Criminal Annals, Part 103 – Diamond Springs

Continuing with the August 16, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” we find a column titled El Dorado County Correspondence. It is actually a letter, as were most of the stories, in this case from Diamond Springs, and covers a number of subjects.

“El Dorado County Correspondence.

“Statistics of Diamond Springs – The Immigration – Two Chinamen Killed – Blocks of marble for National Monument. &c, &c.

“Diamond Springs, August 11, 1852.

Our citizens are very anxious for the establishment of a Post Office at this point, and some months since forwarded a petition numerously signed, to the Post Office Agent for California, but up to this time it has not been heard from. Post Offices were established last year at Ringold [Ringgold], three miles east of us, and at Mud Springs, two miles west, which are supplied with a weekly mail, generally carried in by a teamster’s wagon. These are unimportant points compared to this, being greatly inferior in business population. Probably no mining town in the State located in dry diggings, is improving as rapidly as Diamond Springs, and no town within my knowledge, presents as many evidences of permanency.

“Being located 45 miles from Sacramento City, on the dividing ridge between Weber and Mythenis [Martinez] creeks and immediately on the stage road to Placerville, it is also the main immigrant route from Carson Valley to Sacramento. It contains about 130 houses of all descriptions, including nine hotels and boarding houses, ten stores, four saloons, one silversmith shop, two wagon-makers shops, three blacksmith shops, one painter’s shop, two bakeries and a steam saw mill, which cuts, on an average, 4000 feet of lumber per day. Four fine two-story houses have recently been competed; three more are now being built, besides several one-story buildings also under way and several old buildings have also been newly covered and weather-boarded, and I hardly know how many have had new fronts added.

“The population is probably between three and four hundred now, but by next winter it will be nearing several thousand. Immigrants are stopping around us nearly every day, thus adding to our numbers and industry. This rapid increase is mainly caused by the confidence reposed in the completion of the two ditches by Messrs. Bradley, Burdan & Co. and Jones, Furman & Co., which are to bring water from the Cosumnes for the use of miners in this section. When these enterprises are completed, as they are sure to be this fall, Diamond Springs will offer to the miner advantages for a regular paying business, possessed but by few points in the State. There are acres of ground, probably hundreds of them, within five miles of this point, which, with plenty of water, will pay from five to twenty dollars per day for years. From this description it will be perceived that Diamond Springs presents strong claims for a Post Office, and a mail as often as semi-weekly.

“The three blocks of marble for the Washington monument, quarried and worked into shape ready to be presented to his Excellency, by Messrs. Colburn and McBride, left here yesterday for your city. They weigh about 2700 pounds each, and will be found to be as fine every way, if not finer, than those contributed by any other State in the Union. They will be found worthy an examination by every man who feels interested in the reputation of the Eureka State.”

Note: The marble came from the mine on Quarry Road, east of Diamond Springs. It was sent to replace the gold-bearing quartz block that was sent earlier as the contribution by California for the monument. Unfortunately, the quartz block was rejected as unworthy and disappeared shortly thereafter.
Of the three marble blocks, two were destroyed in Sacramento in the Great Fire of November, 1852. The third arrived in Washington, D. C. in 1854 and is in the monument.

The article continues: “Two Chinamen were accidentally killed this morning on Weber creek, about one mile from here. They were at work in a claim where it was necessary to drift and incautiously left a large stone so much without support, that it fell and caught two of them – producing death immediately.
“The immigration continues to flow in daily, and so far, present every evidence of health and successful journey. No one is found to confirm, to any extent, the reports of great suffering which have obtained circulation in your city. As for the grass on the Humboldt, they testify that it is inexhaustible; the great difficulty is the want of good wholesome water. We are encouraged to hope that the scenes of sufferings in 1850 will not be re-enacted in 1852.
[signed] WEBER

In spite of the previous comments, the August 17 edition of the paper has an article that again speaks to the problems faced by those on their way to California. It is also the first real count of the number of wagons, people and animals that are on the trail. Remember that this count is only those passing Fort Kearny during a single two-week period.

“CALIFORNIA EMIGRANTS – CHOLERA – Accounts from Independence [Missouri], to June 12th, received by the St. Louis Republican, give sad accounts of the ravages of the cholera among the emigrants bound to California via Fort Kearney. The following is an account of the living things which have passed the fort between May 29th and June 11th; There had gone over the roads 16,362 men, 3242 women, 4266 children, 5325 wagons, 6538 horses, 4606 mules, 1 hog, 59,392 cattle, 10,523 sheep, from 100 to 150 turkeys, 4 ducks and 2 Guinea fowls. Besides this number of living beings on the road, it is known that very many more were on the routes North. The companies are represented as well fitted out generally, but much afflicted with sickness, supposed to be cholera. It is thought that beyond Forts Kearny and Laramie, the sickness will subside.”

Note: Cholera (often called “Asiatic Cholera”) has an incubation period of from a few hours to five days, according to the literature. Transmission occurs through ingestion of contaminated water and food. Sudden large outbreaks are usually caused by a contaminated water supply. Direct person to person contact is rare. In untreated cases, death may occur in a few hours and the case fatality rate may exceed 50 percent. Controlling dehydration can reduce the fatality rate to a much lower number.



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