David, the gentleman Ann wrote had been shot in the back, did make it to California. David Beach was also a cousin of Amos Catlin and several people wrote to Amos about news of David’s gunshot injury. Of the other men listed in the letter to Amos Catlin, Judge Hastings was most likely Serranus Clinton Hastings. Judge Hastings lived and practice law in Iowa. He found his way to California and was appointed to the California Supreme Court and later won the election to become the state’s Attorney General.
If you think you can escape from my hands after such dealings, you are mistaken. For by the God who made me, I will have satisfaction, which if it does not shake your pocket will shake your damn cowardly nerves.
The two letters differ in tone and substance. However, they each give a glimpse of the 7-month ocean voyage around Cape Horn, South America. Amos Catlin’s decision to join the Gold Rush seemed somewhat out of character for a 26-year-old man who had spent his adult life studying and then practicing law in New York. These letters exhibit his detailed observations that would be reflected in letters Amos wrote later while living in California.
Even though the miners paid for the water on a daily basis, it was assumed that the mining day was 10 hours long, after which the water was shut down. If a miner continued using water during the night, it was understood they were trying to steal extra water. During his tenure as superintendent, Amos estimated the North Fork Ditch was carrying 2200 to 2300 inches of water as measured under 6 inches of head pressure.
The description within the receipt also provided information on the wage rate. For white laborers, the daily rate was $2.50. Chinese labor was paid at $1.50 per man per day. I created a spreadsheet to compare the Chinese labor costs to that of white labor employed by the American River Water and Mining Company. Where the number of men and daily rate was not specifically mentioned, I imputed the daily rate by the total dollar amount. For example, Ah Sune was paid $13.50 for nine days work on cleaning out the Fox’s Ravine ditch in the Rose Springs district. Nine days times $1.50 per day comes out to $13.50.
“Amos P. Catlin, The Whig Who Put Sacramento On The Map,” chronicles Amos’ life from his arrival in California in 1849 to his death in 1900 in Sacramento. Particular attention is paid to Amos’ work on organizing and building the Natoma water ditch in the early 1850s. It was during the ditch construction that Amos was elected to the California Senate. He wrote the bill to relocate the state’s capital to Sacramento. However, Amos did not consider the water projects or the state capital his most significant accomplishments in life.
A dam site at Salmon Falls was too low in elevation to allow for the ditch to exit the river canyon between Red Bank and Mormon Island. Consequently, the dam site was moved to Rocky Bar which had an elevation of approximately 450 feet. With a small dam across the river, the headwaters for the canal would be elevated to 465 feet. The minimal slope of the ditch line would put the water canal at between 390 to 395 feet of elevation at the saddle.
By 1849, because of the Gold Rush, Sacramento had become a magnet for immigrants seeking their fortune in the gold fields. The Sacramento River was the primary conduit for passage from San Francisco. The importance of the river corridor prompted an 1850 hydrographic expedition to map the Sacramento River and associated sloughs, along with the […]
The one line of business Amos did try to explain was his investment in a steam engine for a saw mill. He thought the saw mill would produce him the most income, and he was proud of his investment. “The engine belongs to me, a beautiful 12 horse locomotive which cost me $3,000.” He then goes on to loosely explain the business arrangement and business proposition. We also learn that he was the main salesman for the operation.
By today’s standards, it seems absolutely crazy that anyone would invest money in property or infrastructure when there was no clear title to the land and the State of California continually threatened to strip Folsom of his ownership of the Leidesdorff estate. But this was the state of California in the 1850s. Even before the untimely death of Folsom, he and other men were pushing forward with their development plans in Sacramento County. Folsom had been working with the Sacramento Valley Railroad to run a line from Sacramento to Negro Bar on the south side of the American River over the Leidesdorff land grant.