James Haun Diary, August 1854


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Tuesday 1 – I am still living on milk and mush, molasses and light bread. I feel quite well indeed without any kind of meat, and work hard every day. Marysville has been burned twice. The first fire, about six weeks, ago swept three squares. The last one four1.

Wednesday 2 – The nights are cool and days warm. We got gold $23 the last 2 days. Shaw and I went down to the Point after supper. A third woman has made her appearance at the gambling table to help out.

Thursday 3 – Quite warm, cloudy in the afternoon with thunder but no rain. Lloyd took Shaw’s and my picks down to the Point to have them sharpened. He brought me a letter from my wife dated May 10 18542. This is four weeks since John received a letter dated May 26th from his ma, a difference of five weeks. My letter gives an account of James Toppass being shot by Glass &c. We got gold $25.50.

Friday 4 – I commenced taking a cold bath every morning. We got gold $39.50. Shaw and I went down to the Point after supper. I paid $3 pole tax and $1.50 for bottle of brandy for John. I saw a woman try to get a revolver from her paramour to shot a gambler for breaking a lamp and spilling the grease all over and her and cards. She cursed him and then would cry. Half-a-dozen China women came to the Point today to get up trade &c.

Saturday 5 – We got out of the hard cement where Shaw & I are at work. We all got gold $84. After supper Shaw, John, and I, and Cook who is working for Lloyd, went down to the Point. The women are gambling as usual with music to draw the crowd. The China woman are camped on the sand bar of Feather River to sleep &c —

Sunday 6 – We all started for the American Valley with seven picks and a broken hoe to get Black Hawk to fix them. We went over to Sister Betsey’s. We then went back to Bradley’s and got dinner $1.75. We got picks and paid $7. It was cloudy all day and rained a sprinkle. Something to be wondered at–on our road home we picked and ate some ripe Thimbleberries.

Monday 7 – Shaw, Lloyd and I took three axes and a hatchet down to the Point and ground
them. Shaw and I came back to dinner and Lloyd stayed all day.

P.M. We went out to make a reservoir to catch water over night, as it is getting too scarce to work to an advantage. John and Cook got gold $5.50 and paid Cross $5 sharp.

Tuesday 8 – All four of us was at work on the reservoir. Lloyd came home last night but went back soon this morning and is not at home yet.

Wednesday 9 – All four of us making the reservoir. Lloyd not at home yet —

Thursday 10 – We went to mining but the water soon failed. Shaw and I went up the ditch and cleaned it out considerably but the water has failed us. Lloyd got home before dinner, not pleased with himself. John and Cook got gold $7.50.

Friday 11 – All five of us went to work on the reservoir throwing on more dirt. Lloyd went to nailing it together. We built it a log higher and concluded it was done at quit
ing time. After a hard day’s work I washed three shirts for myself.

Saturday 12 – All five of us went to mining and got gold $49. Shaw and I went down to the Point after supper. I got a letter from my wife dated June 24 18543 giving an account of Thomas Attwell and Matilda Stevenson getting married, Thornton and May Smarr running off and getting married, and old Brother Smith wants me to write how much gold I’ve got, that he may tell me when to come home, &c. I paid $3 for pole tax and one dollar for the letter. I am now and have been for sometime taking a cold bath at daylight.

Sunday 13 – Friday night I washed two cotton shirts and one hickory. I’ve had no washing done for a month or more. We settled up for expenses and then divided our gold after dinner. Shaw, I and John went down to the Point. John mailed a letter to Frank Rankin and I to one to H.P. Haun, paid cash $5.50. John did some washing for himself. My lesson is Chapter 1 of St. John. I paid Thompson $104.50, that pays off his bill entirely he has had against me since last fall.

Monday 14 – Lloyd and John went to work at their place and Shaw and I at our place. We got gold $27.50. They got none. Our water has failed so much we can’t half work.

Tuesday 15 – I and Shaw got gold $46. The Johns are striping off the top dirt. Our water has improved some today, owing to the Reservoir having got well soaked.

Wednesday 16 – Warm and sultry. I and Shaw got gold $22. The Johns have set up their boxes to wash for gold tomorrow. Our water was very weak this evening. I hope the weather will change soon. I and Shaw went down to the Point after supper. I got a 5th of meal, 75 cents.

Thursday 17 – We all got gold $38. The weather is warm and dry and our water is failing fast.

Friday 18 – We got gold $39. After supper Shaw, John and I went down to the Point. I told Free’s agent Roots that I had no use for his water and that it was ready for him at all times and to take it and use it for I did not want it.
I saw Green McHatton and had a long chat with him.
There was a stag dance came off: seven men, the other happened to be a gambling woman. They kept it up for some time. Old married men engaged in the sport but there wives and children in the states. Dr Vaughn is one of them sort.

Saturday 19 – We got gold $97. I gave $1 for whiskey. On Friday night Shaw, John and I went down to the Point after super. The China woman has left the Point but there is many men here that would do well to leave also.

Sunday 20 – I read Chapter 11 of John, finished my 13th letter to my wife and mailed it for 25 cents. Whiskey 50 cents.
I got acquainted with W.R. Dickson of the sunny south. He says he went to Havana with W.G. and helped him build a race track there. He has a wife and four daughters living in Wisconsin. He has been better raised than he now lives, I’ve no doubt. He says he will come and see me soon —

Monday 21 – It was cloudy this morning and rained some in the A.M. The sun shone out again from the middle afternoon till sunset. I and Shaw got gold $14.50, in all today $59.50 —

Tuesday 22 – It rained considerable last night and was foggy this morning but clear and pleasant all day. Shaw and I got gold $97.50 and the Johns $20. We can pick the nuggets up off the bedrock. We are close to the place where the camp took it out at $30 per day.

Wednesday 23 – I and Shaw went down to the Point last night after supper. I understood that Cross took out $2200 in Feather River below the mouth of Nelson Creek. I and Shaw were prospecting the 30 channel. We got some gold in consequence. We only got $21 and the Johns got gold $15, in all $36. Quite cool last night, almost a frost.

Thursday 24 – I and Shaw got gold $92 and the Johns $33.50, in all $125.50. Shaw and I were striping off top dirt nearly all day. We got the $92 in 2 1/2 hours.
After supper we went down to the Point. I was introduced to Gildersleeve the celebrated race man, Dr Vaughn said, “How do you do, Mr Haun.”

Friday 25 – Shaw and I got gold $70 and moved our hose and pipe. The Johns got $19. They had to strip in the afternoon.

Saturday 26 – I and Shaw got gold $58.50. The Johns are striping off the top dirt. I and Shaw went down to the Point after supper. I received a letter from H.P. advising me to pay off the suit with Vaughn to save cost.

Sunday 27 – All four of us went up to our reservoir and cut a small ditch to run the leakage water through the pipe. While we were up there Green McHatten came to us and stayed with me all day and night. The rest of the boys went down to the Point and Lloyd got drunk. He did not get home until the afternoon of the next day. My lesson is Acts Chapter 5.

Monday 28 – Shaw and John went out to work. I and McHatten went down to the Point. We talked about all the people we could think off in Kentucky while together. I got 8 pounds meal $1.25 and and came home to dinner.
I tried to get Lloyd home but he could not make it then. I frequently thought of you as it
was your birthday, wife. We were cleaning up bedrock and got gold $44. It rained Saturday night last here and snowed at Onion Valley. A frost the Sunday night following.

Tuesday 29 – My potato tops have been frost bitten. Shaw and I got gold $29. The Johns are stripping. After supper I and Shaw went down to the Point. l loaned Green McHatton $100 and partly heard Able make a Democratic speech.
I saw a mob pull down a China house, or rather upset where it had been. The China woman were boo-hooing. Old Amy came along, and just at that moment came the crash of the house and a yell from the mob. She sang out, O, Lord! and fell in the arms of her paramour. She soon recovered again and went to her cabin, I suppose —
I paid $1.25 for sharpening a pick.

Wednesday 30 – Shaw and I are still cleaning up bedrock. We gold gold $42. The Johns are digging up a big pitch pine tree and stripping. Shaw and I went down to the Point after supper. I paid $2.50 for half soling my gum boots.

Thursday 31 – I and Shaw are working over the ravine that paid us so well last fall, as we have just finished up to it yesterday. We got gold $32, and $23 of the $42 we got the day before was out of the ravine where it had been worked before. I laid in bed so long last night that I had the back ache this morning.

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  1. “July 1854 – Great Fire at Marysville. A large fire occurred int his place, burning five whole blocks. Loss $250,000.” (Dana, pg. 72)
  2. Martha Haun’s letter of May 10 1854 has been preserved and is available here.
  3. Not included in this collection.