By Nan Ressue
“”I hate it here.” Mary wailed. ” It’s hot, dirty, dangerous and crowded. Did the whole world follow us
to California? Are all these fools convinced that prospecting will make them rich?
“Well, why didn’t you stay home in St Louis like I told you to?” lectured Henry, the long suffering
husband… “Can’t you see that a woman could get kidnapped or raped with all these horny miners around
here? I can’t look out for you every minute.”
With her chin stuck out and with her hands on her hips, Mary confronted him with the truth.
“How long do you think I’d be allowed to stay in a house you mortgaged to buy a wagon and team when I
couldn’t make the payments? You sure weren’t going to ditch me and take off for your big adventure.
And then there is the fact of nearly killing me off with a little 2000 mile stroll. And beside that, you know
a good many of these gold mining fools don’t ever plan to go back home”,
We’re here in San Francisco and we’re going to make the best of it. And you’re going to stand in the
water right beside me looking for those nuggets”, Henry warned.
With one final attempt at patience he asked, “Darlin,’would you please start getting things organized
while look around for a place for us to stay? There are so many people digging who all need a place to
sleep that a place to rent will be mighty scarce. I’ll be back shortly”, he promised.
After several hours of searching likely areas with no luck, he returned to the wagon that he had pulled
over on the side of the trail to unhitch the team.
“No luck on the rental. I did see some folks turned their wagon into a place to live. I think that’s our best
bet. It wouldn’t be fancy but it would be a whole lot better than living outdoors. I even saw some men
living in abandoned boats down on the waterfront. I guess the sailors decided they’d rather hunt for
“I’m counting on you to have a clear legal title to our claim. Have you checked that out in the assayer’s
“Not yet,” Henry confessed, “ but I guess I’d better do that right away,” and once again strode off down
the road and around the corner.
Too much time went by and Mary was beginning pace in circles. At last, the familiar figure was
approaching, returning with news of their future.
“Well my dear, it seems that the fella we got our claim from was a crook. He sold the same claim twice
and we are out of luck… I just took the next best opportunity and swapped our tools and team for a
grocery cart. One thing you can promise about miners; they eat every day and we are going to get ready
to feed ‘em.”