Author Archives: nancyleek

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.

“Dear Charlie” — A Gold Panning Contest

Horace Snow tells of a competition he and his brother took on, just to liven things up in the summer of 1854. They decided to take turns washing out pans of gold to see which one of them could wash … Continue reading

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“Dear Charlie” — Three Cheers for Snow

Nearly every account of any man who came to California to get rich mining for gold will say that after a few months, or weeks, or days in the goldfields the fellow gave up the attempt and turned to “mining … Continue reading

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“Dear Charlie” — A Day in the Life

Horace Snow spent most of his almost two years in the California goldfields in Agua Frio, a little mining camp in Mariposa County. On October 9th, 1854 he wrote to Charlie Fitz to “tell you of one day in our … Continue reading

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“Dear Charlie” — Jury Duty

Gold miners were no more eager to serve on a jury in 1854 than most citizens are today, although they rarely had to show up for more than one day. Horace Snow writes: April 4th: Tomorrow I am obliged to … Continue reading

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“Dear Charlie” — What’s for Dinner?

Young men of the 19th century¬† were not accustomed to doing their own cooking. They had mothers, wives, or boarding house landladies to take care of that. But in the goldfields and mining camps, men had to fend for themselves. … Continue reading

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“Dear Charlie”

Meet Horace Snow, young Yankee in California, seeking gold and enjoying an existence far different from life in old New England. The Forty-Niners and the other gold seekers of the 1850s were for the most part literate men, and so … Continue reading

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Come hombres all! A Madrigal!

As usual, I was looking for one thing in the old newspapers, and came up with another. Most businesses advertised their wares by simply listing them, but not J. L. Polhemus. He had a lively and creative mind, and put … Continue reading

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