Grundry diary


Diary by JOHN GUNDRY (1826-1870) of Wendron, Cornwall.

 John Gundry was born Wendron 1826; married Margery Perry, a cousin, [and also a sister of brother Joseph's wife, Sally] in Wendron in 1852. He was a farmer who died Constantine in 1870. His farm, Trebah, is to this day, "in the family".

Special thanks to Peter Gundry for allowing the diary to be used.


Who in 1849 sailed on the Barque "Roslyn Castle" from Falmouth.


An account of voyage from Falmouth, Cornwall, to California via Mineral Point, Wisconsin.

Page 1.

Sunday, April 6th 1849. - Just after we left a great many got very sick and wishing themselves back again.

Monday, 7th. - I got sick myself and could not eat anything.

10th. - In bed all day. Vessel going first rate from 7 - 8 knots per hour.

11th. - Getting better again. Wind fair;

12th.- Wind fair. Going about 4 knots an hour. (The above date sequence seems muddled)

Friday, 13th. First thing in the morning I lost my cap, saw some porpoises.

Saturday, 14th.- Wind fair but little, going 3 - 4 knots an hour.

Sunday, 15th.- It blew a gale, very little cooking, ship rolling very much, going from 6 - 9 knots.

Monday 16th.- Going very slow from 1 - 1½ knots per hour. Tuesday 17th.- Spoke to the “Monument of New York” bound to Liverpool, in the afternoon saw 11 or 12 ships. Ship going 5 - 7 knots per hour. Wednesday 18th.- Saw a quantity of porpoises, ship going about 7 - 8 knots an hour, weather very hazy.

Thursday 19th.- Ship going about 4 - 6 knots an hour. There is a great deal of talk about getting on the banks now.

Friday 20th.- Vessel going 8½ knots an hour.

Saturday 21st.- Now on the Beaks, about 4 o’clock tried to sound but could not. 4knots an hour.

Sunday 22nd. - Very dirty and cold. In the afternoon sounded in 45 fathoms of water. We heaved the ship to, and we went fishing. About 12 o’clock the sailors saw an iceberg.

Monday 23rd.- Saw some grampuses and porpoises. Weather very fine but just a calm. In the evening the sailors showed us some of their tricks by getting some passengers in to play with them and blackening their faces and wetting their jackets, etc.

Tuesday 24th.- Wind ahead, very cold weather.

Wednesday 25th. - A calm. The captain and. two mates and one of the passengers visited a French brigg and had some fish and spirit off them. Several vessels in sight now.

Thursday 26th.- In the morning we had a calm and went fishing. Had fresh fish for dinner. In the evening about 7 o’clock a little girl to William Williams, a mason from Constantine, died.

Friday 27th.- About 8 o’clock in the morning she was committed to the deep, the funeral service was read by Captain Sadler. Weather very cold, freezing all day, wind north west.

Saturday 28th.- Wind foul.

Sunday 29th.- Fine breeze and fair, ship going 9 knots an hour. In the afternoon carried off the fore stinsail boom, We had preaching by Thomas Polkinhorn of Redruth.

Monday 30th. - Wind ahead.

Tuesday, May 1st.(1849).- Fairwind, ship going 3 - 6 knots an hour.

Wednesday 2nd.- Saw Newfoundland, it appears a hilly country. Wind ahead all day. Saw snow on the tops of the hills, we were within 8 - 10 miles of it.

Thursday 3rd.- wind ahead and blowing strong all day, doing nothing but tacking about all day to the mouth of the Gulf, Cape Ray in sight all the time.

Friday 4th.- Wind ahead in the morning, about 1 o’clock in the afternoon the wind turned and we made for the gulf.

Saturday 5th.- In the morning we saw St. Pauls, wind ahead and blowing

-gale. Ship laying to, under.

Page 2.

Sunday 6th.- We had a strong gale all. day, Helm lashed fast all day, wind right ahead and drifting out to sea; a great many wishing themselves home again.

Monday 7th.- Wind ahead and blowing strong.

Tuesday 8th.- Wind rather ahead but doing a little.

Wednesday 9th.- Head wind.

Thursday 10th.- Head wind.

Friday 11th.- In the morning we were in sight of Cape Breton. A dead calm all day. In the evening we hailed the brigg “Falcon” from Sunderland, been out 44 days, been here 20 days and been above St Pauls twice and driven back with the ice for it did not break up until the 4th so he said. We are now about the entrance of the Gulf, several ships obliged to put into Sidney.

Saturday 12th. - A fine day, a little breeze sprung up in the afternoon but right ahead, in the night about half past 10 o’clock, there was a great bustle on board our ship, by reason of a brigg called the “Maria of Limerick” striking against a piece of ice and knocking in her bow port which they say was very badly secured. There was 121 when they left and 3 died on the passage. 106 souls perished, our boat picked up 9 and the boat belonging to the “Falcon” picked up 3.. . On the next morning they went on board the “Falcon” and brought the other 3 on board our barque. The persons that were saved were the Mate, 2 seamen and the cook, 3 men, 3 boys and 2 women. From the time she struck until she went down was 1 hour, or one and half. They sank their own boat by reason of so much jumping into it.

Sunday 13th.- A fine day, wind ahead, in sight of St. Pauls. Monda 14th. - A fair wind but very little. We are just in the same place we were on the 2nd. instant, We saw the both Capes at the entrance of the Gulf and the both lights on St. Pauls.

Tuesday 15th.- A fine breeze and fair going up the Gulf, 7 - 8 knots an hour.

Wednesday 16th.- Head wind. In sight of Gaspe and the island of Anticostil or Anticosta. The pilot came on board at half past 7 o’clock in the morning..

Thursday 17th.- A fine day, saw some whales.

Friday 18th.- Just a calm, saw a great many whales.

Saturday 19th.- Head wind.

Sunday 20th.- Strong head wind.

Monday 21st.- Fair wind going 8 or 9 knots an hour.

Tuesday 22nd.- Fine breeze, entered the river of St. Lawrence. Saw a great deal of houses and fine farms, a great deal more on the south side than on the north. In the evening about 8 o’clock we anchored about 2 miles off the quarantine ground.

Wednesday 23rd.- A very stormy day.

Thursday 24th.- About 10 o’clock the doctor came on board and examined us and about half hour afterward they took the anchor up and made for ’Quebeck", got in about 4 o’clock.

Friday 25th.- We left about 5 o’clock in bhb afternoon by the “Quebeck” for Montreal and got in the next forenoon and heaved on to the passport for Kingston.

Whitsunday - We went through the lake of the thousand isles ahd got in to Kingston about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

Whitmonday 28th.- We walked about the city. It is a fine place but I think not so well as Montreal. In the afternoon about 4 o’clock we left again by the “New Era” for Toronto and got in the 29th about 7 or 8 o’clock and left again by the “Chief Justice” for Queenstown. then by railway for Chipperva about 9 miles. We saw the falls of Niagara as we were riding on, it is a grand sight, we did not stop. We got in to Chipperva and left again for Buffalo by the “Emera” and got in about 7 o’clock in the evening. Stopped there that night and walked about the city the next day, it is a beautiful place. In the evening we left again by the “Nile” for Chicago.

Page 3.

Thursday 31st.- We put into Cleveland.

Friday, June 1st.- We put into Detroit.

Saturday 2nd.- We put into Mackinaw and-got some fresh fish and saw a great many Indians and some wigwams. We got into Millwakie about 4 o’clock in the morning of the 4th June.

Stopped 9 months.

1850 : I left Mineral Point March 28th, 1850, in company with cousin John Walters and William Uren for California and reached Dubuque on the 29th, and started the next morning for Iowa City, and reached it on April 3rd. Came through Cascade, Animosa, Iowa City moorings, and went off the road to Monterum, came through Newton Fort Desmoine. Crossed the mokokeda, cedar Iowa skunk, desmoine coon, and three rivers and reached Hanesville on the 22nd. We have paid $1.75 per hundred lbs. for hay, and $100 per bushel for corn.

We left Hanesville Council Bluffs on the 25th April and crossed the Missourie river on the 26th, on the south side of the Platt river.

Sunday 28th.- We encamped on the salt creek.

Monday 29th.- We had a very storm$ night and had our tents blown down.

May 1st.- Saw the remains of several waggons that were deserted by persons that were carrying provisions out to the forts, We struck the Platt bottom and kept on the south side of it.

May 2nd.- We came through a large Indian village, it was deserted. The part of the country that we have come through is very thinly timbered.

6th.- Reached Fort Kearney 240 miles from the Missourie river, saw several young buffaloes which they had kept in a yard.

12th.- We crossed the south fork of the Platt river, it is a wide stream about from a quarter to half a mile wide and a sandy bottom. Several teams got stuck in it. Game appears to be more plentiful than before and feed-better. In the evening 5 men from our company went out to hunt buffaloes and killed one, and next morning 11 of us went out for some of it and killed another about 6 or 8 hundredweight. Antelope and wolves very plentiful.

15th. - Killed another young buffalo and met with a great number of Soux (Sioux or Siux) Indians which appear to be very friendly and begging off every team that pass by. We came through ash hollow today feed very scarce, scenery rather more picturesque than what vie had previously passed.

16th and 17th.- We met with a great deal of Indians and came through their village. They would trade anything for whiskey, sugar or bread but they did not care about money.

18th, - We passed by what is called the courthouse rick and got in sight of the chimney rock.

20th. - We got up to it. It is said to be 200 feet high, and it is composed of a kind of clay.

21st.- We passed Scots Bluffs and Cold Springs at which last place there is a trading post. The scenery that we passed through today was grand and picturesque, the bruffs high on each side and thinly scattered over with cedar wood.

22nd.- We passed another trading post.

23rd. - We reached Fort Laramie. The fort is situated on the Laramie river, we had to ford it to reach the fort, We stopped there and got some bread at 14 cents per lb. , then went out about 1½ miles and encamped.

24th.- Black hills in sight, had a hail and thunderstorm.

25th. - Encamped on Horseshoe Creek.

26th.- Laid over. Bad wind, rain, hails, snow, hot and cold.

27th.- Drove about 30 miles over the black hills, roads bad and feed very scarce. -

Page 4.

29th.- We crossed Deer Creek and struck the Platt river again, weather very warm, see snow on the tops of the mountains.

30th.-. We reached the ferry, had to pay $4.00 per waggon. and 25 cents per horse for crossing.

31st.- We crossed the river and, drove out about 12 miles through a sandy country thickly covered with wild sage and encamped on some mineral springs.

1850 June 1st.- We passed some alkali springs.

2nd.- We passed near some alkali lakes and saw a great quantity of saleratus, and encamped close to Independence Rock which rock is worthy of the emigrants’ notice.

3rd.- We passed the Devil’s Gate. It is a narrow pass through which the sweetwater river runs, the sides of which are 400 feet high.

6th.- We came by considerable snow and went a-snowballing one another.

7th.- We reached the famous South Pass of the rocky mountains.

8th.- We came to the junction of California and Oregon roads. We took the right-hand road and encamped near the big sandy.

9th.- We left the big sandy about 4o’clock in the afternoon for the desert lying between the sandy and green river which we consider about 45 or 50 miles. We reached the river about 10 or 11 o’clock in the morning when we had to swim our horses across the river, some men rafting and others took off the box of their waggons to cr0 ss the river. There was one man washed off his horse in fording The river and drowned.

11th.- There were 2 men drowned, we got ferried over in the evening,

$ 10 per waggon and had to work the boat a good deal ourselves to get across.

12th.- We left Green river. - The country that we passed through was very mountainous. 13th.- Just the same. Reached Hams fork otBear river, here we had

to see a little of the Elephant, we had to take out all our things out of the waggon and haul them across the stream in a waggon box and take the waggon abroad and put it over in the same way.

14th and 15th.- We had very cold weather, hail and snow. 15th - We crossed several branches of Bear river and decended some very steep mountains.

16th.- Vie reached Thomas’s fork of Bear river where we had to take our things out of the waggon and carry themacross the stream on horseback. Very cold, snowed a great part of the night. Good grass now.

18th. - We reached the Sodon springs and drank out of them, and nearby we came through an Indian snake tribe encampment and bought a pony. About 2 miles from here the road forks, one going to Fort Hall and the other the cut off to California, the road through the cut off is generally through a mountainous country and is said to be 108 miles through to the Fort Hall road again, but it is from 125 - 135 miles. -

Sunday 23rd. - We crossed several streams and made about 6 or 8 miles.

25th.- We reached the Salt Lake road again.

26th.- We came up by the Goosecreek and crossed a desert of 15 miles.

27th.- We came through thousand spring valley. Feed very scarce s

great part of the way. - -

Friday 28th.- I saw some hot springs and washed my hands into, it, it was so hot I could not bear to keep my hand in it.

Saturday 29th. - We reached the Humbolt river and had to take our things across the stream in the waggon box.

Sunday - Vie lay over and fárrièd several waggons across the stream. 1850 July 1st.- We went down the river and crossed another stream.

Page 5.

There was good grass some part of the way down the river, and a great part of the way there was scarce any grass and water bad.

Sunday 7th.- We reached what we supposed was St Mary’s Sink where we stopped to cut grass to carry across the desert. There was 1 man drowned crossing the river to see about grass.

8th.- We started in the evening about 8 o’clock expecting to drive to the Sulphur springs but was sadly disappointed, then we kept down the river until Sunday where we found plenty of good grass. Through the last week we have seen a great quantity of horses left on the road, some dead and some alive, and waggons left at almost every camping place. We left our own waggon and took Thomas Prisk’s and joined teams with Gregory Philips and the Davys. There is no grass to be got from where we started last Monday to where we now are except by going into water and mud two or three feet deep. Saw a great many nearly out of provisions, some entirely so. One company killed a mule to eat for want of other food. The water is bad down in this part of the river but we have to use that or none. We have seen dead horses floating down the river near where we were using it, and yesterday there was a man seen floating in the water but they could not take him out.

14th and 15th.- We lay over to rest our horses hoping to put them across this dreaded desert.

16th. - We left the slough about 6 o’clock in the evening and drove down to the sulphur springs where we reached in the morning about 5 o’clock. We lay over there until about 6 o’clock in the evening when we started out over the desert, drove all night and reached Carsons river about 1 or 2 o’clock the next afternoon. There was a great deal of suffering on the desert for want of water. One or two men died on the desert for want of water and a great many had to stop until they had water brought them. Horses and mules had to be unharnessed and drove to the water before they were able to take their loads in, and there was a great many left there never to see the water again, waggons, water barrels, and just every kind of thing was left on the desert, more horses and mules than oxen.

19th.- We drove up the river about 6 or 8 miles and lay over the rest of the day.

20th.- We saw some men out from the mines with provisions to meet the emigrants, flour $175 per pound.

21st.- We cut up the waggon to make pack saddles to go, and packing started in the evening about 7 o’clock for the 26 miles plain without water or grass.

22nd.-. We saw some more speculators out with provisions.

24th.- We passed some more warm springs and went through pass creek canyon, 5 miles, a most horrid road.

25th. - We ascended some very steep mountains and passed the summit of the sierra nevada or California mountains, snow very deep on the mountains and the most horrid roads that ever came under my notice. Meeting a great many speculators every day going out with provisions to meet the emigrants.

27th.- We drove about 1 mile south of the road and lay over just all day.

28th. - We came within about 1 mile of Weavertown.

29th.- We drove into the town and sold one of our horses for $55, and saw a great many folks digging. All appear to be getting some gold. We commenced to work on Weber Creek 2 or 3 days and then removed to Langtown or Placerville. Stayed in the gold mines until the 28th day of September 1851. Changed 12 ozs. of dust at $17.00 per oz. in Sacremento. Changed 1 oz. in St. Thomas’s at $16.50 per oz. On which day I left for Sacremento city and home in company with Christopher Clemence and several others going to Wisconsin to their families. We reached Sacremento City on the 29th about 11 o’clock

Page 6.

in the forenoon and left it again about 2 o’clock in the afternoon for San rancisco which we reached about 10 o’clock in the evening. We left San Francisco on October 1st. for Panama on board the steamship “Oregon” for St. Diego and Acapulco and reached Panama on the 18th October, and walked about 10 or 12 miles across the Isthmus of Panama and took lodgings for the night in a rag house. We reached Cruses the next evening and stopped that night at Millers Hotel, and next morning, 20th, hired a boat to take us down to Chagres for which we had to pay $5.50 each. (60 miles).

23rd.- We went on the Medway Steamship bound for Southampton. We sailed from Chagres on the 27th and put into Carthagena for the mail, and arrived at St. Thomas’s on the 31st, where we had to stop until the 5th November, taking in cargo and to stop for the mail, when we again started for Southampton and reached it on the 26th November 1851.


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