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WILLIAM MANSFIELD

 

Mr. Mansfield was born in Providence County, Rhode Island, on November 3, 1829.  He left his native State and sailed from New York City on the stermer [steamer?] Ohio, in December, 1851, coming via the Isthmus of Panama, and landing in San Francisco from the “Golden Gate,” in Janu­ary, 1852, his brother Jared Mansfield and other friends com­ing with him from Rhode Island. Mr. Mansfield came direct to Sonora, but only remained a short time, finally settling at Campo Seco, where he was engaged in mining. In June, 1852, he moved to Columbia, bought an interest in the Tuolumne County Water Company, and was appointed one of the collectors for the company, and has held the position for twenty-six years.  He married S. A. Bert, a native of Providence, Rhode Island, and who was born June 3, 1838.  Anna A., William B., Lillie P., Mary E., and Fannie Rebecca, are the names of their children.

 

“A History of Tuolumne County, California” Published by B.F. Alley, 1882. Pg. 349-350.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton

 

 

 





HONORABLE EDWARD C. MARSHALL.

 

In a previous part of this work reference has been made to a speech delivered in Sonora in early days by Captain E. C. Marshall, which had the effect, it is said, of inclining the County of Tuolumne to the side of the Democracy rather than to that of the Whigs.  Men who heard that speech and who were conversant with the acts of the speaker, knowing of his penetrat­ing intellect, ready and forcible delivery, and rapid and incisive thought, could have prophesied, as many did, a future career which should stamp the author as a man of no common merit and importance.  The promise given in Sonora in early times has been fulfilled.  The Court of justice, the halls of legislation, and the political arena, have heard the telling eloquence of that voice, and scarcely a single inhabitant of this region but has heard the name and knows somewhat of the reputation of Hon. E. C. Mar­shall.

 

This distinguished gentleman is of the celebrated Mar­shalls of Kentucky, a family that has produced many per­sons of eminence, his brother, Tom Marshall, being of national reputation.  General Humphrey Marshall is an­other name of celebrity which pertains to this family.

 

The subject of this memoir was born in Woodford, Ken­tucky, in June, 1821.  Attending Centre College for a time, he afterwards graduated from Transylvania University at Lexington.  At the former institution he met the afterwards celebrated statesman and soldier, John C. Breckinridge, with whom he participated in the Mexican war, taking part in all the battles in which General Scott’s command engaged subsequent to the capture of Vera Cruz.

 

Arriving in California in 1849, via New Mexico and Arizona, he reached San Francisco in November, where he remained until May of the following year, when he pro­ceeded to Sonora, there settling amid engaging in the practice of his profession of the law.  Captain Marshall at once took the prominent position to which his abilities en­titled him, and turning his attention to politics was elected to Congress in the year 1851.  This office he filled with the most marked  ability; returning at the end of his term to enter upon the practice of the law at Marysville.  In 1856, Mr. Marshall became a candidate for the position of United States Senator, but not being successful in the canvass he removed to Kentucky, and eschewing politics, devoted himself to legal pursuits.  For twenty-one years he pursued his chosen calling with the greatest success, demonstrating upon occasion those rare oratorical abilities which have given him so much prominence.  Even a slight allusion to each of those occasions when his voice has been eloquently raised at the bar, or in the presence of enlight­ened and applauding audiences, would consume more space than can here be spared.  It is enough to say that even among the favored orators of his native State, there is no one who stands his superior in the art of convincing and logical oratory.

 

Proceeding with this brief epitome of the gentleman's brilliant career, we note his return to California in 1877, and his transference to the bar of San Francisco of those qualities which had made his previous fame.  Since his return to this coast, he has, taken high rank among the numerous gifted legal minds of that city, and has on many occasions asserted the supremacy of his ripe intelligence as attorney in some of the most important cases ever brought to trial in California.  As counsel for the People in the Kalloch-DeYoung homicide and in the contest of the Mint Investigation, where Mr. Marshall acted as attorney for General La Grange, his merits show forth conspicuous.

 

So well have the particular merits of the gentleman been recognized, that he became the nominee of the Democratic party for the elevated and responsible office of Attorney General of the State of California, at the convention held in San Jose in June, 1882.

 

Mr. Marshall’s domestic relations have been singularly felicitous Marrying, in November, 1852, Miss Josephine Chalfant, of Cincinnati, Ohio, a reigning belle of the West, his household now contains the wedded pair, together with three children Louis, Fayette and Eleanor.

 

“A History of Tuolumne Co, CA” B.F. Alley, 1882.  Appendix pg. 32-36.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton

 

 

 

JAMES MILLS

 

Banker at Columbia, member of the firm of James Mills & Co., was a very estimable gentleman. Died at Sing-Sing, New York, March 18, 1854, aged thirty-seven years.

 

“A History of Tuolumne County, California” B.F. Alley, 1882.  Pg. 402.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton

 

 

 





SOL MILLER.

 

Mr. Miller, whose portrait appears herein, and who is extensively known throughout the greater part of the Pacific States as a most energetic and successful commercial trav­eler, was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in August, 1829.  Leaving his ancestral acres in early life, when the “gold fever” took so many westward, he too sought these shores, coming to Panama, thence traveling down the South American coast to Peru, from whence: he came to San Francisco in the early Spring of 1849.  Going immediately to the mines, he worked for a time at Jacksonville, on the Tuolumne River.  A short time spent there, he returned to San Francisco, then proceeded, in the Fall of the same year, to Angels’ Camp, in Calaveras County, subsequently going to Vallecito, where he had the good fortune to “strike it rich,” and again returned to San Francisco, and engaged in business with P K. Aurand, their house being on Wash­ington street San Francisco; but misfortune overtook them, and they were burned out on May 6, 1850.

 

After this calamity, the two partners proceeded to Tuol­umne County, where they settled, establishing themselves in mercantile business at a place to which they gave the name of Montezuma House, the name of which has remained attached to the important mining camp which subsequently grew up near by.

 

On Saturday, June 29, 1850, the following occurrence took place, which has marked an epoch in Mr. Miller’s life:

 

On the evening of the above date three Mexicans, cus­tomers, came in and purchased goods, for which they ten­dered payment.  While in the act of receiving the money, Mr. Miller was stabbed by a weapon which one of them drew from beneath his serape.  Three wounds were inflicted upon him, one, the principal, being through his body, from side to side, penetrating both lungs; another in the back of the neck, and the third in the arm.  The victim fell and became insensible, so remaining until, awaking in the dark­ness, he found his partner near him, who said, "Sol, I am stabbed; are you alive ?”  And they lay until midnight, spending their time in giving each other explicit directions as to the disposal of their effects in ease that one recovered.  Dying then, this brave partner’s last words were a query as to the other’s sufferings.  On the following morning help arrived, and the survivor was taken to the hospitable house of Judge Robert McGarvey, at Oak Springs, where he re­mained until his recovery, his kind host assuming charge of the property of the two men, which was delivered uninjured to Mr. Miller.  The outrage was committed for pur­poses of robbery, but the desperadoes realized but three hundred dollars for their infamous crime, because their victims had taken the precaution to hide the remainder of their money, amounting to seven thousand dollars, in a bread barrel, where it was undiscovered if by the Mexicans, and was delivered over to the survivor.

 

After an inquest, held by H. P. Barber, Esq., the re­mains of the partner were buried where he fell, and for more than thirty years the spot where he rests has been kept green and suitably marked by head-board and fence, the one living testifying to the good qualities of the dead who perished on that fearful night.

 

Since then Mr. Miller’s life has been taken up almost entirely by business affairs.  In 1850 he formed a partnership with "Count" Solinsky, which existed until the establishment of Adams’ Express Company, when they became Agents for the latter firm, at Chinese Camp, Big Oak Flat, Montezuma, Don Pedro’s Bar and Coulterville.  On the failure of their employers, they became Agents for the Pacific Express, and afterwards for Wells, Fargo & Co. Messrs. Miller & Solinsky remained together until 1870, when the former became Tax Collector for two terms, then Under Sheriff during the shrievalty of James Trout.  In 1871 Mr. Miller left Tuolumne and went to Stockton, where he conducted a branch of the business house of Messrs. Spruance, Stanley & Co., removing, in 1875, to San Fran­cisco.  He has since been acting as Solicitor for the last named firm, and has achieved a wide celebrity in his busi­ness.

 

The gentleman married Miss Roxie A. Searl, in January, 1857, who died in July, 1860.  By her there is a daughter, Miss Agnes A. Miller.  In 1863 he was again married, this time to Miss Hattie N Humphries.  The issue of the second marriage is also a daughter, Lulu, who is now twelve years of age.  The family now reside in Oakland.

 

 

“A History of Tuolumne County, CA” B.F. Alley, 1882.  Appendix Pg. 4-6.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton

 

 

 

 

S. B MINOR

 

Was born in Riga, New York, June 19, 1825.  At the age of 20 Mr. Minor went to Michigan, in which State he caught the "California fever," thither migrating, and arriving in San Francisco via the Isthmus on March 1, 1852.  Pro­ceeding to El Dorado County, he there passed the Winter of 1852, settling at Mud Springs in the Spring of 1853, where he remained until 1855.  Concluding to try his for­tunes in Tuolumne County, Mr. Minor went to Jamestown and engaged in mining in the Georgia Claims.  In 1864 he left the mines to accept a position at San Quentin, under Lieutenant-Governor T. N. Machin, then Warden at the State Prison.  However, in 1866, he moved to San Fran­cisco, being employed by the railway companies, and in 1870 went into the liquor business, being at the present time still in that line, his place of business being No 13, Third street.

 

“A History of Tuolumne County, CA” B.F. Alley, 1882.  Appendix Pg. 7.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton

 

 

 

PRENTICE MULFORD.

 

Mr. Mulford writes as follows: “You ask me for my biography.  I could write you a much more interesting biography, were it not to be published until after I am dead.  I should not like to face my own truthful biography.  Very few really truthful biographies are ever written.  What men write of themselves, or have written for them, is generally a veneer over the hideous truth.  It is a re­spectable, conventional dummy, stuffed with skillful eva­sions, if not with downright lies, that is furnished for the edification of the public.  It is sad to think of such biogra­phies which cumber our histories, our village libraries, and even our Sunday schools.

 

Out of consideration, then, for the public weal, and out of deference to public opinion, I am compelled to suppress much that might be of absorbing interest in my truthful biography, and send you only these, the mutilated remains.

 

“I was born in Sag Harbor, on the east end of Long Island, State of New York, April 5th, A. D. 1834.  I was not born exactly as I would like to have been, and could I have been previously consulted might have suggested several alterations and improvements, especially as regards tastes temper, temperament and facial conformation.  However, I am thankful I was born a man, or at least a boy.

 

“At the age of 21 I shipped as a boy on the clipper Wizard, bound from New York for San Francisco, and thence to China.  Before that I had tried several callings and failed in all.  My father dying when I was 16, I, the only son, became substantially landlord of the hotel which he kept.  I ran this establishment into bankruptcy in four years.  Then I essayed an education as a teacher, at the State Normal School, and sickened of that after six months’ experience.  I clerked in New York city for a year, and was discharged for general incapacity.  Then I went ‘Out West’ into an Illinois land office, where a course of fever and ague discharged me.  Returning East, I concluded, that as the land would not hold me, I would try the sea.  Hence the Wizard.  The sea would not accept me.  On arriving in San Francisco, the captain called me into his cabin, informed me that I was not ‘cut out for a sailor, paid me my wages, and sent me ashore to cumber the ground of California.  I counted eggs a few months for a living in the warehouse of the Farallone Egg Company, and then shipped as cook on a whaling schooner bound for the lagoons of the coast of Southern California.  I could cook a very little, and I could not cook a great deal.  The result was, that the twenty men composing the officers and crew of the schooner fared hard for the first three months on very hard fare.  Culinarily, I was not a Blot, but rather a blot on a noble profession.  At the expiration of three months, I had become so far versed in my calling that the usual profanity on account of 'spoiled grub’ attendant on every meal was lessened one half, and before the voyage was up some entire meals were eaten without a curse in­voked on my head.  The voyage lasted a year.  My share of the proceeds amounted to $250, which I put in circulation, on landing, as quickly as possible.  Then I went to the mines.  I was landed in Tuolumne County with $18 in my pocket and a sailor’s bag of clothing, which, among other things, contained seven vests.  It is a truth, that unless a man allows his clothes to wear out equally, his vests will always inconveniently accumulate.  A single vest will outlive five pans of pantaloons.  My first service to the community in Tuolumne was rendered at the Golden Ranch, a locality three miles from Don Pedro’s Bar and three from Hawkins’, where the life was knocked out of Mexican cows a year old, called calves, and other septua­genarian, long-horned cattle, whose flesh was termed beef.  For a few weeks I peddled this beef to the miners of Tuolumne.  One day the horse ran away and discharged the entire freight of beef in the panniers on the golden sands of California.  I picked the steaks up as they fell, stacked them in piles on the road, caught the horse, re­loaded him, led him to the muddy river, washed the beef, and left it, per custom, at the miners’ cabins.  Next day I was discharged.  Then I served a short time at the grocery and boarding-house of my esteemed friend, Robert E. Gardi­ner, at Hawkins’ Bar.  After allowing another horse, packed with provisions for a mining company, to get away from me and wreck the entire load I sought other fields of labor.  I worked a bank or surface mining claim for two years, at Swett’s Bar.  It did not pay regularly, perhaps owing to my own irregularities.  In 1860 I left this claim and attempted the education of the turbulent youth of James­town.  I went to Jamestown full of good intentions, but was unable to carry them out; Jamestown at that time held too many ‘good fellows.’ They were recreative, enter­taining, genial and congenial, abounding in character, in­dividuality, eccentricity, wit, humor, and a keen sense of the ludicrous.  Ten of the Jamestown men of those days were equivalent to a hundred ordinary mortals.  I must mention among these J. Y. Dixon, the Postmaster and Ex­press Agent, a Louisianian, well educated, and who appreciated and enjoyed unwritten volumes attendant on the exhibition of the strange medley of character about him; Dr. Dodge, a gifted man, whose wit and humor inclined to the satanic order; the Sutton brothers—Virginians—who could fiddle or shoot with equal skill; Horace Jones, poor fellow, killed by a cave in Table Mountain Tunnel, who would come to camp and remain sometimes a fortnight lest he should ‘lose a point;’ Charley Keefe, saloon­keeper and constable, who had a broad smile for every­body; Jacob Snyder, ‘The Count,’ who was reputed to have spoken tolerable English when he first settled in Jamestown, but became more unintelligible every year; S.B. Minor, an expert in drollery and practical joking, who, as pure and simple good company, Dixon used to say, was worth one hundred dollars a month to any one able to afford him; William Lancaster, an original of the originals, and a standing contradiction to all the laws laid down by the advocates of cold water as a means of health; Charles Carroll Brown, a gifted son of Maryland, afterwards Dis­trict Attorney, a born orator, a brilliant writer, and always full of original and eccentric conception and humor; Bax­ter, a companionable man, afterwards stabbed to death in the old Sonora Placer Hotel; A B. Preston, Justice of the Peace, mine owner and speculator; James Lunt, Jailer under Jim Stuart, a whole-souled fellow; James Stuart, himself, former Sheriff of the county, who, coming to Jamestown to escape the pressure of political cares conse­quent on a residence in Sonora, built for himself a cottage where everybody went who could not get accommodated at the Jamestown hotels, and where three often slept in James Stuart’s wide French bed while the host took to the floor; Elton Baker, druggist, a gentleman and man of refined sensibility and taste.

 

Such was the ‘crowd,’ or rather its nucleus, at James­town.  There were at times accessions from outlying camps, but the names I mention above were its pillars, its salt.  Combined, theirs was an intellectual menagerie.  Their acts, their sayings, and their history, would, if prop­erly chronicled, make a notable book.  It needs a Dickens or Thackaray to bestow them in the proper setting.

 

After teaching in the District School at Jamestown I resigned, probably just in time to avoid being discharged by the Trustees.  The trouble was not that I was too fond of conviviality, but I had then sufficient control over my­self in the use of the only element then extant in James­town to put things on a convivial footing.  However, all this was indirectly a good thing.  Living more correctly, I might have retained the favor of the Trustees, and so have lived and died teaching school.  I am sure that all things taken together work for our good.

 

Ceasing to be a pedagogue, I again became a miner, and again betook myself to the banks of the Tuolumne.  Bank diggings had then not quite given out.  I made from six bits to a dollar per day.  About this time, owing to the success of the copper mines at Copperopolis, a copper fever broke out in Tuolumne.  I took it.  I became very quickly a copper ‘expert.’ I discovered any number of copper mines, ranging from Don Pedro’s Bar to Sonora.  They were valuable mines—to sell.  This copper fever and my few discoveries, whose value was based far more on anticipation than reality, fired me with a grand scheme.  I organized a company to take up all the ground showing indications’ of copper that we could hold.  ‘Indications’ meant a green or blue stain on the outcropping ledge, or the presence of the sulphuret, carbonates or oxides of copper, no matter how minute in quantity.  ‘Holding ground’ meant the pretense of a one day’s work per month per­formed on a claim.  I calculated that I could in this way ‘keep up’ and hold sixty claims per month, and still have time left to prospect for more.  The company was organized at Bob Love’s store, in Montezuma.  I wrote the con­stitution and by-laws.  I fitted the company out on paper with a president, a secretary, a treasurer and a board of directors, and also with a ‘prospector.’ I was the prospector.  The prospector was really the company.  The prospector did all the work, discovered all the claims, kept them up, collected all the monthly assessments I could from some thirty members, living over an area of territory larger than the State of Connecticut, and officiated per proxy as president, treasurer, secretary and board of di­rectors.  I took up and kept up copper and silver mines all the way from Coultersville on one side, the Rock River Ranch on another, up to the Sierra summits, east of Sonora.

 

"The active working force of the company consisted of a very poor horse, a very poor dog and very inferior shot­gun, whose energies were largely expended at the breech in kicking me when I fired, a frying-pan, a coffee-pot, a small stock of provisions and a pair of blankets.  I obtained the loan of the horse for six months in exchange for company stock.  I believe the saddle was furnished for a similar consideration.  Tempted, indeed I may say almost forced by circumstances, I imitated greater corporations, and sometimes added a few drops of water to fertilize the com­pany’s stock.  Transient board for myself and animal I sometimes, with some difficulty, managed to settle in this way.  It was at times Hobson’s choice with the landlord, for it was all he could get.  After these operations I avoided those hotels.  These irregularities were the result of entrusting one man with too much power.  I was that man.  But it was hard and expensive to collect assessments when the members of the company were scattered all along from French Bar right and left to Eureka Valley, on the Summit.

 

“Among the more prominent members of my company, whose memories with me now rank among my greatest earthly treasures, were Dr. Lampson of Chinese Camp, a whole-souled man, full of generosity, good will, and, in his profession, good acts for his fellow man, as many a miner can testify; David Hayes, my companion while hibernating during the winter of 1865 in ten feet of snow in Eureka Valley, as good and brave a man as ever the East sent to the West; Dr. Clark, noted for driving mustang teams and absent-mindedness—another being of eccen­tric and generous nature, of whom it was told as one of the many evidences of his peculiarity that, once buying a pair of new boots of a Sonora shoemaker, he, drawing one of them on, took the other, and, pairing it off with the dis­carded old one, flung the wrongly mated pair into the street; Sol. Miller, express and news agent at Chinese Camp, who, as a mimic and quick catcher of character mannerisms, would have made a hit on the stage, though I imagine he never suspected his talent in this direction; George Evans, and John Bourland, once Sheriff. Had the company managed to wriggle through another year, I should probably have had half the county holding its stock.

 

“The company had an active career of about six months.  I discovered a great many mines, but none that would pay.  More than this, I took up land for the company, so

charmed was I with some of the picturesque valleys which I found in the remote fastnesses of the Sierras.  They were small Yosemites, surrounded by granite walls many hundreds of feet in height, abounding in beautiful lakes and rich meadows, apparently closed on all sides, no place of ingress or egress being visible, and studded with noble pines and oaks.  Influenced at one and the same time by the ‘love for the beautiful" and love for cash, I nailed the company’s notices to the trees, pre-empting these romantic spots, on which for seven months out of the twelve the snow laid ten or twelve feet deep.

 

There was no money in all this.  My soul was ever much on the heights of sentimentality, but cash lays deeper down.  The early fall of the high Sierras came on, and from them, the early snows obliged me to come out.  We all came out together.  By ‘we,’ I mean the grizzlies, deer, cattle, Indians and myself.  The first light snowfall of winter abounded with our individual and tracks, all making our way to the warmer plains below.  Such was our yearly custom.

 

“I brought up that winter at Dave Hayes and John Welch’s Ranch, in Eureka Valley.  There I staid till March.  The company was bankrupt.  When the man who had given his very slow horse for six months in exchange for stock wanted his horse back, and so obliged the company to use its own legs for purposes of locomotion, the final crisis was reached and the company was obliged to sus­pend.  It had discovered much on which to base expecta­tion, but absolutely nothing on which to realize cash.

 

I left this mountain abode in March, and set out alone on snow shoes for Sonora, fifty-six miles distant I occu­pied three days and nights in getting to Strawberry Flat, twenty-six miles from Sonora, meanwhile freezing several toes and once taking an involuntary slide of six hundred feet down a smoothly frozen mountain side, where I re­mained all night at the spot where I was so fortunate as to bring up.  Had I proceeded a few hundred farther, a few pounds of animal organization, known to a few by the name at the end of this sketch, would have been resolved by pro­cess of decomposition into what we term its original ele­ments, for I should have slid off a precipice and been broken to pieces.

 

‘‘Arrived in Sonora, profoundly busted,’ I set to work digging post-holes for my old and faithful friend Robert E. Gardiner, then County Clerk of Tuolumne.  I don’t think he was very anxious to have post-holes dug on his premises, but I do think he allowed me to imagine I was earning something in this way out to charity for my condition.  I alternately dug post-holes and composed a lecture.  I hadn’t the remotest idea of  the subject of this lecture when I commenced writing it, and I had no very clear idea what the subject really was when I finished.  Dreading to face a real audience at first, I rehearsed it before a private one, of my own selection, in the Sonora Court House, one evening.  Finding that I could have really stand fire, and that my tongue would not refuse duty in the presence of the multitude, as I feared it might, I hired my hall and advertise my lecture.  It was a partial success.  My critics said the matter was good, but the manner of delivery was not.  They were right, and would be to-day were they not to hear me again.  I starred with this lecture through the county, delivering it at Columbia, Jamestown, Summersville, Oak Flat, Don Pedro's, and pushing the campaign into Mariposa and Stanislaus, speaking at Coultersville, Mariposa and French Bar.  I was my own agent, traveled on foot, carried my own posters, tacked them up, and depended mainly for remuneration on voluntary contributions.  When in Coultersville, I suggested to the audience that if lacking coin they could substitute buttons. Some of them took me at my word.  Often on arising to speak I felt an anxiety, hanging as a heavy weight on my mind, whether the receipts of the evening would suffice to pay a hotel bill which I knew could never be liquidated from any other source.  This also is an experience which tries a man’s soul.

 

“During this lecture season the State election came on.  A wild impulse seized me to run for the Legislature.  I had seen scalawags elected to the Legislature, and in this saw encouragement that I might be.  True, I had no money, and nor a first-class reputation in some respects; but, then, I had everything to gain and nothing to lose.  So I an­nounced myself and ran.  On the all-important day I ap­peared before the Democratic Convention in Sonora, made a speech which was a farrago of nonsense, and which did not even prove me a Democrat or endorse a single plank of the party platform, yet I was nominated by acclamation.  But not elected.  Perhaps the county did not wish to lose me.

 

‘‘This attempt on the Legislature of California proved the indirect means of my riddance from the county.  Some­thing of my writings in the Union Democrat, and something more in connection with legislative canvass had appeared in the San Francisco papers.  This influenced Joseph E. Lawrence, editor and part proprietor at that time of the Golden Era, to make me an offer to serve on that paper.  I accepted, and in 1866 ended my connection with and baleful influence on Tuolumne.

 

 I count, however, my journalistic career as really com­mencing one Sunday under a big pine tree on the bank of an unnamed rivulet at Red Mountain Bar.  I had, with a number of other gentlemen resident in that locality, been on a spree, and while under the influence of that certain loss of self-esteem consequent on excess of any description, and which by some is termed repentance,’ I put my thoughts on paper and sent them to the Union Democrat.  They were published over the signature of ‘Dogberry.’ I followed this up with other articles, from time to time, and acquired a certain local reputation as a writer, and, I be­lieve, a very poor reputation as anything else.

 

Tuolumne County was for me a school.  The great variety of human nature with which I was brought in con­tact seemed as a lesson to be learned.  It was a mine of most valuable experience, one I have often worked since, and never yet bottomed.  Life in great cities does not afford such opportunities for studying individual characteristics as does the life of isolated localities of small population.  In the Californian ‘camp’ it became a necessity that everybody became more or less acquainted with everybody else.  Put ten thousand men together, and the chances are that within a year’s time you won't know more than a dozen of them well.  Put fifty men together, and in a year's time you will know more or less of their individual characteristics and the lives of every one of them.  All this is valuable.  It serves as fifty separate lessons in hu­man nature.  I put knowledge of human nature above the education of the college.  Show me your successful man in business or politics, and I will show you the man whose chief study has been that of his fellow man—or woman.

 

Among the distinguished men of Tuolumne with whom I have been brought in contact, were Tom Northrup and Gideon Thompson, perhaps the most prominent ‘old-timers, at  Red Mountain Bar.  Northrup was a bony giant, and counted, in the matter of work on a river claim, a regular horse.’ Gid.  Thompson was as good a fellow as ever was, as all who knew him will testify.  He ran the Red Mountain Bar Store till its stock in trade dwindled down to a gallon of whisky, and then, packing up his fiddle, trudged up the hill, singing, ‘What can’t be cured must be endured.’

 

“At Hawkins’ Bar, Munson Van Riper, of the New York Knickerbocker stock, was voted ‘our oldest and most re­spected citizen.    Munse, in the early days, was counted the best cook and housekeeper on the Bar.  He used to wash his own shirts and sheets.  He slept in sheets, which at that time was deemed ultra-luxurious.

 

"Morgan Davis was another prominent inhabitant of Hawkins’.  He was for years the custodian of the Hawkins' Bar Library, which had been purchased by the ‘Boys’ in San Francisco--and a very creditable library it was.  Often have I, at the East, cited this as proof of the character of the early Californians.  The prevalent idea in the States is that the Californian of that time was a rough, uncouth, whiskey--guzzling semi--outlaw,  when in fact those who came from 1849 to 1852 were the very pick of the energy, enterprise and intelligence, not only of the States but of other countries.  However, California writers and playwrights are responsible for this erroneous impression; and it's done, and it can't be helped.

 

"Peter Haldeman, Pennsylvania, once member of the Legislature, and afterwards my 'mining pard,' was a noted citizen of Swett' s Bar.  He was once of the salt of the earth.  Poor fellow, he rests now, unmarked by a stone, somewhere in the Sonora graveyard.  Old Jo Gallone,  a former Key West wrecker, was also long one of the pillars of Swett' s.

 

"At Indian Bar, in its later years, John Sanborn represented its Vanderbilt.  His big strike in the Indian Bar bank, after everyone supposed it had been worked out, was perhaps the most prominent event in the history of that bar so long as anybody was left to preserve its history.  Alas, how we are scattered, and what gnats we are; here today, and blow off by the winds of destiny to-morrow.  But the river, on hills in banks remain, though I am not even skeptical about calling them 'everylasting.'

        

‘‘When Montezuma was a place, the store of Robert Love formed the Democratic headquarters, and that of William Brown the Republican rendezvous, from which, during the heated term of 'The War,’ the political sympathizers made faces at each other.

 

"Ezekiel Brown, long landlord of the Crimea House, was in his time a bright and shining light, especially in promoting local mining enterprises.

 

With reference to the grade of character and intelligence among the early Californians, what a notable illustration was afforded of this in the flusher days of Sonora.  What a galaxy of cleverness, talent, quick intelligence, wit and humor was found in the following group or men, all residents there in 1859: H. P. Barber, the noted lawyer; Dr. John Walker, John Sedgwick, Charles Carroll Brown, Robert E. Gardiner, George Seckels, A. N. Francisco, editor of the Sonora Democrat; Charles Randall, Alan Mardis, Dr. Franklin, E. R. Galvin, David Hays Samuel Patterson, James Stuart, ex-Sheriff; Caleb Dorsey, -- Murphy, of the "Long Tom" saloon; Dr. Browne, Dr. Bruner, I.J. Potter Dr. Snell, Fred Brown, the handsome barkeeper; Ned Rogers, and many others whose names and now escape my memory. Why, such a convocation of men was a mass meeting all by themselves.  Should I neglect also to mention ' Johnny Smith,' the prince of saloon keepers, and the insister, and promoter of Order Gentlemen, under peculiar circumstances and conditions ?

 

"God bless the old county! In fertility of soil, beauty of scenery, a genial climate, and a general capacity for in earthly Paradise, God has blessed it already.  It needs only that man’s common sense and industry should take up the work where Deity has left off and make it one.

"Prentices Mulford."

 

“A History of Tuolumne County, California” B.F. Alley, 1882.  Appendix pg.  19-31.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton




© 2002 Nancy Pratt Melton



Tuolumne County Biographies