James Haun Diary, March 1854

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Wednesday 1 – Real March weather. Snowed a little last night, but fine this morning. We went over to our work but there was no water. We went up the ditch and found the water stopped with snow and ice. We shoveled it away and got the water running down by noon. I dreamed on Monday night last of getting a large quantity of gold. Also, on Tuesday night, of my wife getting baptized again and of seeing her shed tears. I don’t recollect the cause. We went to washing for gold and got $69 this afternoon, and one piece weighing $4, a little upwards. A good half day’s work.

Thursday 2 – Snowed a little last night, but a fine warm day. The top dirt slid down. We was all forenoon getting it out of the way. We got gold $21 this afternoon.

Friday 3 – Cloudy and commenced snowing early and continued all day pretty hard. We washed dirt most of the day and only got gold $6. At noon we packed a lot of wood as we did not want it covered up under the snow. I got up before day and covered the bottom and sides of my old white topped, grey footed socks with some of my old red shirt and that, too, after I had darned them well. I want to keep them as long as I can.

Saturday 4 – Up before day. Commenced snowing before light and snowed a very little in the fore part of the day but the sun shone at intervals in the after part. We got gold $73, one piece weighing $14. I now think there is a pile about here but getting it out is the question. I will be found trying at this for some time to come.

Sunday 5 – Cold this morning but warm and pleasant all day. We turned out and got some wood. I sent John down to the Point to see if there was any letters. None. He ground the hatchet. I made a wooden soup spoon to lift our beans when cooked. We always divide out gold on Sundays. Each one got $56 to our week’s work. My lesson was Chapter 5 of Ephesians. We are all setting around our cabin fire. The Johns are reading novels and I am penning down and the snow hip deep and solid enough to bear.

Monday 6 – Quite cold this morning. A good deal of ice about our boxes. We got to work after punching some of the ice off. Made $37.50. The day was pleasant enough. Supper is over and John is writing a letter to his ma.

Tuesday 7 – Not so cold this morning. Very warm and pleasant all day. We got gold $12.50. I’ve been thinking about my wife coming out to California, and I look up sometimes to see if she ain’t about. Some times at the cabin and while at work I look up to see her. No, no.

Wednesday 8 – Delightful day. The green flies are flying about and the snow is deep.
We got gold $47. We are in good spirits about our diggins. We’ve scarcely made a beginning to work them. I do wish my wife was out here to see the lumps of from $10 to $30 pieces.

Thursday 9 – A beautiful, warm April day in March. The snow is melting fast. Already, the ground is making its appearance in spots and close by the snow is 2 and 3 feet deep. We was ground sluicing today. Did not try to get gold.

Friday 10 – Warm. The snow was melting off the cabin all night last. The south wind is blowing. Warm and pleasant till noon. In the afternoon it clouded up and rained. We were fixing to wash in the fore noon and I mended two broken boxes. We cut a tree down in the afternoon and then knocked off on account of the rain.

Saturday 11 – Snowed last night and all day. We worked at ground sluicing part of the day. The place we are at work at is about 20 feet deep and the dirt and mud keep sliding down. Each one got $33 to his share this week.

Sunday 12 – Cold last night, but a beautiful and warm day. John went down to the Point and mailed a letter to his ma. I washed a shirt and a pair socks and done some needlework in the forenoon and read Chapter 5 of the Epistle General of James. In the afternoon, turned out and cut and packed a lot of wood for the week. It is now getting late, nearly bedtime. The wind is blowing and the snow falling again.

Monday 13 – Snowed all of last night and all of today. After dinner we went up the ditch to assist the water to run down, but the snow was falling too fast and was already too deep in the ditch. We gave it up for a bad job. Waded back to the cabin. The new falling snow was above our knees and still snowing.

Tuesday 14 – Snowed all of last night and at it this morning. I’ve not been out to see the depth. It held up at noon. We got dinner and went up the ditch and stopped the brakes and got the water running down, but the snow is so deep in the ditch that it can’t get along much. I walked in the ditch where it is was about 1 foot deep and the snow up to my head.

Wednesday 15 – Warm and pleasant. In the forenoon we went up the ditch to get the water down. We had to shovel out snow for near 1/2 mile. By noon the water was at the end of the ditch and making its way down the ravine. After dinner we went to the diggins and sluiced down a large pile of top dirt. Just as we finished another pile slid in. It was cloudy and cold this afternoon.

Thursday 16 – Snowed a little last night. But a warm and pleasant forenoon. The Johns went to McDonald’s and borrowed his cotton hose.1 I was cutting away some roots and stumps. After dinner we sluiced down a quantity of dirt and trash and set our boxes for washing.

Friday 17 – Warm and pleasant and the snow melting away fast. We made a commencement to wash for gold. We got $12 after sluicing all the week and part of last week, but it is heavy work to say the least.

Saturday 18 – Warm and pleasant and the snow melting away fast. The evenings and nights are quite cool. We got gold $18. We feel quite sure of doing well next week if the weather is good here.2

Sunday 19 – Rained a little last night and a very little this morning but cloudy or hazy all day. The sun shone out considerable with all and warm and pleasant. I went down to the Point in the afternoon. No letters for us. The express man has not been in for two weeks. So I mailed my 9th letter to my wife and paid 25 cents for carrying it to Marysville, and the same for John’s last Sunday. We got some wood for the balance of the week.

Monday 20 – Warm. The sun shoe at intervals. We were moving top dirt all day, and more to move tomorrow.

Tuesday 21 – Cool last night and clear, a fine pleasant day. We commenced washing just before noon and got gold $6.50. A poor turn out.

Wednesday 22 – Fine and pleasant. Last night a large cedar stump, two large logs, and a quantity of dirt slid down and mashed one of our sluice boxes. Gave us work enough for the balance of the week without washing for gold —

Thursday 23 – Fine morning. Sent John down to the Point to see if there is any letters and get an ax handle, $1, and a crosscut saw. Snow is melting off fast. We sawed up a fine large log and split it and packed it out, and a heap of dirt.

Friday 24 – Warm and pleasant. Another stump slid in today. We took out two today, and one more to get put. The gulch is so deep and pay dirt so shallow it requires a quantity of work to get at the gold. But we have got it almost clear again.

Saturday 25 – Cloudy in the forenoon and clear in the after, and pleasant. We got to washing a little in the evening and got gold $6. I’ve caught a bad cold. I’ve slept cold the last two nights.

Sunday 26 – Another beautiful day and one more week is past, and a hard week’s work it has been to me. I’ve got a bad cold, my head aches powerful.
I look everyday to when I shall see my wife in these mountains. I don’t know why it is so.
We all three went down to the Point. I went mostly to see if there was any letters, but my express man has not been in for three weeks or more, we got none. My lesson this morning was the 9th chapter of Mark. John has gone to his bunk and Dobson has not come home tonight. Something wrong and here I set on a stool, like a fool. Davis and company has moved in the other cabin to be handy to their sawmill on the branch nearby.

Monday 27 – My head did ache last night. I went to bed with it aching and got up so, though I lay with a wet towel on my forehead all night. I and John went to work notwithstanding all my aches, and made a something after. I am weary to night. Dobson is not at home.

Tuesday 28 – Fine day. I and John were at work by our two selves. We took out yesterday $20.50 and today $19. Dobson came home this forenoon and brought us eight letters. He did not work today. We quit work and went to the cabin to read them.
The first I examined was Lizzy’s of January 18543. I take them in rotation–one of date December 20 18534 giving an account of Emma Smith’s being going to get married tomorrow and in want of money, and Jane Graves being in Kentucky, and G. Winte having joined the Baptist Church. One of date January 6 18545 giving an account of your wanting $200 and Izadora Byrns’ love to me. One of date January 15 18546 giving an account of a long talk with Frank Powell, and still in want of that $200. Also Mrs. Larue’s account of C. Asburn shooting a man and being cleared, and L. Offutt and Mrs. Patterson’s marrying tonight. One of date January 22 18547 giving an account of a heavy rain, and Ben Bradley having been South and G. Tucker to be married. I did not get your letter giving account uncle Solomon’s death. This is the first I have received.
The tickets on the burlesque on the main Liquor Law. John’s three letters I have not had to read. It is quite late as I’ve finished taking down dates and notes of letters.

Wednesday 29
– A little rainy, and more expected tonight. I and John got gold $15.

Thursday 30
– A very little showery. In the evening entirely clear. We all three got gold today $7—
My throat is sore from cold, or from getting wet everyday.

Friday 31
– Clear and pleasant. I put a wet towel to my neck last night but my throat is still sore this morning. We went to ground sluicing today.

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  1. The hose was used in hydraulic mining. In this method, miners would focus and intense spray of water on a hill or embankment, washing down the gravel and soil into a long sluice below
  2. On this date, March 18 1854, an act was passed to create Plumas County from a portion of the territory of Butte County.
  3. Not included in this collection.
  4. Martha Haun’s letter of December 20 1853 has been preserved and is available here.
  5. Martha Haun’s letter of January 6 1854 has been preserved and is available here.
  6. Martha Haun’s letter of January 15 1854 has been preserved and is available here.
  7. Martha Haun’s letter of January 22 1854 has been preserved and is available here.