James Haun Diary, May 1854

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Monday 1 – Beautiful day, warm and sunshiny with a pleasant breeze a-stirring. We was at our work as usual ground sluicing. Our partner came up in the afternoon to see after his claim and said he wished to have a divide but I would not agree to it, so he said he would sell out. I agreed to give him $500 for his entire interest in everything here, $200 down, and the $300 in thirty days.

Tuesday 2 – The weather is very good. After getting up a little late John  and I went out to work. We fixed for wash ing and got $11 gold by noon. We did not clean over 1 1/2 feet square of the bedrock. After dinner we was ground sluicing and wet feet all evening.

Wednesday 3 – The weather is good. We were fixing the boxes and mending them in the forenoon and the after we were washing gold and got $19.

Thursday 4 – We was washing for gold and got $11. We quit sometime before night and took our picks down to the Point to have them steeled at both Points. It only cost $4 for the two picks. No mail for me.
I received a tin box of fresh butter that H.P. sent up. Box and all weighed 16 pounds. We tried some of it for supper we found it to be very good. O, yes. O, yes. O, yes. While at the Point I saw a petticoat across the creek, the first one since I don’t recollect. Yes, December last.

Friday 5 – Rather cool last night and a cool breeze a-stirring today. We were a-ground sluicing and cutting some small timber and brush all day.

Saturday 6 – Cool last night, with ice on the roots where we are at work. A-snowing all the forenoon but it did not lay. Continued in the afternoon with intervals of sunshine. At bedtime the ground was white with snow. We were cutting down top dirt and ground sluicing.

Sunday 7 – The ground is white with snow but soon melted off. Snowed more or less all day. Dobson came up. I paid him $200 and my note for $300 more in thirty days. I got from him a bill of sale of all his right and title. John and I got some wood, planted three short rows of potatoes, and then finished a letter to H.P. and one to Dave. I shall read Chapter 5 of Romans and then turn in.

Monday 8 – Cold last night with some snow and a heavy frost this morning–but a beautiful sunny day. John went to ground sluicing and I down to the Point to mail a letter to H.P. and one to Dave. I received a letter from H.P. speaking of his bad health all winter and of Dave’s singular departure. H.P. says he had got him a situation in the office of two of the best Lawyers in Marysville. All satisfactory to Dave. So one night in January last, he leaves a note in the office, a  freak of nature, and farewell to all whom it may concern, and is not heard of since. I did not know till this morning that he was gone.1
H.P. asked me in his letter if I knew where he was, so I answered his letter and mailed it. I then bought two claims for $35 in our ditch making 5 in all out of 8. I gave 50 cents for gum arabic2 and 25 cents for the letter to H.P., and then came home to dinner and ground sluiced in the evening.

Tuesday 9 – Cold last night with heavy frost. We set up our boxes and pitched out a number of rocks in the forenoon, and in the evening we washed the sluice dirt that stopped us from sluicing. We got gold $5. It rained a little this evening.

Wednesday 10 – Cloudy more or less all day. We was hindered most of the day by miners coming to our diggins. We got gold $12.50, though we did not work half the day.

Thursday 11 – Cool and cloudy last night and rained most of the day. We got gold $7.50.

Friday 12 – Cloudy this morning but very pleasant day with all. Two miners came to our cabin before we ate breakfast and stayed till after dinner. We then went out and got gold $17.

Saturday 13 – Rained last night and was at this morning, but cleared off by 10 AM, and was a pleasant day. We had two miners to see us. They bought two interests in the water out of eight. They seem to be good miners and steady men. They are well pleased with the appearance of things. We got gold today $16.50.

Sunday 14 – Snowing considerable this morning but towards noon it held up, though it was cloudy and cool all day. I and John went down to the Point. We took two picks had then sharpened, cost $2.75. I paid Roots $5 and Fox or Kline $20 for their claims, one of those I bought last Monday. We saw our new partners. They are to be up in the morning.

Monday 15 – Pleasant morning. Our new partners Hawkins and Shaw came up this morning. We started Hawkins to Marysville for provisions and tools, clothing, and pipe and hose, and our trunks and fiddle. We three went to work after dinner. I was sick with a chill, had a severe back ache all evening and rested bad all night. We got gold $9.

Tuesday 16 – A beautiful morning. The birds are singing their best notes and I am setting in the cabin, sick not able to work and have not eaten a bite since noon yesterday. I ate some toast and drank cup tea at noon, and went out to work in the evening. The four of us got gold $15.

Wednesday 17 – Sunny and pleasant. John and two other men–Shaw, a partner, and Hopkins, a cousin to Hawkins–were ground sluicing in another ravine, the one the old company was at work in when they broke up. I went out in the evening to see them but couldn’t work.

Thursday 18 – Sunny and pleasant. John and the other two are ground sluicing. I was out in  the fore and after noon but scarcely able to walk. I’ve had a chill every day. Tonight I had some water warmed. I drank 1/2 gallon and put my finger down my throat and vomited. I then took two calomel3 pills and laid down, but in the night had to get up to vomit. I threw up some bile and rested very bad all night, in fact I suffered very much.

Friday 19 – Sunny and pleasant. I’m no better. I took four pills to  work off the calomel. It being slow I went on the other cabin and got a dose of oil and took that in the evening but the chill came on and I suffered a great deal till Saturday morning. John and the two others got gold today $6.50—

Saturday 20 – Sunny and pleasant. I had a bilious discharge this morning. Also, I sent Shaw after Dr. Vaughn. He came early and fixed quinine and Dover’s Powder4 pills. I am to take one every hour in the day and at bedtime take 60 grams calomel, some Dover’s Powder mixes, and some opium. In case it is inclined to run off in watery discharges tomorrow, I am to take oil in the morning, and take one quinine pill every 3 hours till they are all gone, save the nights.
It is now 20 minutes of 3 PM. We just had a little shower of rain and four different thunders. I dreamed my wife was with me last night, but I don’t know in my dream where we met. I got a pair shears yesterday and cut my mustache off close and cropped my whiskers. Got gold $9.

Sunday 21 – F.P.D. And here I am, dosing myself with caster oil and spruce tea. Just able to get up when down. All alone. John and the two young men have gone up the ditch to see if they could get me a squirrel or something to make soup. Did not get anything. The young men went down to the Point to get me some fresh beef to make soup, but got none. They brought me two letters, one from my wife of date March 24 18545 giving an account of Dave’s arrival in Georgetown, Kentucky &c &c &c and one from W.G. Haun of date March 26 18546 giving an explanation of some charges I had against him. John stayed with me and did some washing for me. I had very light chill in the P.M. At bedtime I took a warm bath and went to bed.

Monday 22 – Rested pretty well last night. A lovely morning. John went down to the Point to get tools and nails, and got me some beef to make soup, but I fear I will have to take some more strong medicine before I get clear of the chills.
The boys were making new riffles to catch gold. Our partner Hawkins got back from Marysville this afternoon brought me a letter from H.P. He wrote that he had heard that Dave had got back  to Kentucky through W.G.

Tuesday 23 – A pleasant morning. All at work but me. I’m still improving fast. I was busy all day doing little jobs about the cabin.
After dinner it clouded up, thundered considerable, hailed quite heavy and rained. No work done by the company this evening.

Wednesday 24 – A pleasant morning. Four of us at work washing for gold, but did not clean up. Clouded up, thundered and rained and hailed this evening. I did not feel so well.

Thursday 25 – Sunny and pleasant. I am improving some. I went out to the diggins in the afternoon. The boys washed up the riffles got gold $13.75.

Friday 26 – Sunny and pleasant. I feel somewhat better. We got gold $18. I did not work. The sun was partially in eclipse.

Saturday 27 – Sunny and pleasant. I went out to work. About 10 A.M. our goods and trunks and fiddle was brought to our cabin. I made hast to open my trunk. The first thing I looked for was my wife’s daguerreotype. I kept it and showed it to my partners. We got gold $49.50. A tree fell last night and broke one of our boxes.

Sunday 28 – Not so warm today. After breakfast Hawkins, Shaw, Hopkins and John went to see some  diggins together with the water, tools, cabin, and provisions, but they did not get to see them. They went down to the Point and John brought me two letters, one from my wife of date April 10 18547 giving an account of old brother Smith getting a letter from his daughter Emma, and one from D. H. Smith of date April 5 18548 giving an account of his travels in the great West. I closed my 11th letter to my wife and John took it down to the Point and mailed it. My lesson is Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.

Monday 29 – Cold last night, frost in many places in the mountains. A pleasant sunny day. John and two others were washing for gold, got $52.50. Hawkins and I were out a-prospecting to buy another water ditch, but did not see the men. After dinner we were sharpening tools at the Point to fix up our hose and pipe. I took a  warm bath and went to bed.

Tuesday 30 – Cool last night. A pleasant sunny day. John and the two men were washing for gold, got $53. Hawkins and I were fixing our pipes and hose. I made two leading troughs and a hopper to fasten the hose to. Sunday last I had my cloths hung out to air. What folly to have brought out here such clothes.

Wednesday 31 – Cool last night and not warm today. John and the two men got gold $36. They mashed a box with a tree. Hawkins and I are fixing our pipe and hose. We have two new plates and cups and saucers. John plays the fiddle for me and it is a heap of company.

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  1. Although James was not aware of the fact, Dave had already arrived back in Georgetown, Kentucky, as discussed in Martha Haun’s letter of March 24 1854.
  2. A gum made from the sap of the acacia tree. Used in waterproofing clothing and especially hats.
  3. Mercury Chloride, used as a laxative, and to induce vomiting.
  4. An opiate used to treat cold and fever.
  5. Martha Haun’s letter of March 24 1854 has been preserved and is available here.
  6. Not included in this collection.
  7. Martha Haun’s letter of April 10 1854 has been preserved and is available here.
  8. Not included in this collection.