Joined: 27 Nov 2007
Location: Monterey County, California
|Posted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:35 pm Post subject: Discovery of gold
|Gold means wealth, and wealth is a magnet that draws mankind as perhaps nothing else in the modern world does. When the discovery of gold was made in California in 1848, the cry spread with lightning speed, spanning great distances, intriguing men in almost every quarter of the world. The discovery brought thousands to California, enriching other parts of the State while it impoverished Monterey. For, while men were rushing to El Dorado to ferret out the yellow nuggets, they were quite naturally leaving Monterey, which was rapidly drained of its important citizens.
Walter Colton in his diary, dated May 29, says: "Our town was startled out of its quiet dreams today, by the announcement that gold had been discovered on the American Fork. The men wondered and talked, and the women, too; but neither believed. The sibyls were less skeptical; they said the moon had, for several nights, appeared not more than a cable's length from the earth; that a white ram had been seen playing with an infant; and that an owl had rung the church bells.
The excitement continued to surge through Monterey and within a month had reached a feverish point. The following entry was made in Colton's diary on June 20th: "My messenger has returned with specimens of gold; he dismounted in a sea of upturned faces. As he drew forth the yellow lumps from his pockets, and passed them around among the eager crowd, the doubts, which had lingered till now fled."
"The excitement produced was intense; and many were soon busy in their hasty preparations for a departure to the mines. The family who had kept house for me caught the moving infection. Husband and wife were both packing up; the blacksmith dropped his hammer, the carpenter his plane, the mason his trowel, the farmer his sickle, the baker his loaf, and the tapster his bottle. All were off to the mines, some on horses, some on carts, and some on crutches, and one went in a litter. An American woman, who had recently established a boarding-house here, pulled up stakes, and went off before her lodgers had even time to pay their bills. Debtors ran, of course. I have only a community of women left, and a gang of prisoners with here and there a soldier, who will give his captain the slip at the first chance."
"Indeed, everybody and everybody's brother was feeling the lure and answering it, until, as Clelland quotes from another author: "Monterey is emptied of its male population. Every bowl, tray, warming pan, and piggin has gone to the mines. Everything, in short, that has a scoop in it that will hold sand and water. All the iron has been worked up into crow-bars, pick axes and spades."
In the San Andreas Independent, of 1858, we find the following: "At the time gold was discovered in California, we lived in Monterey. The gold was discovered in January, at Sutter's Mill; the very first report of the richness of the mines were accompanied by the gold itself, as a voucher to the news. We well remember with what pleasure we lifted a saucer full of the precious metal, brought down in February, 1848, by a Frenchman named Rousshane, an old resident of Monterey. He told his story and exhibited the gold, which convinced all of the wonderful discovery.