Author Topic: Nigger Bar History & the Ballou/Scharmann Letters  (Read 59 times)

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Nigger Bar History & the Ballou/Scharmann Letters
« on: February 04, 2018, 01:04:25 PM »
Comments mine.


Negro Bar was originally on the south side of the American River, at about where the City Corporation yard is located. Negro miners first started mining gold during the years 1849-50. As far as we know, only a few Negro’s were working there. One, according to Sacramento Court documents, showed that Constable B.N. Bugby testified of a fellow named Smith, “I think he was one of the Negro’s working at Negro Bar”, Smith was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison for murdering a man named Freeland Morton. According to the 1852 census, there was a George Stevens listed as a mulatto working as a steward. A John Debity, also a mulatto, was listed as a waiter. In 1860 (Negro Bar had disappeared by then), Alex Holmes, an African American, was listed as a cook living in Folsom, as was Peter Williams. It was little more than a cluster of shacks and tents to shelter the men working along the river. In 1851 there were about 650 residents and it continued to thrive until 1856. James Meredith built the first store and hotel at Negro Bar; the second store was opened by Wm Davidson, followed by a store by Rowlett & Richardson, who ultimately sold to Mr. A.A. Durfee. Later, they both left this area and returned to the East Coast. There were two Durfee brothers from the east, and they were both physicians. A store then could be anything from a tent with barrels and with a plank across them, to a lean-to with a few makeshift shelves. A hotel was usually a large tent with wooden bunks, which miners paid to sleep on. What the miners did was to dig a by-pass of the bend in the river so that they could mine the riverbed. The first attempt was not successful because of a flood that washed it out. The second attempt was also unsuccessful, however the third attempt was successful, and there were reports that the miners found no gold in the riverbed. However, miners working the surrounding area did harvest quite a bit of gold. Then came the floods of 1852, and most of the miners left. It must be noted that at this time, several nationalities were working at Negro Bar, including a German Immigrant and his sons who had crossed the plains. After Folsom was formed, it was known as “under the hill”.

The letter below is a copy of two letters written by Mary Ballou, telling of her trip to California, and the second, a letter to her sons in New Hampshire. Mary Ballou (Simonds) was born in 1809 and passed away in 1894.

Mary Ballou and her husband left two sons in New Hampshire and sailed to California in 1851. They arrived in San Francisco in 1851 and settled in Negro Bar. This is a copy of the letters written by Mary Ballou in 1851 and a second letter on October 30, l852, to her son, Selden. (Including the spelling errors)


1851.

Started from Alexandria Newhampshire to go to california Dec 9 1851. left New York Dec 11 went on Board the steamer Ohio. Now so seasick that I cannot write. Arrived at Shagrees Dec 22 stopt at a ranch had coffee, Boiled rice and stewed Beans for supper the Beans cooked in a pot hung to a tree in the bushes. The ranch had factory cloth over the top but no floor but the ground for my bed a valiece for my pillow a hard bed indeed. I wept biterly. there were twenty five in our company all Laid on the ground. The monkies were howling the Nighthawks were singing them Nativs were watching. When morning came the Nativs got the Boat ready. We started on our second days journey up Shagrees river, arrived at Gorgonia Dec 22. Stopt at a Hotell two nights not a pane of glas in the House rough Boards nailed together for Blinds.

Dec 26 left gorgonia on a mule. Stopt at a ranch laid myself down on the ground a weeping. I thought if I had wings how swiftly I would fly to my Home. twenty. started the next morning on the mule travled all day in the hot sun. part the way I walked Part the way I rode and part the way I Laught and part the way I wept. Dec 27 took the steamer. Now so seasick cannot write. Stopt at San Francisco one week from there to Sacramento, stopt with Mr. White a gentleman from Boston one week. Went from there to Mormon Island hired a little log hut. January 11 eat Breakfast on my trunk my husband sat down on the floor and I sat myself down on a three legd stool. There we sat and eat our Breakfast. No one can immagine what my feelings were. The first week earnt 23 dollars sewing for the Spanish Ladies the second week earnt 26 dollars. February 24 gathered a Boquet of flowrs. March 9 taken sick had a soar in my throat. May 4 had an invite to a wedding the Bride 12 years old. September tenth nursed a French Lady one week she made me a present of fifty Dollar gold piece for my weeks work. Fourth of July went out and washed out some gold Dust. Oct first went to work for Mr. Davidson in a Boarding House. He paid me one hundrd a month for five months and my Husband sevnty five Dollars a month for five months. (this was the second business on Negro Bar).

Oct 25 sent eight hundrd Dollars to the States expences for sending 24 Dollars. Nov 25 put Mrs Anderson to bed with a pare of twins without any assistance. I thought it a hard cas that I could not have some help. Nov 29 laid out Mrs Andersons child two years of age. Tuesday Dec 25 cooked a Christmas Dinner for twenty-four gentlemen and ladies. I will give you a little more detail of my journey while on Board the Ocean Steamers. I was so sick I could not sit up nor write. When we left the Ocean steamer we were let down by rope into the small Boat and rowed by the nativs as far as the Boat could for shoal water and then carried a shore in the Nativs Arms and set on dry sand. once while croosing the Land on the Mules we came to a river, the bank on the river was so steep that we had to be carried acrost by the stoutest gentlemen the Natvis leading our mules acrost and then sat on our mules again to go in a foot path through Bushes and through mudholes. Our saddles had a Horn on the back and on the front. I had all that I could do to hold on with both hands to keep from falling off. You can judge whether you would enjoy such a ride or not.

We stopt at Panamar two weeks. I earnt 12 Dollars while there making Pants. When Sunday morning came I awoke by the Fife and Drums beating. I asked the cause. I was told that was to let the People know that it was Sunday morn. The meat market there was a square piece of Land the Spanish Ladies and Gentlemen seting down on the ground with their Baskets of eggs and potatoes. They cut meat in strips and hung it up on trees and poles. We paid ten cents a quart for water; it had to be brought a long distance on mules. I can give only a sketch of my journey. It was a hard road to travel I can asshure you.

Mary Ballou

October 30, 1852

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Solar's opinion on history in the letter.

In the final letter (German immigrant, Mr.H.B. Scharmann) claims they didn't find gold in the American river after rerouting the river.
I find this extremely hard to accept, I know, because I've pulled nuggets out of the very spot he claimed was barrenren of gold.
I suspect he said this for good reason, simply because most correspondence from Ca usually made the local paper, and if he'd disclosed he'd found gold, he'd have become a target on his return trip home.
JMHO...
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