Part II






Printed by American Printing Co.

St. Joseph, Mo.


No one, unless he has passed through the same experience, can realize my felings [sic] under this sad bereavement. No relative nearer than two thousand miles; and not even an intimate friend near me, to whom I could look for comfort. The board I had to pay, for little more than shelter, was fifty dollars, and when it was done my purse was empty. I had depended on my brother to decide every important matter that came up before us, but now, he was gone and I must use my own judgement and exercise my own will in every decision I was required to make. His Godly example had been to me a source of strength, but it came before me now only in memory. Not a line had been received from home to tell of the good or ill that had come to the loved ones. We had written to them frequently and all our letters were received and answered, but from some cause the answers never reached us. It was some two or three weeks before my health became normal, but during that time I was able to render the only merchant in the valley some assistance, making one or two trips to a trading house some forty miles down the divide and on the north side of the North Fork of the American River. One morning, while preparing to make one of these journeys, three men came into the Valley and inquired for me. Two of them were from my own county, the other was from St. Louis. They asked for direction to some point if I knew of such, where they could mine with profit. I gave them the desired information and the privilege of using a tent and mining tools which they would find some distance above the point to which I directed them.

I was much distressed with homesickness during this period, and in my petitions to my Heavenly Father, asked Him to bless me with sufficient means to return to my home and friends in Illinois. Finding that I was wasting time working with the man with whom I had been associated since my brother's death, and desiring to look into the face of one I had known in childhood, I went from the mouth of Eldorado Canon down the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River to the place I had directed the strangers. It was a lonely walk of about six miles. The mountains on both sides of the river rose far above it, but I was too homesick to enjoy their rugged grandeur. Not only was I homesick, but penniless; and my object in going to my tent was to get a crowbar which I hoped to sell for enough to pay for my expenses to Bear River, where I hoped to find a friend by the name of Scott. Coming to the tent and finding that someone had taken possession of it, and that the tools were gone I was angry, and for a moment the homesickness was forgotten. Leaving the tent in which I had spent so many pleasant hours with my brother, and going down the river a short distance, I saw three men at work on a short strip of ground between a canal and the river. This increased my anger, for I had an interest there, but it was soon dissipated. Coming opposite to where they were at work, I recognized them as the men I had directed but a few days before to the place where they were working, and had given permission to use the tent and the mining tools. Recognition was mutual, and after asking the usual question, "Does it pay," and receiving and affirmative answer, I was invited to cross the canal and judge for myself, as it was almost night, and they were going to wash out what had been gathered that afternoon. Judging from what they panned out, they were making about eight dollars per day to the man. They gave me a very cordial invitation to spend the night with them, to which I gave cheerful consent. As I had told them that I had an interest in the claim to which I had directed them, and gave them the use of a tent and mining tools, they could not do less than offer to take me in as a partner. This offer being the brightest prospect that had presented itself since the death of my brother, I gave up my journey to Bear River, and accepting it, cast in my lot with these new-found friends. Our labors together were pleasant and profitable, and at the end of three or four weeks I realized that my prayer for means enough to take me home were answered. I had three shares in the claim above where we had been working, and as the dam and canal were in good condition, there was a prospect of doing successful mining during the summer. These shares I sold to the men with whom I had been working, for fifty dollars a share, twenty-five dollars down, the balance when worked out, providing they paid for working. This, added to what I had already secured, would be sufficient for the long journey. The two men from near my home intrusted me with small amounts to carry to their families, with the understanding that if by any mishap it became necessary for me to use a part of it, I had the privilege of doing so.

At this point in my narrative it will not be out of place to refer to some of the causes of failure on the part of so many whom their friends had good reason to think should have succeeded. It was not because they were unwilling to work, neither was it because there was lack of gold in the mining districts, which had been sought out and quickly peopled with those who were anxious to secure a fortune in a few days. The first cause of failure was want of exercising good judgement, just as men must do in any calling in life in which they may engage. Too many seemed to think that by going from place to place and digging a hole here and there they would, by and by, strike it rich. This did occur in some instances, but it was not a wise rule to follow. A second cause of failure was neglect to follow up every indication that gave promise of success. I will never forget the first particles of gold upon which my eyes rested. I felt at the time that thorough work should be done to ascertain whether the plat of ground that could have been claimed would pay; but my messmates passed it by without even taking out a pan full of dirt and making a slight test, which would have required but a few moments of time. A few weeks after, passing the same plat of ground, I saw that thorough work had been done, and that it had paid, back quite a distance from the bank of the creek. No doubt hundreds of dollars had been taken out of the claim. A third cause of failure was unwillingness to be satisfied with reasonable wages. This led men to listen to the wonderful stories that were told, and make hard and expensive journeys without promise of sure success. The fourth and greatest cause of failure, was the forming of too large companies. The number that could work profitably together depended on the nature of the mines in which the work was being done. On bars and in dry or placer diggings, from two to three could work successfully, and in many places one man with a long tom could do well.


It was with a thankful heart I bid these kind friends goodby and turned my face homeward. On the second evening of my journey I reached the village of Auburn, and spent the night with two young men I had known when we were boys together, back in the old Keystone State. One of these young men was murdered some two or three years after my return home, and his body burned in his own cabin. The crime was shrouded in mystery. Of one thing I was satisfied, the last evening I spent with him--it was his failure to make a proper use of the precious privileges he had enjoyed in the home of his childhood. I bid these two friends good-by in Sacramento, and took passage on a river steamer for San Francisco, reaching the city in the evening. The following day I took passage on the barque Elizabeth for Panama, being the first whose name was entered on the list. The agent in charge was a pleasant, middle-aged Frenchman. He bid me make my home aboard, as boarding was furnished for all who took passage on his vessel This was a great help to me, as my limited means required economy. Although the fare was not equal to that of a good boarding house, it was an improvement on that to which I had been accustomed in the mines, and the bunks in the steerage were new and the bedding clean. The fare to Panama was seventy-five dollars in cabin, and forty in steerage.

The list of passengers filled up slowly, and a week or ten days passed before our barque was ready to sail. These days were spent very pleasantly, as there was much that was interesting to be seen in the new and growing city. From the high ground back of the city and on the southern side of the Golden Gate we had a fine view of the harbor, the beautiful lowlands on its Eastern shore, and the snow-capped mountains in the far distance. It was also a source of enjoyment to watch incoming and out-going vessels, from the magnificent ships of civilized nations to the clumsy junks of the heathen Chinese. During those days of waiting I looked on the flags of many nations, but among them all them was none so beautiful as the "Star Spangled Banner."

Our period of waiting was ended by the transfer of a number of men who had taken passage on a ship which was anchored next to ours. This filled our list and preparation was at once made to begin our long journey. The crew came on board, consisting of captain, first and second mate, and six or eight sailors. The captain was a pleasant young man, but not disposed to hold intercourse with steerage passengers. The first mate failed to gain their respect, but the second mate soon become [sic] a favorite with us all. It was somewhat difficult to work the vessel out through the shipping into the open water of the harbor and enter the Golden Gate, and when that end was obtained the wind was not sufficient to fill the sails, and as the pilot failed to "whistle it up," we had to wait until the next morning, when a fine land breeze carried us out into the broad Pacific. The first case of sea-sickness afforded much amusement, and the merriment increased as one after another of those who laughed the loudest would grasp the bulwark of the vessel, and heave up Jonah. Thus it continued until all but three of the steerage passengers had turned themselves inside out and indulged in a season of groaning. I had great reason to be thankful that I was one of the three.

Among the men transferred from the ship to our vessel were four men from my own County. Three of them were brothers, and the other related to them by marriage. Being all honorable, upright men, and pleasant travelling companions, it added much to my enjoyment. We had a fine breeze for almost two weeks, and were able to sail directly on our course. During this time a sad incident occurred, resulting from the most contemptible of all sins, that love of money that leads men to make it in a small way, and through the injury of their fellow men. A middle aged man, one of the steerage passengers, brought a case of brandy on board, no doubt intending to sell it at a good profit, but in this he was disappointed. Some of the passengers, or one of the sailors, stole it while he slept, and the day after the theft, he, with many others, witnessed the sad spectacle of a drunken sailor, the finest looking man, physically, on board the vessel, put in irons and carried below, where he was confined in the sail room during the remainder of the voyage, and was placed in the hands of the American Consul at Panama. What punishment he received I had no means of knowing, but he extremity would be death. Little did this contemptible mannon worshipper realize the extent of the evil that was wrought by his effort to aid his fortune by starting a saloon on the Pacific Ocean.

We had on board another man who loved the intoxicating cup, that shared in the stolen brandy and became intoxicated several times during the voyage. He was called "Ham" by all the passengers. During one of these periods of drunkenness he told me the story of his wrecked life. He was a Kentuckian by birth, but had, years before our meeting, left his native state under a dark cloud that overshadowed this early manhood and embittered all the years that lay between those sunny hours and that in which he told me his sad story. He had a pleasant home and was surrounded by loving friends, but in an unguarded moment, and no doubt when intoxicated, he had a difficulty with a brother-in-law and fired a shot which he supposed proved fatal. He at once fled from his home and had been living in Texas, a fugitive from justice, and without any positive knowledge of the result of his criminal act. He had spent a year or more in California and was returning to his Texas home. Tears coursed down his cheeks as he told his sad story. Of this man we will have more to say hereafter.

Space in which to take exercise was limited, but what there was was well improved. All our amusements were of an innocent nature. I did not even see any of the steerage passengers playing cards during the voyage. Each day there was something interesting to be seen by us. Now it was a whale spouting off to starboard; now a sword-fish in pursuit of game off to the larboard; now it was hundreds of porpoise spouting water into the air and sporting in the sunshine until the surface of the sea was turned into foam; or perhaps a sail hove in sight, but so far in the distance that much time elapsed before we could see the hull. The weather became intensely hot even before we passed into the Torrid Zone; and after it was reached the heat became more intense during the day, but the evenings and night were pleasant. We were becalmed for one full week of the coast of Mexico. The water was as smooth as glass, and during that time not a ripple stirred the surface. This was the most unpleasant period of our voyage. Our vessel rose and fell with the gentle swells, while the sails idly floated against the masts; but a breeze struck us at last and again we were on our way.

Another incident of a sad nature occurred during the voyage. It was a burial at sea, that of a middle aged man. He was in feeble health when he took passage, and failed to derive any benefit from the pleasant breezes that were bearing us southward, but gradually grew weaker, until finally the end came, and his body was committed to a watery grave. The body was wrapped in coarse cloth, heavy weights were fastened to the feet, it was laid on a wide plank, one end resting on the bulwark of the vessel, the other supported by two sailors. The burial service of the Episcopal Church was then read by the Captain, at the conclusion of which the sailors raised up the end of the plank and committed the body to the keeping of the broad Pacific. The saddest part of all was the fact that he died without hope. He was a Deist, and spent much of his time in trying to convince others of the truth of his dogma.

At last the hour came when the officers informed us that our journey was almost at an end, and a feeling of joy illuminated the countenance of every passenger. The anchor chains were taken up and all needed preparation made for the glad moment. Just before we entered the harbor we passed two ships. One had been out seventy-two days from San Francisco, the other seventy-four. We had made the journey in forty days. About the middle of the afternoon of the last day we cast anchor near a small island. the health officer came on board and by and by a small steamer came alongside of our vessel, and those of us who were ready went on board, and in an hour we found ourselves in a very old, and, to us, a strange, city. We were very much bothered for a short time with our sea legs, and realized that we were walking like blind horses; but by and by we ceased to step high, and again walked like land lubbers. We secured comfortable lodging and remained in the city from Friday evening until Monday morning. We found much during our short stay to interest us. The houses in the business part of the city were built of stone; many of them three stories high, with a narrow veranda around each story. The streets were narrow and at that time were not in good sanitary condition. In fact the entire city was filthy, and the only scavengers to be seen laboring to benefit its condition were the buzzards, which were congregated in large flocks in the outskirts of the city. They were almost as tame as our domestic fowls. The moral condition of the city was not any better than its sanitary condition. Like all Central and South American cities, Jesuitism had shut out the light of the gospel and bound its inhabitants in blindness and superstition. On Sabbath morning we went to one of the largest churches in the city. Worshipers were coming and going, none of them remaining but a short time. The services were only a series of ceremonies in which we could see nothing that was edifying.


We left Panama on Monday morning for Gorgona, which is near the head of navigation on the Chagres River. The distance was said to be thirty miles, and we hoped to reach it by evening. It was now about the middle of May, and the sun had reached a point more than eight degrees north of the equator, so the days and nights were about equal, and at noon its position in the heavens was almost vertical. The heat during the day was intense, but the nights were pleasant. We were all in good health, and thought a walk of thirty miles would only be play for us; but by evening we found that we had not made more than two-thirds of the distance, and were glad to tarry overnight at a rude hotel, which had been built by an enterprising man, who not only saw its need, but knew it would pay. The trail over which we passed was good, there being but one hill of any consequence over which we had to pass. It was the low range that connects the Rocky Mountains with the Andes. Only in a few places did we see large trees, but most of the distance there was a heavy growth of vegetation. One species of plant had leaves three or four feet long and two feet broad. We were on the way the next morning as soon as we could see the trail, and for the first time heard the cry of wild monkeys in the dense forest through which we were passing. We reached Gargona about ten o'clock a. m. The first man who attracted my attention was our friend Ham. He had crossed the day before on a mule, and had been drinking, as was his habit when he could secure anything that would intoxicate. Poor fellow! He would not have reached the shores of his native land, but for the timely aid of his friends. More than once he had fallen when intoxicated. Here, as everywhere else that money can be made, we found men from the States, most of whom had left their consciences, that is, if they had any, behind them.

We remained in the village until the morning of the second day after our arrival. During that time but one incident occurred worthy of note. Two of the natives had an altercation that came near ending in blood-shed. From words they came to blows, but used the heel of the hand instead of the fist. After a few blows had passed between them, one used the ram's weapon (his head), which was followed by the gleaming of a sharp knife in the sunlight, and a foot race that favored the pursuer; but at this juncture the Alcalde (an officer corresponding to the city marshal with us), appeared on the scene and arrested them. The next stage of our journey was by water, and a boat and boatmen were necessary. These were sought for with success, and arrangements were made to take passage the following morning. Our little company, comprised of fifteen, was made up of men who had become well acquainted with each other, and in whom each one had full confidence.

The next morning we took passage in a long boat for Chagres. The distance was sixty miles, and the fare for the fifteen was sixty dollars. The crew consisted of three: a helmsman and two oarsmen. The only incident that occurred during the voyage was a shipwreck, but no lives were lost. About noon the helmsman, in a very excited manner, called to the oarsmen to pull to the starboard, but the warning did not come soon enough, and we struck a snag that was just above the surface of the water. Our boat was turned so that we struck it amidships on the larboard side, making a hole just below the water line. The water poured in by the bucketful, but my coat and blankets saved us from going down amid stream, as they were at the point where the snag pierced us, and by pressing them firmly against the side of the boat, we were kept afloat until we reached the shore. Temporary repairs were made and we proceeded on our voyage, but did not reach Chagres until after dark. At that time (1851) there were no towns between Gorgona and Chagres. In fact, we saw but few houses, and those we did see were little better than hovels.

Chagres, at that time, was a village of several hundred. A number of those on the north side of the river were from the States, and their object in locating in a place where neither health nor comfort abounded was to make money, and in doing so they did not follow very closely the advice the Quaker gave his son. He bade his son when beginning business for himself: "Make money; make it honestly if you can, and if not, make it anyhow." Of the truthfulness of this statement the following incident is a good illustration: A Catholic priest, having under his protection six nuns, came in on a steamer from New York. Their destination was Portland Oregon. We had noticed them several times and had talked to each other of the danger to which they would be exposed if they went up the river in an open boat, and had decided to prevent it if possible. There were two little steamers which carried passengers to a village some distance above Gorgona, making the distance over land much shorter. One of these went up the river every other day, and on it they could make the journey in comfort and safety. Another element of danger which taking passage on the steamer would eliminate, was a self-constituted guard who accompanied them every where they went. He had belted on his person a knife and revolver. To men who had crossed the plains, spent many months in the mines of California, and made a long sea voyage, none of whom thought of carrying arms, he appeared contemptible. He was a pimp, or else his looks belied him. Just such a man would be more likely to become a foe and rob those who were in his power, than to guard them in a any hour of danger. The time for action on our part came the second day after they landed. In the morning we saw them, in an open boat, cross the river to the native town on the south side, and waited with some impatience for their return. Finally the longed-for moment came, and when the boat reached the wharf there were at least twenty men at the landing to meet them. The native in charge, seeing our intention, called to his oarsman to shove the boat out from the landing; but the order came too late. Two of us had seized the chain attached to the bow and held her fast. Our spokesman then informed the priest that we would not permit them to attempt the voyage up the river in an open boat, when by waiting a day they could go safely on one of the little steamers. His answer was: "I have paid our passage and we will have to go in this boat." He was informed that all he would have to do was to come on shore and bring the ladies with him, and the pecuniary difficulty in which it would involve him would be taken care of. By this time most of the nuns were shedding tears, but after a short parley our wishes were complied with. The ladies were then taken to another hotel where the rooms were secured for them. The next step was the refunding of the passage money which had been paid by the priest to a man then occupying a room in the hotel where we were boarding. The amount was two hundred dollars. When informed that he must refund it, he asserted which an oath that he would not comply with our request. He was then informed that he had twenty-five minutes in which to attend to this important matter. If he complied with our demand, good and well; if not, he must be prepared to meet the consequences. Guards were so place that he had no opportunity to ecape [sic]. There was no further communication with him, but all patiently waited, hoping that harsh measures might be avoided. When the time had almost expired the proprietor of the hotel came into a large room joining the one which was occupied by our friend, and informed us that if we would not proceed any further he would refund the money. His offer was accepted, and the following morning we had the pleasure of seeing the priest and his party of nuns take passage in the little steamer and start on their voyage up the river in safety and comfort.

Another evidence of the money-loving propensity of the men who had located here, was the fact that, within three-fourths of a mile of their places of business, the corpse of a man had lain in a small arbor exposed to the gaze of passers-by for months. The flesh had fallen from his cheek bones and nose, and his clothes were rotten. Around the arbor was a large number of empty bottles, clearly indicating the kind of life he had lived, and the cause of his death. As we think of this sad sight, two questions are suggested by it--First, did this poor drunkard have any friends who were waiting and watching for his return home, a mother, a sister or a wife, who would have received him with open arms and loving kisses? Alas! if so, they waited in vain, for his bones have been either gathered up by the passers-by, or today lie bleaching in the rays of a torrid sun. Second, how destitute of self-respect must that community be that fails to bury its dead, so that the passers-by will have no cause to tell of its shameful neglect.

After waiting a week or more we secured passage to New Orleans, and went on board the Falcon, an old steamer that had been used as a transport during the Mexican war. We reached Havana in six days, and were then transferred to the Cherokee, a fine new steamer, for which we had cause to be thankful, as the Falcon was not seaworthy, and for that reason did not enter any port of the United States. Two days were spent pleasantly in the harbor, and one on shore. We saw many things that interested us, and enjoyed the fine tropical fruit, which was abundant and could be bought at a reasonable price. We left Havana the 8th day of June and reached New Orleans the morning of the 11th. Our journey from San Francisco to New Orleans was not only full of interest on account of the incidents which occurred by the way, but on account of what we saw. We saw many things that were new and strange to youthful eyes, and so distinctly are they photographed on memory, that in imagination we can see them almost as distinctly as when we looked upon them with the natural eye.

Our experiences in New Orleans were not as pleasant as we had anticipated. As is the case when a few friends are traveling together, there is a leader to whom the others look for guidance, and in most cases follow. The leader of our little band was a Mr. Hymer, the oldest of three brothers. Two runners met us as we landed from the steamer. One of them was a gentleman, the other devoid of principle; but Mr. Hymer failed to read his character, and willingly followed him. The first thing inquired for was a cheap restaurant. After this was found and breakfast eaten, a house of exchange, where we could receive coin for our gold dust, was next on the program. The man who had the honest face took us to an honest house, but the amount offered was not satisfactory t Mr. H., as the other gentleman could take us to a house where we could get ten cents more per ounce. We warned Mr. H. of danger in weights, but still, like silly sheep, we followed him, and the ten cent man was patronized. Our leader emptied the contents of his purse into the scale and the weight was correct. The second man was cheated, but was too dull in figures to give warning. I was the third, and when the scales were balanced I made out the amount, but before I could grasp the scale containing my hold, he (the man who had weighed it) seized and poured it into a bowl, in which he had emptied that of the two which preceded me. Turning to the others, I told them I had been cheated, and stepped aside to count the coin I had received. The man who had led us to this dishonest house, in a very officious way, wished to know how much I had, and was informed that all he needed to know was that I had been cheated out of seventy-five dollars, and he took it for granted that he was safer somewhere else and disappeared. The next man emptied his gold into the scale, at the same time telling the man who did the weighing that he could not have it if his weight did not hold out, and made him announce the amount. He then poured it into his purse, and we went to the house first visited by us, where he received honest weight, but ten cents less per ounce. Returning to our friends, we were astonished to learn that two of them, after being warned, had allowed themselves to be cheated by these scoundrels. Having cheated us out of two hundred and fifty dollars, we charged them with dishonesty. At this juncture a man who had come through from San Francisco with us came in and asked them if they bought gold dust, and after receiving an answer in the affirmative, he was told by one of our number that they would cheat him if he sold his gold to them. This so angered them that one of them tried to frighten us by requesting the other to go for a policeman. Some [of] our company were anxious to leave, but were prevented by the others until he returned, of course without an officer. Having no further business with these men and no means of recovering the gold, we resolved to bear it with patience, and profit by the lesson experience had taught us; the principle of the point of which is this: Never follow a ten cent man, when your better judgement leads you to fear the loss of dollars by it.

On the evening of the 11th we took passage on a large steamer for St. Louis. Our voyage up the Mississippi was a very pleasant one and was made in six days. At the mouth of the Red River our friend Ham, who had been a conspicuous figure during the long journey, left us. Poor fellow! We very much fear that his dust is now sleeping in a drunkard's grave.

After spending a pleasant day in the city, we took passage on an Illinois River packet for Fredricksville, which place we reached on the evening of June 20th, 1851. Here I separated from my companions with whom I had traveled some 5000 miles. While contemplating the unpleasantness of a walk of nine miles, I was accosted by a stranger, who pointed to a fine horse in which stood hitched near by, and said: "That is my horse, you get on him and go home, and you can send him back to me in the morning." This act of kindness on the part of a stranger has never been forgotten.

As I had not yet heard from home for more than a year, my anxiety increased as the moment of meeting with loved ones drew near; and I was constrained, when within three miles of home, to inquire at a house by the wayside, if all family were living and well. The answer brought comfort to my heart. The three miles were quickly made, and a glad and somewhat surprised household have a warm welcome to the long absent one.

Fifty-four years have passed, moment by moment, into the eternity which is behind me, and all but two of those who composed the household at that time have received a mansion from Jesus, in the realms of Eternal Glory; and now, as I draw nearer and nearer to that same Eternal Home, no anxiety regarding their safety clouds the joy of meeting, for no sorrow, or sickness, no death can every enter the Glorious Home where they are dwelling.


I now enter upon a period of my life, in which the story I have to tell is only commonplace. I took up the vocation I had laid down in the spring of 1849, not only with willing hands, but a thankful heart, realizing that the comforts and pleasures of home were of more intrinsic value than all the gold that could be acquired in the mines of California by years of toil. Although I failed to improve my condition financially, I gained that which has been a blessing to me through life: First, knowledge gained from travel and the various experiences through which I passed; second, a deep insight into human character by the study of men from a favorable standpoint; third, restoration to health, after two years of trouble with indigestion.

Amid the peace and quiet of home, the blessings flowing from the public worship of god in His house on the Sabbath, and mingling with the young people of my age caused life to flow in a very pleasant channel; and although there were not many flowers growing along its margin that I was permitted to gather, those which came into my possession were very fragrant. Many new acquaintances were formed; among them a young man by the name of Clark. A warm friendship grew up between us, which resulted in my becoming acquainted with his most intimate friends. Among them was a family by the name of Owen, which consisted of the parents, one son and five daughters. Their's was a pleasant Christian household, in the bosom of which one who loved the Savior could find repose. Young Mr. Clark had selected the third daughter for his companion for life, and as his love was reciprocated by her, their engagement was known of and approved by the family, and the position enjoyed by him in the household gave to any friend he might bring into the family circle a pleasant welcome. I had not been in the company of these young ladies but a few times until I saw in the eldest daughter that which drew me to her, and my visits became more frequent. I did not, however, allow myself to become too deeply involved in that mysterious influence called love, until I could provide a home for her whom I hoped would become my wife. This being satisfactorily arranged, I watched with growing interest the unfolding of that mutual affection which had grown up between us, and with confidence declared my love for her and received in return the tender affection of a pure loving heart.

Under that mysterious influence which had bound me with such pleasant bonds, I was constrained to write this little poem:

Dear gentle maid, if I but know

That I was loved by thee;

Then ever faithful would I prove,

And ever constant be.

No other one can ever gain

What you may now possess,

If you will only smile on me,

If you my love will bless.

Though fair as lilies she might be,

And blooming as the spring;

With voice as sweet as David's harp,

And naught but love would sing.

But if no love you have fore me,

Then mine must shortly fade;

And fly upon the wings of time,

Into oblivion's shade.

Such pleasant influences as a father's home, the peace and spiritual strength derived from the services of God's sanctuary on the Sabbath, and companionship with the one whom I knew loved me very tenderly, made each day of toil pleasant, changing the heat of summer into May-day mornings, and the chilly blasts of winter into golden days of autumn. During these days of unalloyed pleasure, all needed preparation was made for the final consummation, and on the twenty-third birthday of Miss Mary Owen, we took on us the vows which made us husband and wife. The following week we took possession of our little home, and on the first evening spent beneath its kindly shelter we erected a family altar, committing ourselves and our new-made home to the keeping of our Heavenly Father. Here we spent two years of the short journey God permitted us to make together, each day made pleasant by His blessing resting upon us.

Late in the fall of '54 a change was made necessary by events over which we had no control. By the kindness of the loved ones in the old homestead, my wife found kindly shelter with them, and I engaged in teaching vocal music. My Sabbaths, after the close of each week of toil and exposure, were spent with her and the loved ones. On the fourth of January, 1855, the joys of our married life were increased to their fullest extent, by our Heavenly Father placing in the arms of my companion a little boy who was hailed as a precious treasure by all the household, but as is often the case with our richest blessings, trial and disappointment came. The little one was not strong, and the mother's health was poor, causing a season of care and anxiety. Partial health having been attained, arrangements were made for the spring and summer. Through the persuasion of friends and a love for farm life, I entered into an unwise partnership which gave to us a season of hard toil, for which we received little remuneration. At the close of summer the partnership was dissolved, and I sold my interest to the friend with whom I had been associated. The health of our little one was poor during the summer, and his exposure to flux causing us anxiety, the mother took him to the home of her parents. A few days later a premonition of impending danger seized me with such force that I hastened to the dear ones, and was permitted for a few brief hours to look on the loved form, and then angels came and bore him to the realms of eternal glory. This sad bereavement brought sorrow to our hearts, but the thought that he was safe in the upper fold, under the care of Jesus the Good Shepherd, brought such comfort to us that we were entirely resigned to our Heavenly Father's will.

During the fall of '55 and winter of '56 I again taught vocal music, and was so successful financially that we felt able, by help offered us, to secure a little home of our own. Being disappointed in securing the small tract we so much desired, we permitted ourselves to be influenced by a friend, and bought a much larger one. We took possession and spent another summer of hard toil, at the close of which my wife's health failed to such an extent that we could not remain longer in our new home. That dread disease, consumption, which had its incipiency in her girlhood, developed, and a season of anxiety and expense followed. She had a great desire to go to one of the water cures so extensively advertised at that time. To secure the means to accomplish this seemed almost impossible, but one placed in such circumstances will make great sacrifices to carry out the wish of one whom he loves. I sold our home, as I supposed, to a responsible party, at a profit of two hundred dollars, but the purchaser, being a cautious German, declined to complete the contract on account of a slight defect in the chain of title. To make amends as far as he could for disappointment, he loaned us one hundred dollars for six months. The Rev. James Chase, pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Doddsville, of which we were members, loaned us another hundred, and on the first day of September, 1856, we took the train at Macomb, Illinois, for Cleveland, Ohio, where Dr. Seely's Water Cure was located. We reached our destination in safety, and my wife at once entered on a course of treatment under the direction of the physicians, but at the end of ten days they frankly told us that the case was hopeless, and in a spirit of kindness advised us to return home. Their advice was taken, and, after spending two days on the way and traveling part of one night by stage, we reached its kindly shelter. Thus ended the only hope to which we had clung, and now followed a long season of watching and waiting. During the pleasant fall weather she took horseback rides, which made time pass more pleasantly than to sit down and give way to despondency. When the chilly blasts of winter came she rested under the parental roof, and under the tender nursing of her mother, patiently awaited the coming of the angel of death.

My financial obligation to my German friend required of me a season of activity. I again engaged in teaching vocal music during the week, and spent the Sabbath with her for whom I had so much solicitude. On each returning Sabbath I realized that the hour of our final separation was fast drawing near. At last there came a Sabbath when I knew that another day of rest would not dawn for her on earth. After conferring with the faithful mother, I laid aside every other duty, and awaited the hour when our walk together on earth would be ended. The season of waiting was brief. Before another Sabbath dawned she had entered on an eternal Sabbath of rest in Heaven. After the funeral services at the home where she had spent so many happy days, we followed her lifeless form to a new-made grave and laid it away to rest, until summoned my the Archangel's trumpet to come forth to a glorious resurrection. She died on January 12, 1857, aged twenty-seven years, one month and twenty-one days.


After the death of my wife there was a season of loneliness through which I passed, that could not be dispelled by associating with relatives and friends or looking on the familiar scenes with which I was surrounded. I had discharged by financial obligation to my German friend and the pastor of the Doddsville Church. My farm was rented for one year, and there was nothing to prevent me from gratifying a desire to look on new scenes and into the faces of strangers, and the questions which came before me were two: First, Where shall I go? And second, What shall I do? The first required much thought, the second was quickly answered. Why I did not decide to visit the scenes of my childhood instead of going to a "Slave State," seems strange to me now; but it did not enter my mind until the circumstances in which I was placed were such that they prevented me from doing so. Hannibal, Missouri, was the first point visited, but failing to organize a class in vocal music as I had hoped to do, I did not tarry long in the city. From there I went to LaGrange, Missouri, where I met with good success during the summer, and in the fall and winter extended my labors to other towns, and a number of points in the country. During this time I formed many pleasant acquaintances. Among their number was the Rev. W. W. Whippel, pastor of the Presbyterian Church, a man who was loved not only by his own people, but all who knew him. In him I found a true friend and wise counsellor. Among the ladies with whom I became acquainted was a widow, just in the bloom of womanhood, by the name of Mrs. Mary M. Murphy. She, like myself, had passed through a season of sorrow. Her husband, who had made for her a pleasant home, and was bound to her not only by tender ties of love, but in the bonds of christian fellowship, has been--some four years previous to our acquaintance,--taken from her very suddenly. While in the woods near her father's home hunting wild turkeys, he was accidently killed by another hunter, and she was left with a precious baby boy, Edward Nathan, only six weeks old, to care for. Edward was born August 31, 1853, and became a great joy to his widowed mother's heart. My attention was first attracted to her by one of those little incidents which often bring about important results in the life of an individual, and sometimes great results in the affairs of a nation. By the invitation of the leader of the choir in the Presbyterian Church, I was supplementing the bass by using my bass viol, and occupied a seat between the bass and soporano [sic]. During the long prayer a lady, occupying the head of the alto seat, dropped a bouquet which rolled just in front of me, and at the close of the prayer I returned it to her. The gentle manner and pleasant smile with which she received it made a deep impression on me, and led to an acquaintance which grew into more than an ordinary friendship. She, being only a visitor in the little city, after spending a few weeks with relatives, returned to her home in Round Grove Township, Marion County, where she resided with her father, Mr. Joseph Bohon, but before doing so she gave me a kind invitation to visit her father's family, and suggested the organizing of a class in vocal music in the neighborhood. I did not fail to comply with this kind invitation extended to me by one whom I loved, and although there was no class organized in the neighborhood, her father's home became a pleasant stopping place when passing to and from points on either side of it where I had organized classes. This season of pleasant comradeship with this family of more than ordinary intelligence ended for a season, by my bearing from their midst her who has been to me a precious treasure and to the world a rich blessing. We were united in the holy bonds of wedlock on the twenty-third day of February, 1858, and during the week, with her and her little son, Edward N., then four years of age, I returned to my home in Doddsville, Illinois. Here we spent one year and nine months, filled with useful toil, sweetened by the pleasures of home life, and the christian fellowship of God's people.

At the end of this time we sold our farm, and through the agency of my wife's father purchased eighty acres of beautiful prairie near his home, the first payment being made with money received from the sale of a small estate belonging to my wife. We returned to Round Grove Township, Marion County, Missouri, the last week in November, 1859, and received a warm welcome from the loved ones, all of whom were still dwelling beneath the parental roof except one, the youngest,--a bright christian boy of fifteen years, who had been called from the bosom of a christian home to the realms of Eternal Glory.

The winter months were spent in making preparations to build a small house, and by the middle of April it was so near completion that we occupied it, deferring its completion until the fall. As I look back on this little unfinished home consisting of only two rooms, and think of the beautiful location upon which it was erected, surrounded as it was at that time by small groves of pin oak interspersed with wild plum bushes in full bloom. I can without an effort call up their beauty, and hear the songs of the happy birds which welcomed us to our new home. We entered it with hearts overflowing with gratitude to our Heavenly Father, not only for its kindly shelter, but also for a new member of the household,--a son,--born on the 20th of March, 1860. We called him William Murphy, and he added much joy to our lives.


Our home was in the bounds of the New Providence Presbyterian Church, with which we united by letter from the Presbyterian Church of Doddsville, Illinois, in which I had been a ruling elder. The church has secured, as stated supply, the Rev. J. L. Jones, and much interest was taken in the Sabbath school and preaching on the Sabbath and in the prayer meeting on Wednesday evening. Early in the summer of '60, the session of which I had become a member, decided to hold a series of meetings in the month of October. At a meeting of the session in midsummer it was suggested by one of the members that at a certain hour of each day, no matter where we were or what we were doing, prayer for the reviving influence of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the church membership and the leading of the unsaved in the community to Christ, be offered. The proposition was gladly accepted by all, and I have no doubt was faithfully kept. Six weeks before the time set for the series of meetings to begin, there was a deep and growing interest in the prayer meeting which continued to increase, and at the commencement of the meeting, developed into a revival of great power. Services were held every forenoon and evening for two weeks, and at the close thirty professed their faith in Christ and united with the church. For some of these it was a season of preparation for the hardships and temptations through which they were soon to pass. To my wife and myself it came as a season of joy, and prepared us more fully for the trials that were fast approaching us and all the loyal people in the community.

Although the fall was far advanced when the meetings closed, we had pleasant weather in which to finish our house and make it comfortable for the winter. About this time I was much troubled about my financial affairs. The man to whom I had sold our farm in Illinois, had failed to meet his obligation to us, and positively refused to make any effort to do so. This would involve me in serious difficulty, if my creditors pressed me, but I had one friend to whom I could go and tell my anxiety, and ask that sufficient means might come into my hands to enable me to meet my financial obligations and save me from bringing reproach on the Gospel of Christ. The sequel will show that, though long deferred, my asking was heard and answered in God's own good time and way.

More serious difficulties were fast approaching, and much anxiety was felt by all thinking men, both North and South. That spirit of compromise by which difficulties between the North and South had been settled from the year 1820 until Kansas was admitted as a State, received its death blow by the election of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States. It was the emphatic declaration of a majority of the people, "No more slave territory."

The leaders in the South had struggled long and hard for the ascendency, and for a number of years were successful. Territory was annexed,--Louisiana, Florida and Texas,--all in the interest of slavery. For the application of the Jefferson proviso to Oregon, they demanded and received an apology, but justice moved steadily on. When the men of California chose freedom, the death knell of slavery was sounded. This led Calhoun on his deathbed to council secession. Then followed the struggle over Kansas. In this the blotting out of the line between slave territory and free territory was demanded, and the answer was: "Be it so; we are brethren, let there be no strife between us." On such a basis one would think the Southern leaders could rest their cause; but alas for them! the victory was on the side of freedom. To what? To whom shall the South now turn for help? It is the chief justice of the United States Court who comes to the rescue. "Without any necessity," says George Bancroft, "he volunteered to come to the rescue of slavery; and from his court there lay no appeal, but to the bar of humanity and history. Against he constitution, against the memory of the nation, against a series of enactments, he declared that the slave is property, that slave property is entitled to no less protection than any other property; that the constitution upholds it in every territory against any act of local legislation; ["?] or, as the president for that term tersely promulgated the saying, "Kansas is as much a slave State as South Carolina or Georgia. Slavery by virtue of the constitution exists in every territory. The municipal character of slavery thus being taken away and slave property declared to be sacred;" the authority of the courts were invoked to introduce it by the comity of law into States where slavery had been abolished; and in one of the courts of the United States, a judge pronounced the African slave trade legitimate, and numerous and powerful advocates demanded its restoration. Moreover the chief justice in his elaborate opinion announced what had never been heard from any magistrate of Greece or Rome, what was unknown to civil law and common lay, unknown to Jay, to Rutledge, Ellsworth and Marshall,--"That there are slave races."

It was the passage of the fugitive slave law by Congress and this decision,--known as the "Dred Scott Decision," which were the last straws that broke the 'camel's back," and brought about the organization of the Republican Party, and it was the circumscribing of slavery by this party that caused the leaders in the South to induce the people of the Southern States to secede and bring about the "Civil War." The loyal people in the border states saw the danger, and knew when Ft. Sumpter was fired on that the struggle was on, and would be fought to the bitter end, but few realized that slavery was doomed in the States where it existed.

The gloom that oppressed the minds of the loyal portion of our community was in strange contrast to the feelings of the disloyal. They were so confident of success, and so bitter in their feelings against the Northern people, that they manifested feelings of joy; boasted that one Southern man could whip three Northern men, and some of them confidently looked forward to a time when the property of the loyal people would fall into their hands. One good gentleman,--a member of our church,--frankly said to me: "When the Southern people have accomplished their independence, there should be a law passed making it a penalty of death for a Northern man to emigrate to a Southern State." As I had moved into the community from a Northern State, and was free in expressing my views, I was soon regarded as a dangerous man, and would not have been tolerated for any length of time if I had not been connected by marriage with Southern people, all of whom were loyal.

During the spring and summer the anxiety which I felt for my loved ones and myself oppressed me, and the condition of my country filled my mind with deep solicitude; and the question, what shall I do? forced itself on me. My country was calling for help. Could I leave the loved ones and consecrate my life to her service. And if I did, could they live on the wages of a private soldier, if I failed in the organization of the company to secure a commissioned office? But an end came to these ever recurring questions. On the last day of August, 1861, eighteen men came dashing down on our home with their guns unslung ready to take my life, if I was foolish enough to run. Their coming was so sudden that my wife was almost overcome with terror; but happily, no serious results followed it. After searching the house for arms, they left us to our own reflections. Then and there the decision was made, and communicated to my wife in these words: "I am going into the service of my country."


At this juncture John M. Glover was commissioned by the governor of the State to organize a regiment of cavalry, and James Howland of LaGrange was making up a company of which he was to be captain; an a number of young men in our neighborhood were enlisting and becoming members of it. By noon on Monday I was ready to move my family to LaGrange, where three of my wife's sisters were residing. Everything on the farm but enough household goods to enable my wife to keep house was left without any one to take care of it. After spending two or three days in making arrangements for the comfort of my family I went to Quincy, Illinois, and enlisted as a private soldier, trusting time and good luck for something better. I went into the company of which Howland was to be captain. For 1st and 2nd lieutenants there were several aspirants. All these were tested by the men who where in the habit of drinking as to their willingness to treat and drink with them. As I intended running for 2nd lieutenant I was tested with the others and found wanting. Then election came, I was beaten by a man who was destitute of moral character.

A few days after a second election was held, and one of my drinking friends who had been elected third sergeant nominated me for eighth corporal, the lowest office in the company, and I was elected. This was intended as an insult, but I refused to accept it as such, and quietly performed the duties of the office. By and by another election was held. Why this was done I do not know, for the result was the same, except in my own case. When it came to eighth corporal, my friend nominated an ignorant man by the name of Higgens who was elected. Again I failed to take offense at this intended insult, and quietly discharged the duties of a common soldier.

During the time we were in Quincy I was permitted to visit my family several times. On my second visit I was permitted to take into my arms a precious little daughter; born on the eighteenth day of September, 1861, just thirteen days after I had enlisted in the service of my country. We named her Lucy Helen. My wife was very ill for several weeks after the birth of the little one, but finally regained her health, and with noble, womanly courage, met the trials through which she was called to pass. Much credit is also due the sister who tenderly cared for her during this, one of the darkest periods of her life.

A few days after the third election of officers by Company A had been held, Companies A, B and C were ordered to Palmyra, Missouri. Here we went into camp on the Fair Ground, which was not only a place of beauty, but one well suited to the needs of cavalry men, requiring but little work on our part to make ourselves and horses comfortable. We had been but a few days encamped on these pleasant grounds, when, on a bright October day, my friend Sergt. S---- came into camp so drunk that he fell from his horse in a helpless condition, and was assisted to his tent by some of his comrades. When this reached the ears of the captain he came and asked me to take the poor fellow's place, but I declined on the ground that the drinking men in the company would give me trouble. Shortly after the captain's first call he and Col. Glover came, and after talking the matter over with me I accepted the office, and filled it to the entire satisfaction of the men. The following morning the ex-sergeant asked to be placed in charge of a mule team. His request was granted, and he filled the position with credit to himself and the satisfaction of the wagon master until the close of the war.

Most of our time while encamped on the Fair Grounds was occupied in drilling and guard duty, two very essential things in the making of a good soldier. It was here we first met our major. He had been a sergeant in the regular army and was commissioned major of volunteers and assigned to our regiment. He was a good drill master, and devoted himself faithfully to the discharge of his duties. He had, however, acquired one habit, said to belong to a cavalryman, to which many of us objected, that of "cursing like a trooper." What made it so offensive to us was the fact that he made it personal in its application. His name was Robert Carric. We remained on the Fair Grounds until cold weather compelled us to go into winter quarters. Many small bodies of men were sent out during this time, and some of the most disloyal were brought into camp and required us to take an oath to refrain from taking up arms against the Government, or from aiding those who had already done so. This to many of us was unpleasant, as it sometimes brought us in contact with those who had been our friends, and in every case the duty was one which was repugnant to the finer feelings of our nature, as it often required us to enter and search the houses of those whom we were ordered to arrest. More arduous duties, however, were required of us before the close of the year 1861.


On the morning of December 23rd we started on a march of four days, at the end of which we reached Sturgeon, a village in Boone County, located on the North Missouri Railroad. Col. Berge's sharp-shooters were stationed here, and our coming was to co-operate with them against a body of rebel troops that were encamped some distance south of Sturgeon. To ascertain their exact location and some knowledge of their strength Captain Howland, with forty-six men of his company, was sent out on a reconnaissance, accompanied by a guide. It was a pleasant winter's afternoon, and the men were in good spirits, ready for any emergency common to a soldier's lot. The advance guard, consisting of ten men, were under the command of the First Lieutenant. Nothing of importance occurred until we had marched about thirteen miles. Just as we were passing out of an oak grove into an open prairie, we were confronted by a squad of rebels who had just reached the end of a lane about two hundred yards in front of us. The surprise was mutual, but, as they were what we were looking for, we had no hesitation in letting them know it. They halted in column, but our men, by a common impulse, came into line, halted, and drew their rifles from the holsters and fired, but only two were discharged, as the trotting of our horses had jarred the powder out of the others. The rebels wheeled and fled, and our men with a cheer gave chase. Unfortunately for one of our men, his gun had became fastened in the holder and he had to unbuckle it from his saddle to secure the privilege of shooting. When the chase began he endeavored to stop his horse and buckle it on, but failed, and throwing it down for some of the company to take care of when they came up, he drew his revolver, and was soon flying after his comrades. He had not gone far, however, until he saw that the right shank of his bridle bit was broken, and in a moment came the question: "What if the enemy is in force in front, and our men have to retreat, could I guide my horse and save myself?" But he had but little time to think, for on he went, watching for an opportunity to stop him, and by and by it came. In front of a house on the left was an angle in the fence, and here he came to a halt, and, dismounting, cut the broken shank from the rein and tied it round the bar, and in less time than it takes to tell it was ready to mount. Just at this moment two of our men went by at full speed, exclaiming as they passed: "Get on your horse quick or the rebels will get you.: The company was now in sight, and the tide turned the other way, but it was evident to all who were disposed to think that we were in a trap. The rebels had out-generaled us. Their camp was on our right flank as we were advancing, and we went so far beyond it, and were detained so long by the imprudence of the second lieutenant, that they had time to send out a force of three hundred men to cut us off. We had a sharp skirmish with them just as night closed in on us, in which several of our men were wounded,--one mortally,--and three taken prisoners. The captain, who was wounded, was one of the three. The second lieutenant, who had shown a great deal of courage, but little common sense, when we were being drawn into the trap, did not stay to do much fighting, when a good opportunity was offered, but fled from the field, leaving his comrades to do the best they could in the unequal contest. He, with another like himself, reached camp almost two hours before anyone else, and reported all killed or taken prisoners but themselves.

After reaching camp the colonel and major came to me and related the second lieutenant's story, and inquired particularly about the captain. I told them he was not killed, but was taken prisoner; that he had dismounted, and after emptying one revolver, he was reaching over the front of his saddle to secure from the holster another at the moment his horse wheeled to the left and knocked him down; that his horse followed a squad of us across the field in which the left of our line had rested and that I had one of the men secure him and bring him into camp.

Copyright 1999, 2006 Robin L. Worth Petersen

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