El Dorado County
In the subject of this sketch is found one of the oldest residents of Coloma, California, and a most intelligent and entertaining pioneer of the “Golden state.” His history is replete with interest. Briefly sketched, it is as follows:
Philip Teuscher was born in Bavaria, Germany, on the 4th of September, 1827, a son of Philip Teuscher. The senior Philip Teuscher and his wife, both natives of Bavaria, immigrated with their family of young and small children to this country and made settlement at Akron, Ohio, where the father purchased a farm and stone quarry and where he passed the rest of his life and died, the last event occurring in 1859 at the age of fifty-three years. The wife and mother died the first year after their arrival in America. Only two members of the family are now living, but the subject of this sketch and his brother Daniel, who resides with him in Coloma, these two having been partners in all their dealings in California.
Philip Teuscher crossed the plains in 1849, lured hither by the discovery of gold. The original party with which he started for California comprised fifteen members. From Ohio they traveled by river to Independence, Missouri, where they landed, and stopped with Colonel Gilpen until after they purchased their mules. The next steamer that arrived after their landing brought the cholera and on the next one there were seventy-five people sick with that dread disease; and in order to get away from that plague young Teuscher and his party continued their journey with as little delay as possible and made the best time they could until they reached the Kansas River. There they let the mules graze and rest for a day or two. When they reached the Platte River other companies caught up with them, increasing their number to forty, with twenty-five wagons. They then elected Mr. Laferty captain. On their way up the Platte their mules were stampeded by a large herd of buffalo going doing to the river to drink, and the whole party was in danger of being killed. Fortunately, however, the herd separated, passing on both sides of them, and the only loss to the emigrants was the breaking of an arm of one man. Further up the river another emigrant party caught up with them.
The Sioux Indians being on the war-path, it was necessary at this time for the overland travelers to keep a constant guard, which added no little to the excitement of the trip. In crossing Ash Hollow the trail was so steep that they were obliged to let the wagons down with ropes. There they stopped long enough to kill buffalo and dry and lay in a sufficient supply of meat. Near Fort Laramie a company of Mormons met them. These Mormons were from Salt Lake, were short of provisions, and asked help from the emigrants, and in return for the food they received they gave warning concerning the Indians, and then the Mormons pursued their course down the river on their raft. They traveled close together and kept constant watch. While at dinner one day they saw the Indians ahead of them, big six-footers on fine horses. Immediately the red men rode down upon the train, with a great clatter, intending to stampede the mules. The emigrants all carried guns and waited orders from their captain to fire; but the Indians only circled round them and went back up the hill. The loose horses of the train ran with them. Some of the men at once started in pursuit, but the captain, anxious to avoid a fight, ordered them to return, saying it was better to lose the horses than to get into a fight with the red men. At Willow Springs they camped for the night and at 12 o’clock that night the Indians came up and fired upon them, again thinking to stampede their animals. So securely were the horses and mules tied, however, that none of them got away. For several days the party was pursued by the Blackfeet Indians, until they reached the country of the Snake River Indians, when the former turned back; the latter were peaceful and with them the emigrants traded horses. At Salt Lake our party sold their wagons, and from there continued the journey with a pack train. On Sunday at Salt Lake they attended services in the Mormon church, and at that meeting Brigham Young told his people not to be too anxious to trade with this party, as more emigrants were coming. While there Mr. Teuscher traded a gun and a few pounds of coffee and sugar for a horse, which he sold after his arrival in California for one hundred and fifty dollars.
Finally, after a long and tedious journey, our party arrived at Placerville, July 27, 1849, and came to Coloma on the following day, and here with as much haste as possible the subject of our sketch began his mining operations with a partner. The first few days’ digging, however, did not bring them the gold they had anticipated. The partner left to seek other diggings, and Mr. Teuscher, with others, took a contract for cutting saw-logs for the mill built by James W. Marshall for General Sutter, at which they made ten dollars per day; but this mill was soon closed, as the men were all excited over the gold discovery, and the hope of “striking it rich” lured them away to the “diggings.” Mr. Teuscher went to Canyon Creek, where the Georgia mines were, located a claim in the middle of the creek, and took out gold rapidly. Afterward he returned to Coloma and next mined on Weaver creek, where he and his partner took out an average of twenty-five dollars per day. He continued there until the spring of 1850, after which he mined in different places, with the miner’s usual luck. Returning to Coloma again, he secured a claim on the banks of the south fork of the river, where he continued to dig for gold and made about an ounce a day. He at one time had a claim at the point where the suspension foot bridge is now located. Here he and his brother took out about fifteen hundred dollars’ worth of gold. They have maintained their interest in mining operations ever since that time, and are at this writing engaged in quartz pocket mining.
Both brothers have remained unmarried. They have a comfortable home, surrounded with a fine orchard comprising a variety of choice fruit, located near the site of the old Sutter sawmill, where gold was first discovered in California. Philip Teuscher was appointed by the governor as the guardian of the Marshall Monument, a position he faithfully filled for a period of four years. Politically he is a Democrat, while his brother is Republican. Both are men of the most sterling integrity and are held in high esteem by their fellow citizens. Philip was a constable for a number of years. During the Civil War he was a strong Union man. He enlisted as a member of Company F, Fourth California Volunteers, and served his country faithfully in California and Arizona. He is now identified with the Grand Army of the Republic with his membership at Placerville, where he fills the office of senior conductor of his post. Daniel is a valued member of the Masonic fraternity.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.