The Gold Rush brought men from all over the world to California. About 2000 of those men were black Americans — both enslaved and free.
One group of African American miners banded together and called their mine the “Sweet Vengeance Mine.” There’s some attitude for you — the attitude that they could succeed as well as any men in the diggings. The mine was located in Brown’s Valley, Yuba County, not far from Marysville.
According to Delilah L. Beasley, in The Negro Trail Blazers of California (1919) the men were Gabriel Simms, Fritz James Vosburg, Abraham Holland, Edward Duplex, James Cousins, and M. McGowan. I found out a little about some of these men.
Beasley notes that “”Fritz James Vosburg and James Eiker organized a company and manufactured ‘Cocoanut oil soap’ in San Francisco.” These men were entrepreneurs.
Abraham Holland was a free man from New York State. With the money he made from the Sweet Vengeance Mine, he moved with his son to Oakland, where he worked as a Pullman porter. It was a good-paying job that allowed him to travel the country.
Edward Duplex was a native of Connecticut, born in 1831. He was active in civic affairs and the first representative from Yuba County in 1855 to the California Colored Citizens State Convention. In 1875, he moved his family to Wheatland, where he opened a successful barber shop and hair salon. In 1888, the board of trustees of Wheatland elected him mayor of the community. It’s likely that he was the first African American mayor west of the Mississippi.
For some photos of Edward Duplex’s barber shop on Main Street in Wheatland, including the plaque placed by the Native Daughters of the Golden West, see Gary Noy’s article at Snowy Range Reflections. I haven’t found any photos of any of the owners of the Sweet Vengeance Mine.