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The Call of Gold (1936) by Newell D. Chamberlain

GAZETTE NEWS, 1862 TO 1870

“January 21, 1862. Affairs about town differ little from those of the last five or six weeks. Principal employment of all, except those, who think they have a dead-sure thing in mining and a suit of India rubber or oilcloth clothes, ‘cap a pie’, is playing poker, seven up, crib, etc. People look awry, however, some think the stock of provisions wont hold out, some are forninst on principle of the rise of staples of eating or drinking, at the same time, willing to confess that could they have foreseen this abnormally wet winter, they would have laid out their last dollar last Fall, in flour, potatoes, and pork, in hopes of making a ‘spec’.

“Very little political differences is observable and one can go down town without being accosted abruptly by some dirty, ill-bred ignoramus as to whether he thinks this or that. Wood is becoming scarce and the means of obtaining it limited. Saloons keep pretty good fires and are thronged. There is a chance, in such places, also, by continued setting, to obtain fluid, which keeps the wet out. Go into one and say, ‘Gentlemen, let’s take a drink’, and mark the magical effect.

“There is a large amount of cash in town but it is kept very secure and not especially come-at-able, even by friends. Large amounts from this place have gone out by Wells, Fargo & Co. within the last few weeks. Doubtless some of it is on the road yet and it is not improbable that quite an amount took sail at the breaking up of the hotel at Snelling, caused by a flood from the Merced River, when part of a mountain slid into the river, temporarily damming it and when it broke a torrent thirty feet high went down the river, carrying away Benton mills and a part of Snelling.

“All sorts of fears are abroad—one is afraid his hay will give out—another that his flour will be minus—another that wood may be the article he needs—another that the day of Judgment is coming and that this rain is merely to soften the ground, to make the first resurrection easy. Another pious thinks these great floods are punishment for State sins and public iniquities because we did not send as much money and as much of an army to the support of the Government, as we ought to.

“Another (Secesh) pious, also, thinks that it is because this State has espoused the cause of the red-mouthed abolitionists and helped Lincoln. Others, staid, steady individuals, think that this is a California winter such as never has been known but they came to take the chances of California and when they cannot sustain themselves, they will sell out to somebody who can.”

“Feb. 4, 1862. Flour is now $12 plus $10 freight, which brings the price here to $22 per hundred pounds.”

“Feb. 18, 1862. At last a paper mail has reached this place, the first for forty days. The delay seems strange and is strange, for mule teams have arrived in numbers direct from Stockton, bringing in many instances considerable amounts of goods. Some of these started since February 3rd. and made the trip in as short a time as ten days, and none that we have heard of consumed more than twelve days.

“The mail should certainly beat a mule team, a little at any rate; and making every allowance for weather, roads and high water. With these facts before one’s eyes, it is difficult to apologize or justify the carrier. For the mail contractors, Fisher & Company, it should be said that they have had their principal stations swept away. They were without hay and barley to a great extent. Horses were lost and their whole line damaged and in a measure broken up.

“These are potent excuses, though not of sufficient magnitude to justify the seeming neglect with which the public have been treated. However, the good many loud swearers about town, regarding the apparent negligence, had better look at matters as they are, or were, and see that they are not ‘slopping over’ before pronouncing extreme condemnation.”

“Feb. 28, 1863. A party of Mexicans charged on several camps of Chinamen, this side of Colorado (pronounced locally Colorow and located on Saxton Creek) Wednesday night last, and robbed them of whatever they could find. Some were tied by their hands while others had ropes put around their necks so tight as to take the skin off. They got six ounces of gold dust from one John and rice, blankets, etc. from others.”

“Oct. 24, 1863. The combined energetic action of the Union men last Wednesday resulted in a defeat of the Secession party in this County. It is pretty evident that Copperheadism is played out and men hereafter will be required to take a positive stand, either for war or against it, for Secession or for Union, a half-way course won’t do.”

“Nov. 6, 1864. We are authorized to say that the following bets, or any of them, can be taken by anyone who desires. Anyone who wants to bet, can call at this office and be accomodated.

“$500 that Lincoln and Johnson will receive 2000 majority in San Francisco.

“$500 that Lincoln and Johnson will receive 10,000 majority in California.

“$500 that Lincoln is elected President.

“$500 that Indiana and Pennsylvania went Union.

“We are further requested to say that the above bets are offered for the purpose of forcing the Copperheads either to bet on what they assert to be true or else back down and be quiet.”

“Nov. 12, 1864. The ballot box at the mouth of Sherlock’s Creek was destroyed before the polls were closed. The officers went across the street to take a drink. When they returned, the box had been removed to an adjoining room and destroyed. The vote was estimated to be a tie, so bloodshed was averted.”

“Jan. 7, 1865. The following letter was the cause of much amusement, on being read during a recent breach of promise case.

‘My deer Sweetest Ducky - I am so happy to hear from you so often - it affords me sich grate plesher. You always was so dear to me. I hope you will sune be deerer. You know I never hinted nothing about marriage - and never mean to - take your own time for that. I shall always remember the old saying, procrastination is the theef of time, but mother ses nothing should be done in a hurry but ketchin fleas. The fondest wish of my heart is that we may sune become one. Do you ever read Franklin’s Extract - his remarks concerning marriage is deliteful. Our hearts, he sez, ought to assemble one another in every expect; they ought to be hetergenious so that our union may be mixed as well as uniting - not like oil and water but tee and sugar. Truly, I can fell for the mortal Watts, when he sez,
The rows is red and vilets blew
Shugars sweet and so are you.
Mother sez matrimony is better to think of than the reality. I remain till death or marriage, your own sweet canday,

Mary Ann

N.B. I had a kussin married last month, who sez there aint no true enjoyment but in the married state.
Your sweetis dove

Mary Ann

P.S. I hope you will let me know what you mean to do as there is four or five other fellows after me hot foot, and I shall be quite oneasy till I hear.
Your lover swete

Mary Ann, ”

“Sept. 30, 1865. Flowers may be called the alphabet of the angels, wherewith they write on hills and plains mysterious truths.”

“Feb. 3, 1866. An Eastern paper says that during the last twelve years, the total receipts of gold at New York from California has been $377,080,710. It must be noted that the figures given only signify the amounts brought by sea and do not include the sums brought privately by passengers on their own and friend’s account, which with the overland shipments would probably total more than $500,000,000.”

“June 30, 1866. Mr. David Clark of Bear Creek, left at our office, a few days ago, a number of stalks of wheat, heavier than any we remember seeing. Each stalk is about seven feet high, with heads from five to six inches in length. He has a large field, similar to the sample shown.”

“July 14, 1866. The town clock is on the way from Stockton.”

“August 25, 1866. ‘That Clock’, on the Court House, is up and running and the hours pounded out as they pass, by the heavy bell that beats with a regularity quite unexpected. It is quite an improvement to the place.”

“September 1, 1866. Caused by a drunken man throwing a lighted cigarette, our second big fire started last Saturday shortly after six in the evening in the Free Press office. The Gazette office was saved. The loss is at least $175,000 and the following buildings were destroyed: one Church, the Odd Fellow’s Hall, Masonic Hall, one newspaper office, one newspaper depot, three hotels, five retail stores, one saddlery shop, nine saloons, two livery stables, three law offices, one drug store, three blacksmith shops, two carpenter shops, two shoemaker shops, fourteen dwellings, one tailor shop, two butcher shops and many private buildings.”

“February 2, 1867. Next Monday commences Chinese New Years. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. As the celestials usually devour eggs and chicken at an alarming rate on such occasions and as John is known to have very lax notions in regard to the laws of meum and tuum, it is just as well to be prepared for the possibilities. The Children of the Sun count back something like 10,000 years anterior the appearance of our respected ancestor, Adam, on his terrestial scene. It is not, perhaps, so generally known why the Chinese are so given to burning crackers on special occasions. They burn them to scare away the devil. Such is a literal fact. They may let off as many as they please, but we don’t think it will drive ‘Old Ebony’ out of Mariposa.”

“August 3, 1867. A California gold-digger, having become rich, desired a friend to procure for him a library of books. The friend obeyed and received a letter of thanks, thus worded: ‘I am obliged to you for the pains of your selection. I particularly admire a grand religious poem about Paradise by a Mr. Milton, and a set of plays, quite delightful, by a Mr. Shakespeare. If these gentlemen should write and publish anything more, be sure and send me their new works’. ”

“Nov. 2, 1867. Hoo-wah-a-wah-hoo-yah-hiyah-hiyah. A number of Indians from the Fresno met a delegation from this County, a short distance below Mariposa, last Tuesday evening, where they held a grand pow wow or cry over the burning of some clothes belonging to a defunct Indian.”

“Nov. 16, 1867. Letters per overland are being received in the short space of fourteen or fifteen days.”

“April 24, 1868. Giant powder is now being introduced and will be tried at the Hite mine. It is claimed to be superior to gun powder, that it can be worked in wet places and that the force is upward instead of downward.”

“June 19, 1868. The Hite’s Cove mine is now installing twenty stamps and employing forty-five people.”

“Feb. 12, 1869. C. W. Payne took out $2000 in a short time on his claim near Colorado. He had abandoned his mine four or five years ago, on the advice of a friend, who jestingly told him he was wasting his time. Returning after a lapse of five years, and after prospecting one week, his labor was crowned with success. Such is miner’s luck, in this instance not painful to receive and he can justly say his triumph is ore.”

“Feb. 4, 1870. The new wagon road to Clark Station will be completed this year. The Fishers of Stockton are making arrangements to send travelers through in express time; and if anybody, like Horace Greeley, shall be in a particularly hurry, they will guarantee that he shall be in Hell or Yosemite, at any hour he chooses.”

“June 17, 1870. P. T. Barnum, the noted showman, has just purchased a section of bark from one of the trees in the Mariposa Grove. This bark measures thirty inches in thickness. It was shipped to Wood’s Museum in New York City.”

John Hite (left front), poor prospector who became a millionaire. The others are men working for him
[click to enlarge]
John Hite (left front), poor prospector who became a millionaire.
The others are men working for him.

Full-blood Yosemite Indians, descendants of Chief Ten-ie-ya. From left to right are Mary Leonard, Maria Lebrado and Tom Lupton
[click to enlarge]
Full-blood Yosemite Indians.
[Editor’s note: from p. xii: “Full-blood Yosemite Indians, descendants of Chief Ten-ie-ya. From left to right are Mary Leonard, Maria Lebrado and Tom Lupton. Mary tried to stop the picture until Tom had taken off his hat.” —dea].

Next: 26. Fremont’s SaleContentsPrevious: 24. 1859 Mariposa

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