Archive for the ‘Gold Rush’ Category

Things in California Observed by Lieut. Morrison Before Being Shot and Killed

January 20, 2011

Image from Bayard Taylor’s Eldorado at Dorothy Sloan – Books

Things in California.

[Extracts from the Journal of Lieut. Morrison, of the New York Regiment of Volunteers.]

Image by James Walker posted on CasCity forum with other images.


The dress of a Spaniard of tolerable means consists of a fine velvet or deer-skin jacket, generally of a green color, with numerous rows of gold or silver plated buttons upon it with a pair of pantaloons of velvet or deer-skin, open from the knee down, and with a row of silver buttons on each side of the opening, confined to the waist by a red silk sash. Over all is thrown the Serappo, a gaily colored blanket, all striped and figured, with a hole in the centre for the head. This, when placed on the shoulders, hangs to the ancle on either side; under the pantaloons are a pair of very wide and loose drawers, and over them, when riding, are wrapped the b?as, pieces of leather reaching to the knee, to protect the lower part of the legs from coating.

They ride very fast, spurring their horses to madness, to exhibit their horsemanship, and the ease with which they rest in their seats, when the horse is rearing, pitching and kicking, is really astonishing. The Mexican saddle, though awkward in appearance, is much superior to ours for riding. They have high peaks, before and behind; the one in front is arranged so that an end of the lasso can be attached to it, after the bullock is snared. The spurs are the most savage and uncivilized looking instruments that can well be imagined, about two inches long, with small bells or pieces of steel attached, which jingle at every step. The stirrups are made of wood, generally ?gnum vita, and weighing from two to three pounds.

Another James Walker piece found on the CasCity forum linked above.


Imagine a drove of fifteen hundred or two thousand cattle roving the plain. The boccaria or lasso-thrower on a horse trained to the purpose, rides into the midst of them, selects a fine fat bullock, steers for him thro’ the crowd, driving the cattle right and left before him; the doomed animal may turn and turn as he may, but the boccaria when within twenty yards of him commences to swing his lasso (a long strip of hide with a noose at the end) around his head, and presently it whizzes through the air and the animal selected is noosed as certainly as the lasso is thrown. The moment the well trained horse of the boccaria hears the lasso whiz he stops perfectly still and bracing himself sideways, waits for the shock. The other end of the lasso being fastened to the front peak of the saddle the bullock is brot’ up suddenly and tumbles to the ground. — The horse being perfectly prepared, his equilibrium is not disturbed. The animal is either killed on the spot, (after two more lassos are attached to his feet to prevent his rising) or lead to the coral (enclosure for cattle surrounded with a high adobe wall.) Wild horses are caught in the same way. — The horses that are broken and kept for riding, being staked out in the plain and bro’t in when wanted.


The gathering of hair to make the riatas or hair ropes which are almost exclusively used here, (hemp being unknow,) it an amusing scene, at least to a Yankee boy. A party of Indians belonging to Gen. Vallejo applied one afternoon for the use of the coral of the Quartel, to drive the horses for this purpose. Permission being given, about a hundred horses were driven in, wild as the beast of the forest, not one of which had been disgraced by bridle or burden. It may be only a mere poetic fancy of mine, but it has appeared to me that there is something more graceful and noble in the movements of an untamed horse, that never “felt the halter draw” — an air of freedom seems to pervade his muscle and motion and frame, that the highest mettled of our domestic steeds never exhibited. To proceed; the Indians bounded into their saddles as with the agility of a mountain cat; by an easy and graceful effort. The nostrils of their horses expanded to the utmost tension, their long black manes and tails streaming in the wind, eretis auribus begun coursing at the top of their speed about the coral. Presently the principal boccaria dashes in among them, (fixes his eye upon one with a luxuriant mane and tail,) and launches the unerring lasso; it encircles the horse’s neck. Another boccaria rides up and throws a lasso low that catches him by the hind legs, and between the two, the poor victim is dragged to the ground. Two or three other Indians spring to him, armed with shears and (pardon the doggrel)

Take off all the hair,
They think he can spare;

and away they go to continue their wild sport. Three or four horses are generally sacrificed in the onslaught. This afternoon a very fine mare, with foal, was killed by the rude violence with which they handled her. But a wild horse is of small account to those who own over two thousand each, as Gen. V., and many others do. The prices of horses here range from ten to fifty dollars, according to their speed and the care with which they have been broken. Bottom is very little thought of, as the inhabitants always ride as fast as the horse can carry them, until he is exhausted, when they mount another, if on a long journey. Instead of slackening speed and dismounting in a civil and christian-like, manner, they keep their utmost speed, and when they reach the terminus suddenly rein back with all their might, throw the animal upon its haunched, and leap from the saddle.

The contrast between men and things here, and our own Estado Unidos, is striking enough. A fertile soil, under the soft influence of its sunny clime, enables the inert, unambitious Spaniard to live and “drag his slow length along” in indolent ease, without any effort of regular habitual industry so necessary to physical, moral and political health, and with no notions of substantial comfort, as understood by us at home. It is, indeed, a matter of surprise to see in this progressive Nineteenth Century Spanish gentlemen, not only of ample means but of great wealth, with costly Parisian furniture in houses of sun dried clay, (adobe) while materials for brick are around them, and without a chimney. We want the energies of the Yankee character to rouse the people to action, create a newness of life and spirit, and prompt them on to improvements. As it is here now, it is Old Spain in her mummyhood, in which the pulse of life is mute, no blood to circulate, no heart to beat, no soul to move with her. *  *


I hope that those who intend to emigrate by land here, will be careful that they are not overtaken by storms, and snows, or want of provisions, on their toilsome journey across the Rocky Mountains. I have seen those who started from the borders of Missouri, hale and stalwart men, hobble down into the plains of California crippled for life.

I have seen brothers who, in the madness of hunger, have fought for the last bit of their father’s dead body, having shared the rest at previous meals! — having been encompassed by snow on the tops of those dreadful mountains. Maidens who left their homes rejoicing in the pride of youth and beauty, in joyous anticipations from this far off land, by the horrors and suffering of that fearful journey, despoiled of their loveliness and bloom, withered into premature old age.

Watertown Chronicle (Watertown, Wisconsin) Feb 14, 1849


The New Zealander – Sep 8, 1849

Posted on a message board on

“A Long Road to Stony Creek,” by Rufus Burrows and Cyrus Hall, a California Gold Rush memoir published in 1971, refers to the “killing of Lt Roderick M Morrison of the New York Volunteers by Dr Erasmus French.”

This book only has a “preview” on Google books, so I could only see the following tidbits:



Anybody know the rest of the story?

Looks like a worthwhile read, if you can find the book.  Dorothy Sloan – Books has this description:

729.     BURROWS, Rufus & Cyrus Hull. A Long Road to Stony Creek, Being the Narratives…of Their Eventful Lives in the Wilderness West of 1848-1858. Introduction and Annotations by Richard Dillon. Ashland: Lewis Osborne, 1971. [1] 70 [2] pp., text illustrations, endpaper maps. 8vo, original beige buckram. Very fine in plain white d.j.

Limited edition (#66 of 650 copies). Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 102. Mattes, Platte River Road Narratives 294. Mintz, The Trail 67: “A nice printing of these two short, but dramatic, overland narratives.” Burrows hired on as a herder with Tanner at Sutter’s Fort in 1848 and in the 1850s tried his hand at stockraising in the Umpqua Valley; he gives much detail on these topics in his narrative. He went on to become a successful sheep rancher in Colusa County. His father-in-law Hull also raised sheep in Colusa County and gives some account of how he was faring in that regard in 1875.            $70.00

UPDATE: After receiving additional information from two very knowledgeable persons in the comments (Thanks, Donald and Nannette!) I was able to locate a couple more news clips:

New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian – Oct 10, 1849

The above, sent from “Stanislaus Diggings,” five miles. from the River, was signed by S.W., whose correspondence to the newspaper began with:

Gentlemen — Thinking that yourselves and your numerous readers will be gratified by any news of this remarkable and rich region, I devote a little leisure to give you the benefit of my mining knowledge and observation, and will do so from my daily “log.” I arrived at this place on the 7th April. It is named in honour of Mr. James, who is an Alcalde, and who dispenses food and justice to the satisfaction of all. Hundreds were busy in the ravines washing out the treasures of the gold-laden streams with various success. Sunday 8th. The day is delightful and the scene in the valley is worthy of a painter’s skill, or the pen of an enthusiast.

The next clip is in regards to the death of Dr. Fruend (Donald noted the name change in the comments) :

Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle –  Jun 23, 1858

Primitive Cooking: Early Days in California.

January 14, 2011

This image (from Corbis) is actually from the Yukon gold rush.


Some Reminiscences of Early Days in California.
[Special Correspondence.]
BOSTON, May 5.

Of the 150,000 males who in 1849-50 were avalanched on California from all parts of the world not one in 100 could boil a potato properly.

A good bread maker easily got his $400 a month. For the first two years, cooks, blacksmiths and carpenters could make far more than lawyers. People on a pinch could get along without lawyers. They couldn’t without cooks.

Many lawyers became good cooks, and stuck to their adopted calling at $300 per month until law practice began to pay. Law didn’t begin to pay until the miners’ juries stopped hanging men for stealing. Their hangings cost the county nothing. Sometimes, it is true, they hung the wrong man, as a warning to the right one. But when the lawyers stopped cooking and got in at their legitimate work, crime became safer.

Indifferent wretches, who could stir flour and water together, fling in a handful of yeast powder and scorch this compound on a frying pan, set up for cooks and made their $200 per month. “Flapjacks” were universal. Within the first year of the raw cookery era of California hundreds of amateur cooks could flip a flapjack on a frying pan by an imperceptible turn of the wrist and flop every inch of the unbaked side squarely on the pan’s bottom. A meal of bull beefsteak, flapjacks and dried apples at the “Astor house” cost $1. The “Astor” was an old ship’s caboose moved on shore, with a brief addition in its rear. Levy, the landlord, used to hang out the sign “Potatoes to-day!” Potatoes were then a rarity. There were no eggs, nor hens to lay them. Mince pies were made of salt beef, soaked to a dead sort of freshness, dried apples and molasses. They sold at $1 each, and were not much thicker than a cake of hard bread. It was no great fete there to bite through four pies if a man could afford it. Beans were universal. In many circles they had them twenty-one times a week. Most American cooks would at first put the pork to boil at the same time as the beans and with the beans. Then they wondered why the beans were so hard. Salt hardens the bean’s heart. They found out at last that the pork should not go into the pot until about fifteen minutes before the beans come off the fire.

Beans were generally cooked out of doors in “Dutch ovens.” The beans cooked while the boys dug on their claims. This peaceful state of things lasted till the miners took to keeping hogs and developed an ambition to cover the Sierra foothills with countless herds of swine. The swine would nose around the cooking beans while the boys were away, and eventually upset the pot and devour the beans. Such depredations led to shootings, sometimes of hogs, sometimes of hog owners, or the hog owner shot the man who shot his hogs or whom he thought had shot his hogs.

Cows also were destructive. The cows would sometimes eat through our houses, of cotton drilling. I returned to my home on Swelts Bar after attending a county convention and found that a cow had eaten through one side of my house and gone out at the other, and on the way devoured all my flour and potatoes. It was indeed a wrecked ranch, for she had not been at all nice and particular while feeding at the expense of a Democratic delegate. The cattle were crazy after salt. Anything which had held salt or tasted of salt would attract legions of cows. An empty mackerel keg, which once unwisely I threw out of doors, brought down from the hills that night, I should think, about forty cows and bulls, who tramped and bellowed and gored each other all night for a lick at that keg. On another occasion they chewed up two flannel shirts and two pairs of drawers — my week’s washing left to dry on the line — for the sake of the salt in the cloth. Of course I got the clothes back, but they had been too thoroughly digested to be wearable. I met a cow one day running off with my best coat. She had chewed and partly swallowed the coat the right sleeve. I chased her and pulled the coat out of her. All this was for the sake of the salt in the coat.

Thousands of miners tried to cook a quart of dry rice at once. The power of rice to swell — and swell when it once fairly gets en rapport with hot water, is something miraculous. It would fill everything fillable in the cabin and keep up a never ceasing overflow over the pot’s rim. I found Jack Ward once in his cabin at 9 o’clock in the evening, so ladling rice from off his pot. He said he had been thus engaged since 7 o’clock, and the end was not yet. Everything hollow in the house was full of half boiled rice. Jack had bought a whole sack. He carried it back next day to the Indian Bar store and exchanged it for other provision, remarking that he thought a pound would last him for the remainder of his days.

The first eggs we had were from the Farallon islands, situated in the ocean about fifty miles from San Francisco. They were laid by sea gulls and “murs,” a black bird with a red bill about the size of a half grown hen. These eggs are about twice the size of a hen’s product. The gulls color their eggs brown. The “murs” put on a mottle of blue, white and black. They are in taste fishy. We did not taste much fish in the first eggs because we were hungry for eggs. But the second panned out piscatorially as much as was agreeable, and by the time you reached the third you could hardly tell whether it was a porpoise or eggs you were eating.

Most miners at first had crude ideas as to the amount of provisions they should buy for times and seasons. Mike Barton came one day in October to the Hawkins Bar store and said he wanted to lay in a stock of grub for the winter. Mike had struck a rich “pot hole” on Gawley’s point. A “pot hole” may be two or three feet deep and as round and even as a stove pipe. Some loose stone lving on the bed rock, and turned for countless ages by a whirlpool, bores it. Then it fills up with gravel and gold dust. Mike had pickle jars full of gold dust buried about his cabin. He kept a keg of brandy on free tap for his friends. Mike was rich for the first time in his life, and life for him without plenty of whisky hadn’t much in it.

Said the storekeeper to Mike: “Give us your list of provision for the winter.” Mike hesitated, “I guess, said he at last, “I’ll have a sack of flour, a sack of potatoes, then pounds of pork, five pounds of coffee, three of sugar, a pound of tea — and — and — a barrel of whisky.”

On Fourth of July Bob Gardiner gave a dinner at his store on Swelt’s Bar. The “boys” smelt that dinner for three miles along the river. Bob waxed patriotic at the close of the feast, which terminated with a plum pudding and “hard sauce.” Bob mounted the table and straddled what was left of the pudding. Next him sat old Turley. Turley’s head was bald. It had gone to sleep and laid on the table beside his plate. Next is was the bowl of hard sauce. Bob emphasized every telling sentence by dipping from the bowl a ladle full of sauce and bringing it down on old Turley’s cranium. This brought down the house every time. When the oration was over you could have taken a cast of Turley’s head in “hard sauce.”

Those were indeed happy, hopeful, flush times. Wages then were still $4 a day, and hen’s eggs were $1.50 per dozen. The hens had then arrived and commenced laying. There’s some fun in laying eggs at $1.50 per dozen.


The News (Frederick, Maryland) May 14, 1887

This advertisement is not  related to the article, but was on the same newspaper page.

Ho! For California

July 10, 2010

From the London “Chat.”

Ho! For California!

Ho! 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.

With picks, shovels, baskets,
And hogsheads for caskets.
You open the vaulise creation;
Of the banks (of the rivers)
Become the receivers,
And place them in prompt liquidation.

If you die — pretty quick
The next man grabs your pick,
And ne’er thinks of asking, “whose was it?”
Then sacking your gold
Digs a pit in the mould
And soon makes your final deposit.

Ah! the gold as it shines
In the streams, in the mines,
Would make your eyes snap in their sockets,
And (if you don’t die,)
You’ll come by and by
With plenty of rocks in your pockets.

The chances, ’tis said,
Are that cold steel or lead
Your affairs may wind up or unsettle;
But if one of those twain
You should find “in a vein,”
You’ll not want the yellower metal.

Wisconsin Argus (Madison, Wisconsin) Mar 27, 1849

Out Here In California

June 9, 2010

To Correspondents.

G.W.F.: — Sends a transcript of a letter from an affectionate husband in California to his devoted wife:


Could you only see
The way I’m pestered with the flea,
I know that you would pity me,
And come to California.

At first they crawl and then they bite,
and then I scratch with all my might,
And that’s the way I pass the night,
Out here in California.

I have a friend here you must know,
Who says they troubled him just so,
Until his wife came from Saco
Out here in California.

He says now, when the days grow dim,
The fleas bite her instead of him,
And he don’t have to scratch a limb,
Out here in California.

But often in the darkest night
She cries aloud with all her might,
‘Dear husband, how the fleas do bite,
Out here in California!’

Then he gets up with smiling face,
And holds the light while she does chase
The fleas away from their hiding place,
Out here in California.

Now, Nancy, if you’ll come out here,
The nimble fleas you need not fear,
For I will hold that light, my dear,
For you in California.

I’ll light the candle with a match,
And try the naughty fleas to catch;
If I don’t succeed I’ll help you scratch,
Out here in California.

My dearest Nancy, I have got
A little home in a quiet spot;
Now come and share my lonely cot,
Out here in California.

Dear Nan, good-bye, Remember me
To all our friends in Beverly,
And don’t forget to come and see
Your John in California.


Dear John, your letter I’ve just read,
And only wonder you ain’t dead,
A tossin’ on your lonely bed,
Out there in California.

I am coming out there right away,
For here I can no longer stay;
I long to drive those fleas away,
Out there in California.

You friend out there must loving be,
To hold the light and catch the flea;
And I hope you’ll do as much for me,
Out there in California.

You know I cannot sleep at night
When things around me crawl and bite;
So be prepared to strike a light,
When I come to California.

I hope that you have got the knack
Of catching fleas way down my back,
And won’t we laugh to hear them crack,
Out there in California.

I think it’s very kind of you
To promise me so much to do —
To hold the light and scratch me too,
Out there in California.

But your kind offer I decline,
For fleas don’t always bite behind;
And I shall scratch myself sometimes,
Out there in California.

I’ve sold the house and sold the lot,
And now I leave this lovely spot,
To go and share your lonely cot,
Out there in California.

Dear John, good-bye. I still remain
Your loving wife, your Nancy Jane,
You need not write to me again —
I’m off for California.


There’s one thing that consoles me quite:
That if you sleep so sound at night
As not to hear me cry with fright,
‘Dear husband, how the fleas do bite!’
Your friend out there can hold the light
For me in California.

The Golden Era (San Francisco, California) Aug 26, 1866

Dogberry’s History of California

May 4, 2010

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.




Drake Landing in California (Image from Wiki)


California was discovered in 1579 by Sir Francis Drake, an old English sea guerrilla who plundered Spanish galleons and cut throats by the grace of God and her most Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

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.

Mission Dolores (Image from


From 1579 till the discovery of gold in 1848, California laid an empty yellow blot on the map of North America, and was chiefly famous from its association with Dana‘s ‘Two Years before the Mast.’

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.

They were an unhappy people, rejoicing neither in newspapers, mining stocks, trichinia, rinderpest nor cholera.

Ignorant enough to be contented, they cared little whether school kept or not.

As a general thing school did not keep.


In 1847, Commodore Sloat, Commodore Stockton and John C. Fremont captured California.

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.’


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 tonon 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.’


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.


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!

San Francisco 1860 View of Goat Island

Above picture, along with many other awesome ones can be found HERE: San Francisco in the Past in Black and White


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.


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

Miner Rhymes from Gold Country

May 3, 2010

From the Trinity Times.

The Song of the Miner.


Turning all the rivers,
Working in the rills,
Tunnelling the mountains,
Sluicing off the hills;
Sweating in the sun, and
Shivering in the blast,
Mighty pleasant mode of
Living very fast!

Waiting through the summer,
Notice on a claim —
“Intend to work this ground as
Soon as it will rain.”
Building airy castles,
Filling them with gold;
Dreaming of the maidens
Known, and loved of old.

Traders shake their heads and
Grumble without reason,
Do not like to credit
‘Till the rainy season;
Tell them of our prospects,
Got a pile in view,
Found the bed rock pitching,
Gravel turning blue.

Skies begin to threaten,
Water come at last!
All the creeks and gulches
Rising very fast.
Break away the ditches,
Carry off the flume;
Too much of a good thing
Quite as bad as none!

Gentleman from Pike, thinks
There’s a “right smart” show;
Wants to make some money,
Grub is getting low.
Able-bodied Yankee
Never takes affront,
Means to make a fortune,
“Darn” him if he don’t.

Tender looking hombre
From the sunny South,
Obviously feeling
Down about the mouth,
Stranger in the country,
Stares when he is told
That his pan of mica
Will not pass for gold.

Colored population
Lucky to a man,
Putting on the airs that
Only darkies can.
Chinaman with rocker
Slowly trots along,
Muttering as he passes —
“Tax no good for John.”

Men of every nation,
Men of every shade,
Men of every station,
Men of every grade,
Entering together
In the golden race,
Pitching into nature,
Tearing up her face!

Turning all the rivers,
Working in the rills,
Tunnelling the mountains,
Sluicing off the hills,
Sweating in the sun, and
Shivering in the blast,
Mighty pleasant mode of
Living very fast!

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Nov 29, 1856

While most of these poems are humorous, this next one is sad:


[In compliance with the request of a subscriber, we re-publish the following verses, contributed to the GOLDEN ERA a few years ago, by “A Mountain Bard.”]

He stood amidst the crowd,
With his visage wan and old,
With a trumpet voice and loud
He thus his story told;
“Ye miners all, ye weak and strong,
Who to these rivers swiftly throng,
Cast down your tools and fly amain,
To those at home, who cry in vain.
Give up the search, turn back I say,
And ye will bless that happy day.
Three mortal years I’ve roamed, yet look;
Can’t ye read me like a book?
I’m strapped, without a cent,
Let’s pause, my grief has found its vent.
On the hills, by the plains, they lie,
Prostrate and ill, they seek to die —
Little they reck or care for life,
To combat in a useless strife.
Hope deferred — indeed my friends —
My wife to me a letter sends —
She, trustful, hoped for happier days,
But who on earth can read God’s ways?
No more to me — two girls as fair
As the angles are, with golden hair,
They me blessed — a soothing balm
That o’er my bosom shed a calm.
I dreamed a spirit stood nigh me,
A glorious light around its brow;
Softly a voice said ‘come to me,
Where the living waters flow.'”
Thus spoke that care-worn man,
With voice so loud and clear,
The evening breeze his cheeks did fan,
The miners all did shake with fear —
Strangely sat fear upon their hearts,
Conscience loud smote in their breasts —
Guilt on their faces as each one starts,
At that old man’s behests —
They pressed around — besought his stay —
In vain, his thoughts were far away —
“My steps lie on the mountain top,
I cannot rest, I cannot stop.”
They watched him up the steep ascent,
And wondered whither he went.
News came — “beneath a stunted tree
A dead man lay” — the soul was free.

The Golden Era – May 11, 1862

I don’t know if Imogene was just a popular woman’s name that was used during this time period, but I ran across several items in The Golden Era newspaper, all humorous, in which Imogene was used.



You needn’t expect for sometime yet
To see me come home, Imogene;
Nor need you frown and think I forget,
Nor turn to your sister, Jane and say
“How Pluck has changed since he went away
From his ‘sweet little Imogene.'”

You know I promised, when last we met
At the parlor door, Imogene,
I’d stay here a year, perhaps, and get,
What gold I could pack with a dozen men,
And come with it all back home again
To live with and wed Imogene.

But the hills are not all great lumps of gold,
As we pictured them, Imogene,
Nor do I find as we thought of old,
That all the sand in the creeks is bright,
Nor all men happy as once they might
Have lived with their dear Imogene.

My hand’s so stiff I can scarcely write
A letter to you, Imogene
For I work these days with all my might,
Yet I cannot tell as the months glide on,
How many more years I shall be gone
From my sweet little Imogene.

For the times are hard, and snows so deep,
Up here in the mines, Imogene,
And I’m often tempted to stop and weep,
For thinking how blind the future is —
But then my labor becomes a bliss
When I think of my Imogene.

Tell mother my health is very fair,
And kiss her for me, Imogene;
Don’t tell how hard winters are —
You know she’ll fret, its always her way —
But tell her I’ll surely come some day,
To live with you both, Imogene.

The Golden Era – Jun 15, 1862


DEAR ERA:– You can’t tell how tickled I was to see my letter printed. It looked so curious to see all I had written spelled out in types. I took it right to Uncle John and showed it to him, for he had laughed at me when I sent the letter to you and said you would only stuff it into that tall basket by your table. Well, uncle read it all over and said I might just as well have sent the kiss to you as to Cousin Charlie, as you were a better looking youth. By the way, Charlie wrote me a letter, last Tuesday, and he want me to tell you for him that you were very much mistaken in ascribing the authorship of the poetry “California” to any other person than himself. He says that he was the original author, and that he composed the verses one night when he was going after the cows. He says, moreover, that you have not printed a correct copy as he wrote it. He sends a copy that he says is all right and wants you to notify all of your readers of the fact. It runs as thus:


Thar’s a right smart streak of timber land
That runs down to the shore,
Whar nater’s poured out everthing
That a white man wants and more.
Yes, jest actooally piled up good things over a man’s head till
He cries out, “Easy, Lord.”

In Autumn comes the honest miner down,
With every cent he’s made thoughout the year,
Straight from his far off mountain-crested home,
To spend for Concert Girls and German Lager Beer
The hard earned eagles his heart had once held dear.

We have here, too, our splendid Golden Gate;
(I spose it’s splendid, ’cause folks say it is,
But it’s really not exactly to my taste,
And I think I’ve had a fair look at its phiz
From plunger’s keel when great big storm had riz.)

Yes, here we stand beside the ragin’ main,
To guard our town from visionary foe;
We’ve got our Monitor, I reckon, where its plain
It’s safe from French or Peter Donohoe —
She fears not now the mildest storm that blows.

I was just going to apologise for not writing last week, but I see you crowded out that interesting department of “Answers to Correspondents” in last Sunday’s paper, and I wont say a word about it.

Yours, till — next week.

The Golden Era – Jan 24, 1864

Mining Life.

“Rural Betts,” writing from Josephine county, Oregon, to the editor of Harper’s Weekly, sends some extracts from a poem which he amused himself with writing while living alone and mining in the mountains of Southern Oregon. The following is his picture:

Back to his lonely camp at close of day
The luckless miner wends his weary way,
In pensive study where on earth to make
Another raise, a small provision stake.
Uncombed, unwashed, unshaven, and unshorn,
His clothes in strips by chaparral are torn;
Toes peeping from his boots, and battered hat,
Tired, wet, and weary as a drowned rat.
How changed from him we in the city knew,
In stove-pipe beaver and a long-tailed blue,
Cigar in mouth, and carpet-sack in hand,
By steamer bound to California land.
His store of wood collected for the night,
To dry his clothes, and cook his little bite;
A broken shovel fries his meat, and bakes
A hasty mixture of unleavened cakes;
An oyster-can for tea pot will suffice,
And pine or fur leaves Hyson’s place supplies.
His supper over, he improves a chance
To patch with flour sacks his demolished pants.
In musing mood he listens to the sound
Of night winds moaning in the woods around;
The mountain wolf or cougar’s long howl,
The shrill coyote and the hooting owl;
While as he plied his busy task, thus ran
The meditations of the lonely man.

Of which “meditations,” says the editor, we have only space to give eight concluding lines, which certainly imply that there may be disadvantages connected even with gold digging:

Poor as the Prodigal who fed with swine,
His dimes all spent in rioting and wine,
Chased by misfortune over hill and dale
Like a stray dog with a tin-pail as his tail;
Too poor to leave, and out of luck to stay,
The chance is small to ever get away;
Thus thousands live, exposed to all the ills
That luckless miners suffer in the hills.

The Golden Era – Jan 22, 1865


NOTE: Most of the images are cropped from the following book:

HUNTING FOR GOLD: reminisences [sic] of personal experience and research in the early days of the Pacific coast from Alaska to Panama.                                                                    by William Downie – 1893 (Google book LINK)

Felix Tracy, Jr. – 1855 Travel Diary – Los Angeles to Salt Lake

April 19, 2010

Felix Tracy, Jr.

Image from the Wells Fargo Guided By History blog. (Two Felix Tracy posts on the blog are linked below.)

From Los Angels to Salt Lake.

We have been permitted by Messrs. Adams & Co. to publish the following diary of Mr. Felix Tracy, Jr., during his late journey through from Los Angeles to Salt Lake.

This diary, though brief, will be of value to those who may wish to travel through to Salt Lake by the same route, and it will also give a very correct idea of the country to the general reader. —

The indefatigable and ubiquitous Adams & Co. will soon dispatch messengers through all the principle routes to Salt Lake, for the purpose of ascertaining by direct observation the best route for an Expresr. The enterprise of this firm bids fair to establish the best route for the Pacific Railroad, while Congress is quarrelling about appropriations for engineers to do the same work.

City of the Great Salt Lake.}
To I.O. Woods, Esq., Resident Partner of Adams & Co., of California.

DEAR SIR: — In compliance with your request, I hand you enclosed so much of the Journal of my late trip from Los Angeles to this place as is of public interest, and calculated I think to be of value to the Pacific Emigrant Society, in which, if I remember rightly, you hold a prominent position. I have omitted all of my own speculations on the route, which I will give in a subsequent letter, and confine myself to noting the essentials for emigrants, namely: grass water and wood.

Nov. 25th. — Leaving San Francisco. as you remember, this day per steamer Goliah, at half-past 5 P.M., we reached San Pedro Nov. 28th 8 A.M., which small place of a few houses, and proportionally smaller number of people, is the port of Los Angeles, twenty-five miles inland, to which place I proceeded in Alexander & Banning’s line of coaches, on which our Express matter is carried, and reached Los Angeles the same night, 28th.

Los Angeles - 1850 (Image from

This place is too well known to you to demand description from me, and I content myself with stating a few facts to which I would specially call your attention in the future. One is that corn is said to grow here splendidly and the ears to fill and ripen equal to anything in the older States, a fact, if a fact, which is not known on the bay of San Francisco, or in the mining regions where corn is grown with difficulty. — The raising here of a sufficient supply of maize for the California demand, would enrich the country by keeping thus much of our gold at home.

The culture of grapes and manufacture of wine is destined to become a feature of this part of California, and I confidently predict that, if fostered properly by those having as deep an interest as yourself in the welfare of California, the wine of this section will cause importations to nearly cease, and we shall become large exporters, besides doing a wonderful work in the way of temperance. Drinkers of Sherry and Madeira in San Francisco are probably aware that their best English imported wines are nearly all manufactured in London, from the cheap wines of the Cape of Good Hope. Los Angeles can supply the basis in place of Cape Town, and our ingenious merchants can do the manufacturing, including stamping the boxes and copying the labels.

Dec. 1st. — Left Los Angeles this morning, 10 A.M. Eight miles this side, passed San Gabriel, an old mission, in the vicinity of which is said to be some of the best land in California. The Padres here fenced many of their fields with the cactus.

At noon, we stopped at a placed called Monte, which has about five hundred inhabitants.

Water abundant; land very fertile, one squash vine producing three squashes which weighed four hundred and thirty-nine pounds; and I also saw a corn stalk seventeen and a half feet high.

Saturday, 2d — Staid last night at an old Spaniard’s by the name of Palemeros, who has a fine, large ranch well stocked. A few years since, the Utah tribe of Indians, led by their Chief. Walker, were in the habit of driving off several hundred head of cattle, the Spaniards in this vicinity not being about to resist them.

Distance to-day, thirty-two miles.

Sunday, 3d — For twenty miles it is nearly a desert, without water. Arrived at San Bernardino, this evening. Distance to-day, thirty-two miles.

Monday, 4th — San Bernardino is the Mormon settlement, containing about one thousand inhabitants.

The Mormons have possession of some eight square leagues of land, well watered, which produces well. Timber is scarce, consequently the houses are built of adobes. Within five miles of this place are hot springs, from lukewarm to hot enough to cook an egg.

Tuesday, 5th — Left San Bernardino to-day, at 2 p.m., in company with J.B. Leach, Jas. Williams, Jacob Mozier, and Mr. Pinney. We have four mules. Camped at 6 p.m. Good road and plenty of water. Distance to-day, 12 miles.

Wednesday, 6th — Left camp at half past seven this morning. Crossed the Sierra Nevada at Hunt’s Pass, which is ten miles nearer than by Cajon, and to the south of it, although the latter is much the best for wagons, and, in fact, one thousand dollars would make it a first-rate road. Camped at 6 p.m. — Distance to-day, 28 miles; the last 20 without water, and poor land.

Thursday, 7th — Left camp at half past 7. Distance to-day, 35 miles; water half way, good wagon road, land poor.

Camped at Sugar Loaf, on the Mohave River.

Friday, Dec 8 — Started at 8 o’clock traveled 25 miles northerly, along the Mohave. The soil could be made to produce well by irrigation. Road level and sandy.

Camped at 8 p.m., near a small lake; good grass. Distance to-day, 35 miles. We have seen some alkili.

Saturday, 9 — Left camp at half past 8 a.m. To-day we have traveled 25 miles without water; road good, through a desert. Camped at 4 p.m. Water bad, grass scarce. We passed through a canon [canyon?] three miles long, through a range of low mountains; the ascent was gradual.

Sunday, 10th — Left camp last night at 8 o’clock it being thought best to travel after night on the desert. From Bitter Springs, where we camped last night, to Kingston Springs, where we camped this morning at 11 o’clock, is 40 miles, over a desert; water to be had at a small lake, about half way; road fair. We fed our mules with barley last night and this morning. Started this afternoon, at half past 3 o’clock.

Monday, 11th — Camped this morning at half past 8. all tired and very sleepy. Distance last night, 40 miles; road good, — over a desert. This place is called Mountain Springs; grass is poor, and we here fed the last of our barley. About twenty miles from Bitter Springs, we left the regular emigrant road, and came on to it within four miles of Mountain Springs, saving about forty miles, and avoiding Salt Springs, the Highlander, Resting and Stump Springs. — Left Mountain Springs at half past 11 a.m., and traveled 12 miles to Cottonwood. Road good.

Tuesday, 12th — Left Cottonwood at half past 7 a.m., and camped at 3 p.m., on the Las Vegas. This is a small stream but very rapid, and waters several hundred acres of good land.

Here there is a spring in which a person cannot sink.

It is twenty-five miles over to the Colorado River. Road somewhat uneven but not bad. Distance to-day, twenty miles without water.

Wednesday, 13th — Left Vegas River at half past 1 a.m., and camped at 7 a.m.; good bunch grass but no water, so far, to-day, and we have traveled twenty-three miles. Started again at half past 10 a.m., and camped on Muddy River, at half past 8 p.m. Distance to-day, 27 miles, without water; road uneven, grass good.

Thursday. 14 — This morning five Indians came into camp, and wished to trade for blankets &c; we gave them some tobacco. There is some good land here. The Indians raise corn, wheat, pumpkins &c.

Left camp at 8 a.m., and camped on the Rio Virgin, at 5 p.m. The road to-day has been bad, passing over some very steep hills. An empty wagon would be load enough for four mules. Distance to-day twenty-five miles, without water.

Friday, 15th — Started this morning at 4 o’clock. We have followed the Rio Virgin up to its source. Camped at 6 p.m.; road fair. Distance to-day, 33 miles. The Muddy River empties into the Rio Virgin, and the latter into the Colorado.

Saturday, 16th — The road for the first fifteen miles has been a gradual ascent, and the last ten uneven and bad. No water to-day.

Camped on the Santa Clara River. — Twelve miles below us the Mormons are building a house. The Indians have three corn-fields on this river; twelve acres in all, one of which we are encamped in. There are a few cottonwood trees along the river, which is the first timber we have seen.

Sunday, 17th — Camped at the Mountain Springs, which is also called the Rim of the Basin. The road, to-day, has been bad, being quite rough. Distance, to-day, 35 miles, without water. The land in this vicinity would produce will if there were water to irrigate with.

Monday, 18th — Camped at Iron Springs. Distance to-day, 43 miles. No water, but plenty of ice.

Tuesday, 19th — Arrived at Cedar City, on Coal Creek, this morning; this is the first of the Mormon settlements. Here iron ore is found, and the Mormons expect to manufacture iron in the course of a month. Coal is also found here. This place is surrounded by an adobe wall, ten feet high and from two to three feet thick. There are about one hundred families here, whose farms are three or four miles distant, and are said to produce corn, wheat, oats, barley, &c., the land being irrigated. All the timber found here is a few small cedar trees.

Cedar City, Utah (Image from

From San Bernardino to Cedar City, there is probably not 1000 acres of good land, all in one body; all there is is situated on the Vegas, Muddy and Santa Clara rivers; and there is no timber except a few Cottonwood trees on the Santa Clara. There are no streams that require bridging. The road from the Rim of the Basin to this place is splendid — from the Vegas to the Rim of the Basin, it is quite rough, that is, it is up and down.

We came through with nine mules. Mr. Leach is of the opinion that a wagon and six mules would have come through easier.

You will see by what I have already written, that there are stretches of thirty to fifty miles without water. Four or five artesian wells would probably be all that would be required. We crossed small mountains almost every day, thro’ canons.

If this route should ever become much traveled, it would be difficult to find grass for animals, for the whole country is nearly all a desert, producing nothing but a little sage brush or grease wood.

By next express I will finish copying my diary, but in the meantime would remark, that the road from Cedar City to this place is a very good one about three streams requiring bridges.

Yours truly,


Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Feb 17,  1855

Mountain Democrat Advertisement 1854

*  *  *  *  *

Image from the Wells Fargo Guided By History blog, where they have two blog posts about Felix Tracy HERE and HERE.

Felix Tracy.
Sacramento & Shasta Cos.

The agent for Wells, Fargo & Co., at Sacramento, was born at Moscow, Livingston County, New York, March 19, 1829. Left New York for California March, 1849, arriving at San Francisco, September 18th of the same year, where he engaged in merchandising until 1850. He then went to the mines, working for a time on the North Fork of the American River; afterwards in the vicinity of Downieville.

In the Summer of 1850 when he entered the employee of Sam. W. Longton’s Express, as Messenger, between Marysville and Downieville, a position full of incident and adventure, a portion of the route being at times only passable by means of snow-shoes, employing and traveling in company with Indians. In June, 1852, he entered the service of Adams & Co. as Messenger between Shasta and Marysville; made one or more trips as Messenger to Portland, Oregon, and also a trip in the same capacity between San Francisco and New York City; upon his return from this trip he entered the San Francisco office as clerk, and shortly after was sent by the company to Salt Lake City to establish an express and stage line between Los Angeles and St. Louis. This was the first express ever carried into Utah Territory.

But in consequence of the failure of Adams & Co., in February, 1855, the enterprise was necessarily abandoned. Mr. Tracy, being left entirely without means by the failure of the company, was so fortunate as to secure the position of Clerk of Quartermaster’s Department under General Steptoe, then in command of the troops then stationed at Salt Lake, and so worked his passage back to California. Arriving in Shasta in July, 1855, he was appointed by the Pacific Express Company their agent at that place, then one of the most flourishing mining towns in this State. Upon the failure of this company, in the Summer of 1857, he entered the service of Wells, Fargo & Co., at Shasta, with which company he has remained until the present time, a period of nearly twenty-one years. Mr. Tracy took charge of the Sacramento office in March, 1868, and is probably the oldest expressman in California, having been engaged in this business, with less than three months’ interim, a period of nearly twenty-seven years.

While living in Shasta, Mr. Tracy served that county two terms as its Treasurer. In Sacramento he occupied the position of School Director for the city two terms, and for three years was President of the Board. Mr. Tracy is respected and trusted by all who have the pleasure of his acquaintance. He has long been a prominent leader in the Presbyterian Church, and last year went as delegated from this State to the General Assembly held at Chicago. Though modest and retiring, Mr. T. is a first-class businessman, and so recognize not only by the firm he has so long and faithfully served, but by all with whom he has done business during his long residence in California.


From the Sacramento Historical Society: (PDF LINK)

Evening Bee
Sacramento, June 12, 1902
TRACY – In this city, June 12, Felix Tracy, a native of New York, aged 72 years, 2 months ans 13 days.

Friends are respectfully invited to attend the funeral Saturday at 10 a.m. from the Fourteenth-Street Presbyterian Church, Fourteenth Street, between O and P. Interment private. Omit flowers.

Sacramento Evening Bee (Sacramento, CA)  Jun 12, 1902


Felix Tracy passed away at his home in this city to-day after a period of failing health of many months duration. Mr. Tracy was one of Sacramento’s most highly respected citizens.

Deceased was one of the oldest express agents in California, his service dating back to the 50s, when he was Wells, Fargo & Co.’s representative in Shasta. He was placed in several important positions by Wells, Fargo & Co, and finally sent to Sacramento, when this was the most important office in the State, it being the distributing point for all the best mining counties.

In those days, Wells, Fargo & Co. carried all the gold dust from the mines and returned the gold coin from the Mint to the miner. In this way they caught a percentage going and coming, and the Company grew to be a wealthy corporation.

It always, however, took good care of its faithful servants. Several years ago, Felix Tracy was tendered retirement on a handsome pension, and could have done so had he listened to the importunities of his employers. However he had quite a snug fortune of his own, and he remained “in the harness” until his physical condition compelled his retirement.

He was strictly temperate in his habits, and an active advocate of temperance in others. More than one young man was reclaimed through his influence. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church and a faithful attendant to its services. He was born in New York State seventy-three years ago. The funeral will take place from the Fourteenth-Street Presbyterian Church Saturday next at 10 a.m.



Well Known in Sacramento, She Was Typical Californian, Known for Deeds Mrs. Martha GARTER TRACY, wife of the late Felix Tracy and mother of Henry W. and Mary F. Tracy, died at the family home at 1706 P Street on Saturday evening.

Mrs. Tracy was an old-time resident of Sacramento, respected and honored wherever known. She was one of the typical women of the early days of California – splendid wives and mothers, to whom California owes as much as she does to the men pioneers. She was a woman of deep religious convictions, full of genuine kindness and charity, sympathetic at heart and keen in intellect. She was author of several excellent short stories, but found her greatest pleasure and devoted almost all of her time to her home.

A leader in the Presbyterian Church on this Coast for many years, she was widely known among the followers of that faith and held in the highest esteem.

With her brother, the late Judge Charles A. GARTER of Red Bluff, Mrs. Tracy came as Miss Garter to California in 1856, joining her father and mother, the late Judge GARTER and wife in Shasta, where Miss Garter was married to Felix Tracy, then connected with Wells, Fargo & Company. Later they came to Sacramento, where Mr. Tracy was the local Manager of Wells, Fargo & Company until his death in 1902.

Sacramento Bee  (Sacramento, CA) Feb 16, 1914


In the summer of 1857, Col. J. B. Crandall established a tri-weekly line of stages between Placerville and Genoa, and carried the “Carson Valley express,” which was managed by Theodore F. Tracy. E. W. Tracy was agent at Placerville, and Smith and Major Ormsby were agents at Genoa. In June of that year, T. F. Tracy, accompanied by J. B. Crandall, Mark Hopkins, J. H. Nevitt, Wm. M. Cary, John M. Dorsey, Theron Foster, C. A. Sumner, and K D. Keiser, passed over the route, and established the following stations between Placerville and Genoa, viz.: Sportman’s Hall, Brockliss Bridge, Silver Creek, and Cary’s Mill. This was called the “Pioneer Stage Line,” and connected at Genoa with the Chorpening wagons to Salt Lake.

Nevada Observer (LINK)

Death of Theodore F. Tracy

Felix Tracy, agent for Wells, Fargo & Co., in this city, received news this morning of the sudden death of his brother, Theodore F. Tracy, of San Francisco, a prominent Republican candidate for State Treasurer. In speaking of his candidacy the Oakland Tribune of a late date gave this brief sketch of him:

He was for nine years a Postoffice Inspector on this coast, and in that capacity acquitted himself with distinguished ability. In the course of his inspection tours throughout the State he made friends wherever he went, and, as a natural consequence, he will add strength to any ticket on which he may be nominated. In addition to his experience in the Postoffice Department he has had a thorough business training, and he held an important position under Wells, Fargo & Co. for many years. Mr. Tracy has resided in San Francisco for the past ten years, and before that was a resident of El Dorado county.

Sacramento Daily Bee (Sacramento, CA) Aug 18, 1886

The Diary of a Forty-Niner

April 16, 2010

Originally, I just planned to stick this at the bottom of another post and provide a link, but then I started reading the book.  It is a quick read, authentic and very entertaining.  I have clipped a few excerpts of the text as examples.

This first clip is from the preface; it gives some background information on the material and the forty-niner who wrote it.


This next excerpt gives a rather humorous description of his jackass:

Next, is the disappearance of two fellow miners, Ristine and Carter, although I am only excerpting two small snippets, so if you want to know more, you will have to read the book:




And no gold mining story would be complete without the mention of gambling:


For those who enjoy romance, there is definitely a little of that with the French woman, Marie:

Evidently, there are several editions of this book, the latest one listed as being published in 2007.

Title:    The Diary of a Forty-Niner
Author:    Chauncey L. Canfield
Publisher:    M. Shepard Co., 1906
Length:    231 pages

Here is the link to the edition I used  in this post: (Google book LINK.)

Placerville: Miners, Bankers, and Runaway Hogs

April 15, 2010

Miners’ Meeting.

At a meeting of the miners of Smith’s Flat, on the evening of September 21st, 1854, E. Gage, Esq., was called to the chair, and T.M. White appointed secretary, and the following laws for the government of claims in Smith’s Flat District, were unanimously adopted.

Mining Laws of Smith’s Flat.

1. The boundaries of Smith’s Flat Mining District shall be as follows, viz:

Beginning at the south east corner of Negro Hill District, thence east until it strikes where the road running through Smith’s Ranch intersects the emigrant road East; thence south until it strikes the Coon Hollow ditch; thence west, along said ditch, until it strikes Spanish Hill District; thence north to the south line of Negro Hill District; thence east on said line to the place of beginning.

2. The size of mining claims shall be 50 by 100 yds.

3. Each miner may hold two claims — one by location and one by purchase, or both by purchase.

4. All claims must be recorded by a Recorder duly elected; and he shall receive one dollar for recording each claim. He shall set a permanent stake at each corner of each claim, and put a written notice on each, giving the name or names of the party or parties, having such claims recorded, with the number of the claim and time of recording, and shall file a duplicate of such notice in a book kept for the purpose. It shall be his duty, also, to record all claims that he may be requested to.

5. No claim shall be forfeited by not being worked between the first day of July and the first day of December; provided the owner of any claim shall notify the Recorder of his intention to work said claim before he leaves it.

6. Any person having a claim shall forfeit it, by neglecting to work it one whole day in every seven, between the 1st of December and the first of July following.

7. Any person having two claims may hold both, by working either, as above mentioned.

8. Any difficulty that may arise relative to mining interests, shall be referred to a jury of five miners; — four of them to be chosen by the parties, and the fifth by these four.

9. Any person having a claim that requires a tail race, shall have the privilege of cutting it through the claims adjoining it below, (provided, said cutting shall not interfere with the working of the same,) until he has obtained sufficient fall for all reasonable mining purposes. But he shall in no case permit his tailings to accumulate on the claims below, to the detriment of the working of said claims.

Hill Claims.

1. A tunnel claim shall be 150 feet front, and run to the centre of the hill.

2. A claim must be worked within ten days from the time at which it is taken up, and as often as one day in each week thereafter.

3. Two or more holding claims, may form a company to work any one of them, without being bound to work each of them.

4. Any miner or miners finding new diggings in this district, shall be entitled to one extra claim for each member of the company, on any vacant hill ground in the district.

5. Any tunnel company who shall have expended $200 upon notifying the recorder of their intention to leave their claim, shall not forfeit the same, provided, they resume operations within three months from the time of giving said notice.

Resolved, That the old code of laws be repealed, so far as they conflict with those now adopted.
Resolved, That the above be published in the Mountain Democrat.
Meeting adjourned.
E. GAGE, President.
T.M. WHITE, Sec.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Sep 30, 1854


Owing to the scarcity of water in many localities, mining is not carried on so actively as in the early part of the summer. But, where water is to be had, at Negro Hill, the Reservoir, and the various tunnels in the vicinity supplied by the South Fork Canal, and on the creeks and bars, the miners are making their usual good wages. Next month the South Fork Canal will be completed, and will afford an abundance of water. We may then look for an activity in mining operations, that has not been equaled in any portion of the State heretofore, during the dry season.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Jul 22, 1854

A Placerville Church (Image from

NEW CHURCH. — The enterprising citizens of Negro Hill have erected a fine church and school house at this point, which was dedicated to religious and educational purposes, on last Sunday evening, by Rev. G.B. Taylor.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Dec 23, 1854

Placerville - 1851 (Image from


“Let other poets raise a fracas
‘Bout vines an’ wines, an’ drunken Bacchus,
An’ crabbit names an’ stories wrack us,
An’ grale our lug,
I sing the juice Scot’s bear can mak us
In glass or jug.”

The above verse, as every body knows, is the beginning one of Robert Burns’ eulogy on “Scotch Drink;” the peculiar national beverage of his fatherland. The pride which animated him in the witty composition may have been different in [spirit], yet the same in kind with ours, in referring to the excellence and completeness of our street improvements. San Francisco, Stockton, and Sacramento have, for months, literally “grated our lug” ’bout piles, and planks, an’ pitfull sidewalks, while it has been equally the custom of visitors from either of those illustrious localities, to harp and carp about the alternate dust and mire of our mountain City.

In the future, however, for these croakers, “Othello’s occupation’s gone.” The principal streets of Placerville now present an appearance of substantial firmness not equalled in the State. Not of combustible or decaying boards — eternally wearing and shivering into yawning man-traps and requiring a perpetual re-taxation for repairs, — but deeply Macadamized with imperishable stone alike impervious to heat or cold. — The substratum is of stone blocks of considerable size, covered with gravel or small cobbles, which effectually fill up all the interstices, and render the surface smooth as a carpet.

You will not, O denizens of plank-bottomed towns, hope, therefore, any reciprocation from hitherward, of your melting records of fractured limbs or skulls insensate — the fruits of planking discrepancies.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Feb 3, 1855



OWNERS of hogs within the city limits, are hereby notified that the City Pound had been moved to the alley in the rear of the Station House; and that sales of hogs that may be impounded, will take place every Saturday, at 11 o’clock A.M. — commencing on Saturday, the 3d day of March.

RENICK CONE, Pound Master.
City of Placerville, Feb. 24, 1855

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Feb 24, 1855

From the Town Talk.

A Node to a Bank.

Oh, Bank, grate malstrom for koin!
How yew swaller up things. What
A maw yew hev got for Bull-Lion.
And when yu hev filled yourself chock
Full how yew luv to bust up
And brake things.

Yew grate malstrom for koin!
Grate bank! What air you good for
Eny how, yew overgrown cirtter, but
To chaw up all a feller has got
and then larf into his face and sa,
“Oncet I had koin but now eye’m
Bust and can’t do nothink!”

Grate malstrom for koin!
Yew are a ga deceiver — yew fell
Into a feller’s pocket for speshe and
Tickle him up ’bout keepin it safe
Wen you knowd yew warnt
Safe enny how. You’ve played H-ll.

Grate malstrom fur koin!
How du yew feel now, yew old buster?
Yew hev dun it — yew hev
Put your foot into it and
Yew hev split menny hopes.
Where do you Xpect to go tu,
Yew old buster? Hev yew
Kicked up sich a dust that
Yew can’t tell what its all
About? Hev yew?
You nasty, vile malstrom fur koin?


Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Mar 31, 1855

From the Mountain Democrat

Part 2


Auburn Ravine (Image from


One day last week three miners in prospecting a ravine emptying into the South Fork, opposite the mouth of White Rock Canon, took out a lump weighing twelve ounces besides other gold, amounting in all to near sixteen ounces, and have been making good wages since.

Would it not be a good idea in some of those who are lying around the taverns doing nothing, to start out with a pick and shovel and try their luck a little further in the ravines hereabouts?

There are many hillsides that have not been prospected at all, which, perhaps, are richer than any that have yet been opened in our vicinity. No miner is “hard up” long at a time who is industrious and persevering. Dame Fortune, like the rest of her sex, is capricious; and if she frown, to-day may relent to-morrow; and is sure to reward, with her choicest favors, continued exertion.

“Better luck next time” must be the miners motto if he would succeed; he must [keep at work] if he would make money. We were once a miner ourselves and know from experience, that loafing is a poor way to strike good diggings, and that playing seven up for the whisky won’t pay board bills.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Apr 22, 1854

From Those Left Behind

April 14, 2010

Image from The Adventures of a Forty-Niner: An Historic Description of California
Author:   Daniel Knower
Publisher:   Weed-Parsons printing co., 1894 – (Google book LINK)


From the Florence (Ala.) Gazette.

To an Absent Brother.


Brother, thou art far away, in California’s land,
Long years ago, with trembling heart, I clasped they parting hand,
A tear was in thy drooping eye, and sparkled as it fell
Upon the sod beneath us, as you breathed a long farewell.

Oh! sad indeed the parting hour, from childhood’s home that day,
When the language of each tear-gemmed eye, was God be on thy way —
I stood beneath the dim old trees, on that sad parting morn,
Until the cool winds kissed my brow and whispered — he is gone.

The birds sang sweetly as before, their songs were naught to me,
I heard their wild notes o’er and o’er, but only thought of thee —
The wildwood where we loved to roam, the pleasant forest shade,
Looked desolate without the light, affection’s smile had made.

Oh! do you still recall as I, each beauteous moon-light night,
We sat upon the old oak steps, and talked of visions bright?
Those treasured step are not there now, but oh! I love them still,
For there so oft your dulcet flute, you touched with magic skill.

The school house of your early years, stands in the same old grove,
But college boys now ramble through the paths you loved to rove —
The same old trees are standing there, beneath whose pleasant shade,
You rambled with some valued friend, or at some dear game played.

But the playmates of those hours, you ask me where are they?
Oh! some have at the altar stood, and some are far away —
And many dear young friends of thine, sweet dreams that now are not,
Have left us in their bright spring time, and sleep in some green spot.

Oh! leave that El Dorado, the land to all so bright,
And come once more to loved ones, who’ll greet thee with delight —
Our hearts would all be wild with joy, to see thee once more here,
Then come to Woodlawn’s lovely shade, my absent brother, dear.

Woodlawn, February 26, 1855.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) May 19, 1855

Image from The Forty-Niners: A Chronicle of the California Trail and El Dorado
Volume 25 of Chronicles of America series
Author:   Stewart Edward White
Publisher:   Yale University Press, 1921 (Google book LINK)




You’ve learn’d, ere this, that home is not
In distant lands, where gold is got;
That it is not, where day by day,
You wear your busy hours away;
Nor yet, indeed, where lonely night
Prepares you for the toils of might;
‘Tis hope, and joy, and mem’ry give
A home in which a heart can live.
‘Tis where friends are, is home to thee,
And home, without them, cannot be.

Look round the room where now you stay,
And think of friends who’re far away;
Those walls no ling’ring hopes endear —
No fond remembrance chains you there —
And though you try, while yet you roam,
To find, in wildest haunts, a home,
You’ll soon behold, though not too soon,
That ‘way from friends, you seem alone —
That where friends are, is home to thee,
And home, without them, cannot be.

And if you strive, in halls of state,
Home joys to find, with heart elate,
Defeated hopes will break the spell,
And cause your heart in gloom to swell,
And then will you the truth behold,
That home is neverr bought with gold —
That stately halls, or valued cot,
Is ne’er a home where friends are not.
But where friends are, is home to thee,
And home, without them, cannot be.

And here a truth we might unfold,
Which poets, yet, have never told;
The wand’rer’s home is ne’er complete —
The exile’s a lone retreat —
The sailor’s on the widened main —
The warrior’s on the tented plain —
The maiden’s in her bower of rest —
The infant’s on its mother’s breast —
Yet, where friends are, is home to thee,
And home, without them, cannot be.

There is no home in halls of pride;
They are too high, and cold, and wide;
No home is by the wand’rer found —
‘Tis not in place — it hath no bound.
True home’s a circling atmosphere,
Investing all the heart holds dear —
A law of strange attractive force,
That holds the feelings in their course;
Hence, where friends are, is home to thee,
And home, without them, cannot be.

Oh! who’ll deny that home’s a place,
Where hope and joy find kind embrace?
Where kindred all, with other friends,
With warmest hearts their love extends?
That ’tis a place quite undefined,
O’ershadowing each conscious mind —
Where love and beauty sweetly blend,
To consecrate the name of friend?
That where friends are, is home to thee,
And home, without the, cannot be.

Wabash, January 1862.

The Golden Era (San Francisco, California) Mar 16, 1862