Interpretive observation by Scott Hart (AKA Joshua L.)

Journey to the Gold Fields

Friday - April 6, 1849

Hello, dear journal! It's me, Scott Hart. I haven't been writing to you a lot lately. I have been concentrating on getting some money for our rent. Mr. Helver let me skip last month's payment but I will have to pay the bill next month. That means another $50 will have to be paid. I pray every night hoping that somehow I will be able to gather up some money for rent, food, and clothing.

Saturday - April 7, 1849

Today was a sad day for me. When I finished printing the newspaper, I asked the owner, Mr. Ross, for a slightly higher amount of money in my salary.

He told me, "Scott, Scott, Scott, my dear boy. I'm a hard working man. I pay you $8 an hour and you want more for your salary? You don't do good work anyway. You shouldn't even be getting anything. In fact, YOU'RE FIRED!"

I was very mad and sad but it never bothered me. It will affect the amount of money I get but I won't stop looking for a job.

Sunday - April, 8, 1849

Wherever I went, I never found a job. I found out I was very good at making barrels, but every time I nailed the bottom shut, my finger would get caught and bleed. When the boss sold them the customer made a complaint about a red paint on their barrels. I told the boss the truth and he fired me. I had given up. I couldn't find a job. It was a very bad time for the Hart family in New York.

Monday - April 9, 1849

As I walked down the Chambers Street, there was a sign on the tree. It said, "A PASSAGE TO THE GOLD REGION FOR $ 75!" It was an ad to go on a packet ship to California. You could look for gold there. I ran home with the paper and told my family about it. Only several families could be accommodated.

There were four choices for a spot on the boat. I read the prices that said . . . Steerage Passage $ 75; Cabin Passage $150; Ditto out and home $ 200; Ditto with board while there $ 250. We had $ 534 so we made a decision to pay $ 150 for a cabin. The boat was going to leave the next morning at 7 A.M. We had to get ready to leave.

Tuesday - April 10, 1849

We left the house at 6:15 A.M. We had to get the food and tools we would need. Our list included: one pound of hard bread $ 2; two pounds of cheese $ 9; two pounds of butter $ 2; three bottles of ale $ 63; a gun $ 12; 3 shovels $ 150; and 3 pickaxes $ 152. That left us with $46. When we were done, we ran for the ship. We got on and we were off for gold!

Wednesday - April 11, 1849

The ride is very boring to everyone. Sometimes when waves come in, the stuff we had in our cabin would slide the way the waves were pushing the boat. A lot of people got seasick and vomited into the sea. My daughter was one of those people. I looked at the sea for about 35 minutes. I saw the sea get darker when we go farther and I also see dolphins. I really wished this ride were over. There's nothing to do except to sleep, eat, or look at the sea. You can also just have a conversation with someone.

Thursday - April 12, 1849

It is very cold at night. Nothing is fun anymore until we get off the ship. I find myself doing the same thing every day . . . looking at the sea.

Monday - April 16, 1849

It's been seven days and we haven't reached Panama City yet. My family is starting to run out of food. My son has just gotten the flu and my wife just vomits into the sea every day. I don't know. Maybe this was all a bad idea. Maybe this was a mistake, but we can't turn back. It's way too late now.

Thursday - April 19, 1849

I've had it with this trip. A lot of men brought rum on the ship and get drunk every once and a while. They fall on people or scare them. My children get scared sometimes and run all over the ship. Yesterday my daughter got lost because of being scared. It took us four hours to find her looking all over the ship. She was up on deck crying. She told me she wanted to get off, but there was no way. If we get off at Panama City, how would we get home? Well, what you gonna do?

Wednesday - April 25, 1849

It has been twenty days and we still haven't reached Panama City. Since we've been on this ship, there's nothing to write about anymore. It's just boring around here.

Thursday - April 26, 1849

It's been about a month now. We are expecting to reach Panama City any day now. It's very foggy this morning. This is the first day it has been foggy. The wind is pushing the sails pretty fast so we have good speed. Any day now. Any day.

Saturday - April 28, 1849

Success! We have finally reached Panama City. It was time to get off the ship. The captain on the ship said we were going to pass through a jungle and take a raft to a ship on the other side of Panama. We got off the ship and walked through the jungle. It was terrible! Snakes were scary and they might bite us. Mosquitoes were buzzing in our ears and large leaves slapped our faces. A lot of us fell on the ground or got cut and would have to be helped along the rest of the walk. Some men with guns shot the snakes to defend themselves and their families. We also saw lizards. They sometimes jump at us. I'll tell you, I would rather touch fire than go through this jungle.

The raft ride was fine. It took three rafts to fit everyone in our group. In about a day we reached the other ship. We had no major problems with people getting sick or dying. We were off again for another boring voyage on the sea.

Friday - May 11, 1849

After fourteen days on this ship, we used the last of our food. In about fourteen more days we should reach San Francisco, California. Everything takes time.

Tuesday - May 15, 1849

Everyone on the ship is starting to recover from the flu. At least something good is happening. We haven't got a long wait.

Saturday - May 16, 1849

Today I was just thinking about getting us some good gold. In about 12 - 13 days, we will reach California.

Monday - May 18, 1849

The ship just finished going through a storm. It was not major. It was just a lot of rain and strong winds. Today we started to see birds flying. That told us that we were near land.

Wednesday - May 23, 1849

26 days! I'm starting to see land. It was California. We were all happy but we had about another day of travel before we dock. After scares, cuts, sickness, hunger, and being bored, we have finally reached California.

Thursday - May 24, 1849

The ship hit on land and we got off. The next thing we had to do was take a wagon to a gold site. When we get there, we will go to sleep. Our gold mining adventure is about to begin!

We left on Tuesday, April 10 and have reached California on Thursday, May 24. We are fortunate that we all arrived safely.

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