Saturday, August 1, 2009

Wrote To Farther This Mail

Life in the Calaveras County gold fields continued to sustain life but not be very profitable for David Lewis Drew in June 1856. Summer had arrived and it was hot. One of his partners left the fields to go back home to Plymouth, Massachusetts for a visit.

David notes that he wrote a letter to his ‘farther’ on the 14th. I first thought he’d accidentally spelled ‘father’ wrong when I initially encountered this spelling, but have found that he consistently spells it the same way throughout his diary.

June 1856

SUNDAY 1, -- Went up on Shaws Flat to day. George H. Haskins came down to go to work for White.

MONDAY 2, -- White leaves this morning for home.

TUESDAY 3, -- Wrote to Fred Drew last mail.

WEDNESDAY 4, -- Jim Marks commenced work on his claim to day and took our water.

Gold Rush MinerTHURSDAY 5, -- Commenced to work nights last night do not like it very well.

It was necessary to work at night because Jim Marks, upstream, was using all the water in the ditch during daytime.

FRIDAY 6, -- Horses strayed away today.

SATURDAY 7, -- Len went up this afternoon to try and find our horses Took out this week $177.85.

SUNDAY 8, -- Been out all day looking for our horses found them about three oclock this afternoon. heard from White today.

MONDAY 9, -- Went up to Columbia this forenoon.

TUESDAY 10, -- Shifted sluice this afternoon. Gorge went up on the flat to day.

WEDNESDAY 11, -- Begin to like night work better get clear of the hot sun.

THURSDAY 12, -- Hot day to day the hottest that we have had this season.

FRIDAY 13, -- The river is running down fast it will be down in the course of a fortnight.

SATURDAY 14, -- Wrote to Farther this mail. Took out $178.50 this week.

SUNDAY 15, -- Took a ride to Sonora to day and came back through Shaws flat.

MONDAY 16, -- Uncle Pell, Mr. Pierce, and Nathan Churchill were down here to day to look at there claim.

TUESDAY 17, -- Got some lumber down for spouts to day 1000 ft.

WEDNESDAY 18, -- Went up the hill to day to get some barly paid 5 per pound Got states papers to night.

"States" was an expression used for a number of years after California itself became a member of the Union. It poignantly indicates how far away the east seemed to Drew

THURSDAY 19, -- Hauled up a spar for Jim Marks to night.

FRIDAY 20, -- River is down pretty low now. can wade accross it any where.

SATURDAY 21, -- Reed commenced this week to dig a race for his flooming.

SUNDAY 22, -- Went up on the flat to day. got a letter from farther to day.

MONDAY 23, -- Did not go to work this morning not being very well.

TUESDAY 24, -- Went to work today.

WEDNESDAY 25, -- Sick again today.

THURSDAY 26, -- Had to give up washing to day. the (river) has run down so low that we can not get the watter into the boxes.

FRIDAY 27, -- Went up to the doctors this afternoon and got my jaw lanced. which made it feel easyer. Uncle Pell and Co come down to day.

SATURDAY 28, -- Went cutting wood this morning. Took out $105.25 this week Expences on claime this month $78.50.

SUNDAY 29, -- Took a ride up to Streets big resevior to day. It is a splendid piece of work.

This reservoir was built by a company know as Shaws Flat & Tuolumne River Water Company, in Sullivan's Creek, four and a half miles east of town

MONDAY 30, -- Commenced puling in boxes from the spring.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Tale of the Tail

I continue to receive requests for more ‘Elwood Drew’ stories. Apparently, tales from his life are as funny to others as they have always been to me.

Born prematurely in the early 1900’s, the midwife didn’t think he would live, so she put him in a shoebox wrapped in a blanket and stuck him on the open oven door of the wood stove in the kitchen. After caring for his mother, she was surprised to find him still alive when she went back into the kitchen.

When a horse stepped on his foot as a youngster, the horse shoe perfectly cut off his little toe. He picked it up and took it to his mother who proceeded to clean both the toe and his foot and then sewed the toe back on with her needle and black thread. I know this happened because he used to show the scars to me when I’d complain about getting immunization shots at school.

I remember watching him use his pocket knife to carve out several teeth that were bothering him when we didn’t have the money to go to the dentist. Home remedies and home doctor’n were not strangers in our family.

The older generations were tougher than us I suppose.

whiskey_bottle_smPrior to World War II, my parents lived in Park City, Utah, where my father worked in the mines. One of my mothers brothers lived with them while he too worked as a miner.

For various reasons, boils and carbuncles were more common place back then. If you’ve ever had one or more of them, you understand how painful they are.

Late one evening, Dad and my uncle decided to use some ‘medicinal’ whiskey to try and fix a couple of extremely painful boils that were on the posterior of my uncles anatomy.

After testing the whiskey for poisons, they found that they’d used all of the contents. Dad turned and put the empty bottle on the coal stove in the kitchen to warm it up with the intent of using it to draw out the core of the boils as it cooled down.

Dropping his drawers, Earl presented the awful swellings to my father for remediation.

Dad put the mouth of the hot whiskey bottle over the worst offender and then they waited for it to cool and create the intended suction to pull the core free.

coal_stoveWhen telling me the story, he said that everything didn’t go quite as planned. The boil wasn’t quite ‘ripe’ and the core wouldn’t come out. The rapidly cooling bottle began to suck Earl’s posterior inside the narrow neck of the bottle.

Dad said that when a little over an inch of boil and surrounding flesh had been drawn into the bottle, Earl’s aplomb vanished and he began to dance around the kitchen exclaiming all kinds of things.

Apparently, his thought process increased significantly, because he rallied long enough to run to the side of the cast iron stove where he could literally, “twist and shout” and strike the bottle against the metal.

There must be a certain skill set required to break a whiskey bottle attached to your tush by swinging it against a stove, because it took a number of swings to do the trick. After each swing, Earl’s exclamations became louder and the suction seemed to consume even more of his tender flesh. Finally, the bottle broke and released its embrace on his rear assets.

Of course, by that time, all of the family had been awakened and had run downstairs to see who was being killed in the kitchen.

There was less psychological damage to the minds of my older siblings who witnessed the naked tush of our uncle than you might suppose. None of them ever exhibited any lasting effects from the vision, but from time to time, I have witnessed tears run from their eyes when they’ve been together and revisited the ‘Tale of the tail’.

Family stories are a treasure. I hope you are recording your own stories.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Commenced The New Testament Again Tonight

May 1856, did not produce much financial reward for David Lewis Drew and his partners in the Calaveras, California gold fields.  He and his partners were still hoping that their investment in the Know Nothing Tunnel mine would produce some revenue, but it seemed to be a money pit rather than a money producer.  They again met with the other partners in the venture in hope of hearing good news.  Apparently, that wasn’t to be as David noted in his diary that the meeting was laid over to the June.

David again mentions the names of many fellow miners who were from the Plymouth area of Massachusetts.  Given the fact that all of their families had lived around Plymouth for hundreds of years, all were related to each other.  Some were first and many others were second cousins.

Noting the number of visitors to David’s tent, it can be inferred that none of the miners were doing well working their claims.  When times were good, they were too busy working their claims to spend much time visiting others.  David noted that on May 15th, his partner Len Covington, had gone to Shaw’s Flat to try and help Bill find a job.  Bill left again the next day to visit other place hoping to find employment with a Mr. Jarvis.

With little entertainment in the evening hours, David read everything he could find.  His first entry for the month notes that he finished reading the New Testament for the second time that night, followed by an entry the next day stating that he had started to read it yet again.


May 1856.

THURSDAY 1, -- Wrote to Charles Wadsworth to day. Finished the New Testament the for the second time to night.

FRIDAY 2, -- Commenced the New Testament again to night. A couple of spouts tumbled down last night.

SATURDAY 3, -- Feels kind of winterish to night and looks like a storm. Took out $182.53 this week.

SUNDAY 4, -- Went to Sonora to day and come back through the flat. Recived a letter from Harry and one from Frederick A. Drew.

Frederick A. Drew was a distant cousin of David's. We suspect that he held Frederick in particular esteem. (Frederick Augustus Drew married Emilie Gardner and was David's second cousin in Plymouth). Harry was David’s brother, Harrison Warren Drew.

goldrushpanning MONDAY 5, -- Had lots of visitors to day. G. H. Haskins, G Tabor, and E Holbrooks George H. Haskins came down to buy White out.

Haskins we have met before. Gorge Tabor filed a claim in `53, and also was reported as a juror at Sonora in `65. Elisha Holbrooks, from Massachusetts, was listed at Springfield, and was listed in the Sonora Herald for an uncalled for letter on October 23, 1852. Nathan Churchill, in addition to being an incorporator of the New York company, also served in the same capacity in the Stanislaus and Bay State Tunnel Companies.

TUESDAY 6, - Nathan Churchill was down here to day to see our bar claime having a notion to buy it.

WEDNESDAY 7, -- White went up on the Flat to day.

THURSDAY 8, -- Getting to be pretty warm weather again.

FRIDAY 9, -- We had a smash up to day a stump came down while we were at diner and broke one spar and one sauce box and done other damage.

A spar was a mast or a boom, rigged up with ropes, for moving sluice boxes or boulders or other heavy objects.

SATURDAY 10, -- Went up this morning to cut another spar got one cut and part way down hill when it ran against a rock and broke in to in the middle.

SUNDAY 11, -- Went over to Valeceto to day to see the country and have a ride.

MONDAY 12, -- got out another spar to day and got it down to the river. Put another crossing across the river to night.

TUESDAY 13, -- Got our spar up the river and set our sluices this forenoon. This afternoon set up a couple of spots that came down last night.

WEDNESDAY 14, -- Commenced washing again. William Stephens came down here to see us to night.

THURSDAY 15, -- Len went up on the flat to day to try and get a job for Bill.

FRIDAY 16, -- Bill went up on the ranch this (morning) to try and get a job with Jarvis.

SATURDAY 17, -- Was sick to day and did not work. Took out $75.35 this week.

SUNDAY 18, -- Went up on the Flat to day.

MONDAY 19, -- Had quite a tempest this afternoon. the heaviest thunder that I have heard in this Country.

TUESDAY 20, -- Rained nearly all the forenoon. quite an excitement about the King case up her.

James King of William James King of William was the very popular editor of the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin form October, `55 to May 14th, 1856, when he was shot by a corrupt politician, James P. Casey. He died seven days later, and was avenged shortly thereafter by the Vigilante Committee. One of the reasons for the excitement over the King case up in Tuolumne County was that the previous year King's bank had failed due to some very irregular financial arrangements made by the cashier in the Sonora branch. The local citizens raised $31,500 for the benefit of the widow and children of King, as reported in the Sonora Union Democrat, August 15, 1856.

WEDNESDAY 21, -- Come back on the river this afternoon and got a ducking coming down.

THURSDAY 22, -- Showery all day to day.

FRIDAY 23, -- Got papers to night No letters for me this mail guess that they have dried up writeing.

SATURDAY 24, -- Pleasant weather to day the first that we have had this week. Took out $80.25 this week.

SUNDAY 25, -- Went to Sonora to day and came back by the way of Shaws Flat and got diner at Capt Bartletts.

MONDAY 26, -- Tax colector came along to day to colect the pole tax. The tax was three dollars.

This was the principal tax in those days, and was apportioned between the county and state.

TUESDAY 27, --Pretty warm to day It makes the sweat start.

WEDNESDAY 28, -- Len went up to Columbia at noon to get the papers.

THURSDAY 29, -- Shifted sluice this forenoon.

FRIDAY 30, -- The boys below us had a cave in to day and filled there hole full Took out $116.20 this week.

SATURDAY 31, -- Went to Jamestown to attend a meeting of the K N tunnel Co. Concluded to lay it over for another month.