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.Things look up:
Sunday Aug 5th.
Religious services today. This was the last time that so many of the Company would meet together. Mr. Benton delivered an appropriate sermon which was very affecting. He touched upon the different scenes thy had passed through, of their intimacy, for their remarkable good fortune in sickness. The time had come when their connections with one & another as a Company was to cease. He prayed for them all for their future welfare that they might all be fortunate and reap a harvest for their labors & bid them a long farewell.
Monday, August 6th.
Getting strong again. This day was occupied in dividing out provisions to those that intended to stop. Sixty of the one hundred left for Sacramento City with the teams. Sick of the mines & body, some of them. Several small companies from 2 to 4 were formed & went immediately to work. I was not able to move round much.
Formed into Company with Baxter & Apleton. Felt how unfortunate I was to be sick. Thought of home. The comparison between this life and that of a good home and civilization. The sacrifice made for the sake of gold, but it is only made once in a mans life.
Bought one of the tents at $100 & provisions & tools to the specified amt. Things such as tools and utensils were sold at auction to be sold only to Company of at least two and they to have only so many of each. Bake pans were sold for $18, iron bars $1.5 cradles 30$. Flour & pork 50 cents per lb. Sugar & beans 40 ct a lb. S? $5. Everything else in the same proportions. Made up my mind to try the mines a little while at least.
Boys went out digging today. Some had good luck. Made 1 oz a piece. Majority got nothing to speak of. Rumored battles between the Indians and whites up the river. One white killed and seven Indians. The Indians worsted.
At this time the days were excessively hot and the nights cool. We were encamped near the river. Several were sick in camp & many complaining. Van Horn lay dangerously sick with fever having contracted a bad cold at Valparaiso. The hardship & exposure brought on sickness. Many had fever & ague.
Friday August 10th.
Boys had pretty good luck. Got their oz. Thought of civilized life. Thought I would get all I could & start for the states or somewhere else. Upon the whole, greatly disappointed in gold hunting. Not alone in my disappointment.
Ventured out to get the elephant as gold is termed. Looked upon it as laborious & hard in every respect. Some standing in water knee deep four or five feet of clay & rocks to penetrate, then chances against your finding anything. Made a determination not to risk my health. Getting stronger from illness.
Sunday Aug. 12th.
Several teams came in with Company. Broke up & sold out Oregonians principally. News of thousands coming over the plains. Vast amount of suffering. The road strewed wagons, provisions, & dead cattle. Hundreds gone back to their homes. Made up my mind also to leave the country as soon as I got funds enough.
Monday Aug'st 3rd, 1849.
At 2 P.M. Van Horn closed his earthly existence without a groan or struggle poor. Little thought he of such a fate. ? awfully his parents must feel on hearing the news of his death.
Today, dug the first gold--Baxter often sick with dysentery affliction & myself got half oz.
Stayed by all day to do honor to Van Horns remains. Buried at 5 P.M. Services by Mr. Bradbury. Text in 4th chap. of James 14th vs. "For what is your life. It even a vapor that apeareth a little time and then vanisheth away." Followed to his grave by about thirty of the Company. Mt. Vernon ? sing as the closing service by the Company.