Posts Tagged ‘Sacramento City CA’

Another Watertown Boy Writes Home

March 3, 2011

Interesting Letter from California

We are indebted to the kindness of L.A. COLE and L.R. CADY, Esqrs., for an interesting letter from Mr. A. STECK., dated at Amador Creek, a branch of the Dry Creek, which is a branch of the San Joaquim, 50 miles from Sacramento city — Jan. 15-24, 1850. some portions, of a private nature, we omit.

*  *  *  “Scurvy is caused by the use of salt provisions, and nothing else — and every mine in California, is more or less disposed to it. It is cured by the use of vegetables, fresh meat, vinegar, &c. It draws up the cords of the legs and swells the limbs — the gums rot away, and if bad, you have great difficulty in eating.  *  *  *

We ought a barrel of flour cheap at $75, but it was a little musty — $100 was the price, tho’ it did not cost over $10 to $20 at San Francisco. Potatoes here are worth $1.25 a pound, onions the same, beef 50, pork 50 to 100, sheet iron for a washer $2 a pound — other things in proportion. We can get enough to eat, such as it is.

Digging is the hardest work I ever tried — chopping is “no touch” to it. A man cannot average $6 a day in the rainy season. The water gets too high, and the miner cannot get the dirt to wash. All  the gold lies on bars, and in the sides of the banks, and in the beds of the creeks — nowhere else. It is found on the eddy side of the stream, and is evidently deposited there by the yearly wash of the hill sides for centuries. When disturbed by digging, and a freshet following, the gold is drivin down, and a new deposit made — but it is a poor one, and not worth digging. The dust is found amongst rocks, and it is nothing but quarrying. The washing part is not hard. They rainy season set in on the 1st of November, two months earlier than last year — stops a day and then rains a day — clears for a few days, then rains a few days — keeps clear perhaps a week, and when about fairly at work, when any thing can be done on account of the low water, it rains again and bursts the business.

This is just the rainy season, and you have a fair idea of it. The temperature of the winter season, is not quite as warm as that of summer, but is never colder than a fall day in Wisconsin.

A man would be laughed at with gloves or a coat on when working. The country is unhealthy, and is the first place that ever knocked me, yet. Hardel, son of Richard Hardell, who lives between Summit and Waterville, says mining is by far harder than any part of farming. He sometimes sleeps in our cabin on account of having none himself.

There are no great sums taken out at mining. Under very favorable circumstances, a man may, in the dry season, make from 16 to 24 dollars a day. None of us have done much — paid expenses, perhaps, and that is all. We had a great Christmas dinner at our neighbor’s. It cost perhaps $50. There were about 12 guests of us. We had roast venison, pudding, dip, mince pies, sauce, pickles, &c. and whiskey! We all did justice to the feast, and toasted our absent friends.

Plenty of butter here, kegged stuff, at $2.50 a pound — and rank enough. A man is not so strong here as at home. — The climate enervates him, I suppose.

Cattle mire on the tops of the hills. — The low grounds are the firmest, and the ranchoes have thousands on thousands of wild cattle on the streams.

Image from the  NoeHill Travels in California website.

Sacramento city has been several times under water, and the people ferried the streets in boats like the good people of Venice. The American river rose 32 feet in less than two days. The city is at the junction of that stream with the Sacramento, and on as large a scale as Philadelphia — the houses made of cotton cloth stretched on scantling frames. A few stores, hotels, liquor and gaming shops are frame and covered with shingles. Monte is the game played here. It is very simple, and the money staked is lost or won in a second. Sometimes a stiff fellow comes in and slaps down a pile, and its gone or doubled in a twinkle. — The highest bet I knew of, when in the city, was $2000. I have seen Mexicans who have a passion for this game, bet every time from 50 to 200 dollars, until I left the establishment, which was after midnight. There were at least 100 monte tables, with at least $3000 in coin, and twice as much more in dust, stacked up in the middle of each. The scales of gold are usually about twice the thickness of cap paper, and ordinarily from the size of the smallest perceptible speck, to the size of a barley corn. The ravines which contain gold in the beds of the water courses, are called gulches, a corruption of gulf. Stores are opened in all the mines, and goods are abundant, though at enormous prices. Our letters cost us $2 each, and this one will cost me $1 to Sacramento city.

You have long since heard that California has adopted a constitution with the Wilmot Proviso. I heard a rumor that a convention was in session at Monterey, making it, and the next thing I heard, was, that it was adopted. I venture to say that not 10,000 out of the 75, 000 miners, knew the day of its trial — and if they did, they did not know its contents.

Image of Native Americans at Sutter’s Fort from Hetch Hetchy’s Native Blog on The Hive website.

*  *  We have a great many Indians here — the most uncouth, ill-featured, gabbling, black, impudent rascals you ever beheld. They all wear pants, shirts and coats, but neither hats nor shoes. They squaws wear regular frocks. They are diminutive in stature, and lousy, all lousy, very lousy. We passed through a village of 800[or 300] Sioux lodges — the finest looking race I ever saw. “Bull’s-Tail,” the chief, is a little old man about 90 years of age. The whole of the band were gigantic, and much lighter in color than the Menominees, with clear, transparent skins, a lofty air as they moved, and a majestic mien as they saluted us with the usual “how’de’do.” They impressed me with my first idea obtained from books describing Indian character — the native dignity and majesty of the untutored red man. We lay by one day, and visited their camp. They had a horse, mule or pony for every man, woman and child, and I should think more. They were very neatly dressed, well armed, had good blankets and many fat dogs. I think there were full 1000 souls. Some of the young squaws were dressed in soft white fawn skins, as long as any American female’s dress — worked in flounces, with beads of every color tastefully arranged, with a band around the waist, and a kind of cape, ornamented. — Even the little children, many of them, were moccasined.

When the mines were first discovered, and during all last winter, miners made with machines that would not wash as much by one fourth as those they have now, from 50 to 100 dollars every day — and now, with improved machines, make not more than an average of $5 when they work, and that is not more than one half the time. The men who are making the money in California, are the traders and rancheros on the lines of travel from the cities to the mines. The keepers of hotels and eating-houses, are “coining money.” At the City Hotel, they charge $1.50 for breakfast and tea, and $2 for dinner. Regular boarders pay $32 per week. They have about 200 boarders — nine tenths of them monte dealers. The miners are by far the better part of the population. You will find an industrious sober and well behaved people, and in the city there is nothing but gambling and gambling night and day.

*  *  *  The Chilians and Mexicans dug the cream of the mines and made fortunes. In some places they chased out the black rascals — but still they go elsewhere, and will not leave the country.

*  *  *  There are here the largest, tallest and straightest pines in the world — hundreds of them 6 yo 7 feet through, and 100 feet without a limb, in the Siera Nevadas, and I have seen cedars 4 feet through and 80 feet to the limbs.

The hills here are covered with evergreen oak, pine, and other foliage. I presume the oak to be of the live oak species; it is a very stunted tree, but most gloriously green. I can’t think such stuff fit for ship building. There is but a very small part of Calafornia that is worth any thing, apart from its mineral wealth. It is only on the larger streams that the land can be cultivated; and the valleys are exceedingly narrow. Every spot is occupied by a Rancho, and indeed was before the gold was discovered. The mines as now worked will be abandoned in a year or two, for it won’t longer pay, and joint stock companies will do the work. The mines are now well rooted over, and the chances not half so good as last year.

*  *  *  *  *  *

Image by Wayne Johnson (with lots more pictures) in a post about Elko Hot Springs on the Elko County Rose Garden website.  Definitely worth a look!

I was so excited to run across the California Trail marker with a quote from Amos Steck! At the time I was searching for an image of the Green, Humboldt and Carson rivers for a previous Watertown Boys post.

I have kept a journal from the time I left the frontier until the day I reached Sacramento, and have noted a great many curious things. I have not time to give you any part of it in a letter. We crossed a desert of fifty-three miles without grass or water, and our cattle stood it finely. We drove through in the night, and reached the Green River next day at 2 o’clock, P.M., having stopped but an hour and a half to rest a little. We crossed another desert in the night, to Carson River, from the sink of the Humboldt, a distance of forty miles, and there the cattle done finely. We passed a spring at Bear River that was nothing else than soda-water, and deposits of the salt were made so high, as to form quite respectable little hills, fifteen feet say above the surrounding surface. Near by were many springs of a red color, called beer springs, and had a very singular taste. We all drank of them. A short distance from these was the Steamboat spring, of clear, hot water, which rose up and fell a foot or more, resembling the puff of  a high pressure engine. We observed the Indians had been boiling meat in it, and had left some by its side. We saw mineral springs of every variety; and in Hot Spring Valley, 500 miles, perhaps, west of the South Pass, we saw a number of hot springs — one so large as to form a decent creek, and hot to the boiling point. The steam rose from it as from a cauldron; close by is what is called Cold Spring, and cold it was, too. This was in the Basin. On the Humboldt were some springs that rushed like a cataract into the river, and were boiling hot. There was a lake of the same temperature about a mile off, but we did not go see it.

The Humbolt River is a creek, just about big enough to have a name, but not of a river. It is a miserable affair. All the waters of the Basin sink away in the earth — the springs sink most frequently within a rod from the point of issue. We drank from a number of sulphur springs, and saw thousands of salt springs. The whole country is impregnated with salt, from the Rocky Mountains almost to the foot of the Nevadas.

We saw lakes upon lakes of saleratus, as pure as ever was manufactured, and purer. We could have got ten thousand ship loads of it! A great many emigrants used it. It covered the waters of the lake six and eight inches thick. It was of course made from the water by evaporation, under the influence of the sun. It looked like ice. The Mormons get it in any quantity, and have always used it. The country in the neighbourhood of these lakes is nothing but ashes, as good ashes as were ever burnt from rock maple wood, but not quick, on account of the winter rains upon it.

We passed through some fields white as snow, and as good lime as could be made from the stone, or from sea-shells. Clouds of dust, lime dust, ashes dust, and other dusts, sometimes enveloped us and the whole sky. No thunder storm that you ever saw looked so fearful. We sometimes disputed whether is was rain or not, but it always turned out wind and dust. The cattle during half of the entire way, sunk into the dust to the fetlocks, and for days and days up to their knees. All the drivers had to do was to hold on to the ox-bow of the nigh wheel ox, and let it “swizzle.”  *  *  *  There is not timber enough from the Missouri River to the Nevadas, to build a railroad ten miles; and I have seen 500 miles without timber sufficient to build a chicken coop. Our fuel was willow and sage. The whole country from the Missouri to the Nevada is a prairie, and nine-tenths of it desert. We saw Buffalo, and eat them, as also antelopes, &c.

Democratic State Register (Watertown, Wisconsin) Apr 2, 1850

CALIFORNIA LETTERS.

A number were received in town by Monday’s mail. Mr. STECK writes that he is employed in the Sacramento postoffice, at a salary of $200 per month. He had either seen or heard from most of our “boys” a short time previously. They were all well. Gen. GILMAN does not write very flatteringly. We judge from what we have heard of the tone of these letters, that our friends there are not realizing their expectations.

We also received a letter from the “Rothschild of Coloma,” inclosing some beautiful specimens, to the value of eight or ten dollars. Thanks, brother LITTLE!

Watertown Chronicle (Watertown, Wisconsin) Oct 16, 1850

California Letter.

The following letter, for which we are indebted to Mrssrs. COLE and CADY, from A. STECK, late of this village, we hope will prove interesting to our readers:

Sacramento City, Aug. 29, 1850.

FRIENDS COLE AND CADY,

*  *  *  *  I have abandoned mining, and am now living in the city and doing very well — much better than I could at mining. I advise every body who has a decent living in their States to stay there and not come here to mine. I can give you no better illustration of gold mining than you have in your own State in lead mining — the proportion of lucky fellows are now about the same; though in the earlier periods of gold digging, it was a certain and rapid road to fortune. The reason of this change is very plain. When first discovered, miners got out large quantities of the dust, not because it lay any thicker in the earth than it now does, but when the placers were first discovered the population was so spare, that every man was able to make out  his “lead” without any interruption from his neighbors; that is, if a man found a lead which would pay him 50, 60, or $100 per day, he could work it all out, because his neighbors had holes which paid just as well. Now, however, if a lead is found which will pay an ounce per day, before the sun sets the lead is cut off by others, who are only waiting such discovery to pounce right in. Fifteen feet is allowed the discoverer, and in some instances less — sometimes more — this may be worked out in a few days, and he is thus compelled to move about to get another place to work. In the mean time his expenses eat up the profits of his last hole, and he starts anew. Thus nine-tenths of the miners live, and many will tell you even a larger proportion.

Labor in the mines has always been approaching, and perhaps stands in the same relation to capital, and other occupations here, as it does at home. Occasionally a company, large or small, will get out a pile in a fortnight; all such cases are chronicled here in the papers. Nine out of ten of all the stories you hear are false; nobody believes them here, they are the work of speculators and others. You may get  correct idea of the change in mining prosperity from the fact, that business men are staggering under the load of responsibilities assumed under the belief, that the same success in the mines heretofore realized, would continue. Several bankers here have broken in a single fortnight, and others will break like pipe stems before another has gone by. Barton Lee, an Oregon emigrant, who settled here in May 1849, began trade with less than $500 capital, was actually worth, nine months ago, half a million dollars. No man here doubts it — he has often made 25 cents per foot on lumber, and turned the cash in three days. He has failed. The reason of this failure unquestionably was, a mistaken notion of the yield of the mines; the deposits in his hands were not equal to his expectations: the prices of real estate, lumber, goods, &c., had greatly depreciated, the enormous sums expended in the erection of buildings, the rents of which had fallen, all contributed to crush the man. Had he sat still and sold every alternate lot in this city which he owned, and improved the remainder, he would now be worth more than a million; but like most men suddenly rising into notoriety and importance by the accident of wealth, he could not take care of it. Waldron had nearly a thousand dollars in his hands, secured by the endorsement of Mayor Bigelow, who has not yet broken. Waldron is perfectly satisfied he will be paid in sixty days. I presume Lee paid off a million of deposits before his assignment. This amount, recollect, was in gold, and was paid to that portion of his creditors here and in San Francisco, who apprehended his real situation.

I see nothing in this city, (or at least not much,) that differs from cities in any western States, except the absence of females. A western man can more readily appreciate what is the state of society here, than the resident of a city in the States. All the excesses which are daily seen, is the result of the absence of intelligent and virtuous young women. Men who would be foremost in denouncing the “Public Hells,” so numerous in this country, had they their families here, would quietly “pursue the even tenor of their way.” These gambling saloons are the most costly and extravagant affairs in this extravagant country, — here, drinks of every kind, cooled with fresh Boston ice, are always to be had — sweetmeats, pies, fruits, and all the delicasies of this sunny clime, are here dealt out by the hands of familiar and voluptuous young females. Marvelously excessive quantities of strong drinks are here consumed nightly. Chandeliers, which cost extravagant prices in the cheapest markets of the world, sheds over the scene a dazzling light. — ‘Music soft as brooklet’s flow,’ is ‘floating, warbling, here below.’ — Bands of minstrels are pouring forth their melodies from ‘grave to gay,’ to seduce the passer-by to stop and drink, and venture for his fortune. — Crowds of persons throng around the tables, some venturing their little all — others gazing with little less excitement upon the hazard of the game — others again elbowing their way through the crowd, to catch the face of some familiar friend — while the bustle at the bar, the eternal jingle of money from more than a dozen ‘monte banks,’ and the occasional cry of ‘Eagle bird by chance,’ completes the picture of a California gaming saloon. I have stood and gazed upon the throng which nightly gather to these resorts, and wondered at the folly of the multitude. What monuments of magnificence built on the ruins of others! There are few distinctions in society, — men are nearly all of one rank, the wicked and the good stand up before the world as equal. We need the softly chiding and restraining influence of woman, to give rank to honorable and virtuous men, and break up these places that fatten upon sin.

I had written the foregoing late last night, and tumbled upon my kangaroo skins to dream of home and the friends who were ‘over the hills and far away.’ I resume this morning, that this letter may go out by this mail which closes before noon. I enclose you a rough sketch of what I will call a ‘Placer,’ — imagine it to be, say ten miles square, and this high up on the mountains — the only part of this country where gold is found that pays for the working. The main river contains no gold save in the bars, marked thus [ ] – the immediate bed of the streams are marked in spots, say one-fourth part of them — no more than that will pay — the balance contains very little gold. The aluvial diggings where I worked, averaged about six inches in either bank to the entire run of the streams — that is, suppose the deposit of gold to be found in each bank of the width of six inches, and from one foot to four feet in depth, from the source to the mouth — this “dirt” yielding 25 cents to the bucketfull (wooden pail), and you have a sort of idea of the proportion of alluvian diggings to other diggings; but the banks for many rods may not contain a single scale, and, again, the deposit may be found many feet in either bank. About one-tenth of the ‘dirt’ of the bars in the rivers pays; and this ‘dirt’ (I use the miners’ phrase) hes in strata or ‘streaks,’ as we say. Thus you can tell what proportion of the whole mining country contains gold. I have marked on this rough diagram the number of bars in the ran of the fiver for ten or twelve miles. I have made no calculation of the extent of the mines, but from my experience, observation, and information obtained from a thousand sources, I would estimate it in this way. — If all the earth in California, containing deposits of gold equal in value to 25 cents per pailfull, was spread upon a plain two fee in depth and twenty-five miles square, it would exhaust every dollar of gold dust in California. I may be widely from the mark, but it strikes my mind as approximating somewhat to the truth. You have seen letters, I suppose, stating the presence of gold even on the hill tops; this is true, but not the whole truth in the neighborhood of the city of Navada, there are one or two hills which are worked, and there is no water there nine months in the year to wash it, and the rest of the time it rains like fire and tow. Amongst 100,000 hills there are one or two that pay to work, and half the miners in this country could dig and wash them away in an hour before breakfast. On other hills the gold can be found like ‘two grains of wheat in three bushels of chaff,’ ‘few and far between.’ And on the rest of them a microscope which would magnify a Loco Foco’s conscience into being, or to any perceptible size, could not find a speck in an age as long as Methusalah’s. I would like to talk with you about gold hunting, and the way of doing up our ‘linen’ in the mines, and all the little fixing of keeping Bachelor’s Hall under a stunted hazel bush in the open air, but I have not the time now, and don’t know when I shall have. I have come to the conclusion that this is a very healthy country for a new country. Persons not engaged in the mining business enjoy excellent health; and miners who would expose themselves in the States as they do here, and must do, would die off like flies in a frosty morning. There are no diseases in this country of very malignant character; true, I had more sickness here than in the rest of my life, but it was incident to the occupation not the climate. In the mines there is scurvy, a disease which aided materially to hasten the death of old Hanson. I had attached something disgraceful to a man who had the scurvy, and probably derived this idea from Shakespeare, who makes some of his fools and others use the term as one of reproach; but its origin, or rather cause, is simply the want of vegetable acids in the blood necessary to give it a proper tone. No man dreams of scurvy when he lives in a city of on a Ranch, because he can get fruit of all kinds. It does not get so almighty hot here as you would suppose after all that is said about hot weather. I send you a copy of the ‘Times,‘ which contains a meteorological table made by one of the clerks in our office. You can see exactly how much heat I suffered every day. The sun pours down a glare absolutely scorching; the atmosphere is clean and healthy, no cloud ever darkens the horizon, yet one day there was a few, light, smoky looking clouds — mean since the rainy season closed, but they amounted to nothing more than the eclipse of the sun, foretold in every almanac to happen for the last ten years — it would have taken a smoked glass to find out the fact. You would think vegitation would dry up under such a blaze as it poured upon the earth every day; not one drop of rain has fallen since last April, (19th of the month). This is true of the mountain ranges, but not so of the valleys, they are as fresh as the ‘ivy green.’

Our city was the scene of great excitement, of which you have heard by the last steamer. The mail boat with he mail from this office, left the wharf just after the mayor and several of the citizens were reported to have been killed. You will see the difficulty detailed in the papers which I send you; it is but fair, however, to say that the papers are in the interest of the ‘Sutter title party,’ and may be looked upon as rather ex parte than fairly made. All is quiet now, and has been for some time; the last hopes of squatterdom have for ever fled, though hundreds of people strongly sympathize with them — this sympathy is principally in the mines. There are no apologists for their recent conduct in this city, although opinion as to the Sutter title, may be considered equal amongst those who ought to understand such questions.

The buckskin coats, red flannel shirts, and other outre habiliments, have generally given place to the neatly starched white shirt, with standing collar, in one of which I find myself up to my ears every morning. I board at a very excellent hotel for an ounce a week, payable every Saturday night; all the clerks, numbering some seven or more sleep in the office. The last mail from the States brought over 15,000 letters, and the next will be heavier still; I mean for this city office. We get the mail within one or two days of the time expected, and that too every two weeks; so you may suppose a berth in this office is no sinecure. I have seen Lieutenant Wright, John Levitt, Waldron, Stevens, Winders and Stimpson, within two weeks, and wrote to and received a letter from old Jimmy Rogan. Bracket and Bailey I know nothing about, although I have made inquiry for them very frequently. The postmaster, an old friend of mine from Penn., has gone to Washington on business, and left this office in charge of a very sociable and agreeable young man fully equal to the position. I received your letter, (written in last June), and sent it to Rogan. Stimpson has gone to Haughton, about fifty miles from here, and his health is very good, he is very fat, and feels sanguine of making his pile after all his ill-luck. Old Jim is in a dam company on the north fork of the American; the dam is not yet finished. I heard from him to-day, he says he will be into the bed of the river in a fortnight; I hope a fortune awaits him.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *
Remember me to all my Watertown friends.

And believe me,
Yours sincerely,
AMOS STECK.

Democratic State Register (Watertown, Wisconsin) Oct 28, 1850

Letter from A. Steck, Esq.

[Correspondence of the Watertown Chronicle.]
SACRAMENTO CITY, Oct. 29, 1850.

J.A. HADLEY, Esq.:

DEAR SIR — *  *  *  My time is so much taxed, that I have hardly enough left me to carry on my private correspondence, else it would give me pleasure to Chronicle the items of California news for your paper once a month at least. I do not write this with the view that you will publish it, but merely  that you may state the correction of the error into which you were led with regard to Mr. blodgett in your own terms and not in my language.*

Considerable alarm pervades the public mind in this city concerning the cholera, and hundreds are leaving the town in hopes of escaping it. I shall weather it out, or fall a victim.

Image from the Apr 27, 1959 LIFE magazine on Google books.

You  may have read in Bayard Taylor’s notes on California, a description of the postoffice mania, or rather letter mania, when he was a clerk in the San Francisco office. —

It is literally true, and almost the same scenes are here witnessed on the arrival of every mail from the states. At the peep of day on any morning can be seen a line of men to each window of the general deliveries of the postoffice, anxiously awaiting the opening of the office at 8 o’clock, to get their letters; and many a time have I seen persons taking their breakfasts in the line — some sitting on stools which they had brought with them, sipping their coffee, whilst others called to a neighboring bar keeper for a stiff “eye-opener,” having just crawled out of their blankets and came to the postoffice to wait their turn to ask for letters.

The way they operate to prevent quarrelling amongst the outstanders, is to form into a line, and each man is served in order in which he stands in the ranks. As one is accommodated, he leaves the window, and another makes his inquiry. No more than one name can be asked for at one time, else those at the tail end of the line would never get their letters. If any man wants more than his own letters, he is obliged to go back to the extreme end of the rank and train up to the window. We have four general deliveries at this office, and the training up goes on every day from morning till night. In addition, we have two box deliveries, a ladies’ window, advertised delivery and newspaper window. That’s considerable for an office not much more than a year old.

There is no news of interest from the mines other than you will have seen by the papers, of which I send you several.

The Whigs will have a majority in the next legislature, and ought to elect an United States senator, but I fear they will be cheated out of it by the Locos.

I have written so many letters about the gold regions that what I would say here would be but a repetition of what I have written heretofore. As to all your acquaintances here from Watertown, you can call upon Mr. Cady and get information, if you desire it from him. Your acquaintances here are always calling on me for your paper, and I never get it myself. It don’t come to this office, if you have sent any more, they never came to hand. If you will send it, I will send you Sacramento papers every steamer. The principal items of Watertown news here come through the Milwaukee papers, and every item from your paper is seized with the greatest avidity by the Watertown boys.

The elections in this city lately were not contested on political grounds, but in another year the whole canvas will turn upon partisan questions. In San Francisco the party lines were drawn, but no where else in California. I think the Whigs have a clear majority in this state, and if they are not fools, they will assert it.

Yours, &c. AMOS STECK.
___________

*The first part of Mr. STECK’s letter is devoted to a contradiction of the report that GEO. G. BLODGETT, Esq., formerly of Milwaukee, had had his head shaved and his ears cropped by the Mormons at Salt Lake. — Our readers will recollect that we made a like correction some months ago. We received the report from what we considered a reliable source; and our only object in publishing it was to acquaint the numerous friends of Mr. B. in this state, of the outrage which we supposed had been committed upon him.

+ If the Chronicle is not regularly received at Sacramento City, the fault is not ours. We have mailed it, almost every week, for the past year, either to Mr. STECK or to some of the other Watertown boys. Beside, we have two subscribers in that city, who emigrated from other sections of this state, to one of whom our paper had been regularly sent for six months past, and to the other for about two months. We cheerfully accept the offer of an exchange maybe by Mr. S.

[Ed. Chronicle.

Watertown Chronicle – Jan 1, 1851

Previous “Watertown Boys” Posts:

Forty-Niner Profiles:The Watertown Boys

**

The Watertown Boys Head for California

**

Arrival of the Watertown Boys: Letters from John C. Gilman

The Ohio 49’ers: Some Stay, Some Return

April 30, 2009
Placer Times August 18, 1849

Placer Times August 18, 1849

From the Sandusky Mirror.

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

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

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

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

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Oct 30, 1849

American House Advertisement 1849

American House Advertisement 1849

From the Sandusky Mirror.
Letter from California.

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

SACRAMENTO CITY, UPPER CAL., Aug. 26.
DEAR SIR:
I have only time to say that I am keeping the American House in this place, and that I am doing a good business, board $3 per day without lodgings. But rent and expenses are enormous, I pay my cook $300 per month. Rent at the rate of $2,400 per year. This place contains 3,000 or 4,000 inhabitants and is growing very fast. There are about 20,000 persons in the mining country and about 30,000 more coming.

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

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

O. McKnight

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Oct 30, 1849

From the Sandusky Mirror June 4th.
Californian Returned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jun 11, 1850

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

The Milan Company Arrives in Gold Country

April 29, 2009
Placerville, CA (Image from http://bancroft.library.ca.gov)

Placerville, CA (Image from http://bancroft.library.ca.gov)

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

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

Good News.

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

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

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

Carson River

Carson River (Image from http://nevada.usgs.gov)

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

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

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

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

Fording a River (Image from www.journal.forces.gc.ca)

Fording a River (Image from http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca)

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

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

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

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

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

Gold Rush Town (Image from www.buyteachercreated.com)

Gold Rush Town (Image from http://www.buyteachercreated.com)

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

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

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

Yours sincerely,
E.B. ATHERTON.

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

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Oct 30, 1849

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

Squatters Riot-Sacramento City-1850

April 14, 2009
Image from worldmapsonline.com

Image from worldmapsonline.com

ORIGIN OF THE RIOT AT SACRAMENTO CITY.

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

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

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

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

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

The Philiadelphia did not brings the mails.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image from sacramento.about.com

Image from sacramento.about.com

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

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

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

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

News from the mines is very encouraging.

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

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

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Sep 24, 1850

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From the Washington National Intelligencer.
THE LATE RIOT AT SACRAMENTO CITY.

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

ON BOARD STEAMER SENATOR,}
Aug. 14, 1850 — P.M.}

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

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

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

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

Back to the original article:

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

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

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

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

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

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From California.

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

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

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

*Benjamin Lee was Barton Lee‘s father.

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

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

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

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Oct 22, 1850

News From the Gold Country: Josiah Roop Writes Home

April 8, 2009
Clear Creek

Clear Creek

The first part of Josiah’s correspondence is a bit wordy, but I do like how he passes on some of the “local” nomenclature to the folks back home. Further down, he relates an incident which shouldn’t be missed!

For the Huron Reflector
Interesting Letters from California.

We are permitted to publish the following letters from Josiah Roop, of Republic, Seneca county, now in California:

CLEAR CREEK, TRINITY MOUNTAINS,
CALIFORNIA, May 5, 1850.

My Dear Friend:
Here way up in the very northern part of California, near the Oregon line, placers as rich as ever were discovered, are daily coming to light. — Less than a year ago, nought but the poor, miserable Indian and the wild beasts of the forests traversed these rugged mountains, some of whose peaks are covered with everlasting snow. Now the white man, by hundreds and by thousands, are following up every river, creek, streamlet and gulley (or “gulch” as the miners term it) to their very source amidst these snow-capped hills “prospecting,” which being interpreted signifies, “hunting for a good place to dig.” This “prospecting” is an exciting business.

A company varying in number from three to a dozen, start out with their knapsack of provisions sufficient for a week’s subsistence — their blankets, shovels, picks and pans, not forgetting that most faithful of mountain friends, the deadly rifle, without which no prospector ever thinks of going, with the necessary amunition and the sharp butcher or bowie knife belted to their side. Thus equipped, they leave some trading post on a prospecting tour — gulches and rivulets are passed by, by those who have the vanity to believe that they know the unerring characteristics of a rich placer, while those who take things more deliberately, halt and prospect the very spot thus passed over by their comrades, commence digging, and filling their pans and washing the soil or “dirt,” as it is universally called here, soon the “oro” (Spanish for gold) glitters most charmingly in the bottom of their pans. Those in advance being informed of the luck of their more tardy companions, return, and not unfrequently wash out several pans of dirt without scarcely getting a single particle.

Discouraged at their ill success compared with their more fortunate neighbor, whose every pan adds from twenty-five cents to a dollar to their pile, they damn the diggings and themselves, and try their luck somewhere else, frequently taking out more than a dollar to the pan full. Such is the luck of the prospector. Night with her sable mantle, eventually overtakes them. Their simple, rough and coarse fare is partaken of with a relish not known to your city gents; and soon under some large tree, with his blanket wrapped round him, and his rifle at his side, lies the prospector fast asleep, dreaming pleasantly about those near and dear whom we have all left behind us. The fiery, impatient seeker after fortune will wash but a pan or two, not more than three at most without getting a good pan, before they will abandon the prospect for another, and thus from spot to spot and from place to place they travel, until there is not a river in California which they have not prospected. I have known many who have been prospecting for more than a year, and have not yet found a good place to dig. — Others equally anxious to get gold, but not so persevering, will try prospecting a week or two, swear that the mines are worth nothing, abandon the mines, hire out, get money enough to return, and go home cursing the country, while the steady, persevering, untiring workman, is sure eventually, to strike a rich lead, and at the expiration of the month he will have averaged his ounce a day, and may have made his pile in the course of a single month, as is sometimes the case.

Three men left here for their homes in Richland county, Ohio, a few days ago, with over $3,000 apiece, having dug it out of a gulch close by. Mining, to ensure success, like all other business, requires steady, persevering, unremitting labor, and that of the severest and most toilsome sort too. True, some miners are more lucky than the rest, and indeed more so than the great majority of them, and have made big fortunes in a very short time. But as a general rule, the steady laborer will average his ounce a day, and this is about a safe estimate of the fruits of the labor of those who work hard and regularly all day. Many do not average even half an ounce, owing principally to their unsteady, roaming, restless, changing disposition.

And as regards the comparative quality of the different mines, I am decidedly of the opinion that one river in California is as rich as another, and as a general rule to ensure success, I advise the miner to stick to one placer until he makes his pile.

MUST READ! Below is Josiah’s personal account of what must have been a terribly heartbreaking (and wallet breaking) setback he and his friends and/or partners experienced.

Mining is emphatically hard work; I speak what I do know, having tested it myself. I have labored forty days (and forty nights I had almost added) upon a canal and dam on Rose’s Bar on Yuba River. Yes, my dear sir, fifty of us poor devils wrought, like men never wrought before, on that dam and upon that canal. Never did the southern slaves work half as hard. Long before the dawn of day, from the middle of September to the first of November, could be seen the camp-fires of the dam company blazing high around our camp-kettles, and at sunrise every man who failed to answer to his name at roll-call was fined three dollars, and if he were not on the ground within one hour after that time he was dockt one half a day. One hour was given us at noon, and the same rigid law applied to us at roll call, as in the morning, our daily labors ceased only when the sun had disappeared behind the western horizon, and by the time we returned to camp, built our fires, baked our pan-cakes, fried our pork and ate our luxurious supper, our soft, downy bed on the rocky ground was of all luxuries, I assure you the most luxuriant, and with one blanket wrapt around us we would soon be sleeping, and oh how sweetly! Verily, “sweet is the sleep of the laborer.”

On the Monday preceding the 1st of November, the drain being completed, and every thing ready for the setting of the machines, I concluded to hire a substitute, as I wished to go to Johnson’s Ranch on Bear river some fifteen miles distant to look after some cattle I had there. Previous to leaving, I was offered a thousand dollars cash down for my interest in the dam, but my expectations of a big raise were decidedly in the ascendant, caused no doubt by seeing Dr. Shelby (formerly of Maryland, but now of Louisiana?) wash seventeen dollars out of a single pan-full of the dirt procured in the bed of the old channel which had been drained.

Thursday, the 1st of November, came, and with it came rain, and it continued to rain day and night and beat upon that dam, and notwithstanding it was built upon a rock and built with rocks, it fell, and with it fell all our hopes of future greatness — and great was the fall thereof. Sufficient work was done with the machines previous to the breaking of the dame to test the extraordinary richness of the bed of the river — one single quicksilver machine having taken out over $1,000 on Wednesday. — But there was not enough taken out to liquidate the damages assessed against us by those whose claims on the bar we had injured in consequence of changing the channel.

Our company was therefore flat broke. Our whole stock, consisting of quicksilver, machines, quicksilver tools, &c., were sold at public auction. machines worth $500 sold for $100; quicksilver, which cost us $10 per pound, sold for $4 and $5. On receiving this direful intelligence, I swore vengeance against all dams — and especially against all hard work. — I have never been on Rose’s Bar* since, neither have I struck a lick in the mines since I left that dam.

*The site I linked to, South River Park Adventures, has wonderful pictures and maps of the area. There is one mention that I found of “Rose’s Bar,” and it says that it is “15 miles downstream from Bridgeport.”

I went to trading in provisions and miner’s tools, and have been thus engaged ever since, and have thus far been successful. You may recollect of my prediction about the speculation in cattle, made in a letter written you last Fall. I purchased six yoke of oxen, four yoke from our own mess, and the others from Sietz and his mess, for which I paid $50 a yoke. I succeeded in finding but four yoke, which I sold in December for $600, thus doubling the investment in about three months, after losing one-third of the stock. Next August, September and October will the same speculation be presented to those who choose to go into it.

Of the Republic boys who had a share in that celebrated dam, were my friends Amsden, Stickney, McClung, McArdle, Seitz, Cloud, Holmes, Hease, and this “hombre,” (Spanish for “man,” or “individual.”) Parks traded his interest to Cloud for his interest in his bakery, and by this transaction was the lucky hombre. — Stickney, Parks, Amsden, Sayre, Gardiner and Wagner are now at one of the richest bars on Yuba river, not doing much not it is true. on account of the high stage of water, but as soon as the waters subside, they are sure to make their fortunes by next Fall.

gold-rush-california_clipper_5001

In a letter dated May 14th, Mr. Roop says:

Coming up the Sacramento not long since, the steamer which I was in accidentally upset a whale boat, in which were 4 men; one of whom drowned. Enquiry was made of his rescued comrades; who he was — they were unable even to give his name — they had employed him that morning to work his passage up to Marysville; he had told them that he wished to go to the mines. He had a family at home and was out of money, that was all they knew about him. They said he was a well dressed, resectable looking man. His body was recovered. Thus his family, like many others, will never know what has been the fate of those they hold most dear.

Taking them altogether; I am free to say that the Republicans will render as good an average account of themselves as any other company who have left the States. Their health has generally been good — no one died save old Mr. Kline, whose infirmities should have admonished him never to have started. They all got in, in good time and the prospects of all now are A. No. 1. I do not think that any of the Seneca Tribe will make a big fortune — that is fifty thousand — always excepting our mutual friend, Brewster, who is in a fair way to make his half million. He now is one-third proprietor of one of the largest houses in San Francisco, the firm of which is “Plummer, Keith, & Co.”

You need not to look for any one else of the Seneca tribe coming home very rich next winter. But then there will no one have less than three hundred ounces of he dust, unless disease, death, or some untoward event should transpire.

Marysville, California 1850

Marysville, California 1850

I have alluded to Marysville a couple of time in this communication. For your information I will just tell you where it is. Marysville is situated in the forks and at the junction of the Yuba, with Feather River. It is beautifully located; high above Sacramento city. It is the county seat of Yuba county, and contains some 2,000 inhabitants, although four months ago it was not even surveyed. Steam boats arrive and depart daily from Sacramento city. Sacramento city is the point where the largest class of steamers stop; and Marysville where the smaller steamers stop. Hitherto no steamers have gone up any further. But recently, both the Yuba and Feather, have been gone up several miles by steamers, and towns have been laid out on both rivers, and they will become settled too. But after all, Marysville is destined to be one of the largest towns of California. Its proximity to the richest mines, (being only some 10 miles to the first rich diggings,) and its situation at the confluence of those tow rich rivers, its high and dry site, must make it a large city. I went there in January, and if I had had sufficient nerve to have bought some 20 lots on credit of 60 and 120 days, as they were offered me, I should have been amongst you ere this letter reaches you, with my “pockets full of rocks.” But I was fearful — I was too cautious. I rented a lot at a hundred dollars a month, for twelve months. I soon sub-let it for $300 a month, payable in advance. Thus realizing a profit of $200 a month. This is small business, to be sure; but then it is an item, whereby you can judge of the increase of the value of property in Marysville.
JOSIAH ROOP.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Aug 13, 1850

In case you missed Josiah’s previous correspondence, you can find it HERE.

You can also click on my Gold Rush category for more from his friends.

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.