As related by the author who
is 84 years of age and nearly blind, containing a graphic description
of the manners, life of early times, vivid incidents in Indian
Wars, and wilds of the mountain life in the gold regions of
Nevada; perils by land and by sea, together with reliable statements
concerning the products and resources of many lands and many
A brief History of the life of
Major Ward Bradford: written from memory in his 82nd year, assisted
by his wife, Martha Bradford, in her 63rd year.
Father was Moses Bradford, born
in Maine, descendent of Governor William Bradford of Mayflower
fame. Father died at age of 65 and mother, Anna Ward, at 90.
Parents settled on bank of Cuyahoga
River, Portage County, Ohio in 1804. I was born there on April
First incident remembered was
father's enlistment in army during war of 1812. Against mothers
wishes. Mother shed tears.
Second Incident - Uncle John
wounded a deer and called Ward's dog, Gunner, to catch it, Dog
and deer jumped into river above falls. Carried over and drowned.
Caused me to think hard of Uncle John.
Next recollection when father
came home from army sick.
In spring of 1810 father moved
to Hocking County, Ohio, and settled in woods on head branch
of Big Raccoon. Unbroken forests and thinly settled. Bradfords
among first settlers.
Bears, panthers, mountain wolves,
wild cats, foxes, coons, opossums, deer, turkeys, pheasants,
quail, pigeons and snakes of almost all description. and other
animals and birds in abundance.
Father built log cabin and started
clearing first acre of land. Hard working man but not much of
a hunter, but could kill a deer or turkey when necessary.
Bought two cows and few stock
hogs. Continued clearing land and raising crops most needed.
When father was absent one day big black bear came in dooryard
and picked up hog weighing about 60 pounds, Frightened everyone.
Next morning father and neighbor with rifles and dogs followed
bear trail and found remains of hog covered up in leaves. Bear
escaped. Afterwards had to keep stock in enclosure at night.
At 10 became acquainted with
grubbing hoe, axe and corn hoe and helped father. Killed first
deer at 12. Became quite a hunter. At 16, a stout and able-bodied
boy, and expert with above tools. New field opened. With sickle,
scythe, pitchfork and rake joined harvesters. Made full hand.
Method of harvesting - - Formed
company of 6 or 8 men. Began on ripest grain first and moved
from field to field until done. At sunrise all gathered at place
where grain was to be cut, ate little old rye bread and butter
and cheese and then marched into field. Header appointed. Started
in. Second started after leader had gone about a yard, and so
on. Each man cut swath 4 feet wide, laying grain behind him.
When across fields hung sickles on shoulders and bounded back
across field. At nine o'clock horn blew for breakfast. Most substantial
and best prepared meal desired. To field again. Good-natured
boy kept old brown jug and bucket of cold water handy. At 12
o'clock had substantial dinner. Rested one hour. At 4 o'clock
lunch was brought into field. Seated in shade for half hour.
Worked until time to hang up sickles and shock up day's work.
One acre per day to the band was called a No.1 day's work. Supper.
Most of haying done after grain was cut. Done with scythe rake
Reader can see chance for education
was limited. Had only three month's time each winter to attend
school at old log school house from time I was eight till sixteen.
At 18 it became my duty to enroll according to military law.
Elected first lieutenant. Took pride in this, especially officers
On 20th birthday father called
and spoke thus: "My son Ward, upon reflection I have come
to this conclusion. We are poor and have a large family, and
perhaps will not have anything to give you when you become of
age, and as you have been a dutiful and hard-working boy, you
may consider yourself free, making your home with us at your
convenience." With heavy heart and choked voice I thanked
and clearing land by the acre.- In 8 months had $109.00 deposited
with mother. Went to Chillicothe land office and bought 80 acres
and started work on it. Worked 2 days a week for board at nearest
neighbors and other four for myself. Built cabin, cleared and
fenced 3 acres and set out orchard.
On Dec, 15, 1831, married Margaret
Martin (?) moved home and continued work.
father-in-law sold out and moved to Noble County, Indiana, settling
in Hawpatch bought 120 acres on Elkhart River, joining town plot
of Ligonier, which had just been laid out by Isuele Caven. Purchased
lot and built on it. First house built in this now thriving city.
Bridge 128 feet to be built across river there. Lowest bidder.
Expert with broad axe and did own hewing and framing.
After done, notified commissioners.
Examined work and found it satisfactory. They paid me $500.00
as agreed and made me present of $20.00 besides, for prompt performance
In fall of 1837 sold out with
intention of going to Iowa. Before going there went back to Ohio
on horseback, bade father and mother, brothers and sisters and
old friends farewell. Returned home. Left Ligonier last of November
with three yoke cattle and prairie schooner. Very cold. Ground
rough and frozen. Team became footsore. Arrived at South Bend
and stopped over one day and had oxen shod. Very cold traveling
over plains of Illinois. Crossed Mississippi River on ice at
Burlington, settled in Henry County, Iowa within five miles of
Dispute arose relative to line
run between Territory of Iowa and State of Missouri. Results:
order given to run another line. Beginning at original stake
on Missouri River, line ran east, striking Mississippi River
9 miles south of former line. This strip of country, much desired,
settled on very rapidly. Iowa and Missouri both claimed authority
over it. When Henry County sheriff went on disputed strip to
collect taxes and perform other official duties, he was arrested
by Missouri sheriff and placed in prison, but by giving sufficient
bond, was released. Watched opportunity and in turn arrested
Missouri sheriff In like manner, brought him to Henry County
and treated him in same way. Brought on border warfare.
Gov. Lucas issued proclamation
that all able-bodied males between ages of 18 and 45 should enroll
for military duty and that territory be laid off in company districts.
I soon received commission as Captain of Baltimore Company and
soon had lively time, A Delegation of our representatives met
like delegation from Paloyra, Missouri, and agreed to cease hostilities
until Congress should meet and settle matter. Wasn't done for
three years. In meantime kept well drilled and I received commission
as major from Gov. Chambers, our second governor. General training
held at Mount Pleasant. Disputed strip ceded to Iowa and called
Butternut war. Came by name thus: Missourians dug up butternut
roots to color homemade jeans and then began to come over to
Iowa for more roots. Iowa objected because they wanted their
own roots. Hence name of Butternut Root War.
While in Henry County I frequently
visited Nauvoo to gather information concerning my military practice,
as they were best drilled in military tactics, Nauvoo Legions
would camp on Illinois plains and drill a week at one time in
regular army drill. Became well acquainted with Gen. Jo Smith,
Hiram Smith and many other leading men of Nauvoo.
In 1844 sold out and moved to
Van Buren County where I bought 480 acres of land, partly timber
and partly prairie. Located on well traveled road leading from
Nauvoo to Council Bluffs, In fall of 1845 began building hotel.
In March 1846 first pioneer company of Mormons, headed by Scott
arrived at my place and wished to camp in timber, That night
about 6 inches of snow fall and couldn't proceed so asked to
lie over for few days. Weather kept cold and wet. Their camp
increased in numbers for 12 days, until there were three hundred
wagons and 1600 persons in camp. Created lively market. On 8th
day of stay Brigham Young and wife drove up, overloaded, so I
traded him a wagon for hardware, cutlery and things I needed
for new hotel. On 10th day of stay Brigham Young visited me and
walked through house. Saw that largest room not occupied, he
asked if I was fond of music and dancing. I told him I was, He
sent to camp and about 40 of his dancers, and a band of music
came to house. All enjoyed evening and party closed by a dance,
participated in by Brigham Young and wife and myself and wife.
On 12th day caravan passed on way to far west. From this time
on my house known for many miles east and west as Mormon Hotel.
Was well acquainted with the 12 apostles and many of elders and
other leading men. Always treated me with greatest kindness and
respect and frequently called on me during spring and summer.
In fall of 1847 I sold out and
moved to Alexandria on bank of Mississippi River in Clark County,
Missouri where I built hotel and went into business. On May 1st,
1848 cholera broke out and several deaths occurred. On May 10th
my wife fell victim to dreaded disease, in 37th year of her life.
Now left with family of 8 children, youngest of whom soon followed
its mother. My business was stopped and I found it very hard
and lonesome to take care of such a large family. I concluded
to seek another companion, and on June 30, 1849 I married Maverna
Wood and resumed my business. Finding that old customers had
left me, owing to my misfortune and the fact of a new landlady,
I became very much discouraged. About this time a strange gentleman
by name of Jones called on me, direct from California and showed
me several specimens of gold. He gave brief history and description
of California and Isthmus of Darien, stating that he believed
hotel keeping on Isthmus would be grand speculation. He therefore
rented hotel at that place and offered me $1,000.00 per month
if I would go with wife and two daughters and take charge of
it for him. Mr. Jones would accompany us and remain with us.
I accepted and hired my sister to take care of five remaining
children. I settled up business and rented hotel on Oct. 16,
1849. With Mr. Jones and wife we boarded steamer "Silas
Wright" for New Orleans. Here landed on 23rd of month at
4 pm.. I started up town to find rooms. As I passed up wharf
in front of many steamers I noticed one backing out into river.
Suddenly most terrible explosion I ever heard took place. I was
enshrouded in total darkness and almost instantly there followed
a crash of falling timber and debris around me. In few seconds
gentle breeze drove back smoke and cinders and opened to my view
a most horrible sight, which left an impression on my mind that
will never be effaced. To my right hand, within six feet of me,
lay a mangled mass of flesh which uttered two or three words
and was then silent. On my left was a similar mass, from which
issued a few faint shrieks. By the voice I knew it was a female.
In front, wharf was strewn with masses of flesh and blood, indescribable
arms, legs, hands, intestines and every other conceivable matter,
nude and black. Hull of steamer slowly backed out about her length
and sank. Bells began ringing up and down whole length of wharf.
City responded in like manner. Rumbling sound in moment. In short
time thousands of people had gathered. Some frantic with grief,
crying at top of voice "Where is my father," "Where
is my mother," or brother or sister or friend. Many rushed
thru crowd, halting over masses of flesh to identify them if
possible. Just before sun went down several drays came and gathered
up remains of dead. Multitude began to disperse. Next morning
newspapers reported that boiler of "Louisiana" had
exploded with 300 passengers on board and all lost but 3. Considered
greatest explosion on Mississippi River up to that time.
On Nov. 2nd (1847) we embarked
on schooner "Americus" with about 70 passengers on
board. On second day out cholera broke out and during voyage
seven were buried at sea. Landed at Chargres on 14th of month.
I had most lonesome experience as I stood on lone bank of river
and viewed surroundings. Along banks was row of bamboo huts with
round opening for door. People were small, dwarfish, black or
mulatto- colored race, half-clad, some with high cheek bones
and black straight hair, like Indians, others had thick lips,
flat nose and curly hair like the negro. Mixed race and ignorant
class of beings. On third day after we arrived we started up
river in a "bunga" rowed by 5 natives whom I had employed.
Three or four bows were bent over the center of "bunga"
like the bows on a wagon. These covered with raw- hide the boat
loaded with our freight. It began to rain and rained hard for
three or four hours. The river began to rise rapidly and by dark
had overflowed banks so we could not land. Tied headline to limb
of tree out over water. Went on next morning and with hard labor
reached first point of dry land on river. Found small bamboo
house and three Americans and two natives with "bunga"
who had landed the night before. Laid over another night. Noisiest
and most hideous night I ever experienced. Lowlands overflowed
and whole creation driven to this spot of dry land. Grating of
alligators, bellowing of baboons, screeching of apes, chattering
of monkeys, and sounds of various other animals unknown to me,
filled night with their chorus. River had fallen a number of
feet by morning and had no further trouble till we landed at
Cruces. We remained over night and sent freight by pack train.
Hired three ponies for wife and daughter and I walked. I paid
$16.00 each for ponies. Arrived at Panama at 9.00 p.m. and all
were nearly exhausted.
Next day we were greatly disappointed.
Learned that Mr. Jones had not returned in time specified in
lease and house had been rented for much higher price. Discouraged
Mr. and Mrs. Jones especially Mrs. Jones, very much. Decided
to return to New Orleans. This almost paralyzed us for now what
should we do. In Panama about 1500 persons bound for California.
We made up our minds to stay with Californians. Rented small
house outside wall of city at $10.00 per month and began housekeeping.
Gave wife and girls employment enough to support themselves and
pay rent. In the meantime steamer on Chagres parted cable in
night in high water, drifted out of channel and lodged against
large tree on bank. Owner of steamer came to Panama to hire help
to launch Capt. Rollins of St. Louis. An old steamboat captain
agreed to help him. Hired thirty men at $3.00 per day, myself
and steward among number. When we reached place found that river
had fallen 16 feet and bow extended out of water about one-third
of length. I began hewing timbers and men placed them in proper
position in ground and in eight days steamer was afloat. When
we returned to Panama one of our friends taken sick with Panama
fever. Was John Chick, with whom I was acquainted before leaving
States. He died at my house and after much difficulty I had him
For some time now I was idle.
Then Capt. Caleb, Captain of fine ship "Edward Everett"
hired me to sail with him to Tobaga Island, nine miles from Panama,
to water and ventilate his ship. On her second trip to San Francisco
I took charge of four sailors and discharged duty satisfactorily
to the captain. When work was finished we sailed back to Panama
and found that the steamer had touched and taken away about 1200
passengers at $300.00 each. All right with me as I could not
pay that price. Capt. Caleb hired me to solicit passengers for
his ship, saying he would sail as soon as he had 200 at $200.00
each. I began on Thursday morning and found there were two other
ships waiting for same purpose, and also that there were four
hundred passengers, all of whom said they would go on first ship
that sailed but would promise me nothing definite. I advised
captain to let me take his boat and two sailors and visit the
other two ships that I might talk intelligently of their capacities.
I boarded "Charleston" and introduced myself to the
captain who showed me through the ship, which was old, a slow
sailor and poorly furnished as a passenger vessel. I then boarded
"Brustus" which was a new ship, a good sailor, and
well provided for as a passenger ship. Captain's lady on board,
and everything in good order. I returned to "Edward Everett"
and resumed my position explaining my visit, which description
had a good affect on hearers. On Saturday morning I remarked
to Capt. Caleb if he would promise to sail on Monday, I was sure
I could accomplish his desire. I also told him I had not enough
money to pay the $1,00.00 for my family. He said we would sail.
In the afternoon I made arrangements with about thirty men to
meet me at this place and walk with me down to the captain's
office. They agreed, and we proceeded to the office. I asked
captain if he intended to sail on Monday. He said he did. I told
him I wanted first five tickets. Tickets made out and I handed
him $700.00 which he acknowledged. He owed me $300.00 at this
time for three days soliciting at $100.00 per day. Applied on
price of tickets $1000.00. Others asked for tickets and as soon
as received them rushed out for friends. Did sail on Monday evening,
Jan. 2, 1850 with 214 passengers. I was assigned to best rooms
and we fared first class during voyage which was pleasant. Landed
in San Francisco on Feb 7th. Trip third fastest ever made with
sailing vessel up to that time.
When it became known there was
a man and wife and two daughters on board, several gentlemen
called on me wishing to rent their hotels. I went with them to
examine their hotels and found them fair, considering manners
of country. They used many flattering words and prophesied fortune
for me in the near future. I asked lowest price. Answers were
from $2,000.00 to $3,000.00 per month. Completely knocked prop
from under me. Returned to ship again. Boarded schooner "Iowa"
for Sacramento. Met same fate. Here met two old friends from
Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, who advised me to go to Marysville with them.
Had come down river in small boat to purchase goods to replenish
store. Went with them. Furnished us tent for a few days. Here
I ran skiff for short time across Feather River between Marysville
and Yuba City. Made $20.00 per day. W.M. Rose offered to rent
me cloth tent at crossing of Yuba River, four miles above Marysville
at $200.00 per month, assuring me that if I could not pay him
at end of month he would not think any less of me. He would furnish
flour, meat and other things for table. We accepted and moved.
Tent in dusty condition. Table in center of tent and consisted
of posts driven in grounds pieces across top of posts, and three
boards on them lengthwise. One seat on each side made by placing
board on posts. In corner of tent was stove and few tin cans
and tin plates. All of outfit. Girls dusted walls and swept off
table. I wet down earthen floor and Mr. Rose furnished few yards
of domestic for tablecloth and better outfit for table. Second
day we rang Spanish gong for breakfast. Boarders increased gradually
and month soon passed. I went to Mr. Rose to settle. He asked
me if I was able to do so. I asked for amount of bill. Consulted
books and answered $700.00. I drew from pocket purse of gold
dust and weighed out $900.00. I returned home and made inventory
of all on hand. Found we had $I600.00. Continued second month
with about same result. Then moved to Colonel Brohy's ranch two
miles up river and ran ranch two months at $300.00 per month
rent. Here realized about $3,000.00 per month.
Wife taken sick. Prepared to
go to Marysville for doctor. Before ready, men with drove of
cattle called at well for drink of water. I asked if there was
a doctor in company. They answered "Yes". I asked doctor
to see my wife who was sick. Surprised to see them shake hands.
Old friends in Missouri before we were married. His name Condit,
and he had been her favorite physician. Wife had congestive chills.
He remained with us two days but on July 23, 1860 wife died.
Buried in Marysville cemetery. Not policy for me to remain and
carry on business with my two daughters and reflecting on my
five children at home, we resolved to return. I paid $75.00 for
scythe and swath and hired man at $16.00 per day to mow prairie
grass. Also hired team to draw and stack grass. About five tons
which cost me $300.00. I sold some for $1200.00. Bought one pumpkin
at $5.00 and made it into 25 pies. Sold readily at $1.00 each.
Eggs at $1.00 each. Price for board $1.50 per meal. Boarders
slept under oak trees. Cigars 25 cents each and drinks 25cents.
These were prices in California at that time.
Business settled up. Bade Stewart
farewell as he wished to remain. We had about $800.00 on hand.
Took steamer at Marysville for San Francisco, where we remained
for few days and then took English ship "Carbia" for
Panama. Had hard trip. Captain very tyrannical, insulting John
Bull. Lay in calm 18 days with extremely hot weather. One bottle
water per day was our allowance. Gentle breeze sprang up and
we resumed journey anchoring in mouth of Spencer River. Expected
to take Nicaragua route and were two days preparing for journey.
Then sixty persons returned from that route and said we could
not pass that way. Boarded bark "Catherine" and after
tedious journey of seventy days from San Francisco we reached
Panama, crossing isthmus to Cruces, as before with two horses
and I on foot. About thirty in our company. I appointed Captain,
to make arrangements for descending river. Accomplished in one
day and night. Arrived at Chagres again. Remained five days and
boarded schooner "Indian Queen" for New Orleans. Pleasant
voyage until heavy weather in Gulf of Mexico. Right dark and
storm severe. Driven in mud near mouth of Mississippi River.
Lay helpless for three days with flag at half mast. Steamer came
within two miles or us, cast anchor. We were transferred in our
small boats and taken to New Orleans. Remained two or three days.
Boarded another steamer for St. Louis. Took revenue cutter for
Alexandria. Ran twenty miles up river. Met heavy floating ice
and were driven back to city. Hired conveyance by land to our
home in Alexandria. Children well. Friends glad to see us after
sixteen months absence. During sixteen months traveling twelve
months and traveling expenses were $3,000.00. By being in business
four months our profit was $8,000.00. By this almost miraculous
journey were $5,000.00 ahead.
I bought some land and built
a house. On April 21, 1851 married third wife, Emily Butcher.
Thought I would never return to California, but circumstances
changed, my mind. In spring ice broke up. Flood came. Valley
overflowed from bluffs of Illinois to sand ridges of Missouri,
nine miles remained under water for six weeks. Following winter
very cold. Sold out and bought three wagons, six yoke oxen, six
cows, a horse, saddle and bridle and started for West accompanied
by three young men who volunteered to go with me to drive and
take care of stock for board. Started April 15, 1852. Family
consisted of myself, wife and seven children and men. We numbered
twelve. Weather windy and stormy and traveling slow. At Missouri
River had to stop a week for chance to ferry over. Bank lined
up for great distance with teams and wagons waiting. Where Omaha
now stands, then not a house. Road lined with wagons and stock
so we slowly moved on long journey. When we reached the Big Platte,
cholera broke out. Widespread alarm. As soon as a death took
place, hurried burial followed and trains moved on again. Finally
reached Salt Lake camped one week visiting old Mormon friends.
At Humboldt River about 30 wagons of us took Northern on Oregon
route by way of Goose Lake. Land good and we judged would soon
be settled. Proved to be so.
One rainy night while encamped
on southwest side of Lake, Indians stole several head of stock,
Early in morning we pursued and overtook portion of them in afternoon.
As soon as Indians discovered us they shot several cattle and
scattered in all directions. We returned to camp with all stock
we were able to trail, losing one yoke of oxen. I left one wagon
and we moved on to Tule River. Here again headed off by Indians,
but we struck camp, stood guard overnight and early in morning
prepared to fight to finish. Soon saw dust rising about mile
ahead and coming rapidly. If recruit for enemy our case lost;
if friends, victory ours. No tongue could describe horror of
my mind while new arrival approached. Indians began to scatter.
Capt. Ben Wright and thirty men came towards camp and took in
situation at once. Fired upon Indians, killing several, captured
three, two squaws and one buck. We were again at liberty. Grazing
good so we remained another day. Toward sundown buck was taken
out of camp, shot and scalped. Bloody scalp brought back into
camp. I thought this uncalled for. This being dangerous point,
Capt. Wright sent from Yreka to relieve suffering immigration.
Road clear so we journeyed on in safety. Reached Jacksonville
on Sept. 17. Small mining camp. Built large house for myself
and engaged to build for others for $700.00. Three boys still
with me. Work soon accomplished. Then engaged in other work.
About Sept. 20, sixteen inches
snow fell. Feared stock would perish. Man by name of Poole took
cattle to Bear River bottom in heavy timber, came out all right.
Three small provision stores. All goods used packed on animals
from Portland, Oregon three hundred miles over bad road. Soon
as snow fell, pack train could not travel, merchants put high
tariff on goods. Salt; butter, sugar and tobacco $5.00 per lb.
Flour, potatoes $1.00 lb. and other things in proportion. Soon
ate up our $700.00. As soon as snow went off we went to work
again. Decided that this country would not hold me longer than
spring. In fall several men returned. Gave flattering account
of coast. Believe man of my energy could cross mountains with
wagons. Decided to try it. Several men volunteered to help me.
Man with sixteen pack animals to accompany us. About March 20
loaded up and set out. First sixty miles down Applegate River
and up Illinois River to junction of trail up mountains. Made
without much trouble and struck camp for a time. With rifle I
followed trail few miles to prospect route. Impossible for wagons
to go farther. I returned to camp and reported result of investigations.
Cast gloom over camp. In morning unloaded wagons, turned them
bottom up, and put under them such things as we could do without.
Packed freight on pack train, reserving gentlest animals for
those not able to walk. Resumed journey. With difficulty reached
summit and found snow six inches deep. Camped all night in pine
grove. Made large log fire. Rained part of night. Had rough time.
Spitting snow in morning. Situation unpleasant. As soon as light
on our way down grade. Reached Smith River at 12 o'clock. River
nearly bank-full here. Unpacked and turned stock loose. Grazing
good. Saw first redwood timber. Some of these giants of forest
measured forty feet in circumference. Large quantity of flood
wood. Began building raft. Cut drift logs in 12 ft. lengths...
Rolled them to bank of river. Plenty of pack ropes so built raft
of these thus: Rope wrapped around each end of a log and logs
rolled into water. Ropes crossed at each end and another log
rolled in. In this way until raft 20 ft. long. Other dry logs
split into slabs and placed on raft crosswise under logs. River
one hundred yards wide. Current smooth and moderate. Remained
in camp over night. In morning put part of freight on raft. Poled
over river by seven men and unloaded. Had drifted down some in
crossing so had to cordelle up to strike place where raft was
built. Three men returned with raft. Balance of freight and family
put on board and landed safely. Raft returned second time. Stock
driven into river and forced to swim over. Those who remained
boarded raft, crossed and unwound ropes. Let noble raft go down
river one log at a time. Packed up again and reached coast in
On beach met 30 men. Offered
us only cabin they had built and hind quarters of fine elk. Little
ship Pomona had left provisions with Mr. Waterman to supply camp
until return. I called on him to buy supplies. Very dear...Asked
price of rice. $1.00 per lb. He asked me if I had any milk to
sell. I said I had. My price $1.00 per qt.. "All right"
he replied. After this he had milk with his rice and we had rice
with our milk. Now idle three weeks until Pomona returned bringing
more men, tools and provisions. All went to work. Place laid
off in town lots, called Crescent City. Ocean to south and west.
Mountains to north and east. Valley level land, extended 16 miles
along coast and three miles back. Shape of half moon. Very heavy
timber covered nearly whole of valley.
Began building in earnest. Cheap
sawmill built to furnish lumber. I finished first house and opened
it as boarding house. Other houses finished and opened in other
branches of business. "Pomona" returned for supplies.
Country thickly inhabited by Indians. Lived chiefly in villages
along coast. Lived mainly on fish. Shy at first but when acquainted
were quite trustworthy. In August fine prairie land dissolved
at mouth of Smith River twelve miles from city. Company wished
me to join them and locate claim. Not convenient for me to leave
home, but offered them use of yoke of oxen to do hauling if they
would locate claim for me and build cabin on it. Offer accepted.
Sixteen men went on ground, located and built cabin on each claim.
In spring I went over and examined country. Pleased with future
prospects I commenced improving. My family the first that ever
landed on beach and after living here fourteen months I rented
my house and moved on my claim which we called Smith River Valley.
As soon as land came into market I bought one thousand acres.
When I first settled here, game plenty, elk, deer, bear, smaller
animals geese and ducks by ten thousand. Handy with rifle and
many a fine elk I killed within one mile of cabin. Began to improve
my farm. Very productive. Prices very good. Stock doing well.
Sent to San Francisco for all kinds of fruit tree seeds. Proved
success. Soon had enough trees for self and neighbors. Small
lot of hogs shipped to Crescent City. Five purchased by myself,
four brood sows and one male for $200.00. In proper time I supplied
neighbors with a start. Several families moved into valley. I
saw necessity of schoolhouse. I received volunteer labor enough
to build house. Soon had school started. Had Sunday School and
preaching when we could get preacher.
Fishery established at mouth
of river. Everything moved on fair and prosperous till 1857 when
Indian war broke out in Jackson County, Oregon. Soon spread to
coast and our trouble began. Settlers became alarmed. Some moved
to Crescent City. I began fort by digging trench three feet deep
around house and well. Split ten foot logs in two and stood them
on end, one flat side in and one flat side out. Chambering round
sides together to be bullet proof. Also made bastion on two opposite
corners so we could enter them from inside fort and from porthole
look along two of outside walls from each bastion. Kept plenty
of guns and ammunition. One man, my son and myself and family
held fort while other families moved to city while men were engaged
in war. Just before close of war five or six roughs engaged in
killing all bucks they could find. Already surrounded two small
villages and killed twenty or thirty inhabitants.
One town of this character located
on my land near beach. Very ancient village contained about one
hundred persons. Roughs threatened this town also. Said they
would kill my Indian boy who had lived with me three years. Faithful
boy. My Indians became much alarmed. Many of them came to me
crying for protection. Three roughs came to my house to kill
my boy. Sharp words and serious threats but finally left. Indians
had done no harm but were true and trustworthy. My duty to help
them. Next morning at break of day I mounted my horse, armed
with shotgun and pistols started with boy to Crescent City where
I left him with friend of mine. Went to city authorities and
asked permission for my Indians to be put on Lighthouse Island
in front of city. About fifteen acres of north half covered with
scrubby timber made convenient shelter. Permission granted. I
returned to Indian Camp and told them to be ready at sunrise
on morrow to move to island. Went to camp in morning equipped
as before. They were ready. Followed beach to avoid danger. Reached
city safely. If I had been caught in act by roughs it would have
cost me my life as they still threatened me till peace proclaimed
by General Camby about six weeks after Indians moved to island.
After war they returned home. Ever remembered me for protection.
Considered lives in my hands.
Valley refilled by former occupants.
Business revived. I built large barn and new house. Orchard bearing
fruit. Good home. Valley very fertile. Good water and finest
timber I ever saw. Felled several trees five to six feet in diameter.
Sawed off 16 rail cuts each eleven feet long. Average would be
12 cuts of same length. Timber called redwood splits easiest
and smoothest of any I ever worked in. Raised 65 bu. wheat to
acre, same of barley, 115 bu. Chile oats and 300 bu. Potatoes.
When several farms got underway - home consumption overdone.
Prices fell so low there was no money in farming and valley so
isolated outside market could not be reached with any profit.
Country mountainous and of rockiest character. Only one road
from valley to interior. Road cost $1,000.00 per mile for first
forty miles then less per mile to Rogue River Valley. Placed
heavy tax on people. My portion $1,200.00. Road crossed copper
belt. Large sums spent in search for copper ore. Search unsuccessful.
I worked two summers and spent $1,500 but failure. Went to Copperopolis
by way of San Francisco to examine mines there. Copper mining
precarious business. I gave it up. Visited San Jose, Watsonville,
Santa Cruz and several other smaller towns and Oakland and San
Francisco. Had good time. Returned home after journey of 1,000
miles through populous country. Our valley looked very small
to me compared to this land with broad and extensive plains.
Upon mature reflection made up mind to sell out and leave valley.
All daughters except one had married and moved out of country.
This one lived in Crescent City. I had now lived in the country
nine years, the longest I had ever remained in one place. Had
served people as county supervisor for number of terms and had
become acquainted with almost every man in county, besides being
leading farmer. Seemed to be leaving a good home but finally
sold out to Colonel Dave Buell for $20,000.00 Stock and all included.
I then gave my farewell party.
Entire neighborhood invited besides friends from Crescent City.
Spent twenty four hours in one of most enjoyable and social parties
of my life. Table furnished with all comforts country afforded.
Plenty of new cider from our orchard, first made in county. Moved
to San Francisco in 1862. Met friend lately from newly discovered
mine of Reese River town of Austin, Landen County, State of Nevada.
He gave very encouraging description of that country. I went
with him. Satisfied with prospects of country, bought 30 town
lots for $2,200,00 and returned for family. Removed them to Austin.
Began building house. Austin about midway of small ravine on
canon about mile long. At mouth of canon and at head of Upper
Austin was town of Clifton. Three towns vied with each other
for supremacy. Caused lively time in building. About this time
I began building city hall. Lumber obtained from California and
drawn 60 or 80 miles across sandy plains. Therefore, very high.
Bought at $200.00 per thousand and No. 1 flooring at $300.00.
Only two paying mines opened then and two mills building at $80,000.00
each. About 5000 population in the place. Few families not engaged
in building were prospecting for miles around.
Seeing that lodes in ledges were
numerous and narrow I began to study possibilities and probabilities
of country. All of money in circulation spent in lots and building.
No capital invested in mines, which were future hope of maintaining
success. I expressed my views to two of my friends. Agreed with
me. We admitted three others for consultation. Agreed to keep
this a secret matter. I proposed we select one claim each, best
we could find, buy out owners, and procure abstracts of title
from location with all changes to title, so our title would be
perfect. After some time and expense this was accomplished. At
same time we had 300 acres of best timbered land surveyed. Other
requirements of law being fulfilled we took some rocks from each
mine, worked it by mill process, abstracted metal, and molded
it into small bricks, the heaviest being $12.00 down to $2.00.
Next provided small sacks containing about two pounds from each
mine with name of mine on each sack and written description of
same and amount of work expended on them. This done, we were
ready for election to decide which one of us should start out
to raise funds for continuing work. To secure this by selling,
leasing, working on shares or in any other way he might desire
for benefit of company. To be kept entirely secret till end accomplished.
Held election - Bradford 5, Wells 1. I was not satisfied with
result as I was an uneducated man and only one of six who had
his family in Austin. Asked for election second time. Same result.
Made me feel like abandoning scheme, but would not be fair to
country, so I consented to go.
San Francisco over run with such
enterprises so decided to go to New York at once. Landed in New
York an entire stranger and felt like cat in strange garret.
Tried to introduce myself and business. Treated very coolly about
a month, as this was entirely new business in New York. At length
met man by name of Demorest, 131 Broadway, who held some conversation
with me about California and its resources. Brought up my subject
and business. With his permission I brought my trunk to his office.
Matter became quite interesting to him and he invited some of
his friends to call and talk with us. Thus I became acquainted
with two brothers by name of Gorman and two others by name of
Hoats. All presented to me as men of great wealth. Another man
by name of Baldwin. Six men became interested in mining operation
and history of country. They said if they purchased they wanted
all six mines and timber. I agreed and price agreed upon was
$100,000.00 for each ledge including timber and mill site. Payments
to be: $50,000.00 on first of succeeding month, and same amount
on first day of each month thereafter for four month; then I
was to wait on them for four months; then they were to renew
payments of $50,000.00 per month till full amount was paid. I
paid lawyer $13.00 for drawing up contract and saw that legal
revenue stamps were placed upon it. One provision in contract;
was to send man with me to Austin with papers and specimens that
I had delivered to them and if mines corresponded to these, contract
to be valid. Judge Prescott appointed to go with me, $1,000.00
paid to me on contract. We set out on our journey, crossing states
by rail to Atchison. Took overland stage route, run by Ben Holliday.
Costly and hard route. We paid $600.00 each passage money and
$2.00 meals. Stage crowded. Traveled six days and nights without
stopping more than thirty minutes at any one time to eat or change
horses. Reached Denver where we stayed 24 hours. In course of
time reached Salt Lake. Stopped 24 hours. Reached Austin next
six days. After few days rest I hired team at $13.00 per day
to take Judge to the mines. Examined these critically and said
they corresponded to their description correctly. He was to telegraph
back report, Found that Indians had destroyed several miles of
telegraph poles and Wire. Wrote several letters. Thirty or forty
days required for delivery delayed very much. When found out
what trade I had made several companies formed in Austin in same
manner and took first steamer to New York. Found Mr. Demorest
and offered him mines at much lower rate then he was to pay me.
Two months had elapsed and $100,000.00 due us. Our company insisted
on my returning to New York to collect. My wife in poor health.
Took her and our two children with me. Left her with relatives
and I continued to New York. Met some of my Austin friends who
were offering mines at almost any price. This discouraged Demorest
and company. They refused to pay me. I employed three lawyers
who examined contract. Pronounced it good. Company would not
compromise so we began suit. Suit adjourned from time to time
to wear me out. Whenever they adjourned I returned to my sick
wife. My lawyers wired me when I was needed in New York. Thus
they kept me in trouble for about nine months. Finally by technical
point in contract and through some hard swearing on their part
I lost case.
I found it was useless for any
Western man to go to law against capitalists in that wicked city.
I returned to my relatives only to find my wife had been buried
two days. Unmanned me for awhile and it appeared to me the world
was against me. Alone with my two children I then traveled one
year, in which I would have had one of most pleasant journeys
of my life had it not been for my severe losses. At this time
in my fifty-seventh year. I went to place of my birth. Everything
was as strange as if I had never been there, except Cuyahoga
River where my little dog Gunner drowned 54 years before. I still
remembered Uncle John. Went to Hacking County at which place
black bear carried off hog and where I killed first deer. Place
also changed. Found seven persons I knew, my sister and husband
being two of them. Found sixteen families names in graveyard,
fathers name among them. Journeyed to settlement where first
married. Here found several old acquaintances among whom were
two elderly ladies whose ruby lips I had kissed in twilight while
they were in their teens. Bidding them farewell I left for Ligonier,
Noble County, Indiana. Here met score of old friends who walked
with me to bank of Elkhart River where I built first bridge across
in 1834. My friends here vied with each other in offering me
their carriages. We visited Haw Patch and other familiar places.
Also visited graves of oldest brother and his wife. Ten days
I spent in Ligonier in pleasure and luxury.
After this enjoyable visit I
bade my friends farewell and left for Mount Pleasant, Henry County,
Iowa. Here proudest days of life, have been spent, dressed in
Majors uniform, in saddle, a fine parade horse under me, and
at head of 1200 men performing our military tactics preparatory
to defending our rights in Butternut War. Spent few days in Mount
Pleasant with old friends and comrades. Had very pleasant time.
Bade them farewell and left for Van Buren County, where I had
kept Mormon Hotel, danced with Brigham Young, and became acquainted
with most of the elders of the Mormon Church. Again I left friends
and proceeded to Alexandria. Here I had lost first wife and married
again. From this place had taken "Silas Wright" for
California. That was 41 years before. Having now overtaken myself,
as it were, first 41 years of my life, I left for New York and
again took steamer for California. Made seventh time I had crossed
isthmus of Dorien. Landed in San Francisco with my two children,
a broken man. Went to Comptonville, New(?)ada County to visit
married daughter. Here met oldest son, by first wife. Had just
returned from late war. Leaving daughter with her half sister,
my two sons and myself went to Yolo County, where I took $400.00
contract. This completed, went to Contra Costa County. Located
one-half section of government land, built small house on each
quarter and began improving same. Stayed here six months and
sold out for $1050.00. Bought two horses and light wagon and
started to look at country. After ten days traveling made up
minds where we would locate if we could but land on terms that
would suit us. Then went to San Francisco to see owner of land
and bought two sections at $3.00 per acre on following terms:
Three equal payments in 1, 2 and 3 years. We went on land and
began work. Oldest son plowed and myself and youngest son began
building. In short time sold one section for $5.00 per Acre,
receiving my $1,280.00 and purchaser standing good for three
annual payments. Bought four horses, and two plows. Kept three
teams busy and put in 70 acres wheat and barley during fall and
winter. In June sold other sections, crops and all for $11.00
per acre. Had lived on this place seven months and with outside
trading in land, had cleared $7,000.00. Returned to Antioch with
teams and traded them off for 160 acres of land. Sold land in
short time at $200.00 profit.
Oldest son went to Comptonville
for my daughter. On return I bought comfortable outfit for traveling.
We four started down coast. Visited all towns from Oakland to
San Diego. Camped at will and pleasure. Boys shot quail, rabbits,
ducks and geese by dozen as they were very plenty along coast.
Made this very pleasant journey. Traveled about four hundred
miles. Finally settled in Los Angeles County. Bought 300 acres
for $7.00 per acre. With W. M. Spurgeon bought sixty acres at
same price which I wished to lay out in a town. Hired surveyor,
staked off town plat and called it Santa Ana. Built small storehouse
for Mr. Spurgeon and house for myself. Offered lots free if person
would build on them at once. I then agreed to sell them another
lot joining first for $15.00. Town improved rapidly.
Soon man named Tustin laid off
a town on 1 larger scale half mile east of us, and a Mr. Chapman
laid off a third town about the same distance, northeast of us.
Brought three towns in triangle about equal distances apart..
named Santa Ana, Tustinville and Orange. Created deadlock. Well
known that county could not support three towns in such close
proximity to each other when thriving town of Anaheim was within
seven miles of us. Deadlock remained for some time. Not. much
change so I became impatient, sold out my interest in town and
left for San Diego County which county I traveled over quite
extensively. Very large county, some ninety miles wide and 180
long. In one visit I traveled to southwest corner near beach
to see monument between California and Mexico. Monument cost
Government $40,000.00 and is worth about $4,000,00. I returned.
On second trip visited Julian mining districts sixty miles east.
Rough and mountainous country. Nothing encouraging there, so
returned. Next employed by several men to take trip 100 miles
northeast to investigate a mine. I employed four men and finished
my work. Carried back 100 lbs. best ore I could select. Tested
and found to be of no value. Mine consequently failure.
Three men called on me and asked
me to join them in forty mile journey in search of coal. After
thorough search I was satisfied it would not be safe to invest
in that enterprise. Returned to city. Took several shorter trips
and found nothing that would interest me. Very little farming
land in county and I could not live on climate and bay. After
four months stay I decided to leave San Diego, taking son and
daughter out of school, as it had been my practice to send them
to school whenever I stopped long enough to be of any advantage
to them. Daughter of excellent musical talent and had become
quite a favorite at school. With her experience of much traveling
and being now about ten years of age, she was quite interesting.
Left for Santa Ana again, staying there some time, as my older
son had stayed there while we were on San Diego trip. Sold land
for $10.00 per acre and left for San Francisco leaving elder
son at this place. In few days after arriving at San Francisco
we took steamer for Portland, Oregon. Here placed children in
school Built house in East Portland for one of my sons-in-law.
I then went down Columbia River to Cementville, crossed over
mountain to north, visited Shoal Water Bay in Washington, turned
east through country where found heavy timbered region. Crossed
Lewis River continuing east through thinly settled country to
Vancouver, journey of 200 miles, last hundred on foot. Vancouver
handsome place on river seven miles northeast of Portland.
After few days rest, my boy wishing
to go with me, we started up Columbia River on steamer. Passed
up river where grandest scenery I ever saw was in our view. Had
to make two portages around falls, passing The Dallas on our
right and landing at Umatilla where we took the stage, crossing
Blue mountains to Baker City. Stopped, joined three men and mined
four weeks, making small wages. Went to Burnt River to Eagle
Camp. Business dull. High elevated country. Little timber, mostly
sagebrush plains. Very windy and cold in winter season. Invited
to visit Copper mines on Powder River. Appeared to be of good
quality and quantity but entirely too far from market to be of
value. In northeast corner of Oregon. Returned to Portland after
journey of 700 miles. My boy returned to school. I went to carpentering
again at $3.00 per day till rainy season set in. Boarded at hotel
till Feb. 20, when rain gauge marked 5 ft., 7 in. Rivers overflowing
banks for last six-weeks. I got tired of this. Portland the wettest
and muddiest place I ever was in.
Son now eighteen years of age
and wished to remain. Daughter and self returned to Oakland where
she went to school. I went to carpentering again. Had been a
widower nine years and family had all left me. Made up my mind
to marry again. Acquainted with widow lady for some three years.
I proposed to her and we were married on Nov. 25, 1872. I being
63 and my wife 45. We went to Sonoma and bought small vineyard
of twelve acres for which I paid $2,000.00. Wine making carried
on in county quite extensively. Four of neighbors and myself
formed company for that business. Rented wine cellar, bought
$4,000.00 worth of cooperage, and I was elected president of
board. When grapes were ripe we commenced operation, working
about 13 men during season and making 62,000 gallons of wine.
Followed this up for four years; when wine being at very low
figure. We concluded to close business. Consequently I sold wine
on hand to wine merchants in San Francisco, sold cooperage. We
settled up and found we had made only monthly wages. I sold out
for same that I gave. I made up my mind to go to Texas by way
of Kansas to visit relatives. Left wife with her friends. Started
June 1879. Arrived at brother's at Lyndon, Osage County, Kansas.
After weeks visit resumed journey to Sherman, Texas. Finding
friends there, remained few days. In meantime joined seven men
with two wagons who were going to prospect country. Traveled
with them about two weeks. Country we traveled through poorly
watered. Timber scarce and few inhabitants. Passed thousands
of head of cattle. Now and then gang of cowboys and miserable,
dirty looking cabin. Finally reaching Wichita River in northeast
part of state. Weather extremely hot. Strength and health beginning
to fail. Hadn't seen anything in Texas I cared about seeing again.
I left company and hired private conveyance to carry me to Fort
Sill, one hundred miles. Health still failing. Remained two days
and then took passage on buckboard, broke down at Stinking River.
One sod house and change of horses. Place properly named. Glad
to leave it at nightfall. Renewed journey. In morning when sun
arose it appeared to me it had been multiplied in size and heat
to wonderful extent. Had to hold umbrella before me to avoid
heat. About 8 o'clock fainted and fell to bottom of buckboard.
About 8 miles from Fort Reno. Knew nothing until 4 o'clock in
evening. When I first came to my senses, I could not tell where
I was. Mind floating around in California. Sam, colored man sitting
before me, I asked him where I was. He answered "Fort Reno".
Mind began to return and I traced up Texas journey. I then felt
for my watch to see what time it was and it was gone. I felt
for inside pocket and found it empty.
Alarmed me and I asked "Whose
hands am I in?" Colored man assured me he would run downstairs
and bring man up to see me. Man came to bedside saying if I would
be quite he would explain everything to me. He said he had my
gold watch, money and papers by which he learned my name was
Major Bradford and by my demit that I was a Mason. He told me
to be perfectly content, as he was a Mason and other members
of house were same; as I was now among brethren, everything should
be done for me that they could do, free of charge. Doctor now
came to see me. Finding me much better and able to talk with
him. Asked me to describe property in my possession when I fainted
on buckboard. Answered I had Gold watch and $1050.00 In gold
notes and pocketbook, demit and some other papers of less value.
Said they were all safe in his hands. reason he took them, he
was doubtful of my ever recovering again. Next morning I was
able to walk about house and improved rapidly. Officers began
to call on me evenings and mornings to take pleasant drive around
fort. Remained there twelve days and became acquainted with most
of officers who enjoyed my descriptions of California very much.
I had gathered variety of tree seeds before leaving California.
Had yet. Handed them to General, who said he would have his gardener
take good care of them, as he considered them a valuable present.
For this I received picture of General and his wife. On last
day of stay, an officer invited me to take ride with him to Government
corral, three miles away. When we arrived there were 1500 Indians
all mounted and armed and 136 Texas steers in corral. As fast
as they could be weighed, five at one time, turned out on plains.
Indians circling around them. As fast as stock on outside increased,
circle enlarged. By time last lot was weighed and turned out,
circle had increased 100 to 150 acres. When flag was run to top
of mast, firing began and in thirty minutes last steer was dead,
lying in grass. Cutting up and packing off began. Two lines of
tents bordering timber as far as I could see. Now drove over
to agency. About 700 squaws receiving commissaries. We returned
Next morning took passage on
stage to Wichita, Kansas with basket well filled and several
bottles English ale at my feet. No charge made for anything received
while in Fort Reno. Bidding Ft. Reno friends farewell, I landed
in Wichita meeting brother Simeon Bradford, who was attending
convention at that place, being a lawyer, of some standing. Remained
there until convention adjourned. Accompanied him to his home
in Carbondale. Separated and I returned home to Calif. Found
my wife well. Without home so we moved to Sutter County. Stayed
only short time. Wife wished to visit her two sons at Truckee.
While there I saw notice in paper of furnished hotel for rent,
located midway between Truckee and Sierra Valley on old and established
stage route, owned by stockman who kept stock there through summer
and ran hotel himself. Drove stock to valley in winter and rented
hotel. Went to see him and he said we might have all we could
make if we would take good care of place. Accepted offer. Found
comfortable hotel and stock room for 60 head horses with other
accommodations. Saw man who had kept it for four winters. Said
he had cleared from $700.00 to $800.00 each winter. Concluded
to try it. Took possession on Oct 1, For 2-1/2 months did well,
Laid in large supply of wood and hay and good stock provisions,
knowing snow fell very deep during winter. Had made $250.00 above
expenses up to December 16. On the 18th stage returned from Truckee
and driver informed us he had received orders from headquarters
he must run stage on different route from that date and this
was his last trip on that road. Snow twelve inches deep and snowing
fast. Bade us good-bye and drove out of sight. Now what were
we to do? Could not leave and did not know when we would see
friends again. Solemn time. Time passed on. Snow kept falling.
About two months before we saw human face, when friend came on
snowshoes to find out whether we were dead or alive. Stayed but
few hours. Returned to Truckee.
All work I had to do was shovel
snow take good care of faithful cow and old dog Prince. Spent
time in reading old news over and over again. Much of time was
spent in whittling soft pine into knives, swords and guns. About
three weeks after first visitor two men came from Sierra Valley
on snowshoes and stayed all night. Left for Truckee next morning.
We had two pairs snowshoes. Occasionally would take circle of
one or two miles on them. A snowshoe is thin board seven or eight
feet long and four inches in width, turned up at forward end,
with piece of leather like vamp of boot nailed on center of each
shoe, and small crosswise piece for heel to rest against and
when foot is in vamp, traveler moves with sliding walk.
On April I began to look for
warm weather but to our surprise on 14th of April fell deepest
snow of season. Snow eight feet deep, still practiced on snowshoes
till wife thought she could go to Truckee on them. On May 1 our
time expired and we made arrangements to go. Left cow where she
could got plenty of hay and water. Made light hand sled and placed
on it two blankets, provisions and a hatchet. At 4 a.m. started
on journey with old Prince for our guide. His master had told
us that at any time we wished to go to Truckee old Prince would
be true and faithful guide. Found it to be so.
Sunrise in morning being three
miles on way, I consulted wife whether we had better continue
on journey or return for safety. Her mind made up to go ahead.
Now slid along after old Prince till we came to half way house
where I got under barn and got some water to drink and ate lunch.
Well improved and pleasant place in summer season. Now clothed
with six or eight feet of snow and not a sound of any kind to
be heard. Very lonesome. Traveled on. Old Prince taking lead.
Kept about fifty steps in front of us. Now and then would grab
mouthful of snow, look back and wait for us. At Prosser Creek
four miles from Truckee, another improved place where we rested
short time. Sun shining and snow began to get soft. Snowshoes
became burdensome, so left them here and continued journey. Going
over summit south now downgrade to Truckee. My wife being fleshly
lady journey became very fatiguing to her but her ambition carried
her through; confined to bed for three days, snowblind also.
Arrived at Truckee at 12 o'clock. Just as bells were ringing
for dinner. Our arrival created quite a sensation in town and
there was lengthy editorial in paper giving full description
of winter's confinement and our unexpected arrivals. Wife remained
at Truckee with her sons while I went to see my children as I
had not seen some of them for 18 years. Some lived in Calif.
and some in Oregon. I stayed one week with each of my daughters
who had traveled with me to California in 1849 and we refreshed
our minds of our lonely and perilous journey in those early days.
They are both living at this date, the oldest with her family
in Crescent City.
During my absence of 18 years
I found great change in country. Farmers had gone extensively
into business and my Indians had nearly all passed away. I saw
my boy Charlie who had the appearance of an old man. Very glad
to see me. Several small sawmills built, Lumbering and dairying
were principal industries. My house, barn and orchard showed
age, and brought back afresh to my mind the nine years of hard
toil and pleasant days I had spent in this place. My old friends
that yet remained were very glad to see me. Returned to Truckee
after spending one month pleasantly with my children. In fall
returned to Sonoma County. In May, following with other parties,
we removed to Fresno County: here bought land and settled and
remained five years. Farming unprofitable being dry country,
building of ditches to irrigate being very expensive. We set
out fine orchard but in second year grasshoppers destroyed it
and our crops. Sold out and removed to Fresno City where we now
reside. Next trip was to visit son in Portland, Oregon, who was
head sawyer in mill that cut 150,00 feet of lumber per day. Wages
were $5,00 per day. His family were all well and his employer
gave him his liberty a few days that he might enjoy my company
during my stay in Portland. We took in town generally and called
on several of my old friends who yet remembered me. I found town
had improved very much since last visit, being now rich and wealthy
Started out seven miles to see
old friend of mine, who joined farms with me in Iowa at time
of great Mormon Camp on my place in 1846. When within three miles
of his place we learned he had been buried three days. With this
sad news we returned back, visiting two other of my old friends.
Were confined to their rooms. I learned by letter that both died
about one month after my departure. Bade farewell to remaining
friends at Portland, and on way home called on one of my daughters
in Josephine County, Oregon, and found them well. After short
visit returned to Sutter County, California, and visited another
daughter, the younger of the two who traveled that long journey
in 1849 and 1850 to California and return. Elder one lived 120
miles off my route over Coast Range of mountains and there being
no public conveyance, I omitted calling on her, coming home by
way of Oakland and visiting my youngest daughter whom I found
in good health. I returned home after traveling circuitous route
of 1400 miles which I enjoyed very much. My next trip was short
one but somewhat interesting. Wife's brother and wife from Iowa
spent summer of 1882 in California traveling quite extensively,
visiting Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego,
returning to Fresno. They remained here about three months and
being about to leave for Iowa he remarked to me that they had
not visited any of the mountains or large timber that were so
much talked of. I told him if he would remain four or five days
longer I would go with him to accomplish this object. This being
agreed to, I engaged a passage in the stage, while he prepared
himself with long and strong twine saying he would measure some
of the largest trees and tie knots in line at exact measurement
of each tree and carry line home with him and show to people
as though this would be positive proof of their size. In morning
we took stage and drove forty miles to foot of mountains. Next
morning took mountain stage twelve miles to mills when my brother-in-law
began to realize what mountains were, as we were now at an elevation
of 5,000 feet. We took a stroll around mill and then took dinner.
Found jolly old mountaineer who
was going out to mining camp after some ladies who were there
on a pleasure trip and wished to return to Fresno. Lucky for
us. We got in and rode out, passing through the wonderful mountain
forest, some of the trees being eight, and ten feet in diameter,
which surprised Mr. Lampson very much. We still rolled on, sometimes
up and sometimes down, but about two ups to one down, finally
reaching the and of our journey, or as far as a wagon had ever
gone in that direction. Here unhitched from wagon, un-harnessed
and fed horses at wagon. Took stroll around through mines which
were something entirely new to friend Lampoon. Gathered few specimens
of mineral rock, called at minor's camp and had an introduction
to our three schoolmarms. Returning now to our wagons we built
our campfire and got supper. This over, and quite dark. Mr. Lampson
asked me where we were going to sleep. I pointed toward a tree
and remarked that that would be very good place. At this the
old gentleman throw up his head and looked as though he was looking
at top of tallest trees and remarked that he had never camped
out a night in his life, which brought good deal of merriment
to Mr. Music and myself. Then we had to relate some of our experience
of camp life; that we had spent many a night on a few pine boughs
with blanket spread over them on two feet of snow and when we
awoke in morning we found another foot of snow had fallen on
top of us during the night.
Thus we spent the evening until
time to go to rest. Spread down blankets and informed friend
that bed was now ready. Stepped to one side in darkness as though
to see if there was any danger approaching us, then quietly went
to bad, but could not sleep. Got up several times in night and
threw more woods on campfire and was glad when dawn returned.
After taking cup of black coffee and cracker we placed some of
our blankets on our two horses instead of saddles and two of
us mounted the horses and others went on foot. Having three miles
yet to go up mountain trail to reach Big Trees arriving there
just after sunrise. These were monsters sure enough! Hitched
horses. Then Mr. Lampson began to unroll twine. I took end and
around I went till I met him, line being tightly drawn, breast
high. Knot tied, and we proceeded to measure other trees in same
manner, strolling around through woods till we became satisfied
and tired. Returned to our horses and as I told them I being
youngest man of the three, I would take first walk. So they mounted
horses and I struck out. Over rocky places I could beat the horses
and road being down grade I reached wagon in forty minutes, horses
in sixty. We now ate our second breakfast, hitched up, called
on our lady friends and were soon on our way homeward. Our schoolmarms
were very musical and Mr. Lampson being an old music teacher
himself, we had plenty of fine music, and soon would have had
the wagon chock full of it if he had not been so "goldarned
sleepy," as he called it, that he would get to nodding and
spill it out overboard. Then we would all clap our hands and
yell our: "There! there goes a bunch through the woods"
Then he would throw up his head and bung out his eyes and stare
into the woods when we would have another hearty laugh.
Some places road very sidling
and other places steep up and down. Some places few rocks to
shake us up, but joking, singing and laughing still continued
throughout trip. As we emerged out of lofty pines on to more
barren, high ridges, we could see to right and left for miles
away the grandest scenery of our journey while straight ahead
5000 feet below us the level plains extended 200 miles to Pacific
Ocean. We now descended very rapidly till we reached the Toll
House, or what is called the foot of the main mountain where
we remained all night. Taking stage next morning we reached home
at 4 o'clock that day. After resting an hour or two and dinner
being over, Mjr. Lampson sat back and said to his wife, "By
gosh I don't want to go to the mountains again!" He said,
however, that he had seen more in those four days than he had
seen in half his lifetime. His twine being stretched across the
yard and being correctly measured the largest tree proved to
be 95 feet in circumference. There might have been larger trees
in the grove but we were in a hurry to return.
On the first day of last July,
I with twelve others set out on journey to Minnesette mines,
located in Sierras near, head of San Joaquin River, one hundred
miles north east of Fresno, driving first sixty miles in light
wagons with outfit for journey. Left wagons and harness, saddled
the horses, packed tonnage on pack animals and proceeded single
file up and down mountains on narrow trail for two days, when
we reached place of our destination. When we reached log cabin,
several shots fired as salute on our arrival. Now passed one
of wonders of these mines. Iron Mountain which is two miles in
length and over three hundred feet wide and stands 1,000 feet
high, the ore assaying 93% and is said to be largest and richest
iron mine in world. Began to examine general appearance of gold
and silver mines, which cover, or rather make their appearance
over several miles of country. I have spent several years in
mines and mountains and have never seen half of its equal in
general outward appearance, although there has been so little
work done that as regards its value, I have nothing to say. However,
I have seen assays reported from these mines that were extravagantly
high. We here located what we call a mine. Carrying no tools
nor being able to obtain any, after spending nine days in high
altitude of 9,000 feet and not being able to accomplish anything
in way of work we returned home leaving our mines as we found
Now I am well aware of simplicity
and irregularity of this little book which will no doubt call
forth many criticisms and remarks, which I am prepared to receive.
It is a true saying that the young are looking forward to bright
future, to wealth and happiness, while the aged are looking back
over their lives of trials and disappointments. With the loss
of my eyesight to such a degree, and with my age, I am not able
to perform any kind of business. Therefore, I made up my mind
to spend a few of my leisure hours in composing these pages.
Not being able to write any myself my wife has done the writing
for me. I have come to the conclusion however, that I will write
a more extensive volume in the future, giving my forty years
experience in this State (?) of agriculture, horticulture and
viticulture, with a sprinkling of irrigation and speculation
and other topics. I will endeavor to do justice to all sides
of these topics, as according to my opinion, there has been a
great deal said and written of a one-sided character. I will
endeavor to gather such statements and facts as are reliable
on all subjects which I shall treat.