DANIEL SPENCER GILMAN COLLECTION
WRITTEN BY DANIEL SPENCER
San Francisco, California Novr 30th, 1849
As the mail steamer for the States leaves tomorrow, I shall devote this Day in giving you an Account of my going to see the Elephant, as Gold digging is termed here. Well then we arrived at this place Tuesday Aug. 21, Got across the Bay & came to Anchor for the night. The vessel being crowded with Passengers we were Obliged to lodge on Deck Heads & Points with Mexican, Chilean, Sandwich Islander, Negro &c. A Perfect Amalgamation. Sunday, wind light & at night anchored near Benicia. A place where Government is building considerable. Monday forenoon reached the mouth of San Joaquin River, Pronounced San Waukeen, 60 miles from San Francisco. Here Col. Stevenson has laid out an embryo City, called New York. This night we anchored on the San Joaquin but no sleep for us, having as much as we could do to hold on to the rigging to prevent the Mosquitoes from carrying us off bodily. Mosquitoes at home ought not to be mentioned the same day with these. The Banks of this river are low & rushes meet the eye as far as you can see. Next night reached Stockton the head of Navigation 100 miles from New York. Much jealousy & disaffection having crept into our Company, it here met the fate of all California Companies viz., Broke up. Carlton here left us & returned to San Francisco. The remainder of us agreed to go on to the Mines & live in one tent, but be two distinct parties in Business. So after Paying our fares to this place ($15 each besides freight) The Treasurer divided the balance of money on hand equally among us, & Evans, Morse & Andrews were of my Company. & Tilton, Helly, Gray & Roby of the other. At Stockton we made some purchases of Provisions & hired a train of pack mules to take our goods to Murphy’s New Diggins, head of Angel Creek, 75 miles from Stockton, giving the muleteer 15 dollars per Hundred lbs.
Saturday Sep 1st, left Stockton & travelled about 10 miles over a level road where we halted for the night on account of feed for the mules, rolled ourselves in our Blankets & slept in the open air as no dew ever falls here in Summer. Next Day marched about 15 miles through the same level flat Country. Next day ditto and arrived at the Double Springs (so called). Here the country begins to rise into Hills. Next day made our way over quite a rough road & the 5th reached our destination 75 miles North East of Stockton among the Hills. This Part of the Country has every appearance of having once been terribly convulsed & torn to pieces by Earthquakes & the Surface every where is covered with a red barren volcanic Earth. At this place we found about 150 men at work in what was once the Bed of a river but now scarce worthy the name of a Brook, indeed where most of them worked it was perfectly dry.
Friday the 7th commenced digging for Gold, found none. Saturday ditto, Monday found a little, being the 4th Hole we had dug (or rather I for I found that I had to do most of the digging). Tuesday found this hole to be pretty rich. Saturday morning my Party got sick of Gold Digging & were bound to go directly back to San Francisco, weighed our week’s work & found it amounted to $270.40. Gave my quarter of Gold about $67 for the goods & Chattels of my Partners & they left the mines & I was left in a Partnership of one, & so I still remain. The Day my Partners left which was on a Saturday I dug $12, Monday $13, Tues. 00, Wedn $16, Thursd 22, Frid $63, Sat. $154, Mon 68, T. 16, W. 48, T. 93, F 00, S. 34, Monday Oct 1st 48, 2d 12, 3d 111, 4th 20, 5th 80, 6th 64, 7th Sunday, 8th 00, 9th 86. At night had a slight shower of rain, the first of the season. 10th 123. 11th 50. The ensuing week I only averaged about $6 per Day when my hole got exhausted & I was not fortunate enough to meet with another.
About this time begun to think of making preparations for winter. Resolved to go to Stockton & purchase my winter’s Stock of Provisions, but heavy & unexpected rains came on making the roads unpassable for Teams, & flour which had been selling in the mines for 25 Cts per pound suddenly went up to 75 Cts. Pork raised from 50 Cts to 100 per lb. Other Articles in the same ratio. This was too much for me, so after living about two months on the purchase made of my Partners I sold the balance for over $130. Reserving the Tent of which I own one half. Besides this I had commenced Building a Log House 9 by 13 ft inside, this I sold for $50 & the 16th of this month left the Diggins on foot & alone with no arms to defend myself with but my natural ones. Loaded down with a knapsack of Provisions, Frying Pan, Tin-Pail, Cup knife &c., besides my Blankets. All of this made quite a load, but when fatigued I stopped made a fire then a cup of Tea & lodged by the side of a Log or under a tree wherever night overtook me. Arrived in safety at Stockton on the morning of the 19th where I stopped one week waiting for Tilton & Roby who I expected would bring the Tent as soon as the travelling improved. But last Monday they arrived without it. As the weather is now Pleasant it will probably be forwarded the first opportunity & they are now stopping at Stockton to receive it. On their arrival there I started for this place & reached here in 2 _ Days.
Since I left the Diggins one fortnight ago I have lodged out of Doors. But the nights are getting most too cool & frosty for comfort. If my Tent does not arrive soon I must purchase another. I have not had a sick Day since I arrived in the Country. Indeed not so much as a Cold till today, for which I feel truly thankful. For hard is the fate of the sick man in this Country. I intend stopping here during the winter as I have $1300 or more in Gold, Good Health, my chest of Tools & can have from 12 to 16 Dollars Per Day for using. Buildings are going up here as if by magic. Lumber worth in the States $20 is here worth $350. Common kind of Board can be obtained here at $21 Per week. But the best way is for Mechanics to Board themselves. Had to pay a Teamster $4 for moving my chest about 80 rods. For storing them at Stockton $3 Per month. I can hire a lodging Room about as large as a common Bed Room for $50 Per month. Sheet Iron Stoves vary in Price from $25 to $75. Thick Grain Leather Boots from 25 to $80. Fine Salt was worth in the mines where I was last summer 75 Cts Per lb, Potatoes Ditto, Onions 1.25 Per lb, Molasses 1.00 Per pint Bottle, vinegar ditto, soap 2.00 Per Bar, Sulphur 50 Cts per Ounce. A Doctor’s fee for a visit if not more than five rods distant $8.00. Never make a charge less than $4 where the Patient goes to them.
Such is California as I have found it. Much more would I say would time Permit but must defer at present. Shall endeavor to write monthly. Have recd no Letters from friends since I left you. Hoping that you & all of our friends are enjoying like myself Heavens richest Blessing, Good Health & that we may once more meet on Earth.
I subscribe myself your wandering Brother. D.S. Gilman
Please forward this to our native Home after Perusal.
Enclosed is the first piece of Gold which I found in California. The
largest Piece I got is worth a trifle over $20 at 16 Dollars Per Ounce
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