California Gold Fever: Both Epidemic and Contagious

Latest California Items.

AT THE WHARVES. — A stroll along the docks, especially on the East river side, says the True Sun, in the vicinity of the vessels bound for California, will give one an opportunity to witness new scenes of excitement. Groups of persons, going to and returning from the vessels in great excitement, and talking of thousands to be realized within a short time in the new El Dorado, may be seen; and when a vessel is about to depart, a novel scene is presented. The adventurers, with their broad brimmed hats, and with a large pair of boots and gold digging instruments strung on their shoulders, and a revolver in pockets, are hastening on board in high spirits, as though on a short pleasure trip.

EXCLUSIVES. — A meeting of gentlemen of color has been held in this city, and an association formed to go to the gold diggings. Nearly fifty are booked for the region. No whites admitted. [N.Y. Morning Star.

INSANITY AND GOLD. — It is said that two persons at Philadelphia have been put into the Insane Asylum, having lost their wits by the California excitement. The probability is, that if they went mad about gold, they had not much wit to lose.

California Gold furnishes the common coin of conversation now a days. Among the current anecdotes of the day, we have heard one of a young gentleman, who, after a long residence among the gold diggers, (who, it seems, equal Falstaff’s regiment for lack of linen,) had only one article left that had any pretensions to the name of shirt, and this he hired out at the rate of five dollars an evening, for wedding and other festivities.

We are told, also, that the fortunate discoverer of a very large lump of gold, finding it too heavy for immediate transportation, carefully painted it of a dull copper color, to deceive other adventurers, until he should have time to carry it off. — [N.Y. Express.

CAUTION. — They are beginning to talk about eating each other in California. We advise very fat people, therefore, to keep away from there.

NEW YORK, Jan. 31. — Capt. Henriar de Langle, of the French brig of war Jeng, now here, says that he learned from Valparaiso, that there had been brought to these places from California, run into bars, gold to the amount of 9,000,000 francs or $1,800,000.

AN INCIDENT IN GOLD DIGGING. — Dr. Jett, relates one circumstance that came under his observation that is rather ludicrous and show the avarice of those in pursuit of the lucre, even in a land where its abundance knows no limits. A party of some twenty or thirty were exploring a dry ravine that led to a mountain supposed to be rich with the precious ore, when near its base, they came suddenly upon a spot which glittered like the firmament in a clear night, with gold dust and ore, caused by the washings from the mountain. In an instant every man threw himself upon the ground where lay scattered the treasure, and sprawling out his arms and legs, claimed a pre-emption to the surface that he could cover this way. The title was regarded by each as good, and the average yield to the whole party in a very short time was upward of three hundred dollars.

Accounts of newly-acquired fortunes, through the accident of being early on California ground, are everywhere in circulation. We have lately been informed of the following, in addition to those we have already chronicled:

A gentleman by the name of Riley, at present in this city, has in his possession a certificate for $64,000 in gold dust, deposited in the mint at New Orleans.

Mr. Lippet, formerly a teacher in the school of the Brothers Peugnet, in this City, and who went out as a captain in the California Regiment, has written a letter which, at his request, was read to the scholars of the Messrs. Peugnet’s school, among whom he was always a favorite. He states that he is in excellent health, and will return in three or six months, with half a million dollars, in gold.

A merchant in Baltimore, who sent to California a year ago, on a venture, $5000 worth of old store goods, has received the bill of lading from San Francisco for $35,000 in gold dust. [N.Y. Tribune.

We have been furnished with the following extracts from a letter written by Gen. P.F. Smith, at Panama, dated PANAMA, Jan. 7, 1849.

“The situation of affairs in California is really most extraordinary. No accounts we had are exaggerated. — The British Consul tells me he has forwarded 15,000 ounces ($240,000) from this place across the Isthmus; and Lieutenant Wood, of the British navy, commanding the Pandora, now here, says that the truth is beyond the accounts we have heard. These gentlemen also say that hundreds of people from the western coast of South America are embarking for the gold region; and most of the clerks in the commercial places have quit their employments for the same object.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Feb 13, 1849

Prison Brig Euphemia & Store Ship Apollo (Image from

Latest California News.
New York, Feb. 12.

A dispatch, dated Washington Feb. 13, says: The Union of this morning has a letter from Q.L. Folsom, dated San Francisco, Dec. 25th, and addressed to Com. Jones, which says that affairs in California are getting worse as regards order and government. Murders and robberies were of daily occurrence. Within a short time over 20 murders had been perpetrated.

People were making preparation to organize a provisional government. Three men were hung by lynch law.

The gold washings continue to be abundantly productive. All previous accounts are fully realized by this intelligence.

New York, Feb, 14.

The late cold weather in California has prevented the operations of the gold diggers. Quantities of gold are daily being discovered and collected.

Persons had discovered and obtained about $30,000 of pure gold in two days. The accounts formerly received respecting the terrible state of society which existed are confirmed.

The state of affairs is becoming worse and worse: — murders and robberies are of daily occurrence. There had been 15 murders committed within 3 weeks.

Persons and property are believed to be wholly insecure. The perpetrators of the murders and robberies are generally emigrants and soldiers who had deserted from the T.S. service.

Com. Jones says, that a force sufficient to afford effective guard for vessels sailing with gold from California, will require the whole American Navy.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Mar 6, 1849

California Items.

The Indians in the vicinity of the Placer have commenced murdering the whites. Two white men were missing, the body of one of whom, named Hollingsworth, was found, and his arms in possession of a party of Indians. Several murders had been committed in grog-shops at San Francisco.

ROUTES TO CALIFORNIA. — The Quartermaster of the U.S. Army, in his report to Gen. Jessup, upon the routes and facilities for getting to California, lays down six avenues; — 1st, that taken by the author of the report through the South West pass; 2d, through Santa Fe by the Gila; 3d, through Santa Fe by Abiquin, or the Spanish trail; 4th, through Santa Fe and Lonora [ sic-Sonora?], the route of the Mormon battalion; 5th, by the Isthmus of Panama, or through Central America; 6th, by the was of Cape Horn. Preference is given to the Central American over the Isthmian route for small parties while the Horn passage is recommended for the transportation of troops.

Folding Boat (not the one that turns into a house)

A FOLDING HOUSE. — We have heard tell of folding doors and windows, but a folding house is something of a novelty.

“Day, the New York India rubber dealer, has got up a portable house and boat for gold finders. Among the peculiar advantages of this invention for travelers in California, is the facility with which a boat nine feet long by six feet wide, can be converted into a house of eight hundred and eleven feet, sufficiently high to allow persons to stand upright. The mere disconnecting of the sheet of rubber cloth from the cylinders, turns the boat into a comfortable house. The whole weight of one of them is only seventy pounds — and can be packed away in an ordinary trunk. Day says, that should the traveler be detained at Panama, with a large boat of this kind, which can be so arranged as to spread sail a party may embark upon the gentle Pacific, and by coasting along the shore can reach the valley of the Sacramento, and even penetrate to the gold region itself.”

Only think of it now — folding your house up and stowing it away in your trunk; and again converting it into a yacht, and coasting along the Pacific with it.

EMIGRATION TO CALIFORNIA — GOVERNMENT ESCORT. — A company of emigrants for California, who contemplate leaving Fort Smith, Arkansas, in April next, have obtained through Senator Borland, a military escort to Santa Fe. The company will proceed by the valley of the Canadian River to Santa Fe, and Albuquerque and thence by El Passo to San Francisco. Persons with or without families, wishing to emigrate to California, are invited to rendezvous at Fort Smith, where wagons, horses, oxen, and all the supplies necessary for an outfit, can be readily obtained at reasonable prices. Freight and passengers can reach Fort Smith by steamboat. All who desire to join the party should be at Fort Smith by the 1st of April.

CALIFORNIA GOLD MOVEMENTS. — A number of the fifty or sixty ships advertised to sail for California went to sea this forenoon, and next week a large fleet will take its departure,

______ “for the land
Where each atom of sand,
Is into a dollar reducible!
And as onward you travel,
The “coarse kind of gravel”
All turns to doubloons in your crucible.”

N.Y. Tribune.

A NEW CALIFORNIA EXPEDITION. — A lady of this State, well known for her labors in many a philanthropic cause, is about forming a benevolent expedition to California, which cannot but prove of great public benefit in the present unsettled condition of the region. Aided by several gentlemen of wealth and liberality; she proposes to purchase a vessel, to be freighted with every article necessary for the aid and assistance of the sick and disabled, including the frame of a building intended for a hospital. She is now engaged in raising a company of intelligent and respectable females, to accompany her in this mission of charity, each of whom shall contribute something toward the purchase of the vessel and cargo and assist in the humane object of the enterprise. None will be taken who have not attained the age of twenty-five years, and also produce sufficient testimonials of character. A part of the freight is to consist of articles to furnish a store, in which a part of the women may be employed, and in material for clothing, to be made up according to orders on the spot. — Tribune.

SCENES IN NEW YORK. — The Express says the gold fever is both epidemic and contagious in New York city. It says:

The fact is, and it may as well be told right out, without any circumlocution, so that every body may know the worst, this last gold news has unsettled the minds of even the most cautious and careful among us. Nothing else is talked of, thought of, or dreamed of. Gold is in everybody’s mouth, on everybody’s tongue, in everybody’s face.

Everything looks yellow. Walk from the Battery up to Grace Church, and one hears nothing but, ‘when are you off?’ — ‘lend a hundred dollars,’ — ‘work passage’ — ‘Jones went off yesterday,’ — ‘Smith starts tonight — wife provided for,’ — ‘twenty pound lumps — pick axes,’ — ‘shovels,’ — ‘sifters,’ — ‘Jack knives,’ — ‘Sacramento,’ — ‘twenty carets fine,’ — ‘got a letter from Jenkins, yesterday — Jenkins has dug up two millions,’ — ‘the real dust,’ — ‘Cape Horn too tedious,’ — ‘overland,’ — ‘or through that monumental canal just discovered, you know, at the Isthmus,’ — ‘Chihuahua,’ — ‘Santa Fe,’ — ‘Big Fork,’ — ‘Feather River,’ — ‘Sutter’s Fork,’ — ‘brandy,’ — ‘whisky,’ — ‘seidletz powers,’ — ‘bowie knives,’ — ‘revolvers.’

CALIFORNIA OUTDONE. — The Brooklyn Advertiser has the following, which is very neatly told: “A gentleman of this city had a piece of virgin gold presented to him yesterday morning which he would not sell for $5,000. This is what we call a very handsome present. So does Mrs. Gold and the nurse.”

ETYMOLOGY OF CALIFORNIA. — We are informed by Professor Noodlekranz, that California came from two old Indian words — Kali, gold, and forn-a-who, don’t you wish you may get it?

INCIDENTS IN CALIFORNIA. — Extract of a letter from an officer in the Navy to his friend in Washington, dated,
San Francisco, Dec. 28.

“You would be surprised that in this region an enthusiasm could be excited by anything. The gold mines in this neighborhood have stirred up the natives to a galvanic activity. This little village is deluged with gold, and common laborers are refusing to work in the mines for a hundred dollars a day. The stories told, will take it for granted must be all fabulous; but were you to see the vast quantities hawked about the streets for sale, you would look upon the tale of the Arabian Nights as quite a probable narrative. There seems to be no exhausting the vein, which is said to extend over a district as large as Virginia.

To give you some idea of the state of things here, I will mention the price of a few of the necessaries of life. Flour has been selling at $300 per barrel, pork 70 cents per lb., brandy $60 per gallon, and washing $6 to $8 per dozen and most other things in proportion.

The officers are becoming nervous and excited, while the men desert by the dozen.

Young B., of Baltimore, is hard at work making his fortune, and will return in a year or two a rich man. I saw Dr. M., also of Baltimore, and he is also coining money; he is highly popular and esteemed, and I think is the first man in the place.

I trust J. will not take it into his head to emigrate. — Gold hunting is a most dangerous amusement. The morality is really frightful among the diggers, and the poor beggarly-looking creatures returning from the mines have no doubt paid dearly for their peck or two of gold.”

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Mar 6, 1849

The Poor Student’s Soliloquy.

(On the subject of a departure for California.)

To go, or not to go — That is the question,
Whether ’tis better in the mind to gather
The ingots of a shirtless, mental fortune,
Or forthwith pack our raiment and depart
For those tremendous Gold Mines’ to talk, to doubt
No more; and by one act ot say we end
Gold fever, and the thousand natural shocks
Of speculation — ’tis a consumation
Devoutly to be wished. To go — to come
With pockets lined and elbows all ‘ow’d up,
To sink, per chance, more poor — Ay, there’s the rub,
For whether ’tis more likely we be doomed
To swap our ‘fever’ for a yellower kind.
Must give us pause — There’s the respect that makes
The otherwise most resolute to remain
Like paltry donkeys ‘twain two loads of hay!
The Student looked for the morning papers.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Mar 13, 1849

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