James Haun Diary, January 1854

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Sunday 1 – I finished my 7th letter of near two sheets to send to my wife. I went down to the Point to mail it, but to my great surprise, I received one of three sheets full up to the brim of date October 29th 18531. Also one to John of 1 1/2 sheets of date November 14th 18532. John’s gives an account of the death of M. Lemon and Masher and mine an account of having gone to housekeeping in Alvin Duval’s old house.
So, I concluded not to send it but write something more, as it did not make any difference. The mail would not go out for some days from these mountains. I opened my letter but I dare not read it until I went home, it being the first one since August last 27th3.
On arriving, my partner Dobson was drinking. He was for having a fuss with the men in other cabins so I did not have the pleasure in reading my wides letter that I anticipated. After dinner and supper–for it was all one–we all went to bed.

Monday 2 – So I got up before day and reads the letters over again. O, what a treat. We three are prospecting because we have no water to wash dirt.

Tuesday 3 – Still a-prospecting on the creek. John and I went up the ditch to see if could get the water down. We came across quite a number of lion’s tracks in the snow, all going the same way and crossing the ditch. Got the water down as the days are warm and pleasant and the snow is melted of in places. I closed the P. S. to my wife’s letter this evening, it being 7th.

Wednesday 4 – After dinner I went down to the Point and mailed the letter to my wife. 25 cents for letters to Marysville.

Thursday 5 – The coldest day we’ve had. Last night the water froze in the cabin.

Friday 6 – Still cold last night. The water in Sterling’s ditch froze up so as to run over and filled up hole in the bank that we was prospecting in. We had some trouble to get our tools out. We did no work today but get wood.

Saturday 7 – Compelled to get up before day to rest my back–it does ache no little, and when I am up it does not hurt much. Pleasant all day. We started another hole farther down the creek about 100 yards.

Sunday 8 – Beautiful day. I was walking about in my shirtsleeves and the snow is nearly all over the ground yet. I commenced on the first day of 1854 to read Matthew and so on. Today I closed by reading the 16th chapter of Luke, of the unjust steward.

Monday 9 – Warm and pleasant and some cloudy and snowed some. We are on the bedrock in the second hole. Commenced drifting in and we are getting small prospects.

Tuesday 10 – Snowed a little this morning but warm and pleasant the balance of the day. We dug into the bank about 5 feet. My testament–or the one I have with me–Saint John Chapter 10, verse 27, and then one leaf out, and commenced again in a part of the 12th verse and 12th chapter. As follows “were come to the feast”.

Wednesday 11 – Beautiful and warm all day. Some snow on the ground in spots. We are at work in the bank today but can’t find much gold.

Thursday 12 – It commenced drizzling last night. We concluded to open up the ditch. We set out with two shovels and an ax. We knocked the ice loose and got the water to wash it down. I walk in the ditch all the way of 1 1/2 miles and got the water down in good style. In the evening we were ground sluicing.

Friday 13 – Rained all night last, and all day today. We were out ground sluicing, washing off the top dirt. My lesson is Acts XXI, Paul goeth to Jerusalem. Still raining at bedtime. Changed to snow before we went to bed and continued all night.

Saturday 14 – Snowed all day. We were all day out cutting a ditch through a flat at the foot of the rich ravine.

Sunday 15 – Snowed all day, and is at it yet. We’ve all been putting leather souls on our gum boots. If you could but see us–we are in these lonely, snow covered mountains, two small cabins, and the South East one deserted–you could but weep for your flesh and blood, to say nothing of him who penned these lines.
In memory of these awful deathlike silence that seems to speak within us. All is hushed when we lay down our implements for mining. Then, not the rustling of these tall pines is heard nor the chirp of a bird, and not even the howl of a coyote. All is still except the crackling of the fire. But is still small voices is speaking in tones that may be heard in time to come4.
I shall read for my comfort and edification Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Chapter 11 of the newness of life before I sleep.

Monday 16 – It continues to snow, but lightly, with intervals of sunshine. We waded over to the gulch where our tools were, to see if there was water running but found so little we gathered up our tools and waded back to the cabin. The snow is 22 inches deep, and enough on the trees to make it a foot deeper if it had fallen regular.

Tuesday 17 – It is still snowing and continued all last night. We are compelled to stay indoors. We can do nothing out but sit by the fire and mend our duds. It continued all day and night snowing.

Wednesday 18 – Snowed all day and night. Its about three feet deep and a quantity on the trees. We stayed in doors all day. I wrote a letter to W. G. yesterday but cannot mail it. The snow is too deep to go to the Point.

Thursday 19 – The sun rose bright and clear and not a breath of air stirring. We turned out and made two roads to the trees we had cut down through the snow and cut wood to make fires. John made a road to the spring yesterday. Dobson is cooking peaches to make pies. I warmed some water last night and put my box near the fire and stripped off and got in washed all over and wiped. I put on a clean shirt and the only pair of drawers I have with me, an old pair my wife made me. Maybe you don’t think I feel clean.

Friday 20 – Clear and cold. A. D. McDonald and Ed Sterling came to see us. They wanted a sack of flour. We loaned them one. It was so cold that we all had to get up last nigh and build a fire to get warm. McDonald stayed all night.

Saturday 21 – Clear and cold. We all four went to the Point. I got ink and letter paper, 50 cents; pair boots, $6.00; and skein black thread, 25 cents. John got grey flannel shirt, $3.00. A quantity of ice is running in the Feather River.

Sunday 22 – Cloudy all day. Weather moderated some. We found that our potatoes were froze considerable. We sorted them out–one sack out of three were hard froze. We had wood to get and I washed a shirt, a pair of socks and towel before I went to bed. Commenced snowing after dark.

Monday 23 – Snowing some this morning but not so cold. We are setting round the fire. You ought to have seen the pair of socks that we mended. They are the kind that is mostly used in this country–eastern wove and the foot twice as long as the leg, and all raggedy. When new, they cost one dollar.
My place of reading was this morning was Chapter 3 of the First Epistle of Peter, on the duty of wives and husbands. Dobson let his leaven get froze. The dough that he baked tonight is not rose much.

Tuesday 24 – I am up before day I don’t know the what time it is. This I know: I am not sleepy, for the snow falls in such quantities off the trees on the cabin roof that makes me fairly jump. It seems to be raining some, at least it is thawing, and the trees a cracking on account of the wet snow on them.
Rained all day and night. I was all day putting cotton lining in my jeans shirt. I use it as a kind of coat by cutting it open in front.

Wednesday 25 – Early, before day, it was snowing and continued until about 10:00 A.M. and then cleared off. Warm and pleasant. We went over to see if there was water to work, but there was not enough. We waded back to the cabin through the snow. It is more than knee deep and occasionally it holds us up.
We cut and split wood and piled it up under the shed alongside of the house the rest of the day.
We are sitting around the fire, Dobson and John reading novels and I making this entry. All is still and quiet except small bits of frozen snow that fall from the trees on the cabin’s roof. I think of you, wife, always when I write in this book. It seems to me that I can see you reading it and asking questions and saying, I would have done this and so.

Thursday 26 – Cold last night, but warm and pleasant today. I closed Saint John the Divine.

Friday 27 – Cool this morning, but somewhat hazy in the evening. I made some boards with an ax to stop the few leaks. I read five chapters of First Matthew before I went to bed, and five more before daylight.

Saturday 28 – Cloudy last night and this morning, but it was warm and pleasant all day. I put some boards on my cabin and split some wood and commenced a letter to D.H. Smith.

Sunday 29 – Finished my Letter to D. H. Smith and went down to the Point and mailed it, and one to W. G. Haun. This was a warm and sunshiny day. I was in my shirtsleeves all day and the snow is knee deep.

Monday 30 – Warm and pleasant all day. We went up the ditch to see if we could get the water down. The ditch was broke in several places and water running out and the long flume was leaking bad from the quantity of ice hanging to it. We called all and raised some of the boxes and got the water through before night.

Tuesday 31 – Warm and pleasant. We shoveled out the snow for nearly one mile and got the water down to our work. I dreamed General Pratt had sold the tavern out last night.

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