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James Swisher.

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extending thirty-five miles down the valley, ranging from
three inches to forty feet in width. Rocks were torn
from their places and rolled down into the valley.

Everywhere through the valley are to be seen evi-
dences of the terrible convulsion of nature. Before
each shock an explosion was heard which seemed to
be directly underneath. Over six hundred distinct
shocks were felt within fifty-eight hours after the first.



74: HOW I KNOW.

At Tibbet's ranch, fifteen miles above Independence,
forty acres of ground sunk seven feet below the surface
of the surrounding country. Big Owens Lake rose four
feet. Owens River overflowed its banks, and shoals of
fish were left on the shore for a distance of four miles.
Through Lone Pine the earth cracked, and on one side
it sunk seven or eight feet, leaving a wall of earth over
three miles in length where formerly was level country.
Innumerable cracks were made throughout the valley,
and the Kern and Owens Rivers turned and ran up
stream for several minutes, leaving the beds dry, and
returned with swollen volume.

There had been no parallel to this earthquake since
1812, when the missions San Juan, Capistrano, and La
Purissima, in South California, were destroyed.



THE CHINESE. 75



CHAPTER V.

THE CHINESE.

FOR upward of thirty years there has been a stream
of Chinese immigration to the western part of the
United States. The Chinese are of a very short but
symmetrical build, with a face larger in proportion to
the size of the skull, than in the European race, and
round instead of oval in shape. The eyes are very
small, deep, and obliquely set, with a color resembling
that of the almond. Nearly all that come to the coast
are of a dirty brown or swarthy complexion, although you
occasionally meet one of yellow, olive, or sallow color.

Their hair is all shaved off smooth and clean around
the head, leaving only a small place on the top of the
head where the hair is allowed to grow. This tuft is
braided into a single strand, and that is lengthened out
with other braiding material, so much so that oftentimes
it trails upon the ground behind. While at work this
queue is generally arranged in a coil around the top
part of the head.

Their manner of dressing differs from the European
custom. Their clothing is usually clean and tidy enough;
but it is on the " too muchee loosee " fitting order, and
is made after the models of their own fashions. They
wear wooden shoes; but not after the Holland wooden
shoe pattern, for their shoes are small and finely finished.



76 HOW I KNOW.

Their hats are made from the splittings of the bamboo
tree, plaited after the manner of straw hats here, with a
very narrow and shallow crown, and a rim from seven
to ten inches wide.

There are now one hundred and twenty-five thou-
sand Chinese in the State of California, the greater
portion of whom live in San Francisco. Most of
these people are virtually in a condition of servitude.
"Why, how is that?" some one asks. The answer can
be given in a few words. The Chinese who are brought
to this country are of a very poor class in their own
land. They are destitute of money, and even of the
common necessities of life. There are in San Francisco
six different companies importing them; or, in words
a little harsher, making slaves of them, and that to as
great an extent as ever was true of the negroes in the
South.

Wages for all kinds of labor in the Chinese Empire
are extremely low, amounting, generally, only to about
seven cents per day in our money. In some cases the
wages are a little higher. Here, briefly stated, is
what is to-day causing so much disturbance in the
West on this subject. These six companies have
agents in the different ports of China. Whenever
any new enterprise is undertaken on the Pacific slope
requiring great numbers of workmen, these companies
hire in China, at the low rates for labor paid there, as
many laborers as can be worked millions could be
hired, if necessary and bring them over and hire them
out again. Now, some one of these companies, by vir-



THE CHINESE. 77

tue of the contract and agreement made and entered
into in China, becomes, to all intents and purposes, the
owner of the persons so imported, until they have
earned their freedom according to the terms of their
contract. From the terms of this contract there can be
no variation. These six companies, of course, pocket
the difference between what they give and what they
receive for these laborers, giving their chattleman such
meager credit on his account that he will be compelled
to work a long time to gain his freedom.

The Chinese who emigrate to this country do not
become citizens. Applications for naturalization papers
have been made time and again, and have as often failed
to be granted. They are called " heathen Chinese " be-
cause they have their " Big Josh " in all their temples;
that is, an idol which they worship.

They have their own judicial tribunals, before which
they try and punish offenders, in all grades of crime
that may be registered against them. There is a secret
order among them, known as the " Hoeys," the object
of which is to protect their own countrymen from
American or State laws, and to enforce laws of their
own making. Their tribunals are held in secret, and
they administer such punishment as they see fit. The
penalty of death is enforced very often for the most
trivial offenses, such as neglecting to pay a debt. If the
culprit is not in custody when the offense with which
he is charged is investigated, and he is decided to be
guilty, then rewards for his assassination are offered,
written in Chinese characters and publicly posted. It



78 HOW I KNOW.

is with great difficulty that Chinese criminals are con-
victed in our courts. Officers are bribed to release
them from custody, and Chinamen witnesses in court
will commit perjury to get them clear, in order that
they may be tried before their own tribunals. A China-
man stands in utter fear of telling the truth in our
courts, if it should tend to convict a countryman, for he
knows that he is sure to lose his life if he does not aid
in defeating the administration of justice to them before
our tribunals. At the same time the Chinese will use
our laws before their own tribunals, to prosecute inno-
cent men, in addition to enforcing their own.

The Chinese occupy their own quarters in the city,
where they live more after the manner of herding ani-
mals or swarming insects than intelligent human beings.
Their houses are compact, one against the other, with
very small rooms, all of which on the inside are of the
dirtiest, smokiest color. Paint, whitewash, and scrub-
brooms are unknown to the Chinese. Often small
rooms not more than eight or ten feet square will be
the abode of ten or twelve Chinamen, with bunks ar-
ranged as in barracks. There they will lie and smoke
opium and gamble their hours of idleness away.

The Chinese are termed " Coolies " in popular West-
ern phrase. That is a word used to designate all day-
laborers of the East Indian and neighboring countries,
where they unlade vessels, bear the palanquins of the
wealthy, push and pull the clumsy two-wheeled carts,
or carry such things as their employers desire in net-like
bags, suspended from the two ends of a bamboo pole, rest-



THE CHINESE.



79



ing on their shoulders. These Chinese coolies are rude
in manner and noisy, but good-humored and fond of




CHINESE QUARTER, SAN FRANCISCO.

amusement. Numbers of them can be worked in very
small places in ditching, shoveling, picking, blasting,
working in sections in railroad cuts or in making roads,



80 HO W I KNO W.

etc. They are not capable of doing as much work as
Americans when put to the test; yet they generally ac-
complish as much or more than many Americans really
like to do. Much the larger number of Chinese that
are imported to this country are adult males. It is
estimated that there are four thousand Chinese females
in San Francisco, with a great many more scattered
at various places throughout the West.

There has been petitioning and legislating in Cali-
fornia for a long time in an effort to prevent the Chi-
nese from coming there; but, strange to say, that is
done mostly by a set of men who are foreigners by
birth themselves. The more distinguished and thought-
ful of our own countrymen say this: "The summary
disturbance of our existing treaties with China is greatly
inconvenient to the much wider and more prominent
interests of the country." The Chinese question has
been disturbing the minds of the Western people for a
long time, and, doubtless, w T ill continue so to do for
some time to come. I think that John would have
been much happier if he had never wandered away
from the home of his idols.

But now let me speak a few words in general terms
in behalf of the State of California. This State has
been wonderfully prosperous since its admission into the
Union, by reason of its great natural resources and its
singularly energetic and enterprising population. It has
probably more wealth per capita of its population than
most other States of the Union, or, perhaps, countries



THE CHINESE. 81

r of the world. It, no doubt, has also the materials of
progress on a larger scale than has ever existed on any
other similar area.

The two principal cities are San Francisco and Sacra-
mento. The business of these two places consists chiefly
in trading upon the wealth produced from the soil. The
principal element of the future growth of the State will
consist in the settlement of the lands by desirable oc-
cupants. The lands are naturally very rich and fertile;
besides they are situated in an unrivaled climate.
Southern California can boast of what but few, if
any, other parts of our country can rightfully claim
to possess, and that is a mean difference of temper-
ature of 15.88. I do not know of a more healthy
spot anywhere to reside in, and at the same time reap
a large reward for industry. These lands have all to
be irrigated. There are irrigating canals and ditches
along and adjoining every ranch that is tilled.

They have been colonizing the State for a few years
back, and an earnest interest has been taken in pro-
moting the immigration of large numbers. In Califor-
nia the Federal, State, and County governments, the
settlers upon lands, and the citizens of the commercial
marts all take a common interest in the promotion of
and working for the welfare of individual and joint en-
terprises.

The Federal Government has several million acres
of surveyed lands yet to sell in the State. The area
of the State of California alone is one hundred and
twenty million nine hundred and forty-seven thousand



82 HOW I KNOW.

eight hundred and forty acres, of which thirty-four mill-
ion acres have been surveyed by the officers of the
Federal Government. Of the quantity surveyed, not
more than twenty million acres have been disposed of,
leaving as much as fourteen million acres of surveyed
lands in the hands of the Federal Government. Over
two-thirds of the State lands are unsurveyed.

The entire present population of the State is less
than one million. The Federal Government has given
three million two hundred thousand acres of the
lands in the State to railroads, in order that the
value of the whole may be improved by facilitating
transportation. If a railroad company receives a grant
of land for the purpose of bringing the whole within the
reach of market, an irrigation company, whose object is
to insure the crops of all those lands, certainly has an
equal claim to aid, the more so when the canals which
irrigate the lands also complete the means of transport-
ing the crops.

I have tried to do justice to California and the good
people of the State. I have traveled the State over, and,
while doing so, I have met with a warm-hearted recep-
tion from all. May they ever live in enjoyment of all
the bountiful blessings of peace and prosperity.

My visit here is ended. I shall now visit Oregon and
see it, that I may be able to compare for my own satis-
faction and that of the reader the different shades and
experiences of life there.



OREGON AND WASHINGTON. 83



CHAPTER VI.

OREGON AND WASHINGTON.

PORTLAND, Oregon, is six hundred and seventy-
five miles, by water, from San Francisco. Ore-
gon is like California in some respects ; in others it
differs from all the rest of the country along the Pacific
coast. Portland is a thriving city, with, perhaps, thir-
teen thousand inhabitants. Along the coast warm
breezes from off the ocean constantly blow inland. In
Summer the atmosphere is perfectly delightful and
healthy; in Winter it is colder, owing to the winds
coming down from the Cascade Mountains on the
east. Yet, it is not so cold as to freeze hard, ex-
cept at a high altitude. Some of the valleys are very
fertile, with a good depth of soil, covered with the finest
grass and beautiful flowers, affording natural attrac-
tions of a richness seldom met with elsewhere.

There is splendid water and an abundance of fish in
all the streams that are not of an alkaline or brackish
character. The State can never have a dense popula-
tion, for the valleys I have referred to above, are small
and in many places settled thickly enough already. In
the southern and south-eastern part of the State the val-
leys are not so good, and are often covered with vast
beds of sand, alkali, and fields of lava. Much of this
part of the State is almost a desert, with only here and



84 HOW I KNOW.

there a small piece of fertile and watered ground upon
which the squatter may settle. The greater portion of this
part of the State is worthless and must ever remain so.
The Columbia River, which forms the boundary line
between Washington Territory and the State of Ore-
gon is one of the grandest streams in the North-west.
This mighty river has cut its way through solid rock




RAPIDS OF THE UPPER COLUMBIA.



for nearly its whole length above the cascades. Here
may be seen an instance of what Nature by her mys-
terious forces can accomplish. By the constant attri-
tion of water, vast mountains of rock have been soft-
ened and worn away, leaving the harder portions of the
rock standing in all kinds of fanciful and grotesque
forms, like the ruins of some ancient castle. After



OREGON AND WASHINGTON. 85

passing the cascades one is soon enclosed in forests
of beautiful timber, composed principally of large and
thrifty trees of red-wood, pine and other varieties.

In many places along the Cascade range the mount-
ains are barren and unproductive of either timber or
other vegetation. Here are high walls of rock, some-
times perpendicular, at other times more sloping. Huge
bowlders are piled up in confusion as high and even
higher than the clouds. But, where the ranges are not
too high and there is a sufficient quantity of soil and
moisture, large trees cover the mountain sides, while
there is such a dense thicket of underbrush, so filled with
old logs and broken branches of trees, that there is no
pleasure in making an exploration through these forests.

Hundreds of little squirrels may here be seen playing
about at any time. Let a person or any other moving
object be espied and they set to chattering with all
their might. Sometimes five or six will be seen gath-
ered together, viewing the same object. If the object
of their ' curiosity ceases to move, they become more
bold and will approach cautiously nearer and nearer,
until they will sometimes climb upon and run over the
person. As soon as they learn that there is no danger,
they become very familiar, playful, and amusing. These
little squirrels are found in all parts of the West, filling
the woods with their constant and saucy chatter.

The lava beds of Oregon, the scene of the celebrated
Modoc war a few years ago, form a very singular place.
This has been at some time, ages ago, the seat or center
of some large volcano. There the rock has been melted



HOW I KNOW.



so that it would boil and run like water. The upheaval
in places has been very great. The rock, in cooling off




VIEW IN THE MODOC COUNTRY.



after it had been melted and thrown out, has assumed
something of a sponge-like appearance. There are



OREGON AND WASHINGTON. 87

holes, tunnels, caverns, caves, ridges, defiles, canons
all running in perpendicular, horizontal and oblique di-
rections. I was afraid to venture far into any of the
openings in so much darkness, so I did not explore them
to any distance.

This lava has been thrown up and is spread out
over thousands and thousands of acres of land. In this
region water is not at all abundant, and when obtained
it is not good, having a soft, warm, brackish, disagree-
able and unhealthy taste. In this part of the State the
climate is hot in Summer, the hot winds and sun beat-
ing down on the pummice that covers the country,
making the shade much preferable to the roads.

But, returning a little to the north again, we find
some small valleys where vegetation is abundant. Cat-
tle, horses, and sheep are found here in as good con-
dition as anywhere, and of a finer quality than can
be found in many of the other western States and
Territories. No finer blooded animals can be bought
at reasonable prices in the eastern States. Animals
imported here from other parts of the country, after
becoming acclimated, do well.

In the Willamette Valley all the way back from
Portland, the climate is very remarkable. It is surpris-
ing to see here, so far in the North, such a tempera-
ture. Here they have but two seasons, Winter and Sum-
mer, each having its pleasant and rainy weather.

The grass is green in Oregon nearly the whole year.
The valleys along the coast are very productive, both
in quantity and quality. The yield of wheat on the



88



HOW I KNOW.



Pacific slope is good, as is generally known, and Ore-
gon is no exception. All other grains are raised almost
or quite to perfection. Small grains are perfectly at




VIEW ON THE OREGON COAST.



home in Oregon. I have seen farmers feeding peas to
their horses and hogs, and the animals looked healthy
and fat. It is claimed that this feed is as cheap as corn
in the western States.



OREGON AND WASHINGTON. 89

Fruit of all kinds is raised in the greatest of pro-
fusion, and is remarkable for its great size and excellent
flavor. Although California fruit is justly in good rep-
utation, Oregon apples are, nevertheless, exported to
San Francisco, where they bring an advanced price on
account of their excellence. Vegetables that come
from here to the San Francisco market are held in high
favor. Potatoes, especially, that are exported to the
southern coast markets are prized highly, and find ready
sale at an advanced price in preference to those of
home production.

Washington Territory is very similar to Oregon in
productiveness, though the yield is generally less per
acre than that of Oregon. Even in Winter the ice
never obstructs the passage of vessels along the coast.
Boats and vessels are coming and leaving all the time.

Washington Territory possesses many gigantic trees
of different varieties. Here lumber is sawed by millions
of feet daily, and shipped to various parts of the world.
Hundreds of men and teams are employed in cutting
and moving these mammoth trees to the mills, where
they are sawed into lumber and loaded on vessels that
do nothing else but ply back and forth in the lumber
traffic. In the mountains of the Territory the weather
is cold dreadful cold and people perish every Winter.

There is an abundance of splendid fish in the Terri-
tory, and some game; but game is not so plentiful as it
is on the east side of the mountains, or further south.
There are still some Indians here, as in Oregon; but in
both places they are disposed to be both sociable and



90 HOW I KNOW.

peaceable. They live a very hard and uncomfortable
sort of life, dressed either very poorly or not at all.
They are too lazy either to hunt, fish, or farm. But lit-
tle need be said of the Indians here, however, since I
shall treat the whole subject fully in a later chapter.

The scenery of the whole north-western part of the
United States is grand. There are gradually-ascending
slopes for miles and miles, where the unbroken forest
conceals the ground from view. Here and there, by a
bold projection, the mountains lift themselves upward,
sometimes to heights far above the timber line. In such
cases there they stand enveloped in snow for nearly the
whole year.



MEXICO.



91



CHAPTER VII.

MEXICO.

I SPENT eleven months in Mexico. I found the
Mexicans to be a truly democratic people, there
being no distinction of caste among them. The rich and
poor meet socially on the same footing, often sharing
together the same sleeping apartment. However, in dry
seasons, all classes seem to prefer to sleep in the open air.

The climate of Mex-
ico is determined chiefly
by elevation. On the
coast it is hot; temperate
on the slopes, and cold
on the table lands and in
the higher ranges of the
Sierra Madre. Some of
the valleys of Mexico are
so situated that their climate is one perpetual Spring.
The coasts of Mexico produce all the plants indige-
nous to hot climates. The table lands produce the
plants of the temperate zones, and the higher mountains
those that grow farther north.

The Mexicans, though hospitable and often magnan-
imous, are, nevertheless, generally vindictive, cruel,
and treacherous. Intellectually, they are an inferior
race of people. The natives of Mexico are devoid




BORDER MEXICANS.



92 HOW I KNOW.

of enterprise, and almost wholly neglect all public
and private improvements. Mexico, as every one
knows, is noted for its mining industries. They
have good mines in several of their States. The States
of Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, and Durango -claiming
the best, with the greatest yield of gold and silver.
The Mexicans themselves have been mining in differ-
ent localities of these States for long over a century.
Some of their mines, properly worked, are probably
capable of producing more than the world-renowned
Comstock Lode, in Nevada.

But the manner in which the Mexican people work
their mines is such that they would not be able to take
out any great wealth in years of toil. Americans have
often gone into Mexico to prospect and mine; but have
as often been visited by the prowling bandits, w T ho live in
the mountains, and have either been killed or had to flee
the country for their lives. All Mexicans are not ban-
dits; but there are a great many outlaws in the mount-
ains who make robbery and plunder their profession.
There are still a few Americans interested there in
mining; but they are compelled to pay well for the
privilege.

One of the processes by which the Mexicans crush
their rock, is to take a large rock and dress it off, first
level and flat, then they crease the outer side by cutting
and beveling. This rock is then placed on a solid and
level foundation and generally near some stream, so as
to secure water power after which another rock is
made to exactly fit the one already in place, and so



MEXICO. 93

closely that with a motion of the upper rock the tailing
is usually ground very fine, so that little will remain in
a fifty-mesh sieve. Then, by following their tedious
processes they obtain a small percentage of the royal
metals which the rock contains. After this, the tailing
is piled up in piles, and salted, one layer on top of
another, where it is left to undergo a leaching process.
While lying in this way it is occasionally stirred, and
sometimes left for two or three years, when it is worked
over again, and with more success than was at first
obtained. But this is a very slow and tedious process,
compared with the crushing and amalgamating of ores
in California or Nevada.

Nine-tenths of the Mexican population live in adobe
houses, built out of adobes "and covered with heavily
tiled roofs. From a distance, the cities and towns of
Mexico have a beautiful and picturesque appearance.
The buildings are low very seldom is a La Grande
Casie over one story in height the walls are thick,
heavy, and cumbersome, with usually grated windows.
But as one enters the towns all beauty vanishes. Build-
ing after building is found to be all cracked, shaken
up, neglected, and on the road to ruin, if not already in
ruins. Even in the City of Mexico itself, one-seventh
of the houses are uninhabited, and not fit to live in.
Some of the stores, hotels, and houses of public resort


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Online LibraryJames SwisherHow I know, or Sixteen years' eventful experience → online text (page 5 of 21)