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Letter Home From A Miner

Big Bar Middlefor Amer July 8 1851 Eldorado Co

Dear Susan, as I promised in my letter of june that I would rite to you on the first of july, I will try to fulfill my promice. I am still here on Big Bar, but I think that I shall not stay here but a few days longer, for it is getting to be quite sickley here, we think on account of bad water. the water is getting very low and there is so many dams going on that the water is very muddy and warm. and weather is so very warm, not warm but boiling.

there is five of us in Company now and Mr Bliss and myself are the only ones that can doe any thing. I have not done any thing for the last two wealks, but are able to work some now. there no feavers or diareah but faintness, disiness of the head and trembling, and you will see by my riting that my hand is far from being steady, altho I am in pretty good health and I prey God the giver of all good blessings that these will find you and all of you the same.

I have not heard from you since Apirel, which was dated in Dec, although I have rote you three, yet Susan dear I will not doo you the injustice to say that I think you have not rote, for I belive you hav and they have been mislaid some where, for there is frequently miners here that get thre four and letters at a time. I got a letter from Devereaux on the tenth of june from Sacramento and he was goin to start for Panama the 8 of May and he promised to rite to me when he got to shegrass [Chagres], and I hope when the Express comes again that I shall hear from boath you and him.

I think that I shall start in about a weak for the North fork of the Middle fork of the American river. two of ower boys went up there and thought that we could do tolerably well, but we hated to give up Big bar and tried the crevises on the bed rock – and Devereaux can tell you what that work is I think – but it soon run out. the crevis are short and soon run out. they rais the bed rock and jump three ore four feat one side or the other, and with so many larg rock to encounter, we could not make ower board. two of the boys then started off again to look for some [illeg.] up East but came back and found nothing. then there was some other men wanted to join and go till they did find some thing, and one of ower boys went with them, and they made up there minds to go and build a dam on the same place the boys found the first time they wase out prospecting. I have always been greatly apposed to goin in to any daming Company. there has been so many failures, but to stand still is shure death and where there is shure digins to be found God only noes. if a person is doin nothing here he is gon back wards very fast, and if he is prospecting he is goin back faster still. so, together with being sick and out of work and the boys Expence when prospecting, I have not juste as much money now as I had then, but I hate to leave old partners for new ones, and as Mr Bliss is an old neighbor and has used me like a brother when I was sick, I think I shall go with them. The stream that we are now goin to dam is not more than 25ft and we shall make ower floom of Sail Cloth, the length of which is abut three hundred yards. Although there is another place where there there is a race dug and never damed altho part the water now runs through it, and we can build a dam in 3 days with timber that has lodged on the bar.

you wanted me to rite you all the particulars about mining and all my troubles. the particulars I will rite you, but the Other you will neaver no till see you. altho I guess you will think that the particulars a mess of foolishness altho you cant expect me to rite any news, only about mining and mountains, for what news from  one miner to another is: have you herd from home lately, that is the general cry, altho there is some hardened devils that dont care any more for home and friends than as if they had none. they are generally very luckey in mining. I no a good many that have made thousands of dollars that came here when the mines ware new that have not got half the money that I have. I there is one man came and wanted to go north with us, a good miner & very steady, that took out seven thousand dollars in site of where I set riting. you will say how has he spent it – I will tell you how the most of such ones spend there money: bucking at Monte Tarobanks and with the girls. I no one girl that came through last season – and with men from Lake county too – that has gone back now with some twelve or fourteen thousand dollars. I sometimes think that California is no place for an honest, upright person.

Devereaux is at home I think by this time, that is, the Boys ware talking about it last night, and he can tell you how the bar looked when he was here. since then it has been halled all over and there is nothing left but stones. they set Long toms all along and washed the whole. some made very well and some made nothing.

this is the Loansomist time that I have ever seen in California the Boys most sick and no whare to work. I was loansome after Devereaux left, but Sol and I was boath well and worked like nailors. felt well but the Old miners told us we ware working to hard. they lay by now and then a half day or a day, but we thought it was because they wanted a [illeg.] they said when the hottest of the weather comes you will get the shakes, you get your pay for being so craving and being in so great a hurry to get home, and I don’t know but they were rite, for I no that I cant do half the work here that I could in Ill. Sol is pretty sick, terable head ache every day & I am afraid of a feaver.

but whilst I think of it, I saw Nicolas Whalan las tsunday here. he is at work on long bar just be low here. he done very well last summer and lost it all by the earley freshet caring off there dam on the Macosma altho they are a working it this summer and the water is very low. he has got men working it on shares and he is working by the mouth. as to any the rest of the Lake Co Boys, I don’t know any thing about them. I heard that Jo Sherman had gone home, altho I belive Lebdell is here on the bar.

I would give all that I have got and all that I expect to if i was with you this minute, but don’t tell any body of it, don’t let any one no. but we are doing first rate. but Susan dear, if God spares my life and will let me get money enough to come home this fall, I will come. O susan, if you could no how I felt days when I hae alid in the tent hot enough to raost Eggs thinking of you. if I could only herd you speak, only laid your hand on my head, what a comfort. but God noes that I am glad that you are not here; this is no place for a woman. I have not seen but two woman in six months, but just as soon as I can get money to come home I hope to see one that is all the world to me. sometimes I get to thinking of you and it seams as tho I neaver should see you again. I get discouraged and then I think I will not give way to such fealings. sometimes I have had a mine to go to work by the month, but then you have got to be daged around here and there and I shant doo it.

Devereaux said if I would rite he would send me 50$. well[?], it takes so long for letters to go and come that I don’t know whether I shall nead it or not. he noes whether he can send it safe or not, if he can, he may send it, and if I don’t want it, he can have it back when I get home. he will think that I am riting for it very soon, but Mr Bliss got a letter to day that has been just five months coming, and I have neaver got any from you in less than 3 months, which will fetch it to January before I could get the money. there has a goomany boath sent & received money by swifts & adamses Express. if he can send it  I wish he would altho I don’t consider that he ows me the money, for probably expences of the Family amounts to more than that. as to the oat of Saxton, I have no hopes of getting nay thing on it.

It is curious to see how the miners are running here and there. those that have no claims in the river like beas, some one way, some another. the bar is nearly deserted, altho there is a great many men here. tell Devereaux if he seas any of the Inglses to tell them that Foard is here. he is helping Cook at jacksons and gets 100 dollars per month.

If I could only no how you fare and if you ware all well, it would be a great load off of my mind, for some times I think the reason that I get no letters is because you are sick and afraid it would trouble me if I should no it. but you nead barrow no trouble on account of my health, for I am now quite well, but the anxiety that I have constantly on my mind about you I would not Indure it for all the gold in the mines if I could help it. but I have got to indure it till I can get home, then God noes that I will stay there, altho I don’t give up hopes of making some thing between this and next fall. there is a great many that had there passage given them free to New York, but before I come home in that way, unless sickness or some axident compels my boans lais in California mountains. if the prospect is as good up north as the boys think we can doe very well. I think there is no dout but we can find some place some whare we can make well. when I get the blews as the boys call it they all begin to torment me and say they will tie me up if [I] undertak to leave, for ther is no uce of being discouraged. the darkest tiem of night is just before day. Bliss says that he would not go home if they would carry him for nothing, for here there is a chance of mak something and go back there and work for 50 cents a day in that [illeg.] land.

but if the water gets as low as every one thinks, there will be  a great deal of gold taken out of the river. old Sutter says that seven years ago this summer the river was so low that the dear could not get water, only in the deap holes. if that should be the case God only noes what they will doe for water to drink. that is one reason that I want to go further up. the boys say that the water is clear as can bee, for there is not so much daming up above, and the water is colder from the snows, altho ther is very little snow in the mountains now. from the top of the mountains here you can see a chain of snow to the north and one to the west. tell Devereaux that the river here is between 4 & 5 feat lower than it was when he left and falling fast, and up where we are going you can walk acrost it on the rocks.

july 5 I did not finish my letter on the 3 because I thought I would wait and give you an account of a California 4 of july, for they expected to have quite a row, but every thing went off very peaceable. it was like a Sunday here. some shuting and gambling was the most that was done. tomarrow morning we start for the mountains. that is, tenn of us to try the prospect there and part of us is goin to try a place on the South fork of the North Fork where a friend of one of the mens friends that is with us has been and got a very good prospect. and we hope that out of all of the places to find something, altho a miner is not shure of any thing till he gets it. it is like a lottery.

as I said before, I have nothing to rite but about mining and I think that will be but dull news to you. as to my love for you, what more can I say to you than I have said. Susan you no that next to Salvation you are the dearest object on earth. I had hoped to have got a letter from you before I left this bar, but we are so fraid that some one iwl ge in there before we doe that we thought it best to start immediately. but as sol is not able to work, he will stop here with one other man till he hears from us whether we stop at the first place or gon to the north fork. then we shall send news to him to fetch the balance fo the tools, for we can[?] only carry just enough to work with. and he will probably be here when the Express comes in, and if we stop up north I shall find some way to get letters. I will try to rite to you again on the first of next month and will tell you all the particulars, for that is all that I have to rite, only my love to you.

Susan, don’t think that I am foolish, only think so far from you and in a place that is worce than states prison, for if I was in there you could come and see me, but here that is out of the question. if you have felt as bad as I have, you have cursed me many times for being such a fool as to come here, but you are there among old friends and I am here among some friends and ten thousand devils. for God sake don’t let any one see this letter, for I belive that I have rote one thing over and over again. when I get thinking of you it is bad enough, but to set down and rite to you almost makes me crasy. O susan, I no you will dispise me for my weakness, but I have done as thousands would I should have been to home now instead of [blank space], and these fealings you would have neaver known, for I have had plenty of Gold to do that and more. but whats is to be, will be, but I don’t say what ever is is rite.

I have got a great deal to do to day to get ready to start early in the morning so as to get up the Mountain before it gets so very hot, and like enough I shat finish the whole of the Booklet. you cant scold me much, for I belive you have neaver intirely filled but one or two letters to me. I have a very bad place to rit. I set on the ground all crampt up and riting on the head of a tin can. if you had to set so to rite to me, I shoud not expect you to rite a great deal. I keap jumping from one thing to another so fast that I don’t know that you can make any thing out of it, but I have so much to to think of that I have to rite just what comes in my head.

the only thing I dread goin north is working in the water there. I trust God will protect me in trying to doe all that I can for you and the Children. I might get water proof boots, but they cost so much that I think it not best, and I think it will not be long job before we no whether we get any thing or not. there is a good many things that Devereaux left here that I cant sell nor give away, and as to think of packing them around the mines is out of the question. tell him that the rifle I shall take with me in to the mountains with me, for I may as well take it with me even if I get it spilt [spoiled] as to take three dollars for it, and that is the most that I can get for for it. if I ever get home, as I hope that I shall, I will fetch the rifle if it is so that I can.

we hear that Mr Griven[?] of Mr Henry has neaver got home, for Bliss sent a letter by him and they have neaver got it, and Morril sent some money by him and he told me the other day that he had not herd from it and supposed that he had eather died or been killed on the Isthmiss. I suppose there is the devil to pay on the Isthmuss unless a large company together.

I should like to no how the times are there for business, and how all the old neighbors get along, and if there has any of them died. tell Alma that I would give a good chunk of Gold to see her, and as Elijah comes next now, I should like to shake the little rascal by the hand first rate with a peace in it, and Bell too, and to kiss little Morah[?]. and Susan you will sware that I am crazy now, for there seams as tho there was another, but as God is my helper, I cant tell the name, for I will own that I have had to strive to keap out of my mind even there looks as much as possible, and Susan for God sake forgive me for it. I want you to rite to me as soon as you get this by the first mail, for if it takes as long for this to go and another to come as some, and I have any luck, I hope by that time to be ready to start for home, for Susan Line Woods, old shanty with your dear company is dearer to me than all the gold in the mines with out. I will indeavor to rite to you every month and tell you how I get along and what the prospect is. And now Susan, may God almighty help keap and protect you till death. Yours wholey as ever,

Jeremiah S. Carpenter
Susan Carpenter

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