Letter probably written to brother James Addison & Elizabeth Bushnell. 'Watters' is their son.
                                                                         Smith Flat, Siera Co      Cal
Nov 22d th 1856

Dear Brother & Sister

I take my pen to drop you few lines to let you know that wee are as well as usual or as well as could be expected in such a cold changeable mountaineous and unchristian part of the world as this is for it has been snowing for the last 3 days & is at it yet & I dont know as it will ever stop. The show is 2 or 3 feet deep now & wee expect it will bee 5 or 10 feet here they say wee have some rains and awful storms this fall but not enough to give us any watter yet.  I have been working down in Runaka Creek for the last 4 or 5 weeks   wee have not had half watter enough to wash with but if this snow goes of f with a rain it will drive us out for awhile certain.  I have not made anything yet nor dont expect in this country if I make enough to keep us in grub it is all I expect & will be very well satisfied. I managed to do it so far & have got some provisions laid in for winter for everything is generally verry high here in the winter I have got about 10 cords of wood & 4 cords more paid for but cant get it now.

Wee received yours of Sept 21st some 4 weeks ago was glad to hear from you & that you were all well. You think this is as good a country as that.  Well if that is no better than this for a poor man I shall wish myself back in old Pike.  This is a good mining country for them thats got plenty of money. It takes money to make money.  These are nearly all deep or tunnel diggings. It has taken from 2 to 4 years to run some of these tunnels in to pay dirt & a great many of them never found any pay dirt or any gold & it takes money and labor to run them in.  There is no surface diggings about, except in some of the creeks & they are pretty deep & verry hard to work.  Wee have about 10 feet tunneled tuilings to wash off before we can get any thing. The gold is all on or in the bed rock. The creek has been worked over once or twice but we find some places that they have missed or could not work on account of watter so we pick up a little occasionally.  We make from 2 bits to 20 dollars a day. Well I have averaged little over 3 dollars a day for the last 3 weeks. It is course gold. The man I work with found a 9 ounce lump last summer & there was one taken out below that weighed 1005 ounces. We may posibly find some smaler ones.

Sunday morning  Nov 23d - I commenced this last night but did not get through.  It was snowing as hard as you ever saw it.  This morning it is quite warm and pleasant but it will snow some more yet before it gets through.  I expect if it snows much more it will be hard times up here this winter. Well I haven’t much of interest to write & cant write so you can read it.

I expect you have 30 or 40 acres of land under fence  & a good house in a good climate & every thing plenty. I am glad you are doing well for I have about given up all hope of ever more than making a living in this country. I don’t intend to stay up in these mountains longer than next spring if I can help it. If I can’t get up there I want to get down in a little warmer climate. I have got a pretty good house & kitchen & wood shed & a garden but water is scarce so the garden is not worth much. You want me to hurry & make my pile & come up there.  If I dont come up there until I make my pile I dont think you will see me soon but don’t know what I shall do yet.  I will work in the creek as long as I can make small wages.  I dont want to work in a tunel for 4 dollars day as it is very dangerous to.  There has been a good many cripled this fall in them.

Well I have no more to write now give our love & best wishes to one and all. Maria is verry anxious to get up there to see & bee with you all.  Watters goes to school now.  We have a small school here it cost about $5 a month a scallor.  He is gone to Sunday School now. Florence Maria is beginning to run around. Weell it is snowing again as hard as ever. I dont know how you get this. I will have to send by express. I think write & give all the news & believe me ever your bro

                                                           Wm  P Bushnell

P. S    I had like to forget there is a man here that came out with us who wants you to send a description of the country in general how a man can do with a small capital & co. & the price of land & whats the prospect of getting a small farm & the price af stock  & Co.

                                            adios                                      adios
[According to California Gold Camps by Erwin G. Gudde, there was a Smith Flat in Trinity Co., a Smith Flat District in Calaveras Co., and Smith Diggings in Sierra or Nevada Co. (they boarder one another). Of the later, he cites "In the spring of 1854, the Alta  (Daily California newspaper) reprints items from local newspapers, according to which the miners averaged an ounce a day. One company took out 182 ounces in one week, and in the Dutch Tunnel a nugget of twenty-three ounces of solid gold was found in February according to the Sierra Citizen (reprinted in Alta, March 16, 1854)".]

Home       Top      Genealogy       Biographies       Diaries      Histories      Photos      Recipes      Websites