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Gold In California

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The discovery of gold in California has recontly called forth a good deal of discussion, and r.lso an especially interesting story f rom Captain W. H. Thornes, president of the Society of California Pioneers. Captain Thomas, before he took up his permanent residence in Boston, spent many years in California and is very nrach interested in the earlyhistory of the gold discoveries. He says: "I arn perfectly satisfied that the presence of gold in that región was known to the priests in the very earliest times. The priests, who were the first pioneers, were a pastoral people. As missionaries they gained a wonderful influence over the native Indians and gradually flooded the country with great herds of sheep and cattle that roamed over ranges thousands of acres in extent. These herds the Indians tended, and it was therefore the policy of the priests to keep the Indians in subjection. "The priests brought with theni from Spain grapevines and orange trees, and they sought to bring peace and plenty to the new land. They were wise, long headed men and must have known of the existence of gold, but they also knew the avariciousness of the Spanish people. They reasoned that if the presence of the yellow metal should become known in Spain hordes of greedy adventurers would rush in, robbing, killing and ravishing. Their peaceful relations with the Indians would be broken off, the great herds would be scattered, and the supremacy of the priests themselves would be lost. "This supremacy was at its highest in 1765, when from the missions at San Diego a chain of 24 missions was extended northward. Junípero Sera was priest president of all the missions in California and was an intelligent, persevering, enterprising man. He was not only instrumental in founding mission af ter mission, but he added to the herds thousands of sheep and cattle. "I have been six times to California and have talked with priests of all nationalities, Mexican, Spanish, Irish and American, and I am confidentfrom what they say that Junípero Sera knew about the gold, but he was a singular character and ruled with a hand of steel, so that gold was a word that no one dared to utter. He had the history of Peru and other countries m his mind, and he knew that an influx of gold hunters meant terror and destruction and the failure of all his great plans. "It is claimed that the first discoveries were in 1848, when the whole world was turned topsy turvy with the astonishing news. I myself was in California in 1843 and staid there fpr three years, and I can positively say that gold was known there then, for I have seen it in Monterey. On Sundays the Indians would come into town, naked except for a cloth around their middles, and exchange a little pinch of gold for a drink of aguardiente or native rum. No one knew where they got the gold, but sometimes they would have several dollars' worth of the precious dust. This was an old custom, for at Mission Carmel I interviewed, through an interpreter, an aged Indian, who said that when he was a boy gold was found in the mountains and rivers round about, and the natives would wash out a panful in order to get a good drunk on Sunday, which Christian Indians were f orbidden to do. He thought that there was still gold in the mountains, but he was so old that he had f orgotten where it was. "In 1841 Andrés Castillero, the same person who afterward discovered the New Alameda quicksilver mine in Santa Clara county, while traveling from Los Angeles to Monterey found near the Santa Clara river a great number of water worn pebbles which he gathered up and carried with him to Santa Barbara. He there exhibited them, said they were a peculiar species of iron pyrites, and declared that according to Mexican miners wherever they were found there was a likelihood of gold being also found. A ranchero named Francisco López, who was living on the Piru creek, a branch of the Santa Clara river, but who happened at the time to be at Santa Barbiira, heard Castillero's statement and examined his specimens. "Some inonths afterward, having returned home, he went out to search for strayed cattle. At noon, when he dismounted from his horse for the purpose of resting, he observed a few wild onions growing near where he lay. He pulled them up, and in so doing noticed the same kind of pebbles as those to which Castillero had called his attention. Remembering what Castillero had said about them, he took up a handful of earth, and upon carefully examining it discovered gold. The news of the disco very, at the place which was called San Francisquito, about 35 miles northeast of Los Angeles, soon spread. In a few weeks a great manpersons were engaged in washing and winnowing the sands and earth in search of gold. "The auriferous fields were found to extend from a point on the Santa Clara river about 15 or 20 miles from its mouth over all the country drained by its upper waters, and thence easterly to Mount San Bernardino. "On May 14, 1843, Alvarado wrote to the prefect of the district reproving him for not giving official notice of the discovery and directing him to gather and forward an account of all circumstances of interest relating to the gold for transmission to the supremo government. "From that time to the present day there has been more er less working of these mines, but no places of very great richness have been found, and none to compare with those afterward discovered on the tributaries of the Sacramento and San


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