A Pioneer Anniversary

Sept. 11, 1889 Mariposa Gazette

 

 

A Pioneer Anniversary

       Next Monday, "Sept. 13th," the date is so deeply impressed upon our mind that we feel compelled to mention the fact, not only for the satisfaction of our own individual pride or painful calamity, which at present matters little, for perhaps it would have been as well had we never came to California, and perhaps better  had we never been born: but here we are on the 13th day of September, 1880, the 31st anniversary of the day we passed within sight of the window where we are now penning his paragraph, in company with others, and camped for the night about a mile below the present town at the junction of Stockton and Mariposa Creeks. At this point was the only sign of habitation upon Mariposa Creek, except a blue tent just opposite the Mariposa Company's mill, and a few Mexican camps on Missouri Gulch. At the junction of the two creeks mentioned, where afterwards Jee's store was located, we found an Italian Store (canvass), a butcher shop and corral owned by Scott and Montgomery, pioneer ranchers and stock men, living on the Merced at that time. SCOTT and MONTGOMERY, we believe, were the first settlers upon Merced River. Hon. J. M. MONTGOMERY, one of the firm still lives near the same place.

Our advent upon the creek after enduring several months' toil and hardship in crossing the continent from Texas to the Pacific Coast on a mule, was marked with several comic scenes of which we are not forgetful. We shall remember our individual appearance on arrival here, which would at this time  appear ludicrous. While traveling down the waters of the Gila River and at the crossing of the Colorado, and which at that time was a stretch of ninety miles across a desert of sand, we encountered a great many Indians who were not exactly hostile but would steal, every opportunity. We were compelled to call upon them at times for favors, for which they extracted from us blankets and clothing, which, together with what they stole, emptied our wardrobe and nearly left us destitute of wearing apparel. Among the several deprivations we had to undergo, was that to surrender our guns, pistols and ammunition at great sacrifice to some Mexicans whom we met returning to their homes in Mexico from the mines in California, where they had reaped a golden harvest. The want of provisions compelled us to part with our weapons of defense. Upon arrival here we found our wardrobe consisted of the crown of a hat without rim or top; the body of a flannel shirt without sleeves or other appendages; a pair of button less, legless, and seatless pants already pruned; a pair of moccasins purchased from the Apaches, which were about worn out; and in order to hide our nudeness and for protection against the scorching sun we adopted the Indian custom, by wearing a blanket belted around the waist with a rope or string. This is in part a description of how we looked at the end of a tedious journey of six months and three days and upon our arrival here at this place on the "13th of September, 1849."

We cannot remember the names of all who were our companions on that memorable day. Those living whom we can call to mind are Dr. W. W. WARD, residing near Hornitos; Oscar, a colored, in Mariposa; John ALLEN, somewhere on the Chowchilla; and James A. RICH, of Stockton; John Short returned to Texas; Judge J.M. BONDURANT, deceased; Dr. H. S. BROCKWAY, died at or near Snelling- SMITH, was killed here by the Indians during the fall of 1849; C.T. CANEFIELD, formerly of Logtown, near this place, now deceased; Bob SPAULDING, CHAS. WORLAND and others who have passed from our knowledge. Our most faithful friend of them all was the white mule that brought us through a region of country uninhabited, except by cutthroat Indians. This noble animal [for that she was] became quite as noted as her rider to the early inhabitants south of Stockton. She was the pioneer express mule to the southern mines, and has carried many a letter to the early pioneers who were scattered throughout the mining region, on the rivers and in the gulches searching for the hidden treasure.

Many a heart in those days had robbed a welcome to the approach of the old white mule, that was expected to convey to them glad tidings from home; and many, as is naturally the case, were doomed to disappointment at not receiving a letter from the dear ones they had left behind, and numerous were the adjectives gratuitously given to the poor old mule and its rider for not looking mare carefully in the San Francisco post office for their letters, which they most positively knew were there. Ten dollars a letter would have been cheerfully given for a letter from home in those days. But the good old white  mule and its rider only charged $2 and $2.50 for a single letter, and from 50c to $1 for a newspaper, which was always cheerfully paid. That faithful mule was our property for twenty-four long years, when one day she breathed her last. There has been quite a number of biographical sketches attempted to be given by differing authors of this noble animal, but her history was never fully written up. Her life was an eventful one. She was in the Ranging service in Texas for a number of years under Col. Jack HAYS, now of Oakland. During the Mexican War she led in the charge when the city of Monterey was captured, besides various engagements in Indian skirmishes under Colonel HAYS. We conclude our little episode pertaining to the anniversary day of our arrival here my simply stating that now, as we are left comparatively alone so far as companions of '49 are concerned, we shall be compelled to celebrate our 31st anniversary by ourselves, except we invite the good old darkey Oscar, who lives hard by, and send for old John ALLEN, over on the Chowchilla, which might sub serve the purpose of a celebration, were it not not that it would take at least a 40 gallon keg of the best "tea-kettle" whiskey to brighten up their early recollections, and as that appears troublesome as well as expensive we will take the chances of waiting patiently until our next anniversary, September 13th, 1881, of which our companions who may perchance be now living will please take due notice.
 

Contributed by: Carol Lackey