James White was a 21 year old farmer from Quincy, MA. In 1849 he sailed from Boston around Cape Horn to San Francisco and the gold diggings of California. In all he spent 6 months at sea and a year in California. I've transcribed his journal and am publishing it here as well as on Amazon/Kindle and Apple/iBooks.Sorry for the delay. I'll publish the most important post of this journal this Sunday.
Thursday, July 19th.
Started very early in the morning in whale boat. Mess 5. Fifteen men in boat very deeply loaded. Started away in Company with the other whale boat & longboat each fifteen men in and freight. Wind strong from NW. Experienced heavy seas in Suisuin Bay. Never felt so much in danger of loosing my life as here. Every sea threatened to swamp us, washing over both sides & stern. Run ashore on the shoals near the mouth of the river. All hands had to get out and pull off. Got thoroughly drenched and boat half full of water by the surf. Got off safe. Stopped up in a cove. Let dry off. Started away on our voyage as soon as possible. Sailed along up the beautiful Sacramento enjoying the sail and the beautiful verdure both sides. Lost our way in a slue near the isl half way to Sacramento City. Stopped at sundown on the banks in a beautiful campground, but in the night, it proved anything but pleasant. The mosquitoes troubling us so that we got no sleep. I tried to sleep in a tree, campfire going all night in true Indian style.
Friday, July 20
Long before sunrise we was gently sailing up the river enjoying the scenery. Came to an American ranch. Inquired of him concerning the turns in the river. Got along about a mile farther. Came to a square turn in the river and the river, some wider, the wild vine and different foliage on either side while the different birds were chanting forth their notes gave to the mind of the gold hunter a far different life than he expected. Much better & pleasanter than was anticipated. At the turn of the river on the NE. side was an Indian settlement. Corn was growing luxuriantly & pumpkins. At one point came in sight of the town of Sutter. There was but one or two houses and a few tents. The river became more rapid. Went to rowing being rather a light wind. Passed several sloops & schooners of light draft. Inquired of one the distance to Sacramento. Told six miles.
At 2 PM arrived at Sacramento. Found it quite a city. Some thirty & fifty slightly built wooden houses with exception of S. Branery, Priest Lee etc. and two or three Hotels then building. From fifty to a hundred tents was pitched at there and there. Found the rest of the Company encamped near the mouth of the American River. Pitched our tents making in numbers eight. Busied myself till dark in looking round when I retired to my bed on the ground. For the time weary and glad to sleep. Thus was commenced, as I anticipated, the hard life of a gold hunter.
July 21st, 1849
The longboat and whale boat that started in Company arrived about 10 o'clock in the eve. Had not seen nor heard of the flat boats since they left this place a week ago. Felt fears of their being lost in the slough near the mouth of the river. Sent a party in search of them. Busied myself in drying my clothiers and getting things to rights in tent. Great amusement to see the wild cattle run & chased by the Spaniards and lassoed. Toward night Campbell, Meeks, Baxter & myself visited the famous Sutter's Fort. Much more of a fort than I expected to see. Going to ruin fast. Saw Capt. Sutter on board of a bark at the embarkadero.
Sunday the 22d.
Very warm. Went to hear Mr. Benton preach in the afternoon. Services under a large oak of which there was many in the vicinity. Notified that we should start the next day for the Mokelumne River to the mines. I.C. Whipple who started forth overland from Benicia the day we started had not arrived.Chapter 13
Monday the 23d.
Got ready and started with four ox team for the diggings. Went out as far as the ford. Camped. Did not have very good opinion of the teamers and teams. Paid $10.00 hundred for carting.
Tuesday, July 24th.
In the forenoon went out as far as the old mlll or ten mile house on the American River. Had to change loading. One wagon looked likely to break down. The Company went straggling over the road carrying nothing.
The hot sun and the sand told plainly that we was to see hard times. Got to the prairie which we had to cross. Got a third of the way. Found there was but little water and concluded it was best to get across as soon as possible. Passed several on the road that was most beaten out and most choked. The prairie 12 miles long without shade. 16 without water. Stopped on the road being very hot and thirsty. Several fainted away in the road.
Some got through early and brought water back. Got one two swallows and pushed on. Stood it as well as any. Came to water the N. Cosumnes River, a tributary of San Joaquin. Refreshed myself in bathing & drinking pushed on to the camp. Came to a ranch owned by Daly. Had a large tribe of Indians to work for him. The most miserable and inferior of human beings. Hundreds of horses, cattle & hogs were feeding & racing on the bottom lands. Arrived at the crossing found only one team arrived and about thirty of the men. Went to bed beat out fairlyhaving traveled 26 miles.
Camp at the crossing, S. side of the Cosumnes River. Men came tolling along into camp tired & sore. Slept all day many of them. This was hard for men what had just arrived from a six month voyage at sea. The camp was under some beautiful oaks. Fish of several kinds were abundant in the river. Several were caught by the men. Ox teams got in towards night, broken down and with the loss of a yoke of cattle having camped over night at Daly's. Felt rather unwell in bowels. Took some brandy & laudanum from Dr. Abbe.