Past and Present, and Men of the Times.
Arrival at San Francisco—Happy Valley—The Gambling Saloons— I try my luck at Monte and lose my money — I start the Butchering—My Friend Cox—Off to Sacramento—Good Luck at Diggings — Auctioneering and Hotel-keeping — I prosper—A big Flood—Again in Frisco—I decide to revisit Sydney—Back to Australia—Old Friends—My Youngster—An Offer of Marriage—Mr. Turner accompanies me back to 'Frisco—A little "Spec" in "Murphies"—Crime in San Francisco—Judge Lynch and the Vigilance Committee—I sell out in San Francisco and start for a New Goldfield.
At this time the grand "'Frisco" of to-day was a very in-significant place, mostly composed of rudely-built mud huts principally tenanted by Spaniards or Mexicans and Mormons. There were but few vessels in the harbour, the big rush not having yet set in, it being now early in 1849; but not one of the ships could boast of a crew. All the men had left for the diggings. The vessels were mostly from Australian ports; the gold fever had not extended to the Old Country or the American cities as yet. There was a place named Happy Valley, about half a mile from the beach, where about 2000 tents were congregated, and here the most of my fellow-passengers, and myself also, pitched our canvas houses. The goldfields were very difficult of access at this time unless one was well provided with cash, and many of the poor devils in the camp had landed with very little, expecting, I suppose, to pick up nuggets immediately on arrival. I had some such idea myself, so I suppose it was the generally fallacious belief of the new-chums.
The route to the diggings was by the Sacramento River, about 160 miles from San Francisco, and at this time only two small page 85crafts were in the trade, and the charges for freight were enormous. I found everything in the town at famine prices, and my purchases soon began to shrink a not over well-filled purse. The place was full of gambling houses, and one night I strolled into one of them. I was amazed at the immense pile of gold, doubloons and dollars which were being staked, and lost or won incessantly. Spaniards were the principal gamblers, and the game was played with cards, and called "monte." I was tempted to try my luck, and put a few dollars on a card and came off "to the good" for a start. I returned the next night, but in place of breaking the bank I got "broke" myself. I then let "monte" alone, and had to bestir myself to get some employment at which I could earn my living until I could get a chance of going up to the diggings.
Fortune soon threw this in my way. Walking along one morning, I came across three men in a sort of stockyard, killing a bullock. I spoke to them, but could get no answer. I found they were Spaniards who knew no English, but presently another man rode up who bid me good-day, and I returned the salute. He talked to the men in Spanish and I saw he was the "boss." I remarked to him, "I wish I knew where I could get a job at the butchering business." He asked me if I was a butcher, and I said "Yes, will you let me take the hide off this bullock?" He told one of the men to give me his knife, and I very soon had the animal stripped, being considered rather an expert at this business for many years past. The "boss" then told me his name was Cumings; he was an American, and would give me work at once if I liked. I thanked him and asked what were the wages. He told me he would give 300 dollars per month. I closed at once, and told him I should be with him early in the morning. I went back to the camp and told my mate of my good luck. I forgot to mention that I had taken one of my fellow passengers as a partner when we left the vessel, and we were now camped together. He had been a bank clerk in Sydney, and was like myself, out of funds. He wondered if he also could find employment, and decided to try. Next morning we proceeded to the slaughter yard. Mr. Cumings was there, and I at once asked him if he could find my mate work. I told him he was no butcher, but he would be very useful in driving a cart or anything in that way. He at last consented, and said he might drive the beef cart into town and make himself generally useful. Poor page 86fellow, he had never done any hard work, and I was dubious as to how he would get on. His name was Cox. He was very well educated, but very "green" in all colonial matters, and I thought to myself this verdancy would soon get rubbed out in his present employment.
We went to our work manfully. I killed and dressed the cattle at the yards with my Spanish assistants, and Cox disposed of the beef. We had been a month at work, when extraordinary reports came from the diggings and unsettled us again. Ships came from all parts of the world, and population poured in in one continuous stream. There was no lack of employment then, and very high wages were the rule. Immediately a vessel arrived in port the crews deserted for the gold fields, and labourers got any pay they liked to assist in discharging cargoes. Fleets of vessels kept on arriving, but very few could get away for want of crews, and the harbour presented a grand sight—a perfect forest of masts as far as the eye could reach. A steamer and a number of small craft were put on to carry passengers and luggage up the Sacramento, en route to the diggings, and I made up my mind to have a trip up and try my luck, although my employer offered me very great inducements to remain, promising to start me in business in the town, but it was no use. I had the gold fever very badly. My mate Cox showed no inclination to venture, and just then got an opportunity of joining a very smart business man, who had arrived from New York. They commenced gold-buying, a very profitable pursuit at the time, and eventually made a lot of money, in fact Cox became a rich man. I have more to say of him further on.
I paid 100 dollars for my passage in a boat up the river. We were nine days on the trip, and I frequently had to lend a hand in pulling the boat. We camped ashore at night. The Sacramento in those days (it was now April, 1849) was a grand river; the banks for miles were covered with wild oats five feet high, and game of all sorts, comprising elk, antelopes, and various other kinds of deer, abounded. There was one drawback to the enjoyment of the trip, and that was the plague of mosquitoes. At one place on the river, called the "Slew," from a peculiar bend it made, they bit powerfully enough to draw blood from a beast, and I felt considerably relieved when the "Slew" was some miles astern.
When we arrived at Sacramento, as the town was called, we page 87found it to consist of about twenty tents, pitched on the river bank. As fast as parties arrived they pushed on at once for the diggings. It is now, I believe, a large and prosperous town. There were four or five bullock drays loaded up with diggers' luggage, &c., for the mines, but the charges for freight were so exorbitant that I determined to sell my tools and outfit, and push on empty-handed. I succeeded in getting rid of my impedimenta, and joined four "Down Easters" who were starting. I may mention that the bullock team completely upset all my Australian notions of "bullock punching." The drays were most unwieldly aflairs, having sections of a big log sawn off about eight inches thick for wheels, and the cattle were yoked by the horns.
My companions were eight pleasant fellows, and, as most Yankees were then, and are still I suppose, very "smart men." We travelled fifty miles in two days, and arrived at Hang Town diggings. This lively place got its name from the fact of two men being hanged by some Mormons for stealing gold from a dish some time previously, and it retained its suggestive name for some time after. We pitched our tent, and had a look around the diggings, and went along a creek where a few men were working. They were very civil, and gave us all the information they could. Diggers at that time had not learned the reticence of later days, and those who had been a short time on the field would willingly lay a new-corner on, and instruct him in the then primitive methods of gold-saving. I set to work to pull up grass, and shaking the earth from the roots into a pan and then washing it off in the creek. At this work I used to earn one ounce of gold per day, and had I been a proficient hand I would have made four or five ounces in the same time. The gold was easily obtained then, and I soon began to manipulate the auriferous soil better. I remained three months on this creek, and obtained 11,000 dollars' worth of the precious metal, and hundreds of men made their piles at the same place.
A new rush then took place to another creek, about three miles off, and we went there, and were again lucky. I was a good deal exercised in my mind about my gold, and I had a quantity of it cached, or "planted," that is, hidden away in the ground, in two salmon tins. Every one kept his own gold, and it was rare for mates to know what each other had. Stores of all kinds were very dear, and were generally paid for in gold page 88weighed over the counter, and if a nugget was tendered greater in value than the goods purchased, fine gold was weighed back as change. I have seen three dollars a pound paid for potatoes, five dollars for flour, and frequently provisions could not be obtained even at those prices. I remained a few months longer, and in the "fall," or autumn, I returned to Sacramento, and found that a city had sprung up like a mushroom, and it was still going ahead very fast. Money appeared to be as plentiful as stones in the street, and I came to the conclusion it would be a good place to try and settle in. I lodged at a newly-opened hotel, called the New York, where I had to pay two dollars per meal, or six dollars per day, and find my own blankets for sleeping in. I here made the acquaintance of a man named Mulvin, a butcher from New York. He had opened a place of business on the Levee, close to the river bank, and called it the Washington Meat Market. I made him an offer, which he accepted, and I started in business with him. The shop was nothing great, but we had a splendid cattle-yard, and a very convenient place for slaughtering. Wages, however, were very high, and run away with a great share of our profit, and I began to look out for some means of increasing and extending the business, especially as at this time emigration to Sacramento had fully set in, and for months the town was like a fair. I bought an allotment in Sixth Street for 1000 dollars, and ran up a large hotel and a butcher's shop alongside. It was a capital site, being on the corner of Sixth and Fifth Streets. There was a horse-market opened close by, and I commenced auctioneering. With this and the other business I was doing famously, almost in a manner coining money. I employed a manager to look after the hotel, and servants, who were principally females, employed as barmaids. In the commercial rooms there were tables which I let to dealers at two dollars a day. When they disposed of a mule the purchaser generally "shouted," that is, called for drinks, and in this way a considerable trade accrued.
Champagne was the favourite beverage of the mule-drivers, and the price then was ten dollars per bottle. The packing of goods to the diggings was mostly done by mules, and a very large business was done in buying and selling these useful animals. I was almost constantly engaged at the horse market, which was in a hollow about a mile from the Levee or espla-page 89nade, fronting the river, and I become quite a popular character, and was generally known as the "John Bull" auctioneer. Building was going on continuously, and Sacramento was now an immense place; but in the winter of this year it received a severe check in the shape of a tremendous flood which swamped half the town.
I had seven feet of water in the hotel, and the town being low and flat in its situation, the dead water remained for two months, and caused a deal of sickness, mostly fever and ague, and nearly ruined half the population. I was near to death's door myself with the epidemic, and when I was well enough to get about I found nearly all my earnings swept away, and I was almost a poor man once more. However, I plucked up heart, got the house into thorough repair, and business soon came back as good as ever.
In the spring of 1850 California got an immense addition to its population. The goldfields were extending and turning out better than ever, and among the new comers there were many black sheep, very dubious characters indeed: and, unfortunately for us, a great numher of these ruffians located themselves in our hitherto orderly town. Men were knocked down with "neddys" and slung-shots, in broad daylight, and robbed; and all manner of crimes were committed daily. Meetings were held at last by the more respectable portion of the community, a "Vigilance Committee" formed, and "Lynch law" put in force. Had this not been done, the place would have become unendurable. As it was, no one scarcely ventured out without being well armed, generally with a pistol or revolver in his belt. A good many men were "Lynched"—i.e., hanged—in Sacramento before any abatement of the lawlessness took place. I noticed particularly that whatever the crime was that was committed the Sydney men were blamed for it. No doubt many bad men, the dregs of a convict population, came from Australia to California in those days; but there were rowdies from New York, and gamblers and blacklegs from New Orleans and other American cities, who were equally as criminal as the Australians. Lynch law paid no respect to persons—its working was sharp, short, and decisive; and really the state of affairs at that time required the adoption of very vigorous measures, and this one did its work well.
About this time two large steamers, which came from New page 90York, were running on the river from San Francisco to Sacramento, and as I had not altogether recovered from my attack of fever, I took a passage on one of these vessels called "The New World," and started.
On the trip down I witnessed one of those sanguinary scenes which were in those days very common. A deal of gambling was being carried on in the cabin, or saloon, as it is called in America, and a dispute arising between the gamblers, a fight ensued. One of the disputants drew his pistol and fired at his adversary, and shot him through the arm. His opponent returned the fire with his unwounded arm and killed the other. Then another shot rang out from the crowd, and the wounded gambler fell, hit again—this time mortally, for he died before we reached San Francisco. Nothing was done in the matter; the bodies were sent on shore and buried, and there was an end of it. Such encounters were then too common to excite much comment.
I took my lodgings at an hotel and looked round the city, and I could hardly believe my eyes. The town had increased as if by magic. No one would credit the mighty strides it had made. The streets were crowded with people at all hours, and the bay was one vast forest of masts, spars, and rigging. Vessels coming there had to remain, as I before mentioned. The crews were off without beat of drum the moment they set their foot on shore. I found also that in the matter of crime they were even further advanced than we were at Sacramento. Men were shot down in gambling saloons, and robberies were of daily, almost hourly, occurrence. At last a Vigilance Committee was formed, as the law seemed powerless to deal with the situation, and this body did more in a short time to restore something like order than the judges and police authorities could have accomplished in years.
One day two men were arrested for knocking a man down with a slung-shot and carried off to gaol. This was on Saturday. On the following day, Sunday, about fifty of the "Vigilants" went to the gaol armed, and taking out the prisoners, hanged them in the street. These two ruffians were Sydney men, and one of them I knew. His name was Whittaker. He was a passenger by the "Eleanor Lancaster," the vessel I came down in. "While in the street witnessing this shocking spectacle I fell in with my mate, Mr. Cox, whom I had left starting in business as a gold page 91buyer when I went up to the diggings. We adjourned to a quiet place for a yarn. In the course of a long conversation, he informed me that he had done extremely well. The gold-buying had turned out a very lucrative speculation. He had bought and sold land to a considerable extent in the town, and by this he had netted over £10,000. I gave him an outline of my career since we parted, and we laughed heartily over many of the particulars, especially over the jealousy and dislike displayed by Yankees towards the emigrants from Sydney. This feeling was greatly aggravated after the summary execution of the two Sydney men by the "Vigilance Committee" as described.
In 1850, a vessel arrived from Sydney, and the Yankees crowded down to the beach and would not allow the passengers to land. However they succeeded in doing so somehow. San Francisco at this time was no paradise to live in. One was not sure when he left his lodgings if he would ever return. Without extreme caution, he was pretty certain to be knocked down and robbed or otherwise maltreated. Mr. Cox was interested in my account of Sacramento and determined to accompany me back for a visit, so we took our passages in the steamer and arrived at journey's end safely. Gambling was carried on here to a fearful extent. Gold was as plentiful as dirt, and easily obtained, lucky diggers thought nothing of coming into Sacramento for a spree and losing ten or twenty pounds' weight in gold in the gambling saloons before returning to the gold fields and replenishing their purses. Mr. Cox, after a few day's study of the town and its prospects, decided on starting a branch gold agency. He did so, and I believe it paid him handsomely.
At this time I fell ill again, and there were rumours of cholera visitations. From my former experience of this plague, I made up my mind to have a trip to Sydney once more. I had a very fair share of the business in the town and had made money. Besides the butchering and auctioneering the hotel returned about £400 per week. Of course expenses were very heavy, but a very good profit remained. I found a tenant for the house at 150 dollars a week, and was paid six months' rent in advance. I arranged all my other business, and left for San Francisco. My health had not improved, and I made what haste I could to get to sea once more. I found a barque called the "Lightning" about to sail, and engaged a berth in her, along with about page 92twenty other passengers who had all apparently been successful in making money in California. We had a quick passage of six weeks, and by the time I reached Sydney my health was thoroughly restored.
We were completely besieged on landing by crowds wanting to hear the news from the gold diggings. I escaped from them, and went first to the bank to deposit my money. I had brought £2000 and lot of nuggets, which I had purchased from Mr. Cox before I left. After transacting my business at the the bank, I turned to seek Mr. Baird, the friend who had enabled me, by the loan of £100, to go to California and meet with this success. I found he was at Twofold Bay, managing Mr. Boyd's business, so I had to defer my visit to him for a few days. I then went to see my little daughter, whom I had given into the hands of strangers after the death of her mother. The lady who had adopted her, lived at a place called Windsor, and thither I proceeded. I found the youngster had prospered very well. She was two months old when I parted with her, and she was now running about. The lady was very kind, and appeared as fond of her as if she were her own child, so I thought I could not do better than leave her in such pleasant quarters. I deposited £500 in the bank in trust for her, and, after staying a fortnight, I returned to Sydney. I found myself quite a lion, and most of my time was taken up in answering questions about the goldfields of California, until I grew almost sick of hearing the place mentioned. I had been a day or two in town when I met Mr. Boyd, my former employer, and he took me home to dine with him. I recited my Californian experiences and my success, and he grew quite excited over the subject, and vowed he would go there and have a look at the Eldorado for himself. He asked me to accompany him to Twofold Bay, and told me that I should there see my old friend Baird. I was delighted at this, and we left in his yacht, "The Wanderer," the same I mentioned in the early part of this history as the one in which Mr. Boyd had made the trip from England. We soon ran down, and, standing on the jetty, there was my old friend. I called out to him, but he did not recognise me at first, but on landing we were soon hand and glove. He was very glad to see me safe again. He said he had almost made up his mind that we were not to meet again. He opened his eyes when I told him of the handsome return his friendly assistance page 93had brought to me, and he at once took the gold fever and wanted to be off when I was returning, right or wrong; but I persuaded him that, in his position, he would be better to stop in his present employ, where he was comfortable and well paid. He might have many hardships to put up with in California, and he was hardly fit for the life on the goldfields, for he had been very seriously hurt by a whale in former years, the effects of which accident he still felt severely. Eventually he listened to my friendly counsel, and decided to continue as he was, With his large family, it would have been injudicious to go rambling, at least I thought so. He accompanied Mr. Boyd and myself back to Sydney, and I made his house my home while I remained there. I repaid him his loan, and, as he would take no interest, I gave Mrs. Baird a handsome present, and so we were quits. At this time a gentleman, named Cowper Turner, who had been Attorney-General, was shipping a lot of blood horses to San Francisco on "spec." and Mr. Boyd had mentioned my name to him as one likely to give him every information about the place. I had an interview with him, and we got on so well together that he asked me if I would go down in the same ship with him and take charge of the men who were to accompany and look after the stock. He had received a very good account of me from Mr. Boyd, and would be greatly obliged if I would do him the favour. I calculated the plan would combine business with pleasure, and complied with his request. He had chartered a vessel called the "Star," a barque, which was daily expected to arrive from Hobart-town. She came in at length, and Mr. Turner and I went down to inspect her. I found her admirably suited for carrying stock, in fact, she had been built for this trade, and the captain was a first-rate fellow, and an old acquaintance, he having been many years in the cattle trade to and from the neighbouring ports. I soon got the horses embarked, and everything about ready for the voyage.
I then decided to pay one more visit to my daughter at Windsor before my departure. On mentioning this to Mr. Turner, he offered to drive me there. We started with a pairhorse trap. I saw the little one and her guardian, and having completed my business, bid them adieu, and returned to the hotel. When I got there I found a woman — a very good-looking person, too—had followed rue. She appeared to be slightly under the influence of something stronger than page 94tea. She bailed me up, and asked me if I was going to keep my promise and marry her; for if I did not she intended to sue me for breach of promise. As I had never seen the woman before, I was rather taken aback. However, I told her I was just about to leave for California, and if she liked to wait until I returned I would buy the ring. Mr. Turner was looking on, and told me that the sooner I got away the better, the lady appearing so demonstrative. I asked her into the parlour, and treated her to some hot rum-and-water, rather a modest drink for a bride elect, and she gradually cooled down and went off into a gentle slumber on the sofa, whereupon I made tracks.
Leaving her to dream of the wedding-cake, our horses were put to, and Mr. Turner and I bowled gaily along to Sydney. He laughed very heartily at the rum-and-water episode, and my narrow escape from enforced matrimony. We reached Sydney that night, and I proceeded on board the "Star" and found Messrs. Boyd and Baird waiting to see me. Presently Mr. Turner joined us. During the evening he related my adventure with the would-be "Merry Wife of Windsor," and I got considerably chaffed over the affair. We had a merry night, and parted late. Next morning I got on board a good sea stock of porter, wines, and eatables of various kinds to supplement the ship's fare; and I also took twenty tons of potatoes as a speculation. In the afternoon we were towed down to the Heads, Mr. Baird sticking to me to the last moment, when I bade him farewell, and he returned to the tug-boat.
It was in July, 1851, when we commenced our trip. We had a very pleasant but uneventful voyage, and arrived safely with the whole of our stock supply in San Francisco. There were crowds of people to see the unwonted spectacle of horses being landed from such a distance; and as they were really good stock, and in capital condition, they attracted a good deal of attention. When placed in the market they brought extraordinarily long prices, and Mr. Turner's most sanguine expectations being exceeded by several hundred pounds. My modest speculation in "murphies" also paid well. I sold my twenty tons at a very high figure, the Californian market not being very well supplied at that time with vegetables. I remained a month in town, and lodged at an hotel in Broadway with Mr. Turner, who was amazed at the evidences of wealth and prosperity to be seen on every hand.page 95
The town bad still further largely increased, and was increasing. Large stores and hotels were going up in every direction; but the morality of the place had not improved, robberies were as frequent as ever, although the Vigilance Committee—now a very powerful body—were doing their best to suppress crime. They had still a very great "down," I noticed, on the Sydney people—or the Sydney "Ducks," as they were called in those clays by Californians.
At this period there was a man named Belcher Kay who was port-warden of San Francisco, or, as we would term it, harbour-master. He had to board all vessels coming and going, and was very highly respected as an official. It afterwards came out, however, that he was the very prince of robbers; he was actually captain of a band of depredators who did nothing else but plunder, principally from the vessels arriving in port, getting all the needful information from their chief who had every opportunity in his vocation of finding out without suspicion where prey existed, as he was deeply in the confidence of the Government of San Francisco, and most of the captains frequenting the port. There was a ship leaving for New York, with a large quantity of gold on board, and a plan was devised between this worthy and his gang to ease her of this part of her freight. The night before the day of sailing, Kay was on board in the cabin with the captain and mate. At midnight two boats rowed silently alongside, and ten men crept up on deck from them. Six of them went down into the cabin, and the others went forward to keep the sailors down below. All on board were in bed. The robbers roused out the captain, mate, Stewart and Belcher Kay, and on pain of death ordered them to discover where the gold was stowed. The captain told them it was not yet brought on board. One of the gang told him that yarn would not do, as he had seen the boxes brought on board two days before. Of course he had been advised beforehand by Kay, who no stood looking on, the picture of innocence, and very much frightened, you may be sure. They ordered the captain and mate into their berth and locked them in, and went straight to the lazarette where the gold was placed, and took away the six boxes containing about six cwt., of the precious metal, put into their boats, battened the hatch down on on the crew, and got clear of. The robbers wore masks and could not be identified, and to this clay have never been traced.page 96
A few days afterwards Belcher Kay was missing, and his hat and a small necktie were picked up on the wharf, stained with blood. Opinions were divided as to his fate. Some people thought he had probably been shot and thrown into the bay; and others guessed that he had obtained his share of the booty and taken French leave of the service. I am inclined to the latter theory, as I afterwards learned, that, although coming [unclear: oscensibly] from New York he was really a convict from Hobart-town in Tasmania, and having played his cards so well, he would hardly go and get shot at the wind-up of his career of successful deceit. However, it is a mystery that has never been unravelled, and is, I suppose, likely to remain so.
This robbery, like many more, were charged to the account of the "Sydney ducks," with what amount of justice I will not pretend to say.
Mr. Turner and I were walking up Broadway one day, when we met my old friend Cox, the gold-buyer. I introduced my friend Mr. Turner, and as we went along Cox informed us that good fortune still befriended him, and he was almost in a position to give up business for the rest of his days. He told me, very mysteriously and earnestly, to sell out of my Sacramento property, and go to some of the new goldfields. I asked his reason for this advice, and he said I would soon find out for myself. When I returned to my house, knowing his advice was friendly, and was given for my good, I made up my mind to go up at once and see what was meant by it. Mr. Turner wished also to see Sacramento, and accompanied me. We took our passages in one of the river boats, and started. The boat had to call at a settlement called Benicia, on her way up, to land some cargo, and we took the opportunity of going on shore to see the place, which was new to me. A short distance from the landing-place we saw a great crowd of people standing round an oak tree, and two men adjusting a rope round one of the limbs. This we found was an impromptu gallows upon which to hang two Spaniards who had robbed and murdered two miners on the road from the diggings. "Judge Lynch" had condemned them, and they had but a short shrift. Mr. Turner and I got on board the steamer again, and reached Sacramento early next day. As I neared my hotel I saw large placards posted up in Sixth Street. The house was on the corner of Fifth and Sixth Streets, and these bills purported to caution the public about "Berry's house," and to page 97avoid it. This was Greek to me, but, on making enquiries, I found that since I had left, the house had become notorious as the resort for the worst characters in the town. The man to whom I had let it, named Berry, a New Yorker, evidently was not particular as to his customers, as, during my absence, three men had been shot in the house, and two taken out of it and "Lynched," so it had got a bad reputation. Hence the posters. I decided at once that Mr. Cox was right, and I had better sell out at once, and I closed with almost the first offer, and parted with the property for 25,000 dollars.
Mr. Turner and I went to Mr. Cox's office, whence he had just returned from San Francisco. That gentleman congratulated me on being clear of the house, and then told me that the Vigilance Committee had found out that I was from Sydney, and in their blind animosity, especially after the rows taking place in the house under Berry's management, had tabooed the hotel by means of the placards aforesaid, so he recommended me, as before, to remove to fresh fields, where possibly the fact of being an Australian would not be considered a crime. Mr. Turner on hearing this statement, decided that, being also a Sydney man, California might become "too hot" for him, and intimated his intention of leaving on the earliest opportunity and returning to his much maligned Australian home. Next day I saw him on board the down steamer, en route for Sydney, and I returned to Mr. Cox, and stayed a few weeks with him at his private house.
At this time, immense quantities of gold were arriving in Sacramento. New goldfields were being opened every week, and one, called Reddon's diggings, 250 miles north of Sacramento, attracted my attention, and I resolved to pay it a visit. I joined two other men and purchased a mule train of seventy-six animals, also quantities of flour and bacon, loaded up our mules with 225lbs. weight each, and commenced our journey to this far-off Eldorado taking eight hired men to assist us with the train. We were all well armed, having each a fowling-piece, and a six-shooter attached to our belts, as we were informed that we should probably find the Indians troublesome in the territory we were to pass through.