James Haun Diary, April 1854

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Saturday 1 – Pleasant morning. I put the wet towel to my throat last night again. It is somewhat better. We fixed for washing, or rather, prospecting. We got gold $6.50. We quit early and fixed for ground sluicing. Again after supper I commenced a letter to my wife.

Sunday 2 – Raining mostly all day. I finished my 10th letter to my wife after dinner and John and I went down to the Point and maid it, paid 25 cents postage to Marysville.

Monday 3 – Fine day. We three and old Goodshall went down to Rich Bar diggins of Feather River to buy a claim.

Tuesday 4 – Stayed all night at Shasta on the opposite side of the River. Our bills each for lodging and fare and liquor, $.50. A fine warm day. We crossed the river four times and paid 75 cents each. We four bought E. K. Parish’s claims and water privilege at $400, tools and cabin and provisions all included.
I dreamed last night that I was in Georgetown and that I got up to see my wife. I thought it was about Pratt’s Tavern. I asked Bet where her mistress was. She told me that she had gone upstairs. It was a place I could not go, though Bet was building a fire to get breakfast.
I, John and Parish came to my cabin this evening. Dobson and Goodshall stayed at the Point all night.

Wednesday 5 – Dobson came up soon this morning and we weigh out Parish the $400. He left for Rich Bar. Young Goodshall and his father takes an interest in those diggings. They came up to my cabin and two other friends. We all took dinner. Then six of us shouldered our packs for Rich Bar, a tramp of 4 miles, leaving John behind to take care of our house and diggings. My pack was 23 pounds bacon and a sack of salt. We soon got down. I bought his bed, four pair blankets, straw bed and sack bottom all for 1/2 oz gold and slept in it with old Goodshell alongside of me. I would have preferred my wife.

Thursday 6 – All six went to work, three to work in the diggins and two to move in a larger shanty and I to do the pottering about. We got gold today $92.

Friday 7 – I spread my bed down on the floor, and Dobson is to sleep with me.
It was quite cool last night. It is like sleeping in a sawmill, for there is one alongside and the water roaring underneath the house.
Four hands washing for gold got $62. I spread my bed again on the floor but I cant stand the hard boards.

Saturday 8 – The weather is pleasant enough. Four hands to washing for gold and got $61, and I to making some sluice boxes and new patient riffles.
Our election came off today for a new set of country officers and a new county taken from Butte and called Plumas1. I voted in the afternoon and went work.

Sunday 9 – Rained in the night last night, and snowing this morning. We had hired a young man in the place of John; we paid him $12 for 3 days work. I, John and Dobson each get $71. We are to be paid back again before the old man and his son gets their share. Dobson and two others went up to the Point on the South side of the river and I went to my cabin on the North side. Don’t tell me that Slate Mountain is easy got up from the river.
Snowing and then sunshine and now raining in the middle of the afternoon. My lesson is Saint Luke, Chapter 11. I sent John down to the Point and him Dobson and the other two young men have just come to my cabin. John has brought two letters, one from Liz dated February 5 18542 giving an account of Jim Robinson’s shooting Hines, and an explanation of that debt that is coming to Clint West from H.P. The other written by A. Duvall and your sister.3 Liz is joining Presbyterian Church.
You ought to have seen me setting to night and mending two hickory4 and two flannel shirts and darning a pairs socks, besides nailing soles on my boots, before I went to bed.

Monday 10 – Cool last night. Rainy and cool today. After John and I breakfasted I started for Rich Bar diggings 4 miles down the Feather River and 21 hundred yards down Slate Mountain to follow the path. I stopped it as well as I could. The flume that brought the water in had fell down and we fixed our sluice boxes. It was middle of afternoon before we got all     right for washing again. Three of us got gold $7.50.

Tuesday 11 – Rained last night, and raining and snowing all the fore-part and cleared off in the after-part of the day. Work a little in the P. M. and got gold $4. I made a new riffle box and riffles.

Wednesday 12 – Fine day. We got gold $18. Fat pork, bread and bad coffee to eat all this week at Rich Bar diggins.

Thursday 13 – Cold night last, but a fine day. We were most all day getting timber for drifting. We got it by going up on the side of Slate Mountain and cutting down trees. We cut off 10 feet rope, tied it to one end and dragged it down. We got gold $2.

Friday 14 – Fine weather. We were setting up timbers for drifting and cutting down bedrock to dam the diggins. We got no gold today.

Saturday 15 – Fine weather. Two were drifting in the bank, two were cutting down bedrock. We got gold at Rich Bar diggins $8. All the gold we got this week was $39.50 and up at our old place. John and two hired men four days each got gold $39. It took $24.50 to pay the men off.

Sunday 16 – After arranging our affairs at Rich Bar diggins, the five of us started up Slate Mountain for our cabin and divided our gold. Took dinner. Examined our diggins and then went down to the Point. I had the smith sharpen four picks. Paid him $3 for out two shears and paid Thompson $100 on our last fall’s provisions. Then went back to my cabin and shouldered ham of bacon and a wallet equal in weight, and then for our Rich Bar diggins in company with John and Dobson. We arrived at dusk, took a supper of beef and soup. My lesson was Saint Luke, the unjust steward —
Well I am now ready to take a little rest. John has fixed our bunk and turned in, as we will sleep together down here.

Monday 17 – Warm and hazy. The company were all present after breakfast, five in all. Old Goldshall said it was no use for all of us to work on a 30 foot claim and prospect the hill for those that had plenty of ground, as some men had dumped our 60 feet down near the river. So I told Goldshall that, if he would make me whole, I and John would with draw and I would loose my work. It was agreed to. After dinner we settled our affairs. John and I rolled up two pair of blankets each. He with a pick and handsaw and I with shovel and hatchet, we started up Slate Mountain for our cabin. We rested four times before we reached the top. This is the third time I climbed this mountain in 9 days. It was very warm this evening and the sweat rolled off us quite free, but we arrived at home in good time. John had to make some light bread before we could eat supper. I took a short nap before it was done.

Tuesday 18 – Rained a little at intervals all day. We went up the ditch to see what went on with all the water. We found the levy broke near the head of the ditch and nearly all the water running out. We was all day mending and cleaning out, and had no dinner into the bargain, but we ate a hearty supper which answered every purpose.

Wednesday 19 – Rainy last night and all of today. I mended three shovels and some other things before dinner. After, we went out to ground sluicing and got somewhat wet. We now have water enough to run a sawmill. After supper the wind was blowing and a man singing out. The men answered him from the other cabin. John has baked one loaf and another is baking. Still another to bake, and then to bed.
Snowing and raining last night and this morning and continued most of the day. We went up the ditch to turn some of the water off as it was raining and snowing so hard. I did not want the levy to brake again. We was up in time to save it. After dinner we went out to ground sluicing but the snow and rain fell too fast for us. We put out for the cabin, built a good fire, and mended up our shirts and I one sock, the other the next night.

Friday 21 – At bedtime stars were shining out all around. Some time in the night, I was up and it was snowing very fast. It continued this morning and past noon. Before it cleared off it was near 1 foot deep. We dined and went out to ground sluicing. I have darned my other sock. I am still looking for my wife out here until I get another letter, then I will know.

Saturday 22 – Cold last night and all of the day. Ice-cycles one foot long hanging to my cabin roof. We were ground sluicing in the water all day and got wet.

Sunday 23 – Cool last night, the ground all covered with snow. The sun is shining out warm and pleasant indeed. My lesson is John, Chapter 11, Lazarus raised from death.
I and John went down to the Point and spent most of the day there. Thompson told me that H. P. had sent me a keg of fresh butter and it was at the Lexington House. He also told T. that he would send me vegetables all summer.
My partner Dobson was here this evening and said had got a man by the name of Harvey to work in his place for one half. He is to  be here in the morning. I paid 50 cents for a handsaw file.

Monday 24 – Warm and pleasant in the A.M. and cloudy in the P. M. Commenced raining late in evening and is still at it yet.
It is late. John has just finished baking three loves of bread. Harvey came this morning. He did not go to work for Dobson, but went off again.
We were ground sluicing again. I sent John down to the Point to see if there was any letters for us. None.

Tuesday 25 – Snowing this morning and was at it all day with intervals of sunshine. The snow was 3 inches deep this morning and scarcely any to be seen this evening. I and John fixed the boxes to wash for gold. It took us all day. I am still looking for pat…

Wednesday 26 – Cool last night. The ground was froze considerable this morning. We went to washing for gold and got $3. The day was warm and pleasant. Late in the evening it turned somewhat cool. One ought to have seen me take up the ashes while John was panning out the gold. They had not been taken up for a month. I dreamed of getting money of old Dr. Keene and was in partnership.

Thursday 27 – Cloudy this forenoon, and clear and warm in the after part of the day. We were washing for gold.
Old bacon and ham don’t agree with me. Late bedtime and John is baking his last loaf of bread at this time, having baked two already.

Friday 28 – Cloudy and warm, with intervals of sunshine. In the evening commenced raining. We got gold, I loaned Davis $30—

Saturday 29 – Rained last night and all of today. We work hard in the rain and got gold. I loaned Davis $30.

Sunday 30 – Raining and then snowing this morning, then raining and sunshine. We had a general cleaning up. John washed two shirts for each of us and some other things for himself, and done considerable mending, besides cooking a kettle of beans and a kettle of peaches and baking three loves of bread.
After dinner I went down to the Point. No letters. I did not get to see Dobson; something is out with him.
My lesson is the 15th chapter of Acts. I dreamed Friday night that Sam and all his family had run off and that Sam had come back and was sorry for what he had done. And now for a clean shirt and then to bed, as John is doing the baking.

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  1. An act to form Plumas County from a portion of Butte County was passed March 18, 1854, to take effect April 1 1854. Three commissioners, H.J. Bradley, Wilson S. Dean and John W. Thompson gathered at the American ranch to arrange the details. Fariss and Smith report that an election was held on the second Saturday in April to select the county officers. These included William Ward as judge, Thomas Cox as District Attorney, John Harbison as County Clerk, George Sharpe as Sheriff, Daniel Cate as Treasurer, John Buckbee as Assessor, and Jobe Taylor as Surveyor. No Coroner was chosen. (pg. 159-60).
  2. This is most likely Liz’s undated letter of February 1854.
  3. Not included in this collection.
  4. A durable cotton fabric similar to denim. Typically features a pattern of narrow blue and white vertical stripes.