Titus Hale — A Teen-Age Forty-Niner

Titus Hale came to California in 1849 at the age of fifteen. He and his father, Israel Hale, traveled the overland route from May to October, arriving in California by way of the Lassen Trail. While others in their wagon train went to the “Redding diggins”, Titus and his father made their way to Sacramento. Titus’s recollection of early days in Sacramento are a short but entertaining look at the life of a young forty-niner.

The first few days in Sacramento I spent in looking after the team that the cattle did not stray away. On election day [November 13] I went to Sutterville, looking for the steers. It rained and I went into a bakery to get my dinner, which consisted of 50 cents worth of ginger cake.

Two Indians came in and asked for Vino, after they drank, they tendered the baker $1.00, he demanded $4.00, — $2.00 per drink — as the Indians refused to pay he pulled out an Allen revolver and began to shoot. Now everyone knows that the safest place to stand when an Allen’s is fired is right in front of the gun. I got out as quickly as possible. It is unnecessary to say that the Indians were not injured, although the man fired five shots at them at a distance of not more than five feet.

After this little experience I went into the house where the election was held. Captain Sutter was there and they were having a boisterous time, they insisted on my voting. I suggested that I was rather too young, but that made no difference, but when I told them that if I must vote I would vote for Burnett, they concluded that I was not eligible.

Autobiography and Reminiscence of Titus Hale, Society of California Pioneers

Ethan Allen (not related to the Revolutionary War hero) had a long career as a firearms manufacturer in New England. His company made a 4-barrel, 5-barrel, and 6-barrel pepperbox revolvers. Evidently they did not have a reputation for accuracy.

1845 Allen & Thurber pepperbox pistol

John Sutter himself was a candidate for governor, so it is not surprising that Titus’s vote was rejected when he said he would vote for Peter H. Burnett. Sutter lost, and Burnett won, although Burnett made a poor showing as governor.

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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3 Responses to Titus Hale — A Teen-Age Forty-Niner

  1. Jodie says:

    Wouldn’t it be fascinating for the folks of this time to see what steps must be taken nowadays to vote? And the laws that are being suggested to actually suppress voting rights?

    • noseybear says:

      I would hope we could have voting laws that allow one citizen the right to cast one vote and insure that is what is actually is done. Doubt any of us want a syetem like Titus Hale experienced.

  2. Nosey bear says:

    Very interesting. With a reputation like that how did they continue to sell the Allen peperbox gun?
    Recently read the Troubled Life of Peter Burnett. Great read for both Oregon and California history. A letter by Burnett dated 11/8/1848 to the editor of the Star & Californian newspaper published on 12/2/1848 tells of the Oregon wagon train arrival on the Feather and Yuba River to mine gold. Have been looking for a list of the members of that group, but have not been successful so far. It would be great too be able to tie some of these individuals to Butte County History. Guess one hard way to do that would be through the records of the Oregon City cemetery. Am not ready to take on that project yet!

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