague. — Colds almost invariably settle on the lungs and produce a cough. There is an incredible amount of consumption here. It is painful to see the disregard for life, especially of the lives of others. One evening while I was on ship board, the mate came on board and said he had just seen a man on the hill laying on the ground with nothing but a blanket, and was dying. He had been in a tent, but his companions had taken that flimsy habitation from over him, and the heavy night dews were falling on this brow, soon to be cold in the embrace of death.

None to watch o’er him,
None to speak the last, the parting word,
Which, when all other sounds decay,
Is still like distant music heard.
The tender farewell on the shore
Of this rude world, when all is o’er
Which cheers the spirit, ere its bark
Starts off into the unknown dark.

The next morning he was dead, and none knew who he or his friends were. — Of course his remains were hurried away, and he sleeps where none hereafter can find his resting place. As one passes through the muddy streets he is constantly met by pale faces, and emaciated forms in tattered garments. It requires no soothsayer’s aid to know that such have no health, and no friends, and such being the case, can they be otherwise than miserable? Three fourths of those who come from the mines are of this character — having lost health, made no money, and are without the means to leave the country, “they are left to the rude mercy of a stream that must forever hide them.”

One remark I should have made in the proper place, though of itself of no importance. About one-fourth of the houses in the place are built of scantling, and sided up and roofed with cotton sheeting; the roofs are painted to keep out the water, but such houses are entirely unfit to inhabit, as in rainy weather they are very damp, and in cold weather very cold.

I have not seen a funeral since my arrival here, and the fact is, that when men sicken and die here, there is no ceremony about the rites that follow — their remains are hurried off in as little time as possible, and buried in all ways. The undertaker has his tent and sign on a hill, in sight of the whole town; around it may be seen a large pile of empty boxes ready to be used as coffins as occasion may require. If a man dies with an abundance of money he is interred in a coffin, prepared with a gold plate, stating name, age, and residence, and perhaps that it (the plate) is of California gold, but if the hapless man dies possessed of none of that which is strong and sure to make friends, he usually is interred in an old dry goods box. To the dead all places are alike.”

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Mar 19, 1850

John B. Weller: Gold Rush Era Politician

April 28, 2009
John B. Weller (Image from

John B. Weller (Image from

While searching for “California Gold Rush” news articles, I ran across and transcribed the following article, assuming John B. Weller was was of the many “49’ers” who hailed from Ohio. However, after a little research, I realized he went to California for a different reason. As it turns out, he was an Ohio politician, who seemed to be in the midst of a scandal, which might have been the push needed to go elsewhere. Fortunately for him, the scandal didn’t follow him, and he eventually became the fifth governor of California.

First, some background on John B. Weller:

In this Ohio government biography, it states he was married four times! His wives seemed to just keep dying, although that was NOT the scandal I mentioned. I just thought it was interesting. This is a pretty good biography, although it seems to be written with a rather positive slant.

From the “Governors of California” bio, which is quite short, I quote the following interesting tidbits (emphasis mine):

He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, served in the Mexican War, and was U.S. Commissioner of International Boundaries. …[Later, after a scandal] he was removed from the commission by President Taylor. Somehow recovering from the scandal, Weller entered politics in California first serving as State Senator. As Governor, he intended to make California an independent republic if the North and South divided over slavery, and he personally led an assault on San Quentin Prison to take back possession of it from a commercial contractor.

This Journal News article (1990) gives a good time line of his life, including the following:

In two of his three House elections, Weller defeated Lewis D. Campbell, who had been his roommate when both first came to Hamilton. Weller declined to seek a fourth term and returned to his law practice in Hamilton.

When the Mexican War started in May 1846, Weller enlisted as a private, helped raise troops in Butler County and rose to colonel and commander of the Second Ohio Regiment when its colonel was killed in the Battle of Monterey Sept. 24, 1846.

After the war, he was the Democratic candidate for governor in 1848, but lost to Seabury Ford, a Whig, during a questionable vote count. One tally gave Weller a 259-vote victory. But the version accepted by the Ohio General Assembly Jan. 22, 1849, made Ford the winner by 311 votes.

While the election was in doubt, Weller’s third wife, Susan, died in Hamilton Dec. 22, 1848, and was the second person buried in the new Greenwood Cemetery. (His first wife, Ann, also was reburied there.)

**The one above about his wife dying, is particularly of interest, given the mean-spirited poem written about the Weller family that you will find posted further down.

In January 1849, two months before the end of his term, President James K. Polk, a Democrat, appointed Weller chairman of the commission to determine the boundary line between the United States (California) and Mexico under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Political changes in Washington led to Weller’s recall in 1850 by the new president, Zachary Taylor, a Whig.

In 1851, the California legislature elected him to the U. S. Senate as a Union Democrat to succeed John C. Fremont. In the Senate from Jan. 30, 1852, until March 3, 1857, Weller supported building a Pacific railroad and homestead bills and was regarded as a pro-slavery Democrat.

In 1867 he moved to New Orleans to practice law. He died there of smallpox Aug. 17, 1875. The body of the former Hamilton lawyer was returned to San Francisco for burial.

Finally, from the National Governors’ Association comes this:

Weller also dealt with an ongoing feud between opposing factions in the Democratic Party, which was led by U.S. Senator David C. Broderick and U.S. Senator William M. Gwin. The feud culminated in September 1859 when David S. Terry, a former judge of the California Supreme Court, killed U.S. Senator Broderick in a duel.

Now, on to the newspaper articles, this first one being the one I mentioned at the beginning of the post:

From California.

We give the following extract from a letter dated San Francisco, Sept. 15th, 1850.

We have had a hard time of it here in the money market, during the past month, and many large houses have failed. The credit system is creeping into the profession, and although business is plenty, it is more difficult to collect. I have now three cases on hand, where success in either would give me as much as I want.

This city is improving more rapidly than any city in the world — the most extensive improvements have been made in every direction since you left. The city is fast running out into the Bay, and large and extensive business houses erected 500 yards from the shore on a line with the principal streets. And yet while all this is going on, money commands 10 and 12 per cent per month.

The miners are not so successful this year as last. Upon some of the rivers nothing is found. I doubt very much whether the average will be $2 per day — this may perhaps have a salutary effect upon the State, as it will drive the mechanics to their trades, and the farmers to agriculture. Thousands are leaving the mines and seeking employment in the cities.


Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Nov 19, 1850


Some further research turned up the following articles that give some political background, although it should be noted some are written by the opposing political party newspapers. In contrast, the article from the Mountain Democrat is from a “friendly” paper.

The Youth of Weller.

When a man by the aid of his genius, the lustre of his acts, or the force of circumstances, is ushered very prominently into the public view, his personal history becomes a topic of interest from his youth up, and a host of literary gossips are sent down to search out all the leading events of his babyhood.

As Mr. WELLER has been taken up by the Locofoco party of this State, for the purpose of making him a very great man, in short a Governor, it is proper to investigate his biography a little, in order that we may understand how his past achievements, are to coincide with his future honors.

We clip the following “incident” from a file of ’44 campaign papers, which was first published in the Richmond Palladium, of course sometime before Mr. WELLER was thought of in either of his military characters, as the Hero of Monterey or Generalissimo of the Revolutionary Forces in Ohio. We add to it another chapter, which is going the rounds of the press, and we presume that other chapters will come to light, until by the time that their interesting subject is comfortably seated in the gubernatorial chair, we shall receive from the hands of some publisher, an elegant edition of “The Youth of Weller,” complete in one volume, which will fit, in all our public libraries, cozily and decorously beside “The Youth of Shakespeare.”

AN INCIDENT. — Some ten or twelve years ago, a young man dressed in the tip top of the fashion of that day, with his ruffles floating at his breast, his fingers engemed with rings, his hat cap-a-pie, and the airs of the dandy pervading the whole of the thing called a man, appeared in the town of Centerville, as our hero no doubt thought, much to the astonishment of the natyves. He soon found his way to the Courthouse, which was then occupied by the circuit Court. He pompously entered within the bar, and seated himself among the lawyers. After a while a case was called, wherein Mr. A. of the State of Ohio, had sued Mr. B. of this county on a plain note of hand. Our hero, the dandy, appeared as Counsel of the plaintiff, and stated to the Court that he presumed there would be no difficulty in the case, it being a plain and simple obligation to pay money. —

One of the Whoosier lawyers, having a little fun in connection with his other qualifications, concluded to contest the case, and put in various pleas containing several foolish and untenable positions. Our hero, arose in surprise, and stated that he was not prepared to meet the case nor form the issue, as he had not anticipated any opposition, and concluded by asking a continuance of the case. It was continued by our hero paying the cost. At the next term of the Court, our county was again honored with the presence of the Ohio dandy. His case was again called, and he was about to proceed with it, when the impudent Whoosier asked permission to file some additional pleas, equally foolish with the first, saying that certain facts had come to his knowledge since the last term, which it might be important to have brought forward in his case; he was permitted to file them. Our hero, being thus nonplused again, asked for a continuance of the case until the next term. The next and third term of the court arrived, and with it, our effeminate, and astonishingly fine dressed hero. He was this time accompanied by his client, a plain and highly respectable man. The case was again called, but our fun loving Whoosier lawyer again rose to file more pleas. The client of our hero, fearing that his attorney would again be foiled, applied to one of the lawyers then residing in Centreville, to attend to the case, saying that he was under the impression that his attorney was not acquainted with the practice in this State. The lawyer thus applied to after pocketing a pretty fair fee, went into Court, and asked that the case might be brought up. —

The lawyer who had been putting in pleas, immediately rose and said that he confessed judgement! So ended the case; and our chop-fallen, peacock hero, dropped his feathers, and skulked out of town, and did not for some years show his face in the town of Centreville, and in conclusion we are compelled to say that our coxcomb hero, was a Mr. WELLER.

WHO IS JOHN B. WELLER? A writer in the Cleveland Times attempts to tell the public the answer to this mighty question. And the Telegraph, in its simplicity copies the article for the enlightenment of the people in this region who have been endeavoring for the last fifteen years to find out who is John B. Weller.

The writer tells us that Col. W. was born in Hamilton county, and has his home there; and then he tells us how the said Weller has been often elected in Butler county; that he was elected Prosecutor in 1835 by an overwhelming majority, over a very popular opponent, and re-elected the next term by acclamation, “no one being found willing to run against an individual so endeared to the people!!!” —

The people here recollect something like this:

–Mr. Weller was a very forward young man who studied law with Jesse Corwin, and was a Whig, and was Secretary of a Clay meeting as soon as old enough; but on entering business he turned Loco, and run for the office of Prosecutor, against his benefactor, Mr. Corwin, and in a county giving some 1500 majority, he was elected by the overwhelming majority of seventy-five!!! If the people did not remember this they might ask, who is John B. Weller?

He then run for Congress, says the narrator and was elected by a large majority, and in 1840, re-elected by a large majority. This majority, was just 57!! where two years before he received 800! But the people in this district were beginning to know “who is John B. Weller?”

In the late history of the Lieutenant Colonel his biographer seems better informed, and he tells how the Colonel volunteered as a private and was elected Captain, then Lieutenant, and went to Mexico; to which he adds much of the glorifying usually claimed for him here. —

But some how or other he has either forgotten or never heard all about the Colonel in Mexico. He never tells anything about the way he domineered over the men, and assumed airs of consequence, and rendered himself ridiculous generally — nor does he mention the great prudence of the Colonel in choice of positions, and a variety of other things that must yet be told in answer to the question, “who is John B. Weller?”

As material for another writer, it might be said that Lieutenant Colonel Weller has never run up with his party, in any instance when he was a candidate — that he is reserved and haughty in his demeanor, and anything but a favorite with the people — a demagogue of the most unmitigated character. But he is known here and may be known pretty well over the State this year. After the knowledge is attained, we trow no Locofocos will enquire “who is John B. Weller?” (Hamilton Intelligencer.)

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) May 9, 1848


A Locofoco Jewel.

“Consistency is a jewel,” and so is the Sandusky City Mirror. When the Baltimore nominations were received, it sturdily refused to support Gen. Cass, because he was a doughface, or Gen. Butler, because he was a slave-holder. We notice that it has just unfurled the Barnburner flag, for VanBuren and Dodge; but it is patched with a most unseemly accompaniment —

After a conscientious delay of several moons’ duration, it has at last put up the name of Col. Weller. as its candidate for Governor; a man who has been the most abject slave of the slaveocracy that ever shamed the halls of Congress!

The fact has raised a difficult issue in our mind, which we will leave out to a baker’s jury of one dozen — which is the greatest doughface, Lewis Cass, John B. Weller, or the Editor of the Mirror?

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jul 4, 1848


COL. WELLER’S DEFENSE. — The Commissioners of Butler county filed their bill in Chancery against John B. Weller, charging him, as one of the commissioners of the Surplus Revenue Fund, with being indebted to that fund in the sum of eleven thousand dollars and interest, which he does not pay, &c. &c.

To this Col. Weller comes and defends. And in what does that defence consist? Why, Col. Weller does not deny that he has the money. He does not traverse the facts set forth in the bill. But he says that he ought not to be called upon to answer the charges and allegations of the complainant’s bill, because, he says the said suit was commenced by and in the name of the commissioners of the county of Butler, whereas in fact said suit ought to have been commenced by and in the name of the Procecuting Attorney of said county.

He stands up to the fight at law, just about as well as he did in the wars.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Aug 1, 1848


Colonel Weller
Has been into Clermont county, and he made a speech there which did not very much “astonish the natives.” The Courier thus sums it up:
The positions assumed, and the sum total of the speech, were as follows:
1. Abuse of the Whigs generally.
2. Abuse of General Taylor.
3. Abuse of Seabury Ford.
4. Polk did not annex Texas.
5. The war was brought on by Mexico.
6. Abuse of Senator Corwin.
7. Laudation of John B. Weller.
9. The “mouse in liquor,” like Weller at Montery.)
10. The dying soldier’s request — tears &c.

1. The Eleven Thousand Dollars Defalcation! Forgot that entirely!
2. The Ohio Banks, and the Hard Money issue.
3. The Tax Law.
4. The Dorrite proceedings of the 10th of May, for which he took strong ground at the opening of the campaign, urging his friends to be prepared to march to Columbus next winter, and, if need be, drive the Whigs out of the State House “at the point of the bayonet!”
5. Cass’ Federalism.
6. Cass’ extra pay.
7. Cass’ bill reducing the allowance of the volunteers from $3,50 to $1,91 per month.
8. The much talked of “principles” of the party.

Not one of these subjects was deemed worthy of notice by Col. Weller, in his speech to the “democracy of Clermont.”

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Sep 8, 1848


Keep it before the People,
That John B. Weller declared that the Apportionment Bill, passed at the last session of the Legislature, should be modified, if it had to be done at the point of the bayonet!

That John B. Weller is in favor of abolishing every Bank in the State, and of Hard Money Currency.

That John B. Weller was one of the Fund Commissioners of Butler county, and that he is now a defaulter to the amount of eleven thousand dollars!

That John B. Weller compared all men who are in favor of Free Soil to “Ragged and Scurvy Sheep.” and said that he would not thank them for their votes!

That John B. Weller, while a member of Congress, voted against the right of petition! Can the people of Ohio vote for such a miserable doughface? —Tusc Advocate

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Sep 11, 1848


**This is the poem I mentioned earlier in the post:

From the Zanesville Courier.
AIR — Governor Tod.

Colonel Weller ran home in a hurry,
The Locos were shouting like fun;
Said he, Mrs. Weller, don’t worry,
I’m Governor! sure as a gun.

The cannons were booming like thunder,
The rockets went off in a whiz;
Said she, My Dear Colonel, I wonder
If me you aint trying to quiz?

Oh no! said the Colonel; keep shady —
I pledge you my honor upon it —
Now, since you’re the Governor’s lady,
My Dear, you must have a new bonnet.

And you must be dressed in the fashion,
In silks and in satins so fine;
A shawl you must have of Circassian —
The Governor’s Lady must shine.

But spoke Mrs. Weller, contending,
Our children must have some new clothes;
Their trowers I’m tired of mending,
Their shoes are all out at the toes.

The Colonel was highly excited
When each little dirty nosed Weller
Came running — their Papa, delighted,
Wiped each little Governor’s smeller.

Come, hold up your heads, little “fellers,”
And play with your neighbors no more;
These children of Governor Weller’s
“Must slide on their own cellar door.”

Be still, boys, don’t make such a racket,
And you shall be dressed in new suits;
Long tails shall be put to your jackets,
High heels shall be tapped on your boots.

We’ll start for Columbus soon — “may be;”
So children, look very sedate;
Your “Ma” is a Governor’s Lady,
And I’m the big man of the State.

A shout — a Whig shout — comes astounding,
Great “noise and confusion” was heard
High o’er the hill-tops resounding,
Hurra for Old Cheesebury Ford.

Colonel Weller he heard it, astonished;
Mrs. Weller she said with a tear,
Naughty fellow, you ought to be punished,
“Such castles to build in the air.”

So, smoothing her apron so tidy,
At the Colonel she looked with a leer —
“I have a queer sort of an idea,
You’re not yet a Gov’ner, my dear.”

The Colonel was left in great trouble —
The little young Wellers looked sad,
For they all got spanked with a shovel,
And squalling they ran off to bed.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Nov 21, 1848


The California fever is raging here to a considerable extent, three companies are forming to start on the 1st of April next, and some of the best citizens of Columbus are of the number; they all take the overland route.
Colonel Weller starts from Cincinnati next Wednesday and proceeds to New Orleans, where he will make the final arrangements for his expedition. He goes first to Santiago on the Pacific, I believe, and takes with him a company of 36 Engineers, Surveyors, Clerks &c., among the number is H.H. Robinson, of the Eagle, who goes as Secretary. I wonder if that nice Silk Hat won’t go without brushing — that near setting coat won’t get a little rumpled, that fine satin vest, and snowy shirt bosom won’t get a little soiled, those tight pants won’t want another pair of straps on, and if his boots won’t want heel tapping before he gets back; I think, myself, quite likely they will.

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Feb 10, 1849


Colonel Weller, with his surveying party, left Cincinnati on Saturday morning on the “Daniel Webster,” for New Orleans. The Nonpareil says he proceeds direct to San Diego, to meet a similar party from the Mexican government, and from thence they run the boundary line between the two countries.

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Feb 27, 1849


We learn from the Cincinnati Enquirer that Colonel Weller and suite left that city on Saturday last, on board the steamer Daniel Webster, for Mexico. — Ohio Statesman

We suppose, of course, this is the same suit that has been so long pending against the Colonel in Butler county for those $11,000, and that since his defeat for Governor, he has concluded to “change the venue.” — Dayton Journal.

The Zanesville Courier (Zanesville, Ohio) Mar 1, 1849


From his time in California:

John B. Weller.

We have, for some time past, says the Sierra Citizen, been intending to speak of the services of this retiring Senator in behalf of the State he so ably represented, when the following statements, made by a correspondent of the San Francisco Herald, writing from Washington, met our eye; and embodying, as it does, an undisputed record of the acts and doings of this faithful servant, during his stewardship, we substitute it with pleasure for any remarks we had intended to make of our own. We must, however, be allowed to say, in this connection, that we have known John B. Weller from our boyhood, — we know his faults, but we know his virtues as well, — and to those acquainted with our relative positions, anything we might say in this connection will have doubly the weight that parties not cognizant of our relative positions, in our intercourse in the Atlantic States, will accord it.

We are familiar with the personal and political history of John B. Weller ever since he entered upon his public career, which was as the State’s Attorney in a County in Ohio, where all our own brothers and the greater portion of our own relatives reside. A warm friend, he was ever open and generous, — bitter, it might be, in the advocacy of his party’s interests, and unsparing in political warfare — he was ever generous even to his opponents, and, although possessing faults, no one was more popular in his private relations. Although time, that softens all bitter feelings — that in the end “makes all things even,” — has mellowed down much of his party acerbity, — yet John B. Weller, when the question was vital between his personal and his party’s interests, never hesitated to sacrifice himself upon the altar of his party. Had he, like his opponent of the Gubernatorial Chair of Ohio, in 1848, caught at and pandered to the popular “isms” of the day, he would have made his “calling and election sure,” beyond all doubt or cavil, but he spurned the idea, and, as the standard-bearer of the true in contradistinction to the bastard Democracy, that went astray after false Gods, he preferred an honorable political defeat to a victory won by dishonorable sacrifice.

Now that John B. Weller is a private citizen, all parties unite in according to him that mood of justice which his services deserve. He has signified his intention to resume practice of his profession, and retire for a season, from the political arena, in which he has figured through life. But, if there is anything in the gift of the people of the State of California that he will accept, it is his, beyond all doubt or peradventure. If he prefer, however, to retain that “post of honor,” — a private stations, — it may be said of him, as of the Roman Patriot:

Alone, more proud the great Marcellus feels
Than Caesar with the Roman Senate at his heels

*The article goes on to talk about the money he brought to the state and the bills he tried to get passed, but I didn’t transcribe that part.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) May 30, 1857

Ex-Senator Weller Wants to be a Commodore.
{From the Seneca (Ohio) Advertiser.}

While in Washington we heard a good story in regard to Uncle Abe and John B. Weller, “the Mexican killer.”

Weller was at Washington settling his accounts as Minister to Mexico. After their adjustment, he concluded to pay his respects to Mr. Lincoln, with whom he had served in Congress. He called at the Presidential mansion, and was courteously received.

“Mr. President,” said Colonel Weller, “I have called on you to say that I most heartily endorse the conservative position you have assumed, and will stand by you so long as you prosecute the war for the preservation of the Union and the Constitution.”

“Colonel Weller,” said the President, “I am heartily glad to hear you say this.”

“Yes, Mr. President,” said Weller, “I desire an appointment to aid in this work.”

“What do you want, Colonel?” asked Abraham.

“I desire to be appointed Commodore in the Navy,” said Weller.

The president replied:

“Colonel, I did not think you had any experience as a sailor.”

“I never had Mr. President,” said Weller; “but judging from the Brigadier-Generals you have appointed in Ohio, the less experience a man has, the higher position he attains.”

Lincoln turned off, with a hearty laugh, and said — “I owe you one, Colonel.”

Davenport Daily Gazette (Davenport, Iowa) Feb 11, 1862

If you are interested in reading more about David Smith Terry, the politician with a temper, try these links:

The Virtual Museum of San Francisco

Dateline Sunday U.S.A.

Gold-Digger Survives Indian Massacre

April 17, 2009

Supposed Victim of Indian Massacre Finds His Family.

Lost for forty-eight years and given up for dead as one of the victims of an Indian massacre in 1859, when the other thirty-nine of the party were killed, Alanson X. Lockwood, father of Mrs. I.M. Bennett of 3631 Greenwood avenue, Seattle, has been located in Manton, Cal., and the daughter, now past the half-century mark, left Saturday over the Northern Pacific to meet her father she had supposed to be dead, says a Seattle correspondent of the Winnipeg Journal.

Merest chance has placed the long-separated father and daughter in communication and wrought events in such a manner that the aged father can be brought back to the family long lost to him. His aged wife, who married again after the report of the massacre of her husband, will hasten back to Seattle from Princeton, Ill., where his is now visiting. The second husband, whom she married forty-four years ago, died a few months since, and she will now meet her husband of fifty years ago.

During the gold rush to California in 1859 Mr. Lockwood went from Faribault, Minn., with a party of thirty-nine others to seek his fortune in the gold fields, leaving behind his young wife and daughter of 3 years. By the slow overland route of those days the party reached Boise, Idaho, where they constructed a raft and started down the south fork of the Boise and Snake rivers with the intention of going to Astoria and thence to California.

What became of the party no one ever knew, but the bones and belongings of thirty-nine of them were found bleaching upon the prairies and the report went back to the little Minnesota town that all had been killed by the Indians. Years crept slowly by and the little child became the wife of E. Wickham and the fate of Lockwood passed into the forgot past.

Friends of Mrs. Bennett in the east recently heard of a man by the name of Alanson X. Lockwood, living in California, and the peculiarity of the name aroused their interest. They wrote to Mrs. Bennett and she asked a friend who was going to California to investigate. The result was that after an exchange of letters if was learned beyond all doubt that Mrs. Bennett’s father was still living.

Only meager details of the escape of Mr. Lockwood and his subsequent failure to find his family have been sent to  Mrs. Bennett, but that little reads like a chapter from the strangest romance. When the party was set upon by the Indians after leaving Boise, Mr. Lockwood was struck upon the head and the Indians, believing he was dead, threw his body into the river.

How long he remained in the water he does not know. Eventually he made his escape and after many privations reached Lewiston, Idaho. From there he traveled to Astoria, and in time reached California. Meeting with success he sent for his family. But in the meantime the report of the massacre had reached Faribault, and the widow, believing the story, had moved away. Thus when Mr. Lockwood’s letters came there was no one to claim them and no one knew where Mrs. Lockwood had gone.

Mr. Lockwood remained faithful to the memory of the wife and daughter whom he had left behind. He could never account for their disappearance, and believed them both dead. He read of Indian troubles in Minnesota, and supposed his loved ones perished that way. The reunion of the long separated family will take place in Seattle.

Mountain Democrat (Placerville, California) Jan 25, 1908

Good Looking Men Are Too Great A Risk

April 15, 2009
Cotton Mill Workers (image from

Cotton Mill Workers (image from

The proprietor of a cotton factory put this notice on the gates: “No cigars or good looking men admitted.” In explanation he said, “The one will set a flame agoing among my cotton and the other among my girls. I won’t admit such dangerous things into my establishment. The risk is too great.”

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Mar 10, 1871

The Point of Pittsburgh (where I found the picture) looks like a great blog, lots of interesting pictures and historical information.

Squatters Riot-Sacramento City-1850

April 14, 2009
Image from

Image from


The Pacific News gives the following particulars of the riot at Sacramento City.
A terrible excitement pervades the City of Sacramento. The issue is between the squatters and settlers, holding property under the Sutter titles. Several persons are already killed and wounded on both sides.

The history of the affair thus far is briefly this: Large tracts of ground, covering the city and vicinity of Sacramento are held by grants from Capt. Sutter. The settlers hold that this Spanish grant is not valid and that the land belongs to the government. Several moved in and erected buildings, and a detainer was brought against them, and was decided in favor of the plaintiffs and a writ of restitution issued, but the officer who attempted to execute it was met by a body of armed squatters who resisted him on this occasion, Saturday, the 10th. Prior to this an appeal to the county court had been made by the attorney for the squatters, Judge Willis presiding, when the right of appeal was denied, which exasperated the party thus seeking redress, and meetings were held and resolutions passed to resist the law.

Nothing more was done by legal means from Saturday till Thursday, when some six or eight persons were arrested for resisting the officers in their duty, and in default of bail, two were incarcerated in the prison brig. When a body of squatters repaired to the brig to release their companions, they met Sherif McKinney and Major Bigelow with a possee, who drove them from the ground, but no force was used until they had retreated some distance from the river, when they were overtaken by the sherif and possee — they then turned, when the conflict occurred, an account of which has already been published.

At the time the Caroline left, 50 U.S. soldiers had left Benicia for Sacramento, and two volunteer companies at San Francisco had volunteered their services to maintain order.

The stoppage of Barton Lee at San Francisco of the heave sum of $1,100,000, produced great excitement both at Sac-ramento and San Francisco.

The Philiadelphia did not brings the mails.

The Daily Sanduskian (Sandusky, Ohio) Sep 23, 1950


Arrival of the Philadelphia — One Million more Gold — Squatter Riot at Sacramento — Failure for $1,100,000

New York, Sept. 20.
Steamship Philadelphia left Chagres the 9th inst., and arrived at New York this afternoon. She brings California dates to the 15th August. She brings $800,000 gold dust in freight, and $300,000 in hands of passengers. The Georgia is to bring the mail.

From the San Francisco Herald it appears that on the day previous to the sailing of the steamer, a great squatter riot had taken place in Sacramento City, by an attempt to liberate some squatter prisoners. The mayor was shot thro’ the arm, and Capt. Woodland, city assessor, was mortally wounded. The fighting was continued. Four or five reported killed; large forces were being raised to repel the riot. Martial law is proclaimed, and every citizen commanded to enrol his name at the City Hotel. The captain of the squatters, named Maloney, is dead. They threaten to burn the city.

The outbreak commenced on Monday, the 12th, when an armed body of the squatters were proceeding to the prison to release two of the party who were confined on board. They were confronted by Mayor Bigelow and members of the corporation. An affray soon after commenced, and the city was aroused to arms.

Mayor Bigelow was shot, and died in 15 minutes*. J.W. Woodland, city assessor, was shot and dead, and several other citizens were killed and wounded. Dr. Robinson and a man named Mahoney, two leaders of the squatters, were shot dead, as were several others of the party.

Image from

Image from

The squatter force soon swelled from 60 to between 700 or 800 armed men.

The keepers of the gambling houses and sporting men generally, were with the citizens and Real Estate owners. A tremendous force soon assembled. Lt. Gov. McDougal returned to the city as soon as he heard of the affray. —

The steamer McKim was despatched to Venecia, and the Senator to San Francisco for arms and men to use them.

The above is the substance of the news as published in the San Francisco papers, but as the steamer was getting under way, a despatch was received on board from the Pacific News office, stating that an express had arrived with the intelligence that Sacramento City had been reduced to ashes, and that the Squatters were receiving reinforcement from the mines.

News from the mines is very encouraging.

Barton Lee has stopped payment in Sacramento City for $1,100,000.

*Mayor Bigelow survived, but died later. See link above.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Sep 24, 1850


From the Washington National Intelligencer.

We are indebted to the Hon. WM. M. GWIN, Senator in Congress from California, for the subjoined copy of a letter from the lieutenant governor of that state, giving an authentic account of the late riot at Sacramento City, betwxen the squatters and landholders.

Aug. 14, 1850 — P.M.}

MY DEAR SIR: I am now on my way to Benicia, to solicit of Gen. Smith the aid of his troops to quell a large lawless mob, who are threatening the destruction of the lives and property of the citizens of Sacramento City; and as the steamer leaves for Panama to-morrow I avail myself of the opportunity of a friend who is going to the states, to write and give you the details of the horrible massacre that is now going on in this city.

For some time past the squatters have taken possession of a large portion of the town lots belonging to various persons, who have bought and paid for their property, and the excitement consequent thereon has been increasing gradually, and to-day the crisis broke forth. Some two days since a large meeting of the squatters took place, and they resolved that as the state was not admitted, the laws created by the Legislature were of no force, and that they would resist until death any mandate coming from any of our courts. On yesterday the sherif ejected some of them from the property of Mr. Rodgers, and several resisted his authority; two of them were brought before the county judge for thus acting, and were committed to the jail or prison-ship*.

The following is from A Memorial and biographical history of Northern California p.201; Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1891.

The first ship ever used in the state of California as a “prison brig” was the bark Stafford/Strafford, which was moored in the Sacramento River opposite the foot of I street. It was brought here from New York in 1849. While lying at the foot of O street it was sold at auction by J.B. Starr, and, though it had cost $50,000, it was knocked down to C.C. Hayden for $3,750! Immediately the latter sold three-quarters of his interest to Charles Morrill, Captain Isaac Derby and Mr. Whiting. In March, 1850, they rented the vessel to the county for a “prison brig.” May 25, 1850, the others sold out their interests to Charles Morrill, who intended the bark for a trader between San Francisco and Panama. It was loaded at the levee, but in so poor a manner that she nearly capsized on reaching the Bay of San Francisco. It was readjusted and taken on to the sea, but was never brought back.

Back to the original article:

This morning they organized to the number of one or two hundred, who had muskets and small arms, and aided by a large number ready to assist them, all armed, they marched through the streets in regular military style, their leader on horseback, with sword; went to several places from which they had been ejected and took possession; and then wended their way to the prison-ship, to release the two of their number that were imprisoned on yesterday. When near the ship they were met by the mayor (Bigelow,) who was on horseback, endeavoring to rally a posse to disperse them. At this instant a general firing commenced; the firing became general in I,K, and Fourth streets, the citizens running to and fro in every direction.

The sherif, a noble fellow mounted his horse and did all in his power to assemble a posse; but the panic was too great; none were prepared for what had come upon them. I did all I could to assemble a force and before I left issued a call for all to assemble in front of the City Hotel; had the cannon drawn up and loaded, and runners sent for all the arms that could be found. Issued, also, a notice for all non-combattants to keep out of the streets; and, after accomplishing this I started for the steamer Senator, which I had detained to wait orders, and immediately put out to get troops from Gen. SMITH. I left at the solicitation of a large number of the citizens who thought that I could exert a greater influence to get the troops here. When I left the firing was still going on, and the great consternation prevailed. I will be up with the troops by one o’clock to-night. — As the steamer left there was a cry to fire the town, and God only knows what will be done before I get back. I left Mayor Bigelow badly wounded. Mr. WOODLAND, and two others that I saw were lying dead, and several wounded. The leader of the mob was shot dead from his horse.

I will meet the steamer Gold Hunter in Suison bay, take her back and get the troops, provided Gen. Smith will let them go, which I have some fear of. He has acted very strangely in the difficulties that we have had to preserve law and order. If he refuses I will advise you before the steamer leaves to-morrow.

This is one of the results of our non-admission. A fearful crisis is at hand should Congress refuse us admission at this session. The only protection to our lives and property is to take possession of the customs.
In hast, very truly yours,

The Daily Sanduskian (Sandusky, Ohio) Sep 30, 1850


From California.

We have been permitted to read a letter from A.W. Lee of Bronson, dated at Brighton, California, August 26th 1850. — Mr. Lee had been in ill health most of the time since he had been in that country and was just recovering from severe illness. — He had sold out and in five or six weeks from the date of his letter, designed to return home. He thinks that there has been a change for the worse, in almost everything in California, since last May. Business was then flourishing, but it is now greatly depressed; and the hard times, he believes, have only begun. He advises all his friends at home not to emigrate to California. The Sacramento riot, which had just occurred, was occasioned by the arrest of some squatters in the city, for disorderly conduct. The squatters attempted to rescue them, and marched, armed, into the city — a conflict ensued; three of the squatters and one of the citizens were killed. The Mayor, and a number on both sides were wounded. The squatters retreated — the Sheriff followed them for the purpose of arresting the ringleaders, but was killed in the attempt; two more of the squatters were killed and a number wounded.

Mr. Burras of Fairfield, was to leave for home soon. Ira Seymour was well and engaged in mining. Barton Lee was well and was engaged in closing up his extensive business. Notwithstanding his heavy failure, he hoped to pay off all his liabilities and save some two hundred thousand dollars besides.

The cost of living in California was still very great. Mr. Lee writes that he was paying $30 per week for board.

*Benjamin Lee was Barton Lee‘s father.

We have been favored by Mr. Benjamin Lee*, with the Daily Sacramento Transcript, of August 15th and 16th. They state that the Mayor, although severely wounded in the squatter riot, would probably recover. The leader of the rioters was killed. The Transcript states that the Legislature of the State of Sonora, in Mexico, had prohibited its citizens from leaving the State without passports, in consequence of the great emigration to California, amounting to 5,893 the present year.

Matters were quiet at Sacramento city. Two companies of volunteers had come from San Francisco, and the authorities were busy in ferreting out the rioters.

The intelligence from the mines was favorable. At Carson’s new diggings, on the Stanislaus, a lump of gold, almost wholly free from quart was taken out, weighing  forty pounds.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Oct 22, 1850

A Letter From Hang Town

April 13, 2009
The Yankee House at Hang Town (image from

The Yankee House at Hang Town (image from

California–Letter from Homer J. Austin.

We are permitted to copy the following interesting letter, received a short time since from Mr. H.J. Austin, of Ripley Township, who went to California last spring, by the overland route. It is addressed to his wife, and is dated August 11th, 1850, at Cold Springs, El Dorado Co., California. Mr. Austin writes:

“We arrived at Hang Town, five miles from this place, the 2d inst., safe and sound, after a journey of 95 days from old Fort Kearney, the place of leaving the States. It has been a journey of pleasure rather than hardship, although attended with fatigue and some danger. We left Salt Lake City the 24th of June. From thence we travelled 200 miles to the junction of Ft. Hall road without encountering anything of much interest. There we fell in company with Oliver Orton, of Mo., formerly of Richland Co., Ohio, who was taking through ten men, to work on shares. Dr. Stewart of New Haven, was with them. They strengthened our train and added much to our enjoyment.

Thousand Spring Valley (Photo by Ralph Maughan;

Thousand Spring Valley (Photo by Ralph Maughan;

One hundred miles from there we struck the Thousand Spring Valley, called by some, Warm Spring Valley. It is almost destitute of good water, what there is, being found in natural wells some ten feet deep, and from six to ten feet across, and either warm or alkaline. The Valley is some 100 miles in extent, and the road across it is good, except that the dust which resembles slack lime or ashes, is about 6 inches deep, and renders it very unpleasant for travel, and ruinous to stock.

Humbolt River 1849 (painting by Thomas Evershed;

Humbolt River 1849 (painting by Thomas Evershed;

Proceeding from thence we struck the Humbolt or Mary’s River, (which is called by the emigrants, the Horse Killer,) and followed it 300 miles, to the sink. The river being very high, or some 8 feet higher than last spring, it was impossible to cross it with teams, or to grass our stock on its bottom, in consequence of the mire. The whole distance is one bed of alkali, or saleratus bottom, and perfectly destitute of grass, except in the slews and across the river. We were compelled to swim the river to get grass for our stock which was attended with some dangers even to good swimmers. — The river is some 300 yards across and has a very swift current. Several emigrants were drowned in the river this season. John Parrott came very near drowning; we saved him by throwing him a rope. The banks of the river are perfectly lined with dead horses, mules, and oxen which i was impossible to avoid, and which made it very unpleasant.

In addition to these difficulties it is infested with a tribe of Indians, called Diggers, who live in the mountain cliffs. They steal horses and shoot the passing emigrants for diversion. Our stock had to be guarded day and night, which tried the courage of our men to some degree. One man was shot through the heart with an arrow, on the night of 2d of July, while he was on guard. We were camped about 2 miles back and saw him the next morning. I volunteered several nights, to stand guard at dangerous points, where I was fearful that we should lose our stock, unless well guarded, while grazing on the bluffs at night. We saw but a few Indians, as they keep concealed from the emigrants, altho’ they stole a good deal of stock.

We arrived at the Willow Springs, 20 miles from the Sink, on the 19th of July. We went on to the Willow Meadows and made hay for crossing the Desert. We stayed two days and made about 800 lbs of hay. Leaving one of our horses to recruit 4 weeks and then to be brought through, we started on the 22d at sun down across the Desert. We travelled all night and camped at 10 o’clock the next morning at a salt spring. At 5 P.M., we struck tent and travelled until sunrise the next day, when we arrived at Carson River, a distance of 40 miles, 15 miles being very deep sand next to the river. We had plenty of water for ourselves and most enough for our horses, while many others suffered very much. We counted 160 dead horses and found wagons left too numerous to count, upon the Desert. Our stock stood it well.

At the river we found plenty of pork and flour that had just arrived from California to relieve the emigrants. Those that had money had to pay $2 per pound, the same price for pork and flour. Those that had no money or stock got the same quantity. 3 lbs. of flour and 3 of pork, all that one person could buy or have at any price. I saw many almost starved to death, begging for food, as they arrived at the river. Some had been compelled to eat horseflesh.

Fortunately, we had plenty of food. We concluded to leave our wagons and pack the balance of the way, 200 miles, to Hang Town, which we did without difficulty. I think it would have detained us some 3 or 4 days longer to have got thro’ with wagons, and we might have failed at last. It would have cost us much more than our wagons and harness would have been worth, if we had brought them thro’. Orton hitched on to our wagon, it being better than his, but he was under the necessity of leaving it in the canyon, in Carson Valley. Our provisions lasted until we arrived within 40 miles of Hang Town.

We supplied ourselves at meal time, at the trading posts that we passed every 3 or 4 miles the balance of the way. I have not lost a meal since I left the States, and never enjoyed better health. There has been but little sickness on the plains, this season, but a good deal of suffering from famine.

Miners in Hangtown, William Shew, 1849. (iamge from /

Miners in Hangtown, William Shew, 1849. (image from

We found George Stewart, who informed us that Burras and Seymour were at Cold Springs, so we left for that place, after sending our stock on to a rancho, 8 miles from Sacramento City. We found Burras, and were much pleased to see him. He was mining in company with Seymour, Delano Patrick, and Edward Whyler. Burras wished me to go in company with him, which I concluded to do, a short time at least, as he had become somewhat acquainted with mining, and had plenty of tools. Edward and John Parrott started for the city with Dr. Stewart and George Stewart. I have worked, or partly worked, at mining 5 days, and made about $40. We shall soon leave for the rivers, as the water is getting too low in the dry diggings.

Wages here are $6 per day — on the rivers $8 per day and board; by the month, from $100 to $200. John Parrott engaged at driving team for Gage, formerly of Steam Corners, for $150 per month. Provisions of all kinds are plenty, and cost us about $1 per day, and cook for ourselves. I shall enclose in this a speciman of gold which I washed the third day I worked, worth by weight, 96 cents.

Your affectionate Husband,

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Oct 15, 1850

Folklore and Poetry for Easter

April 12, 2009



The Egg as the Subject of Romance and Legend in Various Countries.

In all ages and in all countries eggs have been the subject of legend and romance. At the Easter season, when the egg is a most palatable, as well as staple, article of food, it is particularly interesting to trace the various superstitions and legends that have been connected with it.

The ancient Finns believed that a mystic bird laid an egg in the lap of Vaimainon, who hatched it in his bosom. He let it fall in the water and it broke. The lower portion of the shell formed the earth, the upper the sky, the liquid white became the sun, the yolk the moon; while the broken bits of eggshell were turned into starts.

In Germany the egg is as much a feature of the gay Eastertide as in our own land, yet the hen, goose or duck is not held responsible for its existence, but to the pretty hares are accredited oviparous qualities, and a nest of sugar eggs presided over by a toy hare is the most favored gift among the young generation. It is the custom in German families on Easter eve to conceal a nest of real and sugar eggs among dried leaves in the garden, allowing happy children to enjoy an egg hunt on Easter morning.

One legendary reason given for the Easter egg is that in the fourth century the church forbade the use of eggs in Lent, but as this did not prevent the hens from laying them they accumulated so rapidly that it was found necessary to boil them and give them to the children for playthings. The little folks delighted to dye them in gay colors; hence the practice that has descended to the children of the present day.

A certain historian gives a very charming account of the marriage of Marguerite, of Austria, with Philibert, the Duke of Savoy. It is called marriage aux oeufs, because it seems it was Easter morning when the future wedded pair first met. The princess was keeping open house at one of her castles on the western slope of Alps, and Philibert, out on a hunting expedition in the neighborhood, came to pay his court to her. All the tenantry were dancing on the green; finally a hundred eggs were scattered in a level place and covered with sand. Lads and lassies, who longed to be lovers, came forward, hand in hand, to tread the measure of the national dance in the midst of the fragile obstructions on every side. If they managed to dance through without cracking one they were regarded as affianced, and not even the parents’ “nay” could then break up the match. Several had already tried and been unsuccessful, when the noble duke besought the beautiful princess to try the dance with him. Full of love, grace and the exhilaration of the moment, they fulfilled the difficult task and were greeted by the most enthusiastic cheers from the beholders. They were married, and on every succeeding Easter, this custom of the district of Bresse became a feature in the Easter rejoicings in the Duke’s realms.

Although we do not have this “Easter egg dancing” into matrimony in this country, it is not improbable that a latent Easter superstition in regard to times and seasons extends even to the marriage ceremony of the present day, if we are to judge from the many weddings that take place during Easter week each year.

The News (Frederick, Maryland) Apr 1, 1899


An Old Easter Bonnet.

I wish the Easter days were now like
Those that once I knew
When Jenny wore the bonnet plain,
with ribbon-bows of blue;
When we walked to Sunday meetin’
o’er the meadows green and sweet,
Where lilies waved in welcome,
with violets at our feet.

It ain’t the fancy fixin’s
I mind so much — the bills.
For birds an’ fluffy feathers —
all the fine new fangled frills;
For I know that fashion changes, —
that it rules the world complete;
But the old-time Easter bonnet
was so simple and so sweet!

Its ribbons matched the color
of the sky overhead.
An’ the lips that smiled beneath it
seemed to mean the words they said!
The lips that smiled so so sweetly —
never knowin’ any art. —
An’ the eyes whose sunny glances
made a light around your heart!

I’ve nothin’ ‘gainst the fashions —
they’ve got to have their day;
But I love the simple bonnets
of the far an’ far away;
An’ thinkin’ how she looked in ’em —
there, in the long ago.
I sigh, an’ praise the Lord
from whom all blessin’s used to flow!

The News (Frederick, Maryland) Apr 7, 1899


Elusive Spring.

We cannot hurry spring along
By writing dainty sonnets;
Nor will she hasten her approach
To greet beflowered bonnets.
The children of the earth may coax
In accents strong and steady;
Fair spring will grant her presence here
When she gets good and ready.

Nor will the auto painted fresh
And bright for springtime touring,
Or light canoe upon the bank,
Or on the stream a-curing,
Or e’en the signs “Keep off the Grass”
The slightest bit affect her;
She will not hump herself because
We want her and expect her.

We cannot hurry spring at all
By songlets or by sonnets;
She will not hasten her approach
To greet ye mammoth bonnets.
In fact, we dread to have her see
Such millinery gearing
For fear she might reverse her mind
And cancel her appearing.
–Boston Herald.

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) Apr 5, 1909

A Letter from the Sarah Nevady Diggins

April 9, 2009

Note: I transcribed it just as it was written!

A Letter from the “Diggins.”
Vally of the Sacrymento, April 20, 1849.

EDITURS OF THE SUNDY TIMES: — When I wrote before spades was trumps — now its dimunds. These preshus stuns is found in brilyant perfusion on the brow of the Sarah Nevady, and several as large as fenix eggs has been seen in a mountain of gold, diskivered last week near the Sam Joking: and when the snow melts it is supposed that many of the first water will come down with the current. Seed dimunds is remarkabul plenty, but u law has been made against getherin ’em, because it spoiles the futer crop. None is aloud to be gathered under the size of a piece of chauk. Emrulds abounds, but nobody is green enough to pick ’em up when they can get dimunds. Other jooils is a drug. Beyond the plains, on what they call a plato of the mountings, bushels of little peaces of silver has been dug up, which is very convenient for small change.

The odoriferous sands on the Sacrymento is forty-eight feet leven inches and three quarters. Wherever we find traces of gold, we sink shafts and draw it up with horses. The sand is so tarnation heavy it puts the mustangs to their metal, I tell you: but there is no help for ’em: they must hang on with all their might and mane, or down they go, and then its all up with ’em.

‘Mense quantities of gold, at the very least, has been sent to San Francisco for some time back, and as fast as it is got in it is turned to ingots. Theves cannot egzist at the diggins, bein hung of a spiritus nater very dear. All kinds of salt provisions is sold for a song: the tavern keepers’ most given ’em away in order to promote thirst. Salt pork is five dollars a hogshead, and brandy ten dollars a half pint. Hows’ever, as gold is plenty, every Jack has his gill.

We have a sort of make-shift government here, got up extruperry as one may say, that ansers purty wel for a new kuntry. Gen. Smith aint nobody. He’s a clever chap and a spunky, no doubt o’ that; but he haint got no more athority than a child in arms, if thar was sich a thing in the settlement. He ishoos general orders and proclamashuns and sich truck, and the people read ’em, they larf, and shet one eye, and go and do as they pleeze. It’s allus so in nu kuntries.

Agricultur in Californy is purty much left to natur. — It sticks in folks’ crop to be sowing corn when they can dig gold, and so they all go to the placer to make hay while the sun shines. This is the monster deposit bank of the uneversal world, and we’re all cashears and directors. Bring yer ‘taters here if you want ’em dug, we cant take the truble to raise ’em. The only wegetable we cultivate is the root of all evil, and if you’ll send us the frutes of the airth, you can have that in exchange.

The rainy season bein over, the weather is settled. I beleeve the heat has’nt been below 99 for a week, which, with bad rum, has proved fatal with some constitushuns.

Emigrants of every kind keeps pourin in by land and water, and the populashun is very promiscous. We Mericans keeps the upper hand of furriners so far: but it takes considerable powder and ball. Colt’s pill is fine for munity. The bottle causes a good many musses, but the barrel allus stops ’em. I shall probably ship my pile by the Californy, next trip; and if I escape the cholera the injuns, and the yaller fever going through Mexico, you may ‘spect to see me before very long, and perhaps sooner.


Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jun 26,  1849