Charles Warren Haskins.

The Argonauts of California, being the reminiscences of scenes and incidents that occurred in California in early mining days; online

. (page 1 of 40)
Online LibraryCharles Warren HaskinsThe Argonauts of California, being the reminiscences of scenes and incidents that occurred in California in early mining days; → online text (page 1 of 40)
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THE argonaut's SOLILOQUY.
See page 342.






And beltevitig that it will be of some historical value as well
as of interest generally to know the navies of those who
were the first to venture forth in the search of gold, and
by whose energy and labor the foiaidatiotts of a great state
were laid, and also a general prosperity created through-
out the entire coutttry, I have therefore prefixed to the
work the names of those that I have been able to obtain,
numbering about 35,000, and including among them the
names of several thousand who are now living in the
various States of the Union.






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the yea: 1889, by


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D. C.

R. Pierce & Co., Printers, 53 Lafayette Place, N. Y.
















While residing in the village of Kingston, located upon the Coeur
D'Alene River in the silver mining regions of northern Idaho
during the winter of '87-'88, and being compelled to remain within
doors during the winter in consequence of the great depth of snow
and intense cold, in order to pass away the time I amused myself by
writing an account of scenes and incidents that occurred in Califor-
nia in early days in the mining regions, and which came under my
observation. These events are written entirely from memory, but
I have endeavored to give as near as possible the correct date of the
events and incidents mentioned, as well as their location and names
with all of which I was familiar. As to the the correct description
of scenes and events, I ask the remnant of that band of sturdy
Argonauts who laid the foundation of a great State to bear me


C. W. Raskins.

Index to the Names of the Forty-niners.

Members of the various Pioneer Associations in the U. S.

who are now living, ...... Page 360

Forty-niners residing in various parts of the Union who

do not belong to any Association, ... " 385

Survivors of Col. Stevenson's Regiment, ... " 394

Forty-niners now living in the Atlantic States, . " 395

Forty-niners who went over-land to California, . '* 395

Forty-niners who sailed from City of N. Y., . . " 414
Forty-niners who sailed from the States of Massachusetts,

Rhode Island and Connecticut, .... " 453
Forty-niners who sailed from New Orleans, Philadelphia,

Baltimore and other Southern ports, ... ** 476

From various Eastern ports, ..... " 495



"Hello. Bill!"

The Start for California.

Brazilian Music.

The Swell at Cape Horn.

An Able Seaman.

Forty-niners at the Hotel in Lima.

The Operatic Shark.

The Prolific Topmast.

The Calm.

Neptune's Orchestra.

The Bullwhacker.

"Ye Done it V/eel."

The Dandy Miners.

Smoked Out.

The Frisky Flapjack.

Hangtown in '49.

"None in Mine."

The Industrious Prospectors.

"I Shust Nose It.".'

Bulling the Mine.

"Ther, Ther, T, other One."

The Ducks Take Water.

Dutch Charley.

Dan Boone and the Bear.

The First Rat in Hangtown.

Rats in Sacramento City.

The First Young Lady in the Mines.

The Spartan Mother.

The Boys Aloft.

Emigration of '50.

The Howly Fragment.

The Argonaut and His Mule.

The Steamboat Runners.

The Miners' Meeting.

On His Trail.

" I'v^ Shtruck it, Thin."

The Sailor Boy.

The Chap Who Insulted a Lady.

The Claim Jumper.

The Art of Self-defense.

Didn't Believe in Compromise.

The Disgusted Speculator.

"Write Often, Boys."

The Jack Tars on the Hill.

The Geological Lecture.

Old Nick's Grand Entree.

A California Cyclone.

Only Two Days in the Mines.

A Simile.

Female Influence Illustrated.

Not Ready to Go.

The Voice of Old Dick.

Big George and the Road Agent.

"There She Comes, Boys.!"

Miners' Comfort.

"Dis am a Free Kentry, Massa"

Coasting in Idaho.

Law and Order Triumph's.

Charley, the Female Stage Driver.

Hank Monk in Time for Lunch.

The Picket Guard.

The Gambler's Charity.

The Road Agent Outwitted.


From Fry-pan to the Fire.

A Newcomer.

Force of Habit.

The Deserted Camp.

Syd's Last Prospect.


Ruined Castles.

Meeting of the Old-timers.

An Unexpected Festival.

The Gold-saving Machine.

Tex Gives Satisfaction.

Not Raising Mutiny but Sugar.

It'l Be Our Turn Next.

Bob the Fiddler.

The Power of Music.

Old-timers in the Hall.

Phantoms of the Old timers.

Sam Plunket and the Indians.

The Bear in a Quandary.

The Power of Beauty.

The Bean-pot Comet.

Dick Arnold to the Rescue.

The Brave Policeman.

A New Motor.

The Plum-duff.

Donkey Instinct.

Tex and the Alcalde.

'49 Mosquitoes.

The Bear and the Prospector.


Discovery of the Old River Beds.

Lost in the Mountains.

Nature's Lullaby.

Discovery of Red Hill Gold.

Bob Lost a Fortune.

The Surprise.

Curiosity Satisfied.

Mining Ground Transformed.

"Is it Me Agint }"

"No More Frontier in Ourn!"

Not that Kind of Bird.

The Tarantula in the Boot.

The Boston Boy and His Bugle.

Found His Brother.

Kanakas at Work.

The Flight of Time.

The Miller Taking Toll.

Yank Revisiting Old Scenes.

Coasting in Idaho.

Town of Wallace.

A Flush Hand.

The Mississippians.

The Return East.

"Good Morning, William."


CHAPTER I- The News. Looking Forward. The Start.
CHAPTER II— Arrival at St. Catherina. American Pluck. The Four
Brave Tourists.

CHAPTER III— A Gale. The Ocean Swell. Cape Horn. The Ma-
gellan Cloud. The Native Tradition.

CHAPTER IV— Arrival in Callao. The Relics of the Earthquake. The
Frolic with the English Officers. Target Shooting. The Calm.
Water Spouts. The Shark.

CHAPTER V — The Arrival in San Francisco. Gold Machines. Going
to the Mines. The Bullwhacker. Arrival in Hangtown. The
View from the Hill.

CHAPTER VI — Business in the Mines. The Various Mining Camps.
Physicians in Camp. Dr. Rankin. Coloma. Process of Mining.
The '49 Emigration. Sauerkraut. Female Influence Illustrated.

CHAPTER VII— The Kanakas. The Dry Diggings Deserted. Ad-
mission of the State. Scarcity of Reading Matter. The Cost of
Letter Postage. The Ingenious Bartender. Prices of Drinks. Cele-
brating the Fourth of July. Hard Characters.

CHAPTER VIII — Climatic Changes. Appearance of Familiar Herbs,
Rats. The true Theory. Fall Emigration." The Johnson Cut Off,
The Target. The First Young Lady. A Spartan Mother. The
Boys Up a Tree.

CHAPTER IX — Sickness in the Mines. Earthquakes. The Steam-
boat Men. A Miners' Meeting. Lucky Bill. Kit Carson. The
Financial Condition of the Miners. Australian Mike and His Tin
Can. Portuguese Jo. The Divining-rod.

CHAPTER X — Where the Rich Placers were Found. Miners' Super-
stition. The Blue Clay Deposit. Gold Machines.

CHAPTER XI — The Indian War. A Change in the Social Conditions.
The Desperado. The Sailors. The Mines Worked Out.

CHAPTER XII— Mining Speculators. The Lost Brother. Gambling.
A Generous Gambler. An Important Discovery. Beginning of
Fruit Culture and Wine Manufacture in California. The First
Church Organization in the Mining Regions. "Old Nick" and
His Animals. " Old Syd." ,


CHAPTER XIII— Emigration of '51J Churches Erected. Mines De-
serted. The Chinese Miners. Hill, River and Quartz Mining.
Nature Frowns. The Course of Events Change. Fruit Raising.
Prospecting. On the Homestretch.

CHAPTER XIV— The Discovery of Silver in Nevada. The Stage
Road. Hank Monk. Road Agents. The Parson. The Stool
Pigeon. Spirits. The Boys Who Captured the Thief. A Young
Dick Turpin. The Irishman and the Road Agent.

CHAPTER XV— Where are the Pioneers .' The Overland Stage. Pony
Express. The Sound of War. A Wet Winter. The Hotel on the
Road. The Railroad.

CHAPTER XVI— The Forty-niner. Syd at the North Pole. The
Homes of the Old-timers. The Remains of the Cabins of the
Forty-niners. Panning out the Old Cabins.

CHAPTER XVII— Meeting of the Old Timers. The Buckeye Tunnel.
The Best as It is. Bozer Who Got Skunked. The Hydraulic
Miner. Mike's Explanation.

CHAPTER XVIII— Why are so Many of the Old-timers so Poor } The
Uncertainty of Mining. Tex and Barton Lee. Tex and the Hound.
Tex on Board the Steamer. Tex at Golgona.

CHAPTER XIX— Tennessee's Letter from Tex. The War in Chili
Gulch. Sam Brown and the Chap with the Mild Blue Eyes. Sam
Brown and the Policeman. Old Kentuck and Sleepy Ben.

CHAPTER XX— Yank Visits the Old Mining Camp. Yank Seated
Upon the Boulder. The First Loaf of Bread. The Bean-pot
Comet. How Julius Sailed Up the River. Jeff's Plum Duff. The
Stone Statue. The Old Miner Who was Robbed on Board the
Steamer. The Coeur d'Alene Mines. Coasting.

CHAPTER XXI— Their Names Unknown. The Types of Men in the.
Mines. Pike Illustration of Missouri Character; Bob the Fiddler.
The Power of Music Illustrated. John Kelley the Musician. Joe
Bowers, Jeff Visits Pioneer Hall. Old Miners in San Francisco/

CHAPTER XXII— Pioneer Hall. Old Mike Explains. Something
Wrong. The Business of Mining. Mike's Philosophy. Yank at
the Bay. The Expressman and the Broom Pedler. Lucky Bill
and the Gamblers. Sam Plunket the Arkansas Beauty.

CHAPTER XXIII— Bill Burnes Lynching the Colored Man. Dick
Arnold. The Mining Regions. The Old-timers Disperse. The
Phantoms of the Forty-niners. Forty Years have Passed. The
Argonaut's Soliloquy. The Great Changes. The Flight of Time.
The Number of Pioneers Now Living.

CHAPTER XXIV— "Good Morning, William." The Return. Great

The Argonauts of California.


The News — Looking Forward — The Start.

IN the winter of '48 I resided in New Bedford, Mass. I had a
chum. What boy has not ? My chum's name was Bill. He had
been absent from New Bedford for a few months, and on meeting
him, a few days after his return, I greeted him with:



"Hello, Bill! Have you heard the news ? "
"No; what is it?"

"Well; while you were away, the news came that a man in Cali-
fornia, named Marshall, has made the discovery that there's lots of


Gold out there. lie found a big chunk of it where he was at

" You don't say so ! What's he going to do with it ; did he say ? "

" That has nothing to do with the case. There's the greatest ex-
citement here, you ever heard of. Not only here, but all over the
country, on account of the discovery. Thousands of men are get-
ting ready to go out there. A lot of ships down at the wharves are
being fitted out for the voyage, and they are going to take passen-
gers cheap. Now what do you say to going along ? "

Eill did not seem to enthuse nearly as much as the occasion
would warrant, for said he,

"Well, now; I don't see what reasons you can give for suppos-
ing that there's more gold there, simply because this man found a
chunk of it."

"But, Bill," said I, with undampened ardor; "don't you under-
stand the scientific nature of it ? Isn't it likely that there must be
lots more of it scattered about? Besides, the volcanic character of
the country is very favorable for that kind of a product, you know."

Bill smiled skeptically, and gave me the benefit of his geological
knowledge as follows:

"Oh, yes, I know. The gold is thrown out from the bowels of
the earth, where it's manufactured, by the volcanoes and scattered
about on the tops of the mountains. Then along come the earth-
quakes and shake it down among the grass roots and bushes in the
valleys, where you expect to scrape it up by the bushel."

" Oh, well, it may prove to be, as you say, a wild goose chase,
after all; but there's a ship, now at the wharf, right from San Fran-
cisco, and one of the sailors, who seems to be a real honest chap,
told me that the country was chock full of gold. He said that after
they had hoisted up the anchor to start home he scraped the mud
off the anchor and washed more than five pounds out of it — "

"Of what— mud?"

"No, of Gold; Real Gold!"

"Oh, pshaw! Do you believe that yarn?"

"Why, of course I do! Sailors are noted for their veracity."

"Nothing of the kind. They have the reputation of being the
biggest liars on earth; especially when out on the water and the wind
blows hard."

Still true to my colors, I protested,


"That's impossible."

"No, 'tis not, for if you were sailing a ship out at sea and the
wind blew real hard, you'd lie too."

Bill's levity fell upon unappreciative soil. I was too much in
earnest, and resumed:

"I'm bound to go out there. Bill, if I don't pick more than a
hatful of gold in a day. There's nothing like trying, you know.
But what's the use of going after gold, you say? Well, now, isn't
that what we are all after, and nearly crazy to get? And, isn't it
easier to go to a country where you can scrape it up from the ground
or pick it out from among the grass by the bucketful, than it is to
toil and sweat and worry through a long life here?"

I cannot now remember whether Bill was just a little cynical, or
simply echoed the opinions of some of the wiseacres of that day
when he parried my query with,

"There's plenty of money in the country now, and more is un-
necessary. What are you going to do with it all ?"

"That's a singular idea," I answered. "Do you suppose it's
possible to have too much money in the country? Such old, puri-
tanical notions about money are ridiculous. You and I haven't too
much and we could use a few millions to good advantage, if we had
them. And if it should prove true that lots of gold can be found in
California, you'll live to see this country step to the front among
nations in wealth, prosperity and enterprise."

In my ardor I had risen to unwonted heights of eloquence.

Bill thought that there was enough enterprise in the country,

I assured him that when we began to send gold back from Cali-
fornia in ton lots, the various enterprises would boom to an extent
never before witnessed in the world.

Bill had, however, taken the negative side of the issue and fired
another broadside at me:

"Yes, but Jo, aren't you going it a little too fast in anticipating
such big things? For my part, I don't believe that there's enough
gold in all of California to do all that. 'Twould take bushels of it,
you know."

Upon confirmation of the news of the discovery of gold in Cali-
fornia, all was commotion in the various seaports of the Atlantic
coast. Vessels of all sizes and descriptions, from the small, 50 ton


fishing smack, that would be compelled to crawl along near the shore,
up to the noble clipper ship, that was able to contend with the ele-
ments in mid-ocean, were fitted up with conveniences for passengers
in greatest haste. Many vessels sailed early in the year of '49 for
the Eldorado. It was not, however, until the spring that the grand
stampede commenced. By April i, in '49, 50,000 good, able-bodied
men, and a few women, all desirous of bettering their condition and
acquiring wealth in a much easier and quicker method than by the
old-fashioned, slow and plodding methods of their ancestors, were
upon their way to the other side of the continent, willing to en-
counter the danger from Indians or starv^ation, whilst an equal num-
ber preferred to risk the dangers of a journey by sea to the land of
gold. In company with about one hundred others, we took pas-
sage in the clipper ship " America," Capt. C. P. Seabury, from the
port of New Bedford, Mass. On the morning of the istof April, the
fact was announced that all must be on board at 10 a. m. The an-
chor was raised from its muddy bed below; the sails were unfurled
to the breeze; the bow of our boat swung round a bit and pointed
out toward the billows in the big ocean beyond. We bade farewell
to friends who accompanied us out to the light-house; and, with
hearty wishes from them that we might meet with the greatest suc-
cess in our venturesome undertaking, sailed out upon the broad
ocean in the direction of Cape Horn. We watched the green hills,
with which we had been familiar from early childhood, as they
vanished from sight below the horizon, and wondered then if 'twas
so ordained by the powers above, that we would soon be enabled to
return again to these familiar scenes of our boyhood days with our
pockets lined with tin (and some of us still continue in the same
busniess, at the old stand, of wondering).

Our passengers, being unaccustomed to the situation, soon felt
very peculiar sensations produced by the motions of the vessel. We
sought the entrance to the basement, into which we managed to
make our way in an oblique kind of a style, and retired to our sleep-
ing apartments, there to remain until we deemed it safe to agai^
climb out upon the roof of the vessel.

We were satisfied in a few days that we were very fortunate in
our selection of a vessel for the voyage, for we found that she was
a strong, staunch one; a fast goer, with a good crew and commanded
by an expert seaman, who understood his business. Fortunately for




us, perhaps, we had as passengers a number of old veteran (retired)
sea captains, who were always very ready and willing, without re-
muneration, to give our captain all necessary advice, at such times
when, in their opinion, he needed it. When, in their opinion, there
was danger of the ship sailing too fast, they would advise him to
take down some of the big sails; or, again, when the wind was too
high, they would become aware at once of the danger of the ship
running under, front end foremost, and at such times they would
advise the captain to stop her. Under such conditions, where there
were many men of experience keeping their weather eyes open for
emergencies, it is evident that we, the passengers, felt perfectly se-
cure from danger, and could sleep without fear.

During the voyage we amused ourselves, no doubt, in the same
manner as passengers of vessels usually do, by various games.
There were an assortment of musical instruments, and card playing
was an amusement much in vogue; but a few of the younger pas-
sengers of a sporting tendency, would bet upon the speed of the
ship and the number of miles we would sail upon the succeeding
day. Some of the older ones, however, of a more elevated character,
who were above such petty amusements, would practice at leap-frog
upon deck during pleasant weather. When the weather was other-
wise they would pass their time below, in betting with each other
upon the number of plums they would be able to find in their re-
spective rations of duff, and many were enabled to enjoy double
rations at the table in consequence. In the opinion of many of the
older passengers, one very important fact had been overlooked in
our great haste to start for the golden shores of California, and that
was, the failure to make suitable provision for the storage of gold
dust. This was, indeed, an oversight, for nothing had been pro-
vided suitable for the purpose. It therefore taxed the ingenuity of
the older ones, and many were the devices proposed. One very in-
genious and sanguine individual commenced the manufacture of
leather pouches from old boot-legs or from pieces of canvas, main-
taining that these would be found the most convenient. Another
insisted that good, strong, stone ale bottles were far superior for
stowing the finer grades of dust, and such was his faith in them that
he had actually brought two or three dozen with him. But where is
the limit to genius or the faculty of adaptation to conditions, for if
no other person had appeared upon the stage with a superior device


for the purpose, the inventors of the boot-leg pouch and of the ale
bottle devices would have divided the honors between them for their
ingenuity. The possession of an older head with greater experience,
however, suggested that although leather pouches and beer bottles
might answer very well, they would probably be found very incon-
venient to handle on account of the great specific gravity of gold.
He therefore suggested that the best way to pack the gold dust, and
the best means of handling it, would be to put it into empty pork
barrels, for these could be rolled with ease and of course would be
more convenient for shipping. The greater portion of the passen-
gers saw at once the superior advantages of the pork-barrel idea,
and resolved to adopt that method.

One old gentleman spent his time in the construction of a dredg-
ing machine for raising the sand from the river beds, and for ex-
tracting the big nuggets from among the rocks at the bottom; whilst
another one busied himself in making sheet-iron scoops, to which
long poles were to be attached. His idea was to take his station
under the shade of a tree, upon the river bank, scoop up the rich
golden sands and extract the gold from it upon dry land, without
the danger of being sun struck or wetting his feet. Many of the
more intelligent ones among our passengers kept a daily record of
scenes and incidents during our voyage; but so much of this class
of literature has been heretofore brought before the public that a
report from any of them would not be of much interest at this time.


Arrival at St. Catherina — American Pluck — The Four Brave


IT having been decided by the Captain of our vessel, at the re-
quest of many of the passengers, that we visit some port upon
the coast of Brazil, upon consulting the sailing directions of Lieut.
Maury, it was found that in order to do so it was necessary to first
visit the coast of Africa, to take advantage of the trade winds. The
ship's course was therefore directed towards the Continent of Africa,
at which portion of our planet we arrived in good time; and 'twas
not until we found that the dust from that continent was accumulat-
ing upon our clothing and other articles on ship board, that our
Captain concluded we were near enough to the African coast. Our
good ship was, therefore, turned around and the bow pointed towards
South America. With a fair wind we crossed the ocean again, and
on the 2oth of May sailed into the port of St. Catherina and dropped
anchor under the guns of the fortification located on the summit of
a hill near tfie town.

We found lying at anchor here the steamer " Senator," on her way
to California, as well as two or three other vessels loaded with pas-
sengers from the United States for the same destination. An inci-
dent in which the passengers of these vessels took a very prominent
part occurred a few days previous to our arrival, and is worth relat-
ing, as it illustrates the type of American character which consti-
tuted the advance guard of the California pioneers, and proves that
the Americans will submit to no indignity from a foreign race, if
they possess the power and means of resenting it.

A young man, a passenger of one of the vessels, was assassinated
by a native, but for what reason was not known, although supposed
to be from jealousy. The Americans demanded the arrest and
punishment of the assassin, but no attention was paid to the de-
mand, and no efforts were made for the murderer's arrest, since he
had slain only an "Americano." It may be of some interest to

Online LibraryCharles Warren HaskinsThe Argonauts of California, being the reminiscences of scenes and incidents that occurred in California in early mining days; → online text (page 1 of 40)