Glance Into Past

The editor of the Butte Record explains the source and background of the new master head. Prior to that only the name of the newspaper appeared at the top of the front page.

“The heading of our paper - was designed by our talented young friend Mighels.* It is not designed to represent any particular fluming company, although the view resembles that seen from Rock Islands on looking up the river. The object was to give a general idea of river mining operations, without fixing upon any particular locality. We might have given a view of Bidwell, but since the fire it has not been in a condition to make a very good show, and we concluded the best plan would be to go at once to the source of our country’s greatness- the bed rock- and exhibit the modus operandi of river mining. The engraving was done by Masers, Anthony and Baker, San Francisco in the excellent style which distinguish the work of those gentlemen.” George H. Crosette, Editor *Henry R. Mighels

Twice Across the Plains 1849 & 1856, by W. J. Pleasants

- On May 6, 1849, J. M. Pleasants, my father, J. E. Pleasants, my brother and I, W. J. Pleasants, along with John & David Burris formed a group (mess) and departed Pleasant Hill, in Cass County Missouri. We went to a nearby assembling point and joined 115 other individuals headed for the California gold fields. After crossing the Sierras, we continued westward until we reached the area near the junction of the Feather and Sacramento Rivers, then turned north to Bidwell’s Bar.

- On the fifteenth day of October (1849), we reached the mining camp known as Bidwell’s Bar. At last we are in the land of our dreams, after having been five months and eight days, or about one hundred and sixty-two days on the road.

- In all that time not a word from home has reached us, neither have those there received any tidings. But here at Bidwell’s Bar we write home, and John Bidwell himself, who is on this way to Sacramento, promised to mail our letters there. Many months must go by before it will be possible for an answer to reach us, but we will be patient and wait.

- Our cattle are now unyoked and turned out to graze for the last time. Among the low hills grass is plentiful and they should do well, and surely theirs is a well-earned rest.

- A few days after our arrival at Bidwell’s Bar Tom Fristo was attacked with cholera and died within a few hours. His was the fourth death to occur in a family of five that belonged too our party, John Kearns being the only survivor. His father two uncles and a brother in-law having passed away.

- The diggings known as Bidwell’s Bar where we now are, covers about one acre of ground, and is of course all located. The dirt yields from ten to one hundred dollars per day to the man. We have as yet done no good so far as mining is concerned. The precious metal can be found almost anywhere in small quantities, but under the conditions existing here the deposits must be rich to make them worth the working.

- Provisions of all kinds are very scarce and high in price; pork, flower and beans ranging from one dollar to one dollar and fifty cent per pound. The supplies brought by our party were now about exhausted, and most of us were out of money also.

- To make matters worse the rainy season set in about the twenty-fifth of October, earlier than usual so the old timers say, hence most of the foodstuffs that had been brought in got wet before they could be properly housed. During the winter that followed we paid one dollar per pound for flower that had become almost a solid mass, and had to be cut from the barrel and the lumps pounded into a power before it could be made into bread.

- There was much activity in the matter of building during the early winter. Cabins were constructed of shakes split from the pine trees that grew al about us. Charlie Clark paid my father twenty-five dollars per hundred for a sufficient number of those rude boards to build house; and then ten dollars a day to help in its construction, which seemed to us better than the uncertainty of prospecting for gold.

- John Bidwell employed hundreds of Indians to collect gold for him along the banks of the Feather River, giving for this service all the wheat they could eat.

- I was sick during the whole of the winter of forty-nine and fifty, never having fully recovered form the spell of mountain fever. The disease resulted in chronic diarrhea, which finally had so weakened me that I walked with difficulty. One day while in Charlie Clark’s store I saw a sack of died blue figs, and Mr. Clark, seeing they had attracted my attention, invited me to eat some. I did so and they seemed to me delicious. Putting a few in my pocket, I returned to camp, feeling better than usual. I continued to improve and was in time completely restored to health and strength.

- In March we moved up to the South Fork and located what is called a river claim. The beds of the stream were supposed to be very rich in gold. It was our intention to wait until summer, when the water would be low, and then by turning he stream from its course, expose the bed and at our leisure extract the gold from its sands. Here pitching our camp, we with much patience and labor, at last succeeded in turning the steam for its bed and found well, hardly a color of gold in return for our pains. But we were not the only ones thus doomed to disappointment. In our travels about the mining districts we found on an average ten men in search of the “paying” claim to one that found it.

- In November, 1850, my father and I, being desirous of seeing more of the county, left the mines and came down into the valleys. Reaching Sacramento we purchased a packhorse and other things necessary for the journey contemplated. December 6, 1850, we reached the valley which (now) bears our name. The whole country was at that time filled with wild game. Hundreds of elk could be seen in a single heard, and antelope were equally numerous, while great flocks of wild geese covered thousands of acres of gound at a time.

Butte Record. November 12, 1853. The Beckwith Route

Posted to Bidwell The Town webpage on 10/25/2015

Butte Record. May 26, 1854. The Plaza A Frog Pond

Posted to Bidwell The Town webpage on 10/25/2015