Posts Tagged ‘Sandusky OH’

Forty-Niner Profile: Stewart E. Bell

December 12, 2009

Previous California Gold Rush posts mentioning Stewart E. Bell:

“A Pocket Full of Rocks Bring Home”

The Ohio 49′ers: Some Stay, Some Return

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Stewart E. Bell came from good pioneer stock:

Stewart E. Bell died March 11, 1896, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Arthur Phinney, in Sandusky, Ohio. He was born in Middleberry township, Hartford county, Connecticut, November 25th, 1809. He was the son of Elizur Stewart Bell and wife Polly.

His father, with a party of eighteen families, left Connecticut for Ohio in September, 1815, making the journey with oxen, cows and wagons — Mr. Bell’s father being the only one of the party having a horse ; one other of the party, Mr. Beatty, father of General Beatty, having a very long eared donkey, which gave much amusement to the children during the journey. After spending about six weeks on the way, they arrived in Sandusky the latter part of October. Mr. Beatty owned a large tract of land in the vicinity of Sandusky, and sold parcels of it to the members of the party.

Schooner (Image from http://www.schoonerman.com)

Mr. Bell‘s father purchased 140 acres at $4 per acre. Mr. Bell’s father was a ship carpenter and soon after his arrival he built a schooner, which he named ” Polly of Huron,” after his wife. The boat was built about a mile and a half from the lake shore and it took forty yoke of oxen — all there were in the counties — to haul it to the lake. The hauling was done in one day. He died in October, 1816, and his widow subsequently married a man by the name of Munger but lived with him but a short time.

Mr. Stewart E. Bell, on May 8, 1834, married Elvira Dibble, who was born in Connecticut but emigrated from the city of New York with a brother to Sandusky in 1832. They first located on Hancock street, but later bought a house on Adams street, where they resided till 1870, when they moved to their country home about two miles from Sandusky on Columbus avenue.

Mr. Bell was a ship carpenter, following the trade of his father. In 1849 he caught the gold fever and went to California, where he remained about sixteen months. During the fore part of his stay there he worked at his trade, making the first boat ever built at Sacramento Harbor ; for which he received sixteen dollars per day and board. He afterwards went to the mines, but before securing much gold he was called home by sickness.

After the death of his wife in 1887, Mr. Bell lived with his daughter, Mrs. Arthur Phinney, at whose home he died as above stated, aged 87 years.

Underground Railroad (Image from http://strattonhouse.com)

His wife, Elvira Dibble, was an active member of the Underground Railway and assisted many runaway slaves on their way to Canada. Two sons and one daughter survived him. Both sons reside in Columbus, Ohio, and his daughter, Mrs. Phinney, died January 7, 1898.

From:
The Fire Lands pioneer (1882)
Author: Firelands Historical Society
Volume: 12, ns. p.533-534
Ohio — History Periodicals
Publisher: Norwalk, Ohio : Fire Lands Historical Society

*****

This next article isn’t about Stewart E. Bell (although it mentions him,) but about John Beatty and some of the other pioneers mentioned above:

Seventy-Five Years in Perkins.

BY W.D. GURLEY.
FOR THE REGISTER.

At the close of the war of 1812 the Rev. John Beatty and Julius House, then living in Connecticut, formed a colony of twelve families. Late in the fall of ’15 they arrived in Erie county and selected their farms in Perkins township on the sand ridge now leading from Bogarts to Bloomingville, then an Indian trail. Each family built his own campfire and slept in their wagons while building their one story log cabins. The country being new, they were surrounded by wild beasts and savage tribes. These cabins were built without boards, nails or glass. During the winter of ’15 they organized the first M.E. church on the Firelands, John Beatty being a local preacher and Julius House an exhorter. Mr. House was chosen class leader, which office he held for more than fifty years. The number of members was about fifteen. At a meeting in ’36 there was 108 added to their number. This society has prospered for the last seventy five years under such preachers as the Rev. John H. Powers, Wm. Runnells, John Rellam, Adam Poe, Rev. T.B. Gurley, Sawyer, Dunn, McMahon, Mitchell, Barkdull, Breckenridge, Broadwell, Thompson and a host of others.

The Rev. James Gray has been returned for the second year to Perkins for to persuade the people to come out to church and receive the blessings reserved for them. These old pioneers, fathers and mothers, went to work, fenced and cleared their land, plowed the ground, set out several apple orchards which grew and thrived and in a few years furnished apples and cider not only for the neighborhood but also for Sandusky.

In a few years those old log cabins were removed, frame buildings took the place of the old ones, barns and outhouses were erected, rail fences torn down and picket and board fences became the fashion of the day. These old pioneer fathers went to work, toiled hard early and late for more than half a century, then they one by one passed away, leaving their homes to their children and grand children.

There are today six of those children living who came with their parents to Perkins seventy-five years ago: Mr. Stuart Bell, of Sandusky; Mrs. Susan O. Monnett, of Norwalk; Mrs. Riley, of Avery; Mrs. Green, of Perkins; Ellery Taylor and Lindsley House, were all children when they arrived here.

The new generation that has sprung up was not satisfied with those old pioneer orchards because they were old fashioned and somewhat infirm with age, so they have all been cut down and cleaned away.

Mr. T.B. Taylor, grandson of Jessie Taylor, now occupies his grandfather’s old homestead of seventy-five years. A magnificent mansion has just risen on the sight of the old cottage by Mr. Taylor. It is built in the latest French style, its windows filled with French cut glass, while those of the hall are Chinese glass. The building fronts the road and is built with its hip roof, its stack chimneys and surmounted spires; it is roofed with slate and painted in the latest style of the nineteenth century. The driveway leading from the road to the stable curves to the east parlor door, then passes through a beautiful potochere, a French name, and is a very convenient part of he house. The way is covered with slate and pebble stones; the sidewalk leading from the gate to the house is laid with long square flag stones imported from some foreign port. Shrubbery occupies the yard, while in front of the house stands a beautiful row of maples. The old barn has been removed a little back and a magnificent one erected on the site of the old one, with its surmounted cupola and spire; it is painted red and tipped with white. Thrift and fashion have removed the old land marks by Mr. Taylor and introduced a new era into the shady paradise of the past.

Mr. Taylor and family are now comfortably settled in their new home and the well arrainged furniture shows the taste of Mr. and Mrs. Taylor.

There was one of these old pioneers’ apple trees standing in the door yard which had escaped the notice of hte woodman’s axe.

Sandusky Daily Register (Sandusky, Ohio) Dec 29, 1890

See previous post The Pioneer Apple Tree HERE

Sudden Death

Mr. Charles L.* Bell, well known in Sandusky, died suddenly of appoplexy at his home on King avenue in Columbus on Saturday morning, July 6. Mr. Bell was in the sixtieth year of his age, eldest son of Mr. Stewart E. Bell and brother of Mrs. Arthur Phinney, of this city.

Sandusky Register (Sandusky, Ohio) Jul 9, 1895

*(probably should be Charles Stuart/Stewart Bell)

Fourth of July Circa 1850

July 1, 2009

FOURTH OF JULY.

No paper will be issued from the office of the Sanduskian. We hope all who love their country well enjoy this glorious anniversary, and that no one will get drunk or be blown up.

The Daily Sanduskian (Sandusky, Ohio) Jul 3, 1850

FOURTH OF JULY ACCIDENTS.

We are informed that two men had both hands blown off by the premature discharge of a cannon at Detroit yesterday. One of the boys from our office saw one of the men in this condition, and heard of the other.

We heard that a connon burst at Bellevue, but without injuring any one.
There was some drunkenness here last night, and some fighting; but whether these irregularities were accidental or premeditated, we are unable to say. —

It is a very improper time, when the heat is at 91, as we are informed was the case yesterday, to engage in either drinking or fighting, and if sickness follows such kind of amusement, it will not all surprise us.

The Daily Sanduskian (Sandusky, Ohio) Jul 5, 1850

“A Pocket Full of Rocks Bring Home”

May 1, 2009
From the Daily Sanduskian

From the Daily Sanduskian

Our readers will perceive that we publish a letter from California, for which we are indebted to James Belden, Esq. It is from his son Robert H., who belongs to the Marsfield company. We are glad to learn that he has reached the “land of promise” in safety, and hope he will

“A pocket-full of rocks bring home.”

LETTER FROM CALIFORNIA.
SAN FRANCISCO, June 4, 1849.

Dear Parents:

At last, after all my trouble, vexation, hard living and detention I am here at the grand emporium and head quarters of the El Dorado. — But I will commence back a short time. We left Panama in the steamship Panama, at one o’clock on the morning of the 18th of May. —

For the first two or three days the weather was very warm and the sea almost a dead calm — we suffered greatly from heat. After that we had the land and sea breezes which made it much wore pleasant. At night I would swing my hammock on deck in the open air and sleep as sweetly and soundly as if I were in a luxurious bed in the open air. As we worked our way up the coast the winds became heavier and when in the vicinity of Mazatlan, in Mexico, we fell in with a small schooner in distress, out of water, and one half of those on board had the scurvy. It was a distressing scene. We relieved their necessities as much as possible and went on.

The last three days before our arrival here, was very stormy and we began to run short of fuel. The captain ordered every spare spar burnt and soon every thing combustible was in requisition. The last night out, the passengers in the lower forward cabin were turned out of their berths which were all burned at five o’clock. The morning of the 4th, we entered the bay of San Francisco with scarcely fuel sufficient to propel her to her anchorage, and at six o’clock she dropped her anchor at a cable’s length from a U.S. sloop of war.

The ship we came in is a fine vessel and a good sea boat, with good accommodations for one hundred and fifty passengers but she was crammed with over three hundred which crowded us very much, and consequently we were very uncomfortable. Our food was rice, beans, salt pork, beef and once a week we had what sailors call duff, and on shore we call plum pudding — this food would have been good but the beans and rice was usually musty and burnt, and the pork and beef rusty. We had to wash in salt water and the fresh water to drink was horrible. We had no table set and in fact lived like a parcel of brutes, but all this we could and did stand first rate and arrived here in most perfect health.

You have seen and heard so many descriptions of this place that it is useless for me to particularise; I will say however that it is very windy and unpleasant at this time, and they say it is a fair specimen of the weather. I am much disappointed in this, but the moment we get back from the coast it is delightful, as fine as could be asked for. As soon as I could get on shore I found Henry D. Cooke — he was very glad to see me and has been of much benefit by his advice and introductions. We have pitched our tent in the town and are living first rate, still every thing we have to buy is enormously high. Wages are high. A laborer gets ten dollars per day and mechanics as high as twenty dollars per day, of course other thing, are in proportion; for example I saw a small room about 12 by 18 which rents for $1,000, and a moderate two story house which at home would cost perhaps $1,500 or $2,000 to build, rents for $100,000 per anum.

We shall start for the gold mines to-morrow in a small vessel, in which we will go to Sutter’s Fort, and from there by land until we stop to dig. And by the next steamer I will be able to advise you by my own experience as to the gold. There are reports here of different kinds, as to the gold found, trouble with the Indians, and the San Joachim river, &c., &c., but we pay little attention to them. We shall go north of the Indians. They lie so much about the gold it is impossible to tell anything from reports. I think the prospects are favorable and so do my friends, but my sheet is exhausted.

The Daily Sanduskian (Sandusky, Ohio) Aug 27, 1849

Chagres (Image from www.maritimeheritage.org)

Chagres (Image from http://www.maritimeheritage.org)

Extract of a letter from Henry D. Cooke of this city, on his way to California, to one of the editors of this paper, dated
PANAMA, Dec. 1st, 1849.

My Dear Friend;

Here I am again in Panama, the venerable “city of the past;” a city once of opulence, splendor and magnificence, but now, alas! in its decayed grandeur, its own epitaphic record of its former glory. Here I am, in the midst of broken shrines, crumbling cathedrals, all gray and moss-grown, decaying palaces, once brilliant with beauty and taste, and gay with the festive song, now deserted and cheerless. —

Here am I, in a word, (to drop down into prose reality,) here am I in a large, antiquated room of one of these whilome palaces, now converted into a hotel, kept by a Frenchamn, seated at a rickety, greasy table, writing by the feeble, flickering light of a miserably lean and dyspeptic-looking tallow candle; my door thrown open upon the balcony, to admit the cool and fragrant night air, while I can gaze out upon the moonlit and crumbling edifices. But hark! The charm and romance of this once queen of the Pacific is now gone forever, for a large party of Americans in an adjoing square are awaking the echoes and the turkey-buzzards, with

“Oh Susannah don’t you cry for me,
I’m bound to California, with my tin-pan on my knee!”

There are now on the Isthmus eighteen hundred and fifty Americans bound to California — more than the steamers can take away in four months. — Still there are fresh arrivals every month, averaging, say seven hundred per month. I took passage in the “Crescent City” from New York, which steamer arrived at Chagres one night in advance of the Alabama from New Orleans, and four days before the Ohio’s passengers who were transferred on board the Falcon at Havana. The three steamers had on board in all one thousand and fifty passengers. This will give you an idea of the rush of Americans across the Isthmus. Three gentlemen, and I, were first of all these to reach Panama.

Here we found over seven hundred Americans waiting opportunities for getting up to California. Many of them have been here one, two and three months, without being able to get away. It is estimated that there are now on the Isthmus nearly a thousand persons, who have no tickets for the steamers. Sailing vessels, however, are leaving every week or ten days. The passage in these is long and tedious, and they are always very much crowded. Yet no sooner, are they filled, and about to sail, than their tickets at once command two or three times their original cost.

I heard today of a steerage ticket in the ship “Sea Queen,” which cost $175 being re-sold for $380. Steerage tickets on board the steamer “Panama,” which cost in New York $150 are selling at five and six hundred dollars! For a cabin ticket on the same steamer, for which I paid in New York three hundred dollars, I have been offered nine hundred! Of course I would not sell it, but if I had chosen to do so I have no doubt I might have got a thousand dollars for it. Yet notwithstanding these high prices, there are many poor fellows who have been here so long that they couldn’t give fifty dollars for a ticket, for their means are exhausted by their long detention here. —

There is in consequence, much suffering, some sickness, a good deal of desperation, more gambling and occasional deaths. How many hast thou ruined, oh, lucre! We found the river from Chagres to Cruces, uncommonly high, and the roads from Cruces to this city, owing to the severe rains of the past four months, were almost impassable; and notwithstanding we made all possible haste in crossing, four days were consumed. Some are just arriving; having been seven days on the road. We met on the road several passengers from the “Panama,” just arrived from San Francisco.

Among them I met several friends and acquaintances. They gave incouraging accounts of the state of affairs there — which were sufficiently confirmed by the large amount of gold — (over a million and a quarter) of the monthly remittance. Mr. Wilson, ex-consul, told me that according to his advices from California, the amount next month, would be still larger. This of course will keep up the excitement; and how they are to get away from this place as fast as they arrive is difficult to say.

I arrived here on the day of the sailing of the English steamer for Valparaiso, and met Robert Belden, just as he was leaving the hotel with his baggage to go on board. It was mutually an agreeable surprise — for he was just from San Francisco, bound to Valparaiso on business, and had much late news to give me, while I had letters for him from his friends in Sandusky. We had an hour’s chat together, and he was then obliged to hurry off on board the steamer. He was looking very well, and has been “doing wonders” in California, having succeeded beyond all anticipation. —

Messrs. McKnight, Stewart E. Bell, H.U. Jennings, and the other Sanduskians were all well when he left, and all making money as rapidly as could be desired.

The Daily Sanduskian (Sandusky, Ohio) Jan 4, 1850

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Robert H. Belden left again for California last evening on board the steamer America. He does not speak very favorably of San Francisco, in many points of view, although he has been very successful there. He says he would not live there [ten] years if he could make a million of dollars a year.

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

San Francisco Fire (Image from www.sfmuseum.org/hist1/fire.html)

San Francisco Fire (Image from http://www.sfmuseum.org)

SAN FRANCISCO ENTERPRISE.

The following is an extract of a letter from Mr. Robert H. Belden, formerly of this city, to his father:

SAN FRANCISCO, May 29, 1850.

On the 1st of this month, I left Panama in the fine steamship Oregon, Capt. Patterson. We had a fine passage. Our ship was clean, orderly, and the staterooms pleasant. Our table was fine, as good or better than I expected, with my former experience in Howland & Aspinwall’s steamers in the Pacific. —

We had a fine pleasant cabin full of passengers, among whom were some ten ladies. They of course made every thing more pleasant, and our gentlemanly captain did all in his power to make the time pass as agreeably as possible for his passengers.

On our arrival at San Diego, which is in California, five hundred miles south of this city, we learned that San Francisco had again been visited by a terrible fire. On the morning of the 4th of this month, at about four o’clock, the fire broke out, and burned until seven, consuming over four hundred buildings. The loss is estimated at five millions of dollars. —

Thus, in the short space of three hours, was the best and fairest part of this city destroyed, and hundreds of persons who the night previous retired to off, and doing a fine business, were awakened in the morning to the sad reality that in a moment as it were, they were stripped of every thing, and wholly ruined.

We were among the sufferers. The building which we erected last September (of which I sent you a plan) at a cost of twenty thousand dollars in case, was entirely consumed, with all the contents, excepting our books and papers, which we succeeded in preserving. The buildings of all our tenants on the same property, were also burned, leaving the entire lots one hundred and thirty-eight on Clay and sixty-nine feet on Montgomery streets, (you will recognise this as the Davis property in my plan,) entirely cleared off by fire.

* Link to a larger view of the map: HERE

As you can readily imagine, this was very unpleasant news to reach me as I neared my home. — However, as I am something of a philosopher, and act upon the principle of “not crying for spilt milk,” I did not grieve much, or sleep less, on account of my loss.

We arrived here on the morning of the 20th, and I immediately repaired to the scene of the fire, and found, to my surprise, our property entirely covered with buuildings, and all occupied, expepting the corner, where my partner had nearly completed a large two story building, for ourselves and Messrs. Harris & Panton, which we have now completed, and are occupying. So you will see that in less than two weeks from the morning of the fire, ten respectable two story stores were erected on our lots which were burned over.

Our property on the opposite corner was not injured by the fire. Our old friend, Henry D. Cooke, Esq., is one of our tenants, having an office there. — The most of the burnt district has been re-built, but we are in dread continually of another fire, several attempts having already been made to fire the city in different places; but the vigilance of the police has so far defeated the object.

The Daily Sanduskian (Sandusky, Ohio) Jul 12, 1850

The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco has this:

Six months later, on May 4, 1850, the second great fire occurred. It began at 4 o’clock in the morning and by 11 o’clock three blocks of the most valuable buildings in the City had been destroyed, with an attendant loss of property estimated to be $4,000,000.

It was supposed to have been of incendiary origin. Several persons were arrested, but no formal trial took place.

You can read about the other three San Francisco fires at the link as well.

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“RETURNED TO THE STATES.”

It seems that the California people can yet hardly realize that they are in the United States. The editor of the California Courier, in announcing the dissolution of the firm of VanDyke & Belden, says that Mr. VanDyke “finding that the climate did not agree with his constitution, under medical advice, he has returned permanently to the states,” just as if he was out of them. The paper adds that he carries a snug pile with him, amply sufficient for a life of east “in the states.

R.H. Belden, his late partner, is authorized to close the concern.

The Daily Sanduskian (Sandusky, Ohio) Jan 4, 1851

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.

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.

Buckeyes Catch the Gold Fever

April 5, 2009
Image from www.legendsofamerica.com

Independence MO (Image from http://www.legendsofamerica.com)

From Independence.

The Tiffin Standard publishes a letter from Mr. J. Roop of Republic Seneca county, dated May 2d, 12 miles West of Independence, Mo., containing a few interesting items, in addition to what we have published. The number of emigrants who had left, or were encamped in that vicinity, he states, were variously estimated at from 10 to 12,000 persons. Many were going out with their families, among whom, was Dr. Bascom of Kentucky, brother to the celebrated divine of that name. Independence is the seat of justice of Jackson county, and contains about 2,000 inhabitants. All its citizens, Mr. Roop says, are now coining money, merchants, mechanics and laborers. There are Masonic and Odd Fellows’ Lodges in the place and a flourishing Division of the Sons of Temperance. Cholera, he says, “has made its appearance among the topers and rummies of Independence.” The country is “well improved and well fenced by stakes and riders, Pennsylvania fashion, to about 10 miles west of Independence; but the farms are large, containing from 300 to 800 acres, and the fields are from 30 to 100 acres each. Almost everything needed for the emigrant, is cheaper there than in Seneca county. He gives a statement of the cost, at Independence, of the outfit of his company, (provisions calculated for 6 months,) consisting of 6 persons, (among whom are T.B. Sturges, and Son, of this place,) which presents a total of $825.50, or $137.58 each. He thinks $200 each will cover all expenses, except clothing. Their stock weighs about 4,000 lbs., making one ton to a wagon, which is a light load as the roads are excellent for the first 800 miles, at which distance the loads would be partially consumed. Encamped about 2 miles from town was a company of 12, including the two Sons of Mr. Patrick, of this place, John H. M’Ardle, &c., who would probably unite with the Seneca company, which would then number 45 men, 14 wagons, 4 tents, 32 yokes of oxen, 16 mules and 6 ponies. They expected to start from that place on the 4th of May. Mules are worth from $50 to $75 each; oxen about $50 a yoke. Money is abundant there. A few days previous he saw several buffalo robes full of Mexican dollars, landed at some of the stores at Independence, direct from Santa Fe. There had been no sickness in the camp at that time, and all were in “perfect health and fine spirits.”

The St. Louis Republican publishes letters from Independence to the 13th.
The emigrants who had congregated there had nearly all gone on, being hastily driven off by the fear of the cholera, which had appeared among them. A letter of the 13th says:

During the week I have heard of 54 deaths, the larger portion of which occurred in camp, and some as far as 80 miles out. Information from the camps beyond that distance report them in good health; such as were affected with cholera, when nearer the settlements, have recovered entirely.

The roads in every direction are lined with teams of emigrants. Up to this period, at least 14,000 persons have arrived at their various places of rendezvous, and are ready or have moved to the plains.

The first train of the pioneer line, comprising 20 passenger carriages, 18 wagons for baggage and supplies, with 125 passengers, left Independence for Upper California, on the 9th inst.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jun 5, 1849

Letters From the Plains.

By the courtesy of Mrs. T.B. STURGES, of this place, we have been favored with a letter which she has just received from her husband, dated 21st ult. 260 miles west from Independence, comprising a journal of his tour, to that time. We have culled from it such items as we think will be of interest to our readers. It was sent to St. Joseph’s by a gentleman who left the camp of the emigrants on the 22d ult.

Mr. STURGES and his company left Independence on the 29th of April, but camped a few miles beyond, and did not commence their journey over the Plains until the 4th ult. The following are the notes selected from that time:

May 4. — We stopped to-day at the last house in the States, (about 20 miles from Independence,) where was a small grocery. We passed Mr. Drake, Parks and Mr. Patrick’s boys this evening, who had started ahead of us. They were well.

May 5. — We to-day passed two monuments erected by the first emigrants to Oregon, who reared them in commemoration of their starting. They consist simply of flat stones placed one above another in mason shape but with no mortar. The country through which we have passed is undulating Prairie, with as beautiful prospect as ever was seen. It is nothing like the flat prairies of Ohio, but consists of hills and dales, and in such a variety as cannot but be admired by every lover of scenery. Companies are constantly passing us, while others are camped with their cattle feeding. To-night we camped upon what is called Indian Creek. Came to-day about 15 miles. To-night for the first time, we stand guard for fear of the Shawneese Indians stealing our cattle. Four are selected who watch until 1 o’clock, and then 4 until daylight. No one can conceive how grand, and still how desolate, these Prairies look. As far as the eye can reach, not a tree or even a shrub can be seen. Where we are camped to-night, there is a single Elm tree of great size, which has always been spared by the passing emigrant. It stands alone, without even a twig to bear it company. It has always been called “The Solitary Elm.” You will find it described in Bryant’s work on California.

Incident. — While Lewis, (son of Mr. Sturges,) and some others were in search of the cattle, as they were walking, a rattlesnake 6 feet long and 8 years old was discovered coiled up within 6 inches of Lewis’s leg, prepared to spring at him; a well directed blow from one of his associates, killed the snake on the spot. He had 8 rattles. To-day news came that the captain of the Zanesville, Ohio, Co. died this morning of cholera this side of Independence.

Monday, May 7. — To-day we have not seen wood or water. Yesterday and to-day we have passed the skeletons of 21 oxen. Last winter the Santa Fe traders lost a number of hundred yoke of oxen by cold; they froze to death. The Indian tribes also suffered severely, losing their horses and cattle. Snow was 6 to 10 feet deep here, and they could not hunt. At 1 o’clock to-day we reached the turning-off trail to Oregon, and took the California road. A few rods distant was lately a large Indian encampment. An emigrant was taken sick of cholera and was taken to an Indian house. With the exception of two or three, the Indians became alarmed and fled in the utmost consternation. Every instance of cholera that I have heard of, can be traced to imprudence and exposure. Heaven has favored us; we have had no sickness and all are well. We made 18 miles to-day. Our eyes were gladdened by the sight of 500 acres of timbered land on a stream called “Bull Creek.” Within 30 rods of us is an Indian house with enclosed fielded, good feners and good garden; but the Indians are absent.

May 11. — We are now 110 miles from Independence. To-day we crossed the Kansas River. The ferry is kept by a Frenchman who has intermarried with the Indians. They gave him a mile square on the River, and he is making money. He charges $1 on each wagon, and takes over in one day from 50 to 60, employing 6 hands to push over the boats. A short distance from the Ferry is an Indian and French camp. The Indian houses are mostly built of bark. Poles are bent so as to form an arch and circle; barks are then placed on the outside so as to lap like shingles — some of these barks are 4 feet wide and 6 feet long. These houses are some of them 24 feet across; the fire is made in the center and there is no floor.

May 12. — To-day passed numerous Indian houses of the Pottawottamies; most of the inmates were packing up to move. They had heard of the existence of cholera among the whites and were frightened. One of our men went up to one of their cabins, when an Indian chief came out with a pistol in his hand, and said in broken English — “White man sick. Go away — no want to see you.”

8 o’clock, P.M. — Five or six companies are in sight, and numerous camp fires give the appearance of a village. There is an Indian Trading Post 4 miles from here, where there are 6 stores and quite a village.

May 13. — To-day passed over beautiful prairie, well timbered, every now and then covered with beautiful flowers. Nothing can surpass the beauty of the scenery, formed of gentle hills and lovely vallies. It seems as if nature had exerted her power to make his the most beautiful landscape in the world. Language cannot describe it. The Indians here are many of them wealthy, and it is no uncommon thing to see them riding along dressed in the richest style with silk-velvet leggins, splendid blankets, and the harness to their ponies decorated in the highest manner.

Yesterday at the Trading Post, I saw a young squaw purchase a red Canton crape shawl at $10, with as much unconcern as any of our Yankees.

May 14. — We passed abundance of wild peas to-day, which are not sufficiently advanced to use. We also saw plenty of wild onions, which taste very much like our garden onion. They are now small, but grow during the season to a considerable size. We made 20 miles before camping.

May 15. — I walked to-day 18 miles, and we made 24 before camping. We have as usual passed over beautiful prairies interspersed with timber. Sometimes we can look in any direction and discover nothing but prairie; now ascending hill and then descending; at other times in every direction, we see handsome groves; and what is peculiar, we never find timber, without at the same time finding abundance of water.

We have encamped within 3 miles of the Vermillion River, and are in the vicinity of the Pawnee Indians, who are hostile. We are informed by scouts, who have been sent as spies ahead, that the Pawnees have had a council, and have determined to make war upon the emigrants and attack every small company. We have no fears unless we are careless.

May 16. — Passed the Vermillion and Blue rivers to-day, and had to let down our wagons by ropes on both. We saw the grave of A. Fuller, (supposed to be from Sandusky City,) who was killed last month by the accidental discharge of a rifle while unloading a wagon — Saw plenty of wild peas in blossom.

May 17. — Passed the spot where the St. Joseph road intersects with ours. I is 110 miles from St. Joseph to the junction. We found the St. Joseph road filled with wagons as far as we could see. It is said 1,500 wagons have passed the junction from St. Joseph, and 450 from Independence. There are more behind us than before. No Indians have appeared the last two days.

May 18.Drake and the Patrick boys have at length come up. As we supposed, one of their number has been sick. Delano Patrick has had the cholera in its worst form, as he says from drinking bad water. They supposed he would die for 12 hours. He is now well. They also broke down and were compelled to exchange wagons. They will now remain in our company. They give doleful accounts of the cholera at Independence and on the Missouri River. Where we now are we feel there is but little danger. A company of U.S. soldiers passed us to-day. They are under the command of Major Sanderson and are of Noah Newton’s Regiment. — He is at Fort Laramie, 400 miles west of this. I shall see him.

May 19. — We passed the last two days on the same description of country as before described. There are now 19 wagons in our company. We have seen no deer or other wild animals. The emigration drives them from the road. We are now encamped at Sandy Creek, 45 miles east of Platte River.

Fort Laramie 1868

Fort Laramie 1868

Monday, May 21. — This morning we came across a place where the Columbus company had camped and had proved very unfortunate. In the night the Indians stampeded their cattle, which is done thus: Two or three Indians dress themselves in bear or goat skins, and creep up to the horses, mules or oxen, and remove their fastenings in the night; 50 to 100 Indians then on horseback, rush by the camp, hallowing, yelling, and making the greatest noise possible. The cattle become frightened and run in every direction; another company of Indians are then ready to drive them off. The Columbus company lost in this manner 70 head; they have recovered about 30 head, and were searching for the balance. The Indians will sometimes return the cattle, on paying a large reward. You will see how this company is situated; 250 miles away from the settlements and with only a part of their teams to draw their loads. The camp where they staid the night when they lost their cattle, was covered with boxes, pork, flour, utensils and everything else, which they had been compelled to throw away to lighten their loads. I saw 200 lbs. of bacon and lots of flour, thus cast upon the ground. This company came with us in the same boat from Cincinnati, and are fine men. We passed to-day U.S. Soldiers in pursuit of a deserter. I have omitted to mention that a short time since, Newton Leonard from Norwalk, deserted from Fort Laramie; $30 is offered for his apprehension. He attempted to desert from the Fort, and was put in the guard-house, awaiting his trial; the guard got to playing cards, when he secretly clothed himself in their clothes, obtained their arms and silently left the guard-house and passed the sentinels without suspicion. He had for misconduct been degraded from Sergeant to private, and this was the cause of his desertion. It taken, he will be publicly whipped.

Nebraska (image from www.xphomestation.com)

Nebraska (image from http://www.xphomestation.com)

We came to-night to a creek called Little Blue, where we camped, having made 20 miles. We now number 21 wagons, and are in perfect health and spirits. Should we succeed in the balance of our journey as well as we have thus far, we shall have no reason to regret or complain. Everything has gone well and we have no disposition to return without accomplishing the object of our journey.

LATEST FROM THE PLAINS — Letters have been received during the past week, from several of the California emigrants who left this vicinity, written at different points on the Plains. Mr. S.C. Wickham of the Milan company, writes under date of 17th ult. on this side of the river Platte, and Mr. J.V. Vredenburgh who is with the same company, writes four days later, on the 21st ult. at the Platte. They report the company in excellent health and spirits.

** James Patrick was the cousin of the Patrick boys mentioned in these articles. His father, Spicer Patrick, was the brother of Sheppard Patrick, who lived in Norwalk, Ohio.

Death of Dr. James B. Patrick.

The melancholy intelligence of the sudden death of Dr. Jas. B. Patrick, son of Dr. Spicer Patrick of Charlestown, Va., reached here on Tuesday of last week. He died of Cholera, after a few hours of illness, at Independence, Mo., on the 18th ult. This unexpected, but certain intelligence, so peculiarly afflicting to the family, numerous relatives and friends, as it spread among our citizens, cast a gloom over the whole village.

The deceased was truly a young gentleman of no ordinary promise; no pains had been spared in his educations. In 1845, he graduated with great credit, at Centre College, Danville, Ky., and in the Spring of ’48 received the degree of Doctor of Medicine at the University of Louisville.

After visiting a large portion of the Western country he selected the flourishing city of Chicago, as the place to enter upon the practice of the profession of his choice. He had but just opened his office there last Fall, when the mania for emigration to California seized so many of the enterprising, bold and adventurous young men of our country; and, he with a few chosen companions determined to try his fortune in that newly acquired territory. He had been a short time at Independence, the place of rendezvous for the emigrants on that route, and when on the point of moving forward, was suddenly arrested by the fell destroyer. He has descended, in the morning of life, to the grave, among strangers, far from his family & friends. On the 2d inst., he would have been 26 years old. He was of a vigorous constitution, and of commanding form, possessed of an active and discriminating mind, generous and honorable in his bearing, all who knew him had predicted for him a career honorable and useful distinction in his profession and in society. This sad event should teach us all the uncertainty of life, and, “what shadows we are and what shadows we pursue.” — Charlestown (Va.) Republican.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jun 19, 1849

Fort Kearny (image from http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu)

Fort Kearny (image from http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu)

From the Plains.

We published the journal of T.B. Sturges, Esq. up to May 21st. During the past week his lady has received a continuation of it to May 26th which she has kindly furnished us, but too late for insertion this week.

He writes from Fort Kearney, May 26th — “All well, and none discouraged.” May 23d, he says that he found in the road a card signed John V. Vredenburgh, (with the Milan company,) which stated that they passed that place on the 18th of May, and “all well.” We will continue the journal in our next.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jul 2, 1849

gold-rush-first-night-on-plains

From the Plains.

The St. Louis Republican publishes a letter dated June 6th, from Fort Kearney, which states that up to the previous night, 4, 804 wagons had passed that place. — Several hundred wagons were still behind, but the number of those passing was daily diminishing. The buffaloes have been driven off by the emigrants so that not one was to be seen in the whole valley of the Platte.

We continue below, the journal of T.B. Sturges, Esq., noticed in our last.

gold-rush-st-joseph-18501

May 23, 1849. This morning we came across another company whose oxen had been stampeded. The Indians got into their camp, notwithstanding they had a guard set, and frightened their cattle, which, in spite of all their efforts, broke from their fastenings and fled in every direction. Some of the company will be compelled to return. When we passed, the company had recovered thirty head only our of one hundred. Some of our oxen to-day exhibit symptoms of giving out, and we shall be compelled, for a few days, to go slower, until we come to better feed. We have lately travelled from 6 to 12 o’clock, making about twelve miles, — then halt an hour, and go on till five P.M., making about 8 miles further, each day. We were passed to-day by a company of U.S. Dragoons, who had one man very sick with Small Pox, which he undoubtedly took at St. Joseph. — This is a disease which has hitherto proved very fatal among the Indians, sometimes carrying off more than half of a large tribe in a single season, they knowing nothing about vaccination. The weather this morning was very cold indeed, with a high and cutting wind, rendering it almost impossible to build a fire. To-day found in the road a card signed by John V. Vredenburgh, stating that they passed this place on the 18th inst., — all well. They are, therefore, five days ahead of us, but when we take into consideration that they started from St. Joseph three days before we left Independence, and had 60 miles less to travel, and that they are with mules, while we have oxen, we have no reason to complain of our speed. We are camped to-night upon a small stream, with plenty of wood and water, although as a precaution, we carried water in buckets a mile and a half.

May 24. — This morning did not turn out till 6 o’clock, as we had determined not to start so early in order to let our oxen recruit. Although last night was very comfortable, yet this morning we found the weather so cold as to require all our extra clothing. Indeed, it is seldom these prairies are without high wind. It is like the ocean in this respect. We camped to-night, as informed, within three miles of the Platte river. About sundown the wind commenced blowing a perfect hurricane, with a storm gathering, and thundering loudly. We pitched our tent, and I dug a ditch quite round it, and banked up the sides with dirt. I had just finished when the rain descended in torrents, and continued till midnight. By this precaution we kept dry and comfortable, whilst many of those who neglected it were forced to take refuge in their wagons. Had to send a mile and a half for wood and such water as would answer to drink. Feed to-day very poor. One ox of Mr. Holmes sick and will probably die, which will be a great loss in this stage of our journey. Made 18 miles to-day.

Crossing Platte River, NE (image from http://cehs.unl.edu)

Crossing Platte River, NE (image from http://cehs.unl.edu)

May 25. — We were awakened this morning by our Captain, stating that some of the company were preparing to go to the Platte river before breakfast, or feeding our cattle. Accordingly we got under way about five o’clock, and after travelling four miles, came up with Mr. Hodgpett‘s train of one hundred wagons, from whom we ascertained that it was still six miles to the river. The roads are horrible, (being the river bottoms.) We turned out our oxen, and by sending two miles, obtained water for breakfast. Broke up one of our boxes for wood. After remaining an hour and a half we again started, and about 11 o’clock came to the river. We found the water very high, and should it not go down before we reach the crossing place (about 60 miles,) we shall be compelled to wait. The Platte river is a very wide and rapid stream, but as it is much swollen, it is difficult to tell what would be its appearance when the water is low. —

The roads, to-day, have been horrible, beyond description. We got stalled once, and it was as much as six yoke of oxen could do to draw us out. We had heard previously of this bad piece of road, and it has always been discouraging to emigrants. We passed up the river about six miles and concluded to camp. The government teams came up while we were consulting. The man sick with the small pox is dead, and three more of the soldiers have taken the same disease. It is to be feared that it will spread among the soldiers rapidly. — We are now in sight of Fort Kearney (formerly called Fort Childs,) about a mile distant. I shall visit it in the morning. It is said that a number of emigrants have here sold their wagons and taken pack mules. They also sold most of their provisions, which have rendered them very cheap. Flour can be bought for one cent per pound, and bacon for one and a half! The last twenty miles of the road has discouraged them. We shall endeavor to buy another yoke of oxen at the fort. We have passed, to-day, places covered with the bones of the buffalo, but do not expect to meet any alive for three or four hundred miles yet. It is said we shall find very bad feed for the next forty miles. We made sixteen miles to-day. We have not seen an Indian since we left Kansas, at the trading post. We don’t know but we shall yet be compelled to leave a part of our loading behind. However, we shall first throw away all our boxes and pack our provisions in bags. We have now on hand about 700 lbs. of Bacon and Hams, 600 lbs. crackers, 400 lbs. meal and flour, 50 lbs. dried meat, besides butter, sausages, dried fruit, &c. Thus I have continued my journal up to 10 o’clock, P.M., of May 25th. We have now made 325 miles, yet see nothing to discourage.

May 26, 8 o’clock. — I this morning visited the fort, and was somewhat astonished at its appearance. The fort and houses are built of turf. The turf is cut about 6 inches thick and 14 inches long 12 wide, and placed one above another, and then filled with mud. Although it presents, on the outside, a very dirty appearance, yet the inside is comfortable. There is a store here with a small stock of goods, which are not unreasonably high. The garrison have fenced in a number of fields, with mud walls, which the soldiers cultivate. All the lumber used is sawed by the soldiers, with a circular saw. It is a very unpleasant place, cold and dreary. There are three or four companies of soldiers in the fort. It is three hundred and forty miles from here to Fort Laramie.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jul 3, 1849

**For other California Gold Rush posts, click on the “Gold Rush” category to the right.

I accidently hit “publish” when I was only adding tags, so I had to do several updates to finish the post.

Bound for California Gold

April 5, 2009

See my previous post with the journal from “The California Gold Hunter,” that is mentioned in the first line of this article.

Letters from the Californians.

On our first page we publish an interesting  journal of the tour to St. Joseph, Mo., which has been sent to us by a member of the Milan company. Letters have been received at this place from several of the adventurers who left our vicinity, giving, in substance, the same views of the country and the way, as our correspondent.

The emigrants at St. Joseph and Fort Independence, were in fine health and spirits, and eager to press their journey over the plains. A letter from one of the Tiffin company, at Fort Independence, (April 25th,) which we have read, written in a humorous vein, describes the emigrants there as all “well and fat as bears,” but rather “red,” from the effect of Sol. He says, “The Sandusky boys are in quite a scrape. 100 miles from here the Indians stole all their mules and horses.” The passage up the Missouri he describes as slow but enlivened by frequent hunts for game along the banks, where geese, ducks, brants, and pelicans abounded. He says, “We passed a couple of boats coming up loaded with Californians. One of them was at the mouth of the Gaspinade River, with her shaft broken, and the other with boilers bursted. There was quite a number of girls with their fathers and mothers, all bound for California!

There are about 3,000 Californians in and around Independence, St. Joseph, and other places on the River, and about twice that number between here and Cincinnati on their way up. I expected from what I had heard coming up, that there were at least 10,000 here, but it turns out, like all other reports, to be very much exaggerated.” By way of testifying his advance in knowledge, as well as distance, he subscribes himself with the learned title of “M.D.” (Mule Driver.)

Mr. S.C. Wickam, who is a member of the Milan Company, writes from the Encampment opposite St. Joseph, April 28th, to his brother, Judge Wickham of this place, thus:

“Our boys are all in good spirits and anxious to go ahead. I don’t think there will be any back out from among us. You could not hire any of them to go back at any price — how they will feel by and by, is another thing.

“The season here is more backward than with you, I imagine. The trees are not in leaf yet, although the weather is very warm. It is also very dry; we have had no rain since we arrived here. Our mules live on the grass that is in the river bottom; it is quite thin but of a good height; we take them out before sunrise and tie them two and two, watch them till about eleven o’clock A.M., when they seem to be satisfied; we then bring them in, let them stand till about two o’clock P.M., when we take them out and let them stay till sun-down.

gold-rush-emigrant-train-color

“Encamped with us there are about 30 wagons and 150 persons; about one mile ahead of us there is a still larger encampment; and people are arriving daily, from up the river. There are not as many to cross the plains as I expected. How many there are at Independence I do not know; but I think there will not be over 1,000 to 1,500 from here, and this is considered the best point from which to start; I believe on account, principally, of the advantage we have here, in being across the Kansas, which is considered one of the worst on the whole route.

E. Atherton killed a rattlesnake which measured four feet and two inches in length; there are a great many of these snakes about here, one person said he saw six, four of which he killed. It is reported that they have the cholera in St. Joseph, and it is said that six died the other day, when some of our company were over; but you can’t tell any thing about it by what you hear. — When we landed at St. Joseph we could hardly get any one to do our washing for us, for fear of the cholera or small-pox, it being reported in town that we had several cases of those diseases on board our boat.

We are now in the Indian Territory, and if all their country is equal to this they have the best country in the world; it is a splendid country; the soil along the river bottom is very deep, consisting of sandy loam, and looks as if all you would need to do to raise crops, would be to drop the seed on the ground. It is very lightly timbered, probably on account of the Indians burning it over every year for hunting grounds. Directly back of us is a rolling prairie, with hardly a tree in sight, with the exception of now and then on the banks of some small stream.

There are several Indian burying grounds in this vicinity, but there are very few Indians; they have probably gone to some other hunting grounds, as game seems to be very scarce here, at present, although there are deer tracks on the hill side, in abundance.

While watching the mules the other day, Harry Page found a belt, pouch, powder horn, and charger; the belt was partially eaten up by the moles or mice, and in the pouch were a dozen or more balls of a large size; the horn was half full of fine rifle powder. How long they had been there, or who lost them, is a mystery. The charger was made of deer’s horn, the tip of one I should think; it was carved off in fine order, probably the work of some Indian.

We expect to start from this place on Monday the last day of April, and pursue our journey to a mission, about twenty miles from here, where we talk of stopping for a short time — whether we shall or not will be determined on the road there, and by the feed — if we find plenty of grass we shall go right ahead, if not we shall stop for it to grow.”

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) May 22, 1849

*For other California Gold Rush posts, just click on the “Gold Rush” category.