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mines, and in return I am to receive one-half of all his gains for the two years that he is to be gone."
I afterwards found that many persons in New England who had faith in the gold discoveries but could not go themselves, had adopted the plan of fitting out a relative or a reliable friend with all necessary outfit for the period of two years, paying their passage out and securing themselves for the outlay by drawing up a legal agreement, in which the adventurer bound himself to divide all that he would gain during the two years with the friend who fitted him out for the trip, share and share alike.
Many parties that were composed of from fifty to a hundred, would buy a vessel, load her with building materials and provisions, and, as the party generally had more or less sailors, they would sail her themselves, and when they arrived in San Francisco sell vessel and cargo for what they could get, and then proceed to the mines; and many companies took along small boats, which, upon their arrival in San Francisco, they provisioned and went up the Sacramento or San Joaquin rivers in their own boat.
The first ship that I saw depart for California was the “Sweden.” She was lying at Lewis' wharf. The morning on which she sailed was an eventful one to the voyagers and their friends. The morning was clear and cold, with the wind northwest blowing straight out of the harbor. Everybody about the wharf and on board the ship seemed to be very busy. Baggage in great quantities was being brought down the wharf and put on board the ship. Fresh provisions were hoisted on board, such as quarters of beef, carcasses of mutton, killed and dressed hogs, cabbages, turnips and other fresh food, which gave evidence that the owners of the ship intended to treat the passengers and crew in a liberal manner. The crew of the ship were busy on board preparing for their departure, while many of the passengers were taking leave of their relatives and friends.
One group that particularly attracted my attention was composed of three persons, two ladies and a gentleman. The ladies appeared to be a mother and daughter. The
gentleman was apparently about twenty-three years of age and was as fine looking a young fellow as would be seen in a day's travel. Many of the persons there had accompanied relatives from their distant homes, even as far off as New Hampshire and Vermont. Many New England mothers were there, looking every one of them a heroine that she was. They were taking leave of their darling sons for a long while at least. As I approached the group of three persons I noticed the young man clasping the hand of the young lady in his own, while her sad, tearful face was bent down to hide her grief. The elder lady spoke and said, “Cyrus, I told you a month ago, when you first told of your intention
, to go to California, that a steady, industrious man can win gold at home; but a good, thrifty, prudent wife he can't win every day.” At this remark the young lady burst into fresh
' tears, which she could not keep back. The young man softly stroked her hand while he answered her mother, saying “Mrs. Hamblin, I am not in a condition just now to do as I would like to do; but after this mining trip of two years, or perhaps less time, I hope to be able to build a nice house over in Dracut, just far enough from Loweil to make it seem like the country. Then Deborah and myself will be married and settle down in a home of our own. And I intend to have a nice gentle horse and a family carryall, and she will be able to drive over to your house every fine day and take you all around the neighborhood.” At this glowing description of anticipated happiness the young lady looked up at her lover and smiled pleasantly at bis description of the joy to come.
This incident brought to my mind the lines of the poet Burns, wherein he says:
“ The best laid schemes o' mice and men
Gang aft agley,
For promised joy."
'Drop the bunts of the fore and main top-sails.' Then to the men on deck-" Sheet home!” “Now man the halyards and hoist away!” “Aye, aye, sir!" “Aye, aye, sir!" "Give us a shanter,
· somebody," sung out the men, at which one of the sailors struck up a hoisting song:
Nancy Banana she married a barber!”
“Haul her away, boys! Haul her away!”
“She married a barber who shaved without lather!”
“ Haul her away, boys! Haul her away!” When the top-sails were mastheaded, the pilot sung out to cast off the bow line. “Now run up your jib, Mr. Mate. Now ease away on your spring line;" and the vessel began to move from the wharf. Then the pilot sung out, “Let go
" your spring and stern lines!” Then the good ship began to forge ahead; and the last cord that held the ship tied to the land was cast off and she was as free as the bird that flew around her masthead. Just then a number of the passengers mounted the quarter-deck and struck up a song that was then quite in vogue in minstrel exhibitions, changing a few words of the chorus to suit the occasion. It ran thus:
“I dreamt a dream the other night when everything was still;
“O! Susanah, don't you cry for me!
In those early days of mining the miner would fill a sack with auriferous soil, take it to the nearest rivulet of water, and wash it out in a common tin pan or wash bowl, as the soil, being much lighter than the gold, would float off and leave the gold dust in the bottom of the pan.
As the ship shot out into the harbor under the impulse of the favoring breeze, three hearty cheers were given by the people on the wharf, and were answered by the departing voyagers. As the ship moved majestically down the harbor with all sail spread, she was indeed a fine spectacle. As the concourse of people began to leave the wharf to go up into the city it was very easy to pick out those persons that had taken leave of their departing friends from those that were mere spectators of the novel scene.
I owned one-quarter in a sixty-ton schooner that had been lying up all winter in New Bedford, and as I was now disengaged, I went there and arranged with the captainwho also owned a quarter in the vessel-to sail with him on shares, the other half being owned by two Boston merchants. After obtaining the consent of the other owners, we had the vessel hauled out on the marine railway, recalked and painted, and then sailed for the Capes of Virginia. We went up the Hampton Roads and into the Sansemond River, where we loaded with corn in bulk for Boston. We made this trip without any particular incident, returned to Chesapeake Bay, went up the Potomac River and loaded with corn and oats for Providence, R. I.
During all this time I was thinking about California and my young friends who had sailed for there during the month of December, and who might return by the following December loaded down with sacks of gold, thereby gaining the admiration of all the young women, and the envy of all the young men of their acquaintance.
These thoughts swayed my mind to such a degree that by the time we arrived in Providence I had made up my mind to “go to California with my washbowl on my knee.” As soon as we had discharged our cargo of grain I informed the captain. He very kindly reckoned up our gains and divided with me, and wished me good luck in my new vent
I took the cars, went to Boston, and there called upon my friends, the merchants who were owners of half the vessel, and informed them of my resolution. One of them told me that if I would make one more short trip in the schooner and the accounts from California should continue to be favorable, that he and his brother would fit the vessel out and load her with such a cargo as would find a ready market in California, and place me in command. To this generous proposition I made due acknowledgment; but I told him I would rather go to California by the Isthmus Route, so that when I arrived there I would be free legged and unconfined.
When these kind gentlemen saw that I was determined to go they bought my quarter interest in the vessel, paid me the money, and wished me good luck and bushels of gold dust.
I now prepared to start as soon as possible. I purchased an outfit such as I was told would be required, and, after taking leave of my kind friends in Boston and vicinity, I bought my ticket for New York and started one afternoon in the cars for Fall River from the Old Colony Depot. When we arrived in Fall River we embarked on the steamer “Oregon. The steamer moved down Mount Hope Bay and out into the beautiful Narragansett a-kiting. The bell now rang for dinner and I followed the crowd into the dining saloon, at the door of which stood a stalwart Ethiopian,