Posts Tagged ‘Dry Diggings’

Buckeyes Prevail, Brook the Trail, Send Loved Ones Gold Dust in the Mail

April 7, 2009

gold-rush-emigrant-train-1849

THE CALIFORNIA ADVENTURERS.

A letter has been received in town from a member of the xenia company, dated June 7, which was brought to the settlements by a returned emigrant. It states that they expect to reach California in 40 days — that grass is abundant, and the country most beautiful. The Sanduskians are ahead, all doing well — no cholera — Indians friendly.
Sandusky Mirror, 7th.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jul 17, 1849

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Latest from California.

By the politeness of C.L. Latimer, Esq., of this place, we are permitted to make some interesting extracts from a letter received by him from Mr. T.B. Sturges, written since his arrival at the Gold Region. It is postmarked San Francisco, Sept. 1. Respecting his passage over the plains, Mr. Sturges says:

“My journey has been a long, tedious, and somewhat dangerous one. Often have I felt that with the exhausted team that I have had, I could go no further; and once I turned my mules waiting for some one to come along and to see if I could not get assistance through.

40 Mile Desert

40 Mile Desert

“When I approached the Desert, it looked very discouraging indeed. There was a distance of 85 miles, composed of a barren sandy plain, with the sand 18 inches deep and scarcely a particle of wood, water, or feed of any kind. So too of the mountains. It required 6 or 7 span of mules and 20 men to force up the steep mountains, sometimes three miles in length, an empty wagon. A man who starts upon this journey in charge of a team, with the expectation of finding an easy time of it, will be greatly disappointed. I have, however, borne the journey very well, and my health is now better than it has been for the last ten years. All who see me are surprised at the change in appearance. It has not, however, been so fortunate with those who are behind. I am informed by Packers, who started late, that the emigrants are dying off by hundreds, and many are returning to the States. There must necessarily be much suffering on the route.

Sacramento 1850 (image from worldmapsonline.com)

Sacramento 1850 (image from worldmapsonline.com)

I arrived here (Sacramento city,) on yesterday, 25th of August. This place is two miles above Sutter’s Fort. It has sprung up within the last six months, and contains from 4 to 6,000 inhabitants. Most of the buildings are merely posts put in the ground, with rafters and covered with drilling or other cloth, to keep out the sun. Rain is a thing unknown here in the summer season.

“As to the prospects of the Gold Region, about 15 miles from here, opinions of course, vary much. There is, however, no doubt, that with industry, any man may acquire from sixteen to twenty-five dollars per day; and sometimes he will find a spot that will give him daily, one to two hundred dollars. No man who retains his health can fail to do well. The weather is very hot and requires great prudence in new comers. Provisions are high. Flour $9 per cwt.; pork, 25 cents per pound; — Sugar 20 cents, and other things in proportion. Common labor brings $10 per day. I found here, Mr. McKnight, (formerly of Sandusky City,) who pays his help at the rate of $3,500 a year. He keeps a boarding house. The state of society is much better than I anticipated. Formerly murders and thefts were frequent; but a number of executions have struck terror to the evil doers. — Upon the whole I do not regret my journey, and think I shall do well.”

We understand that a letter has been received by Mr. Chase, of Milan, from E.B. Atherton, of the Milan Company, who had passed on a day or two in advance of his company, to make arrangements, which states that they had arrived at Sacramento City, all well.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Oct 23, 1849

Letters from the Norwalk Californians.

By the kindness of Mr. S. Patrick of this place, we are permitted to publish the following letter received the past week from his son, Delano R. Patrick, who left here last April for the Gold Region. Letters have also been received from Messrs. T.B. Sturges, John S. Vredenburgh, S.C. Wickham and George Whyler, who are well; also one from Josiah Roop, of Republic, dated as late as the 18th of October.

Specimens of the California staple, consisting of small lumps and spangles of gold, in the condition in which they were found, were enclosed in the letters.

The intelligence received has served to augment the interest here, and we learn that some of our most respectable and esteemed citizens are preparing for a visit to the Pacific.

Cold Spring Valley, Sept. 11, 1849.

Dear Father: — We arrived in the Gold Region the 23d of last month, in good health. Coming the new Mormon road, we struck what are called the “dry diggings,” situated on Weaver’s Creek, about 50 miles from Sacramento City. From these diggings we proceeded to the City for the purpose of purchasing a supply of provisions, selling our teams, and selecting a location for winter quarters. Sparks‘ and my team, which was reduced to three mules and a half worn wagon, we sold for $500 before reaching the City. Our mules were said to be in the best condition of any that had crossed the plains during the season.

Sutter's Fort (image from www.fourth-millennium.net)

Sutter's Fort (image from http://www.fourth-millennium.net)

Sacramento is a City of mushroom growth — sixty days ago containing only two or three dwellings — now a population of 3000 people. It is situated on Sacramento river, about two miles from Sutter’s Fort. There are but 15 or 20 framed houses in the city; the majority of the dwellings consisting of tents, and canvas stretched over frames of house-like form. The business of the city is immense — provisions and goods are stacked up in large heaps throughout the city, there being no place to store them. Of thieves there is little fear, as trials are short, and sentences quickly executed; ropes are plenty, and oak trees convenient.

We purchased flour at $8 per hundred, bacon 40 cts. per lb., sugar 16, rice 8, coffee 16, molasses $1 per gal., pork $10 per bbl. Our provisions not having arrived, we purchased a supply sufficient for 3 or 4 months, and arrived at our present location the first of this month. We selected this place not from its being the best mining region, but because it is a pleasant and healthy location, and first rate water convenient. It is called Big Spring Valley, is situated 5 miles east from Sutter’s Mill and 5 west from Weaverville, in the dry diggings.

But I presume you are impatient to learn what amount per day can be made in the gold region. In this vicinity the gold is found in small scales or particles very equally distributed in the bed of the stream, or in fact any where in the valley, which is at this season nearly dry. Every man who is able and willing, can by hard labor dig and wash from $8 to $16 per day. In the Weaver dry diggings some have dug two or three hundred in one day, while others have worked days without obtaining  any amount. But here, when a man commences work in the morning, he is sure of from $8 to $16 by night, ready pay — no bank rags. Gold digging here is very much like stone quarrying with you — very much like work, you may be assured. I find that the wages of the gold digger here, as compared with the wages of the mechanic, are substantially the same as at home; that is, a mechanic here can earn more per day than the gold digger can possibly average, although there are some cases where a gold digger may by what we call good luck, make much more than a mechanic could possibly earn. We expect, if we continue healthy, to average the above mentioned amounts, viz. from $8 to $16 per day.

The extensive immigration has so completely crowded the best diggings, that many are obliged to carry their dirt a considerable distance for the purpose of washing it, although this difficulty will be obviated when the rainy season commences.

We have provisions sufficient for four months, mining tools, a tent, and clothing for one year, all of which I purchased here (with the exception of clothing,) at California prices. The tools with which we started, we were obliged to throw out by the way to lighten our load.

The majority at this place are Ohioans. The Findlay, Bellevue and Milan Companies, and a company from Southern Ohio are settled here. T.B. Sturges and son are here as well. Vredenburgh and son came into the gold region about one week since. I have not seen them. We passed them on the road near Green river and arrived here sixteen days in advance. We passed the Milan boys this side of Fort Hall. Direct letters to Sacramento City until you hear again. Enclosed you will find a small portion of gold dust, which I dug and washed.
Yours,
D.R. PATRICK

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio)Dec 18, 1849

Sacramento City 1849 (image from www.geog.ucsb.edu)

Sacramento City 1849 (image from http://www.geog.ucsb.edu)

From Our California Friends.

The Sanduskian publishes a letter from J.H. Drake, dated Sacramento City, February 17, 1850. He states that T.B. Sturges, Esq., and son, and Mr. Patrick’s sons, of this place, were well, and at the springs, on Weaver’s Creek. The mines there were not as good as in other places, and it was probable they would look for better mining. He had dug there himself until January 1st. and had averaged almost $16 per day. He then removed to Sacramento City, where, in partnership with E.B. Atherton, of the Milan Co., he was keeping a public house, known as the “Buckeye House” — board $21 per week, lodging $1, single meals $1, liquor from 2’s to 4’s per drink “according to quality.”

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Apr 16, 1850

Feather River (image from http://thelanterninn.com)

Feather River (image from http://thelanterninn.com)

Sacramento and Yuba Cities — The Great Freshet.

Mr. J.H. Drake, in his letter, from which we quoted in our last, Yuba city, &c., “On the 9th of January, the water rose and overflowed the banks of the river, so you could pass through the principal streets of the city with boats, with 6 and 8 feet of water. The rise was owing to the very warm weather and the snow melting in the mountains, and so sudden was the rise that within one hour after the water broke over the banks the city was one sea of water. Luckily for me I had just completed a boat 26 feet long, in company with some others, for a trip up Feather river, and luckily it launched itself. On the night I speak of a person not present, could hardly imagine the distress and confusion it created. Every house in the city was flooded to the first floor, and hundreds to the second story, and all was cry for help. Our boat soon got to work in transferring the inhabitants to places which they considered safe. 30 or 40 ships laid in the river, and very many went on board for safety. The city was full of stock of every description, and the greater part of it was drowned — say 2,000 head. The portion that was saved, swam to the higher bank about 2 miles distant, near Sutter’s Fort. The fort is built of doby bricks, and is a very pleasant place. I am of opinion that the City of Sacramento is the richest city of its size, in the whole world, lay coin and uncoined gold and property at its current rates.

This city is situated in the valley of the Sacramento, 190 miles above San Francisco, at the junction of the Sacramento and the American Fork rivers. Uber City, situated on the Uber river, near Feather river, about 100 miles above, has a population of about 4,000. It is situated in the vicinity of very rich mines in the mountains, and all the streams afford excellent mining facilities. Here miners have made their 50 and $100 per day. — The last season some of them have returned with wealth, and others poorer than when first in the mines. I saw a lump of gold from Uber river, that sold for $6,000 another piece found at the Georgetown cannon by Dr. Davis of Virginia, that weighed 49 pounds, another piece found on the McCallama weighed something over 93 pounds, however, this last piece contained some quartz, which does not hurt its value in the least, as undoubtedly it will be kept as a speciman; and a thousand smaller pieces which are an every day occurrence.”

Overland Route (image from http://zimmer.csufresno.edu)

Overland Route (image from http://zimmer.csufresno.edu)

The Overland Route. Mr. Drake gives the following sketch of the Overland Route to California:

“From the time I left Independence, Missouri, until I arrived at this city was 100 days — a very extraordinary short trip; and without any serious accidents, save having some mules and horses stolen by emigrant foot-pads. We crossed the deserts of sands with safety, mostly in the night time. All those emigrants that undertook to cross them in the day time lost their stock and necessarily all they had. —

We crossed the Sierra Nevada mountains in July and found plenty of snow. The boys took a frolic of snow balling — they were very steep, rocky, sideling and high, and in all instances the higher peaks were destitute of trees and plants, and exhibited to the traveler a vast pile of gray granite rocks, thrown together by some convulsion of the earth. At first view it appeared almost impassable for a footman, however, we surmounted all our difficulties by industry, prudence and patience.

One word for the emigrants that arrived last fall: The government officers employed men, purchased mules, horses and provisions and returned on the route and relieved all suffering emigrants. The mountains were deep with snow; and many, very many you could see forcing their way, men women and children packing their whole stock of provisions, (as for clothing they had none,) on an old broken down mule, horse, ox, or even a cow, and still a great many were found without any stock, and some got through on foot — doing pretty well at that.

I am of the opinion that not more than one quarter of the wagons that left the frontier last spring arrived in the gold district. Some were left from necessity by falling, by breaking, shrinking, and some abandoned for the want of teams, and thousands would abandon their wagons, goods and every thing except a small stock of provisions and their fire arms, and thus force their way through, worn out and miserable, and not having made better time than those who clung to their wagons, &c.; enough of that, it’s gone by.

The whole distance from Independence by Sublet’s Cutoff, and the southern route, i.e. “Carson’s river route,” to Sacramento City, by measurement, (roadometer,) is 2,188 3/4 miles.”

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Apr 16, 1850

**Click on the “Gold Rush” category for more California Gold Rush posts.

The first part of T.B. Sturges’ journal is HERE.