James Haun Diary, June 1855

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Friday 1 – Summer seems to have set in. The little insects are running around at a tremendous rate, and the sun shone out quite warm today. I and John was cleaning up bedrock and got gold $76. I got Lawrance and Roister to prop up a large pitch pine that we cut down, and we have run the dirt from under it for 75 feet off the but, except the stump and the end lays on the roots.
Since I received the letter from wife stating that she did not expect to come to California under the present existing circumstances, I feel more like going home than I’ve done heretofore. I cant quit the diggins yet while they pay so well.

Saturday 2 – We are all at work as usual and the weather is quite warm. At noon the wind blew quite pleasant. I and John commenced to wash down the pine stump. We got gold $7. I do not feel satisfied that my wife is not coming out as I expected.

Sunday 3 – I was waked up this morning at daybreak by the robins and a field lark singing. They seemed to be doing their best.
I got up and went out in my shirt tails, but returned again to my bunk to indulge a while longer. Yes to think alone an hour. At sunrise I got up, built a fire, and called up John to get breakfast as we usually have much to do setting up, and the gold dust to divide. Lawrance had $368 that him and Roister had taken out in last 2 weeks, of which I and John got $128, and we had $310.50. Our share is $233.
I read the 20th chapter of Saint Luke.
Four of us dressed up and went down to the Point and changed off $94 worth of dust. We paid Rains $25, besides sundries $17.25, and I was ordered to work the road between this and the courthouse by the overseer on Wednesday. I and Lawrance came home to eat dinner.

Early this morning I set a brush heap on fire and burned quite a lot of old clothes among the rest one of those coarse towels my wife put in my trunk was thrown in. The first one.

P.M. John did some washing and mending. I washed those suspenders my wife gave me and did some sewing on my pants. After supper I wrote a letter to Lawrance’s wife for him, &c. I paid Thompson $5 to pay expenses to go over to the American Valley and go my security in the case with Lloyd, &c.

Monday 4 – All six at work as usual. I and John are digging away at our stump. The weather could never be pleasanter. The wind blows a pleasant breeze for five hours at noon. We got gold today $30.50.

Tuesday 5 – I did not get up until the men in the other cabin had started out to work. We got breakfast and went out. We was not long at work before our hose burst. Shaw got gold for the first time in his and the Lloyd’s claim, $23.50. A fine breeze commenced blowing early and continued till late. We got gold $15 and Lawrance some too. Our hose bursted a second time in same place.

Wednesday 6 – O, this delightful climate–one continued stretch of sunshine and pleasant breeze. All were at work betimes. We succeeded in rolling the big stump out of the way and got gold $1.50. The other boys made fair work. The sheriff was to see me to collect $5 for services done in the case with Lloyd and to collect $15 that John bid for Freer’s interest in the ditch that was sold under an execution in favor of me against Freer and Vaughn. So John has two deeds to that interest.

Thursday 7 – I and John was cleaning up bedrock, got gold $44. It was too warm for me to keep two shirts on, so off comes my blue flannel. I loaned my friends T. and I. Jennings $300.
Friday 8 – Delightful weather. I and John got gold $8. Shaw and Rains got $103. We burst our hose in the spot that was ripped twist before. Lawrance and Roister is piping away for the first time at his old claim, down below us in same ravine.

Saturday 9 – All well, and at work in good earnest. I and John got gold $16. I feel lonesome and disappointed on account of my wife not coming out.

Sunday 10 – A few drops of rain fell last night, or rather just before day. We breakfasted and divided out our gold. I and John dug $115, Shaw and Rains $199.25, and Lawrance and Roister had $41. We then dressed up and went down to the Point. I gave Duesler 1/2 of the $199.25, he paying $40 for hired help and board. I got $75 to my share. I then deposited with Thompson $395.25, making in all $1000 bearing date June 6th 1855, at the rate of two per cent per month, as he had given my security in the suit with Lloyd. I came home in company with Lawrance and took dinner, though rather late. We then walked up the to its head all right. I shall read the 8th chapter of John and go to bed, &c.

Monday 11 – I and John went to our place, and Shaw and Lawrance to work in the same ravine. We do not expect to hire anybody at present. Rains and Roister has not left yet. It was somewhat cloudy but no rain. We got gold $7. The other two made about the same. I paid Rains $66.75 for work done for the company, and $28.75 for Duesler.

Tuesday 12 – Well it has hailed and rained. In cold, stormy weather, in comes the miner to a good warm fire, without any gold dust. There is considerable thunder. I went to bed early feeling somewhat unwell, ate no supper, &c.

Wednesday 13 – Rained more or less through the night. I lay abed until a late hour, the sun at least one hour high. Cloudy this morning but cleared up soon and the day was warm and pleasant again. I and John got gold $15. Shaw and Lawrance has found it good, by going out in to the left bank. There is another channel that is rich, &c.

Thursday 14 – A fine day. I and John is piping together through where we commenced to work after five of the old company had left us. We got so wet and cold, the water falling on us all the time, that we knocked off early. We had not long been at the house when Tom Eaves came to our cabin. I knew him at first sight, not withstanding all his whiskers. He came across the plains in 1854. We talk a little about old times, &c —

Friday 15 – I John and Eaves went out to the diggins. Tom said he wanted to help work, so I sent him off after his things and told him he could try it a while until he could do better. We got gold $40. Shaw had Rains to work for him, as has a bad cold and don’t feel well. Lawrance and Rains done well —

Saturday 16 – I, John and Tom Eaves was at work in good time. The bank has slid in again last night. That kept us some time in getting away the dirt and rock. Well before noon we were piping. I saw and picked up a piece of gold that weighs 8 ounces and 10 drams–just $150 at the currant rate of $17.40 to the ounce.
Shaw and Lawrance has struck new diggins that is very rich so we’ve got a claim a piece there, in all four. We feel confident that we will be able to get our piles out of those new claims, but I wont throw away the old ones, by no means. We cleaned up some bedrock and then the sluice boxes this P.M. and got gold $97 add the two together and make $235 at $16 per oz —

Sunday 17 – After breakfast we spent much time in setting up for hired help and boarding the hands, so we fell in debt to Shaw $140.75, including money loaned, and paid out more than his share. He also paid the smith $7.50 for the company and  $10.75 for provisions to Thompson after we went down to the Point. I and John took tea with Duesler and his wife. John got pair gum boots, cost $9. My lesson is the 19th chapter of Saint John.
I and John was ordered out to work the road from the Point to the courthouse on Thursday, Friday and Saturday next, or pay $3 per day for not working.1 The overseer was over to see us yesterday evening —
Duesler gave me a large penknife.

Monday 18 – I and John went out to work. He complains very much of debility and palpitation of the heart, &c. but worked the day out. We was setting our boxes anew at the very spot that we and Dobson commenced to work about the first of February 1854. We put in the Riffles–that was some trouble to mend. After noon, we was cleaning off brush and small bushes to set our penstock in a new place higher up the hill. Duesler came up, and Mr. Merrill. He wants to buy Shaw out, but I’d rather not. Shaw, Lawrance and Roister is at work our new claims.

Tuesday 19 – Eaves wanted to know why me and John did not like for him to buy Shaw out. I told him I did not know that he wanted to sell. Tom said he was satisfied. John went down to see Dr. Hill and got some medicine in the A.M. and in the P.M. he was out of work. Duesler came up with him. I put him to mending the hose while the rest of us was setting up the penstock, cutting ditches and burning logs and brush.

Wednesday 20 – Eaves is still staying with us. He was prospecting for himself. I and John was mending the hose. The thread was broke in many places.

P.M. I helped the other boys roll a log out of their diggins, cleaned up bedrock and got gold $10. John was sewing a new seam to strengthen the old ones in the hose. It has been so warm today that I pulled off my flannel shirt.

Thursday 21 – Quite warm today. John is sewing the hose and I cleaning up bedrock, got gold $5. We did not work the road according to orders.

Friday 22 – I and John set our pipe to work to clean away the rocks that us and Dobson handled in February 1854, the first place we three commenced to make money after the other five members of the company had left. We are running off the tailing and throwing out the stumps and rocks. The other boys are doing well —

Saturday 23 – I and John set up another set of sluice boxes and riffles alongside those that were already up, in order to work at either place as best suits the ground after getting under good headway.
The rest of boys had got a gallon of milk punch.2 I concluded to get on a bust, which I did to the full of my heart’s content. I fell at noon to raise no more on my
birthday, being 44. If my wife had been here it would not have been so with me, but it is done and I am again on my feet once more.
Tom Eaves has been sick since Wednesday last, but is now up again. There was no work done in consequence of the spree that I and Roister was in — I pulled off my shoes and socks and run about bare foot and cut my left heel. Soon I was doomed to fall down. I went into the brush, not knowing what I did, but I rose again at sunset &c. I gave $1 for the punch —

Sunday 24 – I breakfasted quite hearty, and soon after we set to and had a settlement. We had over $300 to our shares. Shaw paid $22 for beef and $4 to Thompson for the company. We four bought Pike’s water ditch, tools, provisions and cabin all for $162.50. We now will be able to work all summer.
My lesson is the 9th chapter Acts.

Monday 25 – I and John together this forenoon was sluicing down some top dirt that had fallen in our way.

P.M. we was striping away and have no occasion to be discouraged. We got gold $28.50. Shaw was attending to the things that we purchased in the forenoon. Lawrance and Roister was fixing the new ditch, and extending it also. In the  P.M. they was rigging to pipe —

Tuesday 26 – Tom Eaves asked me if he could go to work. We told him that there was not work for three, so after breakfast he started with others over to the Mountain House3 to join his company again. I and John went to work, he to piping and I to cutting up some logs that we left a year ago last March. The other three were piping away at their place.

P.M. all hands built a log heap at our place and then to their work. Shaw went to sewing the hose we got from Pike with two more seams. They got gold; we none.

Wednesday 27 – John complaining considerable4 though we was at work cleaning away a lot of top dirt that slid in the way.

P.M. I was at work alone. John quite sick at night. He had a high fever and said he was quite cold and chilly. I got gold $9.50. The other boys made none. I had my own supper to get.

Thursday 28 – John is laid up. He took a dose of Wright’s Vegetable Patent Pills5 last night, and complains no little.
I’ve had to do my own cooking today. Rains helped me to work in Johns place. The left bank of our diggins caved in and we had to pull out the boxes to keep the dirt from breaking them. We got no gold. John came out to the diggins late in the P.M. Shaw and Lawrance done well. Roister sick.

Friday 29 – John is better and went down to the Point this forenoon. No letters, but my papers had come that I have to take or send to the supreme court in the case with Lloyd. I and Rains was cleaning up bedrock and got gold $138. Shaw and Lawrance done well. Roister went out to work in the

P.M. Thomas Eaves came to our diggins late this evening; he is with us tonight.

Saturday 30 – I and Tom Eaves was at work. John says he feels better than he has done for some time. We all quit work early to settle up. The two companies had $322. I had to pay $18.50 for grub and $18 for board and lost time. I got my papers at last from the county clerk to take to the supreme court at Sacramento. The clerks fees for making them out was $46.80. I gave a receipt for the papers and also got one for the money for clerk from Thompson.

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  1. “Local trails were managed by a ‘pasthmaster,’ in 1855 J.L.C Sherwin. The paths were maintained through assessments on residents, which could be paid through labor or a road tax(Matuszak, pg. 13.).
  2. A cocktail of milk, cream, bourbon, whiskey or brandy, sugar, vanilla, sometimes garnished with nutmeg. Eggnog is a variant of this drink.
  3. Consult the map for precise location.
  4. John described his illness in his own journal here.
  5. Wright’s Indian Vegetable Pills were among the most popular patent medicines of the period, and make frequent appearances in letters and diaries of the time, as well as in songs, newspapers, and etc. Their inventor, William Wright, advertised the pills as a cure for over 60 different complaints ranging from asthma and yellow fever to gravel (kidney stones) and freckles. (Wright’s Pictoral Family Almanac.). Apparently it was in fact a laxative, as soldiers reportedly used the pills to feign dysentery in order to avoid active service during the Civil War (Bartholow, pg. 136).