THE ARGONAUTS OF CALIFORNIA.
EMIGRATION OF ’51--CHURCHES ERECTED--MINES DESERTEDTHE CHINESE MINERS--HILL, RIVER AND QUARTZ MINING--NATURE FROWNS--THE COURSE OF EVENTS CHANGE--FRUIT RAISING—PROSPECTING--ON THE HOME STRETCH.
In the fall of ’51 there was a very heavy emigration across the plains, from Western States principally, which I heard estimated at 25,000, but whether it was as much as this I cannot say. Great numbers, also, who had traveled by water during the fall and winter of ’51, came up into the mining regions, and the estimate was made that in Eldorado County alone there were in the spring of ’52 fully 30,000 persons, while in the mining regions there were nearly 100,000. Of this number only a small proportion engaged in the business of mining, the great majority consisting of business men including saloon-keepers, idlers, loafers, and a large number of sporting men. From observation, I should judge that less than one-tenth of those who came into the mining regions up to this time engaged in the business of mining.
It was during the spring of this year that the first newspaper, called the Eldorado News, was started in the mining regions by Harmon & Springer. It changed hands in ’52, I think, its name being altered to that of The Mountain Democrat, under the management of Gilwick & Phillips.
It was the intention of many up to this time (about ’52 and ’53) to return home after a few years; but now the time had arrived when orchards were blooming upon the hillsides, and the grapevines could be seen bending under their luscious burdens, the prevalent question appearing to be, Why not stay and make our homes here? The society in the mining regions, as was doubtless the case in the towns and cities, was somewhat mixed, and at first social conditions were rather strained, owing, of course, to the difference in the manners and customs of the natives of the different States and
countries from which they had emigrated. This state of affairs did not last long, however, and society soon adapted itself to such changed conditions, and continued upon a more favorable basis. Churches were erected in all the chief mining towns by the various denominations; school districts were formed at an earlier day, and school-houses were erected throughout the mining counties, not only in the chief towns, but also in all of the various mining camps that contained children enough to start one.
In the dry seasons of ’50–’53, when water was scarce in the placer mining districts, large numbers proceeded to prospect the beds of other rivers, both north and south, finding that almost every stream, from the Klamath, Trinity and Scott rivers of the North, to the Stanislaus and other rivers of the South, contained gold in paying quantities. Dams, ditches, tail races, wing dams and flumes were built at the most available points in the various rivers, and immense fortunes were realized by a few persons. River mining partakes of the same nature and character as other mining, and although the exact location was known in the river where the rich deposits were to be found, yet the trouble and expense, as well as the uncertainty and risk in getting it, offset to a great extent the value of the amount acquired; for, in some cases, miners were compelled to dam and flue three and even four years in succession before being able to get to work among the pay gravel in the river bed.
Frequent losses were entailed in consequence of the breaking away of dams, caused by rains in the mountains above coming upon them unexpectedly and carrying away flumes, tools, etc., just as everything was about ready for commencing the work of washing the pay dirt.
Gold mining, under favorable conditions is of a pleasing and exciting nature, and for this reason has great attraction for many; but such is the great uncertainty of success of this method of acquiring wealth, that although fully $50,000,000 of gold was being annually extracted from the mines and put into circulation, yet, strange and paradoxical as it may seem, a few years demonstrated the fact that the class who extracted the gold from the soil in the dry diggings, from tunnels in the old, ancient river beds, as well as from the present water courses, were the very ones who had, or who retained in their possession, the least amount. It would be natural to suppose, from the nature of things, that those who dug the gold
should hold or retain in their possession by far the greater portion of it; the reverse, however, was the case, in a short time the miners, as a class, were the poorest persons in the State. A few, of course, had acquired fortunes, but thousands who had, but a short time previously been in possession, of good paying claims were now barely able to make a living. It is a mooted question as to why this was, and in what respects the business of gold mining differed from any other occupation.
The true explanation of this paradox, in my opinion, can be traced to the great expense attendant upon the business, and to the fact that the outgo continues at all times, while little or nothing is coming in; an important factor being also an excessive freedom in the use of gold, for a miner who has a paying mine does not practice habits of economy; he does not know how, and if he ever did it has slipped his memory.
As the ravines, gulches and small creeks were now worked out, or at that point when they ceased to pay sufficient to warrant working, they were entirely abandoned. This gave to the mining regions a very desolate appearance; for in certain locations or districts where but a short time previous all was life and animation, and the clatter of the shovels upon the tom iron, the rush of water and gravel through the long sluices, and the laughter and jollity of the miners at work, evidencing the fact that fair wages were being made, could be heard, now the scene was changed and all was desolate and deserted. The numerous old cabins scattered around among the hills were silent, and tentless, too; the old chimneys in some places were falling to the ground, and young pine trees were showing themselves among the ruins.
But again the scene changes; for now the Asiatic hordes, who had learned of the great wealth to be acquired here in so easy a manner, were on their way to honor the State with their company, and they soon flocked into the mining regions in swarms, well satisfied to work over the old abandoned claims left and deserted by others. They were welcomed by the mining community with open arms, as it was soon discovered that the Chinese would not preempt, or locate any new mining grounds, desiring only to buy at a fair price the old worked-out claims which had been abandoned. Here was the grand opportunity of the miner to re-locate and sell to the Mongolian emigrant these old mining claims; and well did
these disciples of Confucius merit the title of scavengers of the mining regions, for many of the old claims which had been abandoned as worthless, were not so in fact, as it soon discovered that from many of them the Chinese miners were taking out large amounts of gold.
The Chinese method of working a mining claim differed very materially from our own, being of a more systematic character. It was their practice to commence and take everything clean as they went, leaving not an inch of ground behind them unworked. They are slow workers as compared with other races, but sure and steady, illustrating by their success in working these old claims the truth of the old adage that it is the steady mill that grinds the corn. So thorough was their work, that it would be entirely useless and a waste of time to work over any mining grounds that have been previously worked by a Chinese company, for they got it all.
Some attempts to prevent the ingress of the Chinese into the mining regions by levying or enforcing the previously adopted “Foreign Miners’ Tax,” were made; but this they paid without a murmur, and in many cases two or three times over, for it was often the custom of some to go among them with fictitious papers, and collect their taxes in advance of the regularly licensed collector.
In the summer of ‘53-’54, those who still continued in the occupation of mining, turned their attention chiefly to river and hill mining, returning to the rivers in the dry season and to their hill claims in the fall, after the rivers had risen, and rendered such mining impracticable. Tunnels were run into the old river channels in all directions; with varying success, however, some being a perfect failure, whilst from others fortunes were realized. Among the richest of these were the forest hill claims, where was found the celebrated blue gravel lead, this being discovered principally amid the ancient river beds, in the central and northern mining regions of the State, but small sections of it ever having been found through the southern portions. These hill claims were very extensive, and many throughout the mining regions, upon which work was commenced nearly thirty-eight years ago, are yet being worked with success. The same manner of working as originally, by drifting, is still in vogue, although the gravel, instead of being washed as it was at that time, is now crushed in mills in the same manner as quartz, and with greater profit. Many of these old abandoned hills
claims, from which the gravel had been previously drifted, were afterwards washed away by the hydraulic process, with good success.
This process of mining commenced, I think, in some of the mines in the spring of ‘52, and such was found to be the great advantage of the method, and the facility with which whole hills could be removed from their foundations and carefully and evenly deposited among the farms in the low counties, leaving, of course, the gold behind, that it came into general use throughout the mining region wherever sufficient fall and water could be obtained. Old abandoned mines were by this process made very remunerative, as was the case also with many ravines and flats which could be washed to advantage, without regard to the rights of those who had fenced in and improved their garden spots with fruit trees, vines and flower-beds.
It was general opinion of the great majority of the mining classes, from about the year ‘51, that this was exclusively a mining country; that it was fit for nothing else, and that no man had a right to question this opinion, or to build upon, or to fence in, any portion of the soil for any other purpose whatsoever for his own individual use, that a miner was bound to respect. This idea yet exists in the minds of many, or at least of that portion who are engaged in hydraulic mining, for in their opinion the business of mining, being the first and original industry of the country, must have precedence over all other kinds of business, and of course this priority gives them the right to fill up, cover up, and destroy the property of the farmers below who were foolish enough to get in the way.
It was some time during the early spring of ‘52, that mining men and geologists turned their attention to the various quartz ledges which were found projecting above the surface of the ground among the hills, many of which, upon examination, proved to be very rich in gold. The opinion soon became general, and a well demonstrated fact, that all gold found among the ravines, flats, hills and river beds, came originally from these same quartz ledges, and that locked within the solid quartz, in the finest of particles, was its original condition. In consequence of volcanic eruptions and glacial action the hills and ledges had, in course of ages, been broken up and worn away to their present elevation, the gold
therefrom having been scattered by the force of the rushing waters among the ravines and river beds, where it is now found.
In ‘53 the erection of quartz mills commenced, and soon the crash and rattle of their stamps could be heard echoing among the hills and canons. In the first excitement of quartz mining, mills were erected upon all ledges which showed the least appearance of containing gold, but it was soon discovered that the greater portion of them did not pay expenses. The consequence was, it is safe to say, that hundreds of mills were idle in a year hence, and the valuable machinery was left to rust and decay. In the case, however, of many of these old abandoned ledges, further prospecting at lower depth proved them to be of value, and many of them at the present time are being worked with profit, owing to the improved methods of saving the gold.
It has been said that gold mining was not a legitimate business, and that the intense desire for gold created unnatural conditions. But observation and experience show us that the happiness of the human family, as well as the grade of civilization to which it is possible to attain, depends upon the quantity of gold which it is possible to acquire, and its proper use. Without gold in what would life consist? What would be its chief aim and consideration? Why, there wouldn’t be any aim at all, for there wouldn’t be any target worth the aiming at. It was the desire to possess this precious metal that prompted thousands of us to undertake such a long, wearisome, and dangerous journey around those gigantic obstructions at the extreme end of the continent, as well as a tedious journey across the barren deserts. It is this desire, also, or incentive, which builds our great cities, our great manufacturing industries, as well as our railroads and steamships; proving conclusively, in my opinion, that the individual who first invented and threw to the breeze the old saying that money makes the mare go understood the whole business.
But why should gold in such vast quantities be scattered here upon the western portion of our continent, and why was Nature so partial in the distribution of her favors? Was it accidental, the effect of chance conditions, or was it designed for some special purpose? The latter is the more reasonable, and therefore the more probable, theory, for observation shows us that Nature frowns upon unbalanced conditions, and that here, upon the western slope of the
continent, lying silent and deserted, was an earthly paradise, unthought of, and as yet unknown except by a few, while at the East vast numbers were settling and making their homes amid the snow banks and blizzards of an Artic climate, totally unconscious of what the conditions were at the far West, beneath the setting sun. Under such conditions, it is very easy to understand why Nature frowns. It is very true, as we had been previously informed, and rightly too, that Westward the Star of Empire takes its way; yet, by the natural process of settlement it would have required hundreds of years, perhaps, to colonize and to settle up this portion of our continent, and properly balance the conditions of increased population. It was for this purpose, no doubt, that the knowledge of the existence of gold upon the western portion of our continent was reserved for the Anglo-Saxon race, who understood its real value and knew how to use it as an incentive for the proper adjustment of unbalanced conditions; and we have come as the pioneers of an advancing civilization, intending to grow up with the country and to use our best endeavors (by all legitimate means) to restore the equilibrium by an increase in population.
The hills, rivers and ravines still continued to give forth their valuable treasure; but one fact was very evident, and that was that but a very small proportion of it remained in the mining regions. There was a continuous current of gold flowing into the chief city by the sea, and but a very small portion of it returning to the miners, who by their labor extracted it from the earth. Business men, also, among the various mining camps in the gold regions, who had succeeded in accumulating a reasonable amount, followed in their wake of this current to the big city there to use and spend their earnings, and none, or at least but a very few, seemed willing to continue to live in and improve that portion of the country where they had won success.
The continuous flow of gold concentrated, therefore, in the hands of comparatively few men, and San Francisco became the head-center for all comers who desired to secure a portion of the golden stream. And now the city which, but a few years previous, was a mere cluster of sand-hills, began to assume the form and appearance of a great city, or the foundation upon which a metropolis was to be built.
Throughout the dry or placer mining regions, numerous towns
and villages had grown up which in a few years assumed conditions of considerable importance under the impression that such mining would be of a more lasting and permanent character. It required but a few years, however, to demonstrate the fact that such mining was of a transient nature; the gold in the ravines, gulches, flats and benches, as well as in the small and shallow creeks, was soon extracted, what was left by the American miner in his hasty and careless method of working being subsequently thoroughly cleaned out by the Chinese miners. These sections being now almost entirely deserted by the miners, the business men and families in the towns and villages were forced to abandon them, their homes and property soon falling into decay.
A journey through these deserted and now silent villages, which but a few short years previous were full of life and animation, presents to the mind a scene which can only be paralleled by the New Zealander of the future, sitting upon the ruins of London Bridge, speculating upon the vicissitudes and the uncertainties of human affairs, especially in gold mining, and further illustrates the fact that although it is gold itself that forms the great incentive for building up our towns and cities, yet the precious metal does not possess the power to built up, or improve, the portions of the country in which it is found; but seemingly produces a contrary effect. It was for these reasons, that upon the placer mines being worked out, the various towns and villages soon went to decay; the country presenting a very desolate and deserted appearance. This dissolution would have increased as the mines became exhausted, and in course of time the whole mining region would have been silent and deserted, but for the important discovery having been made that the abandoned mining regions possessed a value for agricultural purposes far superior, of a more permanent character, and of greater value to the human family in general than the gold beneath the surface. To this cause can be attributed the change in the course of events, as well as the character of the country, and which also will in time be the means of transforming the now silent and deserted portions of the mining regions into populous and thriving settlements.
As the various mines became exhausted of their wealth, and the once prosperous villages were abandoned and left to decay, the gambling classes, and the gentlemen of elegant leisure were also
Page 195 Illustration.
forced to leave for other more populous sections--the greater portion of them following the golden current to the head-centers of population, i. e., the great cities below. Many, however, abandoned their calling, and becoming desperate engaged in the business of mining. A few, however, turned their attention to what in their opinion seemed the most remunerative, and most in accordance with their natures: they became traveling stage agents, upon the various routes throughout the mining regions; inspecting the various coaches which they met in lonesome out-of-way places. When found to be overloaded with a larger with a larger amount or weight of precious metal than the law allows in such cases, these vehicles would be relieved of the surplus, and in many cases a little more besides. The greater number of this gentry were, however, in course of time captured through the vigilance of certain well-known and energetic detectives, such as J. Hume and a few others.
In a few short years the placer diggings were almost entirely exhausted, and, as before mentioned, the annual yield of gold had been somewhat reduced in consequence; but the yield from the ancient river beds will, no doubt, remain a constant quantity for many long years, until they also become exhausted, or the profits becoming too small will lead to their abandonment, and ultimately fall into the hands of the Mongolian race, which will, doubtless, continue working them for the next three hundred years at least. Quartz mining, however, is of a different nature, and in consequence of the great number of ledges throughout the State, as well as the great depth in which gold-bearing quartz has been found, many ages will be required to entirely exhaust them, amounting doubtless to hundreds of years, or as long, perhaps, as gold is used for the purposes of exchange.
After a residence here among the hills of the mining regions of six or seven years’ duration, we had acquired a knowledge of the peculiarities of the climate of the country, the time of the changes of its seasons from wet to dry, and vice versa, and we found that there was no uniformity in the various changes, and no possible manner of foretelling what the following winter or its nature of the following dry season was to be. No two seasons were alike, but differed in many respects from all preceding ones. The Indians, however, pretended to have discovered a means of forecasting the
nature of the following winters, but they missed it occasionally. It was also claimed that the squirrels were endowed with foresight, and would lay in a winter’s supply accordingly. These, too, missed it occasionally, from which fact it was evident, as the oldest inhabitant was forced to admit upon his dying bed, that no sure means of prognosticating the future condition of the weather in California were possible.
The rains commenced in the mining regions usually about the last of October, and continued at intervals throughout the season until on or about April 10th, and occasionally, with a few light showers thrown in as good measure, up to the 20th. These rainy seasons throughout the central portion of the mining regions were usually warm and pleasant, with but very little snow and ice, and, with the exception of a few days towards the last of December, mining could be continued throughout the year. The dry seasons, in some localities, were very hot for a short time during July and August, but the nights, however, in the hottest of weather were invariably cool.
The orchards and vineyards were about this time coming into bearing, demonstrating the fact that the soil was well adapted to fruit growing. Many of the ravines and flats, from which the soil had previously been washed away in the search for gold, were by means of brush dams again filled up to a proper level by the muddy streams from mining claims higher up, and converted into rich garden spots, giving an appearance similar to the older, settled portions of our country. It soon became apparent that fruit raising could be made remunerative, and hundreds of miners throughout the central portions of the mining regions turned their attention to this new and profitable industry. Orchards and vineyards in a few short years could be found blooming upon
the Atlantic slope can only be raised in hot-houses, are here an ordinary garden plant, and but very seldom injured by the frosts of spring. The long, dry summers and cloudless skies are to the new comers an agreeable contrast with those at the East, and for a few years are very enjoyable, but in time become monotonous to those who were born and raised under less favorable conditions in colder climates, many becoming wearied at the continuance of such a long and cloudless atmosphere, which in some seasons embraces a period of eight to ten months. They seem to pine for other conditions, where heavy rains, hailstorms and cyclones are frequent and break the monotony of the scene. This desire for a change is a disease, the remedy for which is well known, for many who have returned to their Eastern homes to be cured have again wended their way to California, perfectly convalescent after spending one short year away, satisfied and content and willing to endure the tedious monotony of eight long months beneath the cloudless skies here, rather than to risk an unequal contest with the blizzards and cyclones of an Eastern winter.
The mining classes are usually of a restless nature and ready to wander forth at any time in search of new fields, and will, as it has been proved in the earlier experiences of Gold Bluff, Salmon and the Snake River excitement, as well as in the more recent discoveries of Frazier River, British Columbia and Montana, abandon ranches and good paying mines, carried away by the anticipation of finding away yonder rich mines and better pay than can be found nearer home. But the greater portion eventually return, satisfied that small wages at home are better than searching among the mountain ranges of other sections of the country for uncertainties. In the course of some eight years from the first discovery of gold in California, the entire country, extending from Arizona and New Mexico on the south, up through the British possessions to the Alaska line on the north, and as far as the Black Hills at the east, were traveled over and prospected by various companies of miners who were in search of another Eldorado. Although many rich localities were discovered from which a great amount of gold was extracted, yet the mines were spotted, the gold generally at a great depth and confined to a few gulches or ravines only, demonstrating the fact that no other portion of the earth’s surface, at least upon our own continent, will ever be discovered where the gold is distributed
Page 199 Illustration.
so uniformly over the surface among the numerous ravines, rivers and gulches, and in such immense quantities, as was found to be the case in California. In fact, I doubt the existence of a similar deposit and of such an extent, anywhere upon the earth’s surface. Neither has there been so far discovered anywhere upon the Pacific Coast mining districts that contain within their limits such a vast number of quartz ledges bearing free gold in paying quantities, as can be found in the mining regions of California at the present time.
I have stated that the majority of the residents of California, at least in the mining regions, had now become well satisfied with their adopted home, and intended to remain; but there were a few, nevertheless, who still pined for their Eastern home, for various reasons. For instance.
I chanced to meet a family one day upon the emigrant road, evidently upon their return journey. It was during the spring of ‘57. The family was composed of an old man and his wife, the former driving a yoke of cattle hitched to a regular emigrant wagon covered, and with all the trimmings usually found in connection with an emigrant team. It was so unusual to see a team of this description headed for the East that, from curiosity, I inquired of them whither they were bound:
“Wall, stranger,” the old man replied, “me an’ the ole woman air a-gwine away from hyar. We air on the homestretch to ole Missouri agin, whar we cum frum nigh on ter ten years ago.”
He explained further, that many years before he and his wife had become imbued with a desire to retire to some secluded place, to live in solitude away from the noise and confusion of society, and where, as he said:
“We cud jest enj’y outsells, an’ raise lots o’ chickens without interferin’ with anybody.”
So they moved away out West, and made their home in solitude upon the frontier.
“Wall stranger that wus a rale quiet place out thar fur a spell; but jest as soon as they discovered gold out’n California, the jig were up, fer all them chaps, who wus a-goin’ thar, come right along my way, and just shoved that air frontier of ourn right along ahead of ‘em t’ards the West. So one morning’ Nancy ses to me, ses she, ‘Hiram! Hiram! Ef we air a-gwine to enj’y a solitude along with a frontier
Page 199 Illustration.
we mus’ git away from hyer, t’ards the West, and git a leetle ahead of all them fellers’. ‘Thet’s so Nancy’, ses I, ‘an’ ef you back puther duds, I’ll call ther chickens, hitch up ther team an’ load ther wagin, and we’ll git ahead on ‘em and diskiver another frontier somewhar.’ But durn my buttons, stranger, we’ve been tryin’ to git a leetle ahead on ‘em ever sence. But ‘taint no use. We thot we hed struck a frontier in Californy agin’ fur sartin, when we fust got thar; but one morning’ arter we hed hed a long wet spell, the fust thing I seen when I got up wus a steamboat right in ther back-yard. So ses I, ‘Nancy, Nancy, hyer they air jest a comin’ agin’. So we loaded our traps in the wagin, and went over the mountains whar the ocean is, an’ we jest thot that we hed got it now fur shure; fur hyer was a sort o’ a natural frontier that wouldn’t stan’ any pushin’. So we ontied the chickens an’ got ready, kind o’ hum like, when one morin’ we heerd the awflest n’ise, and wen we went out, durned if thar weren’t a saw-mill right back of our chicken house, an’ they were jest building’ ‘nother one ‘cross the creek, and some ships was a-sailin’ along in frum ther ocean to load up ther lumber. Now Nancy never did like saw-mills. Sed she’d ruther hear it thunder enny day, ‘cause the sawin’ n’ise sets her teeth on aidge so. On’y she haint got a natural tooth in her hed anyhow.”
“Well, said I, “where did you go next?”
“Wall, the old lady replied, “we thot we moungt try it further north fur a spell, so we moseyed ‘long up thru Oregin, an’ ‘way off up inter Idyho; whar we foun’ a frontier at las’, fur sartin. An’ I reckon ‘twill stay that fur a spell, too. We stayed on’t a hull year, but had to git off on’t agin on ‘count of ther chickens.”
I asked her the reason.
“Oh, shucks,” she replied, “a sawmill was nothing’ t’ ther racket up thar, an’ I’ll tell ye how it wuz. Yer see, in ther winter ‘tis tonal cold, an’ ther roosters couldn’t crow, fur yer see jest as they ‘gun to crow it all fruz harder’n a icicle, so jest soon’s spring’s thaw cum on, why all their crowin’s thet wuz fruz in ther winter ‘gun t’ chirp, and sich a crowin’ time ye never heerd in all yer born days. An’ fur mor’n two weeks me nur Hiram didn’t sleep blessed wink. Well, stranger, we jist packed up agin, and thot we’d try the southern kintry, ‘mong th’ cactuses in th’ sandy desert down in Aryzony. Frum ther looks o’ things down thar we thot mebbe we’d be ‘way frum’em all and hev the frontier all to ourselves,
but we wuz hasty, though. One morning’ Hi run, and sez he, “Nancy, Nancy! ‘taint no use’. They wuz comin’ agin sure ‘nuff; fur ‘way up ‘n ther valley we cud see th’ dus’ a-risin’, and we knowed what that meant; and now yer see we air jest a moseyin’ back to ole Missouri agin.”
“Yaas,” says Hiram, “the kintry’s gittin’ to be no ‘count, an’ purty soon thar won’t be a mite o’ frontier lef’, fur they air just a-crowdin’ on’t way down inter Mex’co, an’ twon’t be long ‘fore they’ll be a-tryin’ ter chuck it ‘way up over inter Kanady. Yer can’t fin’ enny solertude now anywhere.”
“Nary a solertude,” says Nancy. “Fur ‘tis jest fizz! buzz! buzz! geerat! whang! slang! kerbang! all over ther hull blessed kintry. Now we’ll go back to ole Missoury agin, whar we kin git suthin’ fit ter eat, anyhow, an’ we’ll try an’ stub thru ther rest o’ our days ‘thout enny frontier in our’n.”
I asked the old lady if she could not find anything fit to eat in California.
“Oh, yaas, sich as ‘tis; but nuthin’ ter wat we kin git in Missoury,” she replied.
When I inquired of her what it was that she could get to eat there that was so much better than anything to be found in California, she answered,
“Wall, stranger, yer never ett poke-greens’n bacon down in Missoury, fur if yer hed yer never wud a-ax’d sich a question.”
I asked the old man what he thought of California, anyhow.
“Wall,” he replied, “’tis a big kintry, and I tell yer ‘twon’t be long afore ther’ll be a powerful heap er folks a-livin’ all over, thicker’n rats in Sacrymenty City” (“Yaas, or fleas in San Frixo,” interjected Nancy), “but when yer cum to talk about yer climate, there aint none t’compare with climate in ole Missoury. W’y, jest think on’t, stranger, ten an’ ‘leven months o’ sunshine in Califony an’ no snow fer a pore man to get a minit’s res’, an’ every morning’ ‘long ‘bout daylight, yer jes’ hear the ole gal a-chirpin’, ‘Cum, cum, Hi, git up thar! the sun’s a-risin’ clare, and yer got a heap er work ter do, yer know.’ No, stranger, I couldn’t stan’ it; so we’ll go back to ole Missoury, live on poke-greens’n bacon, ‘n hev a show wen it rains t’ talk politics with ther boys outen ther corn crib, or take a nap with ole Boz in ther chimney corner fer a spell. It’s so drefful cheerin’ like in ole age.”
Transcribed by: Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.
Proofread by Betty Vickroy.
© 2008 Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.
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