Before California was admitted to the Union and when the greater part of the state was divided into extensive land grants owned by Spanish people or settlers of Spanish descent, George Beattie came to the Pacific coast, arriving in the year 1849. Unlike many of those who sought a fortune here immediately after the discovery of gold, he has been very successful, for he has continued his operations in one locality and has not been drawn hither and thither by every new mining excitement, many of which proved but a delusive will-o’-the-wisp. For forty years he has been constantly engaged in the development of rich mineral resources of the town of Georgia Slide.
Mr. Beattie is a native of Scotland, born June 24, 1827. His parents were John and Ann (Richardson) Beattie, who were married in Scotland and with their two little sons immigrated to the United States in 1827, our subject being but six weeks old. They settled in Boston, where the father followed his trade of stone-cutting. He also was a stone-mason and worked at both occupations. On removing with his family to Rhode Island he settled in Newport, where he resided until his life’s labors were ended in death, when he had reached his forty-eighth year. They had four sons and a daughter, of whom but two are living: William, who resides in Fall River, Massachusetts, and George. The former came to California in 1852, made some money and returned to his home in the east.
The latter was educated in the public schools of Rhode Island, being a student in the first public school organized in that state. He learned the stone-cutter’s trade of his father, and after the latter’s death was the support of his widowed mother, providing for her until she was called to the home beyond. In 1849 he joined a party of young men who had learned of the discovery of gold in California and started to make the long voyage to the El Dorado of the west. Seventy of them formed a company, purchased an old whaling ship, the Audley Clark, prepared her for the voyage and secured an outfit and provisions. The entire cost of the ship, with two years’ provisions, amounted to twelve thousand dollars. The services of a trusty sea captain were secured. The plan was that if the stories of the gold proved to be untrue they would land in South America and send the ship on a whaling expedition, for she had all the appliances. Later she would return and take the men back home. After rounding Cape Horn they spoke an English brig out of Valparaiso and inquired if the tales of the discovery of gold in California had any foundation. They received the reply that there was “lots” of gold there; and after a pleasant voyage Captain Dennis, who was a thoroughly experienced navigator, took his ship safely into the harbor of San Francisco. A company from the Empire state had made a landing, which they called New York Landing, and the Audley Clark was invited to enter there. There was a survey schooner not far from their landing and they sent a lieutenant and five men on shore to investigate. Those men never returned and it was supposed that the lieutenant was killed by the men, who then proceeded into the woods. This so exasperated the captain of the schooner that he offered a reward of twenty-five hundred dollars for the capture of the men, of whom he gave a description After two days spent in the woods, during which time they could get nothing to eat, those men went to the Audley Clark and asked for food. They were taken on board and fed, and the captain of the schooner was notified that they were there, so that he and a number of men came aboard and arrested the party. He said to them, “You thought you had murdered the lieutenant, but he is living; but you will hang just the same.” He then took them to the schooner, went through the form of a trial and hanged two of them to the yard-arm, imprisoning the others, and the owners of the Audley Clark obtained the reward for the capture; but Mr. Beattie and his party did not relish taking the money.
After reaching California they found that they could not all keep together and so separated into small parties, dividing the provisions, and left a few of the older men in charge of the ship, while the younger men went to the mines in Tuolumne County, where Mr. Beattie engaged in mining for three months, with moderate success. They suffered for lack of water and returned to the ship, which was the home and headquarters of the party. Subsequently, they started for Oregon Canyon and the Georgetown district. At that time the county was full of prospectors. A Mr. Hudson had discovered the placer, and being from Oregon, named the place Oregon Canyon. He had six men with him and he worked there trying to keep his discoveries secret; and when it was known he decided to leave and packed his mules with the gold he had taken out. Mr. Beattie learned of this movement on the part of Mr. Hudson and he therefore determined to go to the claim, where he has since remained, the period now covering a half century. In one year he took out eight thousand dollars. In 1851 he returned to the east, in accordance with a promise he had made with his partner to return with him. The latter was going home to marry a girl he had “left behind,” and thus Mr. Beattie revisited the scenes of his youth. In the winter of 1852, however, he returned by way of the Isthmus, and has since owned and operated his mine at Georgia Slide. Up to 1862 four of his party had taken out twenty thousand dollars each, and our subject returned home to make ample provision for his mother, placing a deposit in the bank for her future use.
Again he came to California, and in 1862 he wedded Mrs. Catherine Miller, a native of Hamburg, Germany. She came to this state in 1855 with her sister, Mrs. August Waldeck, who now resides in Sacramento Valley. After his marriage Mr. Beattie built the home in which they have since resided and in which they are now contentedly spending the evening of life, for he has acquired wealth through his mining operations and at the same time has gained the regard and friendship of many by reason of his honorable business methods. His mining property is known as the Beattie Mine, in which gold is found in seams of quartz and slate. It is two hundred feet deep and the yield is seemingly inexhaustible.
Mr. Beattie has three sons and two daughters, namely: Christie, Adolph, William, Annie and Marry, all born in the house at Georgia Slide. William is a practicing physician and is a Sir Knight Templar. The other children are with their parents. Mr. Beattie has been a life-long Republican and in the Masonic fraternity he is connected with the lodge, chapter and council. He has been an active member and office-holder and represented his chapter in the grand chapter of the state in 1900. He was reared in the Presbyterian faith, his wife in the Lutheran faith, and high moral principles have actuated them throughout the journey of life. No history of this section of the state would be complete without the record of George Beattie, and it is with pleasure we present his history to our readers.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.