Mrs. Bridget M. Evoy was an enterprising woman of the Gold Rush. She came to California with her family on the Lassen Trail in 1849. She earned her gold by successfully running a hotel or boarding house called the “California House” in Briggsville.
Briggsville has completely disappeared into the dust of time, but it was located near the flourishing mining town of Shasta in Shasta County. Mrs. Evoy appears on the 1852 California census. She gave her age as 46 years old. But her tombstone says she was born in 1791 in County Wexford, Ireland, so in 1852 she was at least 60 years old. But why should a lady have to answer an intrusive question like that?
I learned about Mrs. Evoy from a descendant of hers, Mr. Craig Harwood, who contacted me in the hope that I could help him to find out more about the family’s experience coming to California. I can’t say that I was much help, but we did find that we each had a tidbit of information about Mrs. Evoy and her connection to John Bidwell.
On June 11th, 1853 Mrs. Evoy wrote to Bidwell asking him to send her a basket of vegetables.
Major Bidwell– Sir I send a basket by the stage driver and you will please send me such vegetables as you furnish Mrs. Myres, and also on the same terms, or I will settle with you when I go down. Respectfully yours, B.M. Evoy
Fresh vegetables were not easy to come by in Gold Rush California, but Major Bidwell had a thriving garden. In the back of an old ledger he kept a record of what was planted when for the year 1853. In April and May he (or his crew) had planted peas, onions, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, parsnips, cucumbers, beets, corn and melons. There is even an entry for one of his best customers, Mrs. B.M. Evoy.
Prompt service, as you can see. She wrote her letter on the 11th and sent it with the stage driver. On the 12th, 18 pounds of assorted vegetables and 9 pounds of peas were on their way back to her. It looks like peas were 20 cents a pound, which sounds cheap enough now but was probably high for the time. All prices in California were high.
I hope the miners she cooked for appreciated the fine fresh vegetables she served.
Next time: Mrs. Evoy’s adventure on the stagecoach