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ever stimulated by advancing exploration and piratical adventure. Every step northward in Mexico confirmed the belief in still richer lands beyond, and gave food for flaming tales like those told by Friar Márcos de Niza.
Opinions were freely expressed upon the subject, some of them taking the form of direct assertions. These merit no attention. Had ever gold been found in Marin county, we might accredit the statement of Francis Drake, or his chaplain, Fletcher, that they saw it there in 1579. As it is, we know they did not see it. Many early writers mention gold in California, referring to Lower California, yet leading some to confound the two Californias, and to suppose that the existence of the metal in the Sierra foothills was then known. Instance Miguel Venegas, Shelvocke, and others of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and early encyclopædia makers. It has always been a favorite trick of navigators to speak of things they either greatly feared or greatly desired as existing. Vizcaino, Knight, and fifty others were certain that the mountains of California contained gold. The developments along the Colorado River led to the same conviction; indeed, it was widely assumed that the Jesuits knew of rich mines within and beyond their precincts. Count Scala claims for the Russians of Bodega knowledge of gold on Yuba River as early as 1815, but he fails to support the assertion. Dana and other professional men of his class are to be censured for what they did not see, rather than praised for the wonderful significance of certain remarks. The mine at San Fernando, near Los Angeles, where work was begun in 1842, is about the only satisfactory instance on record of a knowledge of the existence of gold in Alta California prior to the discovery of Marshall. And this was indeed a clew which could not have failed to be taken up in due time by some one among the host of observant fortune-hunters now pouring in, and forced by circumstances into the for
ests and foothills in quest of slumbering resources. The Sierra could not have long retained her secret.20
The discovery by Marshall was the first that can be called a California gold discovery, aside from the petty placers found in the southern part of the state. It is not impossible that white men may have seen gold in the Sierra foothills before him. This region had been traversed by trappers, by emigrants, and even by men of science; but if they saw gold, either they did not know it or they did not reveal it. No sooner was the discovery announced than others claimed to have been previously cognizant of the fact; but such statements are not admissible. Most of them are evident fabrications; as for the rest, not one has been proved. They were made in the first instance, as a rule, to deprive Marshall of the fame of his discovery, and they failed.
20 Conspicuous among those not before mentioned are the opinions general of Arthur Dobbs, Samuel Hearne, Jonathan Carver, Duflot de Mofras, Catalá, Pickett, Bidwell, Larkin, Bandini, Osio; the statements of Antonio de Alcedo, Alvarado, Vallejo, Jedediah Smith, Blake, Hastings, and others. Herewith I give a list of authorities on the subject. Oxio, Historia de California, MS., 506; Cal. Dept. St Pap., viii. 6, 16, etc.; Larkin's Off. Cor., MS., i. 96; Bandini, Hist. Cul., MS., 17–18; Bidwell's Cal. 1841-8, MS., 214; Vallejo, Doc., MS., i. 140-1; Dep. Rec., MS., ix. 136; Vallejo, Notas Históricas, MS., 35; Clyman's Diary, MS.; Davis' Glimpses, MS., 149–50; San Diego, Arch. Index, MS., 92; Castañares, Col. Doc. Cal., MS., 23; Alvarado, Hist. Cal., MS., i. 77, and iv. 161; Galindo, Apuntes, MS., 68-9; Sutter's Pers. Obs., MS., 171; Hall's Sonora, MS., 252; Castroville Argus, Sept. 7, 1872; Robinson's Life in Cal., 190; Browne's Min. Res., 13-16; Monterey Herald, Oct. 15, 1875; Bryant's Cal., 451; Méx., Mem. Rel., 1835, no. 6; Mofras, Or. et Cal., i. 137; S. F. Alta Cal., Mar. 28, 1857, and Jan. 28 and May 18, 1878; S. F. Herald, June 1, 1855; Hesperian Mag., vii. 560; Drake's Voy.; Shelvocke's Voy.; Dobbs' Hudson's Bay; Hardy's Travels in Mex., 331-2; Dunbar's Romance of the Age, 93-4; Hughes' Cal., 119; Mendocino Democrat, Feb. 1, 1872; Lake County Bee, Mar. 18, 1873; Venegas, Hist. Cal., i. 177-8; Antioch Ledger, Feb. 3, 1872; Hittell's Mining, 10-11; Buffum's Six Months, 45-6; Walker's Nar., 11; Merced Argus, Sept. 2, 1874; Cronise's Nat. Wealth, 109; Hayes' Col. Mining Cal., i. 1; 8. F. Bulletin, July 12 and Oct. 1, 1860, Aug. 14, 1865; Tuthill's Hist. Cal., 231; Gray's Hist. Or., 364; Dana's Two Years, 324; Red Bluff Ind., Jan. 17, 1866; Hutchings' Mag., v. 352; Hunt's Mer. Mag., xxiv. 768, xxxi. 385-6, xxxiv. 631-2; Cal. Chronicle, Jan. 28, 1856; Dwinelle, Ad., 1866, 28; Reese Riv. Reveille, Aug. 10, 1865, and Jan. 29, 1872; Carson's State Reg., Jan. 27, 1862; Elko Independent, Jan. 15, 1870; Sac Union, June 7, 1861; Scala, Nouv. An. des Voy., clxiv. 388-90; Quarterly Rev., no. 87, 1850, 416; Gomez, Lo que Sabe, MS., 228-9; Hughes' California, 119; Carson's Rec., 58-9; Roberts' Rec., MS., 10; Valle, Doc., MS., 57; Dept. St Pap., MS., xii. 63-5; Requena, Doc., MS., 4-5; Los Angeles, Arch., MS., v. 331.
It was late in the afternoon of the 28th of January when Marshall dismounted at New Helvetia," entered the office where Sutter was busy writing, and abruptly requested a private interview. The horseman was dripping wet, for it was raining. Wondering what could have happened, as but the day before he had sent to the mill all that was required, Sutter led the way into a private room. "Are you alone?" demanded the visitor. "Yes," was the reply. "Did you lock the door?" "No, but I will if you wish it." "I want two bowls of water," said Marshall. Sutter rang the bell and the bowls were brought. "Now I want a stick of redwood, and some twine, and some sheet copper." "What do you want of all these things, Marshall?" "To make scales." "But I have scales enough in the apothecary's shop," said Sutter; and he brought a pair. Drawing forth his pouch, Marshall emptied the contents into his hand, and held it before Sutter's eyes, remarking, "I believe this is gold; but the people at the mill laughed at me and called me crazy. Sutter examined the stuff attentively, and finally said: "It certainly looks like it; we will try it." First aquafortis was applied; and the substance stood the test. Next three dollars in silver coin were put into one of the scales, and balanced by gold-dust in the other. Both were then immersed in water, when down went the dust and up the silver coin. Finally a volume of the American Encyclopædia, of which the fort contained a copy, was brought ont, and the article on gold carefully studied, whereupon all doubts vanished.22
21 Dunbar, Romance of the Age, 48, dates the arrival at the fort Feb. 2d, and intimates that the discovery was made the samne morning. According to Parsons, Marshall reached the fort about 9 o'clock in the morning, having left Coloma the day before, and passed the preceding night under a tree. On the journey he discovered gold in a ravine in the foothills, and also at the place afterward called Mormon Island, while examining the river for a lumber-yard site. Life of Marshall, 84. Sutter, however, both in his Diary and in his Reminiscences, says that Marshall arrived at the fort in the afternoon. Marshall himself makes no mention of discovering gold on the journey.
22 Sutter's Pers. Rem., MS., 163–7. In my conferences with Sutter, at Litiz, I endeavored to draw from him every detail respecting the interview here
MARSHALL AND SUTTER.
Marshall proposed that Sutter should return with him to the mill that night, but the latter declined, saying that he would be over the next day. It was now supper-time, and still drizzling; would not the visitor rest himself till morning? No, he must be off immediately; and without even waiting to eat, he wrapped his sarape about him, mounted his horse, and rode off into the rain and darkness. Sutter slept little that night. Though he knew nothing of the magnitude of the affair, and did not fully realize the evils he had presently to face, yet he felt there would soon be enough of the fascination abroad to turn the heads of his men, and to disarrange his plans. In a word, with prophetic eye, as he expressed himself to me, he saw that night the curse of the thing upon him.
On the morning of the 29th of January 23 Sutter
presented in a condensed form. Some accounts assert that when Marshall desired the door to be locked Sutter was frightened, and looked about for his gun. The general assured me this was not the case. Neither was the mind of Marshall wrought into such a fever as many represent. His manner was hurried and excited, but he was sane enough. He was peculiar, and he wished to despatch this business and be back at the mill. Barstow, in his Statement, MS., 3, asserts that he did not rush down to the fort, but waited until he had business there. All the evidence indicates that neither Marshall nor Sutter had any idea, as yet, of the importance of the discovery. How could they have? There might not be more than a handful of gold-dust in the whole Sierra, from any fact thus far appearing. See Bidwell's California 1841–8, MS., 230; Bigler's Diary, MS., 64; Brooks' Four Months, 40–3; Parsons' Life of Marshall, 84-5; Hutchings' Mag., ii. 194. Gregson, Statement, MS., 8, blacksmithing for Sutter when Marshall arrived, saw the gold in a greenish ounce vial, about half filled. Bigler gives Marshall's own words, as repeated on his return to the mill. In every essential particular his account corresponds with that given to me by Sutter.
The day on which Sutter followed Marshall to Coloma is questioned. In his Reminiscences, and his statement in Hutchings' Magazine, Sutter distinctly says that he left for the saw-mill at seven o'clock on the morning after Marshall's visit to the fort; but in his Diary is written Feb. 1st, which would be the fourth day after the visit. Bigler, in his Diary, says that Sutter reached the mill on the third or fourth day after Marshall's return. Marshall shows his usual carelessness, or lack of memory, by stating that Sutter reached Coloma 'about the 20th of February.' Discovery of Gold, in Hutchings' Mag., ii. 201. Parsons is nearly as far wrong in saying that Sutter 'returned with Marshall to Coloma.' Life of Marshall, 86. Mrs Wimmer also says that 'Sutter came right up with Marshall.' This is indeed partly true, as Marshall in his restlessness went back to meet Sutter, and of course came into camp with him. On the whole, I have determined to follow Sutter's words to me, as I know them to be as he gave them. If Sutter did not set out until Feb. 1st, then Marshall did not reach the mill until the 31st of January, else Sutter's whole statement is erroneous.
started for the saw-mill.
When half-way there, or more, he saw an object moving in the bushes at one side. "What is that?" demanded Sutter of his attendant. "The man who was with you yesterday," was the reply. It was still raining. "Have you been here all night?" asked Sutter of Marshall; for it was indeed he. "No," Marshall said, "I slept at the mill, and came back to meet you." As they rode along Marshall expressed the opinion that the whole country was rich in gold. Arrived at the mill, Sutter took up his quarters at a house Marshall had lately built for himself, a little way up the mountain, and yet not far from the mill. During the night the water ran in the race, and in the morning it was shut off. All present then proceeded down the channel, and jumping into it at various points began to gather gold, 24 With some contributions by the men, added to what he himself picked up, Sutter secured enough for a ring weighing an ounce and a half, which he soon after exhibited with great pride as a specimen of the first gold. A private examination by the partners up the river disclosed gold all along its course, and in the tributary ravines and creeks.25
Sutter regarded the discovery as a misfortune. Without laborers his extensive works must come to a stop, presaging ruin. Gladly would he have shut the knowledge from the world, for a time, at least. With the men at the mill the best he could do was to make them promise to continue their work, and say nothing of the gold discovery for six weeks, by which time he hoped to have his flour-mill completed, and
"Bigler, Diary, MS., 65-6, gives a joke which they undertook to play on the Old Cap, as Marshall called Sutter. This was nothing less than to salt the mine in order that Sutter in his excitement might pass the bottle. Wimmer's boy, running on before, picked up the gold scattered in the race for the harmless surprising of Sutter, and thus spoiled their sport.
Indeed, Sutter claims that he picked with a small knife from a dry gorge a solid lump weighing nearly an ounce and a half, and regarded the tributaries as the richer sources. The work-people obtained an inkling of their discovery, although they sought henceforth to dampen the interest. One of the Indians who seems to have worked in a southern mine published his knowledge. Pers. Rem., MS.