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28 New Deal America
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30 The Second World War
31 The Fair Deal And Containment
32 Through The Picture Window: Society And Culture, 19451960
33 Conflict And Deadlock: The Eisenhower Years
34 New Frontiers: Politics And Social Change In The 1960s
35 Rebellion And Reaction In The 1960s And 1970s
36 A Conservative Insurgency
37 Triumph And Tragedy: America At The Turn Of The Century

The diary of a forty-niner. Edited by Chauncey L. Canfield.

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MAY 19, 1850.

--The pork I bought in town last night is the stinkenest salt junk ever brought around the Horn. It is a hardship that we can't get better hog meat, as it's more than half of our living. We fry it for breakfast and supper, boil it with our beans, and sop our bread in the grease. Lord knows we pay enough for it. When I first settled on the creek it was a dollar a pound and the storekeeper talks about it being cheap now at sixty cents. I believe that if it were not for the potatoes that are fairly plenty and the fact that the woods are full of game, we would all die of scurvy.

There is plenty of beef, such as it is, brought up in droves from Southern California, but it's a tough article and we have to boil it to get it tender enough to eat. There is a hunter who lives over on Round Mountain and makes a living killing deer and peddling the meat among the miners. He charges fifty cents a pound for venison steaks and he told me he made more money than the average miner. I paid seventy-five cents apiece in town yesterday for two apples and did not begrudge the money. I was told that they were grown in Oregon, which seemed strange, as I did not know that country had been settled long enough to raise fruit.

Will sell no more dust to M--. He allowed only $17.00 an ounce and then blew out two dollars' worth of fine gold; said it was not clean. Jerry Dix, who is only two claims above me on the creek, gets $18.50 for his at the store, but it always weighs short. They are all in a ring to rob us poor miners.

Sent an eleven dollar specimen home to dad.

Sack of flour $14.00

Ten lbs. pork 6.00

One lb. tea 2.50

Ten lbs. beans 3.00

Two cans yeast powders 1.00

Five lbs. sugar 2.50

Codfish 2.00

Twenty lbs. potatoes 6.00

Five lbs. dried apples 1.50

Pair boots 16.00

Can molasses 3.00

Duck overalls 2.50

Shirt 2.00

Shovel 2.50

Pick 2.50


I was charged four dollars for delivering the lot at the creek Sunday morning. Forgot to get some powder and shot. Paid four bits apiece for two New York Heralds.

There is another man who is making money. All of our letters come by mail to Sacramento and are then sent by express to Hamlet Davis, the storekeeper on Deer Creek, who acts as postmaster, although he has no legal appointment. He is the big gold dust buyer of the camp and can afford to do the work for nothing, as it brings most of the miners to his store. Johnny Latham, the express rider, contracts to carry letters and papers for two bits each and rides the trails and creeks for miles around delivering them, beside selling newspapers to such as want the latest news from the States. We are always pleased when his mule heaves in sight and would gladly give him the weight of the letters in gold if we had to. How heartsick we get for news from the old home way off here out of the world and there is no disappointment quite as bad as when he passes us by without handing over the expected letter. My folks are mighty good; they never miss a steamer.

Everybody on the creek gone to town and it's pretty lonesome. I had to answer letters from Norfolk and that made me more homesick. I wonder what mother would say if she saw my bunk. Have not put in fresh pine needles for three weeks. I know she would like my bread; the boys all say I am the best bread baker on the creek. Wrote her a good long letter and sent dad the Miners' Ten Commandments.

Wouldn't I like to be with them just for a day!

Chauncey de Leon Canfield (1843-1909) first published "The diary of a forty-niner" in 1906, and 1,200 of the 2,000 copies in that edition were burned. Joseph Gaer's Bibliography of California literature, 20 describes this book as written in the form of a diary, but fictional.' The diary of a forty-niner (1920) reprints Canfield's 1906 publication. It purports to be the diary of Alfred T. Jackson, of Litchfield County, Connecticut, during his days as a gold prospector, 1850-1852. Jackson offers firsthand accounts of Nevada City and neighboring Rock Creek; descriptions of Grass Valley, North and South Yuba Valleys, and the Sierra Mountains; details of gold mining with accounts of pioneer overland crossings, and foreign mineworkers (including Chinese). Entries concerning Jackson's personal life include details of his courtship of a French woman in the camps.

Reference : America: A Narrative History, 6th Edition, Chapter 13; Inventing America, Chapter 13; Give Me Liberty, Chapter 12

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