DIARY OF JOHN R. ROBINSON
Feb. 14 - Sept. 18, 1861.
His journey to Batopilas, Mexico, to inspect silver mines, with a view to purchase.
New York, February 14, 1861.
Signed the contract with Belden & Stearns for the purchase of silver mines of Batopilas, Mexico, for which the parties D. N. Barney, W. G. Fargo, A. H.. Barney & J. R. Robinson purchase 3/4 of the interest for $50,000 to be paid if a satisfactory examination is made by J. R. Robinson, who is to proceed to the mines forthwith for that purpose, at the expense of Barney & others. $1,200. is the amount agreed will be enough for the expenses of the mining trip. Mr. Cheeny of Boston came into the arrangement, and pays his proportion of the expense this morning.
[To convert the monetary figures in this diary to present day dollars multiply 20, this will give a reasonably accurate figure. Thus, the parties put up about $1,000,000 in current dollars for the 3/4 interest in the mines.]
Completed the power of attorney and other papers today, and obtained the certificate of the Mexican Consul to the power of attorney from Belden & Stearns. D. N. Barney left for Washington.
Went to church in the church facing Washington Square. Met in the vestibule Cousin Caroline, daughter and Miss Hall. Heard a strong begging mission sermon. Stayed at home the balance of the day and evening.
Very busy today getting ready for my trip. Purchased a Sharp carbine and 300 cartridges with all the trimmings and case and ammunition. Had them boxed and sent by express to St. Louis. Bought of Belden a pair of blue blankets and pillow of rubber, $9.50. Bought a mining compass and tape measure, and some medicine and other necessaries. Received of A. H. Barney for expense for my trip check on Wells Fargo & Co. For $1,200. And W.F. & Co. two drafts payable to my order, No. 4058 & No. 4059 with duplicates, for $500. each, on W.F. & Co. California, at sight. Turned my $1,200. into Mexican doubloons, 66 of them.
Left the Howard Hotel for home by the Philadelphia route at 7 A.M. Reached home after the usual time and sameness of a railroad ride in which you ascend and descend the Alleghenies without any perceptible difference in speed, and you would not be aware that you were climbing thousands, of feet above the ordinary level of the country, were it not for the lofty peaks and the deep valleys of the mountains above and below you, of which you catch momentary glimpses as you are whirled swiftyly along.
Mansfield, Ohio, Feb. 20.
Arrived home at Mansfield at 10 A.M. via the Pittsburg, Ft. Wayne & Chicago R. Found all well except my youngest daughter May, who has been unwell for some time with the diphtheria, but is now better and improving. Wrote to my son Asher and Tom Lavin on the overland to make ready to accompany me if they wished, also to my son at Delaware College to come home and see me before I leave. Sent him $5.00 to pay his expenses.
Attended to my business at home, preparatory to leaving for Mexico. Heard that the Texans had stopped the overland coach at Chadborne and taken the employees prisoners, also taken Fort Chadborne and Belknap. Hope it is not so. It may be a Black Republican lie. I think I shall go that route to El Paso if the stages continue to run, as I would trust the Texans sooner than the northern republican Abolitionists.
Settled up with all whom I had any business with and expect to leave Tuesday. My son Wilshire came home today. Sold my furniture to Hall & Allen today for $445.25 and took their notes at 60 days.
Left a lot of lamps with Edward & James to sell and apply the proceeds to the payment of S. & B. Bill of $43.00 due from Asher. Still engaged in getting ready for my trip. Visited the Beaches. Found them sick. Phoebe and her daughter Mary confined to the bed. Bade Aunt Riley and Rebecca good-bye.
[Edward and James are probably John's brothers-in-law, James W. Wilkinson and Edward Wilkinson. Rebecca is John's mother.]
Remained at home today. Studied the Mexican mining laws. James and Sam visited me this afternoon.
[Sam is probably John's nephew, Samuel M. Wilkinson.]
[The next two entries are totally illegible.]
Left Z. this morning at 10:45. Saw Reber at L. and old man and Pat Lavin at Lexington attending law suit. They were very anxious for me to stop. Saw Mary Whitmore at Wolfs Station. Arrived at Cincinati at 7:45. Put up at the Burnet House. Saw Sam.
Spent all day in purchasing things for my trip. Went to the opera in the evening with Patterson, a former conductor of mine; now the agent of Adams Express here. Wrote home today.
Left this morning at 8 for St Louis on the O. & M. road. Nothing unusual during the day. Supped at about 10 oclock in the evening when within about 40 miles of St. Louis - the engine ran into a drove of horses and killed 4 of them, throwing the engine off the track, half buried in the soft ground on the side of the road and making a complete wreck of the iron horse. The engineer and fireman were thrown some distance into a pond of water. They were neither of them hurt. The cars were badly broken - no passengers injured. We stayed at the wreck until morning.
A train arrived from St. Louis at 6 this morning and took us to the city without further trouble. Stopped at the Planters House. Called at the American Express Co. Telegraphed to Fort Smith. Called at U.S. Express. Received a note from A. H. Barney. Wrote and telegraphed him not to send the Spaniard. E. Quimby and Dean came today from New York, bound for the Setenbrion silver mines. They will accompany me. Received answer from Fort Smith from Rumfield
Rainy morning. Continued to rain until 4 oclock p.m. Cleared off cool. Stayed in house all day except to call at the Express Co. to ascertain if anything had arrived for me. The Mo. delegates to the State Convention came in today. They will meet here. There seems to be a large majority in favor of the Union and against secession.
This is the day of the inauguration of Lincoln. I would it were Breckenridge, Douglas or Bell. I have but little faith in his ability to fully appreciate the present difficulties and undertake the proper remedies for the diseased state of our country. He must discard his Abolition friends, his Chicago Platform and adopt a conservative course, and be willing to give to the South her just rights under the Constitution, and be in fact the President of the whole United States. That he will. take such a course I sincerely pray, and that he will take no measures of violence or coercive measures toward the states that have seceded. Quimby left for Ft. Smith to wait there for me.
Clear and cool. Went with Ford to see his stable and horses. Much pleased. The arrangements very convenient and well adapted to the business. Received telegraph from A.H. Barney to wait the arrival of the Spaniard, Pina. Received a letter from Belden. Good news from Hooper from Batopilas. Missouris convention met at 10 a.m. Appointed some committees - heard speeches from Col. Doniphan and Mr. Coalt in relation to the doings of the Peace Congress. The Convention are strong for the Union, but against any coercive measures against the seceding states. There is not much said about Lincolns inauguration. They prefer to wait and see his acts.
Fine day. Received telegraph from Fort Smith. Stage arrived from the West with 6 passengers. Col. Staples from the California detained 35 days on the way on account of Indians at Tucson.
Fine day and warm. Letter from A. H. Barney dated Monday 4th. must wait for Pina and papers. Will probably get here Saturday. Telegraphed to Fort Smith I would leave here Monday. Took a ride through the city with C. W. Ford, U.S. Express agent, in his carriage with a fine pair of brown horses. Much pleased with the lately built portions of the city. The environs are fine with beautiful farms and country seats - the land rich and in fine state of cultivation. St. Louis is over run with the Dutch, whole streets being taken up with them and beer houses in plenty. They however make good citizens - for foreigners.
Still waiting for the Spaniard and my papers. Purchased some small matters for outfit today. Nothing of importance. It rained during the forenoon, but cleared off about 4 oclock. It is very muddy and the streets worse than a January thaw in New York. The mud is a white slimy, adhesive mixture and equal to Spauldings Glue. It needs no special advertisement as every person is a walking evidence of its abundance and adhesiveness.
Telegraphed A. H. Barney today saying Spaniard had not come yet. Tuller came and stops at Planters this evening.
Pina came this morning. Detained by train off (track) on Terre Haute and Alton Road at Pama. He brought letters from A. H. Barney and Belden. He brought no letters of credit. Brumfield came this evening and reports everything quiet along the line. He settled with June and found him short $2000. with nothing to show for it. Allen is probably short $1000. so they go. Mr. Tullers management gives them every opportunity to steal and they embrace it. Asked Tuller for a pass for Pina. He did not give me any, but wrote June not to let the Spaniard go unless he paid his fare.
Left at 8 a.m. for Smithton on the P. R. R. Nothing of importance occurred on the way. Arrives at Smithton at 6 p.m. June charged $360. on gun box. After supper took stage with Pina. Had him entered to pay me or settle with Wells Fargo & Co. per my order - at Springfield 7 p.m. next day.
Arrived at Springfield at 7 p.m. Peck had telegraphed June to have Spaniard pay his fare or not let him go. I arranged on way-bill that if the Company required it Wells Fargo should pay in New York.
When within a mile of Keathville, Mo., the lead bars broke and turned the stage over. No one injured - the stage broken, so we took another which luckily we found at the station, and after taking breakfast went on, 3 passengers, driver and conductor. It rained hard all night, which made the roads quite muddy.
Arrived at Ft. Smith this morning at 8 oclock. Found Quimby, Asher and Tom ready and waiting. Left at half past nine with 7 inside - our party and a missionary going to Ft. Wichita. Took supper at Trayhon Station, 32 miles from Ft. Smith.
Breakfast this morning at Mountain Station 8 miles from the Fort at 7 a.m. Nothing important during the day. The roads good, and the teams traveled well. Supper at Mrs. Flacks at 8 p.m. 140 miles from the Fort.
Breakfast at McCartys, 180 miles from the Fort. I shot a prairie chicken from the stage as we ran. They are very plentyful. Arrived at Sherman, Texas, about 4 oclock. Changed coaches. Bought off a passenger for California for $10. to wait until next stage. Rained. Supped at Pilot Point. About 3 oclock in the morning the stage, while going up a steep bank was upset by the lead bars breaking, and was backing. I attempted to jump out and was thrown against the bank, striking my head and throwing me under the stage, which fell up me and injured my hips and ankles. Asher sprained his ankle. Righted the coach which was not injured.
Breakfasted at Woodwards. Very cold. My ankles badly swollen and my head badly bruised. Asher able to walk. Supped at Tullers Station. Met the overland North with full load. At Belknap found the Sheriff had levied on all the stock, and with his posse and revolvers had possession of the stable. Debt of $600. for hauling grain. There seems to be a bad feeling against Bates and Tuller. They swear they will hang them for Abolitionists.
Took breakfast at Camp Cooper. All quiet here. Had a violent attack of sore eyes, last night, and but little better today. Used a Tanpears eye water. A good deal of fear of Indians, as there are signs of them about by the running off of stock and killing men. Supped at Phantom Hill and got some jerked buffalo meat of Benson.
Arrived at Chadborne for breakfast. The troops about leaving, and the Texans encamped close by to take possession. Supped at Grape Creek. The plains are the staked plains.
Breakfast at Head Concho. Nothing new today except some white deer and other strange animals. Deer and antelope in great abundance. Supped at Horse Head Crossing. Fare thus far good, with the best kind of appetites. The Spaniard is an awful eater and sleeper. At Camp Stockton found McMannus from Zanesville waiting for stage, with the other passengers. Took on the two government men and McMannus waits until next stage and will come on to Fort Davis where 1 will wait for him to accompany us to Chihuahua.
Breakfast at Barrilla Station. Crossed the Sinepias Mountains. T eam gave out. My eyes pained me very much today. Got no rest. Arrived at Davis about 4 oclock. Very glad to rest a few days and wait for McMannus. Introduced to Lieut. Van Horn by Gebhart the station agent. They are very anxious to learn the news. They expect to abandon the Fort in a few days to the Texans.
Suffered much all night with my eyes. No rest. Feel better this morning. After breakfast called on the officers of the garrison. Was introduced to Capt. Blake, Col. Bronsford, Dr. Pitts, Mr. Tanys who keeps the store, and Mr. Faver from Presidio Del Norte. Had myself and all my men vaccinated on account of the prevalence of the small-pox.
Wrote to A. H. Barney today, also home. Expect the stage from the East with McMannus today, but it did not come. Last night Gebhart left for Chadborne. The corral was broken into last night and a driver was seen in the act of placing halters on the mules. The guard shot at 2 Greasers who were tearing down the wall. The driver was tried by Judge Lynch, in whose stead I officiated, and adjudged him to leave on the first stage for San Francisco or be strung up to a cottonwood tree. He chose the former.
A beautiful morning. Everything extremely quiet. Took a walk out to the rocks near by and was well repaid by one of the grandest scenes of rock mountains and plain I ever behold. Mr. Faver left this afternoon for Presidio del Norte in his ambulance. 6 oclock p.m. The stage not in - 30 hours behind time.
McMannus came today in the stage and concluded to go with us. Quimby, after agreeing to buy a team, backed out. We are to start tomorrow for Chihuahua if we can arrange the purchase of the team. Quimby has spent nearly all his time here in gambling with drunken drivers, night and day. He would be one of the last men to be trusted with the important position he has assumed for the company employing him.
I purchased this morning the hack and harness, and Quimby the 4 mules. We are to set out this afternoon for the city. McMannus goes with us, making our party consist of him, Tom Lavin, my son, Pina the Spaniard, Quimby, Dean, and myself, 7 in all, with 4 mules. Will try to buy another mule, if possible.
Started today for Chihuahua with hack and 5 mules. Quimby pays for 4 mules, and McMannus and myself pay for the balance. Left at 5 p.m. after a hard days work. Quimby drunk today. Went 20 miles and camped out. Picketed the mules and kept guard until daylight near morning, and the four men lay on the ground in their blankets. I left my India rubber pillow at Fort Davis.
Traveled all day, resting twice. Made 50 miles in 24 hours. Met the stage from Chihuahua about 9 oclock in the evening. Drove on until 1 oclock a.m. and camped. The country remained the same - barren, mountainous appearance with the exception that, as we go farther south, the grass and shrubbery appear much more forward, and a great number of new species of cacti, some in bloom. The road is very good.
Started at daylight. Went 6 miles and camped for breakfast at a fine spring with half a dozen cottonwood trees near it. I officiated as cook, frying some venison, which I got of a man we met yesterday. After a very fatiguing day of travel arrived at the Rio Grande del Norte about 8 oclock in the evening, the mules much worn down by wading through the sand. Stopped for the night with an American named John Spencer, opposite the Del Norte. He is married to a Mexican woman and has several children and a large adobe ranch house. Farms some and is engaged in exploring in the mountains near by for mines of silver, copper and gold, of which I got some specimens.
Left our friendly host at daylight. He had entertained us with the best he had and would take no pay. He has discovered from the specimens he showed me, some valuable copper mines and also silver mines, within 18 miles of his place, and is anxious to have them tested and obtain capital to work them. Crossed the Rio Grande which is quite low, and not more than 100 yds. wide. Stopped in the town of Presidio which is situated on a second bottom up from the river. The town contains about 800 inhabitants, who live principally by raising corn and beans by irrigation. The people are poor, but seem to, be contented and happy. Got a fine breakfast with coffee and eggs, got up by an American lady. Left Presidio at 4 and traveled until 12 at night down the river 28 miles, and camped at water.
Got up the mules at daylight, (as I stood guard). Traveled until 10 a.m. and reached Camp La Mula, where we stayed until 4 oclock p.m. to rest and feed the mules. Bought some eggs and milk for breakfast of a Mexican ranch nearby. Our old grey mule about gave out. McMannus put in a mule he had left here some time ago. It was very wild. The sun is very hot. Thermometer about 90 degrees at 12 oclock. The men lay around in the shade of huts to avoid the sun. My patience is much tried by our Mexican Pina. He is an enormous eater and sleeper, and like the fat boy in the Pickwick Papers, good for nothing else. Left at 4 p.m. Camped at 12 p.m.
Started at 2 oclock again, and reached Chupadera at 9 a.m., nearly exhausted. The mules were almost knocked out. The spring is on and near the foot of a mountain. Found a train loaded with silver ore from the mine of Sierra Rica, for Santa Cruz, and an ambulance for Presidio. All Mexicans. Got out breakfast of coffee and ham. For the last we were indebted to McMannus. Having now a drive of 60 miles without water, we left at 2 oclock p.m. and drove on until 6 oclock. Grassed our mules for an hour, and then drove all night never stopping, 60 miles in 14 hours.
Arrived at Julinia, a small Mexican town 60 miles from our last camp. Got our breakfast and turned out mules. Visited hot springs at this place. Used for bathing and drinking, they are said to possess great medicinal virtues. My son, who has sore eyes, took a bath, and was much refreshed. The heat of the water is 150 degrees Fahrenheit. They are visited in the summer by many visitors. The town has a population of 1000. The people are poor - follow agriculture. The valley is very rich and is farmed by irrigation from the Rio Concues a considerable stream near the town. Left at 12, noon, with a team of horses which took us to Machimbe, a hacienda belonging to McMannus.
Arrived at Machimbe at 7 in the evening, distance 25 miles. Our mules were brought over by a Mexican, and the horses sent back. This is a beautiful place, with a fine garden and plenty of water, fig-trees, peach, and pomegranates and other fruits peculiar to the climate, in great abundance, and loaded with half grown fruit. The buildings are very much gone to decay and will. be rebuilt by the present owner. The estate contains 60,000 acres of the best grazing and agricultural land. Left at 12, midnight, with the mules and arrived at Chihuahua City at 8 a.m. Stopped at Riddles Fonday. Kept by an American. Took breakfast, washed up, and went to rest.
Visited the market this morning after breakfast and was much interested in the strange sights. The market is principally kept by women, except the butchers, and the articles for sale are so very strange to an American - corn, beans, chili and other singular productions of cacti and fruits. The women all wear reboses or long shawls - no bonnets, and but few dressed as Americans, with hoops. The Cathedral is a magnificent stone structure, with two elaborately sculptured towers, and front rising to the height of 200 feet. The building was begun in 1730 and finished in 1768 at a cost of $800,000.
Visited the mint in company with the proprietor, Mr. F. McMannus, and was shown through the entire establishment, which I found in perfect condition, with all necessary machinery for refining and coining $150,000. per month. Was introduced to Don Mariano Sienz, the owner of the Morales Mines, from whom I obtained information of the route to Batopilas. The streets are irregular; many of the buildings are of stone, but mostly built of adobe and one story in height. A few of the streets are paved with rowel stone. There is a handsome plaza with fountain in front of the cathedral, and some handsome squares. The population is about 15,000, and the people generally very poor. Visited the market this morning. Engaged -------- to get mules and saddles for my trip.
Wrote A. H. Barney today and posted him fully on all the information I have been able to receive of the mining, trading, and transportation business, and population of the different towns I have been through. Have not purchased any mules yet. Expect to have to pay at least $50. apiece for them. Sold the hack and harness to McMannus for $200. Purchased culinary utensils and groceries for my journey.
Attended the cathedral at mass - the whole church crowded - no seats - all knelt on the pavement. I knelt and rose with the crowd although it was mortifying to the flesh. Finished my letter to Barney, and wrote to my wife. At 4 p.m. attended the bull fight - a large audience in the bull ring - the rich and poor of the city all turn out, as it is a national pastime. Four bulls were introduced and baited by the picadors, but it was a poor and tame show and not much like the sports we read of in former times. The ring is a vast amphitheater built by Spaniards many years since, and where they engaged in their sports in a magnificent way, worthy of the country they sprang from. There was one ludicrous incident during the entertainment - two female matadors entering the ring attended by their male companions as protectors. One was soon mounted on the poor old horse with a maticador behind her. The other remained on foot and aided in tormenting the bull. They would approach the animal from different sides with flags of various colors, flaunting them before his head, and throw sharp steel hooks with ribbons fastened to them into the bulls neck, where they fasten themselves and torture him, making him furious, when he would rush upon them, they escaping by flight to and over barriers. The bulls, in one of his sallies, caught the female on his horns and turned her completely upside down, tearing her clothes and frightening her very much, and exposing the unprepared portion of her body and linen, which were not the cleanest or most inviting in appearance. She was not hurt, however, but only frightened. The bull evidently got the worst of it, as he was completely cowed and would not make another attack. The scene created great mirth for the crowd.
Still continued to make ready for journey. Today bought 4 mules at $160., and other traps. Had a good deal of trouble with Quimby, who did not want to pay his part of the expense, although he expected me to go 3 days journey out of the way to accompany him to the Setenbrion mines. As he could not get along without my interpreter, concluded to go with him, although it entails some more expense,
This day continued to fill up the balance of our necessaries in the way of pack-saddles, lanterns, etc., and make ready for the road tomorrow. I am under many obligations to McMannus for favors and kindness while in the city.
Got our bread baked, and our traps together, took dinner and proceeded to pack. After much time spent in sorting our packs and adjusting them to the mules, we were ready for the road. We had quite a time with our Comanche mule. She had never been ridden. Our Mexican guide, Jesus, undertook to ride. She was held: the Mexican blindfolded her until he was mounted in the saddle: then they let go. The next moment the Mexicans head and shoulders were plunged into a pile of stones, over his head, where he lay quiet for some time. When he became sensible he was fully convinced the mule did not want him as a rider. Left the city at 3 oclock with 6 mules with riders, and 4 pack-mules, 2 men, horse, guides and servants (Mexican). Camped this night 5 miles from city in a corral.
Started at daylight from camp. Made 5 miles to breakfast at Frano Ranch. Traveled until 4 p.m. Camped near Ranch. Pena 36 miles from Chihuahua.
Left at daylight. Went 6 miles. Breakfast at Esta Isabel. Put up at Juanita Hacienda. A rich old Spaniard who was very kind to us, introduced us to his family and treated us to music. One of his daughters, a little girl of 10, played the harp admirably, and danced at the same time. A son expects to leave on Monday with his wife for Setenbrion, and will overtake and accompany us. From the information obtained here I find that the distance by way of Setenbrion will be much greater than at first estimated. These people are well acquainted with the roads, and say it will require 18 days to Batopilas by way of Setenbrion.
Left our hospitable old Don and his family at 8 oclock, after breakfast, to make Cusihuiriachic 30 miles, before night. We traveled in the hot sun over the worst mountain country I ever saw, and reached the place at 3 p.m., very well tired out. Were received into a corral and our mules and selves well provided for. We are a great curiosity to the natives as they all gather around us. Watching all our doings and much surprised at our appearance. There were silver mines worked here at one time on a large scale, and very rich. The mines, except one, are abandoned, and but little doing in it. There is no capital for the Company to use.
Spent the most of this day in a visit to the mines. They are all abandoned except one mine, Santa Mariana. I went down into this mine with one of the proprietors, to the workings, about 300 feet. The vein is a very rich one but very narrow, not exceeding 1 vara at most. There is about 86 varas in water. There are too few men at work, and no machinery. The ore is reduced by hand and no quicksilver used. There is no doubt if these mines were worked by capital and skill, there would be a large return. We left for Montars, a Hacienda owned by the Judge, Don Jesus y Rugoyin, who brings ore from the mines around beneficia (works) them.
After partaking of the Judges hospitality, we left for Carrichic in the mountains, 30 miles distant, where we arrived at 4 oclock. Don Patrick Borja received us into his corral and provided for our wants. We were recommended to him by Don M. Seinez of Chihuahua. We found him quite ready to do us any favor he could, always provided we paid for it, which we were always willing to do, even at exorbitant prices.
We remained through the day. After a stormy time with Quimby we divided our affairs, and each is to look after his own business. Shot some snipe for supper.
Left Carrichic at 8 oclock for Le Soguichi after supply of bread and parched corn. We traveled altogether as usual, but each party to take care of its own property. The understanding is to go as far as Sierra Corra, where we separate, each taking his own route. At 12 oclock came up with Cruses party from Juanito, on his way home to Setenbrion. Camped with them at night, having made about 25 miles.
Started from camp about 7 in the morning. The mountain very steep, high, and rocky. The mules labor very hard. Passed and left Cruses party, and in 12 miles made a small Indian village about 12 oclock, where we put up for the night with the principal (chief) Don Ignacio Batteste, a man of much influence. He furnished us with corn and bread, and entertained us in his house with music and dancing. He has a very large and interesting family.
We left Le Soguichi Mariano at 8 oclock, Don Batteste having furnished us a guide to another Indian town 15 miles distant, called Borgana, which we reached at 12. The principal being absent, we sent out for him and unpacked our mules at his ranch. Bought a sheep of Don Le Borge, the big man of the place. Camped within 2 miles of the town.
Left camp Saturday morning at 15 minutes to seven, and found Cruses. Camped at noon. Went about 30 miles this day and camped in a deep ravine between the mountains. No grass.
Left camp at 8 oclock, as the mule had strayed over night. Our Comanche gave out on the top of the first mountain, which caused delay of an hour. Rested at noon 2 hours, and camped in a deep arroyo. No grass but good spring of water.
Our mule gave out and had to be left with our servant, Locardio, to bring into camp, which he did about 8 oclock.
Our mules strayed last night in consequence of not being herded. Quimby agreed his man should watch, but it was like everything that is trusted to him. There is no dependence to be placed on him. He is the most unfit man to undertake such a journey they could have found. He has neither judgment, activity, or any qualification fitting him for his business. We got our mules about 10 oclock, and made about 20 miles today over some very high mountains of 8000 to 10,000 feet in height. We are now in the Sierra Madre.
We left camp at 7 a.m. and reached Quetoco at 1 oclock. We found the mountains almost inaccessible, and very high. The mules were tired. Very hard in the steep ascents. Tortuous windings, and narrow paths. In many places the roads were made by the ledges of rock, and the mules would barely have room to pass the projections, and sometimes actually hung over the edges of the precipices from 5000 to 10,000 feet perpendicular. We are now in the very midst of the mountains, and they are the most grand and imposing I have seen, often rising into the clouds in masses of granite, in the most fantastic and wonderful shapes. We remained at this hamlet of Indians over night, and fared bad enough.
Quimby and Dean left us today at 10 oclock a.m. in company of Mr. Cruses and lady, who arrived this morning on their way home. I felt much relieved by the absence of his company, as he was certainly the most disagreeable traveling companion I ever journeyed with. On account of our mule rigging being out of order, we did not get away until 1 oclock p.m. We ascended a high mountain many thousand feet above the town at the start - and journeyed until 9 oclock in the evening, when we reached Urrocahere, an old Spanish mining town gone to decay. It was abandoned by the Jesuits many years ago. It has a large old church and bells, and must have been a place of consequence once. We camped in the ruins of an old nunnery, said to be 300 years old. We had all walked most of the day, and were extremely fatigued. Cooked our supper of beans and beef and went to rest on the ground as usual.
Rose early this morning, and after breakfast - which was slim enough - beef and the everlasting tortilla, which I find it impossible to eat - the natives, as usual, all gathered around and watching us - I went across the stream to find a Mr. Groves, who is superintendent of a silver mining company, which commenced operations last July. They have some good veins or rich ore, and are building and making ready for extensively operating the mines. I found Mr. Groves a very clever and competent gentleman for the undertaking. Dr. Fitch is here in capacity of clerk, and a gentleman of the name Anderson, a Scotchman who has been in the country some years, and a practical miner. We were very hospitably received and entertained during our stay, without cost. I visited and examined the mines, and think very favorably of the Companys prospects.
We left our kind hosts this morning at 10 a.m. for Uriqua, which we reached at 9 oclock over the worst mountain we I had yet met. The town is situated at the foot of the mountain, on the Uriqua River. We arrived at the top and in sight of the town at 2 oclock in the afternoon, and thought most certainly we should be in the place by sundown, but traveled down until 9 oclock at night, when we were every man and beast so tired that we could not possibly walk a mile farther. Our mules became desperate, and ran heading down the mountain in the dark, and lost themselves and the luggage. There was some tall swearing at everybody and everything in the country, but about 10 oclock, by the help of one of the natives, with a pitch torch, we housed ourselves with an American across the river, of the name of Beecher, who received us kindly.
This morning arose somewhat refreshed and became better acquainted with our host and his doings. He represents the Company of California capitalists who have purchased and are working some old Spanish mines. They are at present driving a tunnel which is within 30 varas of striking the old mines. The metal is very rich, say $1000. per vara. They have been at work for a year, but it bas been badly managed. They are now doing much better under a new management. We remained here this day. I wrote to New York and home, and sent the letters by the guide, who returns back about 100 miles on the road to Chihuahua. I directed and wrote under cover to McMannus, to forward. Was introduced in the evening to Don Pedro Desormean, who is one of the proprietors of the Satrona mine. He was well acquainted with Mendasona and says in 4 years he made the present tunnel, paid a debt of $100,000. due in Mazatlan, built buildings, and at his death left $40,000. in real and personal property aside from the mines.
Visited the tunnel early in the morning of the Rosric mines, of the Guadeloupe Mining Co. The tunnel is cut in 130 yards, and expect to cut the vein in 30 varas more. Had a talk with the old superintendent of Mendasona, Colbantos, who is making the tunnel by contract. He gave the name of the first peon who commenced work on San Pedro, Sartario Sagaste. They commenced work with $150, and there was never any capital extended by Mendasona or any other. Visited the Patrona mine and saw the operation of drawing water from the mine. It takes about an inch pipe without head to keep the mine dry. They took out 2 cargas (loads) of first class ore, 60 marks; and 16 cargas of second quality, 5 marks to the carga. The expense per week is about $600. for mining. The expense of beneficiar (improving) the best quality is about 50 cents per mark.
After obtaining 2 mules from a man down the rio, we left our kind host and started with Mr. Banagre for Batopilas. We kept down the rio and stopped at our muleteers ranch about 20 miles.
Left Camp Rancho, where we received much kindness, at 8 a.m. and, in company with Mr. Banagre, went on, leaving the pack-mules to come on with the servant. After traveling until about 12 oclock as rapidly as the road would admit, we stopped at a fine shady place with a spring, where rested until our mules came up, and cooked our lunch. Pedro gave out yesterday, and did not get into camp until about 9 oclock. He continually gives trouble and is of but little use, as I am obliged to do my own talking the best I can. After a good rest at the spring, we proceeded to the Banagre ranch, which we reached about 5 oclock, and remained all night after partaking of a chicken supper.
This morning, having no mules, we were obliged to remain until Mr. Banagre sent some to supply the place of the ones sent back by the muleteer. We took coffee for breakfast, as usual, and about 9 oclock Mr. Cepada and Don Remiraz son came from Batopilas to meet us. Cepada is a dark, young looking Spaniard. We left the ranch at 5 oclock for Batopilas, and after traveling rapidly about 12 miles to the top of the mountain, took off our saddles and camped until morning. The pack-mules had stopped at the foot of the mountain.
Arose at daybreak this morning and saddled our mules. We left the top of the mountain, and descended very rapidly for about 3 hours, when we arrived at Batopilas, and were housed in the Mendasona Mansion, the largest and best house I have been in, in Mexico. Our wants were attended to by the family residing in it, who were kind to us, as in fact I have found all the better class of Mexicans to be. They furnished us with a good meal. My stomach still being out of order, I could not eat, but partook of some orangeade, a drink which I find corrects my stomach. Mr. Banagre kindly gave me some from his own ranch. Our friends called on us and stayed for an hour. We saw but little of the place, and retired to rest early.
The night was cool and pleasant, and I rested well on my blankets on an iron and brass bedstead covered with rope matting. Arose in the morning much refreshed with my rest. Mr. Banagre, brother, and Don Gill called on me this morning, and I was introduced. Passed the day in the house.
Arranged this morning with Senora Dolores Fierros to attend to our boarding and house keeping, which she kindly undertook. My stomach and liver are much out of order and gave me much pain. Have no appetite. The boys are all well and eat any quantity, especially Pedro, who renders that service if no other. Called on Senora Banagre and sisters. Had no interpreter, and of course made a poor show. Sent off letters to Mr. Le Brun, who is expected here about Thursday. As I am not well, have put off my examination of the mines until his arrival. Was quite unwell this evening. Friends came in to see me, and Mr. Banagre got me some soda. Slept well last night.
Arose this morning quite well and took coffee for breakfast. Was called upon by William Myers, an American from Utica, who has been in the country for the last 14 years and is now living near Batopilas. He had almost forgot his mother tongue, and it was with difficulty that we could converse in English. He gave me some curious items of his experiences in this region. He is married, has two boys, farms it, and deals with the Indians. Don Banagre and brother left for their ranch 15 miles distant, and will return on Wednesday. The boys went fishing in the river near the town and caught a large catfish. Had fish for supper. Very good. Music in the evening.
This morning still felt improved. Myers called this morning. After taking breakfast, called on Don Ramirez and talked some about minerals etc. Saw Cepada at his office. They seem exceedingly anxious to ascertain what I am going to do. The thermometer today was, 94 in the shade. The nights are still pleasant, which makes it cool enough for good sleeping. Batopilas is situated in a deep ravine, the mountains rising very abruptly from the river. Although now gone to decay, it has evidently been a place of much importance, but the failure of those engaged in mining has driven the people away to more prosperous places.
This morning in company with Myers, we visited the obra (work) of San Miguel, begun by Mendasona. It is about one and a half miles above the town, near the river and about 30 feet above it. This tunnel is a magnificent undertaking, and is intended to cut some 17 known veins of silver which run at right angles with it. The tunnel is driven about 80 varas in depth. Nothing has been done in driving it since his death. I found it closed near the entrance with iron doors, and locked. It is kept by a man in charge. No work is being or has been done about it some time. The tunnel is in solid rock, 18 feet wide by 10 feet in height. They have cut a thread of silver about 4 varas from the mouth, which gave some $12,000. More than sufficient to pay for the whole work done. There is a small stone building near the mouth for office and tools, an ore room, pillars for a blacksmith shop, and a good large ore yard in front. Saw the old hacienda of Bustamente, the most of it in ruins. It has evidently been a very large establishment as the remains of the building and reducing work, with the walls, gardens, and aqueducts still show. Rested the balance of the day.
Today was very warm. Look for Mr. Binagres today. Did not go out anywhere. The boys went to see a mine near the town supposed to contain gold and silver, lately opened by Cepada. The vein found to be in Boros a foot wide.
No word from Mr. Le Brun yet, or Mr. Binagres. Attended to the sick Senoras in the lower part of the house, and administered medicine for a sore breast for one, and for a pain in the side and limbs for another. They seem to think every Yankee is a physician. If I am successful in these cases, expect to be called to attend all the afflicted of the town, particularly the female portion. Made my boarding arrangement with the landlady at a cost of $2.75 per day. Received a letter from Mr. Le Brun that he would be here today or tomorrow.
Went this morning to the Aurora Mine and examined it. Found Don Bertran on the spot, and he showed me the workings. They have driven in two lavors in the vein from the outside level, and have found some silver, but it is now is boro. The principal adit is down 50 varas. There is but little doing, and a difficulty exists between Cepada and others in reference to the 10 shares made in the contract. It seems they have forfeited their rights to them on account of not paying their portion of the expenses. But I am informed by Mr. Le Brun, who is to arrive today, that there will be no difficulty about the delivery of the shares. Mr. Le Brun thinks of this mine very favorably.
I find Mr. Le Brun, who called me this morning, a very intelligent gentleman. He is the owner of Pastrana. Has been in the place since 1856, the time of Mendasonas death. He is fully posted on all the mineral deposits of this place so far as relates to its history, and is well qualified from his experience as a miner to give valuable and reliable information in regard to the property I have come to examine. He has kindly offered me his services, to give me all the information in his power.
Called on Mr. Le Brun this morning, and took breakfast with him, and was much pleased to get something like an American breakfast. We talked, and examined the maps and plans of his work, of Pastrana and the property of Mendasona. He is fully persuaded that the contract is a good one, and should be closed at once. The price of the property looks to me too large, in view of its present condition, none of the mines being worked or in silver. I expect to visit San Pedro in the morning. (Mines).
Took our coffee early. Mr. Le Brun and myself with Tom and Asher left early for the mines of San Pedro. The distance from the town is about 2 miles to the mouth of the mines. I found the mine in boro throughout. It has been worked to a depth of 60 varas with some 50 labores, which have been very badly worked by the present owner, since the death of Mendasona. The valuable pillars all have been taken out, and the labores all worked into boro, and then stopped and all the work abandoned. A small opening has been lately made in the vein to the south of the present workings, which gives some promise of silver. I think of making a trial by placing some men at work in it, and driving a few varas. I find the old workings of Martinez, which is the same vein of San Pedro, in the same condition as described by Mr. Schiden in his report. Returned a good deal fatigued about 2 oclock with some specimens from the old works of San Pedro and the new opening.
Left this morning as yesterday, and examined the works of San Antonio and Carmen, which I found much as Mr. Schiden described, except a small work, made by a partner of Don Marino Seinez, the present proprietor of Morales. Took some small samples of ore from a shallow pozorun off to the left from the obra, the first opening on that side, inside of the obra. It looks well, and may prove a good place to work for silver from the pozo to the south. The carmen I could not get into, as the ladders were all gone. The works look very extensive. Saw other veins, the cauceo Fierros, Tahos Geral Mendasona, and several other mouths of veins, as described by Schiden. Made another examination of the obra of San Miguel, and took some specimens from the remains of veins, out near the mouth. Got home for dinner about 3 P.M.
Remained in town today. Breakfasted with Don George and talked matters up in the forenoon.
This morning we are in camp with Mr. Le Brun, Don Valenzuela, and the miners. B. went to the Aurora and was shown some good ore in silver from the center above and below in the first level. It looks well. I took some samples. We then visited San Pedro. The miners had been at work since early morning, endeavoring to find some good specimens of ore. At length a small spot in silver was found in the second labor left by Mendasona, about 50 feet from the first pozo, in the cavity over the third pozo, which is covered. A blast was put in, and some very good specimens obtained. We spent the entire day in making examinations here.
Did not go to the mines today. Wrote Mr. Le Brun a letter today, asking for information in regard to the title and expenditures necessary to make in case of purchase of the Mendasona property. Mr. Le Brun called in the evening, when we had quite a full talk. I lanced the womans breast, who is still suffering very much. It is a very painful and bad looking affair.
Thermometer at 80 this morning. Remained in the house all day. In the evening was invited to a ball at the house of one of the first citizens. Attended with Mr. Le Brun and left at 12 oclock. Asher and Tom remained. Asher and Pina entertained the company by singing and dancing - Oh Susannah, and Pop Goes the Weasel. The Senoritas were handsome and well, though oddly dressed. Danced well: quadrilles, waltzes, and Spanish dances.
Remained in the house today. Thermometer 92 at one oclock. Called on Mr. Le Brun in the evening. He is busy answering my letter. Cut open the womans breast this evening. She suffers very much.
Remained in today, awaiting the action of Mr. Le Brun. Thermometer stood at 96 at 2 p.m. Had a talk this afternoon with Coreantes. The mines of Mendasona about San Pedro, according to his information, were very important. He considers San Pedro and Martinez two distinct mines.
This morning left early for the tunnel with Tom and Asher, to make some measurements. Found the tunnel to be 78 varas in depth (214 feet), 9 feet high, and 10 feet 6 inches wide. My mule ran off, and left, me to walk to town with the thermometer at 100. Mr. Le Brun gave me his answer to my requests. It was very satisfactory, but of such a character as to make no change in my opinion relating to the value of the property. I shall sum up tomorrow, and give them my answer. Had a pleasant evenings chat with Mr. Le Brun. Wrote to Don Guadalupe, declining to take the property under the contract.
Remained in today, and had a talk with Mr. Le Brun. Made an offer in writing to Don D. Ramirez to take the property as follows:
For the obra San Miguel $10,000
For the obra San Pedro and
For the obra Martinez 4,000
For the Hacienda 2,000
For the House in town 4,000
The new proposition to be in place of the contract, if ratified in its total. The proposition resulted in another from both sides, which stands.
This morning made my offer for the property: $20,000. and $700. additional for the personal property, which is supposed to be worth about that amount; they to pay the expense of the perfecting of the leases. The Aurora Mines and the Cepeda affair are left out. I also give the old man a house and lot off the end of the property in town. He has it under consideration. Mr. Le Brun does the negotiating between us.
Mr. Le Brun called early this morning with a new proposition to pay eventually $24,000. In case of certain cases. I did not vary my proposition from the $20,700. for the property and provisions to be given us incidentally. They sent a man to Guadalupe & Calvo today to get the consent from the Ochoas, who own 4 bars in San Miguel. Put in time today in making a miners lamp, which is a good job, and burned well with mantace, or lard. Gave Don Ramirez $48. in gold on contract and to be returned if not consummated.
Remained in all day. Very warm. Thermometer at 100, at which it has been for the most of the week at noon, the mornings at 80. The nights are pleasant. Sleep well. The woman with the sore breast is still very bad, and not much improvement. Made two large cuts in it this evening. Mr. Le Brun came to see the operation, but had not courage to look. Asher assisted me.
Made a draft of San Miguel this morning from memory. Will make one on the spot. Mr. Le Brun made a trial of the miners lamp that I made. It saves 50% on the cost of using candles.
Spent this day in talking up mining business with Mr. Le Brun and Vinagres. Went to the hills in the afternoon. Caught and killed a centipede, a very hard looking customer. I have now killed a tarantula, a scorpion, and a centipede since I have been in Batopilas, the two first in my room. Went bathing this evening - the finest kind of place, and the water clear as crystal and of the right temperature.
Went this morning to an old mine near the town called Consolacion, which has been worked considerably and much silver taken out. The boys think of denouncing it. It looks very promising. Took a sketch of the obra from the hill opposite, and where we discerned a new mine which looks very well.
Corpus Christi Day. The people do not work, it is a fast day. Don Francisco Vinagres came here today from the rodeo. Visited the Consolacion mine. Am awaiting the arrival of the man from Guadalupe y Calvo, who is expected next Tuesday, when I will determine the negotiation in some way.
Was disappointed in a fishing excursion for this morning, which did not come off. Mr. Le Brun received a letter from Mr. Hooper which I read. He arrived at Fuerte with Quimby 2 weeks ago. The sick are quite ill tonight. The weather is not so warm - thermometer about 90.
This day, the first of June, remained in most of the day. Went fishing, or rather to see the Mexicans catch fish with a mat seine, in the direction of Don Vinagres. They caught about 50 small, but very good, fish. Even I got several. A man was put in jail today for murder. It is a miserable, poor, mud building. He will no doubt get out. Made some assays on a new vein found by us opposite the obra. It shows silver.
Wrote today to A. H. Barney and home, and sent the letter by a man to Chihuahua. Wrote to McMannus. Gave A. H. B. and others my doings from my last letter, stating the proposition I made to Don Guadalupe Ramirez.
The boys made some excursions on the hills, prospecting. I also made another assay of the new vein in a crucible, which gives a promising result. Mr. Le Brun thinks there is gold. It has been my impression from the first that the vein contains gold. Discharged Pina.
The man returned from Guadalupe y Calvo with answer from the Ochoas. They would take $4000. for their 4 shares. Don Guadalupe assented to the contract. Wrote by the man to A. H. B. about the new contract in my name.
There was an agreement at length made today, by which we agree to purchase the property at $21,200. The personal property is supposed to be worth $1200.
This day the final consent to the new agreement was obtained, and I send a man tomorrow to the Ochoas to get their assent to the sale on the terms, for which I paid him $1200.
The man left today for Guadalupe y Calvo. Not much doing. Mr. Le Brun is to act as trustee in regard to the property until the conditions are fulfilled.
But little doing today. The weather continues warm. The nights are comfortable.
I spent today in the house. Nothing new.
Went to the obra to make measurements of the length and depth to the center of the veins.
Mr. Le Brun and ourselves went to Pastrana. I found silver for him which will no doubt be first rate. Vinagres furnished the measurements.
Nothing done today. Wrote out my report.
Nothing done today. The invoice of the personal property was delivered to us. --- Having suffered a long time for want of something more palatable than the miserable excuse for bread we have been obliged to eat, I determined on trying my hand at something on that line for a variety I obtained 2 eggs and a little bicarbonate of soda, which I fortunately had by me for medicine, got some farina, and with water properly stirred together and fried with manteca, produced an excellent fritter. The old Senora looked on with astonishment at my operations, and was still more astonished at the result when cooked. I took Tom and Asher a large dishful. They ate the whole, and it was too much for them. They ate nothing more for hours. They declared it was much better than their mothers ever did for them. The fritter business created quite a sensation in the city, and the first families having got a taste, they went in the fritter business strong - those who were able, which were but a few, as farina was $4.00 the arroba. Mr. Le Brun procured the necessaries, and I had to introduce the manufacture of them into his house, which was done with much ceremony, all hands being invited to the feast. Tortillas being the ne plus ultra of Mexican bread, and in most of the country nothing else ever being seen, it was no wonder they looked at the fritter production as a miracle. Of all the preparations for bread I ever tasted the tortilla is the poorest for my use. It is made from corn, boiled, mashed up, and worked into dough by a filthy Mexican woman on a stone, and then patted into thin cakes 1/8 of an inch thick and baked on an pan, kept over a fire, splinters lit. They are without salt, are nothing but the corn and water, and tasteless as chips.
The man returned from the Guadalupe y Calvo with the Ochoas assent to receive the 4 boxes in Mazatlan. Don H. G. Le Brun has made the contract ready for execution, and all assented to it. I demanded the old mine of Martinez, a portion of the vein now in the Pestenancia.
Finished my report today. Don George very much elated with the news about his mine. Sent Franklin after news.
Expect to leave for home Tuesday. My mules are not fit to go. Must procure some more.
Completed the contract today. The parties were present and signed the agreement. No mules yet. Pina says he is going with us. I hope not.
Had a translation made of the new agreement, and other papers that were necessary for my purpose. Packed up, and sent for 2 mules into the feria (fair). Expect to leave early tomorrow morning.
Mules not here this morning. Made a finish of the inventory of personal property. Have all ready for my journey. Hope to get off this evening. Pina left this morning for Fuerte. I ascertained this evening of his guilt in stealing my money, and made it known. He stole $60. from me altogether.
Our mules came last night. Settled with Frankelaro. Hired a man to go to Fuerte for 50 cents per Day. Left Batopilas at 7 oclock, after bidding the friends good-bye, which is done in a most extraordinary manner. Their salutations at parting are made by taking in their arms and hugging, in a very agreeable manner, especially by the Seρoritas, if they are good-looking. We went to the aldea by 11 oclock, where we stayed all night.
[John's son Asher stayed in Batopilas, he would die of typhoid fever before his father returns.]
Our mules ran away this morning, and we did not leave our hosts until 11 oclock, when we took leave and traveled rapidly to the Fuerte River, where we paid an Indian $1.50 for carrying our luggage across. The river was so high our mules nearly swam. Don Le Brun stripped. I crossed without a wetting. We camped at an Indian house. Took our dinner of cold turkey and chicken with coffee, which went well, as we were very hungry, having come 30 miles.
Lay on the ground and slept badly, owing to the heat and mosquitoes. Arose at 3 oclock a.m., took coffee, and left at 4 oclock. Made 26 miles and stopped on the brink of the Fuerte at a hut, to rest the mules and feed them. Took a mug of panole for breakfast. Tried to get a little rest under the shed, but like all Indian huts, it was filled with dogs, children, chicken, and cats. After spending 2 hours, we saddled and left at 2 oclock, and ascended an exceedingly high mountain, which we crossed and our descent was the worst road I found in the Sierras. Ascended again to the top of the Sierras, where we camped for the night among the pines, and by good water and fine grass. We made 50 miles.
We left our camp at 2 oclock a.m., the moon giving fine light. Traveled rapidly until day, when we began to descend the last slope of the Sierras toward the Pacific. It was a splendid view of the Terra Calinta at sun-rise. We passed my old servant Pedro, who had left Batopilas the day before us, in company with a man whom he had been drilling for some weeks into a speculation of trading, providing they could obtain money and credit, to accomplish which they were on their way to Fuerte. We knocked the game in the head by a letter from a Spaniard at Batopilas, who bad been cozened by Pedro into giving him a letter of credit. This one was to counterman his other. The thieving scoundrel was exposed. We arrived at Chois at 8:30 a.m. having ridden 30 miles before breakfast. Was well received and entertained by Mr. Le Brun and family.
Had a good nights rest. Rose early and took a view of the town. It being St. Johns Day, there was music by a band - well played. The church, like all Mexican churches, is the building of the place, old and without a roof. The town seems to have been a place of some importance under the Spaniards, but is now fast going to decay. Spent the day in trying to keep cool. The ground which the town stands upon has gold in it, but the Mexicans are too lazy to work it out. Mr. Le Brun gathered a handful of dirt and worked it, showing the gold. A young man of the name of Valenzuela is to accompany me to the States, to obtain an education under my charge. Will leave Chois in the morning.
Left Chois this morning at 7 oclock in company with Mr. Le Brun, 3 mules, and my servant. Traveled rapidly until 10 oclock and stopped at the San Pedro Ranch, 8 leagues from Chois. Fed the mules, and men. Two leagues further, camped at a ranch, where I got a bowlful of new milk from a cow, the first I have had in Chihuahua.
After a fine nights rest left at 4 oclock and arrived at Fuerte at 8 a.m. Fuerte I found a very pleasant town with a population of 4000, and much the best built of any Mexican town I have seen. Made some pleasant acquaintances here: Mr. Maratin, father of Don George Le Brun, Don Rute Clouthier, who resides at Mazatlan, and who will probably accompany me to that place. We stopped at the Florida House of Entertainment, which is anything but one. Dined with Maratin. Introduced to the Ibarros, or one of them, Don Canute, the principal -------- about -----.
This morning, according to a previous arrangement, rode out in company with Maratin to see the town, and river. It is a beautiful river, the Fuerte, and could be made navigable for steamers to this point with very little expense. The Ibarros are the principal merchants of the place, and do a large business with the mines in the interior. I tried to get my drafts on San Francisco discounted, but could not do it. Found my interpreter, Don Pedro, here, whose rascality I exposed and prevented his imposing on others whom he had planned to rob. The news from the United States of June 8th is of a very bad and frightful kind - war and fighting - brother against brother. Met Mr. Chipman of the Setenbrion mines. He does not fancy Quimby much. This Chipman is quite a big talker. We moved to a new fonda (hotel) a much better place. Had a good nights rest.
[John is probably referring to the Battle of Philippi, the first land battle of the Civil War, which took place on June 3. John's nephew Samuel M. Wilkinson was a member of a regiment (15th Ohio Volunteer Infantry) that arrived in Philippi the day after the battle.]
Heavy rain this morning. It is now the rainy season; rains every day. Spent the day in looking over the town and making acquaintances. Found some very pleasant ones, amongst them a Mr. Allison, an Englishman, who resides at Mazatlan,
Expect Don Canute Ibarros today. Nothing new. The steamer for San Francisco is expected to leave Mazatlan on the 20th of July. I shall go to Agiabampo, and take vessel. Young Valenzuela is here. He goes with me to the United States for an education. Don Canute came this evening, but too late to see him. I understand Colonel Raymond, who represents the Company in San Francisco, thinks well of the Rosario Mines and will recommend the purchase of them on the terms asked, $80,000.
Called with Mr. Maratin on Don Canute. Found him every inch a gentleman. He resembles our Riley family very much, and would pass for a relation without any trouble. I arranged my money matters with him, and left on deposit for Don Ramirez $447. and $200. for procuring the titles. Got from Valenzuela $900. which left me $253. Sent to Asher $30.50 and wrote him about it. Had a talk with Pina, who owned up to taking my money, and appeared to be in great trouble about it, and says he will not go to Batopilas again, and does not know what to do. Bid adios to friends, and left for Agiabampo. Went three leagues and camped.
Arose at 4 oclock and resumed our journey. Stopped at ranch 8 leagues from Fuerte. Fed our mules and ourselves and rested until 2 oclock p.m. A squad of red-coated soldados stationed here. Arrived at Agiabampo at 7 oclock, early enough to see the Gulf of California, the waters of the Pacific Ocean, for the first time. I have now accomplished the whole distance by land from New York to the Gulf of California, and certainly it is not a desirable trip to make for pleasure. From St. Louis to this place I have never had one good meal of victuals, or slept upon a bed, while in the Sierras we came very near starving. I have reason, however, to be thankful for much kindness from the Mexicans, and even the poor Indian has divided his miserable stores with us. Probably no worse year than the present has been known for a long time in Mexico. Because of drought no crops have been raised, and the great body of the Mexican poor and Indians in the mountains live on the fruit and roots, having nothing else. From Fuerte to this place I could talk but little, as my companions were all Mexicans. A clerk going to Mazatlan, and his servant accompanied us. His name is Jesus M. Ferriera, a very clever and intelligent young man.
Spent this morning in a visit to the Schooner Conchito, el Capitan Don Jacinto P. Soto. Took coffee with him. He is bound for Mazatlan in 3 days, so he says. There are 4 other small schooners unloading flour, corn, machinery for the mines, sugar, and other groceries and goods, which go to Fuerte and Alamos. The bay is large but shallow near the land. Sent my servant on his return with letters for Asher and Le Brun.
Had a grand breakfast on a beefs head cooked Indian fashion, by digging a hole boring way into the coals - put in the head whole, and cover with earth. It cooks all night. It is certainly a most luscious morsel, tender and juicy. Slept well tonight on shore in the Americans shanty, two young chaps who have charge of machinery for Caraccoa. Beautiful morning. Our Portuguese friend left for Guymas today on a schooner. Took my traps aboard of the Conchita and expect to leave tomorrow.
This morning rose early, having slept on the deck of the schooner. Troubled somewhat by mosquitoes. The porpoises are playing all about the vessel. Took coffee. Our meals are coffee in the morning, a breakfast at 11 a.m. and dinner at 6 p.m. The fare consists of beef, cooked in various ways, frijoles, and ship-biscuit, brown and hard as Pharaohs gizzard, but much better fare than on the mountains, where we could get nothing. Spent an hour fishing, and caught a number of toad-fish, a most unsightly fish, much the color and shape of a toad, and it has the faculty of distending itself to 3 times its natural size with wind. It generally goes into the balloon business as soon a caught, or by tickling his belly you can inflate the gent.
It was rather a rainy night, but the sun rose clear, and a fine morning, but no wind. Our Captain, according to his promise, trimmed his sails, after taking coffee, and waited for the wind. We up anchor at 7 oclock a.m., and worked our way slowly over the bar, having struck several times, but at length got off with a high wind. Made for the mouth of the harbor, but the wind shifted dead ahead. With a strong current setting in, we were obliged to leave to, and lay until morning. I awoke in the night at 1 oclock, when I had a glorious sight of the largest comet I ever beheld. The head, or nucleus, was large as Venus, and very bright and blazing, and about 20 degrees above the horizon, pointed to the north, while the bright, long tail reached full half way across the heavens. It was a most wonderful sight.
[This comet does not have a name, it is known simply as the comet of 1861. The period of its orbit was calculated to be approximately 400 years, so it will not be seen again for about 250 years. Sketch of the comet.]
We up anchor at daybreak, the wind and tide being in our favor, we scudded on, but before reaching the entrance, the wind shifted, and we anchored for the balance of the day, and went fishing and crabbing. Not much success. I caught a dozen soft shells, but could not get them cooked, as they did not believe them good to eat. We lay to until morning. I could not rest much on account of the mosquitoes and bugs, so I lay awake watching the comet overhead.
We up anchor at daybreak, and finally got out of the harbor, the wind being dead ahead, and we had to beat off and on shoals all day, and did not make much headway. Strong wind with a heavy sea. Rolling in a little cockle-shell of a ship of 35 tons or less, is anything but agreeable to a landsmans stomach. We tacked on and off, until night, making only about 20 miles, when the wind went down entirely and we lay to all night without any progress, and to add to our comfort a heavy swell that kept our stomachs in an uproar all night.
No wind yet this morning until. 10 a.m., when we got a very light one, dead ahead as usual. We crept along but little; it was hardly discernible, and the swell still continued tumbling us about. A brisk wind sprang up at sunset and lasted until morning. We are headed for the California coast, which we came in sight of about 8 oclock next morning. Our living is getting awfully hard. Our water is full of worms, which we find in all our victuals. The captain says that is nothing when I called his attention to them. As it is the best we have, why of course it will do.
This morning we enjoyed a new sight; 3 large whales came sporting within a hundred feet of the vessel, where we had a fine view of the monsters. The largest seemed to be from 75 to 100 feet in length. We saw a great many during the day. We ran along the California coast through the day, when the wind was willing, as it would calm suddenly, and then as suddenly spring up again, but unfortunately for us, always from the same quarter. We had quite a show for a storm at midnight, but calmed down again by daylight.
We were becalmed about 8 oclock a.m., and lost about 30 miles, being driven back on our course by the tide or current. The wind freshened again at 2 p.m. and we regained our lost distance at sundown. We had an incident today which broke the monotony of our existence. While eating our breakfast, a large dolphin made his appearance on the side where I sat, and caught the bones I threw overboard. One of the mates speared him, and we had a lively time all hands getting him aboard and killed. He measured 5 feet long and weighed about 80 pounds. We had fresh fish, which was a great change for the better. It was the first time I ever ate dolphin, but it certainly is an excellent fish, or my appetite deceived me. I had often read of the colors of the dying dolphin, but had no conception of the beautiful changes they underwent - from silver to gold and then to silver again, interspersed with the brilliant spots and shades of blue and gold and many other colors. Was disturbed from my slumbers on the deck in the night by rain, and dove down into the cubbyhole, about 6 feet square, where we curled up for the balance of the night.
This morning a dead calm. We lost all we had made the day before. A light breeze sprang up at 12 oclock, and continued until night, and at sundown we had regained our lost distance with some prospect of making some headway by morning. Our small vessel being in ballast, our progress is very slow, the wind and waves both against us. The two Valenzuelas suffer much from seasickness, the vessel constantly pitching about. A gust of wind took my hat to windward, bound for the head of the gulf, which it will no doubt reach much sooner than we will Mazatlan. I bade it Godspeed, and must make the rest of my voyage under a bare poll.
A strong head wind all night. Made about 30 miles the last 24 hours. The wind fell this morning. We had our coffee and worms this morning as usual. I partake very slightly of the beverage. The Captain says its nothing. Our water is full of worms, our sugar is dirty, our meat awful, our bread 2 years old and wormy, and our cook the essence, of filth. Still I continue to eat, rather than starve. We are now on our 10th day aboard, and no telling when we will make port. We have made about half our voyage, and are in the middle of the gulf with a perfect calm, and the sun broiling hot, a little stinking water, 2 old, poor chivas, or goats, 2 ditto sheep, a miserable starved cat; 5 hands, the Captain, and 3 passengers. Have heard of Purgatory, and think we are in that vicinity at this time. Our water is so low we are put on rations, and very small ones at that.
Arose early from the deck. A beautiful morning with a light breeze aft, the first favorable wind since we left port. It continues very light until 3 p.m. when it freshened a little, still in the right quarter. We make about 3 miles an hour. Our water is exhausted and we must make a port. The Captain has altered his course for a small port on the Mexican coast called Altata, which we hope to reach by morning, and take in water.
We find ourselves this morning opposite our port about 20 miles out, with light wind. We got in and anchored at 3 p.m. Got our water and will leave at daybreak tomorrow morning. A small Mexican man-of-war in the harbor. The officer in command boarded us, our Captain being acquainted introduced me in Espaρol. He invited us aboard. We accepted and went aboard, where the Commander, the 2nd Lieutenant, Don Eduvargis Ballesteros, showed us every attention and opened several bottles of Alsopps Pale Ale, which I found no difficulty in drinking. A man that has crossed the mountains of Mexico and nearly starved, and seen no Christian food for 3 months, will be likely to appreciate a good glass of ale. We also had tea and some wheat crackers, which I was not slow in doing my duty on. The Captain obtained some oysters, of which there is a great abundance in the bay, but much inferior to New York oysters, though much larger.
We anchor at daybreak and got out of the harbor with a fair wind. We had coffee with American butter, which was the first that I had seen in Mexico, except a little miserable stuff in Chihuahua. This no doubt was very old, but it tasted sweet to me. I am still in great luck. We hailed a vessel from Guymas and sent our boat to her, and got a letter for our Captain, whose family resides there. They also sent us some grapes and figs, the sweetest grapes and the largest bunches I ever saw. They are grown at La Paz, Low California. So many good things at one time have given me a little enlargement in the region of the stomach. I have become a skeleton to what I was when I left New York, having lost 40 pounds. Have a vision of something better to come in Mazatlan.
We were roused before day this morning by the rain. We made about 50 miles yesterday, and hope to be in sight of Mazatlan by dark, if the wind holds good. We have no meat except the hardest kind of dried Mexican beef, full of bugs and worms. I cannot eat it, the bread, any more. It has become intolerably filthy. Still the captain says: Its nothing. I gave him my opinion in Spanish and he still says its nothing - about all the English he can muster.
Another calm morning with every prospect of remaining so during the day. We are still 50 miles from Mazatlan. We are now 13 days from Agiabamp. When we will get to Mazatlan is uncertain as it depends on the wind, which is as changeable as a womans temper. We had a little excitement today. The Captain had a violent toothache, which set him dancing about the deck and swearing in Spanish, and breaking things in a very insane manner, and when I told him it was nothing he was perfectly furious, and cursed los Americanos beautifully. His tooth-ache was a real treat for us in the midst of the calm. A breeze sprang up light at sunset and lasted all night.
No Mazatlan in sight yet. This morning we go, and that is all. The Captain is more amiable, having got over the toothache. If it should become calm again, hope he will be blessed with another touch for our benefit. One of the men has just speared another strange fish about 5 feet long and about as large around as my arm, with a bill 8 inches long, much the shape of a ducks with a magnificent set of teeth. It has scales and is said to be good food. It can be no worse than the wormy carne. The fish is eaten and found to be good, although its bones are a bright green. In this, my first sea voyage, which has taken 14 days, I have seen a great many, to me, strange, interesting and beautiful sights: the blue sea, the glorious golden sunsets, the wonderful monsters of the deep, the myriads of curious sea-fowl, and after night the sea is filled with phosphorescent animal culae sporting in all directions, their ghostly lights far down in the depths, and surface appears, on the least agitation, like burnished silver. Take it all in all, I shall not soon forget my first trip in the Gulf of California, in the El Barco Conchito, commanded by Don Jacinto P. Soto, to whom I recommend all who are traveling bound for various ports on the Gulf to take passage with a very clever and intelligent gentleman, in his way. We anchored off the harbor of Mazatlan at dark, the Captain not liking to go in across the bar at night, so another night aboard.
Not inside yet. We are becalmed in the mouth of the harbor, and may have to stay all day. At 3 p.m. a light breeze sprang up, and we entered the harbor of Mazatlan with the city in full view before us. The entrance is narrow between enormous rocks, one called the Old Sow, which is seen at sea a great distance, and bears a striking resemblance to that porcine animal at rest. We were boarded by the Mexican runners with their boats, and the custom house, or harbor master. We delivered ourselves and baggage to one of the boats, to whose owner I disbursed $2.25 for safe delivery of selves and baggage at the Frank Hotel, which was duly done, after passing through the baggage inspection at the custom house. When a mild form of examination was gone through, we found a good room and eating at the Hotel, at the rate of $1.33 per day, each, which is certainly the cheapest fare since I left home, and the first real good cooking since I left St. Louis. After starving so long on the Conchita you may guess we were not long without something inwardly. First were peaches, then grapes - oh how delicious! - then ice cream - only think of it! - and plantains, better still. The streets seem to be filled with venders of fruit of the most luscious flavors, and tropical, of which I know not the names. After dinner took a short walk to buy a sombrero. Bought a light colored one - no black ones in the city.
Had a fine nights rest, and a nice cup of chocolate and good bread. The landlord, who is French, informs me, that Stearns will be here, and leave for San Francisco on the 26th. Went on a further walk this morning. I find this an exceedingly well built town, in the Mexican style. The streets are narrow and paved with small stone, the gutter in the center. There are but few sidewalks, and those not over 4 feet wide and built up from the street. The buildings are all plastered outside and whitewashed, with fancy colored doors and windows, which gives the place a very bright, clean look. I find a great many French merchants, and a few Americans here. The stocks of goods are principally French, as their fancy prints, shawls, etc. are better suited to the Mexican taste. Called at the house of Mr. Holderness to whom I had a letter from Mr. Le Brun. He is absent, at San Francisco. Saw his lady and son, and spent an hour very agreeably. They are English, the lady Mexican. Also called on Vice-Consul, Mr. Connor. His brother, E. Connor, the Consul, is absent at T. S. Got acquainted with the brother, who is a very agreeable man, an American. He gave me the news to the 20th June from the states - nothing later of importance, in addition to what I got at Fuerte.
Remained indoors, it being a rainy morning. Took a walk to the Plaza and into the country. Am very much pleased with the city. It is very clean. This being Sunday, the citizens are either on the walk or sitting in the alcoves and verandas of the buildings. There is a great abundance of orange and lemon trees growing along the walks, while the cocoa-palm trees tower far above the buildings on every side, filled with fruit. They are the most beautiful trees I have yet seen in Mexico. The fruit grown in a large cluster at the top of the bunch where the branches or leaves put out, which are 15 to 20 feet in length, shooting out in all directions, forming an umbrella shaped top. The city is said to contain 14,000 population, and is the seaport town of Sinaloa and residence of the Governor.
Did a little visiting today. Called on Mr. Connor, and made the acquaintance of a Wheeler & Wilson sewing machine man, who has been hereabouts one month, sold 6 machines, and thinks he can do well here. I saw a sign of Grover & Baker, and suppose he tells the same story. Got a glass put in my watch and found the watch-maker a man from Ohio, who has been here 7 years, is about 50 years of age and married. Spent a pleasant evening with the Vice Consul and the sewing machine man on the beach and plaza, where use heard the military band. The people crowded the plaza. The music was good.
Rainy morning. It rains every night, and the mosquitoes are awful. I can get but little rest, as their bite is poisonous. Walked to the market, which I found very well supplied with vegetable, meats and fruits in great abundance. Received letters from Mr. Le Brun and Ibarros recalling the $900. which I used of the Valenzuelas. Owing to the troubles in the United States, concluded not to have him go now. I paid the money from the drafts on Wells Fargo & Co. on San Francisco. Made the acquaintance of the English Consul, Kelly who is the largest merchant in Mazatlan.
The rain lasted later this morning than usual. No news of the steamer from San Francisco yet. It should have been in yesterday. The steamer is in. Some 60 passengers and 150 tons of freight came by her. The news was not so bad as anticipated from the United States - no general battle, with some hopes that Congress will do something soon towards a settlement of the trouble. Dined with the American Consul, and had quite a social and pleasant time.
Nothing of importance today. The heat has become quite oppressive during the day. The nights would be comfortable were it not for the mosquitoes, which annoy me so it is impossible to rest.
There are many Americans here by the last steamer from San Francisco, who are looking out for mines, and some who have already bought and come ready to work. It is very evident there will be a great rush to the silver mines of Mexico. In less than one year there will be a great change in the mining population and business of the country, caused by the influx of the foreign population taking up the mines. Nothing of importance today.
Spent the day in rewriting and completing my report, and reading the news at the Consuls, where I find an abundance of old newspapers, but which to me are new.
Took breakfast with Mr. Connor at his home, and spent a part of the day there. He has a beautiful situation and a fine home, with many comforts and conveniences of a Mexican life. He is much taken with the Batopilas mines, and would like to take an interest in my purchase. I go moved up to the second story, and have a much pleasanter room than before. I can look over the town and out to sea. Have more air and less mosquitoes. It rained hard all night.
This morning it still continues to rain. One good thing is that the city is with good draining, and there being no wheeled vehicles, there is but little mud, and in an hour after the rain it is pleasant walking. I find a number of California miners here, and some companies with capital going into silver mining. They are very sanguine, and say the mines are far ahead of anything in California. There were some 60 passengers from San Francisco by the last steamer, and a great part of them either came to work mines already bought, or to prospect. They say there will be a great many more by the next steamer, who are making ready with machinery, having taken up mines here in Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua. T here is no doubt but there will be a hundred American companies at work in Mexico in a year. There are now some 12 or 15 that I know, and all but 3 have come this spring.
A number of the California guests were anxious to see my specimens this morning. After seeing them their great richness surprised them beyond measure, and set them crazy. There will be a stampede for Batopilas before my return, without much doubt. I am anxiously looking for the steamer from Guymas tonight, when I hope to leave for San Francisco in the morning. The steamer leaves for Panama on the eleventh, and I am much afraid I shall be too late, which will be a great disappointment, as none leave again until the 21st.
The steamer hove in sight this morning at 10 a.m., but did not get into her berth until nearly dark. There was a heavy sea on. The purser came ashore, but no passengers. A conducta arrived today from Durango with $98,000. guarded by 50 soldiers. It goes on board of the steamer for San Francisco. She will take about $150,000. this port. She goes from here to Manzanillo.
The Captain came shore this morning accompanied by Mr. Groves of Cerrocera. He has been here since the 15th of May trying to get forward to San Francisco. The steamer will leave at 4 oclock p.m., so the Captain says. I have secured a first rate room through Messrs. Grove and Wadsworth, who were on their way down from Guayman. I had arranged with Mr. Wadsworth as the steamer went up. Wrote to Asher and arranged with Mr. Consul Connor to send Asher $250. by the first mail, and I am to send him a check on San Francisco when I arrive there. Pedro left a gold watch and chain with Mr. John Connor, to sell for $125. and remit the money to Asher. Went aboard at 4 p.m. There were some hundred passengers aboard, with a fair amount of freight for San Blas, Manzanillo, and San Francisco. We up anchor at 8 p.m. and sailed in the direction of San Blas,
After a heavy sea made about 30 miles of San Blas by breakfast. Our fare aboard is good, and the first decent American fare I have had since leaving St. Louis. The Captain is a gentleman, and a pleasant and agreeable man. His name is Horner. The Panama is about 12 years old but staunch and in good order. She is about 1200 tons berth. There was much sea-sickness aboard. We made the harbor of San Blas about 2 oclock. As we came to anchor some mile and a half off the beach, the natives were in their boats surrounding the vessel, and filled with tropical fruits for sale, and making a great chatter. The Captain went ashore and invited some five or six of us to accompany him. The town of San Blas is a collection of huts near the beach, nearly hidden by the palm and other tropical trees. It is a miserable looking place, and the natives a squalid, miserable, lazy set, doing nothing and living on the fruits and other products of the country which cost nothing to raise. It is the seaport town of the small state of Tepic. We walked about the place for some 3 hours and were very well satisfied to return to the vessel. We have a snuff-colored down east peddler aboard, who is always prying into everybodys business, and is generally disliked by all aboard for his impertinent interference. When I was asked by the Captain to go on shore in his boat, this snuffy Yankee ran down the steps and sprang into the boat ahead of me, much to the annoyance of the Captain who dislikes him greatly. When we came off we gave the fellow the slip, and he was obliged to hire a shore boat which cost him a dollar. It was much fun for all of us. We up anchor and off at 8 oclock. We had quite a storm all night with high wind.
We had a very rough sea and high wind this morning. Nearly all the passengers are sick. It does not affect me any. There is a large number of Spanish women aboard, who have never been to sea before, and who were very sick. Our progress was slow on account of the wind being ahead, and a stormy current against us. The coast for the whole distance is lined with lofty cerros, or mountains, covered to their summits with rich and luxuriant verdure. The heat is not so oppressive as farther up the Gulf.
We reached Manzanillo at 10 a.m. It is a collection of about 50 Mexican huts situated close to the edge of a beautiful bay. The harbor is very good for the largest ships. The Panama steamers touch here. It is the shipping port for the large towns of Colima and Guadalajara, inland some hundred miles or more. We put out some 70 tons of freight and several passengers. We landed all our freight, which consisted mostly of quicksilver for the mines, and up anchor for San Francisco at 8 oclock p.m. We are now fairly on the right direction, after six weeks since leaving Batopilas.
We had a calm, warm night, and made good progress during the night. Our next port will be Cape St. Lucas at the tip of Lower California. The day proved calm, but we made about 8 miles per hour. We soon lost sight of land and were on the broad bosom of the Pacific, which well deserves its name. The Sandwich Islands are the nearest to the west of us, and China lies 7000 miles away. No incidents worthy of notice today.
It is still calm and pleasant. We expect to make the Cape tonight. About 3 p.m. hove in sight of vessel which, on seeing us, fired a gun to bring us to. It proved to be the United States Sloop of War, The Cyana. The Commander came aboard of us, and stayed half an hour and procured passage to San Francisco for an invalid Lieutenant, who was sent aboard when we steamed on. It did my heart good to see the Stars and Stripes hanging from her stern, and brought my mind to remember the fearful struggle going on in my beloved country, where the passions of men had usurped reason, and where a horrible tragedy was now being enacted. At midnight we reached Cape St. Lucas and took on some passengers and freight, which detained us about two hours, when we set off again and will not go into another port until we reach San Francisco.
The weather is beautiful, and just sufficient breeze to make it comfortably pleasant. We are making good headway. The coast of Lower California is in sight. Like all the Mexican coast it is bold and mountainous. We have several Americans from Cape St. Lucas as passengers, bound for San Francisco to purchase tools, machinery, etc. for the working of mines in Lower California. There is a great number of the old mines there, as well as in Mexico, taken up by Californians, and all whom I have conversed with are very sanguine, and agree that the mines of Lower California are not to compare at all with those of Mexico for richness. There is no doubt that an immense capital will go into the Mexican mines within the next 12 months from California and other states and with far better success than has attended California mining of late. In addition to the great number of old, rich silver mines that have been abandoned for years there are in Chihuahua, Sonora, and Sinaloa, rich gold placers that would pay well if worked.
We are still steaming away over a calm and beautiful sea. We expect to reach San Francisco in five days. The weather has become much cooler since leaving the Gulf. I now sleep with all the bed clothes over me, and the stateroom door shut. The thermometer stands at 70 at noon today. We have made the 24 hours 170 miles.
It is quite cool this morning and cloudy. Thermometer at 65, and remained at that point all day. It is still calm. We are making good speed. Our passengers being all recovered from sea-sickness, there is quite a lively and pleasant time among them. We have but two lady cabin passengers, the wife of a Mr. Howe, who resides in Tepic, Mexico, and who, with his brothers, is engaged in a cotton mill. They are Americans from New York. Since coming to the country they have made a fortune in the manufacture of cotton. There are also domestics and married Mexican ladies on board. The other lady cabin passenger is a German woman with 3 children, going to San Francisco to live. Her husband is in Mexico, imprisoned for taking a part in the late Revolution. Our male passengers are mostly Californians, with some Mexicans, and nearly all engaged in mining in Mexico, or about engaging in the business. We are followed by a great number of sea fowl called the sea hen, that fly astern of the ship, lighting occasionally and picking up the stuff thrown from the cooks pantry.
It has become so cold that overcoats are in demand. Thermometer at 60. The think clad Mexicans are looking blue, and the women are huddling together on the deck to keep warm, and no doubt wishing to be back in their sunny homes. I feel the want of my overcoat, which with all my heavy clothes and blankets, I left behind in Mexico. It continues to grow colder as we go north. The wind has increased to a gale, dead ahead, as all the winds have been since I have been at sea.
We are about opposite San Diego, California this morning, making but slow progress on account of the strong head wind. We are not likely to reach San Francisco before the fifteenth. The wind increased to a gale during the day, and the waves ran mountain high, as the saying is, and it became so cold that I was under the necessity of going to bed to keep warm, as I had no overcoat or blankets with me. I was awakened by the Captain at about 12 oclock at night to go on board of the steamer for New York. I jumped out and ran up on deck and saw the steamer about 3 miles off and nearly abeam of us. She threw several rockets in the air. I found it would be impossible to reach the steamer, as the sea ran so high.
A cold windy morning. The passengers looked blue, and but few made their appearance at breakfast. The thermometer at 50 in the cabin. This was a blue day throughout - no let up to the gale, and but little headway made.
No improvement yet in the weather, and nothing to vary the monotony of the ever-creaking engine. The passengers are in their staterooms, and but few besides the sailors are on deck through the day. The Captain very kindly lent me an overcoat, which I managed to squeeze into. It was anything but a fit. My arms stuck through to the elbows, and the tail hung to my hips, the Captain being a short, fat man about 5 ft. six, while I am 6 ft. 5. I cut a very amusing figure, no doubt. At least the passengers seem to think so, for they gave me the benefit of their opinions with very open countenances.
Still cold and windy. The Captain got an observation at noon, which showed us within 42 miles of San Francisco. Expect to get in by 9 oclock. There is a heavy fog continually, and it may prevent us from getting into the harbor. We reached the Golden Gate, the entrance to the Bay of San Francisco, at 5 oclock, and entered, steaming past Fort Point and Island Fort, rounding which we came in full view of the shipping and city of San Francisco. A large portion of the city lies so low as not to be seen from the water, while the surrounding suburbs are very elevated and mostly built over. It was dark when we got to the dock. I, with some of my fellow passengers, went to the American Exchange. As I stepped out of the coach, some person tapped me on the shoulder. On looking round, I found it to be Johnny Budd from Sandusky City, who is now a merchant in the country. Took lodgings and meals in the American Exchange, and as soon as my baggage was secure in my room, went to Wells Fargo & Co., where I found John Camp, who was very much pleased to see me.
Was visited today by number of gentlemen to see my specimens of silver, and inquire about Mexico. They were completely astonished, even in this land of precious metals, at the richness of the specimens, having never seen anything like them, and many are bound for Mexico to see for themselves. I could raise capital to pay for these mines in 24 hours here. Walked about the city some, and went out to the old Mission. I am much pleased with the city and business. They have the best vegetable and fruit market in the world, and everything in the way of business is full of life. I wrote home today.
Employed all day nearly in showing specimens and talking of mining. Charley Higgins has written to Fargo for a share in the concern.
Camp and myself have concluded to go overland together home, and will probably leave on Monday. Visited the theatre with Camp in the evening, and saw Joseph Jefferson in Rip Van Winkle. Last February I saw him in the same character in New York. He is perfect, so true in the delineation of the old chap.
I purchased some clothes, as I am about as seedy as I ever was in this life. Was busily employed all the morning in my room, showing specimens and talking of Mexico. In the afternoon I went to the Williams and spent an hour in looking at the crowds who spend their pleasant times in that beautiful retreat. It is 3 miles from the city by rail, and Sundays the cars run every 15 minutes, and are crowded with happy faces going and returning from this really beautiful place for recreation. It is beautifully fitted up with books and machinery for amusement for the children, and shooting, and innocent games for the grown ups. Visited the family of C. T. Higgins, who formerly lived in Sandusky. He parted from his wife some years ago, but subsequently they came together again, and are now living very happily.
Spent most of the day in walking about the city and talking about silver mines. Wrote and telegraphed to H. Wilkinson at Shasta. He lives within 20 miles of the place.
[Henry Wilkinson is John's brother-in-law.]
Got ready today, and with Camp and McLean, left on the steamer for Sacramento at 4 oclock. Was much pleased with the beauty of the bay and the towns along the route. Benicia is the first, about 28 miles from San Francisco. Here are the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. Works, for repairing their vessels; also the Government Works and Arsenal. This was once a rival to San Francisco, and the seat of government for the state was established here, but was afterwards removed to Sacramento. The place has a population of some four to five thousand, and is beautifully located on the bay with a fine harbor, for shipping. The climate is far superior to San Francisco. There is but little business done now. They have here the best schools in the state. We entered the Sacramento River about dusk, and reached Sacramento about 12.
Went ashore at 5 oclock in the morning and took breakfast. I had no opportunity of seeing the place. It is situated on an extensive plain on the east bank of the river, contains a population of some 20,000, and is the second town in the state, doing a very active and thriving business. There is a railroad to Folsom and stages to Marysville and many other interior towns. I am acquainted with a number of people who live here, that were residents of Mansfield and vicinity. As I got aboard of the cars met Jim Smith, formerly of Mansfield, and his brother. They are engaged in mining in Washoe. We left Sacramento at six and reached Folsom at eight. It is a small town from which start several stages to the mountain towns. We took one of the overland coaches for Placerville, which place is 28 miles from Folsom. Arrived at 2 oclock, when finding the stages for Carson crowded, we laid over. This is one of the most active and thriving towns of the interior. Has a population if some 2,000 and does a great trade in provisioning the mines and the Washoe country beyond the mountains. This is the termination of the overland and pony express in California. It is one of the great gold districts, and one of the richest in placer diggings. The whole country from Folsom to this point is dug up, and aqueducts run over the hills in all directions in the neighborhood of Placerville. There is now considerable work being done, and a large amount of gold is still taken out. In making the excavation for a cistern today in front of Wells Fargo & Co.s office, in the street, they took out a lump of gold worth $60. In fact the town occupies no doubt the richest kind of placer diggings. In excavating for the foundation of a building opposite the hotel gold worth $1700. was taken from the dirt thrown out.
Camp left this morning in a buggy with Mr. Parker, the postmaster of San Francisco. We will overtake them at Strawberry, when Camp will join me again. Visited McLeans stables and shops after breakfast. He has some fine stock and coaches in good condition, with a good stable and repair shops. I found R. Burg from Mansfield in charge of the blacksmith shop. I also met Frost, formerly a resident of Mansfield, who has been mining here for many years, but has not succeeded very well. The stage from the West came in at 2 p.m. We left with 2 stages and 15 messengers, and commenced the ascent of the Sierra Nevada, the summit of which was reached about 12 at night.
A most beautiful sunrise, and some very grand scenery. The road across the mountains has been built within the last 3 years at a large expense, and is certainly a great work, but like everything in California, overcame almost at once every obstacle to complete success. The road is literally lined with teams transporting merchandise, machinery, and goods to Carson Valley, and returning with lumber from the mountains. The timber is chiefly pine and cedar. A most magnificent forest covers the mountains with gigantic trees, many of them 8 and 10 feet in diameter. The last descent to the valley of Carson is some 6 miles, over a splendid graded road, down the mountain in many turns to reach the bottom. The tops of the mountains in sight are covered with snow. They are not, however, to compare with the mountains of the Sierra Madre when I crossed them. We took breakfast at the foot of the first descent at Websters, a very good breakfast for which a dollar is the charge. We reached Carson at 2 p.m. Changed stages for the overland. Our passengers all left us at this point for Virginia City, and other mining places. Carson is the great depot for the miners supplies, and consequently a very active place of about 2,000 persons. Along the whole road at frequent intervals are new buildings and preparations for farming. The land is good on the mountains, and the land in the valley from Carson south is very good. Chinatown, 12 miles from Carson, is a small place with a number of quartz mills being erected on the Carson River. The machinery in great quantities is being landed at the different sites. This whole region is rich in gold and silver quartz, and while a few pay very well, the most of them are very speculative. As compared with that part of Mexico which I have visited, it is certainly not as reliable for the richness of its minerals, particularly in silver. The time will soon come when the business of mining in Washoe will settle down upon those veins that are known to pay, but before that period large sums of money will be expended and lost. The more I have become acquainted with the California mining, the better I am satisfied with the value of the Mexican. We find the nights cool since leaving the mountains, and everything in the shape of provisions is extremely dear. At Chinatown I purchased a small pie, for which I paid $1.00. At the stations we paid $1.00 per meal, and got scarcely anything to eat.
We passed through Fort Churchill last night. Our days travel is over soda plains which fill the air with an alkaline dust, making the skin smart. Everything disagreeable. The Shoshone, or Snake, Indians inhabit this country for 300 miles. We find them encamped about the stations, and very friendly. They are, in most instances, a dirty, miserable looking set, living on roots. Anything that they can masticate they eat. The old Chief was much alarmed at the telegraph line, supposing it was something that would destroy the Indians. They took him down to Carson and explained it to him, and he has become satisfied.
We arrived at Camp Station, the present terminus of the telegraph, 362 miles from Sacramento. They expect to complete it by the first of December, when the pony express will be discontinued. Heard today by the pony of a battle at Springfield, Mo., between the Federal forces commanded by General Lyon, 8,000 men, and the Secessionists under McCullough, 20,000 men. The former were routed with the loss of the General and 800 men killed. McCullough is said to be killed. Thus we have another foolish fight with a greatly disproportionate force. The North will learn in time that it will require man to man to conquer the South, if they ever do it. We dined today at Ruby Valley, kept by a Mormon. It is a beautiful valley, well watered, and where grain, fruits, and vegetables would grow finely. The whole way thus far since leaving Carson has been a succession of ranges of mountains, and valleys. The valleys vary in width from 5 to 15 miles.
We are still in the Shoshone country. The Indians are very peaceable. We make about 100 miles per day. The valleys are mostly covered with the alkaline deposits, which is at times nearly suffocating. There is no vegetation excepting the wild sage. The stations, as a general thing, are well supplied with good water.
Today we passed through the same kind of country as since leaving Carson City. No incident of importance. We are passing through the lands of a small tribe called the Utes, who are dying off from eating the drop feed which the overland bought at Salt Lake for their horses. It gives them the flux. Several have died, and I saw the poor creatures, several of whom were nearly dead, at the stations.
We breakfasted at Bush Valley, another beautiful valley. A Mormon of the name of Frost keeps this station, and we got a good breakfast. The country is improving very much. The scenery is very beautiful and grand the whole route, but much more so as you approach Salt Lake. The Utah Lake, from which flows the River Jordan, which empties itself into Salt Lake, is some 30 miles from Salt Lake City. We ran down the valley to Salt Lake, where we arrived at 9 p.m., very tired and the dirtiest men I ever saw, myself included. Fred was on hand, expecting us. I was very glad to meet him, little expecting to meet him in Salt Lake on my eastern trip from Mexico. After taking a good wash and supper at the Hotel, I turned in for a sleep, which men in our situation can enjoy, after the fatigue and dust of a weeks ride in the overland stage from California.
This morning after breakfast, Fred treated us to a ride to the Sulphur Springs, about a mile from the city, and also over the city. We passed through Brigham Youngs grounds, which are very handsome and businesslike. He is evidently a man of talent and enterprise. The grounds of H. Kimball adjoin those of Young. The city is handsomely laid out, with wide streets, crossing at right angles. The whole city is watered from the mountains nearby. It is well built, and in many instances very tastefully adorned with beautiful gardens and grounds. Everything grows luxuriantly. The grounds and gardens are irrigated. In all directions you find clear, running streams. The principal buildings are the Court House and the Tabernacle, to which they are adding largely. When finished, it will hold some 3,000 persons. They are building a most magnificent temple, which will cost at least half a million of dollars. The whole is surrounded by a beautiful and costly wall. A theatre is being erected of stone, to cost some $150,000. It is 150 ft. by 100, or so I am informed. I am very much pleased with the city. The Mormons seem to be an industrious, sober, and orderly people in the extreme. The population is said to be about 10,000. The Overland Mail Company have their principal office here. T he altitude of Salt Lake above the sea is 4,000 feet. The length of the lake is 80 miles.
Today I visited the Court House with Judge ------- of the U.S. District Court of for Utah. The building, built by the city, is a large, two story building of adobe, splendidly finished with a large courtroom in the upper story, and halls and offices, and jury room, below. It is finished in first-rate style, and would do credit to New York or any place. The stage left this morning with 5 passengers and man for St. Joseph. I expect to leave in the morning, if not too much loaded. I am very much surprised at the good order and regulation of the city, and evident satisfaction with their peculiar institutions and religion, as I had been led to believe in a very different state of things. Apparently a more orderly quiet, sober, industrious, and thriving people I have never seen. There is a very large emigration of the Mormons to Salt Lake this season, said to be over 10,000 now on the way. About 4,000 are from foreign countries, the most from England, and of the lower classes.
We bade Fred and our new friends goodbye this morning, and continued our journey towards St. Jo., but 8 of us, having taken a Frenchman aboard in place of our reporting friend, Marsh, who remained with the Saints to learn more of their ways. We ascended a very lofty mountain soon after leaving the city, from which we had a fine view of Salt Lake, the city and the valley for many miles. It was as fine a sight as I ever beheld. We made 125 miles today over a mountainous country, but excellent road and no dust, which was a great relief after suffering so much by the alkali dust.
A beautiful morning, the roads fine, the stations well built, with excellent water, and although we are approaching the Rocky Mountains, the country is so regularly undulation that you can hardly perceive the ascent. We made about 130 miles today.
We are still ascending the mountains, but apparently between two ridges at a great distance from us, with a great stretch of plain, on which we are passing. At Pacific Springs Station we found water as cold as ice water. In fact it is said ice is just below the surface all the year. At 3 p.m. we went through the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains, and began the descent of the eastward slope. We should not have known when we passed, had we not been told by the Conductor, Mr. Meade. We made 120 miles today.
This morning early we passed through the Devils Gate, a narrow passage in the mountains, where I saw a great number of names inscribed on the face of the rocks, of persons who were emigrating west from all parts, for the last 10 years. A great many poor fellows, no doubt, lay on the plains beyond who never reached the golden lands they set out for. The descent on this side is very gradual, running along the valley of the Sweet Water. I Saw Bates at Sweet Water Station. We made 140 miles today.
We arrived at Station Lapeariles for breakfast, where we waited until 12 oclock, being so much ahead of time. Last night we crossed the North Platte, a large stream with a good bridge 1,000 feet in length, built by an enterprising Frenchman at a cost of $60,000. He resides at the bridge. It is certainly a great convenience to the travelers, but I should think a very poor investment.
We are now descending the north bank of the Platte. The country is still rolling and sterile. No timber. The road is good. We have seen no Indians since leaving Salt Lake, except the wives of the French traders. We arrived at Fort Laramie, one of the old French trading posts, and garrisoned by United States soldiers for the last 12 years.
We still continue our journey, making about 100 miles a day.
We arrived this evening at the crossing of the South Platte, at Julesburg. We here met the coach from Denver with 7 passengers, one lady and two gentlemen from Denver accompanying us going to Michigan. We here learned that the Secessionists had got possession of St. Jo. and the railroad, and had burned a bridge. A train had run into the opening and killed and wounded a great many of the passengers. We shall have to take the stage from Kearney to Omaha to Nebraska, as there in positively no chance of getting through St. Jo.
Arrived at Fort Kearney, where we found all the reports confirmed the news about the St. Jo trouble. The distance to St. Jo is 300 miles, to Omaha 200 miles and from there in stage across Iowa 200 more, to Marengo, which will be our destination. This is anything but pleasant after so long and fatiguing a trip, but there is no help, it being the fortune of war. We crossed the Platte, in the western stage coach for Omaha. We were much crowded, 7 in a 6 passenger coach. We keep down the valley of the Platte.
This is a beautiful valley with good land and new farms just commenced on the prairie. The great difficulty is a want of timber as there is none, except on the streams, in the shape of cottonwood. It has rained for the last 3 days the most of the time, making the roads very slippery and very bad.
Last night we were under the necessity of stopping about 12 oclock on account of the rain, and dangers of the road, and remained until 7 oclock this morning when we resumed our journey, and arrived at Omaha, the capital of Nebraska, at about 2 p.m. The town is well built, mostly wooden buildings. The State House is a large building on an eminence overlooking the city. The locality is very beautiful. The Missouri River at this point is a half-mile wide. I met B. Plummer from Mansfield, who is as full of talk as ever, and who posted us up on everything and everybody in the country. We crossed the river into Council Bluffs at 4 p.m. This is a pleasant old town; old because of its being a great trading post established by the French many years ago, and a great resort for the Indians of the Northwest.
We left at 4 a.m.; two stages full for Des Moines and Eddyville. Crossing the state of Iowa the country is a rich, beautiful, rolling prairie, with little timber, but good streams of water, and many small villages along the route. The farms are few, but the crops show a good yield.
We arrived at Des Moines, 150 miles from Council Bluffs on the Des Moines River at 8 p.m., and after partaking of a hearty supper, retired and had a good nights rest in a good bed.
As we do not leave until 1 p.m., took a look at the town. This is the capital of the State, and, has a very pleasant and business-like appearance. The excitement of the war seems very active here, and recruiting is going forward rapidly. The troops are for Missouri, to head off the Secessionists, who have possession of St. Joe and northern Missouri. Left Des Moines at 1 p.m. for Eddyville. Camp left at 8 for Chicago.
Rode all night, and arrived at Eddyville at 6 a.m. in time for the cars to Keokuk, at which place I arrived at 2 p.m., and took boat for Quincy. Arrived half an hour too late to connect with cars for Cincinnati, and had to lie over until 5 p.m. Monday.
September 15, Sunday.
It rained most of the day. Quincy is a town of some 18,000 inhabitants, very well built, with a large, beautiful square and some very handsome buildings. It is a place of considerable trade on the bank of the Mississippi, at which boats and cars arrive and depart daily.
Left Quincy via the Wabash Valley Railroad at 5 p.m., and made Logansport, Indiana at 7 a.m. We here took a large train for Cincinnati.
Loaded with a regiment of volunteers for the front, the train arrived in Cincinnati at 4 p.m. I put up at the Burnet House, where I met several old friends, and saw C. T. Sherman, who gave me information of my family, it being the first news I had heard from them since leaving home. Left Cincinnati at 10 p.m. via the C. H. & D. Railroad, and arrived home on September 18.
Found all well, having been gone nearly 7 months, and traveled some 12,000 miles.