People have often called me a “49er”, though I didn’t make the journey across the country until ’52. I was young and foolish back then, but I guess we all were. I had “gold fever” as bad as the worst of them. Stars in my eyes and a spring in my step, yes sir, I was going to stake a claim and strike it rich. Ha! Even if I did make that first wave in ’49, it would have been pert-near impossible to get rich. By the time I got there, well, there were opportunities, but not in prospecting.
Of course, by the time I arrived, I was a different man with a different goal.
Early on I had joined a party of farmers who were moving west to set up some sort of religious commune. I’m not sure what they were about, because they only did their thing in privacy, but during the day they acted like everyone else. It wasn’t safe to travel alone or unarmed, so we struck a deal. I’d stay with them for safety in numbers and they would get my gun. Not that I was any type of fighter, but they were peaceful Christian folk that saw no use of weapons. I grew up on a small farm in a backwoods section of Kentuck and ate what I shot or didn’t have any meat but the occasional chicken. Continue reading