YUBA  COUNTY  Nuggets

GOLD RUSH LETTER & Passenger List to San Francisco (arrived Oct 5, 1849 with 80 persons) - Formatted by Kathy Sedler, Oct 2003

GOLD RUSH LETTER:

The following letter was furnished the (Sutter Yuba Genealogical) Society by our member, Mrs. Thelma Haeuser.  The letter was written by Albert Brown, born March 12, 1830, and died February 7, 1915, in Connecticut.  Albert Brown married and lived most of his life in Connecticut, and it is believed he only stayed in California a short time.  The list of names following this letter were the men who came out on the ship with him, apparently as a company.

Parke’s Bar, Yuba River

Friday, June 10th, 1850

Dear Brother:

I received your letter yesterday which brought me the first news from my friends that I have heard since I left you; you may judge that your letter was perused time and time again before I could content myself to leave it and go about my work; it seemed to me as though I could almost see and talk with you by the bygone days coming so fresh into my mind by reading your letter.  I almost cried for joy to hear my friends were all well especially Father and Mother.  I am enjoying good health now and I hope you are enjoying the same blessing.  I suppose you are all very anxious to hear from me and to know what I am doing;  I will commence and endeavor to relate to you all the incidents that have transpired within my knowledge since I have been in the country; we arrived at the port of  San Francisco the 5th of October 1849 with a  company of eighty, the ship lay there about two weeks, the company doing nothing, then ten mechanics were picked out to go to Sacramento City, one hundred and fifty miles up the Sacramento River to work, I being one of the number.  We arrived there safe in a small schooner with our tools and baggage;  I’ll tell you the cost of freight on some articles;  a wheel barrow which cost three dollars in York, sixteen dollars. . tents and bedding fifty cents per pound:  Sacramento was inhabited by about one thousand people at that time, now there is three or four times that.  We did not succeed in getting a job however and I went to work at my trade for the Company and worked a few days and then was taken very sick with the dysentery which caused me to return to the ship at Benicia, thirty miles above San Francisco, in care of our Doctor, Mr. S.W. Brown.  I soon  recovered and went to cooking for the rest of the Company.  I tried to get rid of it by telling them that I didn’t now enough to boil a kettle of potatoes for the Hogs; much more to cook for a large company of men but they insisted upon it and I went to cooking for about two months.  I was first cook and had a second cook and two stewards so you see I was the biggest darky on board the ship.  I guess you will laugh in your sleeves when you hear of me being an old granny a’cooking;  the ship next sailed for Sacramento City where she now stands;  the rainy season had now commenced and the Company were all on board until over, that was very unhealthy in the wet season and a great many people died, three of our company died, T.B. Higley, of Canton; H.H. Phelph of Windsor; R.R. Rockweel, of Hartford.  I was not well while in the city;  I was troubled with a dirhoe which was the case with all the rest;  there is all kinds of vice that can be mentioned.  The great flood I suppose you have heard of which destroyed a large amount of property in Sacramento City;  the 5th of February the Company sent ten of us on to the Yuba where we now are, the wet season being then over.  Five of us are from Colchester, so you see I am with what I call my friends.  We had been on this Bar about a month when our director, Mr. Fitch, went down to get more provisions at the ship when he found the Company broke all to pieces.  That ended the Company affairs;  I never enjoyed better health in my life than since I’ve been on this Bar.  I suppose now you want to know how the diggings are and how I am doing.  The diggings in some parts are very rich and some poor.  I have heard from some of our old Company and they have done first rate.  Mr. Heath has made over five thousand dollars at his trade since the Company broke.  He is a carpenter.  I and the Company that I am with have not done anything for about two months on account of the River being so high.  We have been in the mines four months and worked two of them and got $250.00 apiece;  besides bearing our expenses it has cost us almost two thousand dollars for provisions;  as soon as the River falls, which I think will be in about three weeks, and then we are going to dam the River and dig a sluce on the bank for the water to run in;  the sluce will be 150 paces long.  The River now is twelve rods wide, but when the water is down it is not more than three rods wide, so say the people that were here last year;  in the operation I calculate to a couple of Thousand apiece, the bed of the river being the richest part of the mines.  I hope it will prove successful to me for I’ve run risk enough to get something;  the gold here is very fine.  The best diggings that we have had yealded five dollars and a half to a common milk pan full of dirt, that was near the water;  sunk a hole and pumped out the water until we got to the bed rock of the river;  as soon as the water goes down we shall go into the driving will all possible haste.  The country around here is very mountainous covered with large Pine and Oaks;  up along Sacramento for about one hundred and seventy five miles the country is level with large plains which are covered with wild cattle and Horses and the mountains with Grizzly Bears, deer, elk, foxes, prairie wolfes, which are around our tents almost every night. Mr. Charles Yeomans wanted I should write whether the soil was well adapted to the growth of trees here or not, tell him that I don’t think it is.  The ground gets so hard and dry in the summer that I don’t think trees would flourish here at all.  I’ve not seen any rain for two months and don’t expect to any more until next November.  Give my respects to him and to Mr. George, likewise.  I’ve a little story to tell you about;  early in the spring when we first came to this Bar the story was that some three Hundred Indians had collected about three miles back on the mountains and would probably attack the people on the Bar about midnight so the alarm was given and every man loaded their rifles and pistols and was on their guard,  the same with myself.  I expected to have a snug little fight with them but they did not come and I don’t believe there was any Indians there although they might have been for I see plenty of Indians every day with their bows and arrows but they don’t offer to hurt any one except once in a while they catch a man alone by himself unarmed, then they murder him.  Some of the men here killed a number of them here last spring for stealing their oxen.  The prices of things are getting somewhat reduced, Flour $25. per Bar’l, Pork and Fresh Beef, 30 cents per pound, milk one dollar a quart, Liquor 25 cents a drink, Potatoes 25 cents a pound, Onions and Cabbages come higher.  Tell Uncle Alanson to bring his onions out here and he’ll make his ‘tarnal fortune;  thick boots 16 to 20 dollars a pair, calico shirts 3 dollars, clothing about the same proportion.  Board 20 dollars a week.  There is some first rate looking western girls here about 16 or 20 years old, Mary and Sarah Palmer, Margaret Gillmore and Caroline Cammon, the Parson’s daughter;  we have preaching near by.  Jane, I understand, has become religious, I am glad to hear it, I think she needs it as bad as myself.  It is getting late and I must draw my letter to a close.  I have written all of this tonight, so you know I am a anxious to hear from you and to have you hear from me.  I pray thee to remember your kind Brother in a distant land;  May my best wishes be for you and all my friends forever and ever.  Amen.  Please write to me one a month if you can and tell the rest to write.  I received a letter from Mr. William Post, written in January, but said nothing of Columbia.

Your truly affectionate Brother,

Albert Brown

Excuse my numerous mistakes.

Saturday Evening.  I’ve been out a gunning this afternoon to kill some pigeons for Mr. Fitch, who is sick.  I thought being you did not hear from me very often I would fill out this sheet and tell you more about the country.  I suppose you have no idea how we work the mines.  I will tell you;  the diggins are principaly on the banks and in the rivers and extend not more than twelve or fifteen rods back, the soil is very stoney like the bottom of a brook and it can’t be shoveled without being picked up first.  The machines that we are are made like a cradle about four feet long and fourteen inches wide with a hopper at the upper end like that of a winnowing mill full of holes to let the dirt and gold pass and keep out the stones;  inside is two cleets which stop the gold from washing out, the cleets are about two inches wide;  by pouring in water and rocking the gold being so heavy it settles at the bottom of the cleet and the dirt washes out;  we also work a quick-silver machine, they are made about six feet long and a foot wide, that is the boxes, they have a frame which they are put into and keyed up tight;  so the hopper is in the frame and extends the whole length of the box, the boxes have nine cleets and the quick-silver is put into the six upper boxes, they are six inches deep and they are sloped out in the middle like a half moon leaving the center of the cleets 2 inches wide, then there is a handle four feet long which is rock by the machine, has three inches slant, then by rocking the quick-silver is so heavy it settles to the bottom and the dirt washes over leaving the gold to unite with the quick-silver.  It takes four men to work it, one to pump, one to feed, to rock and one to clear away the tailings.  There are all kinds of reptiles and poisonous insects here, such as the rattle snake, Lizards, scorpions, Sante Fees and others too numerous to mention;  I saw a Grizzly Bear killed here last spring that weighed One Thousand pounds after he was dressed and sold for one dollar a pound, game is abundant here in some places, I’ve seen forty and fifty deer or elk in one drove;  I have got into one bad habit that you spoke of, that is smoking.  I was subject to the Phthysics ever since I left and our Dr. Mr. Brown advised me to take to smoking which I did, and have not been troubled with it much since.  I don’t make any calculations upon what time I shall come home.  I make you a present of five dollars in Gold Dust for you to remember me by provided you should never see me again;  if you are so lucky as to get this letter I want you should give three Dollars to Mother which I owe her for making some shirts and stockings;  I would like to see you all very much but I must wait patiently awhile so good-night.  Please give my respects to the fair sex of my acquaintance in Hail Columbia, happy land.

 From your Brother,

Albert

N.B.  Direct your letters to San Francisco.

 

MEMBERS OF COMPANY

NAME

RESIDENCE

AGE

OCCUPATION

R.M. Butler

New Hartford

45

Farmer

Henry F. Hayes

“

18

“

Henry Dean

Hartford

20

Clerk

Edward I. Bowles

“

29

Tailor

Julius P. Smith

“

20

Clerk

Hezekiah Chaffee

“

19

“

J.W. Gross, Jr.

“

20

Marble Cutter

George K. Sexton

“

22

Clerk

W.S. Whitmore

“

22

“

S. Godwin Chaffee

“

30

“

Wm. A. Goodwin

“

33

“

J.S. Spencer

“

33

Jeweler

Ben B. Hastings

“

40

“

Henry R. Sage

“

26

Book-keeper

Henry P. Sweetzer

“

32

Merchant

Reuben Kellog

“

38

Mariner

Merrie Moore

“

17

Farmer

Sam W. Brown

“

47

Doctor

Ed Batte

“

25

Farmer

Wm. O Sexton

“

30

Clerk

Harvey G. Brown

Newington

25

Farmer

John S. Kirkham

“

23

Farmer

Norton E. Judd

“

19

Farmer

Francis Kelley

“

25

Farmer

Robert R. Rockwell

“

22

Wheelwright

George Shepherd

“

23

Farmer

Lafayette Gladding

“

19

“

Henry Hubbard

Bloomfield

29

Joiner

Charles A. Humerson

“

21

Farmer

Parnel Green

“

40

Stone Cutter

Charles F. Mitchell

Middle Haddam

22

Farmer

Alfred G. Mitchell

“

24

“

Duane G. Hathaway

Windsor

27

Manufacturer

Stiles Edgerton

“

25

Farmer

E.H. Fox

“

27

Shoemaker

H.A. Phelps

“

26

Farmer

George Kinney

Norwich

29

Book-keeper

John A. Barkalo

New York

22

Clerk

Joseph B. Nelson

“

19

“

John Gafford

Canterbury

23

Machinist

George W. Gafford

“

25

“

William B. Lord

Colchester

30

Carriage Maker

Albert Brown

“

19

Blacksmith

G.A. Fitch

“

36

“

A.C. Ransom

“

30

Farmer

Richard D. Waters

“

22

Shoemaker

George R. Payne

Colchester

23

Seaman

James H. Smith

“

19

Farmer

Alexander Cutler

“

21

“

Tobias B. Higley

Canton

23

“

James M. Lord

Rowe, MSS

22

“

Edmund Sanford

New Britain

25

“

Henry E. Morgan

Groton

24

“

John Heath

“

34

Saddle & Blinds

Newton Turner

E. Hartford

35

Tool Maker

Loraine G. Hale

“

27

Joiner

Charles M. Carver

Hebron

24

Joiner

Josiah M. Johnson

“

20

Farmer

Henry G. Gardner

“

22

“

Elisha B. Elderkin

Clinton

22

Tinner

Ed. H. Abbott

Hampton

19

Carpenter

Walter Griswold

Wethersfield

40

Farmer

Christopher C. Culver

“

28

Blacksmith

Joshua Maples, Jr.

Bozrah

23

Mason

Samuel Fergason

“

22

Farmer

J. Hutchins

Granby

28

Blacksmith

Henry Birney

Winsted

 

Farrier

Martin Johnson

“

41

Blacksmith

Frank S. Dewey

“

 

Tailor

Mathew S. Coe

Simsbury

25

Doctor

William Brown

“

40

Tailor

Charles C. Richmond

E. Haddam

24

Shoemaker

Horatio D. Chapman

“

23

Farmer

C.C. Wellman

“

25

Machinist

Chauncey Morton

So. Coventry

21

“

 


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