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best gold-fields, for all must eat while they live. "27 Others looked around and saw with prophetic eye the turn in the tide when different resources must spring into prominence; not only land grants with farms and orchards, and forests with their varied products, but metals and minerals of a baser kind, as quicksilver, copper, coal.23 They foresaw the rush from abroad of gold-seekers, the gathering of vast fleets, the influx of merchandise, with their consequent flow of traffic and trade, the rise of cities and the growth of settlements. Those were the days of great opportunities, when a hundred properly invested would soon have yielded millions. We might have improved an opportunity like Sutter's better than he did. So we think; yet opportunities just as great perhaps present themselves to us every day, and will present themselves, but we do not see them.
27 Archives Santa Cruz, MS., 107; Hall's Hist., 190–1; Larkin's Doc., MS., vi.
28 Men began to quarrel afresh over the New Almaden claim, now aban. doned by its workmen for more fascinating fields; in the spring of this year the country round Clear Lake had been searched for copper.
ISAAC HUMPHREY AGAIN-BIDWELL AND HIS BAR-READING AND HIS IN.
DIANS ON CLEAR CREEK-POPULATION IN THE MINES-ON FEATHER
One of the first to realize the importance of Marshall's discovery was Isaac Humphrey, the Georgia miner before mentioned, who accompanied Bennett on his return to Sutter's Fort, after the failure to obtain a grant of the gold region. Humphrey advised come of his friends to go with him to seek gold, but they only laughed at him. He reached Coloma on the 7th of March; the 8th saw him out prospecting with a pan; the 9th found him at work with a rocker. The application of machinery to mining in California was begun. A day or two later came to the mill a French Canadian, Jean Baptiste Ruelle by name, commonly called Baptiste, who had been a miner in Mexico, a trapper, and general backwoodsman. Impressed by the geologic features of that region, and yet more perhaps by an ardent fancy, he had five years before applied to Sutter for an outfit to go and search for gold in the mountains. Sutter declined, deeming him unreliable, but gave him occupation at the whip-saw on Weber Creek, ten miles east of Coloma. After
EXTENSION OF THE MINING DISTRICT.
examining the diggings at Coloma, he declared there must be gold also on the creek, wondered he had never found it there; indeed, the failure to do so seens stupidity in a person so lately talking about gold-finding. Nevertheless, he with Humphrey was of great service to the inexperienced gold-diggers, initiating them as well in the mysteries of prospecting, or seeking for gold, as in washing it out, or separating it from the earth.1
So it was with John Bidwell, who came to Coloma toward the latter part of March.” Seeing the gold and the soil, he said there were similar indications in the vicinity of his rancho, at Chico. Returning home he searched the streams thereabout, and was soon at work with his native retainers on Feather River, at the rich placer which took the name of Bidwell Bar.3 Not long
after Bidwell's visit to Coloma,* P. B. Reading arrived there. He also was satisfied that there was gold near his rancho at the northern end of the great valley, and finding it, he worked the
1 Humphrey died at Victoria, B. C., Dec. 1, 1867. Alta Cal., Dec. 4, 1867. Hittell, Mining, 15, ascribes to the Frenchman the first use of pan and rocker on the coast.
2 He says that Humphrey, Ruelle, and others were at work with pans in some ravines on the north side of the river.' Bidwell's Cal. 1841-8, MS., 232. He makes no mention of any rocker, although the machine must have been new to him. It may have been there for als that.
3 'On my return to Chico I stopped over night at Hamilton on the west bank of Feather River. On trying some of the sand in the river here I found light particles of gold, and reckoned that if light gold could be found that far down the river, the heavier particles would certainly remain near the hills. On reaching Chico an expedition was organized, but it took some time to get everything really. We had to send twice up to Peter Lassen's mill to obtain flour; meat had to be dried, and we had to send to Sacramento for tools. Our party were Mr Dicky, Potter, John Williams, William Northgraves, and myself. We passed near Cherokee and up on the north fork. In nearly all the places we prospected we found the color. One evening, while camped at White Rocks, Dicky and I in a short time panned out about an ounce of fine gold. The others refused to prospect any, and said the gold we had obtained was so light that it would not weigh anything. At this time we were all unfamiliar with the weight of gold-dust, but I am satisfied that what we had would have weighed an ounce. At length we came home and some of the men went to the American River to mine. Dicky, Northgraves, and I went to what is now Bidwell's Bar, and there found golil and went to mining.' Bidwell's Cal. 1841-8, MS., 232–3; Sac. Union, Oct. 24, 1864.
Sutter, in N. Helv. Diary, says he left the fort April 18th with Reading and Edwin Kemble, was absent four days, and beside gold saw silver and iron in abundance.
deposits near Clear Creek with his Indians. Meanwhile the metal was discovered at several intermediate points, especially along the tributaries and ravines of the south fork, which first disclosed it. Thus at one leap the gold-fields extended their line northward two hundred miles. It will also be noticed that after the Mormons the foremost to make avail of Marshall's discovery were the settlers in the great valley, who, gathering round them the Indians of their vicinity, with such allurements as food, finery, alcohol, went their several ways hunting the yellow stuff up and down the creeks and gulches in every direction. Sutter and Marshall had been working their tamed Indians at Coloma in February.
As the field enlarged, so did the visions of its occupants. Reports of vast yields and richer and richer diggings began to fly in all directions, swelling under distorted fancy and lending wings to flocking crowds. In May the influx assumed considerable proportions, and the streams and ravines for thirty miles on either side of Coloma were occupied one after another. The estimate is, that there were then already 800 miners at work, and the number was rapidly increasing. Early in June Consul Larkin estimated them at 2,000, mostly foreigners, half of whom were on the branches of the American. There might have been 100 families, with teams and tents. He saw none who had worked steadily a month. Few had come prepared to stay over a week or a fortnight, and no matter how rich the prospects, they were obliged to return home and arrange their business.
their business. Those who had no home or business must go somewhere for food.
When Mason visited the mines early in July, he understood that 4,000 men were then at work, which certainly cannot be called exaggerated if Indians are
"As on the land of Leidesdorff, on the American River just above Sutter's flour-mill, about the middle of April. S. F. Californian, April 19, 1848; Cal. ifornia Star, April 22, 1848.
• In his Diary, under date of April, Sutter says that some of his neighbors had been very successful.