Slike strani

universal respect, and on the death of Estanislao, that is to say, Stanislaus, chief of the Wallas, José Jesus was chosen his successor. Courting the friendship of this savage, Weber had through the intervention of Sutter made him his firm ally. On organizing the Stockton company, Weber requested of José Jesus some able-bodied members of his tribe, such as would make good gold-diggers. The chief sent him twentyfive, who were despatched to Weber Creek and given lessons in mining; after which they were directed to return to the Stanislaus, there to dig for gold, and to carry the proceeds of their labor to French Camp, where the mayordomo would pay them in such articles as they best loved.19

This shrewd plan worked well. The gold brought in by the natives proved coarser than any yet found. Weber and the rest were delighted, and the Stockton company determined at once to abandon Weber Creek and remove to the Stanislaus, which was done in August. The news spreading, others went with them; a large emigration set in, including some subsequently notable persons who gave their names to different places, as Wood Creek, Angel Camp, Sullivan Bar, Jamestown, Don Pedro (Sansevain) Bar. Murphy Camp was named from John M. Murphy, one of the partners.20 William Knight established the trading post at the point now known as Knight's Ferry.

19 They met with rare success, if the writer in San Joaquin Co. Hist., 21, is to be believed. They found, he says, in July a lump of pure gold, weighing 80 ounces avoirdupois, the general form of the nugget being that of a kidney. Its rare beauty, purity, and size prompted the firm of Cross & Hobson of San Francisco to pay for it $3, send to the Bank of England, as a specimen from the newly discovered gold-fields of California. Gold-dust-was selling at that time for $12 per ounce, and the specimen, had it sold only for its value as metal, would have yielded the Stockton Mining Company only $966.

San Joaquin Co. Hist., 21. Carson says, Early Rec., 6: 'In August the old diggings were pronounced as being dug out, and many prospecting parties had gone out. Part of Weber's trading establishments had secretly disappeared, and rumors were afloat that the place where all the gold came from had been discovered south, and a general rush of the miners commenced that day. Tinkham asserts that Weber proclaimed the discovery on the Stanislans, and was willing every one should go there who wished. The greater the number of people the more goods would be required.



Such was the richness of the field that, at Wood Creek, Wood, Savage, and Heffernan were said to have taken out for some time, with pick and knife alone, $200 or $300 a day each.

The intermediate region, along the Mokelumne and Cosumnes, had already become known through parties en route from the south, such as Weber's partners. J. H. Carson was directed by an Indian to Carson Creek, where he and his companions in ten days gathered 180 ounces each. Angel camped at Angel Creek. Sutter, who had for a time been mining ten miles above Mormon Island with 100 Indians and 50 kanakas, came in July to Sutter Creek. Two months later, when further gold placers on the Cosumnes were discovered, José de Jesus Pico with ten men left San Luis Obispo and proceeded through Livermore pass to the Arroyo Seco of that locality and began to mine. In four months he obtained sufficient to pay his men and have a surplus of $14,000.21

Mokelumne or Big Bar was now fast rising in importance. A party from Oregon discovered it early in October and were highly successful. Their number induced one Syrec to drive in a wagon laden with provisions, a venture which proved so fortunate that he opened a store in the beginning of November, on a hill one mile from where the first mine was discovered. This became a trade centre under the name of Mokelumne Hill.

The richest district in this region, however, was beginning to appear on the head waters of the Tuolumne, round the later town of Sonora, which took its name from the party of Mexicans from Sonora who discovered it.22 The Tuolumne may be regarded as the limit of exploration southward in 1848.

21 Pico, Acontecimientos, MS., 77.


It was

Amongst the first who helped to settle Sonora in 1848-9 were Joshua Holden, Emanuel Lindberg, Casimir Labetour, Alonzo Green, Hiram W. Theall, R. S. Ham, Charles F. Dodge, Theophilus Dodge, Terence Clark, James Lane, William Shepperd, Alfred W. Luckett, Benjamin F. Moore, William Norlinn, Francisco Pavia, José M. Bosa, Elordi, Remigio Riveras, and James Frasier. Hayes' Cal. Mining, i. 33.

reached in August, so that before the summer months closed all the long Sierra base-line, as I have described, had been overrun by the gold-seekers, the subsequent months of the year being devoted to closer developments.23 One reason for the limitation was the hostility of the natives, who had in particular taken an aversion to the Mexican people, or Hispano-Californians, their old taskmasters, and till lately prominent in pursuing them for enslavement.

These Californians very naturally halted along the San Joaquin tributaries, which lay on the route taken from the southern settlements, and were reported even richer than the northern mines. Among them was Antonio Franco Coronel, with a party of thirty, who had left Los Angeles in August by way of San José and Livermore pass.24 Priests as well as publicans, it appears, were possessed by the demon in those days; for at the San Joaquin Coronel met Padre José María Suarez del Real who showed him a bag of gold which he claimed to have brought from the Stanislaus camp, that is to say, Sonora, recently discovered. This decided Coronel and party to go to the Stanislaus, where they found a company of New Mexicans, lately arrived, a few Americans, as well as native Californians from San José and proximate places. To the camp where Coronel halted came seven savages,

23 Carson's Early Recollections, 6-7; Stockton Independent, Sept. 14, 1872; Findla's Statement, MS., 7; San Andreas Independent, Jan. 1861; Jansen, Vida y Aventuras, 198-200; Pico, Acontecimientos, 77. According to a statement published in the Alta of Oct. 15, 1851, in the summer of 1848 one Bomon, a Spanish doctor, while travelling with a large party of Spaniards, Italians, and Frenchmen in the southern part of the state, came upon a river so rich in gold that with their knives they took out five or six ounces a day to the man. They got into trouble with the natives, however, who killed 48 of the party, and forced the rest to flee for their lives. Bomon set out from Mariposa diggings with some companions in 1851 in search of this placer, and at the same time a French company left the same place with a similar object; but both expeditions failed. The narrator thinks that this might have been Kern River, but the whole story is probably fiction.

24 The account I take from the valuable manuscript, written at the dictation of Coronel by Mr Savage in 1877, Cosas de California, Por el Señor Don Antonio Franco Coronel, vecino de la Ciudad de Los Angeles. Obra en que el autor trata particularmente de lo que aconteció en la parte del sur durante los años de 1846 y 1847.



wishing to buy from him and his party, and offering large quantities of gold for such articles as took their fancy. One of Coronel's servants, Benito Perez, was an expert in placer-mining. Struck with the display made by the natives, he proposed to his master to let him have one of his dumb Indians as a companion, so that he might follow, and see whence the savages obtained their gold. It was dark before the Indians had finished their purchases and set out for home, but Benito Perez, with Indian Agustin, kept stealthily upon their tracks, to the ranchería where Captain Estanislao had formerly lived.

Perez passed the night upon a hill opposite the ranchería hidden among the trees, and waiting for the Indians. Early the following morning the same seven started for the gold-fields, taking their way toward the east, followed by the Mexican and his companion. At a place afterward called Cañada del Barro the seven began to dig with sharp-pointed stakes, whereupon Perez presented himself. The Indians were evidently annoyed; but Perez set to work with his knife, and in a short time obtained three ounces in chispas, or nuggets. Satisfied with his discovery, he went back to Coronel. The two determined to take secret possession; but eventually Coronel thought it would be but right to inform his companions, especially as Perez' report indicated the mine to be rich. Secrecy was moreover of little use; their movements were watched. In order not to delay matters, Perez was despatched with two dumb Indians to secure the richest plats. This done, Coronel and the rest of his friends started, though late in the night. Such was their eagerness, that on reaching the ground they spent the night in alloting claims in order to begin work at daybreak.

Everybody was well satisfied with the first day's working. Coronel, with his two dumb Indians, obtained forty-five ounces of coarse gold. Dolores Sepúlveda, who was busy a few yards away, picked up a

nugget fully twelve ounces in weight; and though there were more than a hundred persons round about, all had great success. On the same bar where Sepúlveda found the nugget worked Valdés, alias Chapamango, a Californian of Santa Bárbara, who, by digging to the depth of three feet, discovered a pocket which had been formed by a large rock breaking the force of the current and detaining quantities of gold. He picked up enough to fill a large towel, and then passed round to make known his good fortune. Thinking that he had money enough, he sold his claim to Lorenzo Soto, who took out in eight days 52 pounds of gold. Water was then struck, when the claim was sold to Machado of San Diego, who also, in a short time, secured a large quantity of gold.

Coronel, leaving his servants at his claim, started to inspect the third bar of the Barro Cañada, with an experienced gambusino of the Sonorans known as Chino Tirador. Choosing a favorable spot, the gambusino marked out his claim, and Coronel took up his a little lower. The Chino set to work, and at the depth of four feet found a pocket of gold near an underground rock which divided the two claims. From nine o'clock in the morning till four in the afternoon he lay gathering the gold with a horn spoon, throwing it into a wooden tray for the purpose of dry-washing. By this time the tray had become so filled with cleaned gold that the man could hardly carry it. Tired with his work he returned to camp, giving Coronel permission to work his claim. The latter was only too glad to do so, for with a great deal more labor, and with the assistance of his servant, he had not succeeded in obtaining six ounces. During the brief daylight remaining Coronel made ample amends for previous shortcomings. The Chino's luck caused great excitement in the camp, where he offered to sell clean gold for silver; and had disposed of a considerable quantity when Coronel arrived and bought seventy-six ounces at the rate of two dollars and a

« PrejšnjaNaprej »