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Friday 1 – 23 years ago I was married. My prospects were bright and flattering, and I had a young wife to cheer me on and give me that pleasure that no other life can afford. O, what a change a short period of 23 years can make in human affairs. I am now sitting in my cabin all alone in a pine forest and surrounding mountains, in Plumas County, California, near opposite the mouth of Nelson Creek, and my wife is in Georgetown Kentucky. May we yet live together a score and three years, to help each other while passing over the down hill of life, and finally to put our trust in Him that is able to help in time of need, &c.
I gave lawyer able $25 to assist in my suit with Vaughn.
We got gold $10.50 —
Saturday 2 – I and Shaw are working the same spot of ground that I and John worked the 9th of September last, alongside of two pitch pines, one large. I cut the small one down last September and the large one blew up by the roots last winter. So we worked under the roots of the large one today and got nearly all of $81 gold, one piece weighing $35.50. The Johns got gold $16, the first they have taken out in 6 1/2 days. We divided out $58.62 and 1/2 cents apiece, after paying $22 expenses &c.
Sunday 3 – My partner Shaw left this morning to go down to his ranch. I and the Johns took three axes to grind and a pick to be sharpened at the Point. I got a letter from my wife dated June 31 18541 and another of July the 24 18542 as the figures indicate. She received a letter from me of date Sunday 3 May 28th on 28th June 1854. Her letter gives an account of Tom Johnson and Laura Miller running off and getting married and many other things too numerous to mention.
My lesson is Act Chapter 18 &c — I now shall retire to bed, but the thought of seeing my wife in these mountains is what I cannot not understand.
I paid $1 for letters and $1 for an ax handle for the company —
Monday 4 – The Johns went to work as usual. I knocked to pieces three old sluice boxes and made a trough off them, and took it out before noon. After dinner I went to work with them. We got gold $29. After supper all three gathered in my cabin and John played the fiddle, the tune “Old Flies at Home.”
Tuesday 5 – I was at work all alone. Got gold $24. The Johns got $38, making in all $62. John forked out among the rocks a piece that weighed $24.50. He saw it when he threw it away with the rocks and went and picked it up. It is flat and rough, a nice specimen. After supper I and Lloyd went down to the Point to hear the news. All is quiet except the candidates.
Wednesday 6 – I got gold $5.50 by noon. The Johns got $18.50 all day. After dinner we went down to the Point to the election. Late in the evening, two gamblers went in to a vegetable store and took a Watermelon without the consent of the owner. They then went back to get another but the owner struck one of them on the head with a rock and knocked him down. He got up again and got a butcher knife and run the proprietor out and off— The two gamblers then turned and tore down the storehouse and threw all that was in it into Nelson Creek and then dared anybody to take it up. I’ve not seen anything to equal that. There was at least 100 men looking on &c56
Thursday 7 – I and John started to the American Valley to see after my lawsuit with Vaughn. By staying all day I found out that, by consent of the lawyers, my case would come off next Tuesday at 10 o’clock. So John and I started from Bradley’s Ranch late in the evening for home. I’ve walked several miles in the dark. I had been all day on my feet without eating any dinner.
I went up to Sister Betsy to see my lawyer. Found him sick in bed. He could not tell me when the county Judge would hold court, though Able, my other lawyer, told me.
On arriving at home McFall told me the miners rose and took the two gamblers and were trying them for tearing down the fruit store. The sheriff had come over and demanded the outlaws but the miners did not like to give them up. Lloyd came home from the trial and said that the sheriff had got them from the miners. One, by the name of George Asberry, is from Kentucky. The other is called Buck and comes from the East.
I saw a piece of gold taken out at Sister Betsy’s today weighing 8 oz and $14 with a hole in the middle of it. The diggins I took up last fall up there is very rich. I was trying to get some of them back again but did not see how I was to go about it, so I concluded to hold off for the present.
Friday 8 – McFall, the man I hired for Shaw, and I went to work and got gold $14. The Johns got $20.50.
The sheriff took Buck and Asberry over to the American Valley. They were tied on mules’ backs as they passed the Willow Ranch this morning —
Saturday 9 – I and McFall got gold $10.50 and the Johns got $19, in all $29.50. After supper I and Lloyd went down to the Point. There is great excitement among the miners on account of Buck and Asberry being turned loose again by the civil atrocity, as they have been making some threats &c.
Sunday 10 – I wrote my wife my 14th letter and sent her $200 bill of exchange payable at New York by Adams & Co. express. I was down at the Point and mailed it. The miners met and appointed a committee to look after depredators. My lesson is Chapter 11 of Paul’s Letter to the Romans.
Monday 11 – I went up to the Independence to serve a subpoena on Pat Carley for a witness in the case of Freer and Vaughn. He refused to go. I made him a tender of $8. He was afraid not to take it.
I put in the day in looking around. I hired old McFall to work in my place. Shaw went up the ditch. The three of us got gold $13.50 —
Tuesday 12 – John, I and McFall went over to the American Valley in due time. Court was opened. Ward was the judge. Pat Hunley undertook my case in the place of Able. Tom Cox was sick. The plaintiff filed five different objections but was over ruled and the case tried on its merits. Four witnessed against and two for me. The witnesses were heard and the case presented. It was decided against me.
I paid for dinners and whiskey $4. At sunset, after paying Black Hawk $5 for two picks and a hoe, I and John went four miles to Illinois Ranch where we stayed all night. I am to pay $29.50 for company goods.
Wednesday 13 – Paid 50 cents for our lodging and went six miles home to breakfast, and then out to work. I and Shaw and the Johns and McFall dug down there by the big pine tree today. We all got gold $30.
I dreamed I was in Georgetown and went with my wife to her rented house, and we got in bed together and that Sam was killing hogs &c.
Thursday 14 – I and Shaw got gold $19.50 working in the old ravine that was so rich last year. The Johns got gold $34. McFall was not at work.
Friday 15 – I, Shaw and McFall was at work in the old ravine and got gold $34 and the Johns got $38. The water is so weak we don’t use the hose and pipe. It threatened rain yesterday and last night, but none fell.
Saturday 16 – I and Shaw went to work in the old ravine for the last time. We was at it till noon and got gold $5. The Johns were mining all day and McFall with them till noon.
P.M. We three went to the Willow Ranch to help raise a barn. After supper I and McFall went down to the Point. I paid Thompson $4.50 for beef. Green McHatton had left me the $100 I loaned him. The Johns got gold $44.
Sunday 17 – I, Shaw and McFall started for Sister Betsy’s after settling the past week’s work. We took dinner at Colonel Russell’s in the American Valley. We then stopped at Bradley’s and saw my lawyer. He told me the judge had granted a new trial with Vaughn. Late in afternoon we landed at Betsey Town.
Monday 18 – We started out a-prospecting and put in the day. Did nothing else of importance. My back paid the penalty for sleeping on a hard bed last night.
Tuesday 19 – We bought a claim of Isaac Adams for $150 and put McFall to work our interest &c
Wednesday 20 – There was two old tarrs a-prospecting at the foot of Sister Betsy’s ravine. They asked me to take an interest with them.
Thursday 21 – I and Shaw set in with them and sunk it to the bedrock 24 feet and 16 feet under water. We got no gold
Friday 22 – We were examining our diggins and took up two claims adjoining the ones we bought. Last night there was a ball at one of the Hotels. I was looking on to see how they done up things of that sort in California. Old married woman of all ages up to 5 and 40 was on the floor all the night. Scarcely half-a-dozen girls at the ball.
Saturday 23 – After breakfast we paid our bills. Mine was $9.50. We started for home. I stopped at Bradley’s some time and then went to Russell’s and took dinner.
P.M. Went by Myers and saw a quarter race and a first fight. I then started for home with Shaw. I had hot not slept in the same bed two nights, in consequence I was lousy. We got home in good time for supper.
Sunday 24 – I took off my duds last night and laid them aside. I took a cold bath and put on a clean shirt and to bed. I slept comfortable. Got up in the morning, bathed again, breakfasted, and settled our affairs.
I and Lloyd went down to the Point and got some dust changed. I sent Lloyd back with the money for Shaw, as he was going to Sister Betsy’s to work our interest. I stayed till late and saw a fight in which Pat Curley, one of my old partners, got whipped quite easily by Jim Pike, as they call him. We got no money in our new claim. The Johns got gold $62.75. My lesson is the 12th chapter of 1st Corinthians.
April, Directions by Givens 1854
To see that portion of California which is desirable to settle in, start from the Mission of San Jose, and travel on horse back to Monterrey passing by the Mission of Santa Clara up the Pueblo Valley to the Mission of San Juan, then to Monterrey
Monday 25 – I and the Johns went to cleaning out the ditch by stopping the water and cutting out the roots and shoveling out the bottom. We have not got sufficient water to wash for gold.
Thursday 26 – We three are still at work on the ditch.
P.M. McFall said he would help us and did so. I have a very bad cold last night. I lay with a wet towel on my forehead to ease the aching.
Wednesday 27 – I, the Johns, and McFall still at work on the ditch.
Thursday 28 – We four are still cleaning up our ditch.
Friday 29 – We four finished cleaning out the ditch. Shaw came home because we had to quit working the claim we bought at Sister Betsy. Other men than those we bought it off claimed it, so they had to fork over our money again, at least $90 and $60 on Sunday next.
Saturday 30 – After breakfast I and Shaw started for the new diggins near Snake Lake. I rolled up two pairs of heavy blankets and a towel, and tied on a tin cup, my rifle and ammunition, the butcher knife tinning at my left side. We stayed all night at Sister Betsy’s after traveling only 12 1/2 miles. Our dinner 75 cents.
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- Martha Haun’s letter of June 31 1854 has been preserved and is available here.
- Not included in this collection.