Excursions, More Feet, Backbreaking Labor – Esmeralda – Aurora
Josh Letters Yielded Offer – Territorial
Goodman, McCarthy, De Quille & the Boys –
Petrified Man Hoax
Covering the Territorial Legislature
January, first half
– Sam’s excursion to Unionville, in Buena
Vista Mining District,
and back to Carson City by way of Honey Lake Smith’s (a trading post on the road to Carson City)
and Virginia City, took all of seven
weeks [MTL 1: 150n3]. Sam described this trip in chapters 27-33 of Roughing
It and in chapter 27 of Innocents Abroad. Travel to the northern regions of the territory
was hazardous in January due to heavy rains.
second half – Sam quit the backbreaking labor after one week.
Disillusioned by the exaggerated claims of easy wealth, Sam set out to return
to Carson City. He made the return trip
from Unionville with Captain Hugo Pfersdorff and Colonel John B. Onstine [MTL 1: 152n13]. Mack includes Cornbury
S. Tillou (but calls him “Mr. Ballou”, the same name Sam gave him
in RI) in this group, and says they “left Unionville in a blinding
snowstorm” [126, 133]. Stuck at the
trading post for eight days, due to high water, and at Virginia City for another week for the same reason, they got
lost in a snowstorm and feared death, but found their way the next day (Roughing It, Ch. 27-33).
28 Tuesday – Sam paid Hugo Pfersdorff $100 for feet in the Alba Nueva ledge [MTL 1:
29 Wednesday – Sam and party arrived back in Carson
City. The journey was arduous.
Sam began a letter to his sister-in-law Mollie about his reaction to the news that his old
mule “Paint-Brush” was in Union hands. Sam had ridden the animal
during his brief play as a Confederate volunteer in June 1861.
“Paint-Brush” in the hands of the enemy! God forgive me!
this is the first time I have felt melancholy since I left the United States.
And he is doing service for the enemy. But against his
will. Ah, me, Mollie—there would be consolation—priceless
consolation in the fact which I have italicised, were it not that that is a natural failing with the poor
devil—everything he ever did do, he did
against his will. His most insignificant services, even for me,
were done under protest. Of course I mean that whenever he did
condescend to do anything in accordance with my wishes, and that was not an
everyday occurrence, at all, he showed his unwillingness in a marked manner—but
he was a willing soul to do things after his own fashion. And of course he
generally consulted his own judgment—because: You remember, (as I perceive by
your language,) that between me and the pillow on the saddle, there was a very
Mine of trouble—and between the saddle and the ground there was another Mine of
trouble, viz; the Mule. And the saddle was always loose,—therefore, I was
afraid it might turn; and I could not cinch it tighter, as the cinch was old,
and I feared it might break. So, you see, when in the saddle, I lived as one
astraddle of a magazine—for, had I combatted the mule’s wishes to any great
extent, he would have retaliated by jumping gullies, or rolling on the ground, or
running away—and the consequences, to me, of such conduct, would have been a
matter of small concern to him.
But if I had the “Paint Brush” here, Mollie, I would
“feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.” I would board him on sage-brush, and
cinch him till he couldn’t breathe, and ride him sixty miles a day. He would be
a wonderfully useful animal to me. However, if he has gone over to the enemy,
let him go. He can’t be depended on anyhow—he’ll desert at the first
opportunity; if he don’t fall in a camp-kettle and get drowned.
Well, Mollie, I think July will be soon enough, because I
think that by that time some of our claims will be paying handsomely, and you
can come in “high-tone” style, as Tom Nye, says. And we could have a house fit
to live in—and servants to do your work. You know it is all very well for a
man’s wife to talk about how much work she can
do—but actually doing it is a thing that don’t
suit my notions. That part of the business belongs to the servants. I am not
married yet, and I never will marry until I
can afford to have servants enough to leave my wife in the position for which I
designed her, viz:—as a companion. I don’t
want to sleep with a three-fold Being who is cook,
chambermaid and washerwoman all in one. I don’t mind sleeping with female
servants as long as I am a bachelor—by no
means—but after I marry, that sort of thing
will be “played out,” you know. (But Lord bless you, Mollie, don’t hint this depravity to the girls.) No, Madam, I am
anxious for you to stay just where you are until you can live here in a
handsome house and boss your own servants—even if it should be until the first
July after the Millenium! If you come here before you ought to come, Mollie,
and I hear people say “the Secretary’s wife does her own cooking”—I’ll tell
every such person that the Secretary’s wife is subject to fits of derangement!
Mind, now, I’m not going to have any one-horse business here after you arrive. D-o-n-’t get in a hurry, Madam. The
world wasn’t made in a day [MTL
30 Thursday – In Carson City, Sam wrote an account of the trip to Humboldt to his mother [MTL 1: 146-152]. The letter was printed in the Keokuk Gate City on Mar. 6.
“How sleep the brave who
sink to rest,
Far, far from the
battle-field’s dreadful array,
With cheerful ease and
Nor ask the sun to lend his
Bully, isn’t it? I mean the poetry, madam, of course.
Doesn’t it make you feel just a little “stuck up” to think that your son is
a—Bard? And I have attained to this proud eminence without an effort, almost.
You see, madam, my method is very simple and easy—thus: When I wish to write a
great poem, I just take a few lines from Tom, Dick and Harry, Shakspeare, and
other poets, and by patching them together so as to make them rhyme
occasionally, I have accomplished my object. Never mind the sense—sense,
madam, has but little to do with poetry. By this wonderful method, any body can
be a poet—or a bard—which sounds better, you know.
But I have other things to talk about, now—so, if you
please, we will drop the subject of poetry. You wish to know where I am, and
where I have been? And, verily, you shall be satisfied. Behold, I am in the
middle of the universe—at the centre of gravitation—even Carson City. And I
have been to the land that floweth with gold and silver—Humboldt. (Now, do not
make any ridiculous attempt, ma, to pronounce the “d,” because you can’t do it,
you know.) I went to the Humboldt with Billy C., and Gus., and old Mr. Tillou.
With a two-horse wagon, loaded with eighteen hundred pounds of provisions and
blankets—necessaries of life—to which the following luxuries were added, viz: Ten
pounds of Killikinick, two dogs, Watt’s Hymns, fourteen decks of cards, “Dombey
and Son,” a cribbage board, one small keg of lager beer and the “carminia
At first, Billy drove, and we pushed behind the wagon.
Not because we were fond of it, ma—Oh, no—but on Bunker’s account. Bunker was
the “near” horse, on the larboard side. Named after the Attorney General of
this Territory. My horse—you are acquainted with him, by reputation,
already—and I am sorry you do not know him personally, ma, for I feel towards
him, sometimes, as if he were a blood relation of our family—he is so
infernally lazy, you know—my horse, I was going to say—was the “off” horse on
the starboard side. But it was on Bunker’s account, principally, that we pushed
behind the wagon. For whenever we came to a hard piece of road, that poor,
lean, infatuated cuss would fall into a deep reverie about something or other,
and stop perfectly still, and it would generally take a vast amount of
black-snaking and shoving and profanity to get him started again; and as soon
as he was fairly under way, he would take up the thread of his reflections
where he left off, and go on thinking, and pondering, and getting himself more
and more mixed up and tangled in his subject, until he would get regularly
stuck again, and stop to review the question.
And always in the meanest piece of road he could find.
In fact, Ma, that horse had something on his mind, all
the way from here to Humboldt; and he had not got rid of it when I left
there—for when I departed, I saw him standing, solitary and alone, away up on
the highest peak of a mountain, where no horse ever ventured before, with his
pensive figure darkly defined against the sky—still thinking about it.
Our dog, Tom, which we borrowed at Chinatown without
asking the owner’s permission, was a beautiful hound pup, eight months old. He
was a love of a dog, and much addicted to fleas. He always slept with Billy and
me. Whenever we selected our camp, and began to cook supper, Tom, aided and
abetted by us three boys, immediately commenced laying his plans to steal a
portion of the latter; and with our assistance, he generally succeeded in
inserting his long, handsome nose into every dish before anybody else. This was
wrong, Ma, and we know it—so, to atone for it, we made Mr. Tillou’s dog stand
around whenever he attempted any such liberties. And when our jolly supper was
swallowed, and the night was on the wane, and we had finished smoking our
pipes, and singing songs, and spinning yarns, and telling lies, and quoting
scripture, and all that sort of thing, and had begun to look for a soft place
on the ground to spread our blankets on, Tom, with immense sagacity, always
assisted in the search, and then with becoming modesty, rewarded himself by
taking first choice between the blankets. No wonder we loved the dog.
But, Mr. Tillou’s dog, “Curney,” we utterly despised. He
was not a long, slender, graceful dog like Tom, but a little mean, white,
curly, grinning whelp, no bigger than a cat—with a wretched, envious, snappish,
selfish disposition, and a tail like an all-wool capital O, curled immodestly
over his back, and apparently wrenched and twisted to its place so tightly that
it seemed to lift his hind legs off the ground sometimes. And we made Tom
pester him; and bite his tail; and his ears; and stumble over him; and we
heaped trouble and humiliation upon the brute to that degree that his life
became a burden to him. And Billy, hating the dog, and thirsting for his blood,
prophesied that Curney would come to grief. And Gus and I said Amen. And it
came to pass according to the words of the prophet. Thus.
On the fifth day out, we left the village of Ragtown, and
entered upon the Forty-five mile Desert, where the sand is of unknown depth,
and locomotion of every kind is very difficult; where the road is strewn thickly
with the skeletons and carcasses of dead beasts of burden, and charred remains
of wagons; and chains, and bolts and screws, and gun-barrels, and such things
of a like heavy nature as weary, thirsty emigrants, grown desperate, have
thrown away, in the grand hope of being able, when less encumbered, to reach
water.8 We left Ragtown, Ma, at nine o’clock in the morning, and the moment we
began to plow through that horrible sand, Bunker, true to his instincts, fell
into a reverie so dense, so profound, that it required all the black-snaking
and shoving and profanity at our disposal to keep him on the move five minutes
at a time. But we did shove, and whip and blaspheme all day and all night,
without stopping to rest or eat, scarcely, (and alas! we had nothing to drink,
then.) And long before day-light we struck the Big Alkali Flat—and Curney came
to grief; for the poor devil got alkalied—in the seat
of honor. You see he got tired, traveling all day and all night,
nearly—immensely tired—and sat himself down by the way-side to rest. And lo!
the iron entered his soul (poetical figure, Ma.) And when he rose from that
fiery seat, he began to turn somersets, and roll over and over and kick up his
heels in the most frantic manner, and shriek, and yelp and bark, and make
desperate grabs at his tail, which he could not reach on account of his
excitement and a tendency to roll over; and he would drag himself over the
ground in a sitting posture, (which afforded him small relief, you know,) and
then jump up and yelp, and scour away like the wind, and make a circuit of
three hundred yards, for all the world as if he were on the Pony Express. And
we three weary and worn and thirsty wretches forgot our troubles, and fell upon
the ground and laughed until all life and sense passed out of us, and the colic
came to our relief and brought us to again, while old Mr. Tillou wiped his
spectacles, and put them on, and looked over them, and under them, and around
them, in a bewildered way, and “wondered,” every now and then, “what in the
h—ll was the matter with Curney.”
We thought,—yea, we fondly hoped, ma,—that Curney’s time
had come. But it was otherwise ordained. Mr. Tillou was much exercised on
account of his dog’s misery, and, sharing his misery, we recommended a bullet
as a speedy remedy, but the old gentleman put his trust in tallow, and Curney
became himself again, except that he walked behind the wagon for many hours
with humble mien, and tail transformed from a brave all-wool capital O to a
limp and all-wool capital J, and gave no sign when Tom bit his ears or stumbled
We took up our abode at Unionville, in Buena Vista Mining
District, Humboldt county, after pushing that wagon nearly 200 miles, and
taking eleven days to do it in. And we found that the “National” lead there was
selling at $50 per foot, and assayed $2,496 per ton at the Mint in San
Francisco. And the “Alba Nueva,” “Peru,” “Delirio,” “Congress,” “Independence,”
and others, were immensely rich leads. And moreover, having winning ways with
us, we could get “feet” enough to make us all rich one of these days. And again
that mills would be in operation there by the 1st of June. And in the Star
District, O. B. O’Bannon, of Keokuk, was flourishing, and had plenty of “feet,”
and in the Santa Clara District, Harroun and Jo. Byers of Memphis, Mo.,
likewise and ditto. And Billy put up his shingle as Notary Public, and Gus put
up his as Probate Judge, and I mounted my horse (in company with the Captain
and the Colonel) and journeyed back to Carson, leaving them making preparations
for a prospecting tour; and before I can go to Esmeralda and get back to
Humboldt, they will have laid, with the certainty of fate, the foundation of
their fortunes. It’s a great country, ma.
Now, ma, I could tell you how, on our way back here, the
Colonel and the Captain and I got fearfully and desperately lousy; and how I
got used to it and didn’t mind it, and slept with the Attorney General, who
wasn’t used to it, and did mind it; but I fear my letter is already too long. Therefore—sic
transit gloria mundi, e pluribus unum forever! Amen. (Latin,
madam—which you don’t understand, you know).
S. L. C. [MTL 1: 146-152; MTPO drop in letters].
1 Saturday – In Carson City, Sam wrote and sent ore specimens to his
brother-in-law, William A. Moffett [MTL 1: 153].
Saturday – Sam acquired another 25 feet in the Horatio mine. He and his brother Orion then held 100 feet [MTL 1: 162n8].
As a good opportunity offers, I have embraced it to send
you some legal and letter paper, and a copy of the
laws. I send the pencils, pens, &c., because I don’t know whether you have
run out of such things or not. If you have got plenty of stationery, maybe Sam
[Montgomery] and Tom [Smith] have not. I also send you some more envelops. The
Colonel proposes to start to-morrow or next day.
I hunted up Fall, but he would not sell me his ground for
Sam. Then I told him he had better go to Unionville and “nurse” a good thing
while he had it. He said he would.
John Kinney has gone to the
States, via San Francisco.
Your Father has purchased the Keokuk “Journal,”—so he
will hardly come out here this year—hey?
I have heard from several reliable sources that Sewall
will be here shortly, and has sworn to whip me on sight. Now what would you
advise a fellow to do?—take a thrashing from the son-of-a-bitch, or bind him
over to keep the peace? I don’t see why he should dislike me.
He is a yankee,—and I naturaly love a yankee.
I stole a bully dog the other day—but he escaped again.
Look out for one. That other dog, over whose
fate a dark mystery hangs, has not revisited the glimpses of the moon yet, in
this vicinity, although he has been seen in a certain locality—whereof it would
be Treason to speak. D—n the beast—does he intend to haunt us like a nightmare
for the balance of his days?
The Governor’s Cavalcade left for California the other
day. Some of the retainers I will name: the Governor and Gov. Roop,
Boundary-line Commissioners; accompanied by Mr. [George] Gillson, Mr. [John] Kinkead and others—and
followed by Bob Howland, Chief Valet de Chambre to His Excellency, and Bob
Haslan, Principal Second Assistant ditto ditto. What do you
make of that, for instance? There were quite a number in the Cavalcade, and
Haslan brought up the rear on a mule. Bob Howland expects to sell some ground
in San Francisco.
You say the “Annie Moffett Company”—isn’t
that the name of the ledge, too? I hope so.
I would like to write you some news, Billy, but
unfortunately, I haven’t got any to write. I couldn’t write it, though, if I
had, for I am in a bad humor, and am only writing anyhow, because I hate to
lose the opportunity. You see I have been playing cards with Bunker, and the
d—d old Puritan wouldn’t play fairly—and I made injurious remarks and jumped
I send a St. Louis Republican for Tom. There is something
in it from “Ethan Spike.”
Enclosed please find Mr. Cox’s Speech.
If you and Dad intend coming down, Billy, with the wagon,
don’t fail to write and say about what time you will be here. I leave for
Esmeralda next week some time, with Major General BBBunker, L.L.D.,
Esq—provided “nothing happens.” But this do
happen in this country, constantly. In fact, it is about the d—est country in
the world for things to happen in. My calculations
never come out right. However, as I said before, We May be Happy Yet.
Remember me kindly to the boys—not forgetting “the old
man,” of course. I have labored hard to get a copy of “Fannie Hill” for him to
read, but I have failed sadly.
Sunday.—I intended to finish this letter
to-day, but I went to church—and busted! For a man who can listen for an hour
to Mr. White, the whining, nasal, Whangdoodle preacher, and then sit down and
write, without shedding melancholy from his pen as a ducks water slides from a duck’s back, is more than mortal.
Or less. I fear I shall not feel cheerful again until the beans I had for
dinner begin to operate.
Which reminds me of that afternoon in Sacramento cañon,
when I gained such a brilliant victory over Oliver and Mr. Tillou, and drove them in confusion and dismay from behind my
We have not heard from home for some time, and I have
only written two letters to St Louis since I arrived
John D. Winters has sold out his interest in the Ophir
for a hundred thousand dollars.
J. L. G. and his father are still flourishing in
Chinatown. Mr. Bunker saw them there the other day.
Tom Nye is down at Fort
Churchill. Write, at your earlies[t] convenience.
Your sincere friend
Sam L. Clemens [MTL 1: 169; also
MY DEAR MOTHER:—
Lo! the poor Indian, whose
Impels him, in order to
raise the wind,
To double the pot and go it
Until he’s busted, you know.
I wrote the three last lines of that poem, Ma, and Daniel
Webster wrote the other one—which was really very good for Daniel, considering
that he wasn’t a natural poet. He used to say himself, that unabridged
dictionaries was his strong suit. Now if you should
happen to get aground on those two mysterious expressions in the third line,
let me caution you, Madam, before you reach after that inevitable “Whole Duty
of Man,” that you’ll not be likely to find any explanation of them in that
useful and highly entertaining volume, because I’ve got that learned author
cornered at last—got the dead-wood on him, Ma—and you’ll get no consolation out
of him, you know; for those are Poker expressions—technical terms made use of
in the noble game of Poker. And Poker not being a duty of man at all, is
probably not even mentioned in that book; therefore, I have got him, Madam,
where he can neither trump nor follow suit.
Bully for me.
But you said in your last, “Do tell me all about the
lordly sons of the forest, and the graceful and beautiful sq-squaws, (what an
unpleasant word,) sweeping over the prairies on their fiery steeds, or chasing
the timid deer, or reposing in the shade of some grand old tree, lulled by the
soft music of murmuring brooks and warbling birds—do.”
Gently, now,—gent-ly, Madam. You can’t
mean the Pi-Utes, or the Washoes, or the Shoshones, do you? Because if you do,
you are barking up the wrong tree, you know; or in other words, you’ve got the
wrong sow by the ear, Madam. For among those tribes there are no lordly sons of
the forest, for the ferocious reason that there are no forests of any
consequence here. At any rate, I am confident that those fellows are never
designated by that name in this Territory. Generally speaking, we call them
sons of the devil, when we can’t think of anything worse. And they don’t sweep
over the prairies on their fiery steeds,—these Washoes, and Pi-Utes and
Shoshones, don’t,—because they haven’t got any, you know. And there are no
prairies, Ma, because sage-brush deserts don’t come under that head, in this
portion of Paradise Lost. Nor they don’t chase the timid deer; nor they don’t
repose in the shade of some grand old tree; nor they don’t get lulled by the
soft music of murmuring brooks and warbling birds. None of them. Because, when
the timid deer come prospecting around here, and find that hay is worth one
hundred and fifty dollars a ton, and sage-brush isn’t good to eat, they just
turn their bob-tails toward the rising sun and skedaddle, my dear. And all that
about these Pi-Utes sunning themselves in the shade of the grand old trees, is
a grand old humbug, you know—on account of the scarcity of the raw material.
Also the item about the warbling birds. Because there are no warbling birds
here, except magpies and turkey-buzzards. And they don’t warble any to signify,
because, if they fooled their time away with that sort of nonsense they would
starve to death, suddenly. I tell you, Madam, that when a buzzard moves his
family into Nevada Territory, he soon discovers that he has got to shin around
and earn his living by the sweat of his brow, and that singing is played out
with him. Moreover, Ma, you know as well as any one
what a great puffed-up, stupid buzzard looks like, so you can picture the bird
to yourself as I invariably see him here—standing solemnly on a decomposed ox,
(and looking for the world as if he had his hands under his coat-tails,) with
his head canted to one side, his left leg advanced to steady himself, and
chewing a fragrant thing of entrails with their ends dangling about his portly
bosom. I ask you in all candor, Madam, if the best disposed buzzard in the
world could warble under such circumstances? Scasely. But wouldn’t it make a
bully coat-of-arms for the Territory?—neat and appropriate, and all that? And
wouldn’t it look gay on the great seal, and the military commissions, and so
forth, and so on, and cetera? I proposed it, but the Secretary of the Territory
said it was “disgusting.” So he got one put through the Legislature with
star-spangled banners and quartz mills and things in it. And nary buzzard. It
is all right, perhaps—but I know there are more
buzzards than quartz-mills in Nevada Territory. I understand it though—he wanted the glory of discovering and inventing and
designing the coat-of-arms of this great Territory—savvy?—with a lot of
barbarous latin about “Volens and Potens”;—(able and
willing, you know,[)]
which would have done just as well for my buzzard as it does for his
But if you want a full and correct account of these
lovely Indians—not gleaned from Cooper’s novels, Madam, but the result of
personal observation—a strictly reliable account, which you could bet on with
as much confidence as you could on four aces, you will find that on that
subject I am a Fund of useful information to which the whole duty of man isn’t
a circumstance. For instance: imagine this warrior Hoop-de-doodle-do, head
chief of the Washoes. He is five feet seven inches high; has a very broad face,
whose coat of red paint is getting spotty and dim in consequence of
accumulating dirt and grease; his hair is black and straight, and dangles about
his shoulders; his battered stove-pipe hat is trimmed all over with bits of
gaudy ribbon and tarnished artificial flowers, and he wears it sometimes over
his eyes, with an exceedingly gallus air, and sometimes on the back of his
head; on his feet he wears one boot and one shoe—very ancient; his imperial
robe, which almost drags the ground, is composed of a vast number of light-gray
rabbit-skins sewed together; but the crowning glory of his costume, (which he
sports on great occasions in corduroy pants, and dispensing with the robe,) is
a set of ladies’ patent extension steel-spring hoops, presented to him by Gov.
Nye—and when he gets that arrangement on, he looks like a very long and very
bob-tailed bird in a cage that isn’t big enough for him. Now, Ma, you know what
the warrior Hoop-de-doodle-doo looks like—and if you desire to know what he
smells like, let him stand by the stove a moment, but have your hartshorn
handy, for I tell you he could give the stink-pots of Sebastopol four in the
game and skunk them. Follow him, too, when he goes out, and burn gun powder in
his footsteps; because wherever he walks he sheds vermin of such prodigious
size that the smallest specimen could swallow a grain of wheat without
straining at it, and still feel hungry. You must not suppose that the warrior
drops these vermin from choice, though. By no means, Madam—for he knows
something about them which you don’t; viz, that they are good to eat. There
now. Can you find anything like that in Cooper? Perhaps not. Yet I could go
before a magistrate and testify that the portrait is correct in every
particular. Old Hoop himself would say it was “heap good.”
This morning I had a visit from three of the head-chief
Hoop-de-doodle-doo’s wives—graceful, beautiful creatures, called respectively,
Timid-Rat, Soaring Lark and Gentle Wild-Cat. (You see, like all Indians, they
glory in high-sounding names.) They had broad, flat faces, which were dirty to
the extreme of fashion, they wore the royal rabbit skin robe, their stringy
matted hair hung nearly to their waists, they had forgotten their shoes, and
left their bonnets at home, only one of them wore jewelry, the Timid Rat around
whose leathery throat was suspended a regal necklace composed of scraps of tin.
Their shapelessness caused them to resemble three great muffs. The young chief
Bottled Thunder was with the party, bottled up in a sort of long basket and
strapped to the back of the Soaring Lark.
Also a juvenile muff, in the person of the Princess
Invisible Rainbow, with a cigar box strapped to her back, containing a bogus
infant made of rags—which leads me to suspect that a weakness for doll-babies
is not a result of education, but an instinct, which comes as natural to any
species of girl as keeping clothing store does to a jew.
You see, ma, I was taking breakfast with a friend, this
morning, and the Princesses came and rested their elbows on the window sill and
thrust their heads in, like three very ancient and smoky portraits trying to
get out of their frame. They examined the breakfast leisurely, and criticised
it in their own tongue; they pointed at each article of food, with their long,
skinny fingers, and asked each other’s opinion about it; and they kept an
accurate record of each mouthful we took, and figured up the total,
occasionally. After awhile the Gentle Wild Cat remarked: “May be whity man no
heap eat um grass-hopper?” (their principal article of diet, ma,) and John
replied, “May be whity man no heap like um grass-hopper—savvy!”
And thus the Lark: “May be bimeby Injun heap ketch um sage-hen.” “Sage-hen heap
good—bully!” said John. You see, these savages speak broken English, madam, and
you’ve got to answer accordingly, because they can’t understand the unfractured
article, you know. We held further conversation with them, of the same
interesting character, after which we closed the “talk” by giving them a bar of
soap and a cup of coffee for breakfast, and requesting them to leave, which
they did, after they had begged a few old shirts, boots, hats, etc., and a deck
of cards. They adjourned to the wood pile, and resolved to poker a little—for these
Indians are inveterate gamblers, ma. First they “dealt” and “antied,” threw up
their “hands,” and “doubled the pot,” and dealt again. This time the Gentle
Wild Cat “went blind,” to the extent of a pair of boots; the Timid Rat “saw the
blind,” although it took a check shirt and a Peruvian hat to “come in;” the
Soaring Lark “straddled the blind,” which created a sensation, you know, and
seemed to cause the other ladies great anxiety of mind, as to whether the Lark
held an “ace full,” or was only “bluffing.” However, when an Indian gets to
gambling he doesn’t care a cent for expenses, so they rallied and “came in”
handsomely. And the way old clothes were piled up there, when the betting had
fairly commenced, was interesting. As soon as one Princess would bet a hat,
another would “see that hat” and “go a pair of socks better;” until the Timid
Rat had staked her darling necklace, and the Gentle Wild Cat’s last shirt was
on the pile. At this stage of the game, great excitement prevailed, and the
Soaring Lark was in despair, for she couldn’t “come in.” Presently, aware that
she was the centre of an absorbing interest, and appreciating the grandeur of
her position, she grew desperate and gallantly “called” her opponents, for she
unstrapped the Bottled Thunder, and bet that mighty Prince against the game,
and all hands said bully for the Lark. The denouement was thrilling. The Gentle
Wild Cat showed four aces, and thereby “busted” the party, madam, because four
aces can’t be beaten, you know. Make a note of that on the fly-leaf of your
Whole Duty of Man, for future reference. You will find it useful, if you ever
turn Injun, for then your dusky compatriots will not think much of you if you
Now, if you are acquainted with any romantic young ladies
or gentlemen who dote on these loves of Indians, send them out here before the
disease strikes in.
S. L. C.
My Dear Mother:
Yours of March 2d, has just been received. I see I am in
for it again—with Annie. But she ought to know that I was always stupid. She
used to try to teach me lessons from the Bible, but I never could understand
them. Don’t she remember telling me the story of Moses, one Sunday, last
Spring, and how hard she tried to explain it and simplify it so that I could
understand it—but I couldn’t? And how she said
it was strange that while her ma and her grandma and her uncle Orion could
understand anything in the world, I was so dull that I couldn’t understand the
“ea-siest thing?” And don’t she remember that
finally a light broke in upon me and I said it was all right—that I knew old
Moses himself—and that he kept a clothing store in Market street? And then she
went to her ma and said she didn’t know what would become of her uncle Sam—he
was too dull to learn anything—ever! And I’m just as dull yet. Now I have no
doubt her letter was spelled right, and was correct in all particulars—but then
I had to read it according to my lights; and they being inferior, she ought to
overlook the mistakes I make—especially, as it is not my
fault that I wasn’t born with good sense. I am sure she will detect an
encouraging ray of intelligence in that last argument.
Lord bless me, who can write where Orion is. I wish he
had been endowed with some conception of music—for, with his diabolical notions
of time and tune he is worse than the itch when he begins to whistle. And for
some wise but not apparent reason, Providence has
ordained that he shall whistle when he feels
pleasant—notwithstanding the fact that the barbarous sounds he produces are
bound to drive comfort away from every one else within ear-shot of them. I have
got to sit still and be tortured with his infernal discords, and fag-ends of
tunes which were worn out and discarded before “Roll on—Sil-ver Moo-oon” became
popular, strung together without regard to taste, time, melody, or the eternal
fitness of things, because, if I should boil over and say I wish his music
would bust him, there’d be a row, you know. For I discovered, by accident, that
he looks upon his Variations as something of an accomplishment, and when he
does warble, he warbles very complacently. I told him once, on the plains, that
I couldn’t stand his cursed din—that he was worse than a rusty wheel-barrow—and
if he did not stop it I would get out of the coach. Now he didn’t say “get out and be d—d,” but I know he thought it, Ma, and
if I were you I would just touch him up a little, and give him some advice
about profane swearing—not so as to hurt his feelings, you know, but just to
give him to understand, in a general way, that you don’t lend your countenance
to that sort of thing. You’re his mother, you know, and consequently, it is
your right, and your business and comes within the line of your duties, as laid
down in the Articles of War. Now I could do
it—I could stir him up in such a way—I could read him a lecture that would make him “grit
his teeth” and d—n all creation for a week, bless you. But then I am not his
mother, you know, consequently it is not in my line—it must come from you—don’t
Now to my thinking, Miss Louisa Conrad and Miss Chipman are young ladies of
remarkably fine taste—and an honor to St. Louis. Did Miss Conrad live
“opposite” when I was at home? If she did, and you had described her, I would
know who you mean. When I was in St. Louis, no young ladies lived “opposite”
except those handsome Texas girls who dressed in black—and they
lived opposite Mr. Schroter’s.
I am waiting here, trying to rent a better office for
Orion. I have got the refusal after next week of a room 16 × 50 on first floor
of a fire-proof brick—rent, eighteen hundred dollars a year. Don’t know yet
whether we can get it or not. If it is not rented before the week is up, we
I was sorry to hear that Dick was killed. I gave him his
first lesson in the musket drill. We had half a dozen muskets in our office
when it was over Isbell’s Music Rooms. I asked Isbell to invite me and the
other boys to come every Friday evening and hear his Choral Society, composed
of ladies and gentlemen, rehearse—but he refused, and I told him I would spoil
their fun. And I did, Madam. I enrolled Dick and Henry and the two Dutch boys
into a military Company, took command of it, and ordered them to meet at the
office every Friday evening for drill. I made them “order arms” oftener than
necessary, perhaps, and they always did it with a will. And when those muskets
would come down on the floor, it was of no use, you know—somebody
had to have a headache—and nobody could sing. Isbell
said he would “give in,” (Civil authorities, you know, are bound to knuckle to
the military.) But he begged so hard that I relented, and compromised with him.
And “for and in consideration” of certain things expressed between us, I agreed
not to drill on a certain special occasion, when he was to have a number of
invited guests. And we didn’t drill. But I was too
many for him, anyhow, Madam. We got some round stones and some bottles, and we
opened a ten-pin alley over his head, simultaneously with the opening of his
concert. He said the ten-pin alley was worse than the drill—so we compromised
again. But I wrote a burlesque on his principal anthem, and taught it to the
boys. And the next Friday, when our Choral Society opened its lungs, the other
one had to “dry up.” So we compromised again. And went back to the drill—and
drilled, and drilled, until Isbell went into a decline—which culminated in his
death at Pike’s Peak. And served him right. Dick enjoyed the sport amazingly,
and never missed a drill, no matter how the weather was, although he lived more
than a mile from the office. He was a lubberly cuss, like me, and couldn’t
march gracefully, but he could “order arms” with any body. I couldn’t very
easily forget Dick, for besides these things, he assisted in many a villainous
conspiracy against Isbell’s peace of mind, wherein his Choral Class were not
Tell Carrie Schroter I will give her a lump of gold out
of any mine or claim I have got—but she must send Dan Haines after it. I want
to see Dan, anyhow.
Of course we can excuse Pamela from writing, while her
eyes are sore. It is a pity her eyes distress her so much. She will have to try
what Lake Bigler can do for them one of these days. I feel certain that it
would cure any-body’s sore eyes, just to look at that Lake.
Ma, I perceive that you have a passion for funerals and
processions yet—and I suppose Annie has, too. The paper Pamela sent has not
arrived yet, containing an account of the celebration on the 22d, and I am afraid it will not come before
I leave here. I would like much to see it.
Orion has heard of Mr. Mayor, but I have not, and I don’t
know where the devil to go to look for him. Why don’t he come and see us? He
knows we are here. Yes, I remember Miss Adda King. She was very good-looking,
too, God forever bless her everlasting soul, but I don’t know her from John the
Baptist—or any other man. However, I like to have them mentioned, you know. I
must keep the run of every body.
I hope I am wearing the last white shirt that will
embellish my person for many a day—for I do hope that I shall be out of Carson
long before this reaches you. Love to all.
[MTL 1: 180-3]. Notes: Annie Moffett, Sam’s niece. Source
gives Brook Sisters as possibly the “handsome Texas girls,” and Miss
Chipman unidentified. George Schroter (b. 1813 or 1814), Wm.
Moffett’s business partner since 1855 or 6. “Dick” was Richard Higham, a
printer under Orion at Keokuk in 1856; he was killed at Ft. Donelson; Clemens
included an account of Richard in his Auto. Dictation of Mar. 26, 1906. See
entry Vol IV. Caroline (Carrie) Schroter (b. 1833 or 1834), wife of Wm.
Moffett’s partner. Daniel Haines (b. 1836 or 1837) was Carrie’s brother.
Mr. Mayor and Miss Adda King are unidentified.
March and April it snowed and rained with winds in the high Sierras [Mack
– Sam went south 120
miles to the Esmeralda mining district with Thomas C. Nye,
the governor’s brother, arriving sometime between these dates [MTL 1:
184-5n1]. There he joined Robert M. Howland and Horatio (“Raish”)
is where Sam shared the tiny cabin that was restored and moved to a Reno park in 1924
only to be destroyed by vandals in 1944 [The
Twainian, Nov.-Dec. 1948 p 4].
P.S. Remember me Send
me some stamps—3 and 10 cent.
to Tom & Lockhart
Esmeralda, 13th April, 1862
My Dear Brother:
Wasson got here night before last, “from the wars.” Tell
Lockhart he is not wounded and not killed—is altogether unhurt. He says the
whites left their stone fort before he and Lieut. Noble got there. A large amount of provisions and
ammunition which they left behind them fell into the hands of the Indians. They
had a pitched battle with the savages, some fifty miles from the fort, in which
Scott, (sheriff,) and another man were killed. This was the day before the
soldiers came up with them. I mean Noble’s men and those under Cols. Evans and
Mayfield, from Los Angeles. Evans assumed the chief command—and next morning
the forces were divided into three parties, and marched against the enemy. Col. Mayfield was killed, and Sargeant Gillespie also.
Noble’s Corporal was wounded. The California troops went back home, and Noble
remained, to help drive the stock over here. And, as Cousin Sally Dillard says
this is all that I know about the fight.
Work not yet begun on the H. & Derby—haven’t seen it
yet. It is still in the snow. Shall begin on it within 3 or 4 weeks—strike the
ledge in July. Guess it is good—worth from $30 to $50 a foot in California.
Why didn’t you send the “Live Yankee” deed—the very one I
wanted? Have made no inquiries about it, much. Don’t intend to until I get the
deed. Send it along—by mail—d—n the
Express—have to pay 3 times for all express matter; once in Carson and twice
here. I don’t expect to take the saddle-bags out of the Express office. I paid
25 cts for the Express deeds.
Man named Gebhart [Gephart] shot here yesterday while
trying to defend a claim on Last Chance Hill. Expect he will die.
Tell Mr. Upton that Green hasn’t paid me yet—he’ll have
no money for several days. Tell him the two men would not acknowledge the deed.
All I can do is to get the witness, (Miller,)
to acknowledge it. He will be in town in a day or two. I gave the deed to Mr.
These mills here are not worth a d—n—except Clayton’s—and
it is not in full working trim yet.
$20 $40 or $50—by
Write to Billy not to be in a hurry, for I can’t get
things fixed to suit me here for some time—can’t say how long.
The “Red Bird[”] is probably good—can’t work on the tunnel on account of
snow. The “Pugh” I have thrown away—shan’t re-locate it. It is nothing but
bed-rock croppings—too much work to find the ledge, if there is one. Shan’t
record the “Farnum” until I know more about it—perhaps not at all.
“Governor” under the snow.
& Red Bird are both recorded.
I have had opportunities to get into several ledges, but
refused all but three—expect to back out of two of them.
Stint yourself as much as possible, and lay up $100 or
$150, subject to my call. I go to work to-morrow, with pick and shovel.
Something’s got to come, by G—, before I let go, here.
Col. Young’s says you must rent Kinkead’s room by all
means—Government would rather pay $150 a month for your office than $75 for
Gen. North’s. Says you are playing your hand very badly, for either the
Government’s good opinion or anybody’s else, in keeping your office in a shanty.
Says put Gov. Nye in your place and he would have a stylish office, and no
objections would ever be made, either. When old Col. Youngs talks this way, I
think it time to get a fine office. And I wish you would
take that office, and fit it up handsomely, so that I can quit telling people
that by this time you are handsomely located, when I know it is no such thing.
I am living with ’Ratio Phillips. Send him one of those
black portfolios—by the stage, and put a
couple of penholders and a dozen steel pens in it.
If you should have occasion to dispose of the long desk
before I return, don’t forget to break open the middle drawer and take out my
things. Envelop my black cloth coat in a newspaper and hang it in the back
Don’t buy anything while
I am here—but save up some money for me. Don’t send any money home. I shall
have your next quarter’s salary spent before you get it, I think. I mean to
make or break here within the next 2 or 3 months.
[MTL 1: 185]. Notes: Sam worked briefly in Clayton’s quartz mill in
late June [AMT 2: 566] The Clemens brothers eventually owned about
$5,000 worth of claims in the Esmeralda but
didn’t gain back even the face value. The P.S. was to Thomas C. Nye, the
governor’s nephew, and Jacob T. Lockhart,
US Indian agent, both residing in Carson. “Cousin Sally Dilliard” is a
reference to a lady talked about in Hamilton C. Jones’
burlesque sketch. M. Upton, Carson dry-goods
dealer; William De Kay,
deputy county clerk of the Esmeralda district. Gephart was shot in a gun fight with John Copeland and others over ownership of a mining claim. Joshua
Elliot Clayton, well-known S.F.
mining engineer, owned a mill east of Aurora. “Write to Billy” refers to William
Dixon of Keokuk. Colonel Samuel Youngs (1803-1890); John W. North (1815-1890), at this time assoc. justice of
the territorial supreme court. See notes in source for more details.
My Dear Bro:
Yours of 17th,
per express, just received. Part of it pleased me exceedingly, and part of it
didn’t. Concerning the latter, for instance: You have promised
me that you would leave all mining matters, and everything involving an outlay
of money, in my hands. Now it may be a matter of no consequence at all to you, to keep your word with me, but I assure you I look upon it in a very different light. Indeed I fully
expect you to deal as conscientiously with me as you would with any other man.
Moreover, you know as well as I do, that the very best course that you and I
can pursue will be, to keep on good terms with each other—notwithstanding which
fact, we shall certainly split inside of six months if you go on in this way.
You see I talk plainly. Because I know what is due me, and I would not put up
with such treatment from any body but you. We discussed that Harroun business
once before, and it was decided, then, that he
was not to receive a cent of money. But you have paid him $50. And you agreed
to pay a portion of Perry’s expenses, &c., although, as I gather from the
tone of your letter, you knew, at that very moment, that you were breaking your
word with me, and also, that all the money you might expend in that project
would go to the devil without ever benefitting you a penny. As soon as Perry
left your presence, you cursed yourself for being so easily persuaded, and
resolved that he might pay his own prospecting expenses, without hope of
assistance from you. Now wouldn’t it have been better to have saved yourself
all this by simply pronouncing the talismanic “No,” which always sticks in your
throat? And would it not be as well, even at this late day, to say to him that
by a solemn promise made to me, you are debarred from expending money on
prospecting tours, &c., in search of Mill Sites, (which is probably the d—dest strangest phantom that ever did flit before
the dazed eyes of a prospector since that genus
came into existence,) without first getting me to agree to it. That you have
tried me, but it wouldn’t work. That I have already backed down from paying
Pfersdorff’s expenses, and will never consent again, while the world stands, to
help pay another man’s expenses. I don’t know where the Mountain
House is, but I do know that if there is a
mill site near the Mountain House worth having, Mr. Perry will arrive there a
long time after it was taken up. But as for all the ledges he can find between
now and next Christmas, I would not supply his trip with lucifer matches for a
half interest in them. Sending a man fooling around the country after ledges, for God’s sake!—when there are hundreds of
feet of them under my nose here, begging for owners, free of charge. G—d d—n
it, I don’t want any more feet, and I won’t touch another foot—so you see, Orion,
as far as any ledges of Perry’s are concerned, (or any
other, except what I examine first with my own eyes), I freely yield
my right to share ownership with you.
Now, Orion, I have given you a
piece of my mind—you have it in full, and you deserved it—for you would be
ashamed to acknowledge that you ever broke faith with another man as you have
with me. I shall never look upon Ma’s face again, or Pamela’s, or get married,
or revisit the “Banner State,” until I am a rich man—so you can easily see that
when you stand between me and my fortune (the one which I shall make, as surely
as Fate itself,) you stand between me and home,
friends, and all that I care for—and by the Lord God! you must clear the track,
The balance of your letter, I say, pleases me
exceedingly. Especially that about the H. & D. being worth from $30 to $50
in Cal. It pleases me because, if the ledges prove to be worthless, it will be
a pleasant reflection to know that others were beaten worse than ourselves.
’Raish sold a man 30
feet, yesterday, at $20 a foot, although I was present at the sale, and told
the man the ground wasn’t worth a d—n. He said he had been hankering after a
few feet in the H. & D. for a long time, and he had got them at last, and
he couldn’t help thinking he had secured a good thing. We went and looked at
the ledges, and both of them acknowledged that there was nothing in them but
good “indications.” Yet the owners in the H. & D. will part with anything
else sooner than with feet in those ledges. Well, the work goes slowly—very slowly on, in the tunnel, and we’ll strike it some
day. But—if we “strike it rich,”—I’ve lost my guess,
that’s all. I expect that the way it got so high in Cal. was, that Raish’s
brother, over there was offered $75000
for 20 feet of it, and he refused.
Yes, the saddlebags were all right. I had nothing to pay
on them. With letters, though, the case is different. Have to pay for them at
both ends of the route. Raish says money can’t be sent by mail. It’s a d—d
curious mail, isn’t it?
The next excellent news is the $50, although I suppose I
could have worried along with something less for a week or two.
But the best news of all is, your resolution to take
Kinkead’s office; and when you come to furnish it, look at what the Country
paid in that way for Turner’s office, and see if you can’t “go” a few dollars
“better.” But the carpet—let that eclipse
everything in town. I feel very much relieved, to think you will be out of that
d—d coop shortly.
Lieut. Noble and his men are here. Three deserted
yesterday. One was caught to-day and put in irons.4
Couldn’t go on the hill to-day. It snowed. It always snows here, I expect.
Don’t you suppose they have pretty much quit writing, at
When you receive your next ¼’rs
salary, don’t send any of it here until after you have told me you have got it.
Remember this. I am afraid of that H. & D.
They have struck the ledge in the Live Yankee tunnel, and
I told the President, Mr. Allen, that it wasn’t as good as the croppings. He
said that was true enough, but they would hang to until it did
prove rich. He is much of a gentleman, that man Allen.
Remember me to Tom Nye and Lockhart.
And ask Gasherie why the devil he don’t send along my
commission as Deputy Sheriff. The fact of my being in California, and out of
his county, would amount to a d—n with me, in
the performance of my official duties.
I have nothing to report, at present, except that I shall
find out all I want to know about this locality before I leave it.
Did you tell Upton what I told you in my last?
How do the Records pay?
P. S.—Friday Morning.—I am in a better humor this morning, but as you
deserved a blowing-up, why, I will not deprive you of it. I am on my way now,
with picks, &c., to work on my pet claim. If it proves good, you will know
all about it some day—if it don’t, you will never even learn its name. So,
wait, and banish hope—for I have Resolved,
that it is like most Esmeralda ledges, viz: worthless. I went down with Lieut.
Noble, awhile ago, to get Wasson’s order conveying the guns of the “Esmeralda
Rifles” to his (N.’s) custody. The people here regret being deprived of these
arms, as the Secessionists have declared that in case Cal. accedes to the new
boundaries, Gov. Nye shall not assume jurisdiction here. Noble will perhaps
remain here a fortnight, and hopes are entertained that Gen. Wright may be
prevailed upon to allow the arms to remain here. All this has been told the
Governor in a letter sent from here by mail. If that letter is still in Carson
(or the P.O.,) express it to Frisco. It’s in a white mail envelop thus
directed: “His Excellency Gov. Nye, Carson City, Nevada Territory.” (true copy:
crosswise over the previous paragraph:]
Ratio, wishes you to ask Gen. Bunker, if he is still in
Carson, to see Cradlebaugh, when he gets to Washington, and get him to use his
best endeavors toward securing his brother’s appointment to the Naval School.
Ratio will make the Gen. a handsome present of a good mining claim for his
trouble [MTL 1: 197]. Note: John Cradlebaugh, elected as
Nevada’s territorial delegate to the 37th Congress. See source notes for more,
now online MTPO.
“—a most kindly, engaging, frank, unpretentious, unlettered,
and utterly honest, truthful, and honorable giant; practical, unimaginative,
destitute of humor, well endowed with good plain common sense, and as
simple-hearted as a child” [AMT 2: 168].
thought it was a blank deed which Sam Montgomery sent me.
those Spanish spurs that hang in the office, out to “Thomas Messersmith,
care of Billy Clagett,” by some safe
person. I wore them in from Humboldt.
is well. Let Mollie stay where she is, for the present.
you had better send me your note to Teall.
send anything by that d—-d stage again, that can come by MAIL, as I have said
before. The pkg envelops cost me 50 cents.
hope Barstow will leave the “S.L.C.” off my Gate City
in case he publishes them. Put my Enterprise letters in the scrap book—but send no extracts
from them East.
perceive that I am not in a high good humor. For several reasons. One—Raish came home from the mill this morning, after
working the whole night, and found a letter from Bob [Howland?], in which he
learned that no sale had been effected. This reduced his spirits to the lowest
possible notch, for he is out of money, or nearly so….Another thing is, two or
three of the old “Salina” company entered our hold on the Monitor yesterday
morning, before our men got there, and took possession, armed with revolvers.
And according to the d—d laws of the forever d—d country, nothing but District
Court (and there ain’t any) can touch the matter….We went up and demanded
possession, and they refused. Said they were in the hole, armed, and meant to
die in it, if necessary….Now you understand the shooting scrape in which
Gephart was killed the other day.
Tom to give my dear love to Miss P.—she with the long curls, out there under
is strapped, and is anxious for you to get his scrip and sell it at as good
price as you can, and send him the money.
the fee—nobody remits fees for me here, by a d—d sight.
Charge everybody fees. Col. Youngs wants you to see Kidder or Gen. North and
ask when the California boundary will be run and finished….We enter suit
to-morrow to get possession of the Monitor.
Colonel Samuel Youngs (1803-1890). MTL annotations reveal that
“Miss P.” was Carrie Pixley.
William E. Teall sold Orion 25 mining feet in 1861. D.C.
Crooker was a clerk at the district recorder’s office
who had mining claims with Robert Howland;
Sam mentioned Crooker in earlier letters, on Apr. 17 and May 4.
This P.S. was not in the printed volume, but in “drop-in” letters.
Those Enterprise fellows make perfect nonsense of my
letters—like all d—d fool printers, they can’t follow the punctuation as it is
in the manuscript. They have, by this means made a mass of senseless, d—d
stupidity out of my last letter.
I received $25 from you nearly a week ago, I believe. I
am sorry it has to come from the school fund,—for I am afraid it might be called
for, you know. Did you get my letter about the business of Barstow—and his
letter? Do not hint to Gillesp anything about it.
Put all of Josh’s letters in my scrap book. I may have
use for them some day.
If you should ever remove the long desk from your office,
don’t forget to take out my letters and traps from the middle drawer.
You have heard nothing from your last quarter’s salary, I
It is time now to begin your arrangements for a supply of
stationery for the Legislature, I should think.
I have quit writing for the “Gate.” I haven’t got time to
write. I half intended writing east to-night, but I hardly think I will. Tell
Mollie I will not offend again. I see by a Boston paper that Colorado Territory
expects to export $40,000,000 (bullion, I believe,) this year. Nevada had
better look to her laurels.
[MTL 1: 220]. Note: William Martin Gillespie (1838-1885) was planning to start a newspaper.
See source notes.
25 Wednesday – Sam wrote a short note from Aurora to Orion about mines and money:
My Dear Bro:
The mail will close in a few moments. D—n Johnson [Lode]
and the whole tribe. I am sick of that old crib you are in. I received $25 per
Express day before yesterday. If Gillespie gets up a large paper, it will suit
me exactly to correspond for it. I shall not refuse pay, either, although $4 or
$5 a week could hardly be called extensive when you write by the “column,” you know. I am his man, though. Let me know
further about his paper—and let it not fail as utterly as the Laws did.
No—haven’t struck anything in the “Annipolitan.” No—down
12 feet—am not afraid of it. It will come out well I think. It don’t cost
Flyaway $50 per ton for crushing—only $20. Clayton wanted to help the
boys. We shan’t touch the Monitor until the 1st
July, at least. Haven’t got an Enterprise of the 8th.
Raish sent it to the Bay. I gave [D.C.] Crooker the bill. He
looked at the law and found 30 cents a mile allowed—which makes his claim worth
30 or $35 anyhow. Thank you for writing home for me.
They’ve struck good pay rock in another shaft within 50 yards of Annipolitan
hole. Assays $75.
[MTL 1: 223]. Note: Sam worked briefly in Clayton’s quartz mill in
late June [AMT 2: 566].
letter of Mar. 20 to his mother about Indians out West was printed in the Keokuk Gate
City [MTL 1: 174].
mid – After this time Horatio Phillips probably left the group, as he was no longer
mentioned in Sam’s letters. Sam took on a new partner, Calvin Higbie,
the only experienced miner in the bunch. Mack describes him (see also MTA 2: 257-62):
man of great stature, who was muscled like a giant. He could handle a
long-handled shovel like an emperor, and he could work patiently and
contentedly twelve hours on a stretch without ever hastening his pulse or his
breath.’ Cal, who was a hard-rock practical miner, gave Sam the benefit of his
mining experience, as Ballou had done on the Humboldt trip” .
1 Tuesday ca. – In Chapter 41 of Roughing It,
Sam wrote that he nursed John Nye, the Governor’s brother,
for nine days at Gardiner’s Nine Mile Ranch. The Esmeralda Star reported on July 12 that
Nye was “an invalid, lying upon his back, all stiffened and swollen up by that
excruciating disease—inflammatory rheumatism” [MTL
1: 226n1]. Sam’s
letter of July 9 puts his servitude at approximately this date. While Sam was
nursing Nye, he assumed Higbie was doing the mandatory claim work on the
“blind lead.” Cal had followed another
path (looking into a cement mine); Higbie assumed Sam was doing the
claim work. The required ten days passed. Sam and Cal had been millionaires for
ten days. Note: Sam’s dedication of RI was to Higbie and the ten
days they’d been millionaires together.
July 9 Wednesday – Sam wrote
from Aurora to Orion.
I am here again. Capt. Nye, as
his disease grew worse, grew so peevish and abusive, that I quarreled with him
and left. He required almost constant attention, day and night, but he made no
effort to hire anyone to assist me. He said he nursed the Governor three weeks,
day and night—which is a d—d lie, I suspect. He told Mrs. Gardiner he would
take up the quarrel with me again when he gets well. He shall not find me
unwilling. Mr. and Mrs. G. dislike him, and are very anxious to get rid of him
[MTL 1: 224].
Sam also instructed his brother on how to
handle money, and warned him not to tell anyone that his salary had arrived,
especially Horatio Phillips; he
advised on debts to pay off.
“I caught a violent
cold at Clayton’s, which lasted two weeks, and
I came near getting salivated, working in the quicksilver and chemicals. I
hardly think I shall try the experiment again. It is a confining business, and
[I] will not be confined, for love nor money” .
wrote about his new partner and “steadfast friend” Calvin H. Higbie,
“a large, strong man” with the “perseverance of the devil.”
Sunday – An
Aurora correspondent, probably Sam, reported that the Wide West mine and the
Pride of Utah mine had “run together.” The Pride men “built a fire of
such aromatic fuel as old boots, rags, etc., in the bottom of their shaft, and
closed up the top, thus converting the Wide West shaft into a chimney,” which
temporarily stopped work [RI 1993, explanatory notes 643].
21 Monday – Sam wrote from Aurora to Orion:
is to introduce to you my obliging friend H.G. Phillips, whom you have often heard of but never
seen, I believe. Whatever assistance you can be to him during his stay in
Carson will be properly appreciated. If you wish to know more of my concerns
here than I have told you, Raish can give you the information. Yr Bro, Sam
[MTP]. Note Compare this sentiment with Sam’s July 9 warning
letter. Horatio G. Phillips (“Raish”).
23 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Aurora to Orion about losing out on the “blind lead” and not
owning a foot in the “Johnson ledge” of that claim. After that opening
paragraph, he wrote:
Well, I am willing Mollie should come, provided she
brings John with her. John would do well here. Are you in the new office yet?
I have written Judge Turner—but I didn’t tell him Johnny had written me—don’t you. I
have offered to sell all my half the ground to him except the Fresno for
$700—or $400, if he will give me his Fresno. I don’t want the d—d ground. If
Judge Turner is not there, and will not be there soon, take his letter out of
the office and send it to him.
I have not your letter by me now, and I do not remember
all that was in it. At any rate, with regard to Phillips, don’t depart from my
instructions in my last. He is a d—d rascal, and I can get the signatures of 25
men to this sentiment whenever I want them. He shall not be paid out of the
Record fund. Tell him if he can’t wait for the money, he can have his ground
back, and welcome—that is, 12½ feet of it—or 25, for that matter, for it isn’t
worth a d—n, except that the work on it will hold it until the next great
convulsion of nature injects gold and silver into it.
My debts are greater than I thought for. I bought $25
worth of clothing, and sent $25 to Higbie, in the cement diggings. I owe about
45 or $50, and have got about $45 in my pocket. But how in the h—1 I am going
to live on something over $100 until October or November, is singular. The fact
is, I must have something to do, and that shortly,
too. I want that money to pay assessments with. And if Turner don’t accept my
offer right away, I’ll make a sale of that ground d—d soon. I don’t want to
sell any of it, though until the Fresno tunnel is in. Then I’ll sell the
Now write to the Sacramento Union folks, or to Marsh, and
tell them I’ll write as many letters a week as they want, for $10 a week—my
board must be paid. Tell them I have corresponded with the N. Orleans Crescent,
and other papers—and the Enterprise. California is full of people who have
interests here, and it’s d—d seldom they hear from this country. I can’t write
a specimen letter—now, at any rate—I’d rather
undertake to write a Greek poem. Tell ’em the mail & express leave here
three times a week, and it costs from 25 to 50 cents to send letters by that
blasted express. If they want letters from here, who’ll run from morning till
nights collecting materials cheaper. I’ll write a
short letter twice a week for the present for the “Age,” for $5 per week. Now
it has been a long time since I couldn’t make my own living, and it shall be a
long time before I loaf another year.
No, you needn’t pay Upton. I took all sorts of pains, and run after men every day
for two weeks trying to fix up that business of his here, about his house, and
d—n him, he has never even answered my letters on the subject. If I sell any of
Johnny’s ground, he shall be paid.
I want to have a shaft sunk 100 feet on the Monitor, but
I am afraid to try it, for want of money. Don’t send any money home.
If I can think of it I will enclose that scrap about the
old scissors, and you can paste it in my scrap book. Who the devil was that James Clemens, I wonder? Pamela enters into no explanations.
We can’t decide what is to be done with the Fresno until
DeKay gets back from
If I get the other 25 feet in the Johnson ex., I shan’t
care a d—n. I’ll be willing to curse awhile and wait. And if I can’t move the bowels
of these hills this fall, I will come up and clerk for you until I get money
enough to go over the mountains for the winter.
[MTL 1: 228; MTPO]. Notes: John = John E. K. Stotts (b.1828), Mollie
Clemens’s older brother, wholesale dry-goods salesman and Keokuk merchant.
Johnny = John D. Kinney of Cincinnati.
Marsh = Andrew J. Marsh,
Nevada legislative correspondent of the Sacramento Union.
Pamela’s letter referred to is not extant, nor is the James Clemens
28 Monday – Sam wrote from Aurora to Orion,
who had been sending some of Sam’s letters to various editors. Sam also had
trouble with Horatio G. Phillips, calling him a liar and listing five lies
told about mines and claims, including the Annipolitan, the Derby and the Monitor:
you keep the d—d son of a tinker out of his money as long as you can, and I
shall be satisfied. He is a New York man. And if you can find me 4 white men
among your Northern-born acquaintances, I’ll eat them if they wish it. There are
good men in the North, but they are d—d scarce. …
I am much obliged to Reardon,
Murphy, Lockhart and Gallaher for the favor they show my letters. Barstow has
written me offering pay, and I have answered him. And while I think of it,
don’t commit yourself to Gillespie—I want a finger in that printing, with
Barstow, if G. don’t start his paper. The Enterprise is making ready, with new type, &c.
Do you still receive the “Gate?”
I will think over the “Harper” proposition
[MTP, drop-in letters].
significantly, this letter shows Sam’s early preference for working on the Enterprise—William H.
Barstow’s offer of pay, new
type, etc., though Sam wanted to see if William Gillespie’s
plan of starting a newspaper came off. It did not. Gillespie was the
legislative reporter who had showed Sam the ropes in Carson. Sam no doubt felt
loyalty toward him.
30 Wednesday – In Aurora, Sam wrote to Orion about William H. Barstow’s
offer and mining information
My Dear Bro:
Your letter to the Union was entirely satisfactory. I
hope you will receive an answer right away, because Barstow has offered me the
post of local reporter for the Enterprise at $25 a week, and I have written him
that I will let him know next mail if possible, whether I can take it or not.
If G. is not sure of starting his paper within
a month, I think I had better close with Barstow’s offer.
Old Snyder, who owns in the H & D says it’s a big
thing on account of the water and mill-site, even if it does have to lie still
a while. Possibly he may be right.
Yes, the 50 feet in the Monitor, is worth what we paid
for the H & D. I acknowledge that much.
Of course I don’t want to correspond with the Age until I
know whether I shall remain here or not. So it makes no difference.
Yes—I wish John [Stotts] would come. These claims of ours would soon sing a
Oh, no, Johnny wasn’t expert at drawing deeds, by a d—d
sight. I think Turner will discover that he managed to worry along, though, at
it. He’s a d—d liar, too. He knows right well that his deed don’t convey him
all the ground. Certainly—certainly—I have no doubt we shall understand each
other. He shall understand me, at least. He
can’t scare me with his legal threats either, such as he insinuated in his
letter to me. He wants to know what I gave? Tell him that ranks as a “leading
question.” As to the balance, I told him my deed
conveys all of the ground to me—and that Johnny told
me to deed half of it to him if he had not returned by the 1st July. I should think my words were explicit enough.
I wrote the Judge as soon as I heard he was in Carson. I don’t care a d—n whose
money bought the ground. Now I shan’t answer the Judge’s letter until I am in a
good humor. I think my deed bears date March 1st,
but I can’t go up to the Co. Rec.’s to see to-night, and I have not thought of
it sooner. I have had a sort of general offer of $25 for my 25 feet of Mountain
Flower, & have accepted. I told my agent (I don’t sell ground myself,) to
sell the Judge’s at the same price, according to the Judge’s instructions to
me, and he did so. The bargain will probably be closed within 3 or 4 days, and
if the Judge don’t like the price he must speak before it is too late. The
price suits me, since I can do no better. The balance of the ground won’t sell
now, but the Fresno will be either valuable or worthless in a few weeks. I have
started a man out to sell fifty feet in that for Judge Turner.
Oh, I don’t blame the Captain [John Nye] for being ill-natured when he was sick. The confinement
made me so. I was what the yankees call “ugly,” you know.
I suppose Billy will know what to do with the National
ground. If he thinks it best to sell, I will send him J.’s letter as authority.
What’s the matter with the mill out there? What’s the
matter with Tillou? Why work the case-rock, if the ledge is 4 feet wide. I
would not think it impossible to work a 4-foot shaft.
[MTL 1: 231]. Note: Old Snyder was J.L. Snyder,
partner with Horatio G. Phillips, Robert M. Howland and Clemens in the
Horatio & Derby tunnel project in Aurora.
end – Sam’s mining fever waned. To make ends meet, he began sending
letters to various papers. His “Josh” letters to the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise had created some interest, and brother Orion’s
finances were strained from increasing mining expenses. Sam’s legislative
friend, William Barstow, worked in the Enterprise
business office and convinced the paper’s owner, Joseph T. Goodman (1838-1917), that Sam
was just the sort of writer the paper needed. Barstow wrote Sam, offering him a
job as a reporter at $25 a week [MTL 1: 231].
early – Sam’s letter of July 30 to Orion stated that Sam wrote to Barstow asking
when he might be needed [MTL 1: 231]. Note: Clearly, Sam was stalling
for time to decide or perhaps time to see if any of the promising claims would
present him with wealth, or perhaps if William Gillespie would start a
newspaper (he did not). Sam may have felt that returning to a newspaper job was
a step backward.
7 Thursday – Sam vacillated, hating to admit failure as a
miner. He wrote from Aurora to Orion,
telling him of Barstow’s offer of $25 week as a reporter on the Territorial
Enterprise. Sam decided to think on
the matter. His decision shaped the course of his life.
My Dear Bro:
Barstow wrote that if I wanted the place I could have it.
I wrote him that I guessed I would take it, and asked him how long before I
must come up there. I have not heard from him since.
Now I shall leave at midnight to-night, alone and on foot
for a walk of 60 or 70 miles through a totally uninhabited country, and it is
barely possible that mail facilities may prove infernally “slow” during the few
weeks I expect to spend out there. But do you write Barstow that I have left
here for a week or so, and in case he should want me he must write me here, or
let me know through you. You see I want to know something about that country
The Contractors say they will strike the Fresno next
week. After fooling with those assayers a week, they concluded not to buy “M.
Flower” at $50, although they would have given five times the sum for it four
months ago. So I have made out a deed for one-half of all Johnny’s ground and
acknowledged and left it in Judge F. K. Bechtel’s hands, and if Judge Turner
wants it he must write to Bechtel and pay him his Notary fee of $1.50. I would
have paid that fee myself, but I want money now as I leave town to-night. However,
if you think it isn’t right, you can pay the fee to Judge Turner yourself.
Hang to your money now. I may want some when I get back.
Col. Youngs sends his regards, & says he will have
our census completed & send up to you to-morrow, & we ought to have a
larger representation—although the law said census must be taken in May—but he
couldn’t help it, d—n’em they wouldn’t run the line.
Yes, I will scrape up some specimens—have
got a lot—but they’re a d—d nuisance about a cabin. I picked up some splendid
agates & such things, but I expect they are all lost by this time.
No—I shan’t pay Upton—just yet.
See that you keep out of debt—to anybody[.]Bully for Bunker. Write him
that I would write him myself, but I am to take a walk to-night & haven’t
time. Tell him to bring his family out with him. He can rely upon what I
say—and I say the land has lost its ancient desolate appearance; the rose and
the oleander have taken the place of the departed sage-brush; a rich black
loam, garnished with moss, and flowers, and the greenest of grass, smiles to
Heaven from the vanished sand-plains; the “endless snows” have all disappeared,
and in their stead—or to repay us for their loss, the mountains rear their
billowy heads aloft, crowned with a fadeless and eternal verdure; birds, and
fountains, and trees—tropical trees—everywhere!—and the poet dreampt of Nevada
when he wrote:
“—and Sharon waves, in solemn praise,
Her silent groves of palm.”
and to-day the royal Raven stands on a fragrant carcass
and listens in a dreamy stupor to the songs of the thrush and the nightingale
and the canary—and shudders when the gaudy-plumaged birds of the distant South
sweep by him to the orange groves of Carson. Tell him he wouldn’t recognise the
d—d country. He should bring his family by all means.
I intended to write home, but I haven’t done it.
Yr. Bro. Sam.
P. S. Put the enclosed slips in my scrap book. [MTL 1: 233]. Note: the two lines of poem from “Calm on the
listening ear of night” (1834) by Edmund Hamilton Sears.
The scrapbook mentioned is lost. Frederick K. Bechtel (b.1823) commissioner of deeds for Nevada Terr.
Benjamin B. Bunker,
attorney general of Nevada Terr.
B. Perkins, (1891-1977)
the “first historian” of the Santa Clarita Valley, puts forth a theory
about Sam’s wanderings during this week. Perkins claims to have seen a
stagecoach entry made at Lyon’s Station,
the nearest stage stop to Soledad Canyon,
some fifty miles north of Los Angeles,
where a gold discovery had just been made. This would have Sam traveling 600
miles round trip, which is possible, but less likely. The stagecoach entries
have not survived, but such theories about Sam’s “Long Walk” have [Lennon 17].
Sam sold his mining interests to
Judge George Turner. From a Christie’s sale (Lot 59 Sale 8444; May 17,
1996; avail. Online) a document written and signed by Samuel Clemens:
By this indenture “Samuel L. Clemens of Mono Co.,
Cal.,” agrees to sell to “George Turner, of Carson City, Nevada Territory” for
$1,000 his interests in “certain veins or lodes of rock containing precious
metals…gold and silver bearing quartz, rock and earth therein.” In the blank
space provided Clemens has carefully listed the shares (measured by feet) in 15
different claims (the names of which reflect the geographic origin of the
prospectors): “Fifty (50) feet in the Sciola; 62 ½ in “Ottawa;” Fifty (50) in
the “Allamoocha”; 6 ¼ in 1st Ex. S. “Winnomucca;” 25 feet in the
“Tom Thumb;” 50 in the “Fresno;” 12 ½ feet in the “Horatio;” 100 feet in the 1st
N.E.Ex. Fresno;” 50 feet in the “Rosetta;” 100 in the “Potomac;” 12 ½ in the
“Daniel Boone”; 12 ½ feet in the “Boston”; 12 ½ in the “Great Mogul;” 12 ½ in
the “Long Island;” 25 feet in the “Mountain Flower.” [See also MTL 1: 233n4 and 235n2.]
15 Friday – Sam returned from his hike, but still had not
decided whether to take William Barstow’s offer. His entire
future would hang on his decision. This same day he wrote from Aurora to his sister Pamela but didn’t mention newspaper prospects, which
suggests Sam was still undecided.
My Dear Sister:
I mailed a letter to you and Ma this morning, but since
then I have received yours to Orion and me. Therefore, I must answer right
away, else I may leave town without doing it at all. What in thunder are
pilot’s wages to me? which question, I beg humbly to observe, is of a general nature, and not discharged particularly at you. But
it is singular, isn’t it, that such a matter should interest Orion, when it is
of no earthly consequence to me? I never have once
thought of returning home to go on the river again, and I never expect to do
any more piloting at any price. My livelihood must be made in this country—and
if I have to wait longer than I expected, let it be so—I have no fear of
failure. You know I have extravagant hopes, for Orion tells you everything
which he ought to keep to himself—but it’s his nature to do that sort of thing,
and I let him alone. I did think for awhile of going home this fall—but when I
found that that was and had been the cherished intention and the darling
aspiration every year, of these old care-worn Californians for twelve weary
years—I felt a little uncomfortable, but I stole a march on Disappointment and
said I would not go home this fall. I will spend the
winter in San Francisco, if possible. Do not tell any one that I had any idea
of piloting again at present—for it is all a mistake. This country suits me,
and—it shall suit me, whether or
no. . . .
Dan Twing and I and Dan’s dog, “cabin” together—and will
continue to do so for awhile—until I leave for—
The mansion is 10 × 12, with a “domestic” roof. Yesterday
it rained—the first shower for five months. “Domestic,” it appears to me, is
not water-proof. We went outside to keep from getting wet. Dan makes the bed
when it is his turn to do it—and when it is my turn, I don’t, you know. The dog
is not a good hunter, and he isn’t worth shucks to watch—but he scratches up
the dirt floor of the cabin, and catches flies, and makes himself generally
useful in the way of washing dishes. Dan gets up first in the morning and makes
a fire—and I get up last and sit by it, while he cooks breakfast. We have a
cold lunch at noon, and I cook supper—very much against my will. However, one
must have one good meal a day, and if I were to live
on Dan’s abominable cookery, I should lose my appetite, you know. Dan attended
Dr. Chorpenning’s funeral yesterday, and he felt as though he ought to wear a
white shirt—and we had a jolly good time finding such an article. We turned
over all our traps, and he found one at last—but I shall always think it was
suffering from yellow fever. He also found an old black coat, greasy, and
wrinkled to that degree that it appeared to have been quilted at some time or
other. In this gorgeous costume he attended the funeral. And when he returned,
his own dog drove him away from the cabin, not recognizing him. This is true.
You would not like to live in a country where flour was
$40 a barrel? Very well, then, I suppose you would not like to live here, where
flour was $100 a barrel when I first came here. And shortly afterwards, it
couldn’t be had at any price—and for one month the people lived on barley,
beans and beef—and nothing beside. Oh, no—we didn’t luxuriate then! Perhaps
not. But we said wise and severe things about the vanity and wickedness of high
living. We preached our doctrine and practised it. Which course I respectfully
recommend to the clergymen of St. Louis.
Where is Beck Jolly? and Bixby?
[MTL 1: 235-6]. Notes: Daniel H. Twing,
one of Sam’s mining partner. On Feb. 18, 1863, Clemens gave Twing a special
power of attorney over his mining interests. Clemens and Twing,
were partners in the Clemens Gold and Silver Mining Co. Dr. F. Chorpenning was shot by William
Pooler on July 28 “for being too attentive” to
Pooler’s estranged wife [n.4].
late – Sam arrived at the Virginia City Enterprise, a “small rickety
frame building at the corner of A Street and Sutton Avenue,” [Fatout, MT in VC 11] (later a large
brick building on C Street) to take the job. According to Paine, Sam claimed he walked the
130 miles from Aurora and arrived in the afternoon of a “hot, dusty
August day” and drawled to Denis E. McCarthy (1840-1885) one of the owners:
“My starboard leg seems to be unshipped.
I’d like about one hundred yards of line; I think I am falling to pieces. I
want to see Mr. Barstow, or Mr. Goodman.
My name is Clemens, and I’ve come to write for the paper” [MTB 205].
claims Sam’s first words at the Enterprise were, “Dang my buttons, if I
don’t believe I’m lousy” [MT A Life 110].
R. Gillis (Billy) (1840-1929)
remembered a third, quite long, and different exchange in his 1930, Gold Rush
Days with Mark Twain.
Sam uttered, William Wright (1829-1898), no
middle initial, according to Joe Goodman to Paine, Apr. 5, 1912, (The Twainian July-Aug 1956 p4), a
celebrity known in ink as Dan De Quille (sometimes written as Dan De
Quille) was appointed the task of getting Sam settled in town. Dan and Sam
became fast friends and later roommates.
As for Sam’s “Long Walk,” Such an effort seems out of character. The route
would have taken Sam through Carson City;
some traffic was on the road; it’s probable Sam got a lift for at least
part of the journey. Fatout agrees:
always maintained that he was too hard up to afford stage fare, hence walked
the whole way. But he was generally averse to walking when he could ride, and
the road was well traveled by many ore wagons plying between Aurora and Carson City. It is hard to believe that sociable drivers did not offer him a lift”
[MT in VC 7].
also lists the Enterprise reporters: Dan De Quille, Captain Joe Plunkett,
Rollin M. Daggett (1831-1901), Charles A.V. Putnam (b.1823?), Howard P. Taylor “and others.” Joe Goodman,
“a versatile writer with a reputation as a poet, handled his temperamental
employees with a loose rein that was good for both staff and paper. The
efficient business management of Dennis (Jerry) Driscoll (1823-1876) made
profits roll in. Organization was more big-city than that of any other Western
paper outside of San Francisco, and pungent writers gave the Enterprise
a virility and humor that made it popular, prosperous, and influential” . Note: Putnam’s reminiscence of the Enterprise
days ran in the Salt Lake City Tribune, April 25, 1898.
9 Tuesday – Sam wrote from Aurora, California/Nevada Territory to Billy Clagett,
congratulating him on being elected to represent Humboldt County in the Territorial Legislature. Most of his letter deals
with “the disgusting subject” of the Civil War and its losses. In part:
For more than two weeks I have been slashing around in
the White Mountain District, partly for pleasure and partly for other reasons.
And old Van Horn was in the party. He knows your daddy and the whole family,
and every old citizen of Keokuk. He left there in ’53. He built parson Hummer’s
Pavilion—and parson Williams’ house, and a dozen others. He says he used to go
with your father when he stumped the district, and sing campaign songs. He is a
comical old cuss, and can keep a camp alive with fun when he chooses. We had
rare good times out there fishing for trout and hunting. I mean to go out there
again before long.
I saw a man last June who swore that he knew of rich
placer diggings within 100 miles of Humboldt City. What became of our placers, that we intended to visit last May?
Have you still a good opinion of those claims in Santa
Billy, I can’t stand another winter in this climate,
unless I am obliged to. I have a sneaking notion of going down to the Colorado
mines 2 months from now.
Remember me to Dad [Cornbury S. Tillou] and the boys.
Enclosed please find that power of Attorney.
Times have never grown brisk here until this week. I
don’t think much of the camp—not as much as I did. Old fashioned winter &
snow lasted until the middle of June.
Your old friend
Sam L C
[MTL 1: 238]. Note: William Van Horn, age about 42
at this time.
16 Tuesday – Sam’s
article, “ANOTHER INNOCENT MAN KILLED,”
appeared in the Territorial Enterprise. Since the
shooting was on Sunday and the paper did not print on Mondays, Marleau thinks
this Tuesday was “likely the first day Samuel L. Clemens reported for the Territorial
Enterprise” [“Some Early” 12].
1 Wednesday – “The
Indian Troubles on the Overland Route,” attributed to Sam, ran in the Local
Column of the Enterprise. The article was about an
Indian attack on emigrants [Fatout,
MT in VC 12]. Sam later mentioned such an exaggerated approach to
the news in his first days on the paper. Nearly all copies of the Enterprise
for the period Sam worked there have been lost, but many papers in the West
borrowed and reprinted from other newspapers. This article was reprinted on Oct.
5 by the Marysville, California, Daily Appeal.
[Fatout, MT Speaks 1-4]. Also,
attributed, in the LOCAL
A GALE. – About
7 o’clock Tuesday evening (Sept. 30th) a sudden blast of wind picked
up a shooting gallery, two lodging houses and a drug store from their tall
wooden stilts and set them down again some ten or twelve feet back of their
original location, with such a degree of roughness as to jostle their insides
into a sort of chaos. There were many guests in the lodging houses at the time
of the accident, but it is pleasant to reflect that they seized their carpet
sacks and vacated the premises with an alacrity suited to the occasion. No one
hurt [ET&S 1: 389].
October 2–6 Monday – From the Enterprise:
– If a man’s sign blowing heavenward is a proof of it, than Justice Atwill was translated yesterday, and is doubtless
holding Court in Paradise this morning for his shingle, bearing the legend
“Justice,” was seen sailing over the Summit of Mount Davidson [Marleau, “Some
4 Saturday – The
hoax known as “The Petrified Man” ran in the Enterprise, and was re-printed by
many newspapers in the West—some swallowed it whole, and some, after a few
days, saw the joke [Fatout, MT Speaks 4; Mack 213].
petrified man was found some time ago in the mountains south of Gravelly Ford. Every limb and
feature of the stony mummy was perfect, not even excepting the left leg, which
has evidently been a wooden one during the lifetime of the owner – which
lifetime, by the way, came to a close about a century ago, in the opinion of a
savan who has examined the defunct. The body was in a sitting posture, and
leaning against a huge mass of croppings; the attitude was pensive, the right
thumb resting against the side of the nose; the left thumb partially supported
the chin, the fore-finger pressing the inner corner of the left eye and drawing
it partly open; the right eye was closed, and the fingers of the right hand spread
apart. This strange freak of nature created a profound sensation in the
vicinity, and our informant states that by request, Justice Sewell or Sowell, of
Humboldt City, at once proceeded to the spot and held
an inquest on the body. The verdict of the jury was that “deceased came to his
death from protracted exposure,” etc. The people of the neighborhood
volunteered to bury the poor unfortunate, and were even anxious to do so; but
it was discovered, when they attempted to remove him, that the water which had
dripped upon him for ages from the crag above, had coursed down his back and
deposited a limestone sediment under him which had glued him to the bed rock
upon which he sat, as with a cement of adamant, and Judge S. refused to allow
the charitable citizens to blast him from his position. The opinion expressed
by his Honor that such a course would be little less than sacrilege, was eminently
just and proper. Everybody goes to see the stone man, as many as three hundred
having visited the hardened creature during the past five or six weeks [ET&S 1: 159].
In other words, the petrified man was thumbing his
nose at Sam’s readers. It’s a wonder anyone took this “find” seriously, but
many did! Note: Budd lists four newspaper reprintings from Oct. 9 to
18, “which appear to be derived independently from the Territorial
Enterprise printing” [“Collected”
12 Sunday – Orion’s wife Mollie arrived
in Carson City with their seven-year-old daughter, Jennie
Clemens, after a steamer trip to San
Francisco a week before. Sam was still in Virginia
City [MTL 1: 242n1].
– An article of
Sam’s, title missing, appeared in the Enterprise:
William Young of Long Valley arrived in Virginia, lately,
with a drove of cattle, sold the same, and put the proceeds in his saddlebags
and the saddlebags on his horse. He then adjourned to the dance house, and
having partaken of the sinful pleasures of that place, he came back and found
that somebody had carried off saddlebags, money and all during his absence. The
fact of his leaving the horse and saddlebags lying around loose in the street
at night is sufficient proof of Young’s confidence in the honesty of our
citizens and the fact that the thief didn’t take the horse also when he took
the money, is sufficient proof that that confidence was not entirely misplaced
[Marleau, “Some Early” 12]. Note: Text recovered by Marleau from
Sacramento Daily Union,
Oct. 17 1862.
20 Monday – Mollie Clemens and daughter and Jennie arrived in San Francisco and were met by Orion. They left immediately for Carson
[MTP card file quotes Mack]. Sam was
aware of their arrival, as he wrote to them the next day.
21 Tuesday – Sam wrote from Virginia City to Orion & Mollie about how he made up the
story “Petrified Man?” which several newspapers took as an actual scientific
discovery. “I got it up to worry Sewall,” he wrote. G.T. Sewall was a judge of Humboldt County who was antagonistic toward Sam,
probably over some governmental duties of Orion, and had withheld information
from reporters in an officious and irritating way [MTL 1: 241].
late – Sam wrote
up his visit to the Spanish Mine and it was published in the Enterprise as “The Spanish Mine.” No copies of the Enterprise
for that time are extant, but estimates from reprints make this time probable.
THE SPANISH MINE
This comprises one hundred feet of the great
Comstock lead, and is situated in the midst of the Ophir claims. We visited it
yesterday, in company with Mr. Kingman, Assistant Superintendent, and our
impression is that stout-legged people with an affinity to darkness, may spend
an hour or so there very comfortably. A confused sense of being buried alive,
and a vague consciousness of stony dampness, and huge timbers, and tortuous
caverns, and bottomless holes with endless ropes hanging down into them, and
narrow ladders climbing in a short twilight through the colossal lattice work
and suddenly perishing in midnight, and workmen poking about in the gloom with
twinkling candles—is all, or nearly all that remains to us of our experience in
the Spanish mine [ET&S 1: 160-6].
to December – Sam neglected his letter writing for this period and
continued to work as a reporter for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.
– Local Column, Enterprise, two items from Sam:
“Silver Bricks” and “Building Lots” (Text
recovered by Michael Marleau from reprinting in The Mining and Scientific
Press of Nov. 8, 1862) [Marleau, “Some Early” 12].
November 1–10 Monday – Sam follows up: LOCAL
MAN. – Mr. Herr Weisnicht has just arrived in Virginia City from the Humboldt mines and regions beyond. He brings with him
the head and one foot of the petrified man, lately found in the mountains near
Gravelly Ford. A skillful assayer has analyzed a small portion of dirt found
under the nail of the great toe and pronounces the man to have been a native of
the Kingdom of New Jersey. As a trace of “speculation” is still discernible in
the left eye, it is thought the man was on his way to what is now the Washoe
mining region for the purpose of locating the Comstock. The remains brought in
are to be seen in a neat glass case in the third story of the Library Building,
where they have been temporarily placed by Mr. Weisnicht for the inspection of
the curious, and where they may be examined by any one who will take the
trouble to visit them [ET&S 1: 392].
11 to December 20 Saturday – The second Territorial Legislature of Nevada was in session. Sam covered the
session. According to Henry Nash Smith, “It is not clear how often he mailed dispatches back
to Virginia City, but by bringing together two passages from his reminiscences one may
infer that he sent a daily factual report and a weekly letter of a more
personal and humorous cast” .
14 Friday – On
the fourth day of the Legislative proceedings, The Speaker of the House
announced as reporters entitled to seats, Clement T. Rice, of the Virginia City Daily
Union; Samuel L. Clemens, Territorial Enterprise;
and Andrew J. Marsh of the Sacramento Union [Marsh 451].
November 30 Sunday – Sam’s 27th birthday.
5 Friday – One of
Sam’s weekly letters, “Letter from Carson City”
was dated this day and printed sometime in December in the Enterprise [Smith 35]. The
letter included: “Alford vs. Dewing,” “Internal Improvements,” and “Williams
Map.” Sam was the “Committee” in the first extant weekly letter:
REPORT ON WILLIAMS MAP
Your committee, consisting of a solitary
but very competent individual, to whom was referred Col. Williams’ road from a
certain point to another place, would beg most respectfully to report:
Your committee has had under consideration
The word map is derived from the Spanish
word “mapa,” or the Portuguese word “mappa.” Says the learned lexicographer
Webster, “in geography a map is a representation of the surface of the earth,
or any part of it, drawn on paper or other material, exhibiting the lines of
latitude and longitude, and the positions of countries, kingdoms, states,
mountains, rivers, etc.”
Your committee, with due respect to the
projector of the road in question, would designate what is styled in the report
a map, an unnatural and diabolical scrawl, devoid of form, regularity or
Your committee has in times past witnessed
the wild irregularity of the footprints of birds of prey upon a moist sea
shore. Your committee was struck with the strong resemblance of the map under
discussion to some one of said footprints.
Your committee, during his juvenile days,
has watched a frantic and indiscreet fly emerge from a pot or vase containing
molasses; your committee has seen said fly alight upon a scrap of virgin paper,
and leave thereon a wild medley of wretched and discordant tracks; your
committee was struck with the wonderful resemblance of said fly-tracks to the
map now before your committee.
Yet your committee believes that the map
in question has some merit as an abstract hieroglyphic.
committee, therefore, recommends, the Council concurring, that the aforesaid
map be photographed, and that one copy thereof, framed in sage brush, be hung
over the Speaker’s chair, and that another copy be donated to the Council, to
be suspended over the chair of the President of that body, as a memento of the
artistic skill and graphic genius of one of our most distinguished members – a
guide to all future Pi-Utes. All of which is respectfully
submitted [Smith 37].
12 Friday – Another
of Sam’s Weekly, “Letter from Carson City” was dated this day and printed sometime
in December in the Enterprise [Smith 38].
The ladies have not smiled much on
this Legislature, so far. Thirty-two of our loveliest visited the halls night
before last, though, which is an encouraging symptom. I cannot conscientiously
say they smiled, however, for the Revenue bill was before the House…The ladies
were well pleased with the night session, though—they enjoyed it exceedingly—in
many respects it was much superior to a funeral [Smith 41].
December 13–19 Friday – Sam’s article “The Pah-Utes”
is published sometime between these dates in the Enterprise, and reprinted in the Marysville,
California Appeal for Dec. 21.
well – it is touching to see these knotty and rugged old pioneers—who have
beheld Nevada in her infancy, and toiled through her virgin
sands unmolested by toll-keepers; and prospected her unsmiling hills, and
knocked at the doors of her sealed treasure vaults; and camped with her horned-toads,
and tarantulas and lizards, under her inhospitable sage brush; and smoked the
same pipe; and imbibed lightning out of the same bottle; and eaten their
regular bacon and beans from the same pot; and lain down to their rest under
the same blanket—happy, and lousy and contented—yea, happier and lousier and
more contented than they are this day, or may be in the days that are to come;
it is touching, I say, to see these weather-beaten and blasted old patriarchs
banding together like a decaying tribe, for the sake of the privations they
have undergone, and the dangers they have met—to rehearse the deeds of the
hoary past, and rescue its traditions from oblivion! The Pah-Ute Association
will become a high and honorable order in the land—its certificate of membership
a patent of nobility. I extend unto the fraternity the right hand of a poor but
honest half-breed, and say God speed your sacred enterprise [ET&S 1: 170].
16 Tuesday ca. – An article attributed to Sam that was
reprinted Dec. 18 in the Sacramento Daily Bee ran in the Enterprise. Sam was in Carson City and reported on the excitement of the hotly
debated “corporation bill” which prohibited that “the majority of stock in all
Nevada mining companies be owned by residents of the
Territory, that company offices be established there, and that corporations
formed under the laws of other states and territories be prohibited from doing
business in Nevada” [Fatout, MT in VC
24]. Nevada miners were tired of seeing “Montgomery street speculators”
play with their assets. Sam wrote:
Great excitement exists. Half the population is
drunk—the balance will be before midnight. The flags are flying, and a general
looseness prevails. Four hundred guns are now being fired on the Plaza . Note:
the bill was signed but later made of no effect.
19 Friday – By legislative act, Sam was made recording secretary of the
Washoe Agricultural, Mining and Mechanical Society. The position paid $300
per year. He served until the completion of the society’s fair in Oct. 1863
[MTL 1: 266].
23 Tuesday – Sam’s
article dated Dec. 23 ran in the Enterprise sometime later in the month. It was
republished in the Placer Weekly Courier of Forest Hill, Placer County on Jan. 17, 1863.
A BIG THING IN WASHOE CITY
OR THE GRAND BULL DRIVERS’ CONVENTION
Carson, Midnight December 23d.
On the last night of
the session, Hon. Thomas Hannah announced that a Grand Bull Drivers’
Convention would assemble in Washoe City, on the 22d, to receive Hon. Jim
Sturtevant and the other members of the Washoe
delegation. I journeyed to the place yesterday to see that the ovation was
properly conducted. I traveled per stage. The Unreliable of the Union went also
— for the purpose of distorting the facts. The weather was delightful. It
snowed the entire day. The wind blew such a hurricane that the coach drifted
sideways from one toll road to another, and sometimes utterly refused to mind
her helm. It is a fearful thing to be at sea in a stagecoach. We were anxious
to get to Washoe by four o’clock, but luck was against us: we were delayed by
stress of weather; we were hindered by the bad condition of the various toll
roads; we finally broke the after spring of the wagon, and had to lay up for
repairs. Therefore we only reached Washoe at dusk. Messrs. Lovejoy, Howard,
Winters, Sturtevant, and Speaker Mills had left Carson ahead of us, and we
found them in the city. They had not beaten us much, however, as I could perceive
by their upright walk and untangled conversation. At 6 P.M., the Carson City
Brass Band, followed by the Committee of Arrangements, and the Chairman of the
Convention, and the delegation, and the invited guests, and the citizens
generally, and the hurricane, marched up one of the most principal streets, and
filed in imposing procession into Foulke’s Hall. The delegation, and the
guests, and the band, were provided with comfortable seats near the Chairman’s
desk, and the constituency occupied the body-pews. The delegation and the
guests stood up and formed a semicircle, and Mr. Gregory introduced them one at
a time to the constituency. Mr. Gregory did this with much grace and dignity,
albeit he affected to stammer and gasp, and hesitate, and look colicky, and
miscall the names, and miscall them again by way of correcting himself, and
grab desperately at invisible things in the air — all with a charming pretense
of being scared.
The supper and the
champagne were excellent and abundant, and I offer no word of blame against
anybody for eating and drinking pretty freely. If I were to blame anybody, I
would commence with the Unreliable — for he drank until he lost all sense of
etiquette. I actually found myself in bed with him with my boots on. However, as
I said before, I cannot blame the cuss; it was a convivial occasion, and his
little shortcomings ought to be overlooked. When I went to bed this morning,
Mr. Lovejoy, arrayed in fiery red night clothes, was dancing the war dance of
his tribe (he is President of the Paiute Association) around a spittoon and
Colonel Howard, dressed in a similar manner, was trying to convince him that he
was a humbug. A suspicion crossed my mind that they were partially intoxicated,
but I could not be sure about it on account of everything appearing to turn
around so. I left Washoe City this morning at nine o’clock, fully persuaded
that I would like to go back there again when the next convention meets. [Mack.
224-27]. Note: John K. Lovejoy; Theodore Winters;
others not identified.
27 Saturday – A. J. Simmons,
later speaker of the house in the Nevada legislature, sold Sam ten feet in the Butte
ledge, Tehema Mining Company for $1,000, and ten feet in the Kentucky
ledge, Union Tunnel Company, both in Santa Clara
district of Humboldt County [MTL 1: 278 n8]. Dan De Quille left
Virginia City by overland stagecoach as planned for a
nine-month visit to his home in Iowa. Benson writes that the expected
absence of De Quille was one reason Barstow offered Sam a position . It was feared by some that Dan would not return (see May
1, 1863 entry and the following Dec. 28).
28 Sunday – Sam’s
article, “The Illustrious Departed,” ran in the Enterprise:
Old Dan is gone, that good old soul, we ne’er shall
see him more — for some time. He left for Carson yesterday, to be duly stamped
and shipped to America, by way of the United States Overland Mail. As the stage
was on the point of weighing anchor, the senior editor dashed wildly into
Wasserman’s and captured a national flag, which he cast about Dan’s person to
the tune of three rousing cheers from the bystanders. So, with the gorgeous
drapery floating behind him, our kind and genial hero passed from our sight;
and if fervent prayers from us, who seldom pray, can avail, his journey will be
as safe and happy as though ministering angels watched over him. Dan has gone
to the States for his health, and his family. He worked himself down in
creating big strikes in the mines and keeping all the mills in this district
going, whether their owners were willing or not. These herculean labors
gradually undermined his health, but he went bravely on, and we are proud to
say that as far as these things were concerned, he never gave up — the miners
never did, and never could have conquered him. He fell under a scarcity of
pack-trains and hay wagons. These had been the bulwark of the local column; his
confidence in them was like unto that which men have in four aces; murders,
robberies, fires, distinguished arrivals, were creatures of chance, which might
or might not occur at any moment; but the pack-trains and the hay-wagons were
certain, predestined, immutable! When these failed last week, he said “Et tu
Brute,” and gave us his pen. His constitution suddenly warped, split and went
under, and Daniel succumbed. We have a saving hope, though, that his trip
across the Plains, through eighteen hundred miles of cheerful hay stacks, will
so restore our loved and lost to his ancient health and energy, that when he
returns next fall he will be able to run our five hundred mills as easily as he
used to keep five-score moving. Dan is gone, but he departed in a blaze of
glory, the like of which hath hardly been seen upon this earth since the
blameless Elijah went up in his fiery chariot [ET&S 1: 171-4].
30 Tuesday – Sam’s Local Column was published in the Enterprise: “Board of Education,”
“Blown Down,” “At Home,” “The School,” “Sad Accident,” “Thrilling Romance,”
“Fire Almost,” “Private Party,” and “Our Stock Remarks”:
Owing to the fact that our stock reporter
attended a wedding last evening, our report of transactions in that branch of
robbery and speculation is not quite as complete and satisfactory as usual this
morning [ET&S 1: 175-6].
1862 or 1863 – 16th of unidentified month – Enterprise item by Sam. No title.
There is a rumor
on the streets yesterday that there was a party of guerrillas somewhere in the
vicinity of the Sink of the Carson, 500 strong. They are said to be well armed,
having with them two or three batteries of artillery. The story goes that two
of their number deserted and gave information of their whereabouts, etc., to
Gov. Nye and
that the Governor is now taking measures to squelch ‘em. We think their numbers
are underrated: it is our firm belief that there are at least 50,000 guerrillas
to every acre of ground about the Sink in the shape of mosquitos and
gailinippers [Marleau, “Some Early” 11].
[Text recovered by Michael Marleau from reprinting in unidentified
newspaper clipping. Reprinted in Mark Twain Journal, Fall 2004, 12]