The Sensational Saga of Talbot H. Green — Part 3

Paul Geddes left Pennsylvania and made his way to New Orleans, probably by ship from New York City. From New Orleans, he took a steamboat up the Mississippi. He was getting as far away from the scene of his crime as he could. On board the boat he met an Englishman, Talbot Henry Green, and when the man died, he appropriated his name.

He continued from St. Louis up the Missouri River until he reached Westport, that jumping off place for the western plains. An emigration party was forming to journey to California. He couldn’t get any farther away from the States than California; he signed up. It was May, 1841.
He made a good impression on the other men. Nicholas “Cheyenne” Dawson recalled him as “a young man of evident culture and very pleasing address.” When the company gathered to organize and elect officers, Green was elected president. This was not a position with much responsibility. The Company had a captain, John Bartleson, and a trail guide, Thomas Fitzpatrick, who was the true leader, at least until the California-bound company parted from the larger group. But Green’s election was testimony to his instant likability. Many years later, “Cheyenne” Dawson wrote:

Among my overland comrades of ’41, the most to my liking and with whom I became most friendly was Talbot H. Green. Gentlemanly, kindly, genial, generous, he was a favorite with all. Before starting the trip he had provided himself with a case of medicines, and from his attention to the sick, he soon won the title of doctor. After we reached California, Green and I were separated, but I took great interest in him, and although I wondered somewhat at his and Grove Cook’s sudden affluence, no suspicion entered my mind, and for some years Green was, to me, just about the all-around best man I had ever known.

Dawson noticed that Green’s “most important possession seemed to be a quantity of lead that he was taking with him.” In the Utah desert the company had to abandon their wagons, but Green clung to his packet of lead. By the time they reached the Sierra Nevada the two men were sharing one mule, taking turns riding “Monte.”

It was in the Sierras that the lead-covered lump became too heavy for Green to carry. Dawson recalled that, “Green, whose pack of lead which he clung to most solicitously, had been growing heavier for his weakened animal, took Grove Cook with him, and going off into some gulch secreted or cached it.” After they reached the rancho of John Marsh, Green and Cook hired an Indian guide and went back for the “lead.”

We can only assume that the lump of “lead” was gold coin, covered over with a coating of lead. Perhaps the coin was in a leather bag and the bag was wrapped in lead sheets. Whatever its exact nature, it was Talbot H. Green’s grubstake in California. When Dawson met Green again after a year in California, he found that Green was thriving.


Thomas O. Larkin

I found T. H. Green in Monterey, clerking for T. O. Larkin. It was from his recommendation that I was now at Dye’s. Green was finely dressed, and apparently very prosperous. Soon after my arrival, he set up a store of his own out at a ranch near the redwoods. “Where did he get the money?” I queried of Larkin. “Oh, Green has plenty of money,” was the answer.

Dawson may have had his curiosity about Green’s special package, but he couldn’t guess how he had come by it.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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