Slike strani



their labor with Sutter and Marshall, who furnished tools and provisions, Bigler and his associates mined. for two nionths, one mile below the saw-mill. They stopped in the midst of their success, however, and tearing themselves away from the fascination, they started on June 17th in search of a suitable rendezvous, where all the saints might congregate prior to beginning their last pilgrimage across the mountains. They found such a spot the next day, near where Placerville now stands, calling it Pleasant Valley. Parties arrived one after another, some driving loose horses into a prepared timber corral, others swelling the camp with wagons, cattle, and effects; and so the gathering continued till the 3d of July, when a general move was made. As the

As the wagons rolled up along the divide between the American River and the Cosumnes on the national 4th, their cannon thundered independence before the high Sierra. It was a strange sight, exiles for their faith thus delighting to honor the power that had driven them as outcasts into the wilderness.

The party consisted of forty-five men and one woman, the wife of William Coory. It was by almost incredible toil that these brave men cut the way for their wagons, lifted them up the stony ascents, and let them down the steep declivities. Every step added to the danger, as heralded by the death of the three pioneers, Daniel Browett, Ezra H. Allen, and Henderson Cox, who were found killed by the Indians of the Sierra. And undaunted, though sorrowful, and filled with many a foreboding, the survivors descended the eastern slope and wended their way through the thirsty desert; and there we must leave them and return to our gold-diggers.

9. Having an understanding with Mr Marshall to dig on long as we worked on his claims or land.' Bigler, Diary of a Mormon, MS., 75. A Mormon writing in the Times and Transcript says: “They undertook to make us give them half the gold we got for the privilege of digging on their land. This was afterward reduced to one third, and in a few weeks was given up altogether.' Mrs Wimmer states that Sutter and Marshall claimed thirty per cent of the gold found on their grant; Brannan for a time secured ten per cent on the pretext of tithes.





As when some carcass, hidden in sequestered nook, draws from every near and distant point myriads of discordant vultures, so drew these little flakes of gold the voracious sons of men. The strongest human appetite was aroused—the sum of appetites—this yellow dirt embodying the means for gratifying love, hate, lust, and domination. This little scratch upon the earth to make a backwoods mill-race touched the cerebral nerve that quickened humanity, and sent a thrill throughout the system. It tingled in the ear and at the finger-ends; it buzzed about the brain and tickled in the stomach; it warmed the blood and swelled the heart; new fires were kindled on the hearth-stones, new castles builded in the air. If Satan from Diablo's peak had sounded the knell of time; if a heavenly angel from the Sierra's height had heralded the millennial day; if the blessed Christ himself had risen from that ditch and proclaimed to all mankind amnesty—their greedy hearts had never half so thrilled.

The effect of the gold discovery could not be long confined to the narrow limits of Sutter's domain. The



information scattered by the Swiss and his dependents had been further disseminated in different directions by others. Nevertheless, while a few like Humphrey, the Georgia miner, responded at once to the influence, as a rule little was thought of it at first, particularly by those at a distance. The nature and extent of the deposits being unknown, the significance or importance of the discovery could not be appreciated. It was not uncommon at any time to hear of gold or other metals being found here, there, or anywhere, in America, Europe, or Asia, and nothing come of it. To emigrants, among other attractions, gold had been mentioned as one of the possible or probable resources of California; but to plodding agriculturists or mechanics the idea of searching the wilderness for gold would have been deemed visionary, or the fact of little moment that some one somewhere had found gold. When so intelligent a man as Semple at Benicia was told of it he said, “I would give more for a good coal mine than for all the gold mines in the universe.' At Sonoma, Vallejo passed the matter by with a piece of pleasantry.

The first small fakes of gold that Captain Folsom examined at San Francisco he pronounced mica; he did not believe a man who came down some time after with twenty ounces when he claimed to have gathered it in eight days. Some time in April Folsom wrote to Mason at Monterey, making casual mention of the existing rumor of gold on the Sacramento. In May Bradley, a friend of Folsom's, went to Monterey, and was asked by Mason if he knew anything of this gold discovery on the American River.“I have heard of

1.The people here did not believe it,' says Findla, 'they thought it was a hoax. They had found in various places about S. F., notably on Pacific Street, specimens of different minerals, gold and silver among them, but in very small quantities; and so they were not inclined to believe in the discovery at Sutter's mill.' Gillespie testifies to the same. He did not at all credit the story. Three samples in quills and vials were displayed before the infection took in the town. Gillespie's Vig. Com., MS., 4; Findla's Stat., MS., 4-6; Willey's Thirty Years, 19-20.

it,” replied Bradley. “A few fools have hurried to the place, but you may be sure there is nothing in it.”

On Wednesday, the 15th of March, the Californian, one of the two weekly newspapers then published at San Francisco, contained a brief paragraph to the effect that gold had been discovered in considerable quantities at Sutter's saw-mill. The editor hazarded the remark that California was probably rich in minerals. On the following Saturday the other weekly paper, the California Star, mentioned, without editorial comment, that gold had been found forty miles above Sutter's Fort.

The items, if noticed at all, certainly created no excitement. Little if any more was thought of gold probabilities than those of silver, or quicksilver, or coal, and not half as much as of agriculture and fruitgrowing: This was in March.

In April a somewhat altered tone is noticed in according greater consideration to the gold discoveries.*

* This, the first printed notice of the discovery, ran as follows: 'Gold mine found. In the newly made raceway of the saw-mill recently erected by Captain Sutter on the American fork, gold has been found in considerable quan: tities. One person brought thirty dollars' worth to New Helvetia, gathered there in a short time. California no doubt is rich in mineral wealth; great chances here for scientific capitalists. Gold has been found in every part of the country.'

3 The editor of the Star, writing the 25th of March, says: 'A good move it would be for all property holders in the place, who have no very settled purpose of improving the town, and distant ideas of rare chances at speculation, to employ upon their unoccupied lands some few of our liquor-house idlers, and in the process of ploughing, harrowing, hoeing, and planting it is not idle to believe some hidden treasure would be brought out. Some silver mines are wanted in this vicinity, could they be had without experiencing the ill effects following in the train of their discovery. Monterey, our cap. ital, rests on a bed of quicksilver, so say the cute and knowing. We say if we can discover ourselves upon a bed of silver we, for our single self, shall straightway throw up the pen and cry aloud with Hood: ‘A pickaxe or a spade.' On the same date he says: “Šo great is the quantity of gold taken from the mine recently found at New Helvetia that it has become an article of traffic in that vicinity.'

* Fourgeaud, in a serial article on The Prospects of California,' writes in the Star the 1st of April: We saw, a few days ago, a beautiful specimen of gold from the mine newly discovered on the American fork. From all accounts the mine is immensely rich, and alrearly we learn that gold from it, collected at random and without any trouble, has become an article of trade at the upper settlements. This precious metal abounds in this country. We have heard of several other newly discovered mines of gold, but as these reports are not yet authenticated, we shall pass over them. However, it is well known that there is a placero of gold a few miles from the Ciudad de los An



Yet the knowing ones are backward about committing themselves; and when overcome by curiosity to see the mines, they pretend business elsewhere rather than admit their destination. Thus E. C. Kemble, editor of the Star, announces on the 15th his intention to “ruralize among the rustics of the country for a few weeks.” Hastening to the mines he makes his observations, returns, and in jerky diction flippantly remarks: “Great country, fine climate; visit this great valley, we would advise all who have not yet done so. See it now. Full-flowing streams, mighty timber, large crops, luxuriant clover, fragrant flowers, gold and silver.” This is all Mr Kemble says of his journey in his issue of the 6th of May, the first number after his return. Whether he walked as one blind and void of intelligence, or saw more than his interests seemingly permitted him to tell, does not appear.

There were men, however, more observant and outspoken than the astute editor, some of whom left town singly, or in small parties of seldom more than two or three. They said little, as if fearing ridicule, but crossed quietly to Sauzalito, and thence took the direction of Sonoma and Sutter's Fort. The mystery of the movement in itself proved an incentive, to which accumulating reports and specimens gave intensity, till it reached a climax with the arrival of several wellladen diggers, bringing bottles, tin cans, and buckskin bags filled with the precious metal, which their owners

geles, and another on the San Joaquin.' In another column of the same issue we read that at the American River diggings the gold ‘is found at a depth of three feet below the surface, and in a strata of soft sand-rock. Explorations made southward to the distance of twelve miles, and to the north five miles, report the continuance of this strata and the mineral equally abundant. The vein is from twelve to eighteen feet in thickness. Most advantageously to this new mine, a stream of water flows in its immediate neighborhood, and the washing will be attended with comparative ease.' These, and the two items already alluded to in the Star of the 18th and 25th of March, are the only notices in this paper of the diggings prior to the 22d of April, when it states: “We have been informed, from unquestionable authority, that another still more extensive and valuable gold mine has been discovered towards the head of the American fork, in the Sacramento Valley. We have seen several specimens taken from it, to the amount of eight or ten ounces of pure virgin gold.' The Californian said even less on the subject during the same period.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »