Sacrificed to Gold

Jared Dixon Sheldon, a Vermont native and carpenter by trade, is thought to have arrived in California, then a province of Mexico, in 1839. When authorities at Monterey, the capital, hired him to build a customhouse for them, he asked for payment in the form of a future land grant at such time as he found land he wanted.   Continue reading Sacrificed to Gold

The Quest for Gold

When Christopher Columbus returned home with news of his discovery, ships of many nations set sail for the New World with various agendas. Spain, quite unabashedly, went in quest of gold.  They found it in Mexico—where the natives who came out to greet Hernan Cortez were wearing it. It is ironic, then, that neither Continue reading The Quest for Gold

A Gold Miner’s New Year

During the early Gold Rush years, the fever to find riches was too hot for most gold miners to take time out to relax and celebrate New Year’s Day, although some of them did spend a few hours visiting friends in other camps. If their claims were below the snow line, many just fired their pistols in tribute and went on prospecting.

Christmas in the Mines

When Christmas came during the early Gold Rush years, thousands of predominantly male, mostly young gold-seekers were far away from ordinary comforts and the familiar faces back home. A number of preachers in the gold camps or town saloons offered short holiday services, and some miners dodged the pain of Continue reading Christmas in the Mines

Celebrating Christmas

Before the Gold Rush, Christmas was just another working day tending livestock or repairing equipment for those Americans who had settled in California, although many took time out for a few hours of quiet celebration. On December 24, 1845, Captain John Sutter’s logbook records that a worker completed a pump Continue reading Celebrating Christmas