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Hathaway, S.G. - 1862 Diary

B.C. Archives Manuscript
Call. No. E B H28A
Author: Hathaway, S.G.
Title: Diaries, 1862 transcript

British Columbia, June 20, 1862.
On the 3rd June I left San Francisco in Steamship Brother Jonathan for Victoria. On the way up we went into the Columbia River up to Portland, Oregon. Remained there from Saturday noon till Monday morning, then out to sea again & on to Victoria arriving there Tuesday afternoon, June 10- just one week on the trip. We pitched our tent in the edge of the woods, half a mile out of town & began camp life at once. We found that, owing to the snow still lying in the mountains we were too early. & so concluded to wait awhile & learn more of the country before starting. On the 17 I and two other young men- one from Maine, the other from New Hampshire- concluded to try our luck as partners; so we bought a mule together & a load of provisions- enough to last six months at least- & on the 18th took another step for Cariboo, taking a steamboat for New Westminster on the Fraser River- Got in at evening & had to lie over till this morning, waiting for another boat to take no higher up;- and here we are now steaming along on a bright, warm day against a rushing, boiling current, winding this way & that through a rugged chain of snowy mountains, many of them rising up for thousands of feet so steep that no living thing can climb-... There are numbers of Indians all through this region, & we see an encampment now & then, & seek them paddling their eggshell canoes. They are peaceable & depend much upon trade with the whites for their living-

Monday- June 23
Little Lillooet Lake- after sailing up the Fraser River about 45 miles we turned into Harrison river, & 5 miles brought us to where it widened into a beautiful lake from one to 6 or 8 miles wide & 45 miles long. I wish you could see it. Snowy mountains & rocky cliffs rising straight up from the water, shutting out all the world but the blue sky overhead; islands and sharp points running out into the lake- making a picture of wild grandeur different from anything I ever saw before. We got to the upper end at 10 o'clock at night, where there is a shanty village called Port Douglas. Got our things ashore & blundered around in the dark to find a spot to camp, which we did without much trouble. From Douglas there is 29 miles of land travel to the next lake, where we are now. The next morning after landing we loaded the mule & made up packs for ourselves, each one carrying from 30 to 40 pounds, & away we went. It was very warm, my pack bore down heavy & my boots- iron heeled, soles nearly an inch thick & driven full of round-headed nails- gave my poor feet a sorry rasping. I had too much clothing, & was soon drenched in sweat. We staggered along some 4 miles & stopped for dinner & a few hours rest; then we bucked to it again & stopped for the night after making altogether about 10 miles. The next day we did better- making 14 miles- though it was a rainy day and we were all sore- my feet the worst in the lot. We stopped at a wayside shanty for the night, paying two dollars apiece for our supper & breakfast. This morning we made the 5 miles to the lake in less than two hours, & here we must wait most of the day for a chance to slip up the lake to the next portage, as the strips of land separating the chain of lakes are called. We meet many men returning already. Most of them have not been through to Cariboo, but far enough to find out that they have not money enough to stand it. Most of those who have been there give the same reason for coming back- too early in the season & not money enough to wait till the ground is in a fit state to work. For myself I expect nothing, & try to think as little as possible about it. I am in for it now & must see it out now if it takes my last dollar & leaves me "dead broke" in a foreign land.

June 26- Anderson Lake
We came up Lillooet Lake on Monday evening in a big clumsy boat, sending the mule around by a trail. It was a short trip- only 7 miles, & we got through & crossed the land portage- less than 2 miles- to Pemberton Lake before dark. Made camp for the night. Next morning bundled aboard a ricketty little steamboat & came to Pemberton City about 2 o'clock. Got dinner & started on the 30 mile portage to Lake Anderson, getting here early this morning- Thursday. & we are wasting a few hours for the boat to be loaded.

June 27- Seaton Lake
Made the trip down to Anderson- about 16 miles- packed up & hurried across the narrow portage- less than 2 miles- to catch the Seaton lake boat, but found they had only waited for those who had horses to ride, & she was a quarter of a mile off when we got to the landing. We sent some hearty curses after them for the scurvy trick & camped to lie over till today. There are many Indians all along the route. They work pretty well, packing over the portages, loading wagons & boats, etc & the squaws bring us branches of grass to sell- They have some customs different from Indians I have seen before. They bury their dead up in the air!- that is, they build a crib & stick it up on poles 15 to 30 feet high, sometimes leaning it against a large tree, and they put the bodies in these. Over & around them they hang flags, blankets, kettles,- sometimes a gun- whatever belonged to them when alive, I suppose- I have seen quite a number of these burial places during the last few days, almost always in some place overlooking the water. The water through the whole country here is cold as ice water from the melting of the snows from every hill. I went in for a wash to-day. One plunge was enough.

July 4- well up on the Brigade route for Cariboo.
No holiday for us, we must keep moving, though we would lie by & rest if the mosquitoes would not torment us,- millions upon millions of all kinds. We are all but eaten by them, & yet we are told they are worse ahead- God pity us!- Came down Seaton Lake June 27- Next morning on to Lillooet City. Here we had to cross the Fraser river- more than of a mile wide & boiling & surging along at the rate of 20 miles an hour. Nothing larger than a whale boat to cross in. Took our load in, hitched poor mule to the stern, & away we went, my heart in my throat through fear of losing Billy. But we made the other shore all safe, half a mile or so further down, paid 25 cts apiece, & a dollar for the mule, & we were off at last, free from steamboats & dependent only on ourselves & Billy Mule. Ever day we push ahead, over mountains, through green valleys, along lakes, & we have come at last into a region where we see no snowy mountains, nothing but low hills, grassy plains, & a great many ponds & small lakes. The days are very long- twilight till after 9 o'clock, & we travel early & late, resting 3 or 4 hours in the middle of the day. I have suffered much with my feet, but they are doing better now, & my health otherwise would be excellent, were it not for the colds I have caught, which have settled down to a troublesome cough. My long spell in the printing office made me tender; but I think I shall soon harden to it. Going to Cariboo is no play. We expect to be two weeks longer yet, & the worst of the road comes last. We still meet many poor fellows going back, a sorrowful looking set. They all went up too soon, & with too little money, so that high prices drove them back before the weather would allow them to prospect.

July 15- Almost in the diggings
Dragging along day by day- wet, tired, hungry & sleepy, I felt hardly able to write a full description of our journey as I had meant to do at first. Today we draggled along in the rain over a miry trail till we got well soaked, when we made camp for the afternoon and dried out by a rousing fire- From all the accounts we hear from those going back the prospect is a gloomy one- but on we go to try our luck. Provisions are very dear- at Williams Lake, nearly a hundred miles back we bought 50 lbs of flour, 18lbs Bacon, 32 lbs Beans- 100 lbs in all, for which we paid $90- The next buy will be a dollar a pound we expect.

(from here on in ink)

Aug. 6.- Nelson Creek- Cariboo
Got in to the new town of Van Winkle on Lightning Creek, on Saturday, July 18th. Provisions dear and scarce. Flour $1.25 a pound-tea $3.00, salt $5 for a 3 pound bag, Nails $3, a pound & hardly any to be had. My partners growled all the way up because I thought best to bring some nails along, - they wish now we had brought all nails! Sold Billy Mule at once for $140, & I found on dividing our goods that I had provision enough to last me 5 or 6 weeks. Next day, Sunday, we rested, & on Monday I took blankets & grub for two weeks, stored the rest in a cabin at $1 a week, & came over to Nelson Creek to prospect for diggings. First bought a license to mine, good for a year- $5 for that. My partners got discouraged in a day or two & went off, & I expect they are out of Cariboo by this time. I then went in with two sailor boys from Martha's Vineyard who traveled part of the way up with us & came over to Nelson at the same time. Found some men who have been prospecting on the creek for 2 months, sinking shafts (wells, you would call them) trying to hit upon the deepest part of the channel where the gold always settles. They have the best looking chance on the creek, & as they had just got out of money & provision, they offered us an equal share with them if we would join them & feed two of them two weeks. We concluded to do so; so here we are, hard at work, the two weeks nearly up, & nothing certain as yet. Yesterday I went back to Van Winkle & packed over all my things- 70 pounds. If anybody thinks that it is fun let them try it.- 8 miles & back, over a mountain, deep sloppy mud nearly every foot of the way, & big logs to straddle & climb at every ten steps, it seems, & sometimes two or three of them together at that. Walk over that road in the morning & stagger back with a load of 70 pounds in the afternoon, & almost any lazy man would be satisfied with his day's work.

I am afraid Cariboo will swamp me as it has thousands of others. There are some few men who are getting out gold fast. Some few claims are yielding as high as 150 pounds a week- report says more; but the great majority are getting nothing, most of the crowd, in fact, have been driven back by the high prices eating their money up before they had a chance to try for diggings. I have almost a mind to go back to California if I find nothing where we are now, but I hate to give up while there is yet a chance, however slight,- I have still about $440, left out of $613 that I had on leaving Suisun, & I can manage to stand it here for the balance of the season & have enough left to pay my way back to California & there begin anew. Not a pleasant prospect at that, but I suppose I shall have to stand it. However, if I stay here I shall not fail through lack of trying.

Aug. 10 Sunday
Broke down yesterday as far as this creek is concerned. Water came into the bottom of our shaft so fast that we cannot dig deeper without making a wheel & pump, & the prospects are not good enough to satisfy us in going to the expense. Today the two men we have been feeding start out for California together with one of the sailor boys, who leaves so that his partner may have money enough to stay longer. As for me I don't know what to do. Inclination & judgment, too, as that goes say "Go back to Cal." God knows. This is a hateful country- rain nearly all the time & all the country covered with a thick, heavy growth of gloomy firs, with the swampy, miry ground buried under fallen trees so that it is almost impossible to get along. Everybody I see looks gloomy & discouraged, & it really seems hopeless to try to do more in Cariboo. In all my trials I never saw a darker time.

Sept. 8.- Still on Nelson
Concluded to try to pick up a few dollars here, by scratching around where men worked last year rather than run around. Have made about $100 clear of expenses in the last month- rather slow for Cariboo, Today we have had snow & I suppose we must soon leave. I have little hope of now getting back the cost of the trip to say nothing of pay for my time, but I am thankful that I have not lost all like so many others. I am working very hard, every day, Sundays & all, & I shall be glad when forced to give it up. I do not know that I can earn any-thing here more than a few days longer, & I think I shall go to Williams' Creek, where there are very rich diggings & new discoveries being made. Some of the claims there pay twenty-five pounds of gold a day to each many working! More money in one day that I want to make me happy for life. Well I must grind along till my lucky day comes, & gather in my slow dollars one by one, only too happy if old age don't nip me before I get a little resting place in this wide world.

Sept. 28- On Nelson yet
Been scratching around steadily. Am now even on the cost of the trip & enough besides to take me back to California. Bad weather now- snowing & freezing nearly all the time. Most of the men have left the creek- only four left here now, & each one working & living by himself about a quarter of a mile from each other. Today my cabin mate went away. We started in to work together but he soon bought a bit of ground that was paying well- about $50 a day- giving $500. It fizzled out completely before he got half his money back, & now he strikes out for Williams' Creek. Would go myself & try for big diggings, but I cannot feel justified to leave $10 a day, & I am making that now with a fair show of doing so as long as I dare stay here- That cannot be many weeks more- Looks dubious now- If a deep snow comes on it will be a serious matter for me to get out. But my chief fear is of being robbed on my way down,- many have been robbed and some murdered on the down trails. This country is all a wilderness & it is very easy for robbers to escape. No doubt there are many lying in wait for the big purses that have been growing fat up here & will soon be on the way out for the winter.

Oct. 5. Nelson Creek
Bad weather lately. The sun is fast working south & we see but little of it even when fair. It is freezing cold & scarce an hour without snow squall. Have been troubled with a nervous fear lest I should get snowed in, but at last concluded to take the chance & brave it out. I got the man working alone above to join me & prospect a place on the hill high above the creek. I think it will pay & if it will we shall have a good claim for next year. So I went over the Lightning today after more grub & got enough to stand me two weeks. Let in to snow in the morning & has been at it hard & steady every since. It rather frightens me, but I am in for it now & must take the chances whether I will or not. We have got to dig a ditch & bring water on the ground we wish to prospect, & it will take us three or four days to test it, if it looks dangerous then to stay longer we will make a break out, if not we shall stay till our grub is nearly gone. Found the town today nearly deserted, most of the men having gone below for the winter. I expect hard times getting out, but that don't scare me,- it is the chance of getting blocked in & frozen or starved that makes me fearful. Wish now that instead of going for grub today I had packed up & got safely over the mountain that we have to cross at the head of Nelson. If it keeps on snowing this way there will be three feet of snow there tomorrow, & when we go we have to carry a load of blankets & grub Hard to get in & harder to get out, this Cariboo.

Oct. 13
It was a bad night ?? us that of last date. Snow fell heavily & steadily all night. Could not sleep for nervousness, & about midnight the overloaded trees began to fall crashing down all around us. Went out & roused new partner Martin in cabin close by. Stood outside watching, & before he could find his boots a large tree which threatened us gave way by the roots. Yelled the alarm and out came Martin bare footed for dear life. He ran directly under the course of the tree, stumbled & fell & the tree crashed in the snow directly at his heels. A narrow escape & it seemed to frighten me more than it did him. After that we sat up till day in my cabin, rushing out at every crack & warning sound. I think we heard the fall of fifty trees & eight or nine fell that might have crushed us, but luckily they leaned the other way. The storm held up during the day & we went on with our work.

We got discouraged on Tuesday the 7th & were about to make ready to leave, when er were surprised by the unexpected coming back of my old cabin mate from Williams Creek. He encouraged us to stand it out a while longer, so we pitched in till yesterday, Sunday, & then went out after more grub, intending to stay ten days. longer if possible. Most of last week we had snow & cold weather,-& on Friday it began to rain, & on Saturday there was a heavy freshet. Sunday was a fine day but we had a hard time breaking a trail through the snow out to Lightning. The rain seemed to have packed it hard & made it worse. Today Monday, it has set in to rain again so that after getting well drenched we quit work about the middle of the afternoon. This weather is a surprise all around. Almost everybody has left the country believing that everything would be frozen by this time. So far I am loser by staying. Have spent about $50 for grub since Sunday before last & made nothing for it yet. We are trying a place now where we did expect to make $20 a day, but it does not look good now since we started in. Thought last evening when we get back to camp faint & worn out that I could never get out of this if another heavy snow should come, but after supper felt stronger & am taking the chances, now quite unconcernedly. By the way, the night of the great storm closed (?) on the morning of my birthday I shall hardly forget it-

Oct.17. Friday
Mild weather has held on till the snow is nearly gone- Diggings still turn out poorly- have not got our grub money back yet ... I am in a bad fix just now- got a raging boil coming- just at this particular time, & on my foot too! - It seems as if the devil must have had a hand in it. Could not get out to work to-day- tried it- took me nearly and hour to get on my boot & hobble off 50 yards, then I just crawled back again. Right among the cords at the bend of the foot just above the instep- Who ever heard of such a thing- It is very late in the season for Cariboo, & if a big snow comes within a few days, how shall I, a cripple, get out? A serious question with me now.

Oct. 26. Sunday
Have had a sorry time since last date. My boil does not work well. Poulticed for 8 days till nothing more would run but blood & now I am dressing with salve. The skin has come off from a spot the size of half a dollar, leaving the raw flesh still swelled, hard, and sore. Pulled on my rubber boot yesterday for a trial, but was glad to squirm out of it again pretty quickly. Have suffered as much in my mind as in my body through fear of snow setting in. It holds off beyond all expectation. We have had some light falls, & Thursday & Friday last very cold, making ice in the swift water. Yesterday was rainy clearing off in the night with a light snow,- today as usual, cold gray clouds threatening snow. The sun runs so low here now that we can see it only about two hours at & near midday even when fair Don't remember seeing the sun three times in the last three weeks. O, that I were out of this gloomy wretched country! Were I not a cripple I should feel at ease for if snow set in steadily I could pack up & leave, sure of being able to fight my way out, but now my fears get the better of me.

(Note in pencil by another hand: "From all accounts lost trying to make Williams Creek." R.C.S. Randall.")

 

 
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