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Hunting for gold : reminisences of personal experience and research in the early days of the Pacific… Downie, William, 1819-1894 1893

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Reminisences of Personal Experience
And Research in The Early Days
Of The Pacific Coast
From Alaska to Panama.
Major   William   Downie

 Press of	
The California Publishing Co.
San Francisco, Cal.
ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Hope told its flattering tale: "Come seek ye here-
"For courage, Fortune gives you shining, gold 1
"Remove the treasure's mantel and behold
"The glittering specks that from beneath it peer,
"Leave home and friends, leave all that you hold dear
"As Jason won the golden fleece of old
"Shall you have your reward—a hundred fold—
"Come, tarry not—your greatest chance is near!"
And so like Jason's Argonauts they went—
Each sinew strained, each hardy muscle bent,
Withcourage, youth and vigor, who could fail?
Some ne'er returned, their story none could tell—
A few to-day in lofty mansions dwell,
Butmore, byfar, deny hope's flattering tale
Chris M. Waage.
|ft\0 the surviving n^embers of the
gM\ advance quafd of gold hunters,
the California pioneers and their
descendants, mho are nora living
throughout the United States, this
book is most respectfully dedieated
In presenting this book to the public the publishers
feel assured that it is almost superfluous, to introduce
the author or dwell upon the merit which these
pages possess, as originating from the pen of Major
William Downie. As one of the very earliest pioneers
and gold seekers in California, Major Downie has become a man of universal interest, while to some of his
discoveries in the early days is due the fever heat of excitement, which at that period, made the world's great
heart palpitate with double-quick pulsation, and sent
thousands of daring adventurers across the arid deserts
and the stormy main.
Too much cannot be said of the remarkable nature, of
which Major Downie is possessed, having been endowed
with a physique and general constitution, which at times
have carried him through the most desperate circumstances, the subject of these pages is mentally and
morally equipped with a temperament which enabled
him to successfully withstand the temptations that caused
the fall of so many others in the early days; while his
native generosity and amiability secured for him many
friends, who dearly prized his personality.
As a practical miner, Major Downie is without a peer,
and even to this day his authority is acknowledged, and
his advice is taken by any working miner, and rarely
without benefit to the recipient. These pages tell of the
days when this experience was gained; the days on the Yuba, when, to honor him, his companions called the
settlement at the forks, Downieville, the name by which
it is known as yet; the days of hardships in the snow-clad
Sierras; the adventures in British Columbia and Alaska;
and the weird search for gold in the Indian graves of
It was only after repeated solicitations from his friends
that Major Downie allowed his notes to be given out for
publication. The material thus provided was entrusted
by the publishers to Mr. Chris M. Waage for compilation and* revision. Mr. Waage is a journalist and
literateur of some note, and he has spared no effort in
order to present Major Downie's papers in the most
acceptable form, retaining throughout, the simple modest
way of relating the story, which characterizes the original
In conclusion, the publishers wish to draw attention to
the illustrations, which have been chosen with a view to
depict the situations as far as possible. Some of them
have been reproduced from engravings dating back to
the very earliest days, when pictorial art of this class was
first introduced into California.
The Publishers. ass
Introductory Remarks—At Home in Scotland—First Voyage—A
Sailor on the Lakes1—Lumber Trade in Buffalo—The Gold
Fever—Round the Horn—San Francisco—Expensive Dinners—The Glorious Fourth—Generous Gamblers—Fun with
the Immigrants.
I have been asked by many friends to give to the
world, through a publication, some of my reminiscences of
the early days of gold hunting and adventures on the
Pacific Coast, and it is in complying with this oft repeated request that I have penned the following.
Some of the incidents described, may be fairly said at
one time to have helped to revolutionize the known world,
and for that reason must forever retain a certain interest.
The narrative throughout is based upon personal experiences, observations and conclusions, and is compiled
from notes, taken at the time; recollections, corroborated
by friends who were with me at the periods referred to;
letters, which have passed between myself and friends, and
from official reports bearing upon the circumstances
related. The correctness of my account is therefore
warranted, and, while it is not infrequent to read descriptions of life in the early days, which are highly
flavored with unnecessary romance, I claim for my work
that in its details it corresponds with actual facts which
have now become part and parcel of the history of the
western coast of this great continent 8 HUNTING  FOR  GOLD.
I was born in the city of Glasgow, Scotland, in the
year 1819. It was the memorable year when the terrible
masacre took place at the Manchester reform meeting.
James Monroe was then the fifth president of the United
States, and George III was king'of Great Britain. It was
in the days when such names as Shelley, Byron, Scott,
Coleridge and Wordsworth shone in the literary firmament; the days of early steamboat traveling, and the
days that had not as yet seen the locomotive engines
dashing, snorting and fuming through quiet fields. In
that same year the steamer Savannah, 350 tons, came
from New York to Liverpool in 26 days, and the passage
was regarded as a marvel. There were then in the
whole of Scotland not twelve steamers, and only the
wheels of one stirred the surface of the river Clyde. It
seems long ago, and the world to-day seems scarcely the
same as in those days.
I was raised in Ayrshire. From quite a boy my mind
was bent upon adventure. When I saw the waves rolling in through the North Channel, I knew from my
school books that they came from the great Atlantic,
and I longed to be on them and sail away to different
parts of the great world. So, when I was old enough,
I snipped on board a vessel that carried coal between
different points on the coast. It was not exactly what I
wanted, but it fitted me for a larger undertaking, when
a chance should afford itself, and when it came I was
ready for it. My first deep-sea voyage was to Australia
on a Glasgow vessel. I was in Sidney in the days,
when Botany Bay was made the inhospitable home for
thousands of condemned prisoners, whose greatest offense
in many instances consisted in shooting a jack rabbit in
• the Squire's covers. I recollect seeing the landing of a
cargo of unfortunates who had been consigned to those,
then desolate, regions.    Prom Australia we sailed to the <m
East Indies and visited the Isle of France and from there
we went to London.
My next voyage was to America. I shipped at Donegal for Quebec in the old Spring Hill and arrived there,
determined to try my fortune in foreign lands, before
returning home. I had a varied experience. I first sailed
lakes Ontario and Erie. From there I drifted into the
lumber business on Grand River, established a store in
Dunville at the mouth of this stream, and ultimately,
in partnership with a man named J. C. Hay ward, became
interested in lumber yards on the Buffalo Shipping Canal.
I was stopping in Buffalo at the Love Joy Hotel,
when I first heard of the discovery of gold in California.
The result the rumors produced was magical. Men of
all ages and in all conditions of life got the gold fever,
and I among the rest. Some of the tales told were fabulous, and the reports of treasures found in some instances
were enough to entice any man of grit and daring to
O t/ o o
■challenge fortune As will be seen further on, many
even, who had neither of these qualities, ventured upon
the search for gold, prompted merely by the lust for gain,
and the hope, perchance, of escaping the yolk of poverty,
or the discomfort of narrow circumstances. At the
hotel the advisability of going to California to try our
luck had become a leading topic among a number of the
boarders, and at last I made up my mind to go. Being
a sailor I concluded that to travel by sea would be both
more comfortable and far safer than to trust ones self to
the chances of traversing vast deserts and encountering
hostile Indians. So I shipped from Boston for New
Orleans on board the brig Monterey.
I well remember the day of my departure for the far
West. It was the day before General Zacharias Taylor
was elected to the presidency, which was to be his only 10
for one brief year. Political enthusiasm ran high, and
much admiration was expressed for the gallant soldier,
who  had  distinguished  himself so  much  during   the
Mexican war; but I cared little« about politics and was
anxious to get away.
O */
Arrived at New Orleans the next thing was to secure
passage to San Francisco Bay. The small vessels, going
by the Panama route, were crowded to their utmost
extent, and I concluded to try and work my passage on
some ship, going around the Horn. Fortune favored
me, and I was not long in finding the desired opportunity.
The clipper 'Architect," in command of Captain Gray of
Baltimore, was lying ready to sail, and a shipping master
informed me that just one man was wanted to sign articles
at once. I offered my services and the shipping master
kindly responded: "Take off that black coat," he said,
"and come to the office in the morning."
I did as he told me, and the next morning I signed
* O O
articles, received two months wages in advance, and a few
hours after had made myself perfectly at home on-board.
This was indeed a piece of good luck, for there were any
number of men in those days, who would gladly have
worked their passage out for nothing, and I believe I
was the only foremast hand who received any wages.
Everybody on board with the exception of the officers
was bound for the mines. The thirst for gold and adventure had seized everybody, and, when after a long
and tedious voyage we ultimately dropped anchor in the
Bay of San Francisco, all hands left the ship at once, for
such was the custom in '49.
San Francisco at that period looked vastly different to
what it does nowadays. A number of the crew stayed
together, and we at once made our way for some place,
where we could camp for the night.    I still remember HUNTING FOR  GOLD
the names of Perkins, Pierce and Gibson as belonging to
O       O
our company, and there were more, whose names I have
forgotten. It was on the 27th day of June, 1849, that
we landed. The weather was mild, and there was no
reason to waste money on hotel accommodations, which
then were both scarce and expensive, so we determined
to camp for the night in Hide Park. The name sounds
aristocratic enough, but the place itself was anything
but inviting. The location of it was about where now
the Palace Hotel rears its lofty walls, and it derived its
namj from the fact that here the old Spanish settlers
piled up their hides and horns, previous to shipping them,
and at the time of our arrival the ground was covered
with these goods arranged in bales and proper heaps.
Here we made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances
would permit, and spent the first night in the land of
gold, of hope and of opportunity,
After we had spent a few days in our new quarters
and got the lay of the land, we all succeeded in getting
work. Some of us found employment at handling lumT
ber, others at rolling casks and barrels up the beach as
fast as the lighter could bring them from the vessel,
O O l
while I with three or four others was hired to ballast a
brig, which was lying off the Mission. In order to get
aboard the brig we had to take a boat, which lay on the
beach at the foot of what is now Sansome Street, and I
well recollect the first morning, as we were walking down
to this spot, encountering several men, who came running toward us and pretended to warn us against going
on board the brig, saying "They would do for us there."
These fellows, who belonged to the class, known as
"Sidney Ducks," reckoned without a host. We told them
that nothing could scare us, we had just landed after a
long voyage and nothing would please us better than a 12
ive fight. When they heard this, they concluded
to leave us alone, and we were no more troubled with
their importunities.
Labor was scarce then, as nearly everybody was making for the mines, and work was therefore plentiful. We
received from $8.00 to $16.00 a day, but could not afford
to engage board and lodging, for which the most exhor-
bitant prices were charged, and so made the best of it in
our own camps. Some of our passengers went to the
Parker "House to board but had to give it up, as the
prices were too high. The Parker House was then the
principal hotel in San Francisco. It was situated on
Kearny Street, and the expense of staying at a hostelry
of that class in '49 may be imagined, when it is stated
that a good dinner cost from $8.00 to $12.00. No wonder our passengers found their purses somewhat too small
for a prolonged stay at this hotel.
I remember one fellow traveler in particular, who by
the time he landed had become thoroughly disgusted
with salt beef and hard tack, and made up his mind to
go somewhere at once, where he could get a good dinner.
He was told that the Parker House was the place for him,
and so thither he went, having first put into his pocket
a Spanish Doubloon, which was worth about $16.00.
The dinner was a pleasant change in the diet of our friend,
aud, after he had enjoyed it, he went to the counter and
threw down the gold piece to pay for the meal. The
clerk looked carefully at the coin, put it in the till and
gave his customer four dollars in change. "What is that?"
asked the stranger. "Your change," replied the clerk,
."your change for dinner," and then engaged in conversation with other customers.
As soon as the traveler got an opportunity he again
approached the clerk and asked  him  confidentially  to HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
state what they charged for dinner at this establishment^
"Twelve dollars," said the clerk suavely, "twelve dollars—that's all sir."
"See here," said the traveler, holding out the four
dollars he had received as change, "if that is so, you
may as well take these other four dollars along with it,
as I- can't get anything in this town for such a small
There are many scenes and incidents, that occured
during my first visit to San Francisco, which, although
they then puzzled me, now cause me to smile as I remember them. The first celebration of the Fourth of
July, which I witnessed in the weird and wondrousxWest,
left an indelible impression upon me. The festivities
were minus the more modern Chinese fireworks, bat let
those who object to this mode of celebration, appreciate the
fact that the general tumult and noise was not produced
"by anything so harmless. In '49 the glorious Fourth was
ushered in by drinking to the constitution in bumpers,
until the celebrants were half-seas over. Then began
the fan. Instead of firecrackers, pistols were used, instead of sending up rockets, men would show their
adroitness with the gun by shooting through windowpanes,
hitting lighted lamps or candles and offering to shoot off
buttons from their friends' garments. One episode caused
quite a little excitement. An old Mexican, who had got
somewhat mixed in the political situation, hoisted his
native flag, but this so annoyed the Americans that they
forthwith pulled it down, and the old fellow in his disgust rolled himself up in his colors and went to sleep.
Gambling was then carried on on a large scale all over
o o
the city, and Faro and Monte were the most frequent
games. The banker would have a little tin cup by his
side, in which  he would deposit all silver coins under 14
half a dollar. This small change was termed "chicken
feed," and when anybody came in looking hungry or
thirsty, and seemingly in want of means to satisfy his
cravings, the banker would dive into the tin cup and take
from it a dollar or more, which he would hand to the
strang'er that he might get relief.    There was a certain
o o        o
spirit of magnanimity and generosity, which inspired all
who had plenty of money at that time, and it extended
even into those grades of the community, who made a
living by preying upon the folly of others. One more
incident I must relate, because at the time being it caused
much merriment at the expense of a number of "greenhorns, and characterizes life at that period. The
steamer from Panama arrived with a large number of
passengers, nearly all of whom were bcund for the mines.
Towards evening of the day when they had come ashore,
a number of the boys played a joke on the new arrivals,
. which none of them could possibly forget, harmless as it
wasi They marched into town, forming quite a large
company. Every man was armed to the teeth, and they
were accompanied by a lot of Indians, who carried sacks
filled with sand and pebbles from the seashore. The
sacks were marked much a oro, and the whole caravan
presented the appearance of being a band of successful
miners, returning from the gold fields. The immigrants
would stop in amazement, wherever they came upon the
company, and ask all sorts of questions relative to this
apparently magnificent treasure, some of them expressing
their doubts that there would be any more gold left to
look for, others talking hopefully of the brilliant prospect
before them. Of course the initiated enjoyed the joke
Such was life in San Francisco in the early days, and
such the men, who laid the foundation for a great and
magnificent city. CHAPTER II.
On Board the Milwaukee—No Clearance Papers—Going up the
River—Sacramento—Teamsters Talk—Off for the Yuba—
First Experience—War upon Foreigners—A Silent Friend—
Store Keeping—Lumpy Gold—Restless—Foster's Bar—Sick
Men with Great Appetites—In Search of a Partner.
I was now getting tired of life in San Francisco, little
as I had seen of it, for indeed the greater part of my
time had been taken up with work, and I was saving my
money till such time, as I should want it for the purpose
of going to the mines. It was not then always an easy
matter to hold on to one's cash. Alluring temptations
were thrown in the way of the newcomer from all quar-'
ters, and the chances of the gambling table induced many
a foolish fellow to part with the coin, which might have
opened far brighter prospects to him, had he stuck to it,
and disbursed it more judiciously. But outside the
gambling resorts all manner of devices were invented
by cunning schemers, whose designs were to profit by the
youth or inexperience of the immigrants, for the purpose
of enriching themselves.
The Schooner Milwaukee was getting ready to go to
Sacramento, and I took passage on her. She was a small
craft of about fifteen tons, carrying a general cargo of
merchandise and a number of passengers as well. It
was on the 5th of July 1849 that we left San Francisco
with the excitement of the great national holiday fresh
in our minds, and the effects of patriotic drinks still heat- 16
ing the brow of some of our fellow passengers.    I for one
was particularly pleased to get away from the reckless
city, where it seemed to me that men's passions were
worked up to fever heat, and where everything was done
to excite them. I had not then even a forecast of the
scenes that should open to me. I little dreamed that the
quiet of the mountains and the silence of the valleys
were even at that hour echoing with the thunder of
human emotions; that naturjs in its holiest solitude was
being made the theater, in which was enacted the most
O '
powerful scenes of human aspirations, degradation and
often vice in its most hideous form. The sentiment of
hope was predominant with all of us, and I fully believe
that every man on board depicted to himself treasures of
his own, greater than any on which Aladin's lamp threw
its magic light, and fondly believed that the labor of
months would secure to him years of ease and plenty and
a life of unbroken satisfaction. Alas for hope! The few
verses at the beginning of my narrative express pretty
nearly what became of the gold seekei s. The tracks of
some few led to gilded halls, but far more lead to dom-
icils, where disappointment told her story in the modest-
larder, while there are many whose tracks were never
found; whose voices were stilled in the midst of the brawl,
and on whose unknown graves no tears were ever shed.
The traveler who to-day goes to Sacramento, comfort-
t/     O *
ably seated in a railroad car, or even by the little river
steamer, can hardly imagine what our journey meant.
The accommodations on the schooner were extremely
scanty, and in regard to room, the hold and the deck
cabin were pretty much on a par, while the deck itself was-
so full of all sorts of cargo that it was almost an impossibility to get the necessary exercise. If one wished to
lie down, he had to remove some of the cargo from the HUNTING FOR  GOLD
hold, put it on deck wherever he could find space, and
rest himself on the barrels below, where he might remain
as long as he pleased and could bear the suffocating
atmosphere of the limited space. There was no cheering
bell that called to meals; no happy conversation over a
well laid table for everybody was told to bring his own
grub or go without it, and for this kind of a passage we
were charged one ounce of gold or the equivalent in
After a good deal of pulling and hauling we got under
way and things went all right until we reached Benicia.
Here our craft was boarded by Uncle Sam's officers, and,
as our captain could show no clearance papers from the
port of San Francisco, he was told to return and secure
them before we could proceed any further. Consequently the Milwaukee had to come to, and we lay there
for three long days, while the captain took a trip back to
San Francisco and returned with the necessary documents which enabled us to continue our voyage. It was
a tedious undertaking to go up the river. There was
very little sailing done, and in order to make any headway at all we had to pull and warp the old hulk most of
the way, and everybody took a hand to help along.
There was a good deal of impatience manifested at times,
but on the whole the crowd put up with the inconveniences fairly well, most of them consoling themselves
with flattering thoughts of the Gold Diggings and their
o o oo     o
expected success there.
After a voyage of eleven days we reached Sacramento.
The people we met here were mostly of a different stamp
from what we had seen in San Francisco. There was
considerably more of comparatively legitimate business
done here, as the men came down to this city from the
mines to deposit their find and purchase rations.    The  HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
teamsters did a tremendous business and took loads of
provisions and all sorts of necessaries of life on the gold
fields, in all directions, wherever the gold-seekers were,
or the storekeepers catered to the adventurers. It was
therefore a matter of course that we first consulted the
teamsters, as to where we might go with the best chance
of success. They in return seemed to agree that the
American River was the best place for us. We were
told that it was a good deal nearer than the Yuba, and
that gold was panning out there as well as on any of
the fields.
We were as yet undetermined when I happened to
meet Mr. J. Rose, who was  going to the mines on the
* O O
Yuba, with goods. His accounts of the location decided
me, and we agreed to work the launch up the Yuba as
far as Nye's ranch, which is now known as Marysville.
We then procured a case of brandy, preserved meats,
and other necessary articles, stowed them away in the
stern sheets, and a fair wind springing up, we set sail.
The next morning we were at Vernon's, and after a two
days voyage arrived at Nye's Ranch, when those of us
who were bound for the mines, left the frail craft, and
set out on our pilgrimage.
There were three of us,and we were buoyant with happy
anticipations as we made our way to Rose's Bar, where
we learned that there were diggings further up the
river, and determined to push up to Bullard's Bar.
Here we bought a rocker for twelve and one-half ounces,
O '
and now we stood at the gate that should lead us into
the promised land. It seems strange now to think back
upon our first experience in trying to find gold, and the
primitive manner in which we went to work. The three
of us divided the labor, so that one worked the rocker,
while the other stirred, and the third used the pick and  HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
shovel and carried the dirt in a bag, about a panful at a
time. I honestly believe that I could now run one day's
work through in one hour, pick, shovel, rocker and all.
We used a scoop about the size of a cigar box for wetting the dirt. It had a long handle to it, and when the
water was thrown on the dirt it would be stirred up, a
process somewhat similar to making mush.
The weather that summer was extremely hot, and
the temperature in the middle of the day became almost
unbearable, more especially to those who had not yet
become acclimated. It was a common thing among
new arrivals to take a siesta of several hours in the
middle of the day, owing to an idea, generally imported
from home, that it was not healthy to work during
mid-day hours in California.
At Bullard's Bar some of the singular scenes of miners' camp life in those days began to unfold themselves
to me, and here, for the first time, I saw a party organized for the purpose of driving away "foreigners".
What was implied'by the term "foreigners" was not
exactly clear to me at that time, and it would be hard
for me to explain it even now. The little company so
organized, consisted of from twenty to thirty men.
They were armed with pistols, knives, rifles and old
shotguns, and I remember distinctly that they were
headed by a man who carried the stars and stripes in an
edition about the size of an ordinary pocket handkerchief.
Not far from where we were working, these brave
warriors made a halt and rested for a while, and I took.
the opportunity to ask one of the men, where they were
going, and for what purpose. In reply I was told in
tip-top Tiperrary brogue, that the expedition had set out
for the purpose of exploring the river thirty miles up 22
and down with a view to driving away all "foreigners."
The crowd was a motley one, and as to nationality,
somewhat mixed. Irishmen were marching to drive off
the Kanakas, who had assisted brave Captain Sutter, of
immortal fame, when he was in difficulty with the
Californians. They were joined by Dutchmen and
Germans, who could not speak a word of English, but
were jabbering together in their own harsh jargon, while
none of them had ever been in the United States.
Then there were a few New Yorkers, who really went
out for the purpose of looking after a good claim, already
opened, but all had joined hands in the alleged common
interest of protecting the native soil (for that was really
the only native feature about it), against the invasion of
I never learned whether this expedition met with any
success or not, and whether they derived any benefit HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
from their undertaking. I worked along with my partners through the months of August and September,
when we began to discuss the advisability of getting out
of the mountains. Matters were not altogether satisfactory. I suffered from scurvy,' and our food was not
of the best, as provisions were getting very scarce and
prices had risen in proportion. I had tried to wing-dam
some of our claims, so as to find out whether there was
anything in the bed of the stream or not, but my efforts
had proved futile, as we could not succeed in drying the
claims. I cannot say that we felt disheartened at our
difficulties, but the circumstances could not be called
encouraging, and we recognized the fact.
o     o" o
There was one thing, about this time,which caused me
a good deal of trouble and considerably puzzled my
imagination It was the mystery with which the miners
surrounded all matters appertaining to prospecting.
One man in particular put my patience to a test in this
regard, and it was his reticence which ultimately caused
me to receive a lesson on some of the points of etiquette
observed among miners in those days.
The man I refer to was the same who had sold
me a rocker for the trifling pay of twelve ounces
and a half. I was in the habit of occasionally calling
at his camp, and always found him particularly friendly
and affable. It seemed, therefore, strange to me that,
while he would converse with me freely on all other
matters, as soon as I asked him for any information in
regard to finding gold, he became as dumb as the proverbial clam. He belonged to a company from
Waterloo in the State of New York, and he used to go
out prospecting, staying away often from eight to ten days
at a stretch. It was more in particular, when he returned from these trips, that I used to visit him.    I 24
knew that there was something called Wambo's Bar;
that the gold became finer about this locality and ultimately ran out altogether, and I also knew that a Mr.
Van (something) used to go out prospecting with my
friend. But to all my interrogations as to where they
had been, what success they had met with, or anything
else that came natural to me to ask, I received evasive
answers, or no response at all, until one day my friend
made me acquainted with the code that guided a miner's tongue in those regions.
"Look here young fellow," he said, "if there is a thing
a miner don't care to talk about, it is where he has been,
and you might say that it is just as good as law among
prospectors, that every man keeps mum. Let me give
you a bit of advice: When you get to feel that way
yourself; that you have struck it rich in a new prospect,
don't you advertise your good luck and have a band playing outside your tent to celebrate; but after sundown,
when everything is settled in camp, and your nearest-
neighbor is snoring loud enough to compete with a
cathedral organ, you just pack your traps on your back
and skip out of camp ; and if you should meet anybody
on the road, who should ask you where you are going,
just tell them that you have had poor luck and are making back for town.    But the next morning, bright and
O O7 o
early—or as soon as you can reach it—stick your pick
into your new claim and work it for all it is worth, before
anybody comes to interfere with your happiness."
This visit to my friend settled in my mind the fact
that I could find out nothing by inquiry, and that if I
wanted to learn anything, I must depend upon my own
experience. Just about this time I had my finger badly
jammed with a rock and had to go to Foster's Bar to
have it dressed, for which I paid one-half ounce, and as HUNTING FOR  GOLD
I was partly hors-de-combat for the time being and
needed a rest, I divided the dust with my mates, and
went into store-keeping.
But I soon discovered that store-keeping did not feuit
me, and I had not been long in 'it, before I wished to
get out again and away to the mines. One morning two
men came in to purchase something. They had three
mules with them, heavily laden, and they stated that
they were on their way to Foster's Bar, but had lost the
trail. After they had bought the goods, they paid me
in lumpy gold, and left. Now this incident told a tale
at the same time as it settled a question that I had often
asked myself, and in response assured me that they were
washing gold higher up the river.
I made up my mind at once that I was going to have
some of that gold myself, and accordingly stored away
what goods I had and went to Foster's Bar, where I
bought a horse and a mule for the expedition. During
the first night, the horse was either stolen from me, or
it strayed away, but I was anxious to proceed on my
journey at once, provided I could find somebody who
would join me, and I made inquiries all through the
camps With a view to finding a partner. Foster's Bar,
at this period, presented a singular appearance. It was
crowded with men, and if one went up to the camps, his
olfactory organs would perceive in a somewhat disagreeable manner, the perfumes of pork and slap-jacks, arising
from a hundred frying-pans, and causing an odor, which
could only be compared with all the soap factories in
Ohio, frying out at full blast. There was much sickness about this place at that time, and I do not wonder
at it, for the smell of the place was enough to make any
body feel out of sorts In almost every tent somebody was sick, and every, here  and   there   a squalid- 26
looking individual might be seen crawling on his hands
and knees to his tent door, through smoke and dust,
(not gold dust however), but even these invalids would
devour half-cooked slap-jacks, or,whatever grub was at
hand, apparently with the greatest relish, for it is a
well-known fact, that in 1849, sick people had as good
appetites as those who were well and able to work.
It is not to be wondered at, that in this crowd I failed
to find companions for my expedition. I had everything
ready to go, and had bought a United States rifle and
one of Allen's pepper boxes, but I was doomed to disappointment. Twice I had the promise of company, but
both times the parties backed out, and the season was
now so far advanced that I almost gave up the idea of
going this fall, and returned to Bullard's Bar, where, it
will be remembered, I had the balance of my goods
stored. Among the things, I had here a small quantity of brandy, a liquor highly prized in those days, and
also some lime juice, which was used extensively on the
diggings as an antidote for scurvy.
I now thought I was settled at store-keeping for the
winter, but I was to breathe the mountain air and pursue my search for treasure sooner than I had anticipated. ■WR
Off for the Mines  Again—The Early Discovery of Gold—A
Free Mason   of 1820—An   Interesting Document in San
Francisco—Did the Priests Hold the Secret?—Captain  W.
H. Thomas' Account—Under the Wild Onions—"Cut-Eye"
Foster—A Sickly Man from Massachusetts^-Jim Crow is
Introduced—Over the Range—Facing the Wilds.
One day some colored men came into my store. They
were working below the bar, and after taking a drink
they became genial and began to talk about the diggings
up the  river.    I gave them to understand that I  was
desirous of exploring those  regions for the purpose  of
prospecting, and after a little while they all agreed to
join me in the attempt to find gold there.    Once more I
closed my  store.    Whatever was  of any use  to us,
I packed, ready for the trip, and wound up my business
in short order according to   regular  California  style.
We then went as far as Foster's Bar, where we crossed
the river, and on the night of October the 5th, 1849,
we camped on the hills,    Once more I was off in search
•of treasure, and as  I rolled myself in my blanket that
evening, I thought of the "lumpy gold," the two men
had brought to my store   some    time    ago,    strange
visions floated  across my mind as  I closed  my eyes,
and in my dreams I fancied that I was unearthing untold millions   of hidden  treasure.
I cannot here refrain from commenting upon the discovery of gold in California. It is a universal idea that
gold was first discovered in these parts in the year
1848,  and  we, who were among the early seekers for
the precious metal, undoubtedly flattered ourselves that
we unearthed secrets which had been hidden from time
immemorial. This however was only partly true. It
is a fact that we found gold in locations where hitherto it had never been known to exist, but on the whole,
California was then known to many as a gold-bearing
On that October night, to which I have referred, I,
for one, considered that we were among the original dis-
*■ O o
coverers, but I soon had experiences, which persuaded
me that I was mistaken. It was not an uncommon
thing to fall in with Indians, who offered gold for trade,
and it seemed reasonable to conclude that if the Indians knew of its presence at that period, they might
have known it long before.
I have since learned that the records of the Monterey Custom House show that between 1838 and
1846, during the Spanish rule, as much as $5 000
in washed gold or gold dust was exported to various
parts of the world. During that same period one Don
Alfreds Robinson, who came to California in 1828, took
$1,000 worth of gold to Philadelphia on behalf of Don
Abel Stearns of Los Angeles, and delivered his goods to
the mint in the quaker city. The same Don Abel
Stearns, who had a store at Los Angeles, which was the
most important establishment in the whole region, was
a Massachusetts man, who had received the Spanish
title. In 1820 he was made a Master Mason in the
Washington Lodge of Roxbury, and, probably because of
his affiliation with this important craft, he met with the
most pronounced success in his career. In 1836, at the
age of forty, he married a Miss Bandini, who was then
only fifteen years old, and in addition to being esteemed
the greatest beauty of California, was the daughter of 30
one of the most prominent Spanish gentlemen. Stearns
accumulated a considerable fortune during his time, and
a great deal of it was obtained through trading gold from
o O o o
the Indians.
In regard to the cargo of gold which Robinson took to
o o o
Philadelphia in 1842, there exists a document, representing the certificate of deposit at the mint, and this interesting paper may still be found among the archives in
the Pioneers' Hall in San Francisco.
When the question is asked how the fact of the
presence of gold could be withheld from the outer
world for so long, the answer suggests itself, that the
secret was kept through the efforts of the priesthood.
This particular matter has been ably discussed by Captain W. H. Thomas, president of the New England
Society of California Pioneers, who paid his first visit to
California as early as 1843. In a letter addressed to
the Boston Herald the Captain writes as follows:
"This supremacy was at its highest in 1765, when
from the missions in San Diego a chain of twenty-four
missions was extended northward. Junipero Serra was
Priest-President of all the missions in California, and
was an intelligent, persevering, enterprising man. He
was not only instrumental in founding mission after mission, but he added to the herds thousands of sheep and
"I have been six times to California and have talked
with priests of many nationalities—Mexican, Spanish,
Irish and American—and I am confident, from what they
say that Junipero Serra knew about the gold ; but he
was a singular character, and ruled with a hand of steel,
so that gold was a word that no one dared to utter. He
had the history of Peru and other foreign countries in
his mind, and he knew that an influx of gold-hunters  HUNTING  FOR GOLD
meant terror and destruction and  the failure of all his
great plans.
"It is claimed that the first discoveries were in 1848,
when the whole world was turned topsy-turvy with the
astonishing news. I, myself, was in California in 1843,
and^ stayed there three years, and I can positively say
that gold was known here then, for I saw it in Monterey. On Sundays the Indians would come into town,
naked except for a cloth around their loins, and exchange
a, little pinch of gold for a drink of arguadiente or na
tive rum. No one knew where they got the gold, but
sometimes they would have several dollars' worth of the
precious dust. This was an old custom, for at Mission
Carmel I interviewed, through an interpreter, an aged
Indian, who said that when he was a boy gold was
found in the mountains and rivers round about, and the
natives would wash out a panful in order to get a good
drunk on Sunday,which Christian Indians were forbidden
to do   He thought that there was still gold in the moun-
tains, but he was so old that he had forgotten where it
* O
"In 1844 Andres Castillero, the same person who
afterward discovered the New Almaden quicksilver
mine in Santa Clara county, while traveling from Los
Angeles to Monterey, found near the Santa Clara river
a great number of water-worn pebbles, which he gathered
up and carried with him to Santa Barbara. He there
exhibited them, said they were a peculiar species of iron
pyrites and declared that, according to Mexican miners,
wherever they were found there was a likelihood of gold
being also found. A ranchero named Francisco Lopez,
who was living on the Piru creek—a branch of the
Santa Clara river—but who happened at the time to be
at Santa Barbara, heard Castillero's statements and ex- HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
amined his specimens. Some months afterward, having
returned home, he went out to search for strayed cattle.
At noon, when he dismounted from his horse for the
purpose of resting, he observed a few wild onions growing near where he lay. He pulled them up and in so
doing noticed the same kind of pebbles as those to which
Castillero had called his attention. Remembering what
Castillero had said about them he took up a handful of
earth and upon carefully examining it discovered gold.
The news of this discovery, at the place which was
called San Francisquito, about thirty-five miles northeast of Los Angeles, soon spread. In a few weeks a
great many persons were engaged in washing and winnowing the sands and earth in search of gold.
"The auriferous fields were found to extend from a
point on the Santa Clara river about fifteen or twenty
miles from its mouth over all the country drained by its
upper waters, and thence easterly to Mount San Bernardino.
"On May 14th, 1843, Alvardo wrote to the Prefect of
the district, reproving him for not having given official
notice of the discovery, and directing him to gather and
forward an account of all circumstances of interest relating to the gold, for transmission to the Supreme Government.
"From that time to the present day there has been
more or less working of these mines, but no places of very
great richness have been found, and none to compare
with those afterward discovered on the tributaries of the
Sacramento and San Joaquin."
The reader will no doubt pardon my deviating from
the straight narrative, which I will now resume, but the
matter presented in Captain Thomas' letter seems to me
well worth quoting.    On the morning of the 6th of Octo- 34
ber, we assembled at the spring and had breakfast, and
then a consultation took place among some of us, as to
who should join the expedition, and who should stay
The reason for this was that there were about forty
Kanakas, who had worked with the colored men at my
camp, and who now wanted to join us. But as they
had neither money nor rations, they expected to live on
our provisions during our prospecting tour, and as we
did not propose to make pre-arrangements for a famine
in camp, we came to the conclusion that the Kanakas
must stay behind. I therefore told them that if they
intended to come with us, they must look out for
themselves, as we could not spare them any provisions,
neither did we know where we were  going, nor when
O O'
we should return, and our chances of starvation were
quite as good as our chances of success.
This decided the matter and limited our company to
two white men, including myself, a white boy named
Michael Duvarney, who proved himself a little hero, and
seven colored men. I soon perceived that my Caucasian companion—I mean the adult—was not the kind
of person to do any good in the wilds of the mountains.
I think the poor fellow was from Michigan, and he was
one of the most dejected looking objects I ever beheld.
I first thought that he  was love-sick, but when I saw
O '
him spending his evenings at the camp-fire swallowing
Brandreth's pills as quickly as a chicken would eat
dough, I concluded that it was his stomach, and not
his heart which was out of order. At all events, his
presence was a decided damper on the whole company,
with his melancholy appearance, his pills and his spleen.
I soon discovered that the rest thought with me, that
our Michigan man was not a fit subject for our company, HUNTING FOR  GOLD
and   when  we  came  to  the  Slate  Range,   I advised
O     '
him to return. A few words about the hardships that
awaited us, the chances of being torn to pieces by grizzlies, and other minor matters, which might impede our
march to success, soon persuaded our friend, in future,
. to swallow his pills in more congenial surroundings, and
he returned, to the evident joy of all concerned.
While we were camped at Slate Range, one of our
men went back for a Kanaka andan Indian. The Kanaka he returned with, was Jim Crow, whose name still
lives in those regions, and of whom I shall have more
to say later on. After his arrival we moved to the
camp of "Cut-Eye" Foster, whom I now met for the
first time, and bought and distributed a supply of flour.
Foster's camp was then close to ours, in what was then
known as Oak Valley, and I tried my best to get all
possible information from him. He seemed to think
that prospects, in the comparatively unexplored regions,
were good, but held that it was now too late in the
season to venture so far into the mountains, and as a
matter of fact, we saw several white men returning. I
felt sure that had my companions belonged to the same
race, they would not have desired to go 'till spring, but
as it was, we were all determined to push on, and chose
our route, not along the river bank, as "Cut-Eye" advised, but across the ridge by way of the present elevation of the Mountain House.
I have a lively recollection of getting ready to go,
when some of our men undertook to clean our fire-arms.
They took them all to pieces, and having made a roaring fire, placed them upon it. Many of the barrels were
charged, and as they became heated they began to go
off, and a running fire was kept up for sometime. Shot
and bullets were flying in all directions, and everybody 36
hastened to take shelter behind the trees. I was just
returning through the woods, and hearing the fusillade,
quickened my pace to see what the racket was about,
when I was suddenly halted by toy own men, who
shouted to me to keep behind the trees. For a while I
was at a loss to understand the situation, but when I
realized it, I could not help smiling, although I made it
understood that in future we would clean our fire-arms
in a somewhat different manner.
We bade good bye to "Cut-Eye," and made for the
wilderness with the winter close at hand, but we relied
upon our courage, our determination and our physical
strength. CHAPTER IV.
Through the Woods—Meeting Two Grizzlies—Across the Eiver in
a Hurry—McNair's Island—The Color of Gold—Over the
Ridge—We Strike the Eiver—A Noise in the Bushes—Eound
the Point—A Scene that Charmed Us—The Forks at Last—
Sullen Miners—Moving Camp—Mules on the Hillside—Camped on the Tuba—Reminiscences of Philo Haven.
We had not gone very far, when we came upon two
small trees, which had been blazed to indicate the road
to the river at Goodyear's Bar, but we did not care to
start at this point and so kept up the divide, until we
reached a place where now stands Galloway's Ranch,
Here we made a halt and held a consultation as to how
to approach the river. Our journey resumed, we struck
a blind trail, which left us in the midst of the thicket,
but we did not care to go back, and made our way
through the chapparal, until at last we reached the top
of the ridge, which separates the two canyons, later
known as Jim Crow and Secret Canyons. No sooner
had we reached this altitude, than we met with an
adventure which rather startled us. As our mules
were jogging along, carrying the pack, and we came
after, puffing and blowing with the exertions of the
ascent, a grizzly inquisitively approached the animals
and so scared them that they started down the hillside
at a rate which would have done credit to any equine
racer, and for awhile we wondered whether we should
ever have the good luck to see our frying pans, rockers
and the rest of the outfit again. I did not see the bear,
and up to that time considered myself somewhat un- 38
fortunate in regard to seeing the animal so characteristic
o o
of California, for he always got out of the way before I
could clap eyes on him, even when he succeeded in
scaring one of the company. One night however, as I
lay rolled up in my blankets and sound asleep, I was
Q 1
roused by the warm breath of a grizzly, who quickly
decamped when I made a sudden motion, and he found
that the place was already occupied. But I was not
long to remain without an introduction to the King of
O t?
the California forest. HUNTING FOR GOLD
When we had pulled ourselves together after the
scare, and quieted the frightened mules, we started down
the hill and ultimately made our camp at a point which
has since been called McNair's Island. Here some of
the company tried a pan or two of dirt, looking for the
color, but it proved pretty hard to raise.
Meanwhile, three of us took a stroll up the river to
explore the locality, and in sauntering back to camp, we
had the second adventure of the day. Charley Wilkins,
who was walking a little ahead, suddenly stopped, and
pointing to a moving mass of something which was
coming forward from the brush, exclaimed: "What is
that?" But he did not wait for an answer, for we all
simultaneously perceived that the unshapely object was
a huge grizzly, who came to bid us welcome. Never did
three men vacate the space they occupied more quickly
than we did. We fairly flew towards the river and
plunged in, making for the opposite shore at full speed.
The bank was high and steep, and in our endeavors to
climb up by holding on to grass or loose rocks, we fell
backwards into the water several times, splashing about
like young ducks and never even daring to look 'round.
When we ultimately got ashore there was not a sign of
the enemy, who evidently had never attempted to pursue us.
We now made for our camp, and arming ourselves
with the whole arsenal at our command, all hands marched out to kill the bear, but he had gone, leaving nothing
but his track. From that day henceforth however I
was satisfied that I had seen a grizzly, and no mistake
about it.
As soon as we had returned from our fruitless pursuit
some of the company went across the river to a point
opposite Secret Canyon, where some work had already HUNTING FOR GOLD
been done, and here we found the first gold since leaving
Bullard's Bar. We moved our camp across to the flat
and went prospecting up and down the river. In some
few places we found gold, but not in any quantity, as it
never ran over a dollar to the pan. The most gold seemed
to be at Negro Bar, situated a short distance from Omit's
Flat, but, seeing that the locality would not pan out
satisfactorily, we decided to strike camp and look for
the North Fork. Of this we had heard various reports
and, thinking that the best way to find it was by going
North, we steered our course up the hill in that direction, leaving McNair's Island behind us. It took us
nearly half a day to reach the top of the steep hill, and
on our arrival there a poor prospect greeted us, for, although we thought we could see from the lay of the
land, where the North Fork must be, it was by no
means clear to us how to get there. For the purpose
of finding water and also the best way of getting down
this dry and barren ridge, we now unpacked our traps,
and, dividing ourselves into two parties, we went about
reconnoitering   the country.     I, together   with   three
O t/ ' o
others, followed the ridge, in what I took to be the direction of the Forks, and when we came to the rocky
•point above Breyfogle Flat, we suddenly beheld the
river shining before us in the sunlight. Ah me, how
pleased we were at that sight! We now knew that our
judgment had been correct, and we hastened down to
the stream and quenched our thirst in the rippling waters.
Two of the men wanted to go back, at once, but
Albert and I were determined to proceed, and leaving
them behind, we kept on down the river. We had not
gone far, however, when we were overtaken by our companions.
They had heard some mysterious sound in the bushes HUNTING FOR  GOLD
behind them, and the experiences of the day had made
them nervous. They were only too pleased to join us
again, and so we went along the river together, until we
came to the first island above the Forks, when they
once more insisted on returning. 1 I then told them that
if they would only go round the next point with me, I
would go back at once, if nothing particular came in
view which demanded our attention, and to this they
I have often thought since how the curtain of fate
may be likened to the thinnest fabric of gauze, as it
severs us from circumstances or conditions, with which
we are united the moment it rises. Had those men
refused to listen to me that day, and prevailed upon me
to turn back before rounding that point, who can tell
what would have been my lot in after life ? It was the
traversing of those few hundred yards which decided so
much that afterwards became of interest to me, and
gave me for many years to come, friends, influence, even
renown, and to-day, notwithstanding bitter experiences,
many cherished memories.
As we rounded the point we beheld the Forks, the
place of which we were in search, and which afterwards
received the name of Downieville, while it became one
of the most prominent points in the history of the Golden Age of California.
The scene that burst upon us was one of marvelous
beauty, and after these many years it still lies before me
like a lovely panorama, in my recollection of the moment
when I first saw it. The silence of the woods was
broken only by the rushing of the meeting currents below
and the soughing of the breeze through the foliage. The
O O o o
sun was in the western sky, causing a variation of light
•and shadow to fall upon the landscape, which was ex- r
ceedingly pleasing. The hillsides were covered with
oaks, bending their crooked branches in phantastic forms,
while here and there a mighty pine towered above them,
and tall willows waved their slender branches, as it were,
nodding us a welcome.* They grew along the branch
of the North Fork, where now stands the Craycroft
building, and on the present site of the St. Charles Hotel
stood a cluster of pines. Down on the very brink of
the river grew a beautiful grove of Fir trees, and as we
approached, a frightened deer ran from the thicket and
made for the woods. Near a little spring, which bubbled
up and made the surroundings look fresh and verdant,
stood a few pieces of bark on end— the only sign that
human foot had ever trod this region, and further indicating that here at some previous time the Indians had
Add to this the waters leaping over rock and bowlders,
and the clear azure sky stretching like a canopy over
the whole landscape, and you have the picture, as far as
I can describe it, that I first beheld, when I approached
the Fox'ks.
len we
same to the Junction of the two streams
and made our observations, Albert pointed out to me
the fact that the water in the North Fork was not so
clear as that in its sister branch. There could be but
one explanation of this phenomenon—that men were at
work somewhere above, "Hunting For Gold." None were
now inclined to return. Curiosity and suspense got the
better of reluctance and we started up the stream to explore.
After tramping a considerable distance we found that
our conclusions had been right. We heard voices and
the clanging of tools, and presently came upon a company
of three men, who were at work on a little bar, just below HUNTING  FOR GOLD
the Bluebanks. The men seetoed considerably surprised
to see us, and as it were, at once, instinctively tried
to hide what gold they had in their pan, but one of our
boys caught sight of it nevertheless, and thus we were
assured, not only that there was gold in that location,
but also that it was quite different looking from what
we had seen at Bullard's Bar.
I tried to get into conversation with the three men,
but it was of no avail. When I asked them about the
diggings, they would answer me, "yes;" "no;" "dunno;"
"can't say," or pretend not to understand me at all, and
after a quarter of an hour, spent in interrogations, I was
no wiser than when I first started. I took a drink of
water, and lighting my pipe, tried them on a different
" What chance is there to get a claim here V I asked.
It seemed that I had struck the keynote of conversation
with them, for they at once became more communicative.
"The chances are slim," they said, but they had a
claim they would sell, and they went on using their best
powers of oratory in order to induce us to strike a bargain, there and then, something which, however, none
of us would think of doing. These three men were
working there in one crevice, one digging, another
carrying dirt and the third working the rocker, and,
from their manner of speech, there was every indication
that they verily believed that when that crevice was
worked out, there was no more gold to be found in California.
But their sullenness and reticence did not discourage
us in the least. We knew that if there was anything
to be had in these quarters, we had the right kind of
company for locating it, and we determined before many
days to make our new neighbors aware of the fact.     So The next morning we were up bright and early, and
struck camp to remove to the Forks. The trail was bad,
and every now and then a mule would slide down the
declivity, sometimes a hundred feet or more. In order
to keep them from going clear to the bottom we had to
use the long ropes, used for tying them up with at
night. We carried the one end coiled up in our hands,
the mule being at the other end, and when the animal
seemed likely to go too far down the hill, we slewed
him head up, or, in sailor parlance, headed him to the
wind.    We had quite a hard time of it getting along in HUNTING FOR  GOLD
this fashion, moreover as it took us two days and one
night to travel from McNair's Island to the Forks, and
all the time without water. How different now, when
the same journey can be made in one brief hour, but
such are the changes wrought by, time.
As soon as the thirsty mules saw the water in the
river below, there was no more necessity for driving
them. They scampered off on their own account, and
never stopped till they stood in the water, drinking it in
long, refreshing draughts.' We unpacked on Jersey Plat,
and I spent my first night at the Forks of the Yuba.
In the following pages I shall have considerable to
say about this spot and its surroundings, but, as I write
of my arrival there, I am put in mind of one of the very
first men I met in this locality, whom I have known in
after life as a friend and a gentlemen. This man is Mr.
Philo Haven.
Mr. Haven was round those quarters in the early
part of'51. Many years after he reminded me of the
Indian shelter, referred to, and agreed with me that
when I came on the ground, there was no other camp
at the Forks. He told me that when he arrived at
the South Fork he came upon a man skinning a deer,
and being hungry, offered him any price for a few
pounds of the meat; but the fellow would not sell any,
not even when he was offered pound for pound—gold
for venison. Mr. Haven did not know that I was at
the Forks and had provisions, and when he made up
his mind to go up that way, he paid a fellow $160 for
a lot of half-decayed goods, which had been brought to
Goodyear's Bar from a deserted mining store. The
price was four dollars per pound all round, including
hams, flour, nails, tobacco and other necessaries, but the
edibles were hardly fit for eating.    When he came to 46
I   if
my camp, we were already well settled and kept a sort
of open house for all travelers, who were welcome
to share anything with us, which we had to eat.
Charley Wilkins and Albert Callis, the two colored
men, would cook for them and make them feel at home,
and as far back as those early days I had become known
as Major Downie, and travelers in search of shelter or
relief were often told to go to Major Downie's cabin.
One thing I feel called upon to discuss here to some
extent—the first discovery of gold at the Forks. I am
aware that in one history of California, it is claimed
that Frank Anderson was the original discoverer, whereas I claim that the precious metal was first unearthed
by our company, and in this, Mr. Haven agrees with
me, in as much as he considers it a mistake to give the
honor to Anderson. It is at all events a fact that this
man did not arrive at the flat till after we had been
there for some time. He, and another man named
Jack Culton, came along   with Mr. Haven and were
' o
engaged by him to work a small, rich bar, for which
they were paid fifty dollars per day, but the party did
not leave Bullard's Bar for the Forks, till the 9th of
January, '51. The bar that Mr. Haven was working,
panned out well, for after a comparatively short stay,
the company—four in number—left with 130 pounds of
Gold. For my own part, I merely claim that we were
the first white men who took out gold at the Forks,
and I firmly believe that the Indians were aware of its
presence there long, before our arrival. CHAPTER V
Down to Business—A Fish Story—Lead Weights and Brass
Weights—Crevicing—Breyfogle Flat—A Mule in a Hornet's
Nest—Mamoo the Egyptian—A Negro from Virginia—Rich
Finds—Treacherous Friends—Mr. John Potter—Flour Worth
More Than Gold—A Very Sick Man—On the Site of Downie-
I have remarked in the previous chapter that I relied
upon my company for finding gold in these environments,
if gold were to be found. I knew that as prospectors
we had the right kind of men in our crowd, and as will
be seen, we soon had an opportunity to astonish our
sulky neighbors.
First of all we arranged matters so as to operate
systematically. One man was to keep camp, another to
look after the mules, and the rest went in twos or threes
up and down the river in search of patches, which
would be worth working. We made it a provision that
everyone should have whatever he happened to get into his pan. Anyone, who chose to do so, might go
alone, but everybody had to report his day's doings in
camp at night. It was also made a rule that whoever
discovered any rich bar should have the first choice of
the ground, and I may say that these regulations were
strictly adhered to and found to be of great common
advantage. They prevented a good deal of underhand
work and gave us all a fair chance in the undertaking,
for without them, two men, for instance, might go out
together, and if they made a find, divide up between
them, and report no progress. a 48
In speaking of our start at the Forks, I am reminded
of what my reader will no doubt call a fish story It
is; but it is nevertheless a true one, and let this be said
with all due deference to any narrator of piscatorial
adventure. While we were camped on Jersey Flat,
Jim Crow caught a monster salmon, weighing nearly
fourteen pounds. We boiled the fish in the camp kettle,
and afterwards, when we examined the water, we found
gold at the bottom of it. Truly those have been
appropriately called:
"The days of old—
The days of Gold."
We had a somewhat varied experience for some time
after our arrival in these parts. We discovered a
small bar at the lower end of Zumwalt Flat, which showed a good prospect, and therefore moved our camp up
that way. It should be. born in mind that I am calling
many of these places by the names they received after
my first stay there in '49. On Zumwalt Flat we went to
work with a rocker, and the first day washed out about
twelve ounces. As this looked very encouraging, we
stayed here, till  we  considered the  bar  worked  out.
While in this vicinity I dug a hole near a small bar
that was afterwards named Tin-cup Diggings, and found
it would pay about one dollar to the pan. For some
time I worked by myself, but as I could get nobody to
help me, I abandoned it.
We had some difficulty in weighing our gold. Some
claimed to be making from thirteen to fourteen ounces
a day, crevicing in the banks, but this measure was
obtained by means of a lead weight, of which Jack
Smith used to say with much indignation, that it was
fit only for killing dogs with. We then started regulating our weights and did that by means of a half-ouncs HUNTING FOR GOLD
brass weight. We ultimately succeeded in getting,
what we took to be a correct eight-ounce weight, and
this was brought into requisition almost every day, for
quite a while.
We returned to the Forks abqve, and worked on a
bar there, until we thought that it was worked out, but
afterwards found gold all along the banks, sometimes
several hundred dollars within the short space of a few
hours, very seldom using even a shovel. Our principal
mining implements consisted of a butcher's knife, a tin
pan and a crowbar. Whenever we saw a placethat
looked promising, we would cross the river on the rocks,
if it happened to be on the opposite side, and delving
into the crevice, dig out what there was in it, so quickly
that we fairly astonished our sulky neighbors, who-a few
days before had taken us for innocents in the wilderness.
. Our principal grievance when crevicing, was the
scarcity of dirt, which often caused us great disappointments, for just as our hopes had been raised to the
highest pitch of anticipation, the rich spot would give
out, and after spooning and scraping for a while, we
would realize that we were hunting a phantom treasure.
The season was now far advanced, and it became a
matter of serious consideration whether we should face
the winter in the mountains, or return to less exposed
quarters. So we held a consultation and ultimately concluded to stay, provided we could find a bar to work on
and at the same time continue to lay in a sufficient supply of provisions. We gave up the crevices and went in
search of a bar where plenty of dirt could be easily obtained.
Four of our company went up the South Fork to the
place which was afterwards known as Breyfogle Flat,
and there found a prospect in the south bank, which 50
they thought would do us for the winter. We then determined to move up there, and got ready. I paid a
visit to our inhospitable neighbors, and bought from
them a dug-out  or burnt-out rocker, for which I gave
o ■* o
one ounce, and then we set out for our new camping
ground. We had the same trouble getting our
mules along the hillside as described in a previous
chapter, and adopted the same tactics for keeping
them   from sliding  down  to  the  bottom,  as  has  al-
O '
ready been mentioned. My mule met with an accident which caused the party both surprise and'
merriment in our little crowd. The poor brute got
foul of a hornets' nest. Under normal conditions
that mule was as sedate, sober-minded, and quiet
a mule as ever carried a pack, and as long as I had
known him he had never attempted any pace outside a
walk. Our surprise may, therefore, be easily imagined,
when all of a sudden, without any perceptible reason,
he kicked up his heels cloudwards, then stood on his
tail-end, and then for a moment left the alluvial soil altogether and hung between heaven and earth, and ulti-
O O '
mately, on reaching the latter once more, made off at
the pace of Tarn 'o Shanter's famous mare, I saw everything that I had strapped on his back, fly off. Frying-pan, blankets, rocker, everything he was carrying
was strewn along the course he took, and for every time
anything came off the pack, he seemed to quicken his
pace. Only one fortnate circumstance occurred during
the whole affair—he chanced to run in the right direction, and when we at last caught up with him, we were
still on the right track, but my rocker was smashed to
atoms. When we arrived at the bar, we found that another party had reached it ahead of us, and therefore
had the first choice of ground.      I went to work  with HUNTING FOR  GOLD
Mamoo on a portion of the bar, facing the river for
about ten feet. This Mamoo was an Egyptian and a
follower of Mahomet, the Prophet of "the only God."
He was born in Alexandria, and was a sailor by occupation. He came to San Francisco in '49, and hearing of
the discoveries made by John Marshall and Captain
Sutter, left the ship for the mines, as did nearly every
sailor in those days. I first met him at Bullard's Bar,
where he was in company with the Kanakas and Jim
Crow, and as he appeared to be an apparently good fellow, I had willingly admitted him to our company.
It was on a Sunday evening when we pitched our
camp on the new ground, and bright and early Monday
morning we were ready for work. The piece that had
been allotted to Albert Callis, proved particularly rich,
and gold could be seen in considerable quaintity by simply removing the dirt with the foot. As I have said,
we arrived at our camp on a Sunday, but although
Albert kicked the dirt off in sundry places, and saw the
yellow gold, he conscientiously covered the metal up
again, as he would not remove it on the Sabbath.     He
O '
came originally from Mathews  County, Virginia, and I
believe, was a runaway slave.
He afterwards settled in Downieville, married and had
quite a family, which he supported partly by working
at his trade as a barber. I may state here that none of
the darkies belonging to my company (I mean those of
African blood),could have been induced to work Sunday,
the effect, no doubt, of early training. But by and by
Jim'Crow came along. His religious and moral sentiments were both far below zero, and it did not take him
long to remove the "taboo" from  all the gold he could
o o
get sight of.
o o
On the Monday two of us took out seventeen ounces, 52
on Tuesday, twenty-four, on Wednesday, twenty-nine,
and early on Thursday, we had taken out forty ounces—
as much as fourteen in one pan. Mamoo, who was
cooking breakfast for us when we brought the gold into
camp, looked with amazement at the treasure, and it
seems to me I can yet hear him ejaculate : "Dam place
worked out now! No more gold 1 No good ! "
It was now high time for us to send below for provisions, and eight started out, taking with them all the
mules. Jim Crow went with the rest, and they all
intended to return in a few days. When I reflect
upon the day when these men left camp, and the days
that followed, it seems evident to me that every human
being must have a mission to fulfill in this life, and
until that is fulfilled, death would not dare overtake
him. The four of us left in camp were, Albert Callis,
Charles Wilkins, Michael Duvarney and myself, and- as
we bade good-bye, to the departing ones, we expected
that they would speedily return, and little anticipated
treachery. It became our lot to wait in vain. For
many days we looked in expectation towards the direction from which they should return, but no one appeared,
and but for providential circumstances and individual
determination on our own part, our bones would have
bleached in the wilderness, where we had been left to
Many months had elapsed, when I again saw Jim
Crow. Our next meeting was in the following spring,
at Crow City, at the head of Jim Crow Canyon ,as these
places are now called. He was in company with a
number of Kanakas, and when I first caught sight of
him, he was sitting face to face with little Mike, who
was asking him all sorts of questions, as to why he did
not return to our camp with the mules and provisions,  54
and what he had been doing all the time. The truth of
the matter was, that Jim had never expected to see us
alive again. He was making his way back with a
company to the place where he had left us, to get some
more of the gold, taking it for granted that we had
starved to death long ago, and they had lost the trail.
Our meeting was accidental and more will be said of
this later on. The rest of the boys, who went with him
had gone on a spree and drank or gambled their dust
away. In those days it was a common thing for miners,
to come down to any settlement to change their dust
for silver, often at any price, just to get coin enough
with which to play poker, and my late companions had
forgotten all about us over cards and whisky. Let me
say here that I was never a heavy drinker. My favorite
liquor, when disposed to indulge at all, was whisky,
but I never drank to excess, and I never learned to
play at cards during all the years I spent in the mines.
The four of us went to work with a will, but soon the
rain set in, and our prospects began to look rather gloomy.
The flour sack began to get more precious than the gold
bag, and nobody came to our rescue, while Albert was
lying sick in the camp. In this dilemma I made a trip
down to the Forks, to see if I could fall in with anybody
from the. bars below, or perhaps hear something of my
company. On this excursion I met John Potter, and
told him of the fix we were in. Mr. Potter said that he
had a partner down at Goodyear's Bar, and that they
would like to winter up here, if there was any way of
getting provisions up, and we discussed the situation
together, and both returned to our camp, where we
found Albert so bad that he had lost the use of his legs,
O    '
while we could now make an over-hand knot in the flour
bag. I have often, afterwards, in the crowded city, seen HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
people begging for a small pittance, with which to buy
bread, and it has then occurred to me how strange the
reverse of that picture looks. • There we were with a
bag full of gold, anxious to pay dearly for anything that
would sustain life, with no chance of purchasing even
the poorest meal. The situation was becoming desperate, and something had to be done.
We then decided to take Potter and his partner,
William Griffith, into our company, and as we had given
up all hopes of the return of our men, it was decided
that Potter should go down to Goodyear's Bar, to make
arrangements for provisions, while we moved to the
Forks, After he had left us, we started on our journey,
but no one can imagine what difficulties we had to fight
with. I had found a poor, half-starved mule in the
woods. It had evidently strayed from some departed
company, and I brought it into camp. On the back of
this wretched animal we seated our sick comrade, and
packing our traps on our own shoulders, we made the
best of it, while the cold November rain continued to
fall. We crossed the river, where Craycoft's mill was
afterwards built, and thus entering the Forks from the
branch, we made a roaring fire and settled on the site,
which was later on called Downieville. Our tent was
the only one at that time, as nobody else was then
camping in the solitude of these wild surroundings, and
here we now anxiously awaited the arrival of John Potter.
During my absence at Goodyear's Bar, which will be
discussed in the following chapter, one of our party
started building a cabin. The next party to arrive was
a man named Kelly with a company, and soon after
came Mr. S. Wood and his company. From these latter, who settled on Jersey Flat, I tried in vain to obtain
some rations.     Mr. Wood had gone back and left a man 56
in charge of his stores, and he would not be persuaded to
part with any of them, even at exhorbitant prices, which
we offered. I must state here in justification of Mr.
Wood, that he afterwards expressed his great regret at
this, and assured us that had he, or his partner, been on
the ground, we would certainly have obtained relief.
As it was, there was nothing left for us but "chewing the
rag" and await the return of the  absent  John  Potter. CHAPTER VI.
Death of a Friend—Andrew Goodyear—Bone Soup—At Simmons' Camp—Cooking Under Arms—Four Dead Mules—
"Cut-Bye" Out of Temper—The Ax On The Ledge—Back at
the Forks—The First Dwelling in Downieville—Christmas
—The Stars and Stripes in the Sierras—Magnificent Scenery.
When John Potter arrived, he brought the somewhat
discouraging news that provisions were on the way, but
not in sufficient quantity to last us through the winter.
Miles Goodyear was very ill and not expected to live,
and he advised me to go down at once and secure more
supplies, as Andrew, the younger brother of the sick
man, had intimated that in case Miles died, he would
leave the mountains. I hesitated for a few days, and
meanwhile received news of Mr. Goodyear's death,
which occurred, as far as I can place the date, on the
12th of November, 1849. His remains were buried in
a rocker, but were afterwards removed by his brother
Andrew, and interred in consecrated ground, in more
civilized surroundings.
As soon as I heard of Mr. Goodyear's death, I set
out for the bar to procure provisions, taking with me
Billy Griffith and Mike Duvarhey. We passed the
place, on our road, where they had buried Goodyear,
and soon reached the camp. We were doomed to disappointment and hardships, for expecting a supply of
provisions, and being unwilling to stay in the locality,
Andrew had already made an agreement to sell them
to Sexton, Russell, and Dr. Vaughn, the physician who 58
had attended his brother during his illness. At the
time when we struck the bar, they were having rather
hard luck. Rations were very scarce, and men were
ekeing out an existence by subsisting upon a beef they
had found lying upon the bar. By the time we arrived
the meat was all gone, but they continued making soup
of the bones, and the kettle containing this, to our palates, savory mess, was kept boiling for all it was worth.
It is wonderful what one can relish when hunger drives
Six head of cattle were expected up at this time, and
Andrew agreed to let us have two of them, Woods and
O '
his partner having contracted for the rest. On this occasion Andrew Goodyear showed himself a generous,
large-hearted man. He charged us only one hundred
dollars a head, although he knew that starving and in
distress as we were, we would gladly have given him
four or five times that amount. He also gave me a little rice and some dried apples, which I sent up to the
Forks. Kindness under such circumstances, makes an
indelible impression upon one's mind, and in the hour of
distress it has the same soothing effect as has the light
O C7
from the cottage window, that shines through the dark
and stormy night, and shows the wayfarer that he is
near his friends. In the years that have since passed,
I have often thought of this incident, and realized how
few there were—and I may say, are—who would have
acted in the same spirit as did Andrew Goodyear.
I now made arrangements with Messrs, Sexton, Russell and Dr. Vaughn, to purchase the expected provisions from them for the sum of $3,900. The price
amounted to two dollars per pound all around, including
the sacks, which were wet with snow.
I was anxious to get over the   river so  as to go HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
down to meet the men who were bringing up the
goods, but the water had risen—it was rushing past,
a,nd I could neither wade nor swim across. Griffith was
camped on the opposite shore in a small blanket tent,
and I indicated to him that I desired him to fell a tree
wiaich was bending over the river, so as to form a bridge
O ' o
for me %o cross upon. He understood me, and at once
set to work. For two days he labored hard, but when
■at last the tree felL. and I was ready to go over, the
swift current swept it down the stream, and I was still
on the wrong side of the river.    So there  was nothing
o o
to do but to await further developments. But it was
very tedious waiting. The bones were getting scarce,
and our larder was at a minimum, when, just as we
were wondering how the hide would do, if properly
cooked, we were saved such culinary experiment, for the
water fell, and we were enabled to cross the river and
join Bill Griffith.
As it happened, it did not seem to make much difference on which side of the river we were. We had only got into another starvation camp, and we concluded
that we would have to take to the hills to find something with which to keep us alive, and once more Mike,
Bill and myself set out, accompanied by a man named
Morrison. Having succeeded in climbing the hill,
then we went up the divide hoping to get to Simmons'
camp, where the firm of Hawley, Simmons & Co., kept
a store. We had all we could do to make any headway
on this journey. A man's heart depends upon his
stomach, to a great extent, but if the latter is as empty as a vacuum, and has been so for some time, the former is inclined to go below par. We had our misgivings as to the result of the tramp,   lest some of us HUNTING FOR  GOLD
should give out before reaching our
destination, and little Mike was the
first to yield   to   the   hardships   we
had to endure.      After all, he was
„.A only a child, and the little fellow bore
himself most bravely
until  he  was  fairly
worn out.    We tried
to carry him on our
backs, but found that
strength did not allow
to proceed in this way, and
ultimately   decided   to
e Morrison behind with
boy, while Bill aud I
hed on towards the camp.
Our difficulties increased.       The November     day    soon
came to a close, aud
night, cold and dark,
fell upon us.       Still
we went on through
the woods.       There
was a trail, which in
the daytime we could
have   easily   found,
but in the  dark  we
often found ourselves
wandering   from   it,
and one of us would
■•8<tii&!x».f   then stand still, while
"wwv«»    the other would go in
search of  the trail. HUNTING FOR  GOLD
Every now and then we would call out to one another,
and thus, in this manner, we moved onward, until a
welcome light,shining towards us from a distance, denoted
that we were approaching, the end of our journey.
Simmons' store was at the time poorly stocked, but
he was a good, generous-hearted fellow, and gladly
shared his scanty supply with us. He gave us a bottle
of brandy and a few slap-jacks, and after resting awhile,
Bill went back to Morrison and Mike to bring them
relief, and the next morning they all arrived in camp.
I spent quite a pleasant evening at Simmons' camp,
and after these many years I still remember the company that was there, some of whom were particularly
good fellows. Among the rest was Tim Harris, who
was full of fun and a most amiable companion. He was
waiting for Sexton to come up with his provisions and
did much to entertain the company. We had a joke the
next morning, as to who tumbled out of the bunk during
the night, Harris or I; and to this day the question has
never been settled. I am certain however that Tim was
the man that had the "sugar in his pocket." Simmons
treated us very well indeed, and when the rest came up
he shared his flour with us, and we were now in clover,
I must admit with every due respect to the temperance
cause and its advocates, that our brandy proved, "the
staff of life'to us, notwithstanding all that has been said
to the contrary. It is true, no doubt, that there are
circumstances and conditions of life, when liquor is not
absolutely necessary, but let every honest temperance
preacher try a little starving in the mountains with
nothing to drink but snow water, and it is just possible
that the whole fraternity will feel called upon to change
We   stayed   at   Simmons'   camp   for   several days, 62
expecting that the provisions, which were on the way,
would arrive, but the party bringing them up had been
delayed by the floods, caused by the incessant rain, and
could not get across the river. I became impatient and
set out to look for them, expecting to meet them, and if
I should fail in this, I intended to go as far as Nye's
crossing and buy rations. But they had succeeded
after great difficulties, in crossing at Foster's Bar, and I
O ' O '
fell in with them between this place and Slate Range,
and then turned back with them. When we got to
Goodyear's Bar, everybody there seemed delighted at
seeing such a quantity of provisions at once, a sightthat
had not been presented to them for some time. We had
the greatest difficulty in cooking our meals, for Andrew
Goodyear's men were all Indians, and there were fifteen
or sixteen of them. It was a hungry, thieving lot, and
the first panful we cooked, went out of sight in the
twinkling of an eye. We were determined to have a
good, square meal at once, when we came into camp, and
this was our first experience, but we changed our tactics.
I did the cooking after this, and Mike and Bill watched
the pan, knife and pistol in hand, and gave out that the
first man, who put his hand into that pan, would go
home minus his fingers. We then enjoyed our meal
and suspeuded any further cooking operations, until we
got away from them. As previously stated we had
already bargained for the provisions, and we now secured,
in addition to what We had already bought, two gallons
of vinegar for fifty dollars. Our goods consisted of 450
pounds of flour, a very small quantity indeed to winter
on, and the rest was canned goods—meats, vegetables,
fish, etc. I was offered half an ounce a pound for two
of my hams, but declined the offer, as. we had enough to
do to get back home without packing gold.      It seems HUNTING FOR GOLD
strange now to think of the days, when in traveling,
Mike and I sometimes used to quarrel about who
should carry the gold bag, for although gold was what
we suffered and toiled for, it often became very wearisome
to carry it about, when we were tired and exhausted.
The next thing to be done was  to  get  our  stores
O o
packed up to our camp, and I made an arrangement
with "Cut-Eye" to do the transportation, as he had
plenty of horses and mules. He was to have thirty
ounces for delivering them at Cox's Bar, as that was
then the end of mule possibilities in those quarters, and I
agreed to pay him for all horses or mules that might
die on the road. I believe that those belonging to our
company were the only 'forty niners, who remained in
the mountains all winter, as the general thing Was to go
7 o o o ■
down below in the fall and return in the spring.
We had plenty of snow and rain on our trip up to the
Forks, and we had to watch Cut-Eye very closely, as he
was not altogether to be relied upon. When I reflect
upon this trip, I am reminded of many scenes that
happened, characteristic of the happy-go-lucky nature,
of which most miners were possessed. I can see the
boys yet scraping away the snow to make room alongside of some log that might be used as a table. Then
the cards would be produced, the pipes lighted and the
brandy bottle passed around, and in the midst of the
wilds men would enjoy themselves with a most enviable
disregard for the next difficulty that might arise. And
as these scenes recur to me I am put in mind of the
beautiful lines that begin with the question:
"Where is now the merry party—
I remember long ago?"
At Goodyear's Spring we halted.      Bill was behind
bringing a hundred weight of flour on a big horse belong- 64
ing to " Cut-Eye. "     The sack had slipped forward and
was right on the neck of the poor animal, which was
thus considerably impeded  in its  progress and  very
nearly done for.      When I saw them coming into camp,
I began to think that it was a case, and that I would
have to pay for one dead horse at all events, but fortune
favored me, for the poor brute picked up again, when relieved of its load.      As soon as we began  descending
Goodyear's hill, Mick and Bill went ahead to let the
boys know at the Forks that we were coming, and it
was indeed the best tidings they could hear.   Old 1 Cut-
Eye " was doing his utmost all along to string the trip out
as much as possible.    He had hoped   that   some of the
mules would die on the road, so that he might make
more money on the transaction.     But with me it was a
case of diamond cut diamond.    I was up to his tricks
and foresaw that the half starved mules could not last
long.    So I pressed on, and we arrived at Cox's Bar
without losing any of them.    I then paid Foster and
advised him to hurry back, as the weather was getting
dirty, and there was absolutely nothing for the mules to
eat.    He stayed with us that night however, and the
next morning returned, some of the boys helping him to
get over the hill.     Before   they left him four of the
mules gave out, and he declared that the Major had got
the start of him this time, but he would get even yet.
It was no easy matter to carry our  stores  on  our
shoulders from Cox's bar to the Forks, but we persevered,
until we had it all in camp.    The beef was stowed away
in a snowdrift, and when packed in this  manner and
kept from the air, it will keep good for two or three
months.    We happened to get quite an addition to our
supply in a somewhat singular manner.    We met a party
that  had lost an ox.    It had strayed from them, and HUNTING  FOR  GOLD 6g
they told us that if we could find it, we might keep it.
After a diligent search, John Potter found the animal
perched on the ledge of a rock above Cox's Bar on the
south side of the river. How it got there is to this day
inexplicable to me, but there it stood, unable to turn or
get down, starving in the solitude, looking down upon
the river in a sort of mute despair and beyond the reach
of the lowing of its fellows. When we climbed up
towards it, it turned its big sad eyes upon us with an expression, as if it hoped for relief, even from the race
that bowed its head under the yoke and lashed its back,
when its strength failed. It seemed a cruel thing to do,
but there was no alternative, so we shot the poor brute,
and it fell over the precipice, and as it rolled down the
rocks, everyone turned his head away with a shudder.
Let it not appear to the reader that such tenderheartedness on the part of rough miners is improbable. Indeed, everybody who has lived in the wilds is well aware
that even when a little squirrel ventures up to the tent
and shows signs of confidence, no one will hurt it and it
soon becomes a pet.
After we had done all the hard work, the snow ceased
and we got a spell of pleasant weather. Just then some
of our boys brought another mule load of provisions from
Nye's Crossing and we were now prepared to meet the
Meanwhile the building of our cabin had advanced,
and when our provisions had been stored, we all lent a
hand to finish it. The roof was covered with shingles,
which were tied on with rawhide. The structure was
crude as is all early backwood architecture, but it promised
to answer its purpose well. It was strong, warm and
watertight and would withstand the winter's storms. It
became indeed well known to many, and there may be €6
some, who read this, who will still remember the day
when they were first welcomed in that cabin. It was
moreover the first of its kind built at the Forks, and
thus it virtually became the foundation of Downieville.
Since then I have dwelt in many houses, far more
richly furnished in every respect, with modern conveniences and the latest improvements, but I must question
whether I have been more comfortable in any of them,
than I was in the cabin at the Forks. We were followed by Jack Smith and Gorman, afterwards came Kelly
and Berry and several others, while Sam Woods, Jim
Kearns and Murray settled on Jersey Flat.
It was on the 10th of December, 1849, that we moved
into our new quarters, and then came Christmas. We
were determined to make the best of the festive season,
even though we  were in the midst of the wilds, far
O '
away from friends and relations. Our greatest trouble
was, that we had but one bottle of brandy in camp, and
it took us some time before we could decide whether we
would drink if on Christmas or New Years day. The
discussion, pro and con, was very animated and resulted
in the drawing of the cork on Christmas morning. It
was quite early, when this important event took place,
and we made punch with the liquor, using hot water and
nutmeg. We drank to absent friends, to wives and
sweethearts and to the great American Nation. Grad-
ually as the sun rose higher in the heavens and the
brandy got lower in the bottle, we became more enthusiastic. I had a small representation of the stars and
stripes in my possession, and we determined that on this
day it should adorn our house. So I climbed upon the
roof with the flag in one hand, a pistol in the other. I
made a short speech, waved the flag and fired a few
shots and finished up by giving three cheers for the  68
American Constitution. Then I fixed the flag on the
gable point, and we all shouted for joy when we saw it
unfurled to the breeze for the first time in the fastnesses
of the Sierras.
I cannot conclude this chapter without drawing
attention to the magnificent scenery that surrounded us.
Summer and winter, the grandeur of nature in the
Sierras is so wonderful, that it becomes sublime. The
towering mountains, the snow clad peaks, the lakes, the
mountain streams and the variety of vegetation—all
blend harmoniously and form pictures, which my pen is
too feeble to describe. In the midst of such surroundings we laid the foundation of a community, which passed through all the weird phases of border life, into the
more settled condition of advanced civilization.
The following pages will contain many strange tales
of happenings in that community, adventures of men,
and sometimes of women. They will relate the disappointments they suffered or the triumphs they achieved;
show how confusion brought about self-made laws, if not
always absolute justice, and explain to some extent the
conditions that caused many men to remain poor, who
might to-day have been worth millions. CHAPTER VII.
Life in the Cabin—The Bill of Fare—A Prospecting Fever—
The Dangers of Traveling—Arrival of Mrs. James Galloway
—A Poor Gin Mill— Jack Smith and His Jokes—Up a Tree
After Gold—Expensive Rations—William Slater—A Rush of
Miners—Taking up Claims—The Necessity for Laws—
As I now proceed with my narrative, I will endeavor
as far as possible to bring the incidents and occurrences
out in the order in which they happened. The region
I had adopted as my home, remained so for over eight
years, and although I traveled about a good deal, I still
made the Forks my headquarters. During that period
I met with many vicissitudes, and many strange scenes
were enacted, and such of them will be related, as will
give the reader an adequate idea of life in the Califoria .
mines in the early days.
After we had done justice to Christmas, we went
prospecting in different directions and met with very
good success. Just then a Mr. Lord, who was camped
on Jersey Flat, came over to see us. He made a long
face, spoke of his hard luck, said he had a family back
in the States, and that he was anxious to return. He
wanted to make a small raise and would pay anything
to anybody, who would put him on to a good claim. I
took pity on the man and gave him part of my claim,
and he soon proved himself a mean, ungrateful wretch.
He at once set to work with his partner and made from
one to two hundred dollars a day, taking out as much
as $1460 worth in one day, while I had to be satisfied 70
with a few ounces. As soon as he found out that his
end of the claim was so much better than mine, he became very reserved and silent, and even went so far as
to draw a dividing line with stakes, so as to separate
his portion from the Major's. I had many experiences
of such ingratitude but learned to understand that this
is nothing more than might be expected; for nature, in
making up, from motives of economy, sometimes uses
the odds and ends and sends the poorer work into the
world, thus making her more creditable productions
appear to greater advantage.
We did not expect to be able to get any more provisions up till about the month of May, and we made
our bill of fare accordingly. One man always stayed in
camp to look after it and do the cooking, while the
others were at work. Our greatest scarcity was flour,
and so it was only used once a day. The dough being
made, it was divided into six equal parts and put into
the oven, and each man knew exactly what to expect.
Our every day dinner consisted of beans and rice, but on
Sundays, we generally had something extra. At this
time I was working by myself and making out very well.
I seldom took out less than a pound a day, and it
happened several times that I was rewarded with a find
of from twenty to thirty ounces. Potter and I afterwards worked together, and on rainy days, when we did
not care about going very far away to work, we would
work at intervals on the site where now stands Cray-
croft's mill, and often make three or four ounces in a
few hours. Indeed, these were the palmy days of gold
digging, when one for obvious reason saved all he found.
OO        O7
We dried our gold in a shovel and  weighed it in a pair
of scales, big enough to weigh
-grub "
weights.    But if our weights were not quite exact, what HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
of it! We had plenty of gold, and a few ounces,' more
or less was neither here nor there.
Some time during February, Wood and his partners
sold us a quantity of provisions which had been left at
Negro Tent, then known as Hollow Log, and on the
25th of February, 1850, we started out to bring them
in. Oh this trip we fell in with "Cut-Eye" Foster, and
another man, who were the first to come up to the
mountains that spring.
It may seem strange that men who were doing as
well as we were,should not feel settled. There we were,
making plenty of gold, and yet we wanted to go somewhere else, where we could make more, and get ahead
of the many miners the approaching spring would bring
up that way, and when we learned that a great many
men were at that time at Sleighville, waiting for a favor-
O ' O
able opportunity to get to the Forks, we made up our
minds that it was time for us to look for richer fields,
lest we should be elbowed out of fairer chance in the
general scramble of the spring rush.
Potter went up to Twist's Flat, as it is now called, and
in prospecting struck a very rich patch opposite Negro
Point. On his return we talked matters over, and he
advised that we go up at once, but I had that day taken
thirty ounces out during his absence, and this fact partly unsettled us. The following day Potter returned and
took out thirty-two ounces, and this two ounces over
and above what I had taken out, decided us in favor of
going. But there were other circumstances to take into o
to consideration. It would have been easy enough for
us to leave the Forks with our blankets, but the transportation of our gold would cause more trouble. We
soon came to the conclusion that if we attempted to
take the gold with us, we should certainly  be killed or 72
at least robbed on the road, and as we could not leave it
behind, we had no alternative but to stay where we
were, which we determined to do.
Jack Smith and two or three others went prospecting,
They a built a brush shanty somewhere about the
head of Kanaka Creek, which was then called Indian
Creek, and there were many who afterwards thought
that Jim Crow and his Kanakas had wintered there. I
had tried to take up a claim on the North Fork, but a
dispute arising about it, I went back to the old place on
the South Fork.
My narrative is now taking me into the month of
March in the year 1850. But, before proceeding any
further, I must mention one of the most memorable events
that took place in the solitudes of the Sierras—the arrival there of the first white, woman. It was just about
the first of March, 1850, that Mr. James Galloway and
his most estimable wife arrived at the Forks. For a
woman to brave the difficulties, not to say dangers, of
traveling up the mountains in those days, was enough
to arouse the admiration of us all, and the arrival in our
midst, of Mrs. Galloway, was hailed with much enthusiasm.
Cut-eye Foster had arrived at Cox's Bar with provisions and liquors, and later opened a grocery and grog-
gery on the hillside above our cabin. Jack Smith came
with him from Goodyear's Hill, and brought with him a
five-gallon keg of gin, packing it on his back all the way
from Sleighville. It seems that before they started from
this latter place, a good many drams leaked out of the
keg, and Jack and Foster did not spare it on the road,
but notwithstanding this fact they succeeded in bringing the keg full into camp The process by which this
was achieved, remained a secret between Jack and Fos-  74
ter, and was no doubt due to the latter's ingenuity. Foster was neither sentimental nor sensitive, in any sense
of the word, and he never allowed conscience to prick
him. When he opened his store at the Forks, he sold
a quantity of gin to the men. Tbey did not say much,
but they doubted that it was the real article, they paid
so dearly for, and people who came up from Sleighville,
declared that there the liquor would certainly not have
passed for gin. Jack had a hard time of it bringing the
precious fluid, and spent one night seated at the roots
of a tree, holding on to the keg all the time, with only
a blanket over him, and no other fire than that contained in the liquor. However, when he arrived at the
Forks, he found it impossible to keep the keg filled as
fast as it was drawn, and the gin soon gave out.
The same Jack Smith was a character, and repeatedly
got himself or others into some ludicrous position. I
remember one time, when he was working below the
Bluebanks, that I went across to see him. I found
him engaged in a soliloquy, in which he poured particularly strong language upon all Missourians, and Pike
County hombres in particular. He was at the time
panning dirt on a claim above his own, and at first he
refused to tell me what all his trouble was about. At
last it came out. He had taken up this claim for the
purpose of selling out to the first "greenhorn" who
might chance to come along, and to make it sell well, he
had put two or three ounces in the hole, all ready for
In a little while a Pike Connty hombre came along
with pick and pan, looking for a claim, and Jack put
him onto the place, saying he was willing to sell. The
stranger set to work, but instead of starting at the bottom he pulled down the sides, thus filling up the hole, HUNTING FOR  GOLD
and completely burying Jack's gold, and as he could
scarcely raise the color, he left without buying. And
there was Jack minus his sale, and left to find his gold
for the second time, which the Missourian had failed to
find.    No wonder he was mad.
Strange to say, that very claim proved afterwards to
be one of the richest at the Forks, and I have known
Jack to take out as much as six pounds in one day from
it. It was one of the ere vicing claims that I have spoken
of, which we used to work on wet days, and it was a
common thing among as to trade our claims for a
piece of tobacco, or other trifling exchange, if we had
not had a successful day. In this manner Jack and I
had several times traded this same claim backward and
forward, but he was the one who owned it, when it
began to pan out well.
Another story about Jack comes to my mind, as I
write this, which shows that the joke he wished to
perpetrate, did not always turn upon himself and he was
full of practical jokes. It was altogether an age of
tricks and trickery. Men had little to think about, outside the routine of their every day vocation, and the
stories brought from home or travels, would become
stale. So the miners entertained themselves and their
friends at the expense of strangers or oftentimes of
their own companions. It was a common thing for
gold-seekers to keep in their pockets, several slugs of
gold, varying in value. They were lumps worth, sometimes, as much as forty or fifty dollars, and often more.
Jack was sitting under a tree, one day, wondering where
he would try his luck next. In his pocket. were the
regulation slugs —four or five of them—and they were
beauties. As his glance wandered across the open
glade before him, he saw a man coming along, evident- 76
ly a greenhorn in search of gold, and an idea struck
Jack to have some fun at the prospector's expense. He
pretended to be digging in the bark of the tree with his
knife, and as the stranger came up to him, he apparently took a lump of gold out and put it in his pocket. The
stranger halted, put down his blankets, and was about
to use his own knife on the tree, when Jack stopped
him. "No you don't 1" said Jack, "This is my tree.
There is one over there that looks pretty good, you may
try that." The stranger took his knife and went for
the other tree, while Jack pretended to find another
lump. "Any luck ?" queried Jack, after awhile.
"Can't raise the color," said the stranger.
' O
"Hello !" shouted Jack, "one more. That makes
three," and he held three big lumps out in his hand.
"That's queer," said the other, plunging his knife deep
into the tough bark of the tree, and making a long slit
as he drew it out with a twist, "It's mighty queer that
there shouldn't be any here I"
"Maybe you are too near the ground," suggested Jack,
"some of them are 'top-reefers' as we call them here;
try about twenty feet higher up. Whew ! here's another I"
The stranger began to think that it was time he also
o o
found something, and so, without any further ado, he
began to climb up.
"How's this 1'' he shouted.
"Higher up, I think," suggested Jack.
"Here V from the stranger.
"A little higher 1" yelled Jack, in delight, not even
being able to see the man, by this time, "Up as far as
that fork above you, and I think you will strike it."
The stranger made a desperate effort, reached the fork
and dug  into  the  bark for gold.     By this time Jack HUNTING FOR  GOLD
could no longer restrain his merriment, and bursting into a roar of laughter that raised the echo of the woods,
he hurried to the camp to tell his adventure. But up
in the top of the tree sat the gold-seeker, prospecting
in the bark and wondering what had taken that crazy
man below. Such practical joking formed one of the
features, characteristic of mining life in those days.
Generally the jokes were taken in good part, and, when
opportunity allowed, practiced on somebody else.
"Cut-eye" Foster made  a  success at store-keeping,
but his prices were absolutely ruinous to his customers.
He  charged three  dollars per pound for potatoes and
butter,  two  dollars  for flour, and so on in proportion,
making everybody recognize that, if life was worth living, we certainly had to pay dearly to sustain it.    Foster got a man to attend his store by the name of William
Slater, who  afterwards proved to be  an  out-and-out
swindler, preying on the confidence of his  fellow men.
As a business man Slater could not be surpassed. When
a customer came into the store with money in his pocket and wanted four pounds of potatoes, Slater would invariably say : "You might as well take five pounds, for
I have no change."    But if another came in and asked
for the same quantity with a request to have it booked,
he  would  say in  his suavest  manner:    "Would two
pounds do you to-day ?   You know I am nearly run out
of potatoes and want all to have an  equal show."    No
wonder "Cut-Eye" made money,  with such a commercial genius in his employ.
But later he took sick. His tent afforded but a poor
shelter, and he was really very low. He sent for me
to come over and see him, and when I realized the precarious condition in which he was, I had him moved
over to my cabin, gave him my bunk and slept on the 78
floor. My partner poked fun at me, and said I was too
tenderhearted, but I felt that it would have been inhuman to leave him where he was, and I put up with
it all. I merely mention this matter in order to show
Slater off in bold relief later on, when he distinguished
himself in a somewhat unexpected manner. At all events
we nursed him and pulled him through his sickness, and
when he began to recover he made himself quite popular
with our company. There was some talk about going
prospecting, and Slater heard us discuss the chances of
sending our gold down below. He then gave us the
startling information that to anybody, who knew his
way about, it was perfectly easy to get as much as
twenty-two dollars per ounce. This very much excited
the boys, who had never dreampt of any more than sixteen dollars, and from that day Slater' was looked upon
with much admiration by the whole crowd, who thought
that he was inside the ring and knew the ropes and how
to pull them.
The miners now began to come up to the mountains.
They came in flocks, so to speak, like migrating birds,
that only wanted to stay for a season and then return
to the home-nest, to feather and fix it. Our cabin
was a happy one, and no one was ever turned away, who
asked for shelter or a meal. When strangers came in
so thick that space began to get scarce, we would crawl
into our bunks so as to allow them room enough to get
in and warm themselves and get their clothes dried,
before proceeding any further. Many of them, more
especially married men, would state that they merely
wanted to accumulate two or three thousand dollars,
and then they would go back home. Such talk generally
elicited a smile on our part, and we told them that
five or six thousand dollars would not satisfy them, and HUNTING FOR GOLD
that when they had accumulated that much, they would
think less about going home than they did before.
Those who were camped down the river about Cox's
and Goodyear's Bar began staking off claims all the way
up to the Forks. When they got that far, they would
begin to explore the North and South Forks, and thinking that they had found something better still, they
would drive in more stakes, until they got clear out of
sight. Then, when they returned to their first claims,
they would find that these had been occupied by other
parties,  and thus innumerable  disputes  would   arise.
This state of affair was an unmistakable sign that the
hour had arrived when it became necessary to establish
certain laws by which to regulate operations in these
parts, and thus it was, that out of chaos and confusion
grew the first code that guided the dwellers at the
Forks, and which it proved very hard to upset or alter,
when later on attempts were made to do so. CHAPTER VIII.
Adopting a Code—Remarkable Observations—The Oh-be-joyful
—Changing a Name—A Bit of Early History—Samuel Lang-
ton—A Bag of Gold—Etiquette in the Bar-room—Corn Meal
Fixings—Reading the First Newspaper—Meeting Jim Crow
—Phantom Treasures.
For the purpose of settling the matter of laws, a meeting was called at Mr. Kelly's cabin, a series of resolutions was passed, establishing a code which was afterwards adhered to, and things went smoothly until the
advent of the legal fraternity. It would have been better by far, for the miners, if the lawyers had never
reached the gold-fields of the Yubas. They came there
for the sake of "filthy lucre," and too easily they wrung
from the miners what they had made through sheer
hard work. In the following is presented an exact copy
of the minutes of the meeting referred to, with Major
Briggs in the Chair, and C. A. Russell acting as Secre-
oo * o
Forks of the Yuba, March 3d, 1850.
"Met, according to agreement, at Mr.   Kelly's cabin.
' O O v
Meeting was organized by the appointment of Major
Briggs, as Chairman, and C. A. Russell, as Secretary.
Messrs. T. Sexton, N. Kelly and H. A. Russell, committee.
Moved and seconded that the report of the committee be accepted.
Resolved, First.—That ten yards be the amount of
each claim, extending to the middle of the river.        gg HUNTING FOR  GOLD
Second.—That each claim be staked, and a tool, or'
tools left upon it.
Third.—That five days be allowed to prepare and occupy each claim.
Fourth.—That none but native and naturalized citizens of the United States shall be allowed to hold
Fifth.—That the word "native" shall not include the
Indians of this country.
Sixth.—That   companies   damming  the river, shall
hold, each individual, a claim, and have a right to the
bed of the river (below low-water mark) as far as it lies
Seventh.—That claims be in  conjunction  with their
Eighth.—That all matters of dispute be settled by
Ninth.—That in case of trial for crime of any kind,
there shall be ten present, besides the jury and witnesses.
Tenth,—That sea-faring men in possession of American protection, shall be allowed claims.
Eleventh.—That whoever shall not be able to show
his papers, shall have a fair trial.
Twelfth.—That this code of laws be in force on and
after the fourth of March.
Thirteenth.—That the upper Yuba District consist of
Goodyear's Bar and all above.
Moved that this meeting adjourn to the first Sunday
of next month.
MAJOR BRIGGS, President.
C, A. Russell, Secretary.
O. S. Sexton,       )
N. Kelly, > Committee.
H. A. Russell,    ) 82
I made a very remarkable observation, which for
some time puzzled my imagination and to this day remains unexplained. I was working a claim opposite
Craycroft's sawmill, and it was quite a common occurrence to find heavy gold high upon the bank amongst
loose, black dirt, or sticks and leaves. I saw the same
thing afterwards below Breyfogle Flat, where I would
find loose gold as far as thirty feet above the river.
Without asserting that gold will float, I am at a loss to
account for its presence in these places, if it had not
been carried there by the water when the river was
swolen. It was not heavy gold, but found in large,
thin scales, and I saw one piece that measured about
an inch and a half square, weighing half an ounce. This
flaky gold would frequently average from two to five
dollars to the pan, while the clay in the same location
would not go one dollar to the pan.
Owing to some severe weather we were laying off for
a spell, and it was decided to celebrate this occasion
with an attack upon the "Oh-be-joyful," and sending
out a general invitation, we opened proceedings. For
some time we kept it up pretty well; life took on a
rosy hue; we felt satisfied with ourselves and. everybody
else, and we drank our grog in the Sierras with the
same relish that some of us might to-day drink champagne at Delmonico's. But after awhile it was advisable to stop the spree. It had to be done effectually and
with a finishing touch worthy of the occasion, and it was
suggested that we should drink all the liquor to be had
at the Forks. We sent down to Slater to negotiate for
the purchase of the balance of his grog supply, but he
replied that he would not sell wholesale, as he had only
part of one keg left, but to oblige us he was willing to
let us have what he  could spare.    Unawares we were HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
the victims of one of our friend Jack's tricks. He had
already bought the lot from Slater, had it bottled, and
had hidden the bottles in the snow behind the cabin.
By and by the boys began to get dry, and one of them
suggested that he would pay an ounce for a bottle, and
Jack said he would go for it. On his return he remarked that it would be possible to get another bottle
or two for the same price, after which he was quickly
dispatched, and as a matter of course, treated, on his
return, to a drink of the precious liquid. In this manner Jack made quite a good speculation, and for every
time he came into the cabin with a couple of bottles, he
would expatiate upon the depth of the snow and the numerous difficulties encountered on the way, while as a
matter of fact, he had been only a few yards away from
the cabin, taking the bottles out of the snow.
It was during this spring that the name of the Forks
was changed to that of "Downieville." By this time
people had begun to accumulate and to build small houses, cabins or shanties, and it became evident that the
foundation of a town was being laid. Men began to organize matters ; to build only in certain positions, and
to leave space for future streets, which, however, so far
had not been established. A man called Vineyard came
up from Goodyear's Bar and staked off a lot above Craycroft's place and just in front of some land belonging to
James Galloway. He left only seventeen feet for the
width of the street, and this so much annoyed the people in the neighborhood, that they called a meeting, and
it was finally decided that no street should be less than
twenty-six feet wide. Mr. Galloway was in the chair,
and there was quite a lengthy discussion as to the width
to be decided upon. When it was all settled, Mr. Galloway took the floor and made a speech.    He reminded 84
those present that they had been arguing about the
width of the streets, and yet they had not even named
the town they were about to found. He then moved
that it be called "Downieville," after Major Downie.
Vineyard, who was annoyed at his defeat in regard to
the width of the streets, objected. He proposed to call
the place "Foster," but upon a vote being taken, he was
the only one who opposed the name of " Downieville,1'
which was then adopted with acclamation. I had just
returned from a trip down the river, and happened to enter the room as they were all shouting themselves
hoarse for "Downieville," and my appearance lent new
impetus to the enthusiasm, which culminated when I
called all hands out to drink to the success of the new
However, for some time after, the place continued to
be called the | Forks," and it was not until Mr. Galloway was made Justice of the Peace, and dated his writs
from "Downieville," that the little town became officially known by that name. The first territorial election
under the constitution, outside the cities, took place on
the 1st of June, 1850. Galloway and Vineyard were
both running for the Justiceship, and as Downieville
was entitled to two Justices, they were both elected.
They had made an agreement that the one who received
the most votes, should qualify. It proved a very close race
for the office. Galloway received 496 votes, and qualified, his opponent receiving 492. The Justice's jurisdiction extended all over the present county of Sierra, and
took in some outside territory, besides, and the nearest
Court to this, was at Foster's Bar. During the first
year Mr. Galloway tried three hundred and twenty-five
cases, ranging in cost from half an ounce to six ounces,
and embracing crimes and offenses of all kinds. HUNTING  FOR   GOLD
Frank Cook and John Capion were Constables a.t the
same time. Cook afterwards joined the police force in
Marysville, and later became Chief of Police there.
But I must go back a little in my account.    One of
the results of our gradual development was the appearance, at our camps, of expressmen, or mail-carriers as
they  should  more  properly  have been called.    These
men speculated upon our isolation by bringing us mail
from Sacramento at such prices as they might contract
for with  the miners,  individually.    In most cases the
matter never  went beyond a  "proposition," and the
advancement of certain money to men who had no intention  of returning.    It  was, doubtless, the memory  of
this dishonesty that afterwords caused many to distrust
a most worthy man, who came up to fulfill the obligations for which he had contracted.    This man was Mr.
Samuel Langton, and the accompanying picture gives a
life-like representation of him and myself as we appeared
in those days.    I am represented as showing him some
gold, on  the occasion, and he   as  bending  forward  to
examine it.   Many a time have we sat outside that cabin,
giving one another an account of happenings which had
taken place since our last meeting.    And to few men do
the miners of the early days on the Yuba, owe a greater
debt of gratitude,   than   to   Sam.    While the halls of
Congress  resounded with  long-winded  speeches about
the  admission  of California  to. the  Union; while we
were being victimized by crafty adventurers, Sam  was
climbing the hills  with his  little budget of letters, to
make the   miner, in his brush shanty, glad with  news
from home.    Summer and winter he toiled away, ever
faithful to the discharge of his self-assumed duties.      In
the  scorching  sun,  across  swolen rivers,   or through
mighty snowdrifts, Sam Langton made his way to our w
camps, bringing tidings and messages that were looked
for with impatience.
It had become a matter of ambition with a great many
to act as expressmen, and among those who thought
themselves particularly fitted for the position, was
William Slater. He gave out, all along, that he was
going to outshine the rest, and when he once got started
in business, he certainly succeeded in doing so, in one
sense.    Mr.   Langton became the agent for the  great
o o o
Express firm of Adams & Co., and opened an office at
Downieville, but it took him quite a while to establish
the desired confidence in the concern. I remember, on
one occasion, meeting a miner in his office, who was
asking innumerable questions as to the mode of sending,
money home. Sam explained the whole matter to him,
showed him a draft on Adams & Co., which he would
receive on depositing the gold, but the miner hesitated
to let his dust go. He could, evidently, not understand
that such, a flimsy-looking paper could be good security
for solid gold. He objected on the ground that the
draft looked like "shinplaster," and that the bank might
"bust up." He finally left with his gold. When he
got outside, he called the boys up to have a drink, then
he dived into the chances of the monte bank, and by
night the pile was gone, which might have rewarded
him for honest toil, and brought relief and joy to those
left at home. I have* heard many useless regrets expressed by the miserable victims of the gambling-table,
who had staked their money on the wrong card, instead
of leaving it  in  Sam s  strong-box.    I never gambled,
o o o *
myself, but nevertheless, truth compells me to say that
I also have  suffered, though somewhat differently, for
refusing the services of an honest and worthy man
During  the spring flour  went  down in price, at the 88
Forks, and I bought one thousand pounds and had it taken to my camp on the South Fork. I paid a dollar a
pound for it, and while it lasted, it was common property, and whosoever wanted a sack was welcome to it.
On the day when it arrived, and after paying the packer,
and on my way home, I was overtaken by a stranger,
who held a bag of gold in his hand. He insisted that I
lost it while paying the packer. I knew he was mistaken, and told him so, but he continued to insist until at
last I stuck it in my belt, until I should find an owner.
The bag was a heavy one, containing some five or six
pounds, but I thought I knew who had lost it, and kept
it by me. A few days after some of us went as far as
the store kept by Messrs. Wagoner & Chase, who at the
time had a keg of brandy going. Several people came
in, and among them was my man, and to him I restored
his lost property. Then came the question of reward.
It was not an individual matter, by any means ; it merely amounted to spending one ounce out of six pounds,
to treat all hands, so as to celebrate the recovery of the
lost gold in the orthodox manner. At that time, and
with those surroundings, a "treat" meant the expenditure of one ounce, or sixteen dollars, and he was, indeed,
looked upon as a very mean man who would refuse to
follow the rule. But it so happened that the stranger,
belonged to this penurious class, which, it must be admitted, was exceptionally rare in the diggings. He positively refused to spend more than half an ounce on the
celebration, and as we had a reputation to sustain, we
advised him accordingly. We told him that the kind of
company to which we belonged could not be treated in
this manner,—his offer was an insult to us, and he could
not do better than quit the premises in double-quick
time, which he did.    In fact,  no man ever went out of HUNTING  FOR GOLD
Wagoner & Chase's store more quickly than did this
fellow. This will show how the ideas of etiquette, of
usage and established custom, force themselves upon
all commuities, even at early stages, and how aristocratic or plebeian distinctions find a place there. I may remark here, that the rule of spending one ounce on a
treat, was so strictly adhered to that, when there happened to be fewer men in the company than could get
away with the liquor, one of them would go outside and
drum up assistance from the passers-by, or neighbors.
One of these, who came up to engage in store-keeping during that spring, was a Mr. McGhee. In addition to the usual stock of provisions and liquors, Mac
also brought a quantity of corn meal, and as this was
something we had not known for many months, it was
appreciated. McGhee was a very good fellow, and he
invited us to come over to his store and see him. He
was located about where the St. Charles hotel now
stands, and he proved himself a most excellent host.
He treated us to a drink which he called "corn-meal-
fixings," and I think he was the inventor of it. It consisted of about a half a pint of brandy and water with a
little corn meal stirred up in it, and when the cup was
passed around, the unanimous verdict was that it was a
most excellent drink. He had to go some distance for
water, and not infrequently, when he left us for that
purpose, we would help ourselves to the brandy, and
drinking it without either corn meal or water, and
agreed that, barring the water, it made just as good
a drink when partaken of neat.
At one time during this spring, I was taking it easy
for a few days. I had received a number of books and
papers and spent all my time in perusing them Some
men came up to my cabin and told me that the Kanakas 90
had struck it rich at the head of Indian Creek, and
urged me to come with them. I must admit that I was
not eager to go. My newspapers, which by the way
were the first ever read at the Forks, engrossed all my
attention, and I was somewhat doubtful as to the truth
of the report. However, I ultimately consented to go
with them, and packing up a few New York Heralds
and provisions for three or four days, I got ready to
start. Of course it would not do to leave 'till after dark,
for fear of others following us. There were about a
dozen of us, and we presented an appearance very much
like a number of jail-breakers, as we made our way in the
dark, "cooning the log," and creeping through the brush
as silently as possible. We supposed, for sometime, that
we were the only ones in the secret, and were therefore
surprised, when, after beginning to climb the hill on the
other side of Breyfoyle Flat, we overtook a party of five,
who were making for the mysterious diggings. They
were waiting for one of their number, who had gone back
to fetch a few bottles so as to get up sufficient steam for
the ascent. We pushed on, and just as day was begin-
ninc to peep over the hills, we came upon another party,
bound for the same diggings. They were melting snow
for breakfast and we certainly thought that they would
be the last competitors, we should fall in with-on the
road, but just as we came to the summit of the hill, we
overtook another party, traveling for dear life to get in
At last we arrived at the place of our destination, and
we all made for the ravine where the gold was said to
be. But great was my surprise, when on my way to
that place, I met Jim Crow. He was at the head of the
Kanakas and held full sway over them. The place had
already been named Crow City, and the canyon is to this HUNTING FOR GOLD
day known as Jim Crow Canyon. The whole affair was
well got up, and they had already a very perfect organization, with  laws  and  regulations  to guide them, and
' o o ?
over forty white men had pledged themselves to extend
to the Kanakas the same rights that they enjoyed.
In regard to Jim Crow, he seemed even more surprised than I, at our meeting, and told me a pack of lies
to explain his singular conduct in leaving us in the lurch
last fall, but the fact remained that he really intended
to make his way back to our old camp, expecting to find
us all starved to death and probably our gold left, ready
to be taken away; at all events, a rich field to work in.
I never could understand how Jim raised money for the
outfit he was bossing on this occasion, after having spent
all he took away from our camp, but it is possible that
the  "Blue Tent" people could tell a tale in this respect.
The diggings here did not by far answer to the great
anticipations entertained of them. I for my own part
took it easy. I read my papers, and at once saw through
the game, and made up my mind not to excite myself.
We camped against a huge log, the slope being so steep
that this was the only way in which we could obtain any
comfort, and when I had finished reading my papers
I returned to my own camp.
Many of those who had come there, enticed by the
rumors of great riches, were loth to leave. They had
an idea that the Kanakas were only waiting for the white
people to vacate, and then they would plunge into the
very richest places. Altogether there prevailed, at
that time, a singular superstition in regard to black or
colored men. They were looked upon as "mascots,"
.and it was a common belief that they had luck in seeking for gold. While in their company, Dutch, English,
French, or any other nationality, alike felt sure  of the 92
"dead wood." But my experience with Jim Crow was
such as to shake my faith in the race, and I made my
way back, perfectly satisfied to leave them behind. CHAPTER IX.
An Unfortunate Family—A Company of Sailors—After "Old
Downie"—Single Men and Married Men—William Slater's
Exit—A Note Due Over Forty Tears—Law and Lawyers—
"Uncle Jimmie"—A Discourse About Drinking—My Claim
was Gone—The Eighth Commandment.
I cannot proceed without saying a few more words
about Sam Langton and his family. They came from
Washington City and met with a fate in California which
was absolutely tragic. They were rich and influential
at one time, but the heavy failure of the Adams Express
Company practically ruined them financially, and the
family is now almost extinct. Sam Langton was killed
in Virginia City by a fall from his carriage; a younger
brother died in poverty in San Francisco some years
ago; and another brother—Tom Langton—was sent to
the insane asylum at Stockton, but has since so far recovered as to hold, at present, an official position at that
institution. One of the sisters pined to death grieving
for the loss of her husband, a noted Mountain express
rider, who lost his life in the execution of his duty; and
the widow and daughter of Sam Langton, perished a few
years ago in an avalanche at the Sierra Buttes.
Although I continued to keep my headquarters at,
what I will hereafter call Downieville, I spent the
greater part of my time prospecting in various parts of
the surrounding country. I must admit, that as I now
remember, I am surprised at the haste we often exhibited in leaving claims that paid us well, for strange loca- 94
tions and uncertain chances. It was a common occurrence for us to leave claims paying from three to four
ounces per day, or even as much as a pound, and packing our blankets over the mountains, with the sun beat-
o *
ing on our backs and snow blinding our eyes, in search
of—we hardly knew what ourselves. But there are
circumstances over which men seem to have no control,
although they are created by themselves, and so in those
days the life of the miner was a restless one; the alluring
hope of greater treasures led him on and on, and in too
many cases he became like the rolling stone that gathers
no moss. Hope too often appeared like the will-o-the-
wisp—a mere phantom that led us astray.
My company usually consisted of Scotch or English
sailors. They would come to San Francisco, generally
from Australia, and desert their ships to make for the
mines. When they arrived there, they would, for some
reason,' frequently cast their lot with me, and after a
time, the "Major's" company became pretty well known.
It seems strange that, although I was a sailor, like
the rest, and at all times moderate in partaking of liquor,
the boys who followed me were nearly always a
hard-drinking lot. On Saturday nights we would return to Downieville to celebrate our success, or try to
forget our disappointments. On such occasions, the
flowing bowl would not be left on the shelf, and as a
rule, the "boys" would divide their attention between it
and the gambling table, and often spend as much as
three or four thousand dollars before  Monday mornino-.
Roving about the country as much as I did, and meeting with a good deal of success at prospecting, I gradually became known throughout the gold-fields of the
Yuba. It was no uncommon thing for men to attempt to  watch  my  movements, or even  plan  some HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
means of robbing me of my wealth, and I have had several strange adventures in this way. I was prospecting
at one time with John Bell, and we were cooking our
dinner, when I saw three men  coming along in our di-
7 O O
rection. They were covered with dust, and their clothes
had been torn  in  the thick  chapparal through  which
they had made their way. The perspiration stood in
large beads on their foreheads, and they could hardly
speak for want of breath.
"What's your hurry 1" I inquired.
One of the men threw down his pack, and winked his 96
eye as he said in  a  half whisper :    "We are  after old
"The devil!" I ejaculated. "What's the matter with
him |
The stranger became more mysterious. At first he
did not wish to speak, but I finally got out of him that
"old Downie" had just made his way down the mountain with a mule carrying a sack of gold.
"When was he last seen ?" I asked, greatly amused at
the whole affair.
But to this I could get no other reply than a vague
allusion to the "Bald Mountain" and the "Lone Tree,"
which, together with the "Gold Lake," formed parts of
the myth of those regions. They were supposed to be
places where fabulous treasures might be found, but
their various locations were not generally known. When
a miner had struck it rich, and his companions did not
know where he had got it, it was put down as one of
the places referred to. There was nothing very singular in this, when it is borne in mind that every move
was made with the utmost secrecy, and miners themselves, as a rule, refused to speak of their finds. In regard to the men in pursuit of myself, I will simply remark that had their story been true, and they had met
"Old Downie" on a mule carrying a sack of gold, I
have no doubt, judging from their somewhat uncouth
appearance, that they would have forced me to surrender all, or part of it, or, at all events, to reveal the
location whence it came.
In selecting my men for prospecting purposes, I always preferred single men. Benedicts had too often
proved themselves a nuisance to me, and I had no use
for them. They would whine about their wives ; wonder how their children were  getting along ;   speculate HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
upon the possibilities of a speedy return ; and at night,
when we bachelors rolled ourselves in our blankets and
slept the sleep of the just, they would grunt and groan,
and pray and weep, and gaze at the stars, and make
themselves unfit for the work on band. A pater famil-
ias is a noble being in his right sphere, but in the gold
diggings, in nine cases out of ten, he appeared to me
entirely out of his element, and I religiously evaded him
whenever 1 could.
Trade was flourishing at Downieville as the season
advanced. "Judge" Paxton opened a store on Jersey
Flat, and William Slater was doing a rushing  business
3 O O
in whisky. He contemplated a trip to Sacramento for
a large supply of goods. In our camp we had not forgotten Slater's statement in regard to the value of gold-
dust, and we all agreed • that now was the chance to
make money. So we dug up our bags and gave them
to Slater to take down with him. We considered that
it was somewhat difficult to count with twenty-two,
which was the number of dollars promised us per ounce,
and so agreed to allow the two dollars on each ounce, to
O •'
Slater. In addition to this, I made up a bag of specimens, all fine nuggets, weighing over two pounds, and
told him to send it as a present to his wife in the States,
and so we bade Slater "Farewell' and "God speed."
This was Slater's debut as an express messenger, and
he took with him.about $25,000 worth of gold. We
have never since seen the man we had nursed
through his sickness ; whose store we had. patronized ;
and upon whose honesty we had implicitly relied. Slater never stopped until he reached San Francisco, and
from there he shipped directly for his eastern home.
Sometime after a man came up to the Yuba to try his
luck.    He had met  Slater  on  the  Isthmus,  and  had 98
been advised by him to go up our way. Slater had spoken kindly of us all, and in particular urged him to
look up the "Major," whom he had described as one of
the best fellows in the world, ready to do all in his power
to assist a stranger. And this splendid recommendation we got for our hospitality, our confidence and our
gold, and it took us quite a while to persuade the newcomer that a man who had spoken so warmly of us all,
could have treated us so badly as did Slater.
There were many who thought that "Cut-Eye" Foster had combined with Slater to rob us of our money,
but I believe, on the contrary, that he was one of Slater's victims. Foster was not so bad as they made him
out to be. I have, already, to some extent, dwelt upon
his character. I am well aware that he was not over-
troubled with conscience, and that he did not hesitate
to drive strange stock to his ranch, if it chanced to mix
with his own, but such irregularities were not regarded
as serious offenses in those days, and the men who committed them did not consider themselves thieves, whatever the sufferers may have thought. He had a propensity for borrowing money, and I believe owes more to
his friends than any other man I have known. I have
held his note for over forty years, for a sum which,
with the accumulated interest, would now amount to
something over a million dollars. Some years ago I met
him up north, where he was farming, and he offered me
his ranch and several horses, but I was on my way to
the Idaho diggings,  and making a "raise" there, I re-
OO       O   ' o
fused his offer. One of Foster's good points was his native generosity. If & miner in needy circumstances applied to him, he received what he asked for, and if
he happened to be unable to pay the debt, Foster did
not worry him about it.     Foster was also very kind HUNTING FOR  GOLD
toward strangers who were taken sick, and more than
once kept men in his camp who, without his assistance,
would have died from hunger, exposure and disease.
Surely, charity should cover a multitude of sins, and with
all his faults, "Cut-Eye" was by no means a bad man.
I have touched upon the advent of the legal talent,
and the influence it had on the community. As a matter of course, the lawyers came as soon as the election
had given a Justice of the Peace to Downieville, and the
number of suits brought during the first year, will show
that there was no fear of them starving. One of the
earliest suits brought was caused by a dispute over a
claim, belonging to "Uncle Jimmie." "Uncle" played
a conspicuous part in the early days of Downieville. He
was a shrewd, sharp business man, who never let an opportunity escape, when a gain could be made. He ran
the Gem saloon; and it was a gem! He had a monte
table going day and night and treated all strangers who
came in, and he had a very clear idea of the persuasive
powers of grog. With him the adage was, "one drink of
brandy makes the whole world akin," and he used it as
a maxim, by which he greatly profited. The claim in
dispute was located on the upper end of Jersey Flat and
extended into the river to low-water mark. The river
was flumed, and for this reason the line of demarkation
was not very distinctly defined, and on the day of the
trial the jury and witnesses were called upon to closely
examine into the situation. Uncle was up to the occasion. His proverbial liberality came to the front, and
he put up a free bottle at the Gem. Jury, witnesses
and everybody else, took advantage of the opportunity
to get free drink, and by the time the examination was
over, the tramping of feet in the sand, and the effect of
the grog on their visual organs had made it an impossi- 3 00
bility to discern the line of so much legal importance, and
the verdict was given in favor of "Uncle Jimmie." That
night there was a big time at Downieville, and a general
O O ' o
"jamboree" took place. There was nothing mean about
the landlord of the Gem. He had won the suit, and he
was willing to express his satisfaction, according to the
rules of the community. The drawing of the corks
was a thing unknown in those quarters, the necks of
the bottles being simply knocked off, and uncle was an
expert in that line. .
And what a scene to behold!
"Brandy or Champagne?" called "Uncle," and the
desired drink was forthcoming.
"Fall back all you, who have just had a drink and let
the "boys" have a chance."
"Get out on the street somebody, and tell all hands
to come in, Uncle is just going to stand another basket."
Such was the talk, and the liquor flowed in an endless
stream, and men drank till they reeled, and even then
went on drinking. And yet, there must be something
in  drinking,   which is sublime, for I find in the ancient
O7 *
mythologies that even the Gods of the Greeks and
Norsemen  held high carnival with mead and wine, and
O '
they were not ashamed to let drink master them at
times. And yet both these races were brave, bold and
intelligent, and they have both had a great deal of
healthful influence on the further development of the
world. Be this as it may, the miners of the early days
were a sturdy lot. They indulged in drinking at times, it
is true, but they bore hardships and endured privations
at other times, with a fortitude which made them heroes,
and at the sacrifice of comforts, often of health or even
life, they helped to make the world richer, if not happier. HUNTING FOR GOLD
Naturally a great many lawsuits were brought about
through disputed claims, but the losers never seemed to
take their defeat much to heart. "Let her rip!" was
the usual exclamation when a man was told that he had
lost his claim. The revel went on all the same, and the
man without a claim would soon get another. There
was plenty of gold up and down the Yuba, in those days,
and yet I met men, right in the hey-day of the gold discoveries there, who were  making for the American riv-
* O
er, asserting that the gold was all dug up on the Yuba.
I had a lawsuit, myself, at one time, with some
fellows who came from the South Yuba, attempting to take possession of Downieville by jumping
claims, and they ultimately called a public meeting
for the purpose of introducing new laws. But in this
they failed. Our code had proved entirely satisfactory,
so far, and we did not propose to let these strangers run
our affairs. They then changed their tactics and jumped
all the claims of the "foreigners," and among others,
mine. But I soon vindicated my rights as an American
citizen, notwithstanding the fact that I was born in
Scotland and "proud of the land that gave me birth "
My accusers were fined fifty dollars and costs, but what
ever became of that money, I never could learn, and
suspect that it was sunk in ale. This beverage had been
introduced in Downieville during the summer of fifty.
It came in bottles, and soon became a very popular
drink, and I remember  being in court when, during the
* O | o
sitting, several adjournments were had for the purpose of
of indulging in bottled  ale.    In  those  days attorneys
O        O «/ J
could not speak as fluently as they can  to-day, without
a draught.and a bottle of ale seemed to have a magic effect
o        ' n
upon them.    The  Judge, himself, enjoyed  the  amber
fluid as much as any, and the  only reason it  was  not f(ff| (iJB HUNTING  FOR   GOLD
partaken of in the court room, so as to save going out,
was the fact that his Honor objected to the slops on his
table, and so preferred adjourning court.
The claim I had recovered by law, I sold shortly
afterwards to a young married man called "Bonney."
His wife lived in the States, and he was anxious to
return as soon as possible, with some kind of a fortune.
As he did not have much money, I sold him the claim
on easy terms. He was to give me two-thirds of the
proceeds, as they came out, until he had paid for it. I
do not recommend this as a good way of disposing of a
claim, and on the present occasion I certainly became
the loser.
My customer had every reason to be satisfied. For
two or three days he paid my share conscientiously, and
this amount ran over a thousand dollars per day, but
then I had to leave, on a prospecting tour. I was away
for about two weeks, and when I returned the bird had
flown. My eastern friend was making for home with a
pocket full of money, and had disposed of my claim to
somebody else. I lost not only a splendid claim but two
tents that were on it, a supply of cooking utensils, two
gold-scales and a number of other things, which I had
left there with full confidence in the honesty of the man,
to whom I had sold, I made up my mind that henceforth I would have no dealings with married men, and
I trust my reader does not blame me.
In these days we had neither locks, bars nor bolts on
our doors, and sometimes indeed, we were duly prevented
from  indulging in such luxuries through the entire ab-
o     o o
sence of the door itself. The burglar alarm, as we understood that term, to use a legal phrase came "after the
the fact." It was a process without the expenditure of
county money, it chiefly concerned the robbers  individ- mm
ually, and the sequence was in nearly all instances
certain death. There were no extenuating circumstances to be advanced, when the crime was theft. I remember one day coming past a rock upon which lay a buckskin purse, stuffed, and to all appearance, containing
probably a thousand dollars in dust. There was nobody
in sight, but I doubted not that the rightful owner was
in hiding somewhere near, and I passed by on the opposite side of the road, feeling sure that anyone attempting to touch that purse, would be immediately introduced to Judge Lynch. It is true that we were not altogether a pious settlement, but for obvious reasons we
kept the eighth commandment for all it was worth, and
it may be that if matters were dealt with in the same
manner to-day, there would be less thieving than there
is. The penal code of the early days in the mining
camps, was undoubtedly severe, but it was wonderfully
effective. CHAPTER X.
A Spree for a Tip—Our Social Conditions—The Glorious Fourth
—A Dinner at Galloway's—A Fight for Blood—A Speedy
Trial—Thirty-nine Lashes—Big Logan—A Singular Suicide—
Prospecting with Kanakas—A Rough Journey—Verdant
As a matter of course our prospecting tours could not
always be attended with succees, but we took care to appear, on our return, as if we had achieved satisfactory
results. I remember once being away for some time and
bringing up at Charlie Simmons' on my return, while
the "boys" went down to Downieville. We had not
been very lucky, but we did not propose to make that
anybody else's business. The "boys," as usual, wanted a
spree after their hardships, but not having made it, they
did not feel inclined to spend their money, and Joe, one
of the crowd, cast about for some cheap manner in which
to celebrate their return The opportunity soon presented itself. The hombres,* who were naturally a
curious lot, were in the habit of inviting returning prospectors to their cabins, treating them to drink and then
would attempt to pump them. It was of this custom
that our friend Joe took advantage for the benefit of
himself and his mates.
Being invited into a cabin, they were first offered a
few drinks, and then the questioning began. Joe pretended to be getting confidential.    He gave a knowing
* A Spanish word meaning companion,   here  used  as meaning
•certain classes of the miners. 106
wkik, and intimated that .by and by he would tell them
something worth knowing. More grog was passed out,
and such of the "boys" as had not yet been asked to
come in, were called up, and it was suggested that Joe
should reveal his secret; but he told them not to be in
a hurry. Brandy flowed fast and freely, and everyone
went to bed half-seas over, to get up and resume the
spree next morning. Their entertainers thought that,
no doubt, Joe would tell them if "his speaking organs
were properly lubricated, and their faith in the "Major's"
luck was great. In the course of the day the question
was again put to Joe. "Keep dark, and I will tell you,''
he said. "Not a word about this ! Do you understand ?
Nobody must know where you get it from."
"You need not fear,'; came back the answer. "Do you
think I would be such a fool as to mention it ?"
"I don't know when the 'Major' is going out again,
but I am going with him. when he does go.    It is rich ;
O O O '
you bet it is rich !"
"Well, " said the expectant host, "how much1?"
Joe had a way of speaking, which inspired confidence.
He put both hands on the shoulders of his interrogator,
looked him straight in the eyes and said, in an undertone :
"Just $500 to the pan."
The eyes, cheeks and mouth of the listener expanded into an expression of supreme satisfaction. "And
where is it V he stammered, trying to fill his lungs, from
which the breath had almost escaped. Joe put his mouth
to the fellow's ear and whispered the direction, an entirely
imaginary one, as the location only existed in Joe's
inventive brain; but the information was well worth
more drink, and a protracted spree followed, after which
the hombres stole out of camp in the dead of night and HUNTING FOR GOLD
made for the newly-discovered diggings
and far away."
My narrative now takes me up to the time when, for
the second time in the far West, I should celebrate that
greatest of American festivals, the Fourth of July. My
reader will, no doubt, remember my brief mention of
this celebration when, as a new-comer, I had only been
in San Francisco one week. Strange, indeed, did the.
scenes appear to me then, as they unfolded themselves
before my wondering gaze, but as I remembered the past
year, what scenes far stranger still, lay before me, in
many of which I had played a most important part.
I had imagined, when I left San Francisco, that I should
spend my near future in the quietude of isolated places,
but I had found, as time passed by, that one of the main
arteries of the world's great heart throbbed with quick
pulsation in' the very surroundings where I had lived
and toiled in suffering, or in the enjoyment of life. I
had seen the most varied phases of life—men, with
many thousands of dollars within easy reach, starving
for the want of food, and others living on the charity of
their fellow-men for want of means; and I had seen
men's passions rise until they carried away reason and
made human brutes of those who felt their sway. There
were many well-known scenes that greeted me in the
retrospective view of that one year, and while some of
them were terrible to behold, there were many others
pleasing enough, reminding me of happy moments spent
in congenial company or among men whose motto was:
"Begone, dull care!"
There can be no doubt that men are moulded by circumstances.    They assume characteristics according to
*/ O
the circumstances that surround them.    The lawyer, the
soldier, the scientist, are all different in their modes of  HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
thinking and their ways of acting. The sailor is blunt;
the tradesman suave and respectful. The California
pioneer miner was a being entirely distinct from any of
his fellow beings. He was rough, daring, indefatigable
The nature in which he lived, and the object for which
he toiled, made him so. But he was also generous, often
to lavishness. He knew what it meant to suffer want,
and he did not wish anyone else to experience it. He
often made a fortune in the course of a few hours, and
the value he placed upon it was small and in proportion
to the brief space of time it took him to accumulate it
His associates were drawn from all classes, but on the
gold-field in the early days, everybody was on the same
level. Class distinctions crept in later on, it is true, but
they were not known among the earliest pioneers, and
when they came, they appeared in the same garb as they
do to-day under our present conditions—the garb of "one
man-richer-than-the other."
Early in the history of California mining, various elements crept in which tended to degrade and demoralize
the community to some extent. The grog-vendor and
the monte-banker became responsible for much trouble.
Men who counted money of so little value, as did many
of these miners, were not calculated to resist temptation,
when thrown in their way as the only recreation obtainable, and as a result, irregularities followed. But the
reckless spirit of that period prompted the community to
make short work of the offenders. I have shown
already how we made our own laws, but sometimes the
court was spared any trouble in the matter through
immediate action on the part of the crowd or offended
parties; and if a criminal went into court, the jury understood the desire of the public and gave a verdict accordingly.    In all such cases the severest punishment was 110
meted out, and lynch-law often resorted to. It was the
natural outcome of conditions which called for strict and
decisive measure as the only means of subduing a spirit
of lawlessness and a tendency to crime, and above all,
theft and murder were vigorously prosecuted, and in
either case, death was almost the inevitable sequence.
I have made the above remarks with a view to explain,
and to some extent excuse some of the more striking
occurences that took place at Downieville in the early
Everything looked festive when the sun appeared
over the lofty Sierras on that 4th of July morning. On
Jersey Flat and up and down the Yuba, all around the
Forks wherever tent or cabin served as habitation, the
Stars and Stripes had been exhibited, denoting enthusiasm—not only on the part,of native Americans, but on
the part of the many who had sworn allegiance to the
flag, and under its protection were seeking to make
themselves and the world richer. As a matter of course,
the store-keepers were kept busy, as the day wore on.
Wherever there was a keg containing strong drink,
clusters were gathered within or without, as space would
allow, and men took turns to get to the counter and
drink to the glorious Fourth. Where one year ago the
timid deer-gazed on the verdant meadow, undisturbed,
save for the casual appearance of some Indian hunter,
echoed on this day hundreds of jubilant shouts, while
the miner forgot his toil and his tools lay idle on the
deserted claims. The Downieville of to-day, presents a
very different appearance from what it did then, and I
doubt if, with all the national enthusiasm that fires
its present loyal inhabitants, it would be possible to get
up as much steam for a Fourth of July celebration, as HUNTING FOR  GOLD
we did on this, our first observance of the national holiday in those quarters.
At Galloway's an elaborate dinner was prepared. It
was not served a la Husse or in the so-called, French
style, there were no gilt-edged menu cards to tell us
what the next course would be; neither were we waited
upon by men in swallow-tails and white shirt fronts; nor
did we drink wine from crystal goblets but we had
the best that could be procured where money was no
object, and where the only impediments were the
• distance from the market and the difficulties of getting
o o
there. Mrs. Galloway had prepared the dinner, and it
was pronounced "fit for a prince." Bottled ale played
an important part on that occasion, and it was varied
with something stronger of different kinds. The company
became animated and toast followed toast. We drank
to the Star Spangled Banner, to George Washington
and the galaxy of states—men and soldiers who had
shared the laurels with him, to the American nation in
general and the constitution in particular; to absent
friends and to everything and anything else that it was
possible to toast.
Meanwhile the carousing had been going on in other
o o        o
parts of the settlement, and in the afternoon men began
to get hilarious. Shots were fired from guns and pistols, and the racket increased until the general tumult
and excitement assumed dimensions which could hardly
be exceeded by a modern celebration, when fire crackers,
brass bands and processions are brought into action.
Then occurred the first incident of which I am about to
Two men, who had been indulging in the fiery liquid
until their brains became giddy, had a quarrel. It
passed from words to blows, and the fight became furi- 112
ous. In the heat of passion one of them drew a knifej
and before his adversary could ward off the thrust, or
by-standers interfere, he sunk it deep into his opponent's body. The blood spurted out, as the wounded
man sank to the ground. The wound did not prove a
dangerous one, but at the time no  one knew the extent
O '
of the injury done, and the sight of blood inflamed the
crowd with anger towards the man who did the stab-
bing.    He was seized and bound, and while a few attend-
O '
ed to the wounded man, the miscreant was at once
brought to justice. He was comparatively a stranger
and no doubt thought that in these rough surroundings
the use of a knife was in order. But the jury saw no
extenuating circumstances which could excuse him, and
he was sentenced to thirty-nine lashes on the bare back.
There was no reason to postpone the execution of justice, and while the slanting rays of the midsummer sun
fell upon the scene, and the hot air filled the valley with
an almost stifling atmosphere, the wretched man was
brought out to receive his punishment. He was tied hand
and foot to a slender tree, and the flogging inflicted with
a stout strip of rawhide.:lRt was a sickening sight to
behold. "Big'' Logan, who wielded the instrument of
torture, was a large, muscular man, whose sinewy arms
denoted enormous strength. He was a sailor by occupation, but had lately driven an ox team across the plains,
and was well practiced in the use of a whip, and moreover he was a cousin of the injured man. It may, therefore, be easily understood that he performed his task in a
manner which would have done credit to any Siberian
executioner, of whom Kenna or Paradyce has written.
The unfortunate culprit writhed in agony, as the heavy
strokes fell upon his body, which became more and more
lacerated by each blow that tapped the blood from his HUNTING  FOR GOLD
veins, and at last, Logan seemed the only man in the
crowd who was entirely unmoved by the horrible spectacle.
This same Logan was an extraordinary man.    He will
o «/
be mentioned later on, as playing a prominent part in
another dramatic occurrence which took place one year
later, but I cannot here refrain from saying a few words
' v O
concerning his own remarkable career and end.
He was seemingly a man entirely void of any nobler
sentiments. Sympathy seemed strange to him, and fear
he did not know. He was cool, indifferent to circumstances, strong in the knowledge of his own physical
' O O ±       «/
power, and a giant in proportions, yet he was not
vicious, except his passions were aroused, when he became
ferocious. What other men shrunk from, he could do
in cold blood without flinching, and therefore he was
repeatedly called upon to act as executioner when the
sentence of the law demanded one. He performed his
task with neither hesitation nor pleasure; he simply
seemed to do it because he was asked to do it, just as
he would have lent a man a tool, or otherwise accommodated him, if requested to do so.
Still, for some reasons, I think that Logan had a liking
' 7 O O
for revolting scenes, and concealed his satisfaction under
O 7
a cloak of assumed indifference. When afterwards
Walker got ready for his famous Nicaragua expedition,
Logan enlisted in his battalion and went with him. It
was while fighting a savage foe in those regions, that
o o o o *
Logan volunteered to pass in his checks rather than to
allow himself to be taken prisoner, and perhaps be subjected to some such tortures as he had inflicted upon
others without flinching. It is hard to say whether he
was prompted by courage or cowardice, but when he
saw  himself surrounded   by  the   enemy,   instead   of 114
surrendering, he disengaged the bayonet from his rifle,
and piercing his own heart with it, fell dead at the feet
of his captors.
This was the strange end' of a remarkable man.    He
was repulsive rather than otherwise, but the singular HUNTING FOR  GOLD
manner of his death threw a halo over his memory,
which in the eyes of many raised him to a hero.
But I return to my story of the 4th of July. The
excitement continued till far into the night.    The flog-
o o
ging scene was soon forgotten by everybody except the.
culprit, and "Big" Logan, who was treated by all his'
admirers who appreciated his nerve and herculean
strength. The miners drank in bumpers, while the gold
flew over the counters in the stores where grog was
dispensed. The keeper of the monte table called for
attention, and fickle fortune was tempted while the night
passed on, and the day of liberty had been spent. in a
manner worthy of its cause, proving that morally and
physically, the celebrants, with one exception, knew
neither shackles nor fetters.
It may be remarked in connection with this, that the
flogging of that day had a remarkably healthy influence
on our community. The miners had established a precedent, and whenever anybody flourished a knife in an
angry moment, it was merely necessary to remind him
of what happened on the Fourth of July, and for a long
time the effect of such a reminder, was simply magical.
About this time I had opened a store on Kanaka Flat,
in partnership with a man named H. B. Cossitt. He
was to run the store, while I went prospecting, for the
in-door life of store-keeping was not according to my
taste. I was nearly always traveling about, looking for
new diggings, and was, as a rule, very fortunate in prospecting. Among the men who belonged to my company,
was a Kanaka who went by the name of John Wilson.
He spoke but imperfect English, but he was fond of
telling, us in his best lingo, that in his own country he
was a Prince and looked upon with much reverence.
When addressing us, he would strike his breast and say: Oil'
"Me prince in my own country; me great man; me very
big man at home." It would seem that this dark-hued
miner was really a member of the illustrious Kamehame-
ha family, and I have been told that he was afterwards
made King of the Sandwich Islands. I do not know
how far this statement is true, but he is by no means
the only man with whom I have worked in the mines,
whether white or colored, who claimed close relationship
with famous men, and at times succeeded to prominent
positions in the world. He was one out of many of this
class who came to the gold-fields to find out that birth
and associations did not help a man to discover gold, and
who, after spending many weary months in blasting rocks
or damming rivers, without finding the color, have at
last come to the conclusion that Dame Fortune chooses
her favorites independently of their rank.
It was getting on towards the Fall, and I thought I
would make one more prospecting tour, before the season
closed. I took four Kanakas with me, and left Kanaka
Flat with a donkey packed with provisions sufficient to
last us for a few weeks. My ambition was to get to one
particular mountain, situated near the pass at the head
waters of the South Fork, as I expected to find plenty of
gold there. The mountain was shaped like the roof of a
house, and summer and winter its summit was covered
with snow. I did not think that it was very far distant,
but discovered, 'ere long, that my judgment was considerably at fault. It is altogether remarkable how the chap-
paral will deceive in the matter of distances. One may
think himself fast approaching a towering mountain, and
suddenly discover that he has miles to travel before
reaching it, and  I have often in this manner been re-
O '
minded of the journey of life, where we are always looking ahead to some sunny spot before us, which seems con- *m
" tinually to recede, as we advance. Our journey proved full
of difficulties. We crossed the North Yuba and kept up
the divide, until we came to the meadows, about where
Jackson's ranch now stands, but after that our troubles
increased. The Chapparal was, in some places impenetrable, and our donkey got stuck, pack and all, and we
had to cut him out with hatchets and make a way for
him, and this operation was not unlike the cutting
through the ice to get a ship out of the floes. At other
times, in descending mountains, the declivity would be so
steep that the poor brute could not walk down. Then
we had to unpack its burden and lower it over the shelving rock, and afterwards rope the donkey down; and this
same operation we reversed, when ascending a similar
steep incline. One night we camped on one of these
shelves. Darkness had come upon us, and we could not
safely proceed. We had no water, but far below our feet
we heard the rushing of the mountain stream, babbling
O ' o
its lullaby to us in a tantalizing manner, while we had
nothing with which to quench our thirst. But privations
in those days had become a matter of usage, and they
were soon forgotten. Camped in such places, the "boys"
generally invented some kind of sport as a divertisem'ent,
and it was a common thing to see them setting fire to
the moss on the bark of the trees and watch the blaze
run up to the top of the mighty trunk. Or, if it
were daylight, they would loosen rocks and bowlders and
send them crashing down the mountain side. I have
seen them prying, four or five at a time, at some huge
bowlder, and when it rolled down with ever-increasing
force, they would watch it with the same interest as the
sports watch a horse-race.
At last we reached our mountain, and as we traveled
round  it, it assumed  all  sorts of shapes, but the gold 118
which we expected to find lying loose on the surface
was not there, although there was plenty of slate and
black sand and quartz, and I still believe that there is
gold there, although we did not find it.
Our provisions were now getting scarce, and we were
affraid of being overtaken by the winter storms, so we
made for home. We kept on the outskirts of the chap-
parel and passed through meadows and the most luxurious pastures. On Wolf creek we found gold, and there
fell in with Mr. Fugent and my old friend, Jack Smith,
who were prospecting. From there I went down to
Downieville, more particularly to report the discovery of
pastural land, and then returned to my store on Kanaka
Another Winter in the Mountains—Captain Thomas R. Stoddard—
Two Well-known Millionaires—Fifteen-Hundred Dollars a Day
—Gold on the Wagon Tires—Sleeping on a Fortune—Flum-
ing a Eiver—Poorman's Creek—Back to Downieville—Ten
Bits to the Pan—Rantedodler Bar—Sunday Beminiscences.
Let me briefly take my readers through the winter of
'50 '51. It wasduring that period that some of the
richest treasures hidden in California soil were unearthed, and our company was undoubtedly instrumental in
creating that tremendous excitement which in the following spring, swept over the diggings in our part of the
world, and caused many miners to abandon their claims
to go in search of other and better chances.
The Yuba began to look bare, as the fall advanced.
At Kanaka Flat the sable hunters became more scarce,
as they went below for the winter, and I regret to say,
most of them without settling their bills at  our  store.
I had been in a similar position before, and when I
desired to move away, had simply settled all accounts by
burning my books and giving the balance of my stock
away, as I never allowed myself to cry over spilt milk.
On the present occasion, my partner went down to Marys-
ville to see about a fresh supply of stores, and I got ready
to look for other diggings.
I had in my company at that time, a few old stand-
bys—men on whom I could rely, and who had been with
me all along, with one exception. They were Charlie
Thompson, " Dutch" Harry, little Mike Duvarney and
Captain Thomas R. Stoddard.    The latter was compar-
119 120
atively a new-comer amongst us. He was a remarkable
man, and played a peculiar part in the early history of
California mining. More than any other, he contributed
towards the sensation caused by the rumors of the "Gold
Lake" diggings, to which reference has  already  been
OO O     ' *J
made. He insisted that he had been there, and he told
some romantic tales of encounters with Indians, and
showed a scar below his knee, where the Redskins, had
wounded him with an arrow. He also told how, on his
flight from them, he had made his way across the
mountains and the middle Yuba, but his accounts were
incoherent, and in some respects appeared improbable.
He was possessed of a gentlemanly bearing, and of more
than ordinary education, and undoubtedly belonged to a
good family. But my impression is that he was not
mentally well balanced. Be this as it-may, the miners
had a dislike for him because of his singular stories,
which had disappointed the hopes of a good many of
them, and I had taken him into my company partly for
the purpose of protecting him. He would often say,
when we struck anything particularly rich, "At Gold
Lake we would not consider this worth picking up."
But the location of this wonderful place remained forever
a mystery.
I was determined to try my luck in Plumas county,
and got everything ready for a start, and with my company and a couple of horses made my way across the
mountains to the north of Downieville. We met with,
the usual hardships, and found Sear's Diggings abandoned, the miners. having left after the first storm.
There were only two cabins on the field at that time,
and in one of these deserted habitations we found a
quantity of flour which had been left in the hurry of
departure.  122
We took the trail for Poorman's Creek, and found
that nearly everybody had left for the winter. But we
decided to make our camp here, so we located a claim
on the left-hand side of the creek, below the first fall,
and were soon taking out plenty of gold. We found the
precious metal in big lumps, weighing from one pound
to twenty-five ounces, and set to work to build a cabin
in this El Dorado. Not long after we were settled,
Messrs. Flood and O'Brien called at our camp. They
had been prospecting in the locality, but had not found
any of the lumps, and were surprised when we showed
them our find. They remained for a few days with us,
and then left for parts unknown, but their phenomonal
success in later years, makes up for their disappointment
on Poorman's creek,, when they made a"ten-strike"in the
silver mines of Nevada., the celebrated Comstock lode,
as did also several old-timers of the Yuba diggings, A
train of fifty-three pack mules came up about this time
with provisions, and I was glad to give some of qur
lumpy gold in exchange for the whole stock, after which
we built a cabin and made ourselves comfortable for the
We had every reason to be satisfied, as we were taking out from ten to fifteen hundred dollars a day, but
yet, we often discussed the next move to be made with
the return of spring. The wonderful tales that Captain
Stoddard used to tell, made some of us wish to try and
find Gold Lake, or at all events, some other spot, richer
still than where we were located ; but our prospecting
fever reached its climax long before we expected.
One day two men found their way down the creek,
and like all stragglers, made a bee-line for Major
Downie's cabin. We found them there on our return
that evening.    They were making themselves comfort- HUNTING FOR  GOLD
able by the fire, and soon proved very agreeable fellows.
They stayed with us for several days, and saw the rich
gold we took out, and when they became familiar
enough to impart a secret, they told us of a wonderful
"strike" they had made in coming 'over the mountains.
They described the location fully, and told us that they
had found surface gold in lumps so large that they had
hammered them on the wagon tires. They stated that
as they did not know much about gold, they were not
sure whether they had really struck it or not, but their
•description left no doubt in our minds that they had
found the genuine article.
We all listened eagerly to their accounts, and even Cap-
O «/ A
tain Stoddard began to think that the fabulous riches of
Gold Lake had been surpassed. As to myself, I admit
that I was staggered by their accounts. I gave them a
good deal of consideration, and it seemed to me that
these strangers must have discovered the fountain-head
of all the lumpy gold in these parts. I imagined, and
with some reason, that our late finds were merely the
tail-end of an auriferous comet, so to speak—the nucleus
of which might be found somewhere, and probably existed
exactly where our visitors indicated ; and building up
up such a theory in my own mind, I determined to find
the place. It was arranged that my partner, Mr, Cos-
sitt should open a store on the creek as a stand-by, while
I went in search of the treasure.
At Downeiville I made up a company of six, among
whom were Dr. Young and Henry Cosair. We went
north, crossing Little Canyon Creek, but when we
got to Big Canyon Creek, there was no way of getting
over but by wading. It was very cold. The snow lay
upon the mountains, and the water that came down was
•chilled with it; but we had no alternative, and so we 124
stripped and waded in up to our armpits in snow-water,
carrying our packs on our heads. Truly the magnetic
pole has no greater power over the needle of the compass,
than has gold over the desire of man, and in those days
the pioneer miners would dare and do anything for the
lust of it. On the opposite shore we had to make our
way over frozen snow. The incline was steep, and we
were often obliged to cut our foot-holds in the snow, but
we braved the difficulties, and at last reached the Red
We  soon arrived at the conclusion that we were on a
wild-goose chase.    All our prospecting failed to reveal
the expected treasures, and the chisel, which one of our
party had brought for the purpose of breaking the large
lumps  with, proved superfluous.    The  gold quarry, of
which we were  in search, could  not be found, and we .
turned our  steps  towards the North Yuba, this time
crossing Canyon Creek without trouble.    None of us had
any fault to find.    We had become used to disappointments of this kind, and when, that night, we camped at ■
the Buttes, we were perfectly resigned to our fate, and
took our disappointment in good part.
Our camping ground was on the site where now stands
the Buttes Mill, and when we awoke in the morning,
and looked about to examine the location, we were
agreeably surprised to discover that we had been sleeping on a particularly rich spot. The place was a small
Flat at the mouth of a small ravine, and all around we
found large pieces of quartz mixed with gold, which
appeared in considerable quantities. As soon as we had
ascertained our good luck, I got out pencil and paper to
write out a notice, when I was stayed by Henry Cosair,
who drew my attention to the fact that a number of men
were making their way down the ravine.    Sure enough, ■■■■
there was a party of miners, headed by a man named
Leonard, As usual, they had followed the "Major's"
track, trusting that they might share in some of the
proverbial good fortune which was supposed to always
attend him. We then decided to, withdraw for the
time-being, and moved our camp higher up the ravin e.
Our stratagem however, proved in vain. We took it
easy, and the men settled down to play at bean poker,
but the other company took possession of our rich find.
They picked up the gold that we had found, and, to make
a long story short, although we were the first white men
to ascend the Sierra Buttes, we did not get anything
for our trouble. The news of the discovery traveled
quickly abroad, and for days kept the miners on the
neighboring fields in a fever of excitement, but personally I did not get one single lump of all this gold.
I was not disheartened, but somewhat disgusted.    I
' O
turned my steps down the South Fork, and set about
putting in a flume in the river above Kanaka Flat. I
paid ten dollars a day for whip-sawyers to cut my lumber.
When the flume was finished, it had cost me ten thousand dollars. But worst of all—the current of the river
had washed away all the gold, and I got nothing for my
trouble but a poor experience. The experiment had
proved a hard-cash failure, and I returned to Poorman's
It will be remembered that I had instructed my
partner to establish a store here. He had accordingly
gone down below, bought what he thought would be a
good speculation, and on his return opened an establishment which did not at all suit my taste. There was
plenty of whisky, brandy and champagne, and in front
of the store a round tent, where the mohte cards were
being dealt, while several young fellows of the "Fancy 126
Class" appeared in the crowd—so-called "dead beats,"
whose only duty was to keep the game going. Provisions were scarce on the Creek, notwithstanding the
demand for them, and somebody kept packing whisky
kegs down the hill to the miners below, until they
swore that the next keg that arrived, before flour was
brought down, would be knocked to pieces, and the contents allowed to run to waste. I now went back to my
claim, but to my great surprise, my partner had sold it
to a stranger for one ounce. I did not feel inclined to
dispute the possession of it, and so left him alone, but I
learned afterwards that he had taken §80,000 out of it,
and meanwhile, I had swum the cold rivers, slept in the
snow, been within finger-touch of an enormous fortune,
and missed it—sunk $10,000 cash in a futile effort to
find gold in a river bed, and here I stood, minus a claim
that was yielding me as much as $1,500 per day when
I left it, and all I had received in return, was a succession of brilliant hopes which had exploded like sky-rockets in the night, leaving no trace of their radiant paths.
I began to think that I would try the Yuba once more.
O */
and went back to Downieville, hoping for better luck
next time.
It is astonishing how implicitly all kinds of stories of
big strikes were believed. My own case was by no
means a singular one, as everyone seemed ready to give
up what he had, however good it might be, should he
happen to hear even the vaguest rumor of something
better. I remember an instance where a few greenhorns
set the whole town in a fever of excitement through
their own ignorance of what they were doing.    They
o •/ O *»
were camping on the river bank, about one mile away,
and as they stayed there for sometime, it was concluded,
by the knowing ones, that they were making it.    A fel- HONTING FOR GOLD
low called Steve, made up his mind to find out, and one
day, when some of them were in town for provisions, he
approached them and began quizzing them. He was
told in reply that they had found what they called "a
right smart chance of gold."
"How much does it prospect V inquired Steve.
"Sometimes more, and sometimes less;" said the man
questioned, evasively.
"But on an average—V Suggested Steve, determined
to learn something.
"Well, never less than eight or ten bits to the pan,"
said the other.
Steve was delighted. He made straight for his camp
and communicated the fact to his companions. It was
decided to keep the matter dark until they had located
their own claims, and that night, under cover of darkness,
the company and about a dozen friends, stole out of
camp, and the next morning the sun rose upon a number
of miners who had put up their tents on new claims, and
were busily engaged staking them off according to mining regulations. After breakfast, the pick and pan were
brought into requisition, and the men examined the bank
up and down the creek, but none could find more than
just a few specks. Steve was deputed to interview the
discoverer of the supposed gold, and ask him for further
directions. He was told that there was plenty of gold
"right down there".    Steve asked him to be kind enough
to go down and wash a pan or two, and the man readily
complied. The stranger set to work, dug a pan of dirt,
washed it down pretty close, and began turning it round
and round, so that a little . black sand 'could be seen.
Then he began counting: "One, two, three, four, five,
six, seven, eight, nine I Yes there are nine bits in that
pan." 128
"Where ?" asked Steve, thinking for a moment that
' O
he had suddenly become color-blind.
"There!" Ejaculated the other, impatiently, "can't
you see ?"    And he pointed to a few specks in the sand.
Steve straightened himself up, turned his back upon
the stranger, and ran back to his mates. He could
hadly speak for laughter, and besides, he stammered
considerably; but when he had composed himself a little, he burst out; "The da-da-damned greenhorns call a
sp-sp-speck a bit, and t-t-ten sp-sp-specks, they call
t-t-ten b-b-bits. And this was the end of the mining on
Greenhorn Creek, where the gold ran ten bits to the
Towards spring our company began work in Secret
Canyon, just below Jim Crow Canyon. We were doing
well, and filling our sacks, but one night one of the party
got up and left with all our gold. He made for Canada,
where he stayed for a while, but afterwards had the
audacity to come back to Downieville. Here he met
with a reception somewhat cooler than he had anticipated,
and left for Australia, where he is reported to have
made a large fortune; but on his return with it to
America the ship foundered and he was never heard of
I next tried my luck below Goodyear's Bar, and located on Rantedodler Bar, where I found good diggings.
J © ©©       ©   ■
and put up a cabin. Somehow I always got the hardest
drinking men in my company, and often had considerable
trouble on that account. I have seen two of my. men
meeting in the cabin door, each carrying a pail of whisky.
"Where were you ?'• Asked the one.
"Down for the bitters," said the other; and they
would call their mates and drink the contents as an
appetizer before breakfast.    It got to be so bad,  that  130
when a man was found lying dead-drunk, with the sun
beating down upon him, and a bottle sticking out of his
pocket, people would say. "Oh he is all right; he knows
how to take care of himself; he belongs to the Major's
crowd," and whether he really did or not, made no difference, he got the credit anyhow. I had two married
men with me here, whose drinking propensities severely
tried my patience. Several times I determined to discharge them, but they always found some excuse. They
would generally begin to cry, and between their tears
and draughts of whisky, tell me that they had just had
letters from home.
"The wife has just had a baby," one would say, and
the other would follow with a story about "The old
woman  wanting  him to  come home, but he had not
O '
made enough to go."    Indeed, it was hard to see how
O O '
some of those fellows could ever expect to make enough,
at the rate they threw their gold away for whisky.
One of these fell head foremost down a shaft thirty feet
deep. The other, who had seen him go up to the shaft
and suddenly missed him, went down to the mouth of it
and called out:    "Are you down there, Scotty ?"
"Aye aye!" cried Scotty, "Send down the rope
Charlie." The man was not injured at all, save for a
shaking, which a draught of whisky soon made him forget.
One of this drunken crowd got into a scrape with a
Dutchman, and nothing would do to vindicate honor,
but to fight a duel with pistols. So he went down to
Goodyear's Bar to buy paper and ink, intending to ask
me to write out a challenge. On the way home, in
some manner the cork came out of the bottle, and the
black fluid got all over his hands and face. His appearance in camp created much amusement, and he looked HUNTING FOR  GOLD
like a monkey coming out of a tar barrel. Nothing
more was heard of his intentions to fight a duel, and he
O '
was kept busy for several days, trying to scour the
black patches off his face.
The water in the river rose and we had to leave off
working for a while. Dust became scarce and some of
the boys involuntarily sobered up. There was a Mr.
Briggs, who kept a store at Goodyear's Bar, and also
owned a claim adjoining mine at Rantedodler. One day
some of my men, hanging round his place without a cent
in their pockets, contrived a scheme for getting free
drinks, which shows, both the knowledge they possessed
of human nature, and also the spirit of the age. Seated
in the bar-room they began to talk of the "Major's latest
"And sure," says one, "that is pretty nice gold right
against Mr. Brigg's claim."
"Yes," joined in another, "The Major says he is going
to lose the best of it; it is all in Mr. Briggs' claim."
"What's that," inquired the store-keeper, pricking up
his ears.
Then followed an account of a wonderful discovery of
a rich lead that lost itself into Mr. Briggs' claim, and all
the Major had said about it.
"And did the Major really say so ?" shouted the
delighted storekeeper.
"Sure !"
"Come up boys and have a drink," called the man who
now saw thousands of bright dollars shining in his
"Oh no thank you," said one of the crowd modestly,
"We left the dust in the camp."
"Dust or no dust! What matter? Money is no object,
come up boys, can Downie's men no longer drink ?" 132
That settled it. Determined not to lose their reputation, they sailed in and never let go till the store-keeper had filled them up to their utmost capacity. But
what did he care ? He saw before him a large fortune
in his splendid claim. He lived for the hour in the
sunshine of brilliant hopes, as so many of us have done
both before and since, and after all a man generally
enjoys himself as well if not better, while looking into
the future with hopeful eyes, than he does when the
reality is reached, which is too often attended by bitter
disappointments. CHAPTER   XII.
A Severe Winter—Alexander McDonald—Close to a Fortune—A
Lawsuit—Organizing a Mining District—Sluicing and Tunneling—The Summer of '58—Reports From the Fraser—A
Wind-up—Now and Then—Quoting a Forty-niner.
I should, indeed, weary my reader, were I to continue my every-day experience as time passed, during my
stay in the California mines, and will, therefore, bring
this portion of my account to a close, briefly passing
over the remainder of the time before I left for other
The winter of '51-52 was an unusually severe one, and
I and my companions suffered a good deal of hardship.
It was during this period that I met Alexander McDonald, and a very warm friendship sprang up between us,
which lasted for many years. We became mates, both
on the California gold-fields, and later on in British
Columbia; and I shall have more to say in a future
chapter, of the tragic fate which befell this man, who
was, indeed, one of the best of friends, and one of the
most generous of men. Towards the close of the winter,
McDonald and I went to Indian Creek, where we met
with unexpected success, and notwithstanding the severity of the season took out a large quantity of gold. From
this place I afterward moved to Grizzly Hill, but had
no luck there, and determined again to turn my attention
to sluicing, for which purpose I went to Indian Hill,
I stayed at Indian Hill for quite a while and took out
some gold. Later on I removed to Ramshorn Creek near
St. Joe Bar.    Never were prospects brighter and my 134
heart was full of hope, but I was doomed to suffer the
humiliation of succumbing in a contest where the most
money carried the greatest weight.
Right ahead of me on the creek was a company, known
as the St. Louis Boy. They were rich and influential,
and had come there with the fixed purpose of increasing
their fortune, even if they had to go to some expense.
It did not take them long to find out that the locality
o *y
was a first-class one, but, unfortunately for me, they
wanted all within reach, and I became a thorn in their
side. At first they attempted to persuade me to give
up my claim, but I was fully aware of the great chances
I had in this place, and would not be bluffed. Then
they cast about for some tangible reason to bring a lawsuit, and indeed succeded in finding a pretext, to my
great surprise. I saw at once, that it was a matter of
feeding the lawyers, and realized that I could not compete with my opponents. For a while I held out, but
found it wiser to yield and withdraw rather than spend
my money in vain. But in letting go my claim, I gave
up one of the best chances I ever had of making a fortune.
I then tried Clark's Canyon, where I struck it rich,
but for want of water I did not succeed in making a
raise, and went into Plumas County, prospecting. On
my return to my old location I found that my claim had
gone. Mr. G. Hughes had been working higher up in
the canyon and had met with some success, taking away
several bags of gold.
I next went to Slate Creek House, with Dr. Jump,
for the purpose of making laws and organizing a new
mining  district.    We  also  formed  a company  which
O L v
undertook to run a tunnel on the west branch of Canyon Creek, and for sometime we  pushed  ahead  with  I
this work, but ultimately gave it up, and I formed
another company, which drove a tunnel in the Fir Cap
ridge, known as the Alma tunnel. Here we spent
twenty-two months in a very rough country. Our only
shelter was a "dug out" in the mountain side, and any
O 7 v
stranger, wishing to find it, had no other land-mark to
go by than the smoke coming out of the flue.
After sinking $14,000 in a vain attempt to find anything worth working, we gave up the Alma, and I
bought into the Keystone Tunnel Company, and afterwards mined below Forest City, but with no success.
I next tried in succession, Poorman's Creek, South,
Scotchman Creek and Washington, where I bought a
share from Charlie Stymer in the Hagler Tunnel on
Brandy Flat. There was plenty of hard work here,
with but small returns, and then the reports of the
Fraser River excitement reached the mining camps of
I have now briefly taken my reader as. far as the
Spring of '58, the year when the great exodus to
British Columbia was inaugurated. California miners
were ready to listen to the call that came from these
northern fields. Ever reckless; ever on the move for
some better chance, they would at all times have followed promptings which bade them go in search of
possible treasures, but on this occasion they went partly
for other reasons. The fact of the matter was, that
gold-seeking on the old lines was gradually decreasing.
O " O t/ o
When the stream of adventurers first flooded California,
after Marshall's discovery had been proclaimed, gold
was readily found. My reader will remember how often
I have mentioned it as lying on the very surface of the
earth, over which we traveled. It is true that such
accounts as were spread in regard to the Gold Lake and HUNTING FOR  GOLD
■other places, were mere fables, but it is nevertheless a
fact that in many localities the gold was found, as if it
had been strewn over the soil like so much grain. Not
only was it found on the very surface, but also in the
crevices of the mountain side. In all these places it was
easily gathered. The bare hand, a pick and a pan, or a
blunt knife, would secure all there was, with no expense
to the finder, and the fortune-seeker might arrive on the
gold-fields as poor as the proverbial church mouse, and
leave—a second Croesus.
But there were many thousands of these fortune-hunters, and the persistency with which they carried on
their search, caused a rapid decrease in the surface gold.
A few years had considerably altered the aspect of California mining. When the precious metal disappeared
from view, the gold-hunter had to unearth it somehow.
It was, as yet, to be found in the mountains and in the
river beds, and tunneling and sluicing were inaugurated
o o o
as the next modes of operation. But these undertakings cost money. The man who, a few years before,
could start in poor and go home as a peer, was not "in
it" any longer as his own master. If he wished to turn
miner, he must go to work for the man who had the
money. But it was the independence and the absolute
equality in the world of chance, which Dame Fortune'
bestows upon all her worshipers, that had been the chief
attraction of mining life, and had given to it its chief
characteristics, and when this equality and independence disappeared, the inspiration of mining life became
For the purpose of gradually surviving the change
which was creeping upon them, many of the most courageous miners ran heavily into debt. Many of them
had worked hard with but little success in gaining the
o o 138
expected fortunes. When it became apparent that the
gold must be sought for in the rivers and rocks, they
borrowed money, generally from the store-keepers, to
whose enormous revenues they had for years contributed, and sunk the capital in mining engineering, which
unfortunately, often in addition . to poverty, heaped
upon them the burden of debt. Oftentimes the river
bed did not reveal any treasures, and the dark, cold tunnels did not lead to any mines, while the debt increased,
and the creditors became troublesome. This kind of
mining was vastly different from the old style, and
required an amount of perseverence and tenacity, which
but few possessed, but it must be said, injustice to the
California miner of those days, that a braver, pluckier
class of men never engaged in the hazards of mining.
© © ©
By degrees, machinery was brought into the fields;
and the expense still further increased, and where formerly individual lines opened the possibility for an enormous fortune, now-a-days syndicates, corporations, companies, operate on a scale which makes mining a question of capital, from start to finish.
Such were the conditions in '58, when the news of
the Fraser River excitement reached California, and
found its way to the mining camps in the mountain
regions. Everything was ripe for a change. Some
anxious to get away from the cold, damp tunnels; others from the importunities of creditors whose demands
they could not meet; and many sighed for the relief
that independence would bring them once more. As to
myself, I was pleased with the prospect of a change. I
was heartily sick of boring into the bleak, hard mountains, which seemed to swallow up all the capital we
could rake and scrape together, without yielding us any
return. d
i—i 140
Just at that time a favorable opportunity presented
itself to me to sell out, and I eagerly took advantage of it.
I then made for San Francisco, for the purpose of shipping for British Columbia, and I was not surprised at
finding the city of the bay filled with miners, who had
flocked from the diggings in all parts of California,
anxious to try their luck on the far-away river, of which
rumor had painted such glowing pictures.
I cannot sum up this portion of my account any better
than by quoting here a short article, published in the
year 1877, in a Sierra paper, by an old miner, who, taking a retrospective glance, writes as follows:
"Twenty-nine years seeking for goldl But how changed
are the same class of miners in twenty-nine years:
Then all was bright and rosy to him; no matter what obstacles he met with, he would face them, and if defeated,
try again. If a tunnel had to be run in hard bedrock, and
numbers of them may be found in the highest ranges,
from two hundred to two thousand feet long, abandoned
years ago, without a sign of gold or even gravel in the
«/ O     ' CO o
prospective; yet after expending thousands of dollars,
they gave them up, but to try again- If they flumed
the river, and every timber and board were carried away
by the mountain floods, still he would go into the next
operation with the same hope and energy, possibly to be
wrecked once more; but what matters ? Somebody
was taking out big piles, and his turn would come by-
and-by. And thus he worked and hoped until time began to lay his fingers on him, and "Silver threads
amongst the gold," began to show themselves, yet the
prize seemed to be in the near future. Had he not
spent the best years of his life searching from the river
beds to the mountain's crown for the big strike that was HUNTING FOR  GOLD
to make him happy the rest of his days, and realize his
brightest dreams.
Disappointments have often changed his whole nature,
but he cannot see it; he has long ago ceased to write to
friends and relatives ; no doubt they think he is dead,
and generally it is his wish that they think so. His
plea is, he has no good news to send, and he has not the
heart to write discouraging letters now, when life seems
O       O
to him a blank and a failure. His energy has about
died out; he is content to work in the primitive way of
mining, living from hand to. mouth, still hoping, as it
were, against fate. His house, now a rough cabin, he
can call his own, and it generally contains all his worldly possessions. He has the walls of his cabin papered
with cuts from illustrated newspapers, one bunk, a sack
of flour, some few other provisions, a cat or two, often a
small garden patch, a few drooping chickens, the inevitable smoking pipe and the home-made arm-chair. Solitude has soured his temper, and made him morose in
the society of his fellow men, and often he shuns that of
the opposite sex. Of course there are exceptions, and
one will occasionally come across the countenance of
some of the early miners, whose face may show the lines
that time has made, but whose laugh rings as merry as
ever, and whose heart is ever fresh. But they are
silent and reserved at first, and will ever remain so.
You will find them in their solitary claims, from the
foot-hills to the highest Sierras." Talk with them of
early times; then you break through their reserve, the
eye will sparkle and the countenance light up, as they
tell of rich bars, benches and river claims that they have
worked or known of. How such and such a company
went home with piles of gold, and where the largest
chunks were found; they can  tell you where the Blue 142
Lead crosses on every range; where it enters and where
it breaks out; and yet, you will mostly find them the
worst dead-broke class in the mine, and they—well, they
had had  luck; this and  that  was  a  failure—nothing
i o
seemed to prosper with them; the very elements were
against them. They made quite a stake in such a place,
and sank it in prospecting another. But while some miners
were taking out gold on river bars and benches, others
were depositing it into bars of another, and to them less
profitable kind, thus anchoring themselves down for a
lifetime. A few more years and the old '49, '50-1-2 men,
will belong to the history of the past, and they may
treasure up the sentiment of Moore, the Irish poet:
"When I remember all the friends linked together,
I've seen around me fall, like leaves in wintry weather;
I feel like one who treads alone,
Some banquet hall, deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead,
And all but he departed."
"Soon the claims, the traps they contain, together
with the owners, will be swept away by the ruthless hand
of time, and the gold seekers, who almost opened a new
world, will sleep the sleep that knows no waking." SKETCHES
It was the Fourth of July, 1851. The little town of
Downieville was basking in the hot rays of the California
midsummer sun; the atmosphere was oppressive, and
the only feature in the landscape that brought any relief to the' inhabitants of the beautiful valley of the Forks
was the rippling of the waters of the river, as they met
on their way from the cool Sierras.
The national holiday had risen for the second time on
the little settlement, to witness a great change, brought
about by the march of time. The community had become
more settled in regard to general organization, and California had becone a state of the Union. But for many
years, even after that important event, the social conditions in these parts partook of the characteristics of
border life. The population had increased, and there
were signs that many had come there to stay, but the
place was isolated, far from the center of law, order and
protection, and so the people took the law into their
own hands, when occcasion demanded it.
On the Fourth of July, one year ago, a man had been
flogged for wounding another with a knife. The offence,
trial and punishment had followed in quick succession,
and the result had been that for many months after the
occurrence all such lawlessness and violence had been in
check. It was therefore no wonder thai the incident
had impressed itself upon the community as a precedent
worthy of note. It was not a spirit of revenge nor a
craving for extreme punishment that prompted the com- few adobe houses had
munity to adopt rigid measures on all occasions, it was
simply a desire to.enforce order and subdue any attempt
to violence, as the only means of protection in a community, where so many different elements had come together.
One year ago most of the habitations were merely
canvas tents, a few cabins forming the exception. Now
the latter had considerably multiplied, and in addition, a
built.    These latter were in
troduced by the Mexican element, which soon appeared
upon the California gold field in all their different shades
and mixtures of blood, by which they are known.
In one of these adobe houses lived a Mexican, whose
name has long been forgotten, and who would personally
never have been known save for his partner in the clay
hut, a woman, known as Juanita. Whether she was his
wife or not makes no difference in this story. She had
come there with him, and with him she had shared the
hardships of life in a mining camp. She cooked his meals,
mended his clothes, and otherwise added to his comforts,
when he had an opportunity to indulge in any, the rough
and ready life in the mountains only rarely allowing such
luxuries. But the most striking feature about Juanita
was.her personality. She was of the Spanish-Mexican
mixture, and the blood of her fathers flowed fast and
warmly in her veins. She was proud, and self-possessed,
and her bearing was graceful, almost majestic.
She was in the miners parlance "well put up." Her
figure was richly developed and in strict proportions; her
features delicate, and her olive complexion lent them a
pleasing softness. Her black hair was neatly done upon
state occasions, and the lustre in her eyes shone in various
degrees, from the soft dove-like expression of a love-sick
maiden, to the fierce scowl of an infuriated lioness, accord- HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
ing to her temper, which was the only thing not well
balanced about her. Add to this, that when dressed up,
Juanita wore the picturesque costume of her native soil,
in which rich laces and bright colors blended harmon-
iously, and it may be well understood that this woman
was known all through the settlement.
On this Fourth of July, of which I am about to speak,
the usual celebration took place throughout the mining
camps on the Yuba. The pick and pan lay idle, and the
miners drank as usual on such occasions, until the air
seemed hazy around them and numbers were hard to
define. The row went on all day and far into the night,
and it was towards midnight when the last stragglers
made for home to take a few hours' sleep before the
rising sun should call them to labor again.
o O
Among those returning at that late hour was a man
o o
named Cannon, who with a couple of companions had left
the dram shop to go back to camp. They were all more
or less under the influence of liquor, but Cannon was the
worst.   He staggered along, every now and then stumbling
OO O' *j o
over protruding rocks, or knocking against the side of a
cabin, and just as he came in front of the house in which
the Mexican and the handsome woman lived, he again
stumbled, and before his friends could stay him,-had
rolled through the rickety door of the adobe hut, into
the room. It was perfectly dark, and as one of his
companions, who struck a light on the outside, perceived
what had become of his friend, he went in and raised him
from the ground.
"Come out!" he said, "there is a woman in this house:
Come along man!"
Cannon rose to his feet, and in doing so brought with
him a silk handkerchief, which he had picked up on the
floor, but he was persuaded to throw it back by his 148
companions, who hustled him out of the room, fixed the
door as well as possible, and made for home. During
the whole of the proceedings not a word had been spoken
by the inmates, and it was supposed that they had either
slept through it all, or that fear had silenced them.
It was late the following morning when Cannon
awoke after a heavy sleep. He had almost forgotten
the incident of the previous evening, and when some of
his friends, in the course of conversation, related to him
the occurrence in which he had taken such a prominent
part, he felt much concerned at having occasioned the
scene described to him, and at once resolved to offer a
personal apology. Cannon could speak Spanish, and
accompanied by one of his friends who had been with
him on the previous evening, he went down to the adobe
hut. The man came to the open door, and the two
engaged in a conversation in Spanish, of which his companion could not understand much, but it seemed to him
that the Mexican exhibited a good deal of anger.    Pres-
o o
ently Juanita appeared by his side, and the words grew
louder and more excited. Seemingly Cannon was
attempting to smooth matters over, and to pacify the
two. The woman appeared more excited, even, than
her male companion, and Cannon evidently increased his
exertions to arrange matters satisfactorily, speaking in
a conciliatory tone; but his words, whatever they were,
proved of no avail, the woman giving vent to the most
violent outburst of anger.
Suddenly she drew from the folds of her dress a knife,
and quick as lightning buried the blade to the hilt in the
body of Cannon. It was the work of a moment, and her
victim fell, with one last groan, at the feet of the beautiful woman, who threw the knife, dripping with blood, HUNTING FOR  GOLD
on the ground, and withdrew with the Mexican, into the
For a moment Cannon's companion stood as if petrified. He had come for the purpose of witnessing a reconciliation, and instead of that, a hideous murder had
been committed in his presence. The warm sunshine
fell upon the prostrate body of his friend, whose blood
was oozing out upon the sand, and it seemed, for one
moment, as if everything danced before the gaze of the
bewildered miner. Then, suddenly realizing the situation, he turned away and made for the nearest camp
to tell what had happened.
A short time sufficed to spread the report through the
camps and claims. It seemed as if the very air had
breathed the word "murder," and soon the adobe house
was surrounded by a mob of infuriated men. But,
somehow, during that brief interval, Juanita had found
time to dress herself fit for a reception. Clad in her
picturesque costume—the very best she had—with her
luxuriant hair artistically braided; adorned with rings
and armlets and spangles of precious metals; and above
all, with her own personal loveliness, she met the men
who cried for vengeance, at the door, calm, deliberate,
beautiful. Under any other circumstances, no man
could have resisted her exceeding beauty. The fierceness of anger had melted from her eyes; there was
nothing left but an expression of perfect resignation and
that haughty pride which was natural to her.
But the miners' law was "Life for Life." She was
at once seized with her companion, and the two were at
once tried by a self-established court. One man only,
had the courage to take Juanita's part, a Mr. Thayer.
He pleaded for the woman and denounced the mode of 150
procedure in dealing with her, but he was quickly silenced
by threats of violence, and even death.
"Hang the greaser devils!"
"Give them a trial!"
"No; hang them now!"
"Give them a trial first and then hang them!"
Such were the shouts that filled the air, but the last
suggestion of compromise was accepted, and the trial
began, then and there. Cannon's friend testified that
there had been no intent to insult the woman, or in any
way annoy her, and that the whole affair had been
perfectly accidental, and was merely the outcome of a
drunken spree. He proved the regret the deceased had
felt upon learning of the accident, as demonstrated by his
immediate step to make reparition.
The Mexican was found innocent and at once acquitted
and the unfortunate woman put up as her defense that
there was an intention of gross insult, when Cannon
broke into her house and that he used offensive language
to her when he returned to the house, and that in the
heat of passion she had committed an act for which,
under the circumstances, she was not wholly responsible.
But the jury was not to be convinced of innocence on
her part. When the case closed, they found her guilty
of murder in the first degree, and she was sentenced to
death. Never were the terrible words ofsuchasen-.
tence pronounced on anyone more composed than Juanita.
She was apparently perfectly unmoved, her cheeks neither
flushed nor turned pallid, and she seemed quite satisfied
to abide by the verdict.
Where now the suspension bridge crosses the river,
an improvised scaffold was hastily erected, and thither
Juanita was conducted, accompanied by a howling bloodthirsty mob, that cried for vengeance.    She never broke
J ' o X
2 152
down ; nor even flinched. "Big" Logan's services had
been called into requisition—it took a man like him to
hang a woman—but Juanita was of a different mind. It
was getting towards evening, and sunshine fell upon the
landscape; the Yuba ran its rushing course as usual; a
little bird whistled in the woods; otherwise there
was no sound save the humming of insects and the
soughing of the breeze. But on every claim the miners'
tools lay idle, and the men had gone to feast upon the
spectacle, the horrors of which they expected to surpass
their own imaginations.
But Juanita seemed to be in perfect harmony with
the surrounding nature. Calm and dignified she mounted the scaffold. Her hands were unbound, her loose,
picturesque garments floating in the summer breeze, and
her beautiful face looked into those of the vicious throng
that surged around her. Then she spoke. Without a
tremor, her soft, melodious voice told the story of the
unfortunate incident that had brought her there, in the
light she viewed it. She declared that if she should
live to be again provoked in the same manner, she would
repeat her act, and when she had finished she turned to
"Big Logan" and took from his hands the fatal rope.
There was a death-like silence in the crowd, everybody wondering what she was about to do. Logan
seemed involuntarily to surrender the rope he was supposed to place around her neck, and with her own soft
hands she placed the noose in position.
"Adios Qenors!" she said with a graceful wave of her
hand, and ere the astonished spectators could realize
what had happened, she had leaped from the scaffold
into eternity. The sun set in Downieville. The men,
careless of circumstances, assembled in the grog-stores,
and spoke of the heroic woman, drank, and then drift- HUNTING FOR GOLD
ed into mining talk. But there was a blot on the fair
name of the Yuba which it took years to wash out. It
was one of those blots that stained the early history of
California, and especially of the mining camps, until
men and women grew up who were born and raised here
. during the crude age of the early days.
Then the dross and the gold became separated; then
intelligence, industry and ingenuity were allowed full
sway; and this splendid generation, with the sterling
qualities of their fathers running in their veins, and the
ennobling effect of more domestic conditions and educational facilities, threw a veil over the past, and raised
California to the level of Christian civilization. THE BLOODY CODE.
During the year 1855 there came to the State of California a lady by the name of Miss Sarah Pellet. She
was young, handsome, possessed of more than ordinary
intelligence, and of a kindly disposition, which caused
her to be loved by all who came in personal contact with
Miss Pellet had a mission to fulfill. She was a temperance lecturer and belonged to the same school of lady-
reformers as did Lucy Stone Blackwell, Antoinette
Brown and others of their contemporaries. In this connection the name of Sarah Pellet still lives. Whatever
may be the individual opinion of the temperance reform
movement, there can be no doubt that those who have
engaged in it with honesty of purpose, have done much
to advance the social condition of men at certain periods
and under certain conditions. If this important question
were held aloof from church and politics alike, it would,
no doubt, as a purely social proposition, attract more
attention, and awaken more sympathy, than it does under
circumstances where it appears to act as a cloak, hiding
either ecclesiastical propaganda or political schemes. It
is this latter fact which has always contributed to the
sense of suspicion with which the apostles have been
viewed, and when Miss Pellet began her crusade in California, she was made the target for many scurrilous remarks from a large portion of the press, which mercilessly
attacked her, imputing to her motives which, indeed,
were far from her pure and generous mind. HUNTING FOR GOLD
*At that time Calvin B. McDonald was conducting the
"Sierra Citizen" at Downieville, and he took it upon himself to champion the fair lecturer through her difficulties with the opposing press. Mr. McDonald is now
well known as a writer of force and brilliancy, and he
was then laying the foundation for the fame which in
after years made his name familiar to most newspaper
readers in California. His articles not long remained
unread by Miss Pellet, and she determined to pay
Downieville a visit and take advantage of the friendship
proffered her through the "Sierra Citizen."
The advent of Miss Pellet in the little mining town
was fraught with remarkable results. The reader, who
has followed me through the preceding pages, is aware
that there was a vast field for labor in the cause of temperance, and certainly some need of a reform of this
kind. The young lecturer lost no time in going to
work, and, aided by her editor friend, soon succeeded in
establishing a large and flourishing division of the Sons
of Temperance. Nearly all the reputable young men
joined the movement. As is often the case, people went
from one extreme to the other, and for some time total
abstinence was looked upon as the only correct thing
in the very place where, shortly before, the man who
could not drink with the rest, had been considered a
crank or a suspicious character. The Fourth of July
was drawing near, and a temperance demonstration was
projected and a committee set to work to arrange the
It seems strange that the most thrilling incidents
that took place in the early days of Downieville, should,
in some way, be connected with a Fourth of July celebration. I have already had occasion to mention two,
in which drinking bouts were followed by sanguinary 156
results, but it seems still more curious that this celebration, which was not attended by any indulgence in strong
liquors, should be the cause of the tragedy I am now
about to relate.
The committee
on programme had
quite a task to perform in   arranging
O        O
matters. It was
the desire of many
that Miss Pellet
should be asked to
deliver the oration,
and again there
were many others
who were oppposed
to women orators.
The latter faction
was principally influenced by a young
gentleman named
Robert Tevis, of
whom I must say a
few words before
proceeding. Mr.
Tevis was a brother of Lloyd Tevis,
well known in California to-day. He
was anxious to obtain a seat in Congress, and for that purpose had lately
come to Downieville to make himself popular with the
people in the district. He had joined the Sons of Temperance, and was doing his best to make friends, although
he lacked personal magnetism, and that power of making
himself popular, which is of great advantage to all men
entering the political arena.
Nevertheless, Tevis was well thought of. He came
of a Kentucky family and exhibited all that polish of
manner and speech, characteristic of southern gentlemen. He was of pleasing appearance, and his ideas of
chivalry and honor were in strict accordance with the
orthodox code of the community in which he was
brought up. He was fond of sports; was an excellent
marksman, and without being brilliant, possessed more
than average intelligence. But his temperament was
highly nervous and ' excitable, his feelings were easily
provoked and, when wounded, he would take the offence
deeply to heart.
Anxious to make a favorable impression upon the
people, whose support he was soliciting, Mr. Tevis fought
hard to be made orator of the day, and hence the difficulties of the committee. Ultimately a compromise was
brought about. It was decided that Miss Pellet should
be invited to deliver the oration, while Robert Tevis was
appointed to read the Declaration of Independence, and
was granted permission to make some appropriate remarks
on the illustrious document.
There wereprobably 3,000 people in Downieville at that
time and there was no lack of loyalty among them. The
throng that gathered to listen to the oration was a large
one and included nearly every one in town. The celebration began with a salute from all the rifles, shotguns,
pistols, and everything else that would go off with a bang,
after which the primitive brass band played a few patriotic
airs as an introduction to the more serious features of
the programme.
Then Mr. Tevis read the Declaration.  As soon as he 158
had finished he took advantage of the privilege granted
O 1 o     o
him by the committee, and addressed the meeting on the
importance of the Constitution; on national issues and
on anything and everything else that occurred to his mind
as a means of making himself heard and impressing himself upon the public. He went on speaking, apparently
without any consideration of the time he was occupying
and annoyance he was causing, until at last the Sons of
Temperance, who were at the head of the celebration,
took offence at his persistency, and determined to silence
him. Accordingly the order was given for more firing,
and soon the hills around echoed with a thundering noise
of exploding powder, which continued, until Mr. Tevis
found it impossible to make himself heard any more, and
sat down with evident signs of anger, while the fair
orator of the day stepped to the front, and silence having
now been restored, delivered her address, which was
received with much enthusiasm. The event caused a
great deal of comment unfavorable to the ambitious candidate for Congress and rather retarded than furthered
his chances.
The Hon. Chas. Lippencott was at that time State
Senator from Yuba County. He was the son of a clergyman in Illinois, and a gentleman of exemplary habits.
He was an excellent writer, possessed of a highly cultivated mind and a keen sense of the humorous. There
was no Democratic paper in Downieville then, but the
Democrats had made an arrangement with the proprietor of the "Sierra Citizen" to run a few columns in that
paper, and Lippencott had been appointed editor of
them, and was solely responsible for their contents.
The ludicrous position in which young Tevis had
placed himself at the Fourth of July celebration, had so
much impressed the  Senator that he could not resist HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
the temptation to give him a roasting in his part of the
paper, and when the " Citizen" made its appearance, the
aspiring politician was hauled over coals in a manner far
from complimentary to him.
The next day Tevis appeared in the editorial room
of the "Citizen" and demanded the publication of a card,
which pronounced the"author of Lippencott's article "a
liar and a slanderer." He was besidehimself with rage;
his cheeks were palid, his voice shook with emotion, and
he would not listen to argument. Mr. McDonald, who
knew Lippencott well and was aware of his wonderful
skill with fire-arms, advised Tevis to let matters drop.
He told him that the inevitable consequence of such
publication would be a challenge, and that bloodshed
would follow. The young Kentuckian said that he was
anxious to fight; his honor had been assailed, and only
a duel could satisfy him. If the card were not published, he would consider it an act of hostility to himself. He had been held up to public ridicule, and wanted revenge. He would fight in the streets or anywhere
else, but there had to be a fight somewhere, as he was
determined to satisfy honor. So the card was published, and immediately Lippencott sent a challenge,
which was promptly accepted.
Both men were Democrats and Odd Fellows, and
some of the leading Democrats at once took steps to
settle the matter amicably, but soon realized that their
endeavors were in vain. The Odd Fellows took more
pains. Neither of the two antagonists belonged to the
local lodge, but nevertheless, a meeting was called at
once, and every effort made to settle the difficulty. The
brethren remained in session all through the night, and
until far into the following day, and several times it
looked as if they might succeed, but whenever a settle- 160
ment of the affair appeared probable, some of them who
wanted the excitement of the duel, interfered in such a
manner as to prevent any pacific arrangement, and about
noon the following day, the meeting broke up without
having attained the desired result.
Besides the mental attainments which Lippencott
possessed, he was also an excellent woodsman. He
had spent some time in bear hunting and killing other
game, and was a dead-sure shot. He was a small, heavy-
set man, with light hair, piercing black eyes, deliberate
and resolute in his speech, and gave one the impression
of steadiness and self-possession. But he was of a much
gentler nature than his adversary. He declared, several
times, that he had no wish to kill a man with whom
he had never even spoken, and that he would rather
avoid a fight, but the nature of the public insult compelled him to send the challenge.
Tevis was given the choice of weapons, and he selected double-barreled shotguns carrying ounce balls, unconscious of the fact, that with no weapon was his adversary more familiar. The distance agreed upon was forty
yards, and each man in practicing, broke a bottle at the
first shot.
While the Odd Fellows were yet deliberating and trying to use their influence in the cause of humanity, the
two combatants and their seconds left town on the quiet.
The public did not know whither they had gone, but
the Sheriff went in pursuit to prevent the fight. The
ground selected for the fatal encounter, was situated
some six miles from town. It was a flat up in the
Sierras, surrounded by tall firs that cast their sombre
shadows over the place; but no sooner had the party
reached it than the Sheriff's posse was seen on a distant eminence, and it was deemed advisable  to move HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
into an adjoining county, so as to bebeyond the jurisdiction of the pursuing officers. Consequently, they crossed
the border and selected another place suitable for their
It was towards evening when they arrived there.
The lofty fir trees reared their mighty stems around the
place, looking like so many watchmen, placed there to
guard the unbroken silence that prevailed. Not a bird
sang its ditty in these woods; not a sound was heard
outside the heavy breathing of the men, as they made
their way up the hill to the place of meeting. The light
of the waning day was still bright, although no sun ray
lighted up the scene, which was, to say the least, sepulchral in its aspect. No spot could be found perfectly
level, and in drawing for position, the higher ground
fell to the lot of Tevis. The distance was measured and
the two men took position ready for their deadly work.
Both appeared perfectly composed, and each one kept
his eyes steadily on his adversary, as he assumed his place.
It was then that Lippencott noticed that Tevis' second, in
parting with him, pointed to his own breast, as indicating
where to aim, and he took the hint to himself. Had he
not been persuaded already that Tevis was a master shot
he might have satisfied himself with inflicting upon his
antagonist a slight wound, but his experience and the
motion he had just observed, persuaded him that this
was to be a fight for life.
The combatants .were ready and the signal given.
Both guns cracked simultaneously, and while the echo
repeated the tale of the deed again and again throughout
the silent forest, Robert Tevis sank without a groan to
the ground with a bullet through the heart, while a lock
of hair flew from Lippencott's head like feathers from a
wounded bird.    The fallen man had not made the nee- >
essary allowance for the incline of the ground, and his
murderous lead had passed directly over his adversary's
left shoulder, grazing his face.
The survivor and his friend took their departure, and
the former fled to Nevada.    In the gathering twilight
o o o
the companions of the dead man buried the body of their
friend in this lonely spot, and made their way to Downieville to report the tragedy. Next day the body was removed to town and interred in the hill-side cemetery.
The funeral was large and demonstrative, and a great
O ' o
deal of sympathy was expressed for the deceased. Undoubtedly the whole affair had been properly conducted
throughout with the utmost fairness, but there were still
many who looked upon Tevis as the victim of that reckless spirit which characterized early life in California,
and too often caused the unnecessary shedding of blood.
Thus ended another quarrel brought about through a
Fourth of July celebration in Downieville, but I feel called
upon, before closing this, to give a brief account of the
two principal survivors of this episode, as far as I have
been able to follow them afterwards.
After awhile Lippencott returned to Downieville, but
he felt himself like another Ishmael. He was a sensitive man, and it seemed to him that old friends did not
shake his hand with the wonted warmth, and acquaintances reluctantly recognized him. Miss Pellet, who
regarded herself as the innocent cause of all the trouble,
o '
never forsook him during this trying period. She exerted
all her personal influence to reconcile public opinion with
the man who had merely defended himself when challenged, and the brave stand she took in the matter could
O ' *
not help exciting much admiration for her. When she
ultimately left Downieville, her departure was much regretted, and the cold-water brigade dwindled down for 164
want of a leader, and the Sons of Temperance became an
order of the past.
There seemed to be a strange fatality hovering about
this woman, which soon after once more brought destruction in her path. She went to Oregon, and while there
a settler undertook to pilot her through the wilderness,
but when the guide returned to his home he found that
the Indians had taken advantage of his absence, murdered
his wife and children, and burnt his home. Miss Pellet
afterwards returned East across the plains, and the last I
heard of her was that she was attending a. woman suffrage convention at Syracuse, New York, somewhere
about the year 1870.
Mr. Lippencott was a strong supporter and warm
friend of the late Senator Broderick, who was shot down
in the famous duel with Judge Terry, the latter's tragic
O J ' o
end forming the closing chapter of an eventful life, in
O O J- '
which the reckless spirit of a border community had
been nurtured and'developed. Senator Broderick regarded Lippencott as his ablest advocate and partisan,
and indeed the two men were placed in the same position
during their lifetime—that of having to accept the inevitable and submit to the code that the community, the
age, and the custom prescribed for them. Senator Lippencott was an honorable man, and his career in California distinguished him as such. His unfortunate entanglement in the duel resulted simply from his position,
and the prevailing spirit of border life, for .at that time
a politician who would suffer himself to be called "a liar
and a slanderer," without prompt resentment, would have
been considered disgraced by most of his fellow-citizens.
After Mr. Lippencott had finished his term in the
State Senate, he returned to his home in Illinois, to find
his aged father dying, and it has been said that the report HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
of his son's connection with the fatal duel, broke the old
man's heart
When the war broke out, Lippencott's undaunted
spirit led him into a new field of activity. He joined the
Union Army, and distinguished himself in battle on
various occasions.    He ultimately became a Brigadier
t/ O
'General, and after the war, rose to important civil offices,
becoming Secretary of State of Illinois, which office he
O «/ '
held for several terms, proving himself, throughout, a
man of great physical and mental capacity—a true soldier
and useful citizen. RIVALRY AND DEATH.
One of the most exciting events, which took place in
Downieville in the early days, occurred in the fall of '55,
and is remembered by the encounter between Dave Butler and a miner named Moffatt.
Butler was a gambler and a bullv, and Moffatt was a
O v ?
man whose uocontrolable temper had on many occasions
led him to the verge of disaster. Only a few days before
the occurence took place, which suddenly terminated his
career, Moffatt had undertaken to move the stakes of a
claim, belonging to, and worked by Philo Haven, and
when the latter remonstrated with him, he had struck
Haven violently between the eyes. On that occasion
Haven said to him: "Moffatt, you wont live another
ten days." There was no intent on Haven's part to take
the life of Moffatt, but he was prompted to speak as he
did, through his conviction that the man's violent temper would soon run him into serious trouble, and the following will show how singularly the phrophecy was
In those days a good many traveling shows, principally
dramatic and operatic, visited Downieville. The prima
donnas were Sarah Bernhardts or Mrs. Langtrys on a
small scale—the glitter of gold had more to do with
their soul's contentment, than the inspiration of the arts
they professed to practice. They allowed the poor man
to look at them from the auditorium and the rich men
to court their favors, green room fashion, giving them a
fair race in the competition, as the bids gradually rose. HUNTING   FOR   GOLD
The reward of the fortunate ones generally consisted of
a recollection of bewitching smiles, and as many ounces
of gold dust as they had been in a position to put up.
Among the stars which occasionally rose upon Downieville, was a Mrs. Robb, who had ,become quite famous
for her beauty alike of face and voice, and who is probably better remembered by her maiden name as Marian
Goodenow. Her presence was the signal for so many
aspirations among a certain class of the miners, and
everybody who had any gold to spare, was willing
to sacrifice on the alter of worship in the race for this
sweet singer's preference.
Among those who more in particular lay siege to the
woman's good graces, were Butler and Moffat. What
means the former adopted to gain this point, is not
exactly known, but it appears that he left his rival
under the impression that he had outshone him with
the fair Marian.
Moffat, indeed, had not been idle. He had exhibited
all the ingenuity of a Californian miner for "catching,"
and to that end had fired from the muzzle of his shotgun something like six hundred dollars worth of gold
dust into one corner of his claim—"salting it," as it was
called. Then he had conducted the object of his temporary worship to the claim, had told her to dig and
helped her to pan, and in a very brief space of time the
charming songstress had carried from the claim in a bag
some thirty-six ounces of gold, believing it, or at least
pretending to believe it, one of the richest mines on the
It was the recollection of these thirty-six ounces of
gold, which did not come into harmony with an. inWard
suspicion, that after all, he had been outdone by Butler.
A  few   days  after  the   departure   of the   company 168
Moffat was standing in the bar-room of Craycroft's
saloon, when Butler entered. "There comes that
sscroundrel Butler," said Moffat, accompanying his expression with a terrible oath. But these were his last
words in this world, as a well man, for Butler hearing
the expression, drew quickly from his belt a revolver,
and sent the burly miner to the floor with a bullet in
his breast. Moffat did not die instantly, but was carried
into a room behind the bar, where he lay for several
hours before he expired.
Meanwhile, the wildest excitement prevailed. Butler
fled from the scene during the first confusion and made
out of town under cover of darkness and aided by the
gamblers who stood in with him. But as the news
spread, angry miners massed at the corners and in the
open plaza, and then a wild pursuit began. That night
the hills, up and down the Forks, were scoured high and
low, and had Butler been caught, he would not have
lived to recognize his captors; but he succeeded in making his escape, and the sequel of the affair was not enacted until several years afterwards.
The miners, seeing that their efforts to capture the
murderer had been frustrated, turned in anger upon
those who had aided and abetted him in his escape, and
the cry arose that the gamblers must go. And, indeed,
so summarily were these men dealt with that within a
few days the whole fraternity had quit the scene of activity in Downieville, with the exception of old " Uncle
Jimmie," of whom I have previously spoken. Uncle
Jimmie had, at one time, been a baptist preacher, and
had merely changed his plane for administering to his
fellow-men. I always regarded him as a villain of the
blackest dye, but his previous connection with the cloth
saved him on this occasion.  170
Among tnose, who took the most active part in these
proceedings, was Calvin B. McDonald, the editor of the
"Sierra Citizen."    It  was' he,   who  wrote  an   article
which called the miners together in trie Plaza, and in
O '
consequence of which it was determined to expel the
gamblers from the town. McDonald was carried over
the heads of the excited miners into the middle of the
plaza, where he made a rousing speech, in the course of
which he urged the expulsion of the gamblers. In
recognition of his action the miners raised a subscription, ■
gave him a champagne supper and presented him with &
$300 watch. It was a great feast and many enthusiastic
speeches were made on the occasion. The watch was
afterwards deposited with Ladd and Reese, who ran a
bank in Downieville, and one hundred dollars borrowed
on it, but, when some years after the little mountain
town was laid in ashes, the bank burnt up, and the
watch disappeared in a process of cremation.
A strange thing happened in regard to Moffat lying
mortally wounded on a lounge at the back of Craycroft's
saloon; the dying man sent for Haven. When the
latter walked in, Moffat disclosed the wound in his
breast, and Haven merely said : "What have you got in
"That is what!" ejaculated the wounded man.
'You were right the other day, when you told me
that I would not live another ten days; I know it—I
am going,"
Dave Butler, the murderer, succeeded in getting out
of the country, but the awful avenger followed him, and
ultimately tracked him to his lair. His victim had been
a Free Mason, and it was said that, with unceasing zeal,
the Masons pursued him until they found him in Oregon,
two years after, and brought him to justice.   A constable HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
was sent up for him, and the two came down on a small
coasting schooner. One evening the officer took him on
deck for an airing, and after that the officer was never
seen. It is supposed that Butler threw him overboard,
although he strenuously asserted that he did not know
what had become of him. But Butler did not evade his
punishment. He was taken to Downieville, tried and
convicted, and expired at one end of a strong rope. A FORTY-NINER'S  YARNS.
I have previously referred to Mr. Philo Haven,
and will now relate a few of the remembrances he
recalls to my mind, as we converse together, of the
long-ago, and conjure up old, familiar scenes. My friend,
whom I met first in '49, is two years my senior, and
is, mentally and physically, well preserved. He is tall,
bony, spare, and has a facial expression varying from
stern determination to genial kindliness, with intervening shades of temperament; on the whole, pretty well
denoting the man as he is.
We were talking over old scences and incidents that
we both remembered, when, suddenly, Philo says, with
a laugh: "I never saw anything so absolutely ridiculous
as one scene that recurs to my mind just now. It happened up in the mountains, about the Yuba, and made
me laugh at the time, and often after, till my sides fairly ached. I was traveling a short distance behind a
Yankee who was driving his mule before him.' , The
animal was heavily laden, and carried, among other
things, a long-handled shovel which was packed so as to
project upward and outward considerably, on the right
"Gradually the trail became more difficult to travel. It wound around the mountain, and ultimately led
us across a ledge for a short distance. The path was
narrow. On the right the rocks rose almost perpendicularly, and on the left was a sheer precipice of some
thirty or forty  feet, before our gaze  met the  sloping HUNTING  FOR   GOLD
side of the mountain which extended its rugged   side to
the river below. Of course we were used to traveling
over such thoroughfares, arid I would, probably, never
have remembered this particular trip, had it not been
for a sudden bend in the path, which occurred just as
we were traveling across the overhanging ledge.
o o     o o
The mule, which led the procession, was the first to
turn. It was just at the corner, when, owing to the
general shaking of the pack, the top end of the long-
handled shovel struck a protruding bowlder with an effect
which fairly took us all by surprise. The force of the
collision was so great as to send the poor animal off its
feet, and over the verge of the ledge; and the Yankee
saw his pack getting down hill at a rate entirely unexpected. But the funny feature of the occurence was
the manner in which he acted when he saw the animal
dashing like a bird through space. With both arms
akimbo, and looking at the animal with an expression of
utter amazement, he yelled with a few strong oaths interspersed : "Ho gray ! Ho gray ! Ho gray I" The idea of
a man calling to a mule, which is turning sommersaults
in mid-air, for the purpose of halting it in its mad career,
appeared to me so ludicrous, that I smile whenever I
think of it.
In regard to the Indians, knowing the value of gold
O     . ' o o
long before Europeans began to look for it, Mr. Haven
not only bears me out in my ideas, previously expressed,
but relates that he has seen Indian squaws panning
gold in baskets made of wicker work, and covered within
with a layer of pitch. In connection with this Mr.
Haven tells the following amusing story : "I was camped
on the Yuba at one time with a small party, prospecting.
We had been particularly fortunate, and our provisions
were beginning to run short, but I hung on in hopes of I
striking something. We were living chiefly on jerked
venison, but a good deal of it had gone bad and was unfit for eatino-.    In those days a  man  who  afterwards
O «/
became well known in Downieville, was in the habit of
following the camps and picking up such provisions as
the  miners  had  discarded,   selling the  same   to   the
7 O
Indians for gold lumps or dust. This man was at our
camp at the time, and I saw him several times dealing
with an old Indian who came down with his son, and
always brought some very fine specimens of lumpy gold.
"I decided to find out, from the redskin, where he
obtained the lumps, and one day called him to me.
'See here,' I said, ' if you will point with your finger
in the direction where you find that gold, I will' give
you and your boy all you can eat right now.' My men
began to remonstrate. They knew that the limit of our
supplies was a magnitude much more easily defined than
the appetite of the two Indians, but I was determined,
and I repeated my request.
"The Indian looked at me with a hungry expression.
He pointed with one finger to the base of his stomach,
then moved the same member'of his anatomy slowly up
the front of his body, until he came to his mouth, which
he opened wide and laid his finger in  it  cross   ways.
"'That much ?'he queried.
"'Yes,' I said,   'I will fill you both right up to there.'
'"AH right;' said the Indian, and the bargain was concluded. I started in the manner of a taxidermist to
stuff them, and flap-jacks, venison, onions, hard biscuits,
tea and whatever else was at hand, disappeared almost
as quickly as it was placed before them. After having
thoroughly gorged themselves, and considerably diminished our atores they both   arose,   evidently  satisfied.
"Are you all right ? ' I asked. HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
"All right,' said the father.
"'Now,' I said, 'I have fulfilled- my part of the bargain, it is your turn.'
"The old man looked at his son, to whom he spoke a
few words, giving him, at the same time, a meaning
glance, which I afterwards was able to translate, and
then placed himself with his face towards a high bluff
that arose just in front of' us. He seized the index
finger of his left hand between the index finger and
thumb of his right hand, and holding  it in the manner
O ' O
of a gun, pointed it towards the bluff, looking straight
at it all the time'.
'"You say, captain !' ne said after a pause, meaning
that he wanted me to repeat my request.
"'Now,' I said, 'you point with that finger, in the
direction where you find those lumps of gold.'
'"All right!' said the indian, and without raising his
eyes from his finger, or changing his position, he slowly
turned around until he had resumed his former attitude
—facing the bluff.
"I was so much impressed with the streak of humor
in the cunning device on the part of the Indian, which
left me a fool on my own proposition, that I laughed
heartily as I realized how I had been sold, notwithstanding the fact that my men looked glum and angry. In
fact, I laughed until the tears rolled down my cheeks,
and the Indian, when I had recovered myself, turned to
me and said: 'I like you; you good man. You no get
mad.    Good man no get mad; bad man get mad.'
He then told me that on the following morning he
o o
would send another son to me. I should give him some
flour, and he would conduct me to the place where the
gold was. In this respect he kept faith with me, but
that expedition does not belong to the story I wanted to 176
tell, which merely concerns the Indian and his interpretation of a contract, which would, no doubt, have
puzzled a 'Philidelphia lawyer' in court.
"I have mentioned the so-called 'Gold Lake' excitement, which was caused by Captain Stoddard, who
declared that he had beeu at the wonderful lake, and
showed what he alleged to be a wound, on his leg, inflicted by the Indians. Captain Stoddard's report caused the
wildest excitement for a while, and he ultimately undertook to guide a party of miners to the lake where the
fabulous treasures were supposed to be. The small party that set out for the lake, gradually increased in numbers, until at last, several thousand men made towards
the goal of their anticipations, with as fervent a desire
to reach it as ever inspired the Jews of old, in looking
for the promised land."
In regard to this expedition, Mr. Haven tells the following story, which throws some light upon the matter:
"I was traveling over the mountains with a companion, on a prospecting tour, when one evening we made
our camp at the base of a high hill. I ascended the hill
to take a look over the surrounding country, and to my
utmost surprise, found the valley alive with at least
three thousand people, who were, evidently, camped
there temporarily. Calling my partner, we descended
together, and joined the throng. I found there a man
with whom I had crossed the plains, and he pointed out
to me Captain Stoddard, a Philadelphia gentleman, who
had offered to conduct this crowd to new diggings at
"Gold Lake," where, he had assured them, wealth untold
could be found.
"For several days we traveled along, Captain Stoddard guiding our course, and at last we came upon a
lake nestled among lofty mountains.  178
'"That is it!' said Stoddard. 'You sfee now tne lake
with the blue water, which I have described; the three
peaks,.and the log yonder, where I camped. There are
tons of gold there,'
"About four hundred men at once started, on a run,
for the supposed log, but it was found hard to get at,
and when ultimately reached by a circuitous route, was
found to be a bowlder shaped somewhat like a log, but
not a sign of gold near it.
"Meanwhile, the rest were descending the slope, head-
• ed by Colonel X—■— and Captain Stoddard.     You say
there  are three peaks?'   said  the   Colonel   'but I   see
'Stoddard looked in the direction, where in reality five
peaks towered aloft, and then, glancing at the lake below,
he turned deadly pale.
What ails you ?' asked his companion.
'When I get down there.' exclaimed Stoddard,
evidently greatly distressed. 'I shall not be able to see
the peaks—then how can I find the gold ?'.
"Within an hour it had become evident to severa*
thousand men, that they represented as many fools.
Not a trace of gold was found, and expectations, hopes,
anticipations had suddenly turned to anger and a thirst
for revenge of the most intense nature. 'Hang him |
'I have a rope that will hold him !' 'Here's a branch
that will carry him | 'String him up !' Such were
the exclamations mingled with imprecations that filled
the air for a few moments, as hundreds of men made a
rush in search of the Captain.
The strange conduct of the latter, and his incoherent
talk, as we approached the place, had persuaded Colonel
X , myself and a few others that the man was crazy,
or at least, not in his right senses.    So, when the mob HUNTING FOR GOLD
approached to seek vengeance on the unfortunate Irian,
we drew our revolvers and told them that so long as we
were able to defend him, no one in that crowd would be
allowed to hurt a crazy man. That settled it, and
although the poor fellow was made the target for a good ■
deal of abuse, after this no further attempt was made to
kill him.
While I was encamped with him  I  met  a  certain
John F. , of Philadelphia, with whom I had had
previous dealings. I told him of the Captain, who also
claimed to hail from the Quaker City. "I know him,"
said John. "The man is crazy. He is the son of an
English lord, and was sent to America to be kept out of
the way. He stayed for some time at my father's house,
and a certain sum of money was paid for his keeping."
After awhile Stoddard came in and apparently corroborated John in some of what he had been saying.
After awhile the young Philadelphian said : "You say
you were wounded by some of the Indians, show me the
Stoddard uncovered that part of his leg where the
mark was, which he alleged was the result of an arrow
wound. "That," said John, pointing to the scar, "is the
result of a wound received from a fall he received in
Philadelphia city some years ago, at the same time
breaking three ribs."
I cannot vouch for the correctness of John's statement
but at all events it helped to shield the poor Captain
against the revengeful spirit of many of the miners,
whose anger it took sometime to cool down. After
awhile Stoddard joined Major Downie's camp, where he
found protection against any attempts to  annoy him. FROM OBSCURITY TO FAME.
There are two persons whom I remember from the
early days of Downieville, whose separate lives afterwards took them out of the hum-drum, general routine
of our ordinary existence, and led them into the paths
of strange adventures and unexpected circumstances. I
allude to Colonel Daniel E. Hungerford, and his daughter, Mrs. Louisa Mackey, wife of the California Bonanza King.
Daniel E. Hungerford was born in the State of New
York, in the year 1812.    During that year,   his  father
fought ao-ainst the British, and his  grandfather, Danes © o 7
iel Hungerford, fought in the revolution. The family,
which settled in America as early as 1628, is of old
English extraction, and can trace its ancestors as far
back as 1325, during the reign of Edward II, when Sir
Robert Hungerford was Knight of Shire of Wilt. Far-
leigh castle, in Somersetshire, was for centuries, the
seat of the   Hungerfords, most of whom distinguished
O 7- O
themselves as soldiers.
It was, then, an inherited military spirit which drove
Daniel Hungerford to the field of battle when the Mexican war broke out, notwithstanding that he had a young
wife and family to leave behind. The official reports of
that war frequently mention the name of Hungerford
in connection with "personal valor," and indeed, he
proved himself a man of extraordinary metal.
After the war, he came to California. ■ In July '49 he
arrived in San Francisco, having made a most adventurous
trip overland from San Jose del Cabo, and early in '50 HUNTING FOR GOLD
the young adventurer appeared on the Yuba, In '51 he
settled in Downieville, and went into partnership with
Dr. C. D. Aiken,with whom he conducted a drug buisness
for several years, meanwhile bringing his family out
from the East. He organized the "Sierra Guards" and
held the commission of Major, and was, in '55, presented
with a magnificent sword, bearing the inscription:
"Major Daniel E. Hungerford, from the Sierra
Guards, January 8. 1855. Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo,
Contreras, Chapultepec, Gariten de Belen. Our volunteers were there."
But Major Hungerford also had an opportunity to
distinguish himself as a soldier during that period.
After the Ormsby massacre he led the troops, organized
in Nevada, against the Indians in the Washoe war,
operating in conjunction with Colonel Jack Hayes and
Captain Creed Haymond, and to Hungerford is accorded
the honor of the Indians' defeat. He also headed the
first navigation of Pyramid Lake. With him was a
party of thirteen, nearly all Downieville men, and on
the island, at the north end of the lake, they buried a
bottle, containing an account of the expedition.
The desire for adventure afterwards took Hungerford
through part of the civil war, when he became a Colonel,
and afterwards led him into a romantic expedition to
Mexico, which was full of interesting details and at one
time nearly brought him into serious trouble.
After having for some years engaged in railroad
speculations in Texas, and other enterprises, he retired
from, active life and now resides at the Villa Ada, near
Rome, with his son-in-law and daughter, the Count and
Countess Telfener. He is a member of various scientific
societies and spends his life's eventide in interesting
researches and special studies.
1 182
I come how to the second character in my sketch,
Maria Louise Antoinette, generally called by her second
name, the eldest daughter of Colonel Hungerford.
Mrs. Hungerford was a Mademoiselle Eveline de la
Visera. Her parents were both French, but she was
born in New York City, and had received a liberal education. As a wife and mother she set a brilliant example to most women; for, although devoted to her
husband, she never stood in his way when his patriotic
nature urged him to the front to defend his country's
honor, or when his adventure-seeking instincts drove
him into distant fields, where he expected that personal
qualifications would warrant success. On all such occasions she submitted to her husband's desire and judgment, hoping for the best, and in her letters expressing
her tender love and devoted prayers for the absent one.
The issue of their marriage was a son, who died as a
mere child; the subject of this sketch, and Ada Elmira
who married Count Geseppe Telfener. In '53 this
family followed the husband and father, and became residents of Downieville. I remember the two girls well,
and more especially the elder one, whom we used to
call Louise. She was conspicuous, not merely for her
beauty, but for her pleasing personality and manners.
Her eyes were large and expressive; her features soft
and round; her teint of a fair, delicate tint, and her hair
fell in rich tresses, over her shoulders. But her winsome'
ways crowned all her attractions, and denoted, not only
excellent breeding and a rare example, but also a warm
and generous heart, which, indeed, she had. But for
all that—who would have dreamed that the little Downieville girl would grow up to rule like a princess in a
fairy tale. She was raised on the mines, and out of
them, as by the magic wand of witchcraft, rose the pow-  184
er that in after years, gave her the fame that she now
At the age of seventeen she married Dr. E. Bryant.
This prominent young gentlemen had become attached
to her father's staff, but his career was cut short after
two years and a half of wedded life, leaving her a widow
with a baby girl, the present Princess Colonna. Rarely
perhaps has a woman had to pass through an ordeal as
trying as did the subject of this sketch during that
period, but she bore up with a fortitude and buoyancy
of temperament, characteristic of the soldier child, who
had inherited her father's courage.
By this time Colonel Hungerford was fighting under
General McClellan, and his wife had transferred her residence to Virginia City, Nevada. Thither the young
widow went, and in order to help matters along during
a period when their means were scarce, she established
a school in which she taught English and French, most
of her pupils being miners, and belonging to all grades
of society. Among them was John W. Mackay, whose
kindly and generous nature the most extravagant change
of fortune has not to this day altered.
The fire that destroyed Virginia City in the early sixties is yet remembered by many. Among the havoc
wrought was the total destruction of widow Bryant's
residence, school-house, and all her worldly possessions.
Immediately the sympathizing miners circulated a subscription for the benefit of the unfortunate woman and
her mother; but when it was presented to Mackay, he
looked it over,- put it in his pocket, and remarking that
he would attend to that business himself, disappeared
down the shaft.
And he did. He had just then bought the control-
ing share in the Hale and Norcross mine for $13,000 in HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
solid gold, and he added to his fortune by making the
handsome widow his wife shortly after.
The phenomenal success which attended Mackay in
his later career, needs no historiographer here. The
•immense wealth which he amassed, enabled him to place
his wife in a position in which she became world-famed;
and in after years the little Downieville girl has exercised
*/ O
a spell, which could only be brought about, by the possession of extravagant means, combined with the personal
attractions of Louise Mackay.
As I write this, I have before me a leading San Francisco paper, which announces that Mrs. Mackay, after
an absence of sixteen years, spent chifley in Paris and
London, has returned to San Francisco. In it I read
one paragraph, which entirely endorses my own views,
already expressed, and I quote it here:
" Undoubtedly the impressiveness of her great wealth
and the enormous array of attractions it can buy, has
had its part in her phenomenal social victories; but her
natural endowments, her quick wit, and her great tact
have been the more important factors in making many
of the first people of Europe her friends."
I will not finish this sketch without making one more
allusion to her husband. He has often been judged
harshly and hard things have been said of him. Phenomenal success is often followed by envy, and the green-
eyed monster will plant its claws in a man's character,
irrespective of truth. Personally speaking, California's
bonanza king is the same plain-spoken, unpretentious
man he was when, years ago, his hands were hard with
wielding the miner's tool. He strove for success with
integrity, foresight and judgment, and he is eminently
deserving of it, yet it never turned his head or heart.
I will close with an instance which came to my notice. 186
In the fall of 1876 Edwin Adams, the famous actor,
returned to San Francisco, having completed a tour
through Australia. His health was broken, his purse
almost empty, and his friends in San Francisco either
dead or gone away. The great impersonator of Enoch
Arden was on the verge of dispair, and Was daily sinking, physically and mentally. His misfortunes came to
the ears of Mackay, and the next day a letter, containing a check for $2,000, was recieved by Adams to the
following effect:
" My dear Mr. Adams:—i Knowing you to be in some
slight financial strait, may I beg your acceptance of enclosed accommodation, and thus permit me to discharge
in part the vast obligation I feel in common with hundreds of others for your efforts in our behalf. I trust
that we .may long be honored with your presence, and
that our stage may not soon be deprived of one of its
brightest ornaments. With my best wishes for your
success, and thank's for past favors, I have the honor to
remain your obliged and obedient servant,
John W. Mackay."
When Mr. Mackay was afterwards told that Adams
shed tears on receipt of the letter, he dryly remarked:
"Poor fellow, I wish to God I had sent him ten thousand dollars."
Those who know the millionaire best say that his life
has been full of such acts, but he is one of those who lets
not his right hand know what his left hand doeth.
And such is the character of the man with whom the
Downieville girl was destined to share a wonderful fortune and a life full of romantic events. A SLAP-JACK FIEND
In the good old days, when "Wash" Hughes and
Page were partners and ran the United States Hotel,
the air in Downieville was full of fun, and practical
jokes were the order of the day. This caravansary was
then a big institution. It stood at the corner of the
Upper plaza and the proprietors were doing a rousing
business, having always a number of constant boarders
and the trade of a large proportion of visitors who came
to Downieville.
Among those who occasionally dropped into the hotel
to get a meal, was one particular man whom the waiters
called "Slaps" and as that is just as good as any other
name and fitted him better than his own, I shall retain
it here.
Mr. "Slaps," was not a regular boarder, either there
or at any other place. He was one of those individuals
whose erratic means do not always permit of a square
meal, and who therefore, as a matter of course and self-
defense, would upon more favorable opportunities counteract the evil effects of limited meals, by having a real
good fill.
If there were a thing that culinary skill and a plea to
the waiter could produce, which tickled the palet of Mr.
"Slaps," that one thing was Slap-jacks, and the reader
will now see the connection. Slap-Jacks were to his
mind more palatable than paties de fois gras to the
gourmand of more advanced civilization and taste, and
fricassee of nightingales' tongues could not be sweeter Ill
relish to the oriental glutton, than Avere the hot cakes
of the United States Hotel to the hero of this sketch.
Whenever he made his appearance at the hotel the
waiters would give one another that silent sign, consisting of a "one and a half wink" with the left eye, which
only waiters can give and understand, and which in ordi-
nary parlance means "Here goes!" The visitor would
take his seat and assume an air as if he ran the place
and owned all the slap-jacks—past, present, and future
conditional—and call out "hot cakes." Then the fun
began. Our friend could eat a plate of slap-jacks in
shorter time than it takes to tell, and no sooner disposed
of, he wrould call again: "Another plate of hot cakes,
waiter, if you please !"
It had been attempted several times to count the
number of plates he ordered at any particular sitting, but
waiters as a rule, are busy men, when at work, and the
count had never been carried through so as to supply a
true statistic. One morning there was a rush at the
hotel. A number of people had come to towm to be
present at a land sale in the neighborhood, and the hostelry of Hughes & Page was crowded. In the dining
room it was "waiter" here, and "waiter" there, and the
obliging servants of hungry humanity ran to and fro in
their endeavors to please everybody, racing against time,
as they did their best.
In the midst of all this, our friend of Slapjack fame
entered. The busy waiters blanched as they beheld
him, they knew that he would give them additional •
work and impede progress—and he did! Three helpings followed in quick succession. Our friend yelled
"hot cakes" till strangers dropped their knives and forks
and looked about, curious to see the "other fellow,"
thinking they had got to a slap-jack contest.    As "Slap" HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
made the final lap in the third round and opened his
mouth to call out "hot cakes" the waiter attending him,
lost patience. He strode into the kitchen, where Mr.
Hughes was busy at the time, and laying the case
before him, asked the boss whether he could think of
any way in which to satisfy the extraordinary demand
on the part of "Slaps."
Mr. Hughes was a man of quick perception, and he
at once saw his way clear to solve the problem. On the
top of the stove a number of "slaps" were sizzling, getting ready for the table, but Mr. Hughes, with one
brush, had them in a heap, and emptied the batter bucket over the top of the large stove, dumping about three
quarts of the paste-like mixture upon it. In a moment
the stove top looked like a geological map of California,
but it did not take long to make it resemble what a witness described as a "cross between a horse-blanket and
a door-mat," and when it was finished, it was put on the
biggest dish in the establishment, and two men placed
it before the slap-jack fiend, just as he was about to
make another frantic demand for more "hot cakes."
Our friend looked at the slap-jack, at the men who
brought it, and at the people around. The latter were
taking it all in, when they dropped to the joke, a peal
of lauo-hter went up which scared the stranger and
caused his hasty retreat. Since that day he never
.came to the United States Hotel, and where he ate his
hot cakes afterwards, I know not YUBA. POETS AND POETRY.
During the gold  mining days   on  the  Yuba a good
O O O 1/ o
deal of poetry has been written by local men of talent
in that district, who wielded the pick and shovel during
their working hours, and rode Pegassus during their
leisure. It is true that the verses are often wanting in
"feet" and therefore somewhat lame, but most of the
authors do not claim to be more than songsters of the
I have thought fit to mention a few of them here, as
they in some degree express the sentiment of the mining
camp and in their very simplicity and faultiness are often
charming illustrations of the men who wrote them, as •
well as of those for whom they were written. Foremost
among the Yuba poets stands W. K. Weare. Mr.
Weare had participated in the Mexican war and
returned with honor. He was for many years mining
on the Yuba in various parts, and was afterwards a
guard at the State Prison, at San Quentin. Mr. Weare
is now a very old man, and is living in Nevada City,
remembered by all who knew him, as a genial, warmhearted companion. His poetry embraced epics and lyrics as well as odes; heroic poems and sketches, and'
many of his productions are very good. His "Ode to the
Pioneers" is remembered by many as a very impressive
poem.    It begins as follows:
"Magician! Memory! break the spell of intervening time,
While we rehearse the deeds of all, wrought, by a faith sublime,
Since when on the Sierra's crest a Pioneer first trod,
When all was wild as when it sprang from chaos, or from God."
The end of this Ode is very touching in all its simplicity:
"How every day we hear of some, whose earthly bonds are riven;
Whose hands their last deep  shaft have  sunk, their last long
tunnel driven.
Let's hope that in the fatherland they're called on to explore,
Are treasures richer, brighter far, than gold and silver ore,
For while the glorious West shall live, the pride of future years,
Thousands of happy homes shall bless the grand old Pioneers."
Weare's real bend of mind and poetic perception comes
out well in his poem entitled "San Quentin's Graves,"
in the following lines:
"Yonder, near St. Francis- City, queenly—mistress of the Bay,
Stands Lone Mountain, proud and stately, where the rich and
honored lay.
There are tombs—proud mausoleums—spires and statues tow'ring
Dainty in their  sculptured beauty—which is but a sculptured
Telling to the humble mourner who shall seek the lonely spot,
Not the tenant's life relations, but precisely what was not.
Vain are all the  towers and  columns  raised  to   conquerors  by
These are just as near their maker as San  Quentin's outcast's
Indeed, Weare expressed very many pretty thoughts
in simple, but sympathetic language, and when, in 1879,
he published a volume of his poetry, his old friends were
glad of an opportunity to secure a collection they had
long urged him to bring out.
O        o o
Following is a poem entitled "Sierra Buttes," the
author of which is unknown to me, although he was a
'   T O
Yuba miner.
"Through Time's dim vista looking down,
Perhaps frowning o'er some ancient sea,
Dark clouds then resting on thy crown,
And all around thee mystery. 192 HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
"Thou watchest the fiery craters flow,
And mountains heaving at their birth,
Amid the molten lava/s glow;
Before mankind had touched the earth.
"Still towering upward into space,
A landmark when the morning breaks,
Yet men are delving at thy base,
And heeding not thy darksome peaks.
"Time fades, yet ever rolling on,
Men come and go and gaze on thee;
Like fleeting shadows they are gone,
But thou art for eternity."
Fred Stone, I believe, is the author of the following
poem, entitled "The Village Maiden." Fred was something of a singer and had a tune for the words, which
I think was his own composition although it may not
have been very original.
"Mother, dear, the bells are ringing,
There's holly on the window pane;
I hear the distant voices sidging,
Christmas-tide has come again.
Winter's mantle, white, is lying—
On the earth lies crystal snow,
Gleaming, as the day is dying,
In the sunset's golden glow.
"Oh, it seems so hard to leave you;
To the earth I fondly cling.
Do not let these moments grieve you,
Yet I'd like to see the Spring,
With its sunshine, all its flowers,
And its perfume-laden breeze;
Glistening raindrops, after showers,
Like gems sparkling on the trees.
"I hear no more from absent Willie;
He stays so long beyond the sea;
There's the faded rose and lily,
Which at parting he gave me. HUNTING   SOR   GOLD
See, I press them, softly sighing,
And bedew them with a tear;
They are dead, and I am dying,
Dying with the waning year.
Do you think dear friends will miss me,
When wild mirth will freely flow ?
No more village youth will kiss me,
Underneath the mistletoe ?
Nor Old Christmas, ag'd and -hoary,
Bring its joys and hopes to me ?
'Tis faded, gone; and in its glory,
Vanished with our Christmas tree.
Hark! the bells so joyfully ringing;
The holly's on the window-pane,
And soft voices, sweetly singing—
"Kiss me, mother, once again."
Thus she sang; her heart o'erladen;
Her parting breath she softly sighed;
Death had claimed the village maiden,
Whils't yet 'twas Christmas-tide.
Old Sam Hartley took to. rhyming, occasionally, and
one of his productions is called:
I have traveled this world wearily o'er,
Sailed its wide seas, viewed many a shore,
Seeking to find, each path that I went,
For joys once found in a gold miner's tent,
That stood on the bank of Yuba's rich stream;
E'er life's fond illusions passed like a dream;
The songs that we sung, the stories we told,
Down by the river, when mining for gold.
All's changed; but my heart it feels the same glow,
For friends and old times in that long ago;
The hills are as grand, as stately the pines,
But where are the friends I knew in the mines.
I viewed the old spot where the log cabin stood,
It braved the stern winter storms, and the flood;
The roof has gone down, the logs scattered lay,
11 194
That the hand of old time has brought to decay.
These rafters will sing no more with wild glee,
Nor make the lone stranger welcome and free;
The place now is silent, unlike of old,
Down by the river when mining for gold.
Hearty the greeting of friends we would meet,
In town midst the throng and crowds on the street;
No brow was o'ercast, nor tinctured with gloom,
All was success in the flats or the flume,
Many are scattered to come not again,
Few are the faces we see that remain,
Hands that we clasped with warmth, now are cold,
Down by the river—laid under the mold.
Both the latter poems were sung by their respective
authors, one Christmas Eve, a good many years ago, in
a miner's cabin on the Yuba. The night was cold and
wild. Outside the snow fell fast, and the wind howled
round the corners; but within was good-cheer and merry company. In the midst of this scene of comfort and
contentment, a knock came to the door, and upon opening, a stranger staggered in, nearly overcome with
fatigue, cold and hunger. He carried a violin in a case
and was at once made welcome by the miners. They
did all to revive the traveler who was on the point of
succumbing to the hardships he had been exposed to.
He turned out to be Mr. Frank Littleton, the well-
known musician, and soon recovering under the influence
of an exceeding hospitality, he participated in the entertainment and played the accompaniment for the two
miners mentioned above, as they sang their songs.
A frequent contributor to the poetic corner of Sierra
papers, uses the pseudonym of "Miner." His productions are generally descriptive, and in the following
poem, entitled "The Snow-shoe Races," he has given a
good picture of a local sport which affords much amuse-'
When snow lies deep on every hill,
Silence reigns—the birds are still;
Where gold is nestling in the mines,
And dark cliffs rest among the pines;
The earth is robed in purest white.-
The sun gives out its dazzling light;
The snow-shoe racers each in place,
The given signal starts the race.
People in cities can never know,
How jolly it is to glide o'er the snow.
Down the mountain side, like birds in flight,
Or meteors on a starry night—
Bending low to miss the breeze,
Flying past the stately trees,
Rushing down to flat below,
Dancing o'er the "beautiful snow,"
Falling, rolling, seeing stars—
Then hear the laughing crowd's hurrah!
Away down the valley where oranges grow,
They miss all the fun we have in the snow.
The ladies, too, with modest grace,
Will take their chance to win the race;
Their hearts may beat with fear or hope,
But each has got her lightning "dope"—
The signal's given, off they go;
Pull wild at starting, scratching snow,
And if the dears are not experts,
The air seems filled with snow and skirts.
They try again, with face aglow,
Determined to win or die in the snow.
When darkness o'er the hills advance,
The sport ends with a social dance;
Chill winter thus his pleasures bring,
And water flows with early spring,
Then glittering gold that lay below,
Is brought'to light by melting snow;
The track is gone, but beaming faces,
With glee recall the snow-shoe races. 196
People in cities and valleys may know,
When it is falling there's gold in the snow.
"Miner" is also the author of a poem  which he calls
"The hanging of the Mexican woman," wherein he des-
O        O '
cribes a scene with which my readers are already familiar.
I append "Miner's" version and verses relative to the incident which I have more fully described in the preceding pages:
'Twas long ago—a July morn—
The stars paled in the early light;
A man lay stark and dead at dawn,
His life ebbed with the shades of night.
A woman wronged by brawler's strife,
Bravely took the avenger's part;
One swift-aimed blow her glist'ning knife,
Plunged deep into a miner's heart.
Men gathered, then, from near and far,
And left to silence many a mine,
On many a far-off creek and bar,
Then shaded by the oak and pine,
And rushed to swell the surging throng,
Like gath'ring streams in onward flood;
Men thus were wildly borne- along,
Who shrank from shedding human blood.
The hot sun shone above the scene,
The river murmured in its bed,
The hills were clothed in summer green,
And birds were fluttering overhead.
Friends tried to shield her—all in vain—
They brought her forth with wildest jeers;
The die was cast, her blood must stain,
The annals of  the Pioneers.
Arrival at Victoria—Sharp Practice.—Indians Bring the First
Gold—The Hudson Bay Company—An Energetic Governor
—A Route to the Mines—Joining an Expedition—-Natives
Surprised—The Dame and the Bullets—Adventures on a
Stream—Lilooet Lake—A Favorable Report—An Attempt
that Failed.
During the month of July, 1858, I arrived for the first
time in British Columbia, landing in Victoria.
At that time a tremendous excitement prevailed in
this colony, caused by the discovery of gold, the news of
which had spread all over the world. Rumors had sped
like carrier pigeons to the remote mountain diggings of
California, as well as to the more civilized portions of
the globe, and the spirit for adventure and the lust for
gold once more drew men toward a common center. In
this throng that flocked northward along the Pacific
Coast, were many of the pioneers of the Californian
miners, early settlers on the Yuba and American Rivers,
while other gold fields of Alta California were well represented.
For several years gold had been known to exist in
British Columbia, but it may not have suited the first
Caucasian discoverers of this fact to reveal the same.
As early as '52 Mr. McLean, who then represented the
Hudson Bay Company as chief trader at Kamloops,
learned of the presence of gold, but not of its whereabouts. As in California, it was the native son of the
soil who first brought the precious metal into notice, but
as in the latter place, the priests, for reasons already
given, suppressed the fact; thus the keen business men r
I if
of the Hudson Bay Company may have also thought it
wise to remain silent about the matter. The Indians
were the first bearers of gold to his Caucasian lord, to
whom he traded it, generally in the form of dust, for
such trifles as his fellow-men—fairer in complexion only
—saw fit to give for it. But by degrees the truth
leaked out, and the fact was revealed. Adventurers
came from the adjacent districts—Oregon and Washington in particular. They made their way up the rugged
country on either side of the Thompson and other tributaries of the Fraser River, and it was soon apparent that
gold was plentiful. Then the stream of immigration began. I have shown how at this period the Californian
miner had become tired of home chances, which by degrees had become few and far between, and with his
characteristic hopefulness he had left his old claim that
paid moderately, or his sluice and tunnel that kept him
in debt; had packed his pick and pan, rolled up his tent,
and like the Arab, silently stolen away.
To one who had profited by the schooling which mining life imparts, as much as I had, the singular conditions
which presented themselves in Victoria during those
days did not seem very strange, but the youth who had
just left his mother's apron strings to go in search of fortune,, may, indeed, have felt some surprise at his first
experience on the road to the new M Dorado. The crowd
that gathered in Victoria was larger and more mixed
than any I had seen before, and the number of "sharpers"
who practiced their tricks upon strangers, and made the
poor "greenhorns" their victims, was astonishing. I regret to say that in several of these unscrupulous speculations! recognized some, of my old Californian acquaintances, even a former Downieville miner.
Provisions became scarce at one time and prices rose HUNTING  FOR   GOLD
accordingly. Some of the old miners, who knew from
experience, what hungry men will pay for food, combined
and offered the Hudson Bay Company to buy the balance of their flour. Thus they secured several hundred
barrels, costing $10 per barrel at the one end, and a
couple of dollars per pound at the other. Then the men
became disheartened. They went to the Company to
inquire whether all of their flour had been really disposed
of, and were greatly relieved when told that the lot sold
merely comprised their local stock on hand, but that in
others of their stores they had plenty which they would
be glad to sell at their ordinary rates. Thus the schemes
to extort money from the miners were frustrated, and the
speculators suddenly became wholesale dealers in flour,
without any chance of realizing an expected enormous
The man who at that time controlled the Hudson Bay
Company, was James Douglas, who very shortly afterwards was appointed governor of British Columbia.
Mr. Douglas became very popular with the strangers,
after this episode, and I may remark here that the officers
of that Company, throughout, were able, clear-headed,
and very accommodating men. I have had much to do
with them and always found them particularly pleasant
to deal with. Another corner was secured by a former
Monte-Cristo miner, whose labor in California had been
fraught with success. He bought up all the pans in the
market, and for awhile pans were at a premium; but the
mercenary vendor rendered himself so much detested
through this deal that, no doubt, he had occasion to regret his nefarious speculation.
The gold mining of British Columbia proved somewhat different from that of California. In the first place
the northern Indian was not as easily handled when the
:.r.v: 202
question was "digging for gold," as was his more southern brother. The reason for this may probably be found
in the different manner, in which the value of gold was
presented to him. In California the suave priest would
not apparently place any value upon the gold. A meal,
a piece of cloth, a little tobacco, and if the Indian professed Christianity, the absolution from his sins, would
constitute the barter, in which a lump of gold or a
quantity of dust represented his side of the bargain. In
British Columbia the proposition was very different.
The mercantile world had thought fit to establish proper
business relations with the Indians. They had traded
with them on a commercial basis, and when they discovered that gold was worth anything to the pale-face,
they had accepted and received for it, if not an adequate
value, at all events, a value which wras measured'by a
business proposition. No wonder, therefore, that these
savages objected to the sudden invasion of many thousands of men, who came to take away part of the materi-
, al. for the finding of which they were, in their own estimation, handsomely rewarded.
But in addition to the hostility which the Indians
exhibited in so many instances, the miners had to contend with the difficulties presented by the natural formation of the country. Probably no part of the world
is more cut up by rugged mountains and rushing rivers,
than British Columbia, and the road that naturally presented itself to the miner, as leading to the upper Eraser, was a dangerous one. No sooner had Douglas
been made Governor of the possession, than he determined to send out a party for the purpose of finding, if
possible, another route, and he commissioned Mr. J. G.
McKay to head the expedition, which I was invited to
join.   The idea was to find a route to the upper Fraser, HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
via Howe Sound and Lilooet Lake, and thus avoid
ascending the river through the canyons, where the frequent rapids rendered the journey practically risky.
This trip afforded me the first good opportunity of making myself acquainted with a new and interesting country.
We went first to Fort Langley, where we were
equipped with all the necessariesgfor our expedition.
The so-called forts were trading posts, established in various parts of the country by the Hudson Bay Company, and most of them were called by the name of some
prominent officer of this famous organization, which at
these centers carried on their traffic with the native
tribes. The forts were all constructed on the same
plan, although they differed in regard to the number of
buildings they contained. The sites selected for the
forts, was commonly a spot on the bank of a lake or
river, elevated so as to form a point of vantage over the
surrounding country, and the buildings of which the
post consisted, were constructed of hewn timbers,
and varied in number from a single block-house to
fifteen or twenty. In the latter case they consisted of
one or two large houses for the officers and clerks, and
O '
the quarters for the mechanics and laborers. In addition to these were spacious store-houses for the reception of goods, more particularly furs, shops for carpenters, coopers, blacksmiths and other trades, and a powder magazine, built of brick or stone. In some few
cases the posts also had a school-house and chapel.
The whole of the little settlement was surrounded by a
strongly-built stockade from fifteen to twenty feet high,
on the inside of which, near the top, ran a gallery, provided with loop-holes for muskets, in the manner of
mediaeval fortifications.    The picket-work or palisading, 204
was flanked with bastions, of which there were generally two, placed diagonally at the corners of the fort, and
mounted with small pieces of cannon, and provided
with the necessary loop-holes for muskets. In founding
these posts the principal items, taken into consideration,
generally were the accessibility of the location, the number of Indians and the abundance of fur-producing animals in   the neighborhood, as well as the soil in which
O '
grain and vegetables were raised for the supply of the
place. At most of the posts gardening and farming
were carried on quite extensively and successfully, and
large numbers of fine cattle were raised; while at others, less favored, the brave representatives of the company had, as a rule, but a scanty supply of food, principally consisting of salmon and other fish, with such
wild fruit  as  the  Indians  might bring, and occasional
o o *
contributions of game. The latter was, however,
already, in those days becoming a luxury, owing to the
persistency with which the deer had been hunted for
years for the sake of its meat and the antlers of the
stag. I was much impressed by these forts, when I
first saw them. It is true, that they offered but a poor
protection against modern artillery, even as it was then;
but they presented quite a formidable appearance, and
have always been found to serve their purpose well by
over-awing the Indians and successfully resisting their
Fort Langley is situated on the South side of the river Fraser, about twenty-five miles from its mouth. It
was already then an old, extensive establishment, I
believe at that time, under the supervision of Mr. Yale,
who held a prominent position with the company The
company had a large farm here with a considerable
amount of stock.    The land, which had been  cleared of SIR JAMES   DOUGLASS,   K.   C.   B. 206
heavy timber, produced excellent crops and vegetables
and fruit grew in abundance, during their respective
seasons. All through the district were small prairies,
in which a luxuriant growth of grass afforded splendid
pasture for the cattle, and yielded, in addition, an abundant supply of hay for the winter. On the opposite
side of the river there was an Indian village,   in   which
O     '
dwelt the remnant of a once numerous tribe. They
had, however, in common with many of their sister
tribes, who enjoyed, the close association of the pale-face,
become considerably reduced, both in numbers and morals, for it is a sad fact, that in the contest between civilization and savagedom, the latter is generally annihilated.
In later chapters I shall have more to say about
these, our copper-colored fellow-beings, for I came much
in contact with them and had ample opportunity to
observe them. Meanwhile I return to our trip in
search of a route, by which the miners might more
easily reach the regions of the Upper Eraser. From
Langley we took the trail to Howe Sound and then
steered our course forLilooet' Lake, arriving there after
' O
several adventures. We got a right royal reception,
when we approached the first Indian village. The
whole population came out to meet us, but the welcome
was sent per musket ball, and we did not care for it.
Some of the braves mounted a pile of wood and continued
pointing their guns at us, but I realized that the first
exhibition of fear would mean death to us and told McKay so. Linked arm in arm, we marched bravely forward, and when we reached the base of the stack of
wood, we held Out our hands for them to help us up,
which they did in a mechanical sort of way, apparently
taken aback by our cool demeanor.      My eye  caught ss
sight of one old dame, who carried a long bag, apparently
containing lumps of something. My curiosity Was
aroused, and, thinking for certain that it was gold, I
made up my mind to lay siege to the good will of the
ancient beauty; but I entirely lost my ambition in that
direction, when I saw her opening the bag a few minutes
later and take from it a number of muskets balls, which
she distributed among the young braves, that they might
make holes in us. Such conduct would have put a
damper on the good opinions of her most ardent admirer.
After   awhile, we succeeded in making friends with
' O
the Indians, who were known as the "Unamish," and
were considered a somewhat treacherous tribe.* In
return for a musket they gave us a canoe, and we now
followed the stream thinking that we had improved our
conditions somewhat; but we soon discovered that the
canoe was too small to be of actual service to us.
However, we made the best of it for several miles and
then came across another canoe on a bar. We left a
musket in payment for it and traveled on, after having
divided our pack; but we had not gone far, when we'
were overtaken by the owner of our new craft, who came
after us in another dug-out;standing up in the bow of it,
he shouted to us to halt, and we thought best to obey.
He had a long wa wa talk with Mr. McKay, who gave
him some tobacco and made friends, and then we proceeded up the river.
| must admit I did not relish our navigation very
much; and I- suppose it was because, at that time, I was
unused to the scenes that presented themselves. Every
now and then we came upon Indian villages, and every
time we had to halt and keep talking with the inhabitants,
who came down to accost us. We also had to give them
presents at every  place, consisting  of powder, musket 208
balls, tobacco or other things, which they appreciated.
They had a disagreeably, insinuating way of hanging over
the gunwale of our canoe with big bowie knives in their
hands. It is an old saying, and a true one, that
familiarity breeds contempt, and I suppose, it did with
me, for I soon became accustomed to their ways and
took no notice of them afterwards, but on the occasion
of my first introduction to these people, their manner of
approaching strangers offended my sensibilities.
We were fortunate enough to be able to report the
possibility of traveling by the route, proposed, and reach
Lake Lilooet by it. This watershed possesses at least
one remarkable feature—the turbid appearance of its
waters, which are of a dirty green hue. This is quite
an exception to the general rule, for in British Columbia the water of the lakes is noted for its remarkable
purity and clearness, the lakes, as a rule, being exceedingly deep. The reason Lake Lilooet does not follow
suit in this respect, may be found in the fact, that the
feeders run over a species of argillacious earth, which,
no doubt, imparts to the water the offensive color.
The importance of our successful endeavors to find
this passage could be only fully realized by men who
had traveled in these regions.    It was not long before a
o o
proper route was established to the Fraser river by way
of Lilooet Lake, the Lilooet and Harrison mines, the
Lilooet Meadows, lakes Anderson and Seton, these
points being interspersed with mule trails.
On our return we went to Nanaimo, where we were
kindly received by Captain Stewart, Adam Howe and
Dr. Benson, all of the Hudson Bay Company. Governor Douglas received our report with much satisfaction
but desired us to find, if possible, another short route,
which could be utilized at once without  any  further HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
trouble in the making of trails, etc. The Governor had
a theory that this could be realized by starting from a
point higher up on the coast, and we made an attempt,
starting from Jarvis Inlet, but after a very hazardous
trip, on which we suffered numerous hardships, we
had to abandon the idea, as wholly impracticable. CHAPTER   II.
Queen Charlotte Island—Gold Harbor—Scotch Guy—The Majesty
of Nature—Captain Gold—Potlatch—Political Campaigns—
Totems—Architecture and Art—An Interesting People—
Vanity of Savagedom—Curious Customs—The Death-dance
—Myth and Legend.
Early in the year 1859 I was one of a party, embarking for the Queen Charlotte Islands. We had chartered a schooner in command of Captain Robinson, and
my intention was to prospect the islands for gold and
afterwards explore the cost of the mainland, as Governor Douglas was anxious to know more about the
numerous inlets there, as well as th6 possibility of locating an available pass for the building of the projected
Great Canadian and Pacific Railway.
We were a band of twenty-seven miners, all old hands
and well tried, and we steered our course for Gold Harbor on Moresby Island, but only to find it a second Gold
Lake of California fame. We carefully examined a spot
where a large quantity of gold had been taken out sometime before, but could not find anything worth working, although we saw quartz and did some blasting.
The general nature of the rock was trap and hornblend,
and, at the head of Douglas Inlet, we found granite, as well as slate, talcose rock and coal, but not gold;
and I concluded, that the large amount of this metal,
which had been found previously in those parts with so
little difficulty, existed merely in what the miners call
an off-shoot or blow-out, which can only be explained as
one of those freaks of nature, so often found in a mining country. HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
In the Skidgate Channel we met with but little better success. We were wind-bound for some time near
the Casswer Indian village, where we discovered traces
of previous prospecting. Here the indications of gold
were certainly more distinct. We met an Indian Chief,
who to accommodate us gave his name as Scotch Guy.
He wore a large piece of gold, weighing probably two
ounces, but he could not be persuaded to tell us, where
he found it. As to ourselves, we could not find any
gold. There was plenty of sulphurate of iron, talcose
slate, and red earth, and I received the impression, that
the natives there are first-class prospectors, and know
all about gold mining.
The coast from Casswer village to Skidgate Channel
presents some of the wildest scenery, I have ever seen.
The rocks rise like mighty giants, daring the approaching sailor to set foot on the island they guard. They
stand bold and defiant with the scars of ages seaming
their sides in the shape of rifts and fissures, and, at
their feet, the waters roll with a strong underswell
towards the uninviting shore. But here and there a
narrow inlet will admit the traveler into a small natural
harbor. Also this may be surrounded by towering
mountains,  rearing   aloft  with  the  same  threatening
* O O
appearance, while here and there a waterfall, like a thundering, splashing cascade, throws its contents into the
otherwise quiet harbor and makes its waters turbulent.
An investigation of the northwest portion of the island revealed the fact that it consists chiefly of low, sandy
or gravel flats with no indications of being a gold bearing country. We therefore gave up our search for gold
in these quarters and set sail for the mainland, intending
to explore the country from Fort Simpson to Fort St.
James. 212
But while I have thus briefly taken, my reader over
what I may call the business portion of my first trip to
Queen Charlotte Island, I propose to dwell a little longer
on the natural conditions that came to my notice,
whilst there. I consider this part of the world a highly
interesting one and my observation of the Indians showed
them to be a race, different in many respects to • the
ordinary redskin.
The large group of islands was originally discovered
in the year 1774 by a Spanish navigator, named Juan
Perez, who called them Cabo De St. Margarita, but as
early as 1787 a Captain Dixon, in command of the ship
"Queen Charlotte," gave them their present name, and
during the following year Captain William Douglas of
the ship "Iphigenia," with a portion of his crew, were the
first white men who sat foot on the islands, landing in
Parry Sound and establishing the first trade with the
natives. However, up till the time when I first visited
these Islands, no systematic attempt had been made to
explore them, with the exception of one, made by the
French adventurer, Captain Etienne Marchand, who in
the year 1791 with the ship "Solide," visited the southern seas and explored a small portion of this archipelago.
Since my first visit to these islands the Colonial government has done much to ascertain the nature of them
and has made exact charts of the group, and I may
mention the name of Newton H. Chittenden as a gentle-
man, who has spared no efforts to explore them, gaining,
as a result, not only much knowledge as to their physical condition, but also learning many interesting facts
about their inhabitants.
The whole group is said to consist of some 150 islands.
They are separated from the mainland by Queen Charlotte Sound, which varies in width from thirty to eighty HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
miles. Their most southern point, Cape St. James, is
one hundred and fifty miles from the nearest point of
Vancouver Island, and to the north they are separated
from the Prince William group of Alaska by Dixon
Entrance, having an average width of about thirty
The general physical conditions of this archipelago
would give the impression that it is merely the remnants
of a terra firma, which, through some fearful revolution,
has been reduced to a most bewildering labyrinth of
islands and islets, separated by sounds, straits, passages,
and fringed with inlets of the most phantastic shapes.
Through the entire length of the islands runs a mount-
ain chain, ranging in hight from six hundred to five
thousand feet, covered with an evergreen forest of spruce,
hemlock and cedar, which, with few exceptions, stretch
from their summit to the coast. The exceptions occur
where the coast in some places is rock-bound, and in
others is found of sandy soil.
Many remarkable effects are produced, both in scenic
and geological respect, where the coast is rocky. In
some places the highest elevations on the immediate
coast do not exceed four hundred feet, while in others
bold, rocky bluffs rise to the highth of eight hundred
feet, at times as high as twenty-five hundred feet, above
the level of the sea, the mountains bordering on the
inlets, presenting an almost perpendicular front.
There are, I suppose, an uncounted number of streams
on these islands. They are naturally only short, but
rush towards the ocean with swift currents, and fall into
the larger waters with a thundering noise, as they leap
down the steep rocks or make their way over the more
gradual mountain slopes. They add considerably to the
grandeur of this singular nature, which on the whole is 214
exceedingly picturesque, forming wonderful scenes, in
which blend the ocean blue and the forest verdure, with
the silver spray of the rivers and the solemn rocks that
rise where the breakers toss their white-capped heads at
their feet.
If the theory be correct, that these islands at one
time belonged to a terra firma, a portion of which is now
buried beneath  the   rolling  waters,  there   can  be  no
O •*
doubt that this land was gold bearing and probably
richly so. The gold found in '52 in Mitchell Harbor,
better known as Gold Harbor, may have been a corner,
broken away from a large and rich supply, which now
lies many fathoms below. In parts of the island there
are indications of gold, but I have not learned as yet,
that any quantity has been found since the Hudson Bay
Company took out the gold referred to, the presence of
it being revealed by an Indian, known ever since as
Captain Gold The whole of that quantity amounted to
only $5,000, which after all was nothing. I have already
mentioned the existence of coal in some places, and I
think that copper might be found on the island, at least
I saw indications of it on Moresby Island. But, notwithstanding the evident trace of gold, coal and copper, to
.this day neither of these minerals have been found in
sufficient quantity to warrant the expense of working
them. They are merely there as pointing to the existence of larger stores of their own kinds hidden some-
where in that wonderful, architecture of that locality.
But where ?    That is the   great  enigma, which.
remains unsolved. No feature of these islands, however,
surpassed in interest the natives, who are called Hydah
Indians. To me the study of man has always been more
attractive than anything else I know of, arid I have had
great opportunities for practicing it under varied circum- mmm
stances, applying my observations to human beings of
different races and nationalities.
The Hydah Indian is probably the finest savage I
have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I shall, at
all events, always feel kindly towards him, when I recollect, that he never showed any desire to scalp me or
in any other way molest me, which is a good deal more
than I can say for his brethren on the mainland. They
are not a handsome-featured people, and their women
lack graceful movements. Their hair and eyes are very
black; their teeth shining white and their complexions
of an olive hue.    The average hight of the male is about
o o
five feet seven inches, and both men and women have
finely developed chests and forearms, caused by their
incessant handling of the oars; for they are the best
boatmen I have ever met, and in saying this I refer to
both sexes. They have, indeed, an amphibious-like
nature, for they seem to be as much at home in the
water as they are ashore, and for feats of diving and
swimming their equals are not easily found.
Their political institutions seemed to me to have much
in common with our own American ways. The man
who wishes to become chief has to pay dearly for the
honor. The payment consists of a feast, which often
lasts for days. Everybody is then invited and handsomely entertained, and blankets are distributed in great
numbers. It will be seen by this, that the idea of buying friends in a political campaign is by no means a
result of progressive American civilization, but rather a
return to savagedom. At all events, he who entertains
the handsomest; who has the most money to spend and
can make himself most popular through his means, wins
the contest, which is often most bitterly fought. These
feasts are called potlatch, a term which indicates the dis- HUNTING  FOR   GOLD
tinction of certain things, and they are celebrated on
various occasions, such as the funeral of a deceased
member of the tribe, the inauguration of a new house,
' O '
Strangely enough, when I first knew these people,
the missionaries did not seem te have had much to do
with them, and what civilization they had appeared to
me to have been carried to them principally through
traders and more in particular through the Hudson Bay
Company. They were very distinctly classified, not
only in castes but also in different tribes, which had evidently been done for the purpose of preventing too close
intermarriage. Each one of these tribes, or families,
has its own crest, which is frequently engraved upon
their belongings. They are called totems and the natives,
belonging to the same totem, are forbidden to intermarry.
They have a number of these totems, known in their own
language as the eagle, the wolf, the crow and so on.
Their moral standard did not appear to be very high,
and they were in absolute ignorance of the sentiments
expressed in a good many of the ten commandments, or
otherwise they utterly disregarded them. As I have
said, they were not blood-thirsty, but they often forgot
to distinguish between our belongings and their own, and
were frequently persistent in insisting upon a potlatch,
or distribution of our effects among themselves.
As mechanics they far surpassed what I had then
seen of savage skill in this direction, and their villages
were to me a most wonderful sight. They had learned
from the traders to build proper houses and constructed
some very comfortable habitations, which nearly always
presented the gable, to what I should call the front.
But their poles were the most singular feature about
the villages.    The proper meaning of these poles I have 218
never learned, but they tower like huge columns from
thirty to seventy feet in hight outside many of their
houses. They are covered from the base to the apex
with carvings of the most grotesque order. It must be
said, that in the art of carving these savages stand very
high, more especially considering the few and primitive
implements with which they do their work. I have'
seen later in Alaska similar artistic work; but when for
the first time I beheld it at the village of Gold Harbor on
Maud Island, I was fairly taken aback. Not only are
their columns decorated with such carvings,.but every
other conceivable thing belonging to them, such as their
ax handles, oars, canoes, even spoons or drinking vessels,
and they appear to think nothing worth having which
has'not been artistically carved. Their skill in building
canoes is very wonderful, and it is a question to me,
whether any other nation, savage or civilized, can produce better boats for speed than these people, whose
principal boat building place is at Massett.
They have the same hankering for personal  adornments as their Caucasian fellow-beings, and their women
O    '
more particularly do not give their fairer sisters any
odds, although, as a matter of course, they differ in
style and fashion. When I first came among them,
European fashions were not much in vogue, although
later on, the blanket, breech cloth and leather coverings
have been discarded for cloaks made from the skin of the
sea otter, proper pants and dresses, and woven underwear, but in common with all savage races boots are the
last portion of civilized dress they will adopt. By way
of ornamentation, men and women tatooed themselves,
often profusely so, and here again the totems frequently
appear. The women were quite clever at braiding and
manufactured a kind of hat, which they  wore.    They HUNTrNG FOR  GOLD
also prepared certain paints, with whicn they covered
their faces, and for this purpose they used Vermillion,
common charcoal, deer   tallow  and other ingredients,
' O
which showed that the artist of the hare's foot and the
inventors of beauty powder and face enamel are by no
means original in their endeavors to hide nature's own
gift. For additional ornament both perforated the septum of the nose and inserted a silver ring, and the women
often decorated their fingers with a number of rings and
«—> O
used feathers, mother of pearl and a variety of shells for
further decoration. .
Their social enjoyments were mostly confined to
dancing and masquerades and they exhibited great ingenuity in their make-up. Their object seemed generally
to be to imitate the animals, which rove through the
forests of their island home, but not only did they wear
on their own heads the heads of bears, deer, goats and
other animals, «as well as masks, representing birds, but
they were also adepts at imitating on reed whistles the
shrill cry of many of the wild forest birds. They also
wore other masks with moving eyes aud lips and a most
hideous expression. On festive occasions they wore a
shawl of their own manufacture, which was of a particularly fine texture and made from the wool of the mountain goat. In their hands they carried small hoops, to
which were attached a number of birds' beaks, and with
these they produced a noise resembling the sound of
castanets. While this diabolic concert is going on the
daucers scatter the soft down of birds, until the air is
filled with them, and it may be easily understood that to
the stranger, who for the first time witnesses this scene,
the effect is perfectly bewildering.
Most characteristic of all is the so-called death-dance,
performed by one single individual, who runs through m
the village like a madman, wearing nothing  but a loincloth.    As he rushes past the houses, he imitates  the
hideous shriek of some wild beast, and, seizing any animal, which may happen in his way, he tears it to pieces
and devours a portion of the raw flesh.
They do not appear to have any religious ideas, outside that of the great spirit, whose aid they implore,
w7hen embarking in any undertaking, and his opposite,
which would correspond with the devil of other beliefs.
They do not, however, have any graven images of either
of these powers, and I imagine their ideas of them are
somewhat vague.
They .have at the same time, certain traditions or
legends, which are handed down to them as myths
from a remote antiquity. Thus they account for the
creation of men by relating, that when the whole earth
was covered with water, a raven, the only living creature left, heard cries issuing from a shell lying on a
protruding rock, and upon examining it, discovered within a woman and a child, whom he brought forth. He
married the woman, and thus became the father of the
whole Indian race.
Another singular myth, explains the origin of the
heavenly bodies. They say the raven also discovered
that a powerful chief owned the moon, which he had
hidden in some obscure place, that no one might find it.
The same chief had a daughter, who was the mother of
a young baby, and one day the raven did away with the
infant, and assuming its appearance, took its place. He
was petted and cared for, and when he discovered where
the moon was kept, he begged so hard to be let in to
see it, that the chief ultimately took him into the chamber. But no sooner was the supposed grandchild
there, than he again transformed himself to a raven, and HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
seizing the moon in his beak, flew away with it to Naas
country. Here the Indians begged of him to let them
see it, to which he ultimately consented, and, in the
exhuberance of their joy, they threw it so high into the
* heavens that it broke into many pieces, forming the
moon, the sun and all the stars. Both these legends
are very striking, I think, and, may be, some student of
mythology and revealed religions may see in them interesting corroborations of ideas, expressed in other religious systems.
The population of these islands was not very large
and was steadily decreasing. I think it was estimated
at about a thousand in the year 1883, but when I first
vis ted them there were certainly a good many more.
Still, the fact that they were decreasing was made
quite manifest by the presence of a good many deserted
villages in the different parts of the group, and there
were large burial rflaces with indications of funerals
enough to show that the race had been far more numerous than when I knew it first,
I have dwelt upon these people at some .length,
because they greatly attracted me, and, however
imperfect my account, it may still have some interest to
my readers. CHAPTER III.
Fort Simpson—On the Eiver Skeena—"Pioneer H. B. C."—A
Tempting Offer—Locating a Pass—What a Gold Band Did
—Red Paint—Bon Jour—Frank's Curly Hair—Chief Sal-
tow-tow—White Men in the Wilderness—Days of Privation
A Poor Craft—Head Factor, Peter Ogden—A California
Monte Bank in Victoria.
In the early part of September 1859 I was at Fort
Simpson, ready to explore the river Skeena and penetrate as far as Fort Fraser, at the same time making a
survey of the country with a view to finding a pass, as
mentioned, for the Great Canadian and Pacific Railroad
Route. My company consisted of two white men, William Manning, an Englishman, and Frank Choteau, a
French Canadian, besides two Indians.   .
Fort Simpson was at that tiriie a post of some importance. It is situated on Chatham Sound in the extreme
northwest corner of British Columbia, adjacent to what
were then Russian Possessions. Owing to its natural location and surroundings, it enjoyed a large and lucrative trade. It possessed an excellent harbor, the neighboring waters abounded in fish and the land in wild animals, thus making it the hunting ground of a number of
large and thrifty tribes. It was the mart for all the
various northern Indians and was frequented, not only
by those of the mainland, but by a number coming
across from Queen Charlotte Islands, and Alaska. The
Fort was named after Sir George Simpson, a former
Governor of the Company; and an extensive trade had
been established between it and Victoria, steamers coming up from the latter place loaded with articles adapt- ■^
ed for the Indian trade, and returning with such goods
as had been obtained in exchange.
On the 5th of September I set out on my expedition
with my little party. At our first camp we made the
acquaintance of the Indians of these parts, who made
haste to tell us, that they were very honest people, and
demonstrated this by getting away with my coat, while
I was asleep. We made a trip up a small stream, called
by the natives Scenatoys, and here the Indians showed
us some crystalized quartz, in one piece of which I
detected gold. This was the first of its kind, I had
seen in this locality, but, although I was shown a granite slide, from where the piece was alleged to have come,
I could not find anything like a payable vein. We afterwards explored a small river, called the Foes, and then
took to the Skeena again, making our way up the river,
where the current was gradually getting stronger and
O «/     o O o
stronger, and it took us all our time and strength to pull
the canoe against it. The country looked auriferous,
but, when we tried prospecting, we could only raise a
few specks to the pan. We passed the village called
Kitchumsala, and I went ahead of the party in a small
canoe, only accompanied by an Indian. We came past
the junction of the river Chimkootch, on the southwest
side of which we found lead at the Plumbago mountain,
and here my companion pointed out to me a tree, on
which had been carved ma'ny years ago the legend:
"Pioneer H. B. C." I was informed that this had
been done by Mr. John Work, one of the company's officers, and the manner in which the letters bulged from
' O
the bark, testified, that many years had elapsed since this
daring pioneer had visited the locality.
We were now approaching the village of Kittcoonra.
The land became more level, and the mountains receded 224
from«the river bank, while fertile flats extended for four
or five miles on each side of the river. This is decidedly
fine farming land, and the Indians here pick berries and
dry them for winter supply. We were taking a rest on
the river bank, when my Indian companions suddenly
gave a cry of alarm, and looking up I perceived, that a
whole band of natives, inhabitants of the village, were
running down towards us, evidently with no friendly intent; for they were all armed and shouting furiously, and
behind them came the women and children, ready to
carry away the plunder after the fray. In a case of
that kind the exhibition of utter indifference is the only
safeguard, as the least sign of fear would mean death by
the Indians' bullets. So I motioned my men to lie down
on the ground and remain quiet, while I filled my pipe
and assumed an appearance of supreme ease. My tactics were rewarded with the desired result. The Indians,
seeing no reason for hostility, quieted down, and some
of the women came up close to me with the native
inquisitiveness of their sex. To one of them I gave a
needle, but this article, small as it was, seemed to please
them all so much, that everybody came up for one, the
men laying down their weapons to get a needle. But I
was pleasantly surprised to learn these people's ideas of
reciprocity, for they at once dispatched some of the
young men to their village for venison, beaver and bear
meat, all cooked and ready for eating, and we were all
invited to sit down with them and feast. More than
this, when we showed signs of departing they insisted
upon us staying with them. They told me they would
build us a house, be friends with us, give us all the land
we wanted, and help us cultivate potatoes; but we had to
refuse their profuse hospitality and push on up the
Arrived at the forks of the Skeena (called by the
Indians Kittamaks, afterwards changed to Hazeton) we
left the river and, walking overland, made for the Indian
village of Agullgath. The country we traveled through
was particularly pleasing, being especially well adapted
for agricultural purposes. We' dined at the village,
having secured some fish from the natives in trade for
tobacco and then crossed the river on an Indian suspension bridge, continuing our journey along a well-beaten
trail. The timber consisted principally of small hardwood and some soft wood trees, far easier to clear than
the tall pines. The land was rolling and well watered
by little streams that flowed from the distant hills, and
there were many indications of coal. Far away to the
south we saw the snow and glaciers on towering mount-
o o
ains, which  are  white-capped all the year round, and
dowm by the river bank the growth of cottonwood and
birch pleasantly varied the scenery, which was indeed
exceedingly inviting.    In this locality, finding the surroundings advantageous I put up the following:
"Notice—September 22, 1859.—I have this day located and claimed this pass, as the route of the Great Canadian and Pacific Railroad. William Downie."
We were now making for Naas Glee and began to recognize, that we were on the down grade. In fact, we
had really succeeded in coming through the only pass
from Agullgath, which is suitable for a road. As we
were traveling along here, we saw a wild goat, and one of
my Indians made chase up the mountain for it, but,
meeting with a company of three bears, he suddenly remembered that discretion is the better part of valor and
returned express speed. As we neared the village of
Naas Glee, we fired our pistols in the air. The effect
might be* likened to  what   might   be   produced  by 226
poking with a stick in an ant hill. In a moment we
were surrounded by all the braves in the settlement.
They came rushing towards us armed with guns and
long bowie knives,   but seeing that  we   manifested no
O } O
fear they quieted down. I do not wish my readers to
understand, that I consider myself a more courageous
man than many others, although at the same time I have
had plenty of opportunity of proving that I possess
more personal courage than a good many. I am not
prepared to say, that this is always an advantage, for
while at times it helps to carry a man through great
perils and hardships; the same man would probably
have had a more comfortable life, minus this  courage,
' O     *
which often leads him into most trying circumstances.
In dealing with the Indians, I had soon perceived that
the only way of getting along with them, was to show
the utmost composure at the first meeting, and, while
I adopted this as a rule and always succeeded in appearing calm, I am not prepared to say, that I always felt
correspondingly at ease. Yet, I must admit, that as I
now look back upon my many meetings with the redskins, and consider how many of my friends have fared
among them I feel thankful that my scalp is still intact.
On this expedition I wore round my hat a gold band,
and I had frequently reason to congratulate myself upon
this fact, for it seemed to inspire the Indians with a good
deal of respect, evidently impressing them with the idea
that I was a great chief. On the present occasion they
soon became very friendly, and their Tyhee, or chief,
asked me to his house His name was Tal-tow-tow or
Norra, they called him by both names, and I gave him
what small articles I could spare. But my greatest
stroke in the direction of making myself popular in this
colony  was  made,  when I devided three  yeast cans, HUNTING FOR  GOLD
filled with red paint, among the women and children.
Never was female vanity more satisfied, than when our
new lady friends embellished their features with large
streaks of red paint, and I doubt whether any belle of
fashionable society could think herself more attractive,
after using her cosmetics, than did these savages, after
daubing themselves with the paint.
We discovered that this village was situated on the
Skeena, and thus, having left this river five days ago, we
had now struck it again higher up. We also here observed traces of French influence for the first time, for the
Indians hailed us with the words bonjour; but later on
we discovered that all through these regions many
French words were used by the Indians as a result of
their intercourse with French traders.
We were well entertained by the natives who feasted
us in one of their houses, and I was given the seat of
honor with my white companions next to me. The
women seemed much amused at Frank's hair, which was
very curly—a fact that evidently puzzled them a good
deal, as the Indians' hair is always straight. They
would steal up from behind and pull the hairs out of his
head. Then they would hold it out straight between
both hands and, letting go at one end, appeared much
surprised when the hair curled up again. By and by
Frank's head began to get sore, and he objected to the
sport. "Never mind, Frank," I said, trying to soothe
his ruffled temper,   "It is only female curiosity."
"Female curiosity or not," grumbled Frank, "I don't
want them to pluck all the hairs out of my head, as if I
was some bird being prepared for cooking—oh I There,-
let go, you ! "
And Frank brushed off a woman's hand, which was
trying to rob him of another lock. 228
Naas Glee is a center, where all the upcountry Indians
meet at certain seasons. The head factor of Fort St.
James sends a boat down here at certain times, and a
large trade in dried fish and other articles is carried on.
I began to fear, that I should not be able to reach the
Fraser,as I was told that it was about ten days'journey
away from where we were, and the Indians were gradually robbing me of all I had to depend upon for further
trade with the natives. I realized that I had to get out
as soon as possible, and, after some persuasions, I
succeeded in-getting Tal-tow-tow to go with me. He
provided a canoe and some dried fish, and we started up
the river, exceedingly glad to leave our hosts, whose
hospitality had been well counterbalanced by the persistency with which they had wrung from us a great
many things, both necessaries and trading articles.
About ten miles up the river we passed the village
Whatatt, and above this we came to Babine Lake,
traveling now through exceptionally fine country.
It was just about daylight the next morning, and I
had crawled out of my blanket, when to my surprise I
saw a boat approaching, filled with Europeans. The
man at the helm turned out to be a Mr. Gavin Hamilton,
and his crew were Canadians. He came from Fort St.
James and was on his way to Naas Glee for dried fish,
furs, etc. He was very much surprised to see us and
told me that he had never heard of any other white man
succeeding in traveling over the route we had come by.
He insisted upon taking my Indian chief back with him,
as he said he could do nothing at Naas Glee without
him and would most likely be robbed of all he had in
place of making trade, and when I remonstrated with
him and told him, that I could not go on without a
guide not knowing the way, he smiled and said, that a M»S»"
>    Mi
o 230
man, who had been able to visit Naas Glee as a stranger
7 o
and come out as well as' I had done, might go anywhere.
He had no rations to spare us but finally arranged that
we should take Tal-tow-tow's canoe, and that the chief
should return with him, and he gave us a letter for Mr.
Peter Ogden, in charge of Fort St. James, who was the
same gentleman after whom the city of Ogden in Utah
has been named.
I had sent both my Indians with Mr. Hamilton, and
it proved a fortunate thing for us. We were supposed
to be only five days' journey from Fort St. James, and
on our first day's sail we made Fort Killman, which at
that period was unoccupied. It reared its lofty palisa-
ing in the silent wilderness with not a sound issuing
from behind the  closed doors.    There  was  something
uncanny about the lonely little fort, and we left it
behind without regret. According to Mr. Hamilton we
had now another four days' journey before us, but we
soon realized, that we could not cover the distance in
that time. Babine Lake is about one hundred miles
long, and, whenever we could do so, we used our blankets as sails. The scenery along the shore was very
pleasing, and, under more favorable circumstances, we
could have enjoyed the trip very much, but rations were
getting low and we had been out five days, when we
reached the head of the lake and we took the trail for
the next watershed, Lake Stewart. So we abandoned
our canoes and made our way through the forest. Here,
for the first time on our journey, did we see the track of
a wagon, but, strange to say, it was over ten years since
the ruts were furrowed in the soil. Previous to that
time the Company had a wagon road to Lake Babine,
but it was then abandoned. We packed our traps along
the trail and   came upon a camp at a small lake, where HUNTING  FOR  GOLD 231
an Indian family was camping and hunting. They
seemed much surprised at our appearace, and in exchange for some tobacco and paint, gave us a few dried
fish, and helped us carry our pack to Stewart Lake,
which was not far distant. Nevertheless the assistance
was very welcome, for we had had so little to eat for a
day or two, that the effect of privation began £o tell
upon us.
Arrived at Stewart Lake we looked in vain for a
canoe, which we expected to find there. Things
were beginning to look ugly. Fort St. James was away
at the other end of the lake, but we could not possibly
walk that distance in our reduced condition, and we sat
down very much after the fashion of McCawber, "waiting for something to turn up." Driven by hunger and
despondency, for I did not expect to get any more provisions till we reached Fort St. James, I attempted to
eat grass in order to save our own scanty supply, but it
would not go down, and the experiment demonstrated
to me, that Nebuchadnezzar must have had pretty hard
times of it, when he took to bovine fare.
At last we found a very old canoe. It was split from
stem to stern and apparently of no use at all, but necessity is the mother of invention, and we lashed a drift
log to each side of it, hoping by this contrivance and incessant baling to be able to travel down the lake. After
experiencing considerable difficulty in making our frail
craft answer its purpose, we succeeded in getting down
about five miles, when we suddenly shipped a sea, that
nearly swamped us, but just in the nick of time we perceived an Indian fishing close under the shore. We
hailed him, and he at once came to our rescue and
brought us safe to his camp, where we were fed on fresh 232
trout and a meal, the enjoyment of which is yet fresh
in my memory.
Once more we succeeded in making friends of our
Indian hosts. They did not understand much English
but could speak a little French, and Frank, who was a
Canadian and could converse in that language, piloted
us through this difficulty and arranged with the Indian
that he should take us to Fort St. James, receiving
as remuneration one blanket. It is strange, how
soon a man forgets his troubles. We had now plenty
to eat and a chance soon to get to Fort St. James, and
all our troubles seemed to be at an end. We ran down
the  coast before a  fair   wind,   going   ashore when  it
'      o o
became too rough. The scenery gradually changed,
and towards the lower end of the lake the country
became more rocky and barren looking, while the air
became colder, and we experienced a slight fall of snow.
On the 9th of October we arrived at Fort St. James,
just eleven days after parting with Mr. Hamilton. For
four consecutive days we had had nothing to eat, and it
had several times during the whole trip appeared to me
as if our chances of reaching our destination were very
slim. But now we were in clover. Mr. Ogden received
us very kindly, and we soon recovered from our hardships.
After a two days' sojourn we left in company with
Mr. Ogden. He was going to Fort Fraser, but we had
determined to go to Fort George and from there to Fort
Alexandria, and at the former place we parted company
with the genial head factor, who had treated us so kindly. Fort Alexandria, or as it is generally called, Alexander, is an interesting place. It is called after the
famous explorer and traveler, Sir Alexander McKenzie,
and I believe it is the   oldest fort of all, being founded HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
in 1793, It was, when I visited it, a fort of much
importance. The surrounding country was open and
picturesque and afforded splendid hunting ground.
Hence the Indians congregated here, and the Company
did a large amount of trading in this neighborhood,
while at the same time the post served as a depot for
receiving produce, gathered in other distant districts.
We now made down the river and soon found ourselves
in a mining region. At several places we passed mining
camps, but I generally found the men as taciturn as
they had appeared to me when I made my debut on the
Californian gold fields. One of the few places, where
we met with a welcome, was in a camp belonging to a
Mr. Kirk and his partner Mr. Nichol. They were not
working when we arrived there, because the ground was
frozen; but they had been doing pretty well on their
claim, averaging from three to four ounces a day. They
were very pleased to see us, and shared with us what
cheer they had, and in their agreeable company I dreamed
myself back again to California in the earlv days and
thought of many pleasant scenes under similar conditions.
There was now a good deal of ice on the river. It
came drifting in floes and often menaced our safety, but
we  rjushed  on  and  soon  reached  the  mouth  of the
Quesnelle river. There was quite an accumulation of
men here. New diggings had been struck, and those on
the ground had come to winter, so as to be ready at the
first dawn of spring
We stayed here for several days to gather all possible
information about the place and ascertained that some
good gold had been already found here, while hopes
were bright in anticipation of coming revelation, when
spring should return. We also met several Californians
here, w7ho gave us a royal reception and spoke of old 234
days. At Big Creek we abandoned our canoe and took
the trail for Haskells. Here I met my old partner from
California, Alexander McDonald, who was mining in
this neighborhood, aud I went to work with him for
awhile, but the weather was getting very cold and the
ground hard, and I concluded to make my way back to
Victoria, where I arrived at the close of November.
I had been away for nearly three months and certainly
seen a great deal of the country. His Excellency,
Governor Douglas received my report very favorably
and ordered my expenses paid, which was done accordingly. CHAPTER   IV.
Surveying the Inlets—Looking for a Wagon Road to the Fraser
—Jarvis Inlet—An Awful Bavine—Desolation Sound—All
by Myself—The Bears Came Bushing Down—The Kle-na-
Klene Biver—Bella Coola—Dean Canal—A Land Boom—
False Beports—Mr. Tovalloit Prevaricates—Spearing Salmon
Indians from Fort Fraser—After Gold on the Nasse.
Having given an account of my trip in company with
Mr. McKay, and my subsequent journey through the
country to Fort James, I now come to my exploration of
Jarvis Inlet, which is situated about thirty miles west of
Howe Sound. It will be remembered that Governor
Douglas, who by this time was known as Sir James
Douglas, had an idea that it would be possible to find a
shorter and easier ronte to the Upper Fraser than the
one which we had pointed out to him, via Howe Sound
and the Silooet Lake, and with a view to ascertaining
whether such a possibility did exist, I traveled along the
coast making a survey of the various inlets.
I found Jarvis Inlet piercing the coast line to a depth
of about sixty miles, stretching inland in a northeasterly
direction. There was every appearance of our finding a
pass through the mountains here. At the entrance to
the inlet we met several Bridge River Indians, and with
them for our guides, penetrated to the head, and after
two days' hard journeying we found ourselves in a canyon entirely closed in by steep mountains. Never in my
life have I beheld such a scene as presented itself to our
wondering gaze in this solitude. We were' completely
shut in by this wild nature. On either hand, lofty
mountains  reared their  precipitous sides far above us 236
pointing toward the leaden overcast sky, and looking like
threatening giants guarding the entrance to some land
v o o o o
of mystery. Not a vestige of vegetation; not a brush
on the bare, solemn-looking rocks as they cast their
gloomy shadow over the ravine below, making us feel
like prisoners behind barred and bolted gates. Ahead
of us lay a field of unsurmountable glaciers, forming a
barrier to any further progress, and giving to the situation additional awe and grandeur. In the loneliness of
nature, where the great architect has deprived her of the
charms which in other places adorn her, I have always
found something wonderfully impressive, far exceeding
in force, the enthusiasm called forth by the smiling and
pleasing scenery. It has always appeared to me in this
solemn situation as if I stood face to face with the angry
Jehovah, who stretched forth his hand to remind human
beings of their utter insignificance. *■
o o
Such was the impression I received in this instance,
as I found myself absolutely enclosed in the ravine which
had just one opening for ingress and egress alike. When
I asked the Indians how they proposed for us to proceed
any further, they said that we should have to ascend the
glaciers in the best way we could, and pull one another
up by ropes. "And the wagons—? " I asked. " Pull
them up after you! " came the reply. It was very evident that this settled all prospects of making a wagon
road by this route, when the only way was to climb glaciers and pull the vehicles up afterwards, and I therefore
gave up all ideas of satisfying gubernatorial expectations
on this point. We camped here for the night, and spent
a wretched time waiting for dawn to break. The rain
came down in torrents, falling over the steep sides of the
mountains in cascades and filling the ravine, so to speak.
Our traps—even our nrovisions—were carried away, and HUNTING FOR GOLD
we had to stand up most of the night holding on to our
blankets and utensils, for fear of seeing them carried
away by the waters and the violent gusts of wind that
came down upon us—the sweeping breath of angry
In March, 1859, I made my first inspection of Desolation Sound, situated about sixty miles west of Jarvis'
Inlet. This time I was the only white man in the company and was accompanied by a party of Indians. We
went in a canoe up through the channel between the
mainland and Redonda Island, and rounding Bret-
tell Point and Snout Point, made our way into
Toba Inlet. We penetrated to the head of this
water, and then proceeded to ascend the river
which has its mouth here. The land on either side
of this stream we found to be low, sandy and overflowed, but some distance, from the mouth the moutains
began to rise to considerable altitudes. It was not possible to proceed in the canoe more than four or five
miles from the Inlet, and we reconnoitered the land on
foot. I found the mountains on the western shore to be
higher than those opposite. On the eastern side there
was an Indian trail crossing to Jarvis' Inlet, but the
ridge on the western side could only be traversed by
goats and bears, of which there seemed to be a great
many. The bears came tearing down the mountainside, to welcome us, but we did not stop to shake hands,
preferring to wave them our adieu from the canoe. I
thought it possible to penetrate from here to Bridge
River, but the Indians told me it would take at least a
month to reach a group of small lakes where that stream
takes its rise.
It was very evident to me that my purpose of making a wagon road  by  this  route  could  not be accom- 238
plished, and I therefore prepared to return. I did a little prospecting first, and came upon slate, quartz and
indications of copper, but nothing of any great significance, and as a memento of my visit, I carved my name
upon a tree and departed from these quarters.
The next inlet upon this coast, is Bute Inlet. Of
this place, and my experience of it, I will speak later,
and meanwhile pass on to the next inlet, known as
Loborough Inlet. It is situated about twenty miles
west of Bute, and is surrounded by towering mountains, while glaciers abounded in these regions.    During
" o o o
the summer months, the Indians from the surrounding
tribes, come down here and fish, but none of them stay
to winter in this locality. The place is wild and inaccessible, and when the winter gales sweep over it, and
the snow lies on the mountains, it offers but a very uninviting abode for human beings. There are no settled
tribes of Indians in this region, and when the summer
season is at end, the whole country assumes an appearance of utter desolation and loneliness. I could not find
any chances in this locality of building a wagon road,
and once more turned my steps westward.
The reader who is unfamiliar with the map of British
Columbia, by examining it for a moment, will easily follow my explorations of the various inlets, as they were
undertaken, one after the other; and will also readily
perceive the anxiety and vigor with which these explorations were being pushed, for the sole purpose of affording greater traveling facilities for the miners, who, com-
. ing from Victoria, made the upper Fraser their destination. At that time, when the country had been but little explored, and the exact course of the Fraser was but
imperfectly known, it was naturally to be supposed that
there would be  some way of making a cross-country o
road to the gold fields, by taking advantage of the rivers and lakes, which in so many places afforded excellent
means of traveling. Moreover, the natives had shown
the invaders how to utilize the sheets of water which
intersected their home in so many places. The idea of
portages originated with them, and the canoes were
easily carried along the trail leading from one lake to
the other.
I must admit that, in common with many others, I
had long entertained the idea of such a traveling route.
o o
I had furthermore as an old miner taken much pleasure
in looking for the possibility of finding one, and in order
to realize this, had freely spent my money so far in vain
endeavors to strike a trail that would answer the purpose. Having disposed of Laborough and found nothing
there to work upon, I next turned my attention to
Knight's Inlet.
This is one of the deepest and most formidable inlets
on the coast. It runs east from Gilford Island for
many miles and then turns north running in that direction, with a few curves, to its head, where the Kle-na-
Klene River falls into it. At this point the land is open
as far as the eye can reach, and we saw plenty of upland
Indians, who came down here to trade for grease. I
made two trips to the head of this inlet, but could not
discover anything which would warrant a wagon road
toward the Fraser. The natives, with whom I here
came in contact, gave me some information about the
interior. They said that it took one month and a half
to travel to their country, which must therefore have
been situated quite a distance away, but at the same
time they had never heard of the Fraser river nor of the
gold land. This made me think that these Indians
lived considerably to the west of Fraser River, for my HUNTING  FOR  GOLD
experience was that Indians living as far from the Fraser
as Lillooet, knew all about the river, and the gold to be
found there. More than this; an Indian on my trip
through the Babine Lake district had told me how on
the Fraser he had met the white men, and received a
pair of pants in exchange for a salmon. The natives I
met at Knight's Inlet gave me much information about
the interior, and I had once more to abandon the idea
of finding a starting point on the coast for the desired
My next expedition went to Bella Coola. This river,
which rushes down from the Cascade Mountains, falls
into the sea through Burke Channel, inside which the
South Bentinck and North Bentinck Arm spread into
the surrounding lowland. The North Arm may be
called the mouth of the river, while the South Bentinck
stops more abruptly. The entrance to the interior
therefore goes through the North Bentinck, but it was
soon found inpracticable to establish a wagon road by
this route. The country further up the river becomes
mountainous, and unfit for any such purpose as ours, and
I had to give it up. But I was not the only one who had
suffered defeat in this respect, as regards Bella Coola.
Two gentlmen, Messrs. Harrison and Goolidge, spent
several months in attempting to penetrate from the
North Branch to the Fraser, but failed in their attempts,
although they were particularly well equipped for the
Separated from Burke Channel by a thin strip of land
is Dean Canal, being the mouth of Dean, or Salmon
River. My next expedition went up this inlet, and
although I followed the river for quite a distance, I
failed to find a suitable road. Toward the fall of every
year the natives come down from  New  Caledonia to 242
trade here and return again on snow-shoes, but just as
surely as the flowers awake in the spring, these men
come back with the returning season to trade. I had
expected to see some of the Chilcotin Indians here, but
was disappointed. At the time when I paid my visit to
Dean Canal, there was quite an excitement in the real
estate offices in Victoria, owing to the fact that a boom
had been started in a quiet way in regard to the land on
Dean Creek. It was predicted that land, bought in
this district, would soon increase many fold in value, and
that a better to^pisite could not be found. Consequently
about one thousand acres were soon taken up by the
knowing ones of Victoria, and  expectations  ran  high.
I should have thought they might just as well have
speculated in making a townsite on the sides of Mount.
Baker or Mount Hamilton, as at the head of any of the
inlets that I frequented in my search for a wagon road,
and I would not personally have given ten dollars for the
whole area.
In connection with this I am put in mind of some of
the tricks practiced for the purpose of inducing people
to buy land in this locality. A Mr. Tovalloit, who was
interested in the scheme, had the audacity to spread the
report that he came on horseback from Fort Alexandria,
on the Fraser River, to Dean Canal in seven days. I
was told exactly where he claimed to have reached the
water, and examined the place minutely, with the result
that I doubted very much the truth of the story. Mr.
Tovalloit also claimed to have come by Chilcotin Lake,
but I learned afterwards from friends of mine who had
been of the party, that this was not so. They left for
Alexandria to go to the lake, but on the third day out
they returned again, and up to that time Mr. Tovalloit
had never seen it.    This will show  how  easily  people HUNTING   FOR   GOLD
may be deceived in regard to location of country, the
geography of which they know nothing about. _ Had it
been possible to establish a seven-days communication
between the coast and Fort Alexandria at this place,
land would certainly have been of great value; but the.
possibility was entirely problematic. Mr. Tovalloit was a
prevaricator of the truth, to use a polite term; and there
was absolutely no reason to think that a wagon road
would ever be built between the two points.
I next directed my attention towards Kitlobe River.
In reference to this, too, gross misrepresentations had
been published, and among other things it had been described as navigable. I soon discovered that it was not.
The inlet stretches far inland, until the Kitlobe River
falls into it, the latter springing somewhere in the southeastern corner of the Chilicotin plateau. But this river
was far from being navigable as reported. On the
contrary, I found it one of the most difficult rivers on
the coast to ascend. The country was wild, in some
places almost impassable, and while it was shown on the
maps as nearly reaching to the Chilcotin, such was by
no means the case.    I had the satisfaction, through the
' O
press of Victoria, of drawing the attention of the public
to these misstatements, and thus corrected a serious
error in the minds of speculators in the Fraser river
route, which I did not for one moment believe could be
established here.
During the fishing season the Indians on the Kitlobe
River sit perched upon the rocks and spear the fish.
With marvelous aim they throw the weapon from considerable hights, and pierce the beautiful salmon far
below. The Indians from New Caledonia cross this river in making their annual trips to Dean Canal
At the head of Kildalah Inlet is the river of the same 244
name. It rushes forth between steep mountain verges,
and affords but a poor and dangerous navigation. I
took much interest in conversing with the natives here.
Some of them told me that they had come all the way
from Fort Fraser, and described the country on the other side of the range, as level and easy to travel. The
distance between this point and Fort Fraser is quite
considerable, and they must have come by the way of
the Fraser Lake, the French Lake, and across the Chilcotin plateau.
The Kitimax River comes from the north, running
almost at a right angle to the Kildalah. It is a fine
large river, which runs through an open valley that
stretched its verdant pastures towards the Skeena, and
as we traveled up the stream, we were much impressed
by the surrounding country. The Indians here told us
that it was only a matter of four days to reach the
Skeena, and we made that river in the time stated.
Of my exploration on the Skeena I have already
spoken. Myself and two companions were in reality the
first white men who crossed from the coast to the Fraser
River, but Mr. Alfred Waddington, who was jealous of
my successful explorations of that part of British Columbia, took pains on several occasions to ignore the fact
that I was the one who led the first expedition, and
wrote about the route in such a manner as to make it
appear as if indeed he was the first to penetrate the
previously unknown country. However, I was quite
willing that he should indulge in a little imagination on
O O o
this point; I only wished that he should as well have
some of the days of hunger and cold,with which we paid
for the honor of being the pioneer explorers of this route.
I went up the river Nasse about one hundred miles.
My expedition on this stream was undertaken principally HUNTING FOR GOLD
for the purpose of prospecting, as I had been told that
there was plenty of gold here. I spent quite a time on
the river, making careful examinations of the various
localities but not with any satisfactory results. There
was undoubtedly traces of gold, in many places, and in
some the metal might be found in small quantities; but
I could not find any place where it would pay over two
dollars a day, and therefore it was not worth while
working. Erom my experience, and examination of the
Pacific Coast, I judge that from Washington Territory
to Alaska, all along the coast of British Columbia, there
are no placer diggings, which are worth working, whereas
it appears to me that some of the baser metals may be
Worked to advantage.
From what has already been written it must be pretty
evident that there was a strong desire to establish an
outlet from the interior country, somewhere on the
coast, and it will be also seen that I was not the only
one who had attempted to locate .°uch a station. Indeed,
at the time I refer to, there were any amount of explorers
in the field, but a good many of them did not amount to
* O t/
much. They would receive so much money for going
out to look for a certain pass, and that would be the
last heard of them.
I have hitherto spoken of such undertakings as aimed
at locating a pass for a wagon road, but the idea had also
become dominant that it would be possible to find, somewhere in the mountains, a pass that would allow of a railroad being brought down to the coast; and Bute Inlet
O O 3
was the favorite locality, where it was thought possible
to realize this project, Bute Inlet goes far into the
land, and at its extreme head the Homalko River falls
into its waters, running almost due south, while the
Southgate River joins the inlet on the eastern shore, a 246
little further down. The mountains behind are wild and
precipitous, the river is difficult to navigate, in some
places rendering portage necessary, and at others being
filled with drift wood, thus constantly menacing the
frail crafts that come up here; the canoes of the natives
being the only possible conveyance upon this swiftly
rushing stream.
In order to ascertain whether a projected railroad
might be brought to Bute Inlet, to be there connected
with Vancouver Island, a meeting was held in the early
part of '61 at the old government building in the city of
Victoria, where now stands the postoffice, A number
of prominent business men and professional men were
present, and I also recollect seeing Lady Franklin there,
the widow of the renowned Arctic explorer, Sir John
Franklin, whose tragic fate had attracted so much
attention some years before. A.mong others, who that
night discussed the possibilities of Bute Inlet, were Dr.
Helmcken, a Mr, Burnaby, and Mr. Alfred Waddington.
I have already had occasion to mention the last named
gentleman. He was much interested in the further
development of the country, and to him the establishment of a railroad terminus at Bute Inlet was a matter
of vast importance, wherefore, he also took a prominent
part in the proceedings of the evening, during which it
was proposed to send an exploring party to the head of
the inlet, to report upon the conditions of the country.
In the general discussion that took place, I strenu-
ouslv opposed the idea of paying anybody in advance.
I suggested that parties willing to explore the country,
might do so at their own cost, and if they returned with
bona fide reports, they should be remunerated for their
trouble, whether successful or not. I reasoned that paying in advance would give the men employed a chance to HUNTING FOR  GOLD
go half way only and come back without having
attempted to find the pass; and, indeed, I knew a party
just ready to start on some such proposition, waiting only to receive cheque in advance.
As soon as the meeting was over, I met my partners,
and urged them to join me in exploring Bute Inlet. I
was somewhat disgusted when they at once refused,
saying that they had arranged to go higher up the coast,
but after a little persuasion I made them agree to take
me up there with them at all events, and we set out on
the voyage,
I laid in a stock of supplies, enough to carry me
through for several months, also brought with me an
extra quantity of tobacco for the natives. Tobacco
among the Indians, in many cases, acts as the golden
key to the secret you wish to possess; and it is when
this luxury gives out, that the explorer need have serious apprehensions as to the issue of his next negotiation
with the red sons of the soil. CHAPTER ^.
My Partners—Visiting Friends—The Village of Tsawatti—Villainous Indians—Anxious Moments—Friends in Need—Bute
Inlet—On the Homathco—Auxiliary Bivers—Wonderful
Scenery—Glaciers Ahead—A Sick Indian—Great Hardships—
The Tequahan and the Memria—Poor Luck—What a Newspaper Wrote.
I have spoken of my partners, and I may now introduce them to my readers. They were Aleck McDonald
and Harry Harlan, both of them experienced miners and
good fellows. I had mined with Aleck on the Yuba,
years before; had camped with him on the Upper
Fraser, when I succeeded in reaching those parts, and
we had become fast friends, having shared the dangers
and trials of a rough and adventurous life. Sometime
prior to the meeting just referred to, the three of us had
purchased a small schooner, aud gone up the coast for
the purpose of prospecting, and of this trip I will give
a brief account.
Running along the west coast of Vancouver Island we
called in at Nanaimo, where we spent a couple of days
with old friends, among whom let me remember, Captain
Stewart, Doctor Benson, Mr. Home, Mr. Dunsmuir
and others.
We next made a call at Fort Rupert, where Mr.
Winter and Captain Mitchell received us with that lavish hospitality, for which the Hudson Bay Company
officers had become famous among their friends, and,
leaving them with some reluctance, we now cut across
Queen Charlotte Sound and threading our way through HUNTING FOR GOLD
the labyrinth of islands, with which this water is studded, we sailed through "One-Tree Passage," and steering
for Knight Inlet, made our way toward the head of
this water,   where  is  situated the  Indian village  of
7 o
Tsawatti. We had been up this way before, and it was
now our intention to prospect the mountains behind the
village, having previously found along the inlet, lead,
copper and other minerals, one of which we took to be
Our little vessel was richly laden with trade for the
Indians, and we had blankets and tobacco in abundance.
It was arranged that Aleck should go ashore at Tsawatti,
taking with him a certain amount of trade and, while
we made an examination of the coast-line, he should
take the initiative in the hills.
We ran ashore as near the village as possible, and
began discharging the goods that were to be left with
Aleck, who proposed to take quarters in an Indian cabin
a short distance up the hill, whither the boxes and
parcels were carried. Meanwhile a number of strange
Indians had put in their appearance. They filled the
cabin which was to serve as a store-house and began to
swarm around our vessel in canoes, looking anything but
If the reader has ever seen the heavy villain in a five-
act drama of the blood-and-thunder school, overdoing, as
' o7
he thought, the important role entrusted to his careful
acting, he will have seen, as a rule, a fair representation
of these Indians who were heavy villains without the
least effort on their part. Their brows were knitted
and their eyelids lowered, thus producing a hideous
The orthodox blanket was thrown over the left
shoulder in the manner of a Spanish cape, and to the 250
practiced observer the general posture of the body, as
revealed by the folds of the blanket, demonstrated that
their hands clutched some murderous weapon, whether
a knife or a pistol, held ready to be used at a moment's
I had been so busy arranging our cargo in the hold,
that I had scarcely noticed the natives flocking around
our vessel. Not so with Aleck. The space in the
cabin had gradually become smaller and smaller, the air
more stifling, the chattering of the natives grown louder,
while the situation assumed a character, not at all
pleasing to my companion, who left the boxes, which had
been stowed away in the cabin, and came, down to consult with me.
"I don't like the looks of these fellows, Major," he
said, "those that belong here, I think are all right, but
the strangers look ugly enough."
I made up my mind right then, that Aleck should
not be left alone in this place. "Get the goods down
again !" I said, "we will ship them and proceed."
My friend left me, but shortly after returned, stating
that they would not permit him to take anything away.
I immediately went ashore; seizing the nearest fellow
by the arm I pointed to a bale of blankets: "Put them
on your shoulder and carry them down there 1" I said,
at the same time  gesticulating to make  my meaning
O O 1/ ^>
I don't believe the man understood a word of English,
but he obeyed me at once. There is a universal language,
which everybody can understand, but only few can
speak. It has no words of its own, but it depends upon
accentuation more than anything else, as I learned in
in the course of my life's schooling. It was but a matter
of a few minutes when I had everybody carrying for m
me, and the goods were being returned wholesale, to the
evident disgust of the wily Indians, who had hoped for
plunder, while I now merely paid my carriers a few
pieces of tobacco in return for their services.
But the trouble was not over yet. By this time the
Indians were swarming upon the deck of our little vessel,
and upon my return to it, they had blocked the gangway so that I could not get aboard for some time; when
at last I reached the deck, I called my men below, and we
at once made our arsenal ready for use. We had plenty
of guns, pistols, balls and powder, and had just broken
into a keg of the latter. I told the boys, and they
agreed with me, that if we found we were getting the
worst of it, I should throw a match into the powder-keg,
thus showing our charitable disposition by taking our
enemies aloft with us, rather than let them cut us to
Meanwhile the Redskins continued to hold possession
of the deck. They were evidently in a quandary, not
knowing how to begin the fray, for they had perceived
that we had headed them off, and ever so much better
armed than they were. Just as we thought that time
was nearly up for the first round to begin, a large canoe
shot across the waters toward our vessel, but to our surprise the warriors in the canoe came to render us assistance. They had heard of the plight we were in and
now a few words from them quickly persuaded the enemy
to abandon our vessel, but not till he had, with the
polish of a thorough villain, assured us that everything
was all right, that we were all friends and that we had
quite misunderstood their move. I assured them in
return that if that powder keg had been heard from
there would have been no occasion for them to misunderstand our move in the matter, and from that day hence- 252
forth I never took a Knight Inlet Indian at his word.
On that same expedition we went up the Skeena and
arrived near Fort Simpson just as the Indians were
about to have a big fight. They recognized us, however,
and kindly sent word to us, asking us to go below as
they were going to shoot. Indian warfare differs somewhat from our mode of killing in battle. The Indians
go on shooting till somebody is hurt, and then by a
signal they stop to see what can be done further. After
a little while the battle is taken up again. This somewhat retards bloodshed and limits casualties, unlike the
more civilized mode of warfare, which takes particular
pains to kill as many as possible. If the medicine man
falls in battle, and he did not succeed in pulling his last
patient through, his scalp is eagerly sought by the
survivors. If the scalps of Medicos in more civilized
communities were a little less safe than they are, probably
there would be a good deal less quackery in that, otherwise most estimable, profession.
On this trip we made the discovery of what we took
to be rich lead ore. We had a quantity shipped for
Loudon, and a man went to England to look after it, but
* O !
neither man nor ore was ever heard of since and, while
some charged fraud, I think it more likely that the ore
was shoveled on board some other vessel as ballast.
I now proceed to speak of my expedition to Bute
Inlet. It was one of the most important undertakings,
with which I was connected in British Columbia, and,
although I did not succeed at the time in crossing the
range personally, our experiences there had much to do
with the later suceess of Aleck McDonald, who was
indeed the first white man to perform the feat of traversing
the mountains at the head of Bute Inlet.
We arrived here on the third day of July 1861, having HUNTING FOR GOLD
traveled about 225 miles since leaving Victoria. On
either side the shore rises boldly. The inlet is navigable
for ships of any size, and there is particularly good
anchorage at several places, where the fresh water
streams join the inlet, which averages a width of one
mile and a half and is clear of reefs and sunken rocks.
At the head of the inlet on the west side, close to the'
shore, the bottom is sandy in twenty fathoms of water,
and splendid shelter is afforded against the southwester
blowing up the inlet. I have already mentioned the
principal rivers, falling into the inlet, of which the
Homathco is the most important. The back country
Indians come down to the coast by this river for the
purpose of obtaining salmon, and I determined to ascend
it. We experienced considerable trouble in getting
sufficient Indians to take us up the river. The natives
here are not very easy to get along with, and I had to
use all my tact and powers of persuasion in order to
enlist eight men, who finally agreed to accompany
McDonald and myself on our expedition.
On the 7th of July we started up the river. We had
sufficient supplies with us to take us over the mountains,
and we had three canoes, I heading the procession
with two natives. The course of the river winds through
sandy flats, thickly timbered. The timber however is
very light, and the soil formed by the continual wash
from the mountains. On the western shore we saw the
snow mantling the distant hills and on the first day of
our journey we passed two glaciers. We found that the
tide came up as far as ten miles, thus rendering it possible for small steamers to go up that distance at high
water. The formation of the rock varied somewhat,
being principally granite on our western shore, while on
the opposite bank we found slate, intermixed with strag- 254
gling veins of quartz.    At one place on this shore we
observed a large  mountain, the appearance  of which.
indicated minerals, and I followed a reddish vein, thinking that it might contain something, but was disappointed.
On the second day the river current increased in
velocity, and we foresaw that it would be a difficult task
to ascend the stream. At one place my Indians failed
to keep the head of the canoe to the current; she
turned first broadside and then bottom up. In one
moment we were all in the water. I saw what was
coming, and warned my companions, but they did not
heed in time. I caught my pistol belt and clambered on
to a drift log which took me down the stream towards
the other canoes, but for some time I looked in vain for
the Indians. It did not take me long to meet McDonald and his crew, who picked me up, and by this time,
my late companions had reached the shore, where they
stood shivering after their cold bath, while we went in
pursuit of the escaping canoe, and soon"overtook it. It
had sustained considerable damage, while everything in
it had, of course, dropped out, and it was quite a loss,
under the circumstances.
The worst of it all was that the Indians had become
so scared at the accident, that they positively refused to
proceed further, and after much talking and arguing, we
ultimately persuaded them to let us have a canoe in
in exchange for blankets and shirts, as we were determined to push on towards the head of the river, Indians
or no Indians. We now sent down to the vessel for
more supplies in place of those we had lost, and, having received the goods, we made another start with only
two Indians for my companions, one of whom was a
Some way up the river we came to an auxiliary, join- IS
z 256
ing the Homathco from the east. This stream was
called by the Indians who live there, the Hickhanum,
the name of their own tribe. It flowed swiftly, with
stong current, but an Indian chief assured us that if we
O *
would only push up the stream, in the course of one day
we should reach some very fine land, through a narrow
pass further up. We took the man at his word, and set
out to find the place.
The journey was a dangerous one, and we made slow
progress through woodland, and flats covered with rocky
bowlders, until we heard above us the deafning sound of
rushing waters. Presently we came to a deep chasm.
From between the narrow walls a muddy stream rushed
forth, stirring the waters of the already turbulent stream,
and filling the air with a thundering noise. I conjectured, at once, that the water came from a glacier, and
we ascended the rocks forming the chasm, when, sure
enough, we beheld the glacier lying between two mountains which rose abruptly on either side.
The glacier was distant about one mile, and we
reached it by traversing a bowlder flat. This was the
first glacier I had ever seen coming down to level
ground. It was, apparently, over one mile wide, and
extended back as far as the eye could reach, in an easterly direction.
I was much impressed with the surrounding nature of
this locality. From behind, the woodlands wafted their
fragrant breezes up the chasm, filling the air with an
odor of life; and a number of small swallows playfully
chased one another in the golden rays of a hot July sun.
And there in front of us the grim picture of winter, as
we descended the huge block of ice with all the varied
hues of transparent blue, green and gold where the sunbeams were making inroads through the crevices, trying HUNTING FOR GOLD
in Vain to soften the ponderous mass. And these very
crevices leading into caverns of eternal frost and darkness, traversed by ice-cold streams, but never lighted or
warmed by the beneficent sun. As I stood there, looking backward and then again forward, it seemed to me as
if I stood somewhere between life and death.
In this wilderness I naturally wanted to know what
the trail was supposed to be, and my Indian guide
looked somewhat blank, as he told me that the season
was a bad one for traveling this way, and that the right
time would be in the fall, when the crevices had frozen
up again. I could have suggested that, myself, but
having got so far, I thought we would try to skirt the
glacier, along the mountain side, and thus find out
where the gorge would lead us to. But the undertaking was a very risky one. We had to leap from bowlder to bowlder at the imminent risk of our lives, and
when, after a while, we climbed the mountain, we could
see nothing but snow-fields as far as the eye could reach,
and the horizon itself seemed shut in by ice and snow.
We concluded that we had gone as far as human beings
could go in this direction, and, seeing no possibility of
finding a pass here, suitable for our purposes, we
retraced our steps, and having reached the canoe,
returned to the mainland.
We had not proceeded very far, when we came upon
another river, falling into the Homathco, and for the
second time we left the latter, traveling up an auxiliary,
coming from the east. We had hard work, journeying
up this stream, which ran with great force. We had to
make a portage at one place, "while at others we were
obliged to tow the canoe up the stream, making fast the
line round a bush every now and again, while we cut
our way along the bank.    It was one of the most trying 258
is saying
a good deal,
chief began
to cry
said he
was sick and
wanted to go home. There are many who believe that
the colored races surpass the Caucasians in endurance,
but this is entirely a misaprehension. For endurance,
tenacity, determination of purpose and moral courage
the Caucasian cannot be equaled by any colored race
I have ever met. On this occasion we suffered great
hardships. We were most of the time in the cold water,
warding off drift wood and pulling or pushing our canoes
ahead, and we succeeded in retaining our Indian, without whom we could not have made sufficient progress, so
we let him cry and complain but kept him at work. He
was no doubt much relieved, when we discovered that
we had been traveling up another outlet for a glacier
and once more returned to the Homathco. However,
before abandoning this route, McDonald and I followed
the stream on foot for some distance and came to another
small river joining it from the west. Here we learned
that the Bella Coola Indians come down for salmon in
the fall. They have a trail by which they come through
this rocky pass at the head of the river, but our examination of this locality did not satisfy us that it could be
used for anything but an Indian trail.
1/ O
Having returned to the* main river, we followed it
further up, examining a few smaller streams that ran
into it at different places. The country was very wild
with deep canyons and steep mountains. Here and
there large glaciers, and rushing rivulets with plenty of
drift wood on the stream and large threatening bowlders
o o
on their banks. But in ail this we could not find any
place suitable for the desired pass, and after having
spent sixteen days on the Homathco we returned to the
schooner at the head of the Inlet.    I was not at all HHH
satisfied with my expedition. I thought that under
more favorable circumstances it might be possible to
penetrate further up, and I felt that I should like to
make another attempt.
We next ascended the river Teguahan, running into
Bute Inlet from the north. Our experience here was
very similar to that on the Homathco River, if possible
a little worse, and we soon concluded that here, at all
events, we should not find the pass, of which we were
in search. At certain seasons of the year the Indians
here cross the mountains, hunting the goat over the
frozen snow, but this fact alone proved to us the absence
of the desired conditions for our purpose, and we returned
once more to the Inlet to try the third and last river,
falling into it. This is known as the Memria or South-
gate river.
We were destined to experience more hardships and
additional failures on this expedition. The natives told
us that the Lockwalla Indians came down here at times
and that there was a trail across to Lillooet. We
attempted to follow the latter but were forced to admit
that it would not serve for a road of any kind, and
having once more battled with the wilds of nature and
suffered a good deal, owing to the roughness of the
country, we again returned to the Inlet and set sail for
civilized parts, having spent one month and a half in
exploring the adjacent country.
As we had to bear the burden of expense, it came
quite heavy upon us at the time, but we satisfied ourselves that we had, at all events, added to the general
knowledge of the locality, and gathered information
hitherto unknown. "The Daily Press" of Victoria,
under date of 20th August, 1861, published the following editorial comments relative to our exploration. 260
"The problem which has caused so much agitation
among imaginative speculators in Victoria, is at last
solved, and the numerous gentlemen who have pre-empted land in the region of the inlet, (Bute) that they
might cut it up into town lots and supply the overwhelming rush of business men and others that were
naturally expected to beseige the place, have expended
their eight-shilling fee for registration, to little purpose.
"The Bute Inlet route is a miserable failure. Major
Downie has tested every conceivable opening to the
interior, with a persistency that few but the Major
would have exhibited, and has arrived at the conclusion
that a road to the Fraser from Bute Inlet is, for any
advantageous purpose, totally impracticable.
"We characterised sometime \ ago the glowing descriptions, which were circulated by interested or unthinking persons about the Bute Inlet route, as simply
imaginative emanations, without a'ny claims to substance
or reality and the result has proved the correctness of
our remarks.
We are glad the impracticability of the route has
been demonstrated by a man whose knowledge of the
practical science of exploration, few in the community
will feel disposed to doubt.
"It will effectually set at rest this wavering, unsettled
disposition about the route to the mines, a feeling that
could only end in injury to those means of transit, at
present under construction. We have no inclination
whatever to discourage explorations of the coast for
routes to the interior of British Columbia, but we have
argued, that to attempt to draw the Governor's attention
from the Lillooet road at the present time, when every
farthing that can possibly be spared from the British
Columbia Treasury should be devoted to that object. HUNTING FOR  GOLD
until we have one good, passable route to the interior,
would be as injurious as it would be puerile. We are
not exceedingly favorable to the British Columbia government; but we must admit that it has exerted the
power placed in its hands so far' as roads are concerned,
in a manner that few ean cavil at.
"We do not, therefore; wish to see the attention of the
. Governor drawn away to impracticable objects and deputations requesting the assistance of a gunboat, to humor
the whims and 'castle-building' of a few erratic and fanciful speculators.
"We may be told that Bentinck Arm is still unex-
plored; that the rumors which were ' some time ago
afloat with regard to its practicability as a coast route,
are yet uncontradicted. But we think there has been
sufficient evidence adduced to put a stop, for this year,
at least, to any further-attempt to show that the present route to the mines is a useless expenditure of money.
"If Major Downie's trip will have the effect, as it
should have, of doubling the energy at present expended
on the Fraser River route, it will be of infinite service
to both colonies. At all events, the people of this and
the neighboring colony, are under lasting obligations to
Messrs. Downie and McDonald for the energy and disinterestedness which they have displayed in their explorations, and we hope that something more substantial
than a public meeting will be awarded to the adventurous gentlemen.
"It is to be presumed, now that the spirit of exploring enterprise is in the ascendancy, that our colony will
not be passed and neglected, as it has hitherto been.
'We have not the slightest doubt there are objects on
this island awaiting the efforts of exploration, of infinitely greater  importance to  the colony, than  any   coast 262
route to the interior of British ' Columbia. We hope,
therefore, before any further voyage of discovery is
made that Vancouver island, which can never exhibit
the unsurmountable obstacles that Bute presented,
will obtain some share of that attention which has recently been concentrated on the rugged mountains
and impetuous rivers of  the neighboring colony." CHAPTER   VR
Unscrupulous Speculators—The Pre-emption Law—The People
of Westminster—Two Explorers—False Beports—A Bowdy
Audience—Cariboo Mining—Trying to Pump Gold—The
Money Ban Out—Waddington's Enterprise—A Camp at
Bute Inlet—Treacherous Indians—A Night of Horrors—
The Avenger—The Killing of a Dear Friend.
The reader will propably excuse my indulging in a little self-praise, as it may appear, by publishing the above
editorial; but I have not done it with an idea of personal
agrandizement. I am rather actuated by a desire to
demonstrate the sentiment prevailing at the time; or shall
I say, one of the sentiments, for I shall presently show
that opinions were somewhat divided,
The fight lay between the immigrants, who gradually
became the bona fide settlers, and the speculators, who
resorted to trickery and imperfect land laws, for the purpose of enriching themselves. The pre-emption law enabled men to take up land, purely as a matter of speculation; and many shady transactions in real estate were
brought about by this fact. It was to some extent the
motive power which resulted in a good deal of exploration up and down the coast, and in that respect it was
commendable enough; but it also caused reports to be
spread relative to these explorations, which were, in
many cases, so far removed £iom the truth that no one
would recognizedthe localities from some of the descriptions.
But of all places, none had attracted so much atten- 264
harbor facilities, the fine scenery, the location and the
fact that three rivers ran into it,—all contributed towards a general desire to see it made a railroad terminus.
The present railroad skirts along Kamploops Lake and
follows the bend of the river Fraser below the junction
of Bonaparte River, but had not the line been continued due west by Seton Lake, through the Lillooet district, it would have pierced the Cascade mountains near
Bute Inlet, and come down to the waters of that splendid harbor. Then thousands of dollars would have
been realized in that locality by a few speculators, who
now either kept honest settlers out of the field, or sold
them land under false pretenses, at unwarranted  prices.
The one predominant idea was, as has been several
times alluded to, to cut across the mountains from the
river to the coast in place of following the windings of
the Fraser. On the other hand, this river afforded a
natural highway into the interior. It was a matter of
course that the co'untry around its outlet looked forward
to the advantages which might accrue from such a
fact, and hence a good deal of rivalry sprang up between
the New Westminster people and the Bute Inlet speculators.
Every effort had been made to destroy the possibility
of Westminster taking the lead. Even charts and
maps had been published so absolutely wrong that one
hesitates to speak of it for fear of being doubted; but nevertheless it is a fact that on such charts rivers were .
made to suit the convenience of the project; mountain
ranges were placed where the alleged surveyor saw fit,
and they were accompanied by reports, colored so as to
throw the desired effect upon the scene, independently
of the real truth.
Such, indeed, was the state of affairs, when the meet- HUNTING FOR GOLD
ing was called which I mentioned in my previous chapter. Had I wished to get into the pay of the speculators, I could have made enough money on Bute Inlet
to amply repay me for my outlay and hardships endured, but all I wished to do was to make a fair and
unbiased report of what I saw and learned.
Not so with those whose only aim was to enrich
themselves. McDonald and I risked our lives daily in
the wilderness of the interior about the now famous inlet. A couple of men came up to make a survey of the
coast, the same as we had done. They came in a small
vessel, and when they learned that we had gone up one
of the three rivers, they put their craft about and sailed
for Victoria, where they at once reported the magnificent discovery of an easy pass at the head of the inlet,
and a safe road across to   Fort  Alexandria.    This gar-
• O
bled statement was clad in all the fanciful language of
the novelist, and no efforts were spared to make the
country appear advantageous, while the paper that published it, went into elaborate details regarding the'pro-
jected railroad with its terminus at Bute Inlet and all
the rest, giving land in the vicinity a wonderful rise in
the market.
Of all this, however, I was not aware. I first learned
of it when sometime after I arrived in Victoria and
determined to make my experience known in proper
style. So I hired a hall, calling a meeting and arranged
my papers in such a manner as to give my audience an
intelligent report of my explorations in the interest of
the common weal. I had a fair-sized audience, and as I
appeared upon the rostrum, flattered myself that I was
going to make quite an impression, which indeed I did;
but it wras the wrong way. No sooner had my hearers
understood from my remarks that I  could not recom- 266
had   certainly
I could barely
a  truth which
mend Bute Inlet, when it seems that one and all took it
for granted that I was in some kind of a collusion with
the Westminster people to squash the big land schemes
of Bute Inlet. Yells went up in different parts of the
audience, such as "Put him out!" "What's he talking
about?" "Bully for you!" And then various articles
were thrown across the hall, breaking sundry lamps
in their route towards myself, who
become the central point of interest.
I was surprised beyond description,
realize that in return for telling people
had cost me many weary marches at the peril of my
life to ascertain, I should be treated as a charletan,
while a couple of imposters walked off with the glory
of having "accomplished what they never attempted,
probably well pMd, while I got nothing. Strangely
enough, to-day, after thirty years, there are still people
who allow themselves to be gulled ipto speculating in
Bute Inlet land, not content with the experience reaped
by different parties during all these years, all pointing
to the fact that nature will resist any engineering in
those regions, excepting at a cost which would be considered absolutely unreasonable.
In the spring of 1862 I was mining at the mouth of
Mink Gulch in Cariboo. It was evident that I had
more luck, when looking for gold than when trying to
find mountain passes, for I struck it rich in the gravel
and took out lots of the precious metal. Indeed, during
that "period the miners in this locality did well and filled
their sacks fast, and when I remember such places as
Conklin Gulch and Williams Creek, I am thinking of
some of the richest placers that ever were.
But here again the old demon whispered the words
into the miner's ear, which sent so many to destruction HUNTING  FOR GOLD
into the miner's ear, which sent-so many to destruction
—the word Excelsior ! The gold seekers did the same
thing in British Columbia, as they had done in California
ten years before, always eager for better chances they
let go of a good claim to pursue a phantom—I with the
rest as a matter of course. And thus I came to look
for gold in the Cariboo Swamps, where rumor had it
there was lots of the yellow stuff. But alas for gold
hunting in swamps! We pumped mud day and night
to find some kind ofa trace, but it kept out of our way.
Under the title of the Long Point Company we dug
ditches and pumped enough brown mud out to fill an
ocean. To make a long story short, we pumped there
till my finances were pumped completely out, for I had
to foot the bills. At' last I gave up. I told the boys to
help themselves to a sack of flour, or whatever they
required, and to look for better chances somewhere else;
and while the diggers down the creek said that we had
struck it rich and were making "two fish to the pan," I
made my way down the Fraser River on foot—a sadder
but a wiser man.
I have mentioned Mr Waddington's aspirations in the
direction of exploring, and that he was vastly interested
in Bute Inlet and the adjacent country. In course of
time he planned a townsite there and began to make
roads as best he could. It proved a dangerous work
for the men; not only because of the wild nature in this
vicinity, but also owing to the indisposition on the part
of some of the Indians, who objected to any road being
made through their country.
Such an objection was not altogether uncalled for.
The Indians were not slow to perceive that at the same
time as the approach of the white man brought them
advantages, there were also other sides to the question, 268
not the least of these being the diseases, spread among
the native tribes by the invaders. Thus, in the year
1862, small-pox was carried by the whites to Bella Coola,
whence it spread as far as Benshee and Chisicat lakes,
and in an incredibly short time no less than five hundred
Indians died at the last place. Again, the manner in
which unscrupulous adventurers had repeatedly broken
faith with the natives, had done much harm to the
white man and reflected even upon those who came
among them with honesty of purpose and good intent.
Among the chiefs who opposed the progress of Wadding-
ton's Party was one, Tellet by name. At the time I
speak of the party consisted of seventeen men, in charge
of Mr. Brewster, and a man named Jim Smith looked
after the store and ferry. One day, during the month of
April, 1864, Tellet arrived at the ferry with his sons-in-
law, known as Jack and George, and also accompanied
by Klattasine, a young Indian of nineteen years; Indian
slave, Chraychunume, twenty years of age, and three
more Indians. It "was afternoon when they neared
Smith's place and Klattasine was sent ahead, commissioned to ascertain the whereabouts of the white chief,
as they called Waddington, and to murder Smith. The
Indian demanded that Smith present him with some
blankets, which the storekeeper refused to do, whereupon Klattasine suddenly fired at him, killing him instantaneously. Then he ransacked the house, and
having returned to his companions, a plan was laid to
surprise Brewster's camp at the Third Bluff during the
night, and thither the Indians'now proceeded.
Arrived there the scene that presented itself was the
customary picture of a surveyor's camp after the days'
work is over. The men had gathered round the camp-
fire, and the smoke of their pipes curled aloft in the still a
M •
> 270
evening, while the smokers were chatting about current
topics, entirely unconscious of the tragedy that had
been enacted at the ferry, and the awful fate that awaited
themselves. As the party had apparently always been
on the friendliest of terms with the Indians, their
arrival did not arouse the least suspicion. The Redskins
joined in the general conversation, and time passed by
agreeably enough, until the hour had come, when every
white man went to his tent, rolled himself in his blanket,
and slept the sleep of the weary.
But the Indians did not sleep. They lay watching
for the moment to arrive when their fiendish mission
could be fulfilled, and just before the sun rose to throw
its glimmer upon the landscape, and call all creation to
life once more, these demons rose to put the peacefully
slumbering and unsuspecting men to death. The men
were divided in the tents, sleeping two or three together, and the Indians rushed upon them, throwing
down the tent poles and with knives and pistols began
murdering the sleepers, who, taken entirely by surprise,
were stabbed or shot at through the canvas. For a moment all was confusion. The whoops and yells of the
Indians rang through the clear morning air and mingled
o o o o
with the groans and imprecations of the struggling surveyors, who tried in vain to escape their cruel enemy,
and when the hideous work had been performed, only
three men out of seventeen had escaped death, as if by
a miracle. They were Peter Petersen, a Dane; Philip
Buckley, an Irishman and an Englishman by the name
of Moseley, the last one being the only one who escaped
The terror of the situation may be imagined' from
Moseley's statement, who, in his own words, described
the scene as he saw it: "I was in a tent with J. Camp- HUNTING FOR  GOLD
bell and J. Fielding, a Scotchman and an Englishman
respectively, when just about day-break I was awakened by two Indians coming to the tent door. They
did not enter, but merely raised the door, then, whooping aloud, they fired on either side of me. I was lying
in the center of the tent, and as they let the ridge pole
down it fell upon me, and the tent nearly smothered us.
Presently I saw the canvas  on either side of me being
<J O
pierced with knives penetrating the bodies of my companions. I could see through the canvas, and observed
the Indians going to another tent, when I jumped up
and extricating myself plunged into the river, which was
but a few steps from me. I swam about a hundred
yards and then crawled ashore, when I noticed Indian
men and women,shouting and yelling, where the cook's
provision tent was. I fled further dqwn the river and
then met Petersen, with whom I proceeded. We never
had any difficulties with the Indians previous to this."
Both Buckley and Petersen had a most miraculous
escape. The former received two knife wounds and was
hit in the head with the butt-end of a musket. He fell
to the ground like a log, and the Indians thought him
dead; but he afterwards recovered his senses and made
his escape; Petersen's wrist was crushed by a musket
ball, and it is a wonder that they were not murdered
with the rest.
After the*Indians had assured themselves that their
victims were all dead, they finished up their bloody
work by horribly mutilating the bodies; tearing the
tents into shreds and looting the camp, carrying away
all the stores, including two hundred pounds of bacon.
Brewster and two of his men were not in the camp at
the time of the bloodshed. They had gone up the trail
to examine it, and the Indians at once went in search of 272
them, and all three were murdered' like   their  compan
The three men, who escaped, all made for the ferry,
where they found the mutilated body of the storekeeper.
They had great difficulty in crossing the river,
wounded as two of them were, and for fear of being
overtaken by the Indians, baricaded themselves in a log
house, where they remained for several days, until two
packers came past, who took them away. They were
then conveyed to Nanaimo, where they were cared for
at the French Hospital, under the care of Dr. Pujol.
The news of this massacre created the greatest excitement, and no time was lost in dealing out severe retribution  and   checking these   savages  in their   wanton
o o
course, but as they went on to the junction of Bute Inlet and Bentinck Arm, it was feared that Manning's
party, and McDonald and his party, known to be, at the
time, packing considerable freight into the Cariboo
mines, would share the same fate as the Waddington
party, and true enough, it was confirmed later by some of
the scouts under McLean, of Bonaparte, that Mr. Manning and others were murdered at Benshee Lake.
The gunboat "Forward" was dispatched to Bute Inlet with twenty-one volunteers. The flagship "Sutlej"
was dispatched to Bentinck Arm with a party of marines, taking with them two Clayhoose Indians who
were acquainted with the murderers and witnessed the
massacre. Commissioner Cox started from Cariboo for
Soda Creek with forty hardy miners, well equipped and
armed with good rifles and revolvers, where he expected
to meet with Captain McLean, but this gentleman together with Aleck McDonald and others, had started
out to reconnoitre, only to be trapped by  the  Indians.
Hiding in  the  thick  undergrowth,  Tellet and his
men fired at the party from ambush, and McLean
fell dead to the ground. The fire was returned, but as
the enemy could not be seen, no certain aim could be
taken, and the white men were forced to retreat. The
Indians now made their appearance to pursue the enemy
when McDonald and a few more turned round, and, firing
from behind a tree, sent several of the hostiles to the
grass. At last McDonald was the ouly one left,attempting
to cover the retreat and check the Indians. His friends
shouted "come on," but he reolied: "Just one shot more
3 1.
at that fellow, and I will come !" It was too late, however, and his horrified friends saw the musket falling
from his hands, while he sank dead to the ground with
a bullet through his head.
Thus died one of the bravest of men, one of the truest
of friends, trying to cover his companions, fearless to the
last; one of the many unknown heroes, whose lives were
lost in the great wilds, in trying to build up a grand and
beautiful country.
But retribution, was near at hand, and the murderous
Indians soon after met their fate. They were surrounded
in the mountains, and cutoff from escape; fear and hunger
forced them to surrender into the hands of the law.
They were all hanged in quick order, five of them being
strung up on one beam, while Chief Tellet boasted to
the last of the number of white men, whose blood he had
Thus was enacted one of the greatest tragedies of the
O o
early days of British Columbia, and while the invader
lay scalped and mutilated in the woods, the rightful lord
of the soil hung dangling from a gallows tree. Strange,
indeed, that it should be thus, that after all, the difference between the human being and the savage brute is
so small; for it should at all times be borne in mind that, 274
Hunting for gold
although Waddington's party had committed no attroc-
ities on the Indians, yet the usurper of the country had
in so many instances caused the Indians to suffer indignities, which even more civilized races would have considered that only blood could atone for. ma
The Gold Export Tax—Captain Evans and His Son—In the Editor's Boom—The Busso-American Telegraph—Two Different
Boutes—How to Go to Work—Once More at Dean Canal
—Some Beautiful Land—Predicting a Bright Future—Hon.
John Bobson—The Famous Granite Creek—Lumps of Gold
—Advice to Disheartened Miners—Comparing Past and
The idea of introducing a so-called gold export tax
met with much favor among the miners of. British Columbia, who in the early sixties clamored loudly for a
measure, the object of which was to keep the gold
within the country where it had been found, and I
admit that I was, at the time, one of the supporters of
the project. Having had an opportunity, in after years,
to mo