May 28, 2006
Nevada's Online State News Journal
Senator William M. Stewart
GEORGE ROTHWELL BROWN
NEW YORK AND WASHINGTON
THE NEALE PUBLISHING COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1908, BY
WILLIAM M. STEWART
[Part 1 -- Chapters I-VII]
This book is dedicated to my mother, Mrs. Miranda Stewart, whose early training was the only preparation I had for the battle of life. Her discipline was strict, but not unkind. She was patient and gave good reasons for what she required of her children; was firm and commanded their respect and obedience. Her conduct through life was guided by her best judgment. If I had always kept in view the rules of conduct which she prescribed I would have made few mistakes. Her teachings, so far as I have been guided by them, have been of great service to me during the whole course of my life.
Whatever of good I may have accomplished was inspired by my dear mother at an early period of my existence.
WILLIAM M. STEWART.
Birth—My mother—Early memories—Hunting with Rover—A fortune in coon-skins 21
I am cheated by a sanctimonious deacon—Joshua Giddings inspires me with the ambition to be an orator—I leave home and begin the battle of life—School— I do a man's work, and save money. 26
Herding cattle—First visit to a great city—I win fame as a harvester and lay my rivals out—Student and school teacher—An unruly pupil floored—I enter Yale—College pranks 33
Gold fever—I determine to go to California—Storm off Hatteras —Arrival in Panama—A priest and a cock fight—Gambling in San Francisco—In desperate straits—Ill with fever, I struggle to the gold diggings—Money in sick miners—My first claim 48
The lead struck—I defend my rights—The first woman in camp —"Oh, Joel"—Three thousand dollars for the timid female-- Brisk matrimonial market—Ten divorces in one afternoon—Starting a frontier aristocracy 60
Scourge in the Diggings—Prospecting in the Sierra Nevadas--Grizzly Ditch—Lost in a blizzard—Ham-bone soup for starving men—An arrow through my hat—Indians—We wipe out Chief "Big Jim's" band—A ghastly discovery—Surveying without instruments 68
I begin the practice of law—Appointed District Attorney—A fight in the court-room—I polish my legal knowledge in jail--The heathen Chinee—I meet an obstacle in a murder case. 76
Fight over a mining claim—An outcast from camp—I prevent a mob from lynching an innocent man—Nominated for District Attorney—Elected—Hot politics and a bloody battle —Heroes with the girls 82
Dueling in 1852—Southerners and "mackerel catchers"—The sleepy miner and the tire-eater who would not fight—I start a newspaper in opposition to Aaron A. Sargent 89
Zeke Dougherty's court—Profanity from the bench and frontier justice—I get the drop on a desperado witness—Johnny Little's court in Cy Brown's saloon, where I win a lawsuit with a demijohn of whiskey 95
Reign of terror in San Francisco—Judge Botts changes his politics—The most eloquent man in America, and how a citizen of California was elected to the United States Senate from Oregon—My marriage—I clear a murderer and get the jury in trouble 103
I become interested in politics—Governor Bigler insulted—Appointed Attorney-General—Terry and Broderick duel—A tragedy in a hair-trigger—Crabb's expedition to Mexico 116
Discovery of the Comstock—Rush to the new diggings—Outrages by the Indians—Piute war—An ambush in a canyon—A volunteer army and a treaty of peace—California admitted to the Union—Origin of mining laws 123
Comstock lode fortified—Trouble brewing—I get the drop on a "bad man"—A desperado who killed sixteen men in one winter—A brave Dutchman—The terror of the camp—Rival judges and mixed justice 129
Making Nevada a territory—I help to locate the Capital—The great flood of 1861—I lose my fortune in a night—Frightful journey on foot to San Francisco in blizzard—Borrow $30,000 and get a new start—Half a million in fees in one case 140
Chollar and Potosi controversy—Exposure of bribed jurors—I turn the tables on my enemies—Three judges resign in one day—$14,000 in greenbacks for information—The jockey skips 152
Condemned to death by a mob of miners at Virginia City—I master the situation and prove the strength of my friends—Nevada becomes a State—Elected to the United States Senate December 15, 1864—I draw the long term 164
Lincoln as I knew him—Stanton and the rich Israelite—A White House joke on a couple of Senatorial wits—Lincoln's method of transacting business—No cabinet officers, only messenger boys—The President's joke on Alexander H. Stephens—Peace Conference at Fortress Monroe—The new Cabinet—Horace Greeley grows wise 168
Zach Chandler's conspiracy to invade Canada—An army of Grant's and Lee's veterans to whip the British—Farragut and the Charleston mines—Sheridan characterizes the French army as a mob—With Lincoln at City Point—A dash on the Rebel lines 177
Assassination of Lincoln—His last written words a message to me—Reign of terror—Washington on the verge of a bloody battle between Federal and Confederate soldiers—How a drunken man was sworn in as President—Johnson's quarrel with Congress 186
The War Senate—Pen pictures of the great leaders of the nation—Thad. Stevens and his domestic scandal—Conkling and Blaine, and Congressional jealousies—The corpse was dry—Senator McDougall's tribute to whiskey 201
Slavery—Plans of reconstruction—Congress in confusion—The breach with Johnson widens—A consultation with Alexander II. Stephens—Senate debates—Dark days after the war—Governor Andrew of Massachusetts endorses my amendment 213
Mark Twain becomes my secretary—Back from the Holy Land, and he looks it—The landlady terrorized—I interfere with a humorist's pleasures, and get a black patch—Revenge ! Clemens the hero of a Nevada hold-up 219
Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution—Explanatibn of my vote—Military bill passed the House—Opposition to martial law—President Johnson vetoed 225
General Grant elected President—Re-elected to the Senate in 1869—Conference with Grant—I write the Fifteenth amendment—Its passage by Congress—Grant's Inaugural recommendation on negro suffrage 231
I am denounced by Charles Sumner—An overestimated statesman—My reply to him in the Senate—How Lincoln played on Stunner's vanity—Sumner's denunciation of Grant at a dinner to the British Commission—He is disposed from important Senate chairmanship—A State secret 237
With Grant on the Pacific Coast—White House Conferences —I decline a Supreme Court appointment—The Apaches on the war-path—Confirmation of Tom Murphy—A dramatic scene in the Senate--Conkling threatens to expose Fenton--A mock fight in the Senate to save a friend 250
Retire from the Senate and return to Nevada—Mining in the Panamint—I buy a mine from bandits, and secure their friendship—Silver cannon-balls foil the outlaws—Back to the law—The cow-boy reign in Arizona—Cattle thieves and litigation 261
Trip to Sonora, Mexico, in search of mines-4 borrow an "Injun" dog—An old Spaniard's story—Origin of the Apaches and how they got their courage—A brave Chinaman 268
A celebrated breach of promise suit—The killing of Judge Terry—Again a candidate for the Senate—Reply to attacks by Senator Fair on my character—Reelected to the Senate in 1887—Career in that body—A total service of twenty-nine years 274
Return to the Senate—The demonetization of silver—Exposure of John Sherman—How he deceived Congress—I offer a bill to restore silver 284
Nomination of Benjamin Harrison—How John Sherman was beaten for the Presidency—Harrison's pledge for free coinage and how he repudiated it—Debate with Reagan—Lodge's "Force" bill 292
Force bill resumed—Side-tracked for silver with aid of new Senators from Idaho—Trip to New York to pair Senator Stanford against Force bill—I outwit Senator Aldrich—Confirmation of L. Q. C. Lamar 299
Harrison's infidelity to pledge—His capacity to repel both friends and foes—Cleveland's panic—The fall of Congress into the arms of the, gold trust—My protest against the Gladstone-Cleveland bondholding combination 310
The money question—Adherence to principle regardless of party —Supply of money a necessity, enormous output of gold furnished that supply—Conversion of my critics to the view I advocated in 1900—No more office for me 316
Cleveland's bond speculations and Venezuela deal—His repudiation by the Democratic Convention of 1896—The nomination of Bryan on a free-coinage platform—His brilliant campaign and defeat by lavish use of money by the gold trust—Bryan's mistake in advocating silver money after the enormous output of gold made money plenty 320
The Pacific Railroad—Jefferson Davis's survey—Collis I'. Huntington—Crossing the Rockies—Rivalry of the companies—Credit Mobilier scandal—Investigation by Congress—Beginning of railroad discrimination against the people 332
Conflict between the railroads and the Government—How the trusts rob the people—An argument for government ownership a gloomy view of the economic situation—Praise for Theodore Roosevelt 342
Irrigation investigations in the arid regions—Marvels of the Mormons—Major Powell grows ambitious and is removed from office—A powerful friend in the White House—What Roosevelt has done for the development of the country 347
Conclusion—The Pious Fund Case—I argue before the Hague Court of Arbitration—A tribute to the Dutch—I retire from the Senate—Back to the Nevada gold fields 356
When one has reached the age of eighty-three years. and is rounding out with honor and dignity a career extending over three generations, marked not only by the picturesque adventures of youth, but by the signal services of a statesman to his country in maturity, it becomes at once his privilege and his duty to tell the story of his life. It is a rare combination—a story worth telling and the courage to tell it without prejudice. With the exception of General Grant, I do not believe a man has appeared in public life during the past half century, so well equipped to leave to posterity a record of great value as is William M. Stewart, of whose long span the twenty-nine years spent in the Senate of the United States, while perhaps the most important, were by no means the most interesting.
Here is a man, who, on the score of seniority, has the right to be heard. Were he an unschooled farmer he would have by virtue of his gray hair, a story of pregnant interest, rich with the experience and philosophy of life. But since he is one of the most brilliant and accomplished men of his time, and one whose influence has helped to shape the destinies of the Republic, his prerogative must he unquestioned. (Endowed with a perfect physique, enduring health, and tremendous bodily strength, he has been able to defy the enemy which has overcome, one by one, all the associates of his generation, while preserving in full the power and force of his great intellectuality.
William M. Stewart took his seat in the United States Senate February 1, 1865, when Nevada, the State of his adoption, and which he made his own so completely that for years he held it in the hollow of his
hand, was admitted into the Union. He was then about forty years of age. At that time he must have been a Hercules. At eighty-three he is as straight as a juniper, as hard as a blacksmith, as keen of eye as an eagle, and he has not lost one inch in height since that day, forty-three years ago, he stood before Hannibal Hamlin to take the oath of office, a commanding picture of magnificent manhood.
Born in a log cabin in a wilderness, of old Colonial stock, at the age of ten he began the battle of life, and did a man's work, and, inured by privations and hardships, he laid the foundation of that superb animalism which, in later years, when a miner with pick and shovel in the gold diggings of California, was to make him a master of men in an environment in which the weakling went down, the average had no chance, and only the fittest could survive.
Personal bravery played a leading part in his success. The same audacity and courage with which he met the tribulations of the poor farm boy, conquered unruly bullies as a country schoolmaster, plodded his weary way toward education, and, penniless, and broken with fever, began the search for gold in an alien land, stood by him throughout life. On one occasion his entire fortune of half a million dollars was swept away in a flood. There could be nothing more typically American than the fortitude with which he faced this catastrophe. Before the debris of his mining plant had vanished in the boiling river, he had started, on foot, on a journey of three hundred miles across the Sierra Nevada range, while there raged one of the most appalling storms in the history of California. His course was beset by all the dangers of landslides and swollen streams. He reached San Francisco, where, his only security his good name and a flooded mine, he borrowed thee money to start life anew. Then he retraced that perilous trail, returned to his camp, met all his obligations, and paid
his men, before his enemies, who would have been glad to ruin him, had themselves recovered from the effects of the great disaster.
Senator Stewart has always been a man of restless energy. He inherited a splendid mind, and, even as a boy, he had a thirst for knowledge, a thirst which has never been slaked. At eighty-three he is the same serious student as at thirteen, when he left his father's roof to seek employment as a woodchopper, that he might earn the money to go to school. At twenty-two he was in Yale, and when, for the time being, he abandoned books to go to California in '49, encountering hardships no college boy of to-day would undergo, he took his place as leader among his associates, not only because of the sinew of his mighty right arm, but because of his native shrewdness, intelligence, and education.
In the mad scramble for wealth in the treasure vaults of El Dorado, young Stewart was in the fore, and obtained his share. To-day he might he a money-hoarding, cold-blooded pirate of high finance, for in him the money-making instinct is highly developed. But the man is at heart a romantic adventurer; he plays the game of speculation for the game itself, and not for the spoils; his pleasure is not gold, but the getting of it. Probably no man in the United States has won and lost more fortunes than William M. Stewart. Had he been less of a Robinson Crusoe, to-day he might be a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, with a longer term of service to his credit than any man has had. In 1871 President Grant tendered him an appointment to that Bench, which he declined. He preferred the greater action and hazard which went with the toga of a Senator and the overalls of a miner. But had he accepted, his reputation as a lawyer could not have been increased, although he would have been an honor to that great tribunal. When he came to Washington he had to his fame not only success in the most notable
litigations in the West, but the distinction of being the author of the mining laws of the land, laws which he framed so ably that they stand, even now, a monument to legal genius of which any man well might boast.
The years spent in the Golden West were golden years, indeed. Many years after his arrival in the promised land—years during which he carried his life in his hands with reckless abandon; years during which he fought Indians, battled with bandits, organized and enforced rude frontier justice, playing a man's part in a man's life—many years after he had planted his pick in Grizzly Ditch, Mark Twain and Bret Harte, called "pioneers," appeared upon the scene, and wrote the stories this blue-eyed, iron-fisted, fearless giant helped enact.
I seem to see him now, with a derringer in each hand, cowing the bully of the camp, a man who had sixteen notches in the handle of his "gun," and was generally reputed to be a stranger to fear. Many other men, since then, including one who had been a President of the United States, have quailed tinder the lightning flash from Stewart's eye. It is a mild blue eye when he is at peace with the world, an eye that makes children smile, and lift up their arms to him; but when his shaggy brows are in a frown,—well the slayer of those sixteen men laughed away the pistols with a jest, and said: "I like your kind; have a drink !"
Nevada joined the Sisterhood long before her rightful turn because Northern leaders saw that her votes would be required in the adoption of Constitutional amendments to be proposed when the War of Secession was at an end. William M. Stewart, politician as well as statesman, had been in the thick of Territorial disputes, and, when another Star was called to the Blue, he came to Washington, her first Senator, to pin it there.
It is possible that he did not find Washington, in 1865, materially different from California in 1850. As
the bitter struggle for riches in the golden gullies had smelted out only men of might, and strength, and determination, so had the crisis in the Nation's affairs brought to the surface in the Capital the ablest minds of the time. Young Stewart, having taken his scat, found himself removed from an atmosphere of primitive contention, to a condition akin to it, a condition growing out of the war. In a short time, so well did he conduct himself, and with so fine a skill and comprehension did he enter into the spirit of his surroundings, he found himself in a conspicuous position, similar to that he had always occupied, whether on the farm, in the schoolroom, in the mining camp, or in the court-house.
Some of the greatest men the Republic has produced were his playfellows in the Senate, playfellows in a great game with Destiny, and when he coped with them, he found himself the peer of all, the superior of many. Vice-President Hamlin, Buckalew, Cowan, Foot, Reverdy Johnson, John P. Hale, John Sherman, Thomas A. Hendricks, Benjamin F. Wade, William Pitt Fessenden, these were the men grouped about him in that historic forum—the War Senate.
Throughout the closing days of the War, and during the frightful period of Reconstruction, Senator Stewart was the consistent friend of the South, although himself a strong Union man. Perhaps his most signal contribution in that period was the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, of which he is the author. Hardly less notable, later on, was his defeat of the Force Bill.
Now that he has come to write of his colleagues, all of whom have long since passed away, who will begrudge him consent to paint them as they were, not as new generations have been taught to regard them ? If Andrew Johnson was a drunkard, and broke his pledged word at a critical time, is it not just the world should see him in his moral nakedness? If Charles
Sumner was a vain, petulant, over-grown boy, an inconsequential busy-body clothed in pompous impotency, disgraced by his fellow Republicans for his discourtesy, even treachery, to the President of the United States, why should not his true character be laid bare, and the truth about him told, in the interest of history?
Senator Stewart has no apologies to make. He has told the truth as he has seen it, and he has told it not for the love of hitting every head in sight, but because it is his privilege to tell the truth, the honored privilege of honored age. A blow with a cudgel, here and there, where a good lick is richly deserved, but for the greater part of the journey—for the greater part of the book, f from cover to cover,—smiles and good nature. Smiles and good nature.—The story of a successful life, a life of wide and enduring influence.
GEORGE ROTHWELL BROWN.
Washington, D. C., March 27, 1908.
Birth—My mother—Early memories—Hunting with Rover—A fortune in coon-skins.
I was born August 9, 1825, in a log-house at Galen, Wayne County, New York, about four miles to the east of the town of Lyons.
My father's family were of Scotch origin, and were among the early settlers of Massachusetts. My grandfather was a soldier in the Revolution, and shortly after peace was declared he moved to Vermont and settled upon a tract of land where he with his family resided many years. My father, Frederick Augustus Stewart, served in a Vermont regiment during the war of 1812. Soon after that war my grandfather was killed by a cyclone while attempting to close a barn door. After his death the family made an exchange of their land in Vermont for a tract in the township of Galen, Wayne County, New York, to which they removed.
The land in New York was divided among the family, my father's portion being something over one hundred and fifty acres. Soon after my father settled there he married Miranda Morris. Her father, for whom I was named, was William Morris. His wife, my grandmother, was Miranda Dodd, a Knickerbocker of New York.
My mother had great strength of character, and her life was pure and honest. She loved truth and justice and never told a falsehood. She spoke ill of no one; her neighbors had perfect confidence in her and frequently referred to her as an arbitrator in their family disputes. She reared a family of seven children, four girls and three boys, all of whom are dead except myself. Although in humble circumstances and amid pioneer
92 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
surroundings, she made a home for her family which was always well provided for and comfortable.
I refrained from taking advantage of opportunities that existed to inform myself in regard to my ancestors, on account of the disgust I felt for persons of no consequence who were constantly boasting of their pedigrees.
My parents lived on the Galen farm until I was six years old, when it was ascertained that my grandfather's land in Vermont, which had been exchanged for the New York land, had a fatal defect in the title; and as the title to the land in Galen depended upon the title to the Vermont land, my father lost his farm.
The year previous to this loss my grandfather, William Morris, moved from his home in Wayne County to Mesopotamia Township, Trumbull County, Ohio, where my father followed in August, 1832. Although I was only seven years old at the time I distinctly recollect many things that occurred before we moved to Ohio, one of which was during Jackson's second campaign in 1832.
Political excitement was very intense. We had a neighbor whose name was Pope, a very earnest Jackson man, who used to visit our house and amuse himself with my brother John, then three years old, and myself. He would make John stand upon a table and declare that he was a Jackson man first, last, and all the time. I also remember going to Lyons on the Fourth of July during Jackson's campaign, seeing the procession, and hearing the orators make speeches, although I cannot now remember the names of any of the speakers. I recently visited Lyons, my birthplace, in New York, and also Mesopotamia Township, Ohio. I recognized the familiar landmarks in these places, but was able to find very few of the people who were there during my childhood.
Our family settled on the banks of Grand River, in the "backwoods." The fall after we arrived there, an
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 23
Englishman who moved into the neighborhood gave me a puppy which I named Rover, and which turned out to be a great treasure.
The country around Grand River was remarkably prolific in wild game, particularly coons. When the puppy was a year old—and a good, sturdy, sensible puppy he was—he enjoyed the reputation of being the best coon dog in the neighborhood. In fact, he was the only coon dog which amounted to anything for miles around. I was a youngster, and the larger boys of my acquaintance looked down upon me, and did not seem to desire my company—until Rover evinced great skill in hunting coons. I think that about that time I became the most popular boy in Trumbull County.
Every day the coon hunters, who had formerly scorned me, fairly showered me with attentions. They begged my mother to let me go coon hunting with them, promising that they would take good care of me. She finally consented, and I would go off with the boys, swelling with pride. Of course Rover went along. In fact, he would not leave me to go with anyone else. Pretty soon I began thinking about this. By and by the secret of my popularity dawned upon me. I think it injured my pride at first, but as I was really fond of coon hunting, and did not want to deprive Rover of any pleasure, I thought I would put my pride in my pocket. As balm for my injured feelings I made a contract with the boys that I would have one-third of the coons caught.
It was a mean advantage to take of them, and I have regretted it since. After all, Rover enjoyed the sport for sport's sake, while I reduced the proposition to sordid commercialism.
The first fall we caught six coons, two of that number being my share. The skins were worth fifty cents apiece, and the oil was worth nearly as much more. I realized from my two coons $1.80, which was the first money I
24 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
ever earned, and being only nine years old it made me quite a capitalist in those days.
I expended $1.20 for shoes for myself and eldest sister. The shoes were rough and strong, and were made by a traveling shoemaker. The remaining sixty cents I saved for General Training day, which was a great event at that time. The militia trained at Mesopotamia Center the following spring, where I enjoyed myself almost without limit.
An elderly woman had a stand where she sold gingerbread and root beer. The loaves were immense, being from five to six inches thick, and about a foot across. A big section cost ten cents. I bought a chunk of the gingerbread and a large pitcher of root beer and invited my friends to a sumptuous lunch, which we devoured without much ceremony. This took one-third of my capital and left me only forty cents, which I gave to my mother, telling her I would not need any more money until "cooning time" came again in the fall.
The result of the "cooning" the next fall was very satisfactory. We killed fifteen. Although we slept out many nights, and wandered up and down through the brush and swamps of Grand River for fifteen or twenty miles, we did not mind the fatigue because the sport was fine.
Rover was an adept in the art of catching coons. He caught eight or ten that fall in cornfields where they were doing much damage to the crops, and he ran the others up trees which the boys chopped down. Rover invariably got his coon when the tree fell. If the tree was a large one Rover and I would lie down to keep each other warm while the boys felled it. When the tree began cracking Rover would spring up and place himself where the top would fall, and never failed to nab the victim.
My share of the coon skins and the oil for the second year's hunting amounted to $4.35. Three dollars of
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 25
this was expended by me in buying shoes for myself and my brothers and sisters when the cobbler came to our house in the fall. I bought school-books for which I paid fifty cents, retaining eighty-five cents to spend at the General Training the next spring, where I repeated my dissipation of the previous year, spending twenty cents. I was very fond of General Training, because the boys and men indulged in all kinds of sports, such as running, jumping, wrestling and boxing, in which I took a very active part at an early age.
During the summer I helped my father on the farm at all sorts of work. That winter I went to common school three months, and returned to work again in the spring. Often I would work all day and hunt coons all night.
I am cheated by a sanctimonious deacon—Joshua Giddings inspires me with the ambition to be an orator—I leave home and begin the battle of life—School--I do a man's work, and save money.
There was a huckleberry swamp in the township of Bloomfield about five miles east of where we lived on Grand River, where 1 went two or three times during each summer with my mother and some of the neighbors and their children to gather huckleberries. We loaded a wagon each time with the berries, which were very abundant, so had to walk home. On one of these occasions the larger boys who were with us persuaded my mother to allow me to remain with them and attend a political meeting which was to be held at Bloomfield Center in the evening.
Several of the local candidates reveled in oratory, and Joshua Giddings was there and made a speech against the Democratic party. Giddings's speech inspired me with ambition to be a great man and to talk as he did. I never have forgotten the impressions I received at that meeting.
About that time I was taught a very valuable lesson by a man named Deacon Laird, a ranting member of the Methodist church, who was a neighbor of ours. My mother and Deacon Laird belonged to the same church and the families were quite friendly.
Early in June, when corn became, large enough to hoe, my father was called away to Cleveland, which was then a small village. Before he left he plowed a patch of corn and told me to hoe it while he was gone. As he expected to be away three or four days I had ample time to perform the task he left me. When I was on my way to the cornfield, the morning after my
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 27
father left, Deacon Laird's son John, about two years older than I, told me that his father wanted to hire me a day or two to help him hoe their corn. I told him I could do the work my father left me in about a day or a day and a half, and if he would hire me for two days I would take the chances of getting my work done before my father came back. He took me to his father, who was just going into the field with his old mare to plow. It was then about half past seven. Deacon Laird said he would hire me for two days and pay me twenty-five cents a day if I would work well. I thought it a good opportunity, because I had only twenty cents left of my coon money. We did not get fairly to work until about eight o'clock, but worked on until nearly dark.
The next day I was on hand at half past six in the morning and went to work immediately. We took a short recess in the middle of the day for dinner, and John and I worked like beavers to keep up with the deacon plowing the corn.
A little after four o'clock word came to the field that the mother of the hired girl was very ill and that the girl must go home immediately ; so the deacon let her take the old mare to ride, and stopped work, while John and I finished the hoeing in about half an hour. I then went with John to the yard gate and told him to go to his father and get the money to pay me. I supposed I was entitled to fifty cents for the two days' work. John came out in a few minutes and handed me a ten-cent piece so badly worn that I could not tell what its nationality was; but John said his father told him it was a York shilling, which was twelve and a half cents. I was very much in doubt about the money, and went a mile and a half to Mesopotamia Center to see Mr. Winter, a storekeeper, to ask him about it. He told me it was a very badly worn ten-cent piece and that I had better get rid of it as soon as I could.
28 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
The next morning I went to Deacon Laird to collect the balance of the money which was due me.
"You have worked only one day," he said, "only half a day each day you were here. I have paid you a shilling."
"No, it was only a ten-cent piece," I replied.
"I am never mistaken in money," he insisted.
I told him Mr. Winter said it was only a ten-cent piece.
"I have paid you twelve and a half cents, and I owe you twelve and a half cents more, which I will pay you some time when I have the money," he retorted.
"You say you will pay me only twelve and a half cents more, and you say that was a shilling you gave me," I answered, backing off a little, looking at him all the time and picking up some stones. When I said the last word I let drive at him and cursed him for everything I could think of. He came after me, but I got over the fence quicker than he could and got out of his way, and went to my father's cornfield and finished the work he left me to do.
I was greatly troubled for fear Deacon Laird would misrepresent the affair to my mother. I finally concluded I would make a clean breast of it and tell her all about it. She did not know that I had worked for Deacon Laird at all, and was very much affected by my story. She never chastised me when she was angry, but would always put it off and do it very deliberately later on. When I told her how I had cursed the Deacon she shed tears and said:
"My son, I am deeply hurt, and very sorry that you have used profane language. You don't know how it pains me."
I expected she would call me up the next day and punish me, but she never said a word about it. I noticed a coolness between her and Deacon Laird afterward, but she never mentioned the subject to me again.
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 29
This little experience with Deacon Laird has been of great value to me through life. It has made me suspicious of people who are too loud in their profession of religion. I have always been afraid that they were using the garb of sanctity to cloak their rascality, and. to my advantage, I have refrained from trusting them.
My coon hunting during the following year was not as profitable as the year before, my share amounting to only about $2.50, of which I spent $2 for shoes for myself and my brothers, and sisters. I was not able to procure many new (shoes, but the cobbler mended up the old ones and made us very comfortable that winter.
About a week before General Training the following spring, I was at Mr. Winter's store at Mesopotamia Center, and he invited me to take twelve o'clock dinner with him on General Training day. I gladly accepted the invitation, which relieved me from the expense of buying gingerbread and root beer.
The only recreation I had that summer from work on the farm was fishing and swimming in Grand River. The lock tender of the Erie Canal taught me to swim about as soon as I could walk; at all events, I do not remember when I could not swim. In the winter I again attended the district school on Grand River. Among the pupils was a black-eyed little girl, Mary Easton, about my own age, of whom I was very fond. The schoolhouse was warmed by an old-fashioned fireplace with a back-log, andirons, and a big pile of wood. The boys usually made the fire in the morning, and one morning while several of the larger boys were having difficulty in putting the back-log in place, in the presence of the other scholars, among whom was the black-eyed little girl, I seized the opportunity to show off.
I picked up one end of the back-log, the other slipped, and the log dropped on my toe, smashing it so it was
30 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
marked for life. I did not tell anybody I was hurt, but worked away at the log until I got it in place. I
then went home with my shoe almost full of blood; but after the toe was dressed I returned to school for the remainder of the day without letting the scholars know I had been hurt.
The following spring I met with a great calamity. Rover died. I have always thought some boys whom I would not take "cooning" with me poisoned him out of revenge. I buried him by the side of a big rock, and on a recent visit to my old home I found the rock and was able to identify the burial-place of my faithful dog.
The next summer and fall were spent working on my father's farm as usual, and in the winter I again attended the district school. I had then grown to be almost the size of a man, being in my fourteenth year. In the spring there was not much to do on the farm, as the corn planting did not take place until about the middle of May.
A neighbor named Nathan Brazee wanted to hire me for a short time. So one morning after breakfast, while my father was still in the house, and mother was attending to her household affairs, I asked father if he had any objections to my working for Mr. Brazee until time to plant corn. He treated my request rather lightly, and laughingly remarked:
"Why, certainly, you can go and stay as long as you have a mind, and you need not come back any more unless you wish to."
Mother overheard the remark, and said to him:
"Augustus, you had better not make a bargain with William, for if you do he will keep it."
He laughed again, and said:
"All right, it's a bargain. He can keep it."
I thanked him for his consent, and left the house that morning, went to the house of Mr. Brazee, and made
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 31
a contract to work for him for six months at eight dollars a month. I did all kinds of work, and fully supplied the place of a man until haying was over.
Mr. Brazee then called my attention to a five-acre lot of timbered land which he wanted cleared. The mode of clearing at that time was felling the trees, trimming and piling the brush, and cutting the bodies of the trees into logging lengths; that is, such lengths as could be rolled into log heaps and burned. I asked him how long a time he would allow me to clear the five acres, and he said, "The balance of your six months." I agreed to that and did the work in a little over six weeks, but my right hand bears the marks of that work to this day.
My six months' pay was due before Mr. Brazee was able to meet his obligation. Adjoining the five acres I had cut he had a ten-acre tract which formed an ell to his farm. I knew a man who wanted the ten acres, and I asked Mr. Brazee what he would take for the land. He said I might have it for what he owed me. I closed the bargain at once, went to the man whom knew wanted the land, and sold it to him for a yoke of steers and fifty sheep. 1 soon found a cash customer for my steers and sheep and sold them for sixty dollars.
I took this money and started to the academy at West Farmington, which was at that time quite a flourishing institution in the township adjoining Mesopotamia Township on the south. I rented a room for a dollar a month, bought a bed and bedding of very primitive quality for four dollars, and a second-hand cook-stove for a dollar and a quarter. I cooked my own food, which did not cost me more than three dollars a month.
I was a very poor scholar for my age. My clothing was cheap but comfortable. My large size, and the hard work I had performed, gave me rather an uncouth and awkward appearance, and as I went into the schoolroom and took my seat I observed a sup-
32 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
pressed titter among the girls, which I realized I had occasioned.
Although I was backward in everything else, I had a natural aptitude for mathematics. Adam's arithmetic was used in the school, and before I had been there a month, and although I was sometimes compelled to refer to the multiplication table to refresh my memory, I could do all the hard problems in the "back of the book"; and before the term was out I could answer any question or do any problem in the book. The girls, as usual, dreaded arithmetic, and when the teacher would call me out for recitation and open the book at the hardest place he could find, I would answer all questions and do anything that was to be done on the blackboard without hesitation. The girls did not titter any more, and I was gratified to find myself a decided favorite before the term expired.
During my vacation I worked for Deacon Goff, who lived about a mile south of the academy. Deacon Goff was a very good man, charitable, and benevolent. He never used his religion as an advertising medium. I carried off brick in his brick yard for three months at twelve dollars a month.
In the fall I went back to the academy, and I had saved up enough money to enable me to have my eldest sister attend school with me for two terms. I could do this because I paid my own board and lodging by working mornings and evenings for Mr. Leonard Lewis, who had a farm about a mile west of the academy. I milked cows, cut wood, and fed stock.
Herding cattle—First visit to a great city—I win fame as a harvester and lay my rivals out—Student and school teacher—An unruly pupil floored—I enter Yale—College pranks.
The following summer, when I was sixteen years old, I hired out to assist a drover by the name of Loveland, whose business was to buy cattle in the West in the winter and drive them in the spring and early summer to Chester and other counties of Pennsylvania near Philadelphia. The cattle were kept in pasture until the early fall and then made ready for the eastern market. There were no railroads of any considerable extent in those days, but there was a magnificent macadamized road between Pittsburg and Harrisburg, the capital of the State. Mr. Loveland's drove that year numbered about twelve hundred steers. The drove moved slowly, because we had to find pasture for them along the way as it would not pay-to buy feed. Before we were over the mountains Mr. Loveland acquired the habit of giving all his orders through me, and told me when I had no special orders to use my own judgment in directing the men.
When we arrived in Chester County he asked me if I could take care of the cattle and find them pasture for six weeks or two months. He said if I could do so he would let all the other men go, and when I needed help I could hire boys in the neighborhood and pay them, and also keep accounts and pay the pasture bills. I was glad to have such an arrangement, because the men who came over with the drove had become a little jealous of me, and I was afraid I would have trouble if he left them with me.
I had a most delightful time that summer. I lived at
34 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
various farm-houses, and became acquainted with all the girls and boys, who thought nothing of walking eight or ten miles from one farm-house to another. Cherries were ripe, and all sorts of berries; peaches and plums came later. I did not have to hire any help, for when 1 wanted to change the cattle from one pasture to another the boys of the neighborhood all wanted to help drive them and thought it was great sport.
Beyond question the good old German Quaker women of Pennsylvania at that time were endowed with as much human kindness and motherly love as any who have ever appeared on earth, before or since. They gave me better things to eat at the farm-houses where I stopped than can be found at the most fashionable homes of modern aristocracy. The day we forded the Susquehanna River with our drove of cattle was characterized by the hardest work of the whole journey. We had no time to eat breakfast in the morning and did not get our cattle into pasture until four o'clock. I then went to a confectionery stand on a broad porch near the end of the bridge across the river. There I saw a very tempting-looking pie, and asked an old lady keeping the stand the price of a piece. The pie was cut in quarters, the pieces were very large, the price was ten cents. I laid ten cents on the counter, and as she placed the pie before me she gave me a kindly look, which seemed to me like a benediction, and said, "You have been working very hard driving them cattle and you want something more substantial before you eat that pie." She then brought out a large bowl of milk and a loaf of home-made bread and a big cut of home-made cheese, and said, "I advise you to eat that first and the pie afterward."
I never relished a meal more in my life, and the pie was something new, being made of tomato preserves. I never have eaten anything in the shape of a pie that equaled it. While I was eating the good things she
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 35
gave me she kindly talked to me about the country, and gave me a good deal of local information in a very short time.
When I offered to pay her for what she had given me in addition to the pie, she said:
"No, young man; when I saw thee hungry, it more than paid me to give thee food."
In the fall Mr. Loveland sold out his drove, and wrote to me to meet him in about five days at Harrisburg, where we would settle our accounts and go home.
As I had never seen a large city, Pittsburg then being only a small village, I had a great anxiety to visit Philadelphia, which was about thirty miles distant. I ate an early breakfast at the farm-house where I was stopping, put some crackers in my pocket, and started on foot for the big city. About twelve o'clock I stopped at a wayside pump and dined on crackers and water. I reached Philadelphia some time before sundown. Chestnut Street to me was a wonder, and I was not too tired to go the whole length of the business part of it before I took lodging for the night.
There was a receiving-ship in the harbor where they were enlisting and training boys for the Navy. I contrived to get aboard, thinking perhaps it would be a good thing for me to go to sea; but when I saw how the officer of the deck treated the enlisted men, I came to the conclusion that I would not trade my freedom for one day for all the navies in the world. I hurried back to the city and spent the day in sight-seeing. It seemed strange, after I became familiar with cities, how wonderful commonplace things appeared to me on my first visit to Philadelphia. I walked back to Harrisburg and arrived there by the time appointed by Mr. Loveland. It did not take long to settle the accounts; in fact, they were already settled by the bank which kept account of my orders. We returned to Ohio together in a buggy.
36 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
I went back to the Farmington Academy during the fall term, and at the Christmas holidays I engaged to teach a school for three months at Hampton, Lake County, Ohio. My school closed before the close of the spring term at Farmington, and I went back there and reviewed my studies for a month.
In the mean time, a high school where students were preparing for college was established at Lyons, New York, so I determined to leave the academy and go there.
After visiting my home and making some presents to my mother, brothers, and sisters, l had hardy enough left to pay my passage on the lake steamer and canal boat to Lyons. I walked to Ashtabula, a distance of about twenty-live or thirty miles, and took a steamer for Buffalo. The boat stopped at Erie, Pennsylvania.
I arrived at Lyons on a canal boat about four o'clock in the afternoon with fifty cents in my pocket. It was haying and harvesting time and I apprehended no difficulty in getting immediate employment. 1 followed the road going south from Lyons about half or three-quarters of a mile, to a large farm-house with many out-buildings, and turned into the gate. There was a porch nearly all the way around the house, which was built something after the Pennsylvania style. In the shade of the porch fronting the gate an old lady and gentleman were sitting in quiet conversation. I asked the old gentleman if he wanted any more help. He said:
"Yes, I want three or four more hands, but you look too delicate for my work; I don't think I want you." I turned to go away, and his wife said to him:
"Mr. Dunn, why don't you give that young man a chance? He is large and strong; it is his light complexion that makes him look delicate. Please give him a chance."
The old man called out to me in a gruff voice :
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 37
"Come back here, young man. What can you do ?" "Any work you have on the farm," I replied.
"Can you mow?"
"Can you cradle?"
"Can you rake and bind ?"
He pointed to a field near the barn, containing four acres of timothy and clover, and told me that the field was ripe enough to cut and that I might try my hand there.
He took down a scythe that was lying on a shed near by and told me to turn the grindstone and he would grind the scythe for me. I told him if I were going to mow I should prefer to grind my own scythe. "Can you grind a scythe ?" he said. I told him I could. The old lady spoke up again, saying:
"Mr. Dunn, you turn the grindstone and let the young man grind his own scythe," and he did so.
The next day I commenced mowing, but my hands were tender, as I had not worked recently, and they soon blistered and bled. I kept on, however, and before night I had cut two acres of that heavy grass, which was half the field. The men, as they came in from the wheat-field where eight or ten of them had been at work, took a look at what I had done, and spoke to Mr. Dunn about it as they passed into the farm-house. I did not hear what they said or his reply, but the old lady came to my relief again and said loud enough for me to hear, "I told Mr. Dunn that young man could work."
I finished mowing the next day, and the following morning Mr. Dunn told me I might go into the wheat-field and rake and bind, and that if I could keep up with the cradle it would he a dollar a day, but if I failed to do that it would he only seventy-five cents. I kept up with the cradle four days and the wheat harvest was
38 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
done. By that time Mr. Dunn and his wife had become my particular friends. They had a daughter, Sallie, about eighteen years old, and the old gentleman gave me an introduction to her, which was regarded at that time as a special honor.
There were two large fields, one on either side of the road, each containing about one hundred acres. Much of that ground is now occupied by the New York Central Railroad. Mr. Dunn said to me, "I want you to help mow those fields, and as 1 have observed that you arc particular about your scythe, we will go over to the village where you can pick one out and I will buy it for you." We carried out the suggestion, but the scythe had to be ground the next morning before it was fit for use. He told me to grind it and he would turn the grindstone, and while I was doing so, he said, "I don't want the men crowded, but I want them to be kept at work, and I want you to see to it that they don't fool away their time."
This conversation was unfortunately overheard by some of the men before they went out. As soon as my scythe was ground I followed them, but they all stopped down at a big gate opening into the field on the right-hand side of the road, and sneeringly said to me, "Boss, you go ahead and we will follow."
It was about half a mile across the field, and the person going ahead was required to lead the way and turn a double swath back, which is a great deal harder work than mowing after a swath has been cut.
Mr. Dunn had a nephew, whose name also was Dunn, a strong, vigorous man about thirty years old, and he had been in the habit of acting as foreman. He was very angry at my being selected to lead the men. He came immediately after me, and eight other men followed him. He mowed so close to me that it made it very hard work all the way round while I was turning the double swath. It was then my turn to go behind
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 39
all the others, and Dunn's to go ahead. I did not care much for the others, but Dunn's meanness, as I regarded it, annoyed me, and I decided then and there that he or I would have the worst of it before night.
I crowded up on the men before me, and either mowed around them or made them get out of the way and fall behind me until I got up to Dunn, then I followed him without giving him a breathing-spell. When we got around near the gate where we started we were too far ahead of the other mowers to change with them, so I went ahead and he followed me, and we continued that process until night.
The race attracted the attention of the people at the house, as they could see us from the porch. When we quit work that night Mr. Dunn called me aside and said he had no intention of killing me when he told me to keep the men at work, and that it was not necessary to mow any more until we had hauled in the hay already cut. I asked him if it would not be just as well to let his nephew and me mow until the grass was all cut, and let the others take it in.
"No," he said, "I am afraid you will kill yourself. He is older and ought to be tougher than you."
I insisted on mowing with young Dunn the next day. We slept in a large room in the second story on mattresses which were spread on the floor. Whiskey was used pretty freely on Mr. Dunn's farm, and there was always a jug in the field with the water bucket for those who chose to drink it. I did not drink whiskey at that time, but I told Mr. Dunn to put a bottle of it under my head and I would use it to wet the blanket under which I slept, which would prevent my being sore the next morning. When I awoke about dawn I felt as limber as usual. I watched the movements of Mr. Dunn's nephew and observed that he was a little stiff.
The fact that the race was going on became known, and Miss Dunn invited several of her friends to join
40 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
her and see the sport that day. We mowed on as we had done the day before, each working his best until four o'clock, at which time the young lady and one of the serving-women were in the habit of taking a lunch to the field for the men at work. On this occasion six or seven young ladies came with Miss Dunn when the lunch was brought out. I ate sparingly, but my appetite was fairly good. Dunn ate a few mouthfuls and we started back to our mowing. When he had mowed about a rod he lay down on the ground and vomited, and was too sick to get up. The girls told me to quit, but I told them I would not, but to send a team and take Dunn home, and I worked on until quitting time, but not over vigorously. When harvesting was over Mr. Dunn brought out a roll of bills, and handed them to me, saying, "I think that will pay you off."
On counting the money I found he had allowed me a dollar and a half a day for the whole time.
When the Lyons Union School commenced its fall term I became a student in that institution. The school had four grades, first, second, third, and fourth. Professor Brittan was the president, and he, with an assistant, taught the languages. Professor Elliott was teacher of higher mathematics. I devoted myself during the first term to the languages, and reviewed with Professor Elliott some of the higher mathematics which I had previously studied.
At the end of the fall term, which lasted three months, I taught a district school in the town of Phelps, which was about fifteen miles south of Lyons. I had a good school, and made many pleasant acquaintances which I have continued to the present day.
When I returned to the Union School at Lyons the following spring term I was offered and accepted the place of teacher of the third grade. Professor Brittan very kindly heard my lessons in the languages out of school hours.
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 41
There was a family of Easlicks living in Lyons, consisting of father, mother, and three or four boys. They were all bad boys at school. George W., the oldest, was about a year older than I and regarded as the bully of the town. He had had trouble with my predecessor, William S. Hall, and the trustees expelled him from the school. After I was appointed his father came to me and begged very earnestly to have his boy taken back into the school. Mr. Hall and the other teachers about the institution advised me to keep him out. I saw the trustees and they said I had better not take him back; but I told his father that I would receive him in the school, and the next day George came swaggering in and began to play tricks on the smaller boys. Several of them complained to me, and I told George he ought to behave himself and let the little boys alone. He said nothing, but gave me an insolent grin.
The next day he lifted a small boy, who was sitting in front of him, by his hair and made the little fellow cry out pitifully. I walked toward him in an easy manner and told him 1 would have to punish him. He appeared to regard that as the best joke he had ever heard, and came swaggering toward me to show me that he was ready for a fight. I grabbed and tripped him and he fell full length on his face. I jumped on his back, caught him by the hair, jammed his nose against the floor and hit him as hard as I could under the butt of the ear, which made him senseless for a few minutes. I waited for him to recover, but kept my position for fear he might revive and get the better of me.
When he was able to speak he said, "Let us reason."
"Reason be damned!" I replied. "I propose to kill you if you don't behave yourself." He readily promised to behave in future, and he never gave me another moment's trouble, although he continued to attend during the remainder of the term.
George had a younger brother about fourteen years
42 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
old who was in the same grade at the same time, and as he was a pretty good fighter I did not know but he would interfere, but he only looked on. The younger brother became an athlete in after years, and made quite a fortune by performing in Barnum's shows and other public places.
At the end of the term Professor Elliott resigned, and I was appointed temporarily to take his place at a better salary than 1 was receiving as teacher of the third grade.
Some of the scholars were well advanced in mathematics. Perkins's Algebra was the work in use on that subject. Mr. Perkins was a great scholar who resided at Albany, N. Y. We got along very nicely. The scholars all took deep interest, and I was able to explain everything until we came to a proposition in the latter part of the book which involved the principle of dividing nothing by nothing.
Dividing nothing by nothing produces an indeterminate quantity. You can make the strictly mathematical formula 2 equal 4 or any other absurd and unexpected results follow from combinations involving that principle. I discovered that the author was wrong, and so informed the class. The executive committee of the trustees were also informed, and they took it for granted that it was my fault; that I did not understand the question. They called a meeting of the executive board and notified me to be present the following Saturday evening.
I wrote immediately to Professor Perkins, pointing out his error. I was confident he would correct it, because he was a good mathematician and had not observed the combination which his demonstration involved. The board was very suspicious. I told them that I was right and undertook to explain it to them. Of course they were not sufficiently versed in mathematics to understand the explanation. The youngest
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 43
member of the board, James C. Smith, afterward Judge Smith, asked me how much time I wanted to communicate with Professor Perkins. I told him I had already written Professor Perkins and that I thought I would get a letter within a week or ten days. He asked me if a month would be satisfactory. "Entirely," I replied, adding that I would go on with the class and take up other branches which they desired to pursue.
Until I heard from Professor Perkins I felt that I was under a cloud; but I waited patiently, expecting to be relieved. In about two weeks I received a letter from the Professor, containing about four pages of a new edition of the book that he was about to issue, which corrected his mistake and acknowledged that I was right. I visited the president of the board and asked him to call a meeting, saying that I was ready to report. They called a meeting. I laid the matter before them and they seemed delighted. My reputation rose from below zero far above my deserts as a mathematician. The whole school, in fact the whole community, thought I knew everything about mathematics.
I continued to teach until the fall of 1848, when I thought I was prepared to enter Yale. I had been able to save but little money, but Mr. James C. Smith, who had taken my part as one of the executive committee, loaned me some money which made it possible for me to enter the college. He added to it from time to time while I was at Yale until it reached nearly two hundred dollars. Nothing has given me more pleasure than the privilege later of paying it back with more interest than he was willing to take.
When I was examined for admission to Yale the same proficiency in mathematics which had done me so much service at Lyons helped me. Professor Olmstead, who was professor of chemistry, was examining the class for admission in arithmetic. Professor
44 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
Stanley, who was professor of mathematics, was also present assisting in the examination. There were several other professors examining in the languages, for they were very strict in those days. Professor Olmstead gave me a slate and pencil. He wrote two ciphers, one above the other, and asked me to divide one cipher by the other.
I deliberately went to work and used every formula at my command, showing that the result was an indeterminate quantity. I not only used the algebraic formula by which you could prove 2 to equal 4 and the like, but I understood how to use a similar formula involving the same principle in differential calculus. I filled the slate with a great variety of solutions, all showing that nothing divided by nothing was an indeterminate quantity.
When Professor Olmstead came to me I handed him my slate and told him that nothing divided by nothing resulted in an indeterminate quantity, as I had proved in various ways. "Why, nothing divided by nothing, isn't that once?" he said. "No," I replied.
He took the slate and went to Professor Stanley, and the latter asked which student had done the problem. Professor Olmstead pointed to me. "Ask him no more questions; admit him," said Professor Stanley. So the examination in the languages was merely formal, and I went through easily, which was a great relief to me.
I passed the first year in Yale without making a mistake in mathematics, although I do not believe I spent two hours during the year studying my lessons. I did that at Farmington and Lyons, where I examined all the geometries, algebras, books on trigonometry, surveying, plain and differential calculus and conic sections that I could find—a much more thorough course than was pursued in any of the colleges. I was so much absorbed in mathematics at times that I often worked
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 45
all night, and when called for breakfast was unconscious that I had been engaged any considerable length of time,
The languages gave me more labor at Yale, but mathematics came very near being the ruin of me. There were problems for which additional marks were given out by Tutor Grant, our division tutor. He gave them out and I would do them for the boys who were dull in mathematics. He was very suspicious of me, and tried very hard to get even by finding questions that I could not answer. He thought he had me one day. In Playfair's Euclid, which was used at the college, there is a demonstration, and then a note below at the bottom of the page in fine print, stating that the q point can he demonstrated in a similar way without giving the demonstration. Most of the young men failed on the q point. It was in the lesson given out, but it had not attracted my attention and I had not looked at it, and was uncertain whether I could demonstrate it or not.
As I was going into the class-room I told Tutor Grant that I had not looked at the q point and I would rather not be called on for it if he would excuse me; that I had not asked any favors before and I did not want to miss answering any questions put to me.
He simply gave me a sardonic grin, as tantalizing as he could make it. He pulled out papers by lot and called the class up to demonstrate on the blackboard, so that nobody knew, and he did not know, what problem any student would get.
When he came to the q point he drew five different papers until he came to my name. He then called out, "Stewart!" I had told the class that I had not examined it.
I went to the blackboard, asked the tutor to read the proposition over again, and he read it in a vindictive, harsh and loud, but clear voice. When he finished I had thought it all out. When I had written it he
46 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
said, "Sufficient," in a snappish tone, and the class all cheered me, which was a great indecorum and came very near breaking up the meeting.
My anger was aroused by his treatment. The students published a paper called The Tomahawk. We could not publish it at the college. It was a secret society paper and was printed in a cellar in New York, and we distributed it from there. It poked fun and ridicule at everybody. We had observed when we went to Tutor Grant's room, where we had to go to ask favors of any kind or to be excused, that he was receiving letters from two different ladies, and that he put them in separate pigeonholes. We concluded that he must have some love secrets.
There was a little fellow, Talcott, who was a good scholar in the languages and quite a poet, being able to write doggerel with great facility. He and I obtained excuses from attending chapel on the same Sunday. It was summer-time and the windows in the professors' dormitory were open. Tutor Grant was a bachelor.
I secured a painter's ladder and Talcott climbed into Tutor Grant's room, took some letters from the two pigeonholes, and worked them into verses. It seems the two girls were jealous of each other; and Talcott, in the doggerel, made them reply to what Grant wrote, he pretending to each that she was the only one.
We had that printed in the paper, and Talcott stuck four or five copies in Tutor Grant's hat, and when he was at dinner scattered them around the whole college. We had to do it clandestinely, but it raised an uproar. Grant wanted the faculty to get together and punish the guilty parties. I was frightened then.
One of the students had a room just under the room where the faculty met. We got a bit and bored a hole into the floor, and stuck a tube into it and brought it down into the room beneath, so that we could hear what the faculty said. They ran him a good deal about the
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 47
joke the boys had on him, but he was fearfully mad and wanted them to trace it out and expel the guilty parties. He said he knew I was at the bottom of it, and that nobody else could invent such a trick as that. The faculty wanted proof, as they would not expel me on hearsay. They wound up by resolving not to do anything unless they had evidence.
Professor Stanley was my friend. He sent for me the next night and said to me, "You must stop this. I know he is not a very agreeable man, and deserved it, but you must stop it."
Another time mathematics came very near ruining me. At the end of the second term prize problems were given out for the freshmen and junior classes to solve. I solved every one.
I had a friend in the sophomore class whom I liked very much, and I gave him the solution of a very hard problem and he secured a prize. Professor Stanley thought I had done it, and sent for me and asked me to solve that problem for him. I tried very hard to find a way to do it different from the way I did it for my friend. He told me I need not go any further, that there was only one way to do it.
"Now," said he, "this is the second time I have caught you, and if you try to do anything of the kind again you will be found out and I will not protect you."
Gold fever—I determine to go to California—Storm off Hatteras--Arrival in Panama—A priest and a cock fight—Gambling in San Francisco--In desperate straits—Ill with fever, I struggle to the gold diggings—Money in sick miners—My first claim.
After commencement in 1849 I went to Lyons, which I regarded as my home, and spent the vacation in such work as I could find. While there glowing accounts were constantly received through the newspapers of the gold mines discovered in California, and many young men were leaving for the Pacific.
Judge Sherwood was anxious that I should go to the gold fields and try my luck at mining. He said he would lend me sufficient money to pay my transportation by way of the Isthmus, as it was then too late to cross the plains that season. I went to New York to obtain passage, but found everything taken for about three months ahead, and the best I could do was to secure transportation on the steamer Philadelphia, a shaky old craft that was to sail about Christmas.
I went hack to Yale for the fall term, and left at the holiday vacation, starting early in January on the voyage to Panama, and a very rough voyage we had from New York to Cuba, too.
A storm raged off Hatteras for about forty-eight hours, which came very near destroying our ship. The old hulk had been fitted up with shelves called berths, and we were packed in after the fashion of so many herrings.
There was not sufficient room for coal below and it was packed around on the middle deck, leaving barely space to walk. When the steamer commenced pitching in the waves, the coal, which was in sacks, slid forward
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 49
and endangered the safety of the vessel. The captain called on the passengers, about fourteen hundred in number, to help carry the coal back to trim the ship. Only three of us were able to engage in the work, John James, "Doc" Bronson, and myself. The rest of the passengers were too sick to stand, and devoted themselves to prayer and lamentations.
The vessel had two engines driving paddle-wheels. During the night of the first day of the storm one of the engines broke and three of the sailors lost their lives in attempting to repair it. From that time the ship had to be worked with one engine.
During the early part of the second night the waves were tremendous, every ninth wave greater than the intervening. Finally one of the big waves swept over the ship and carried every mast by the board. The captain called upon his crew to cut the ropes and let the dangling spars go overboard. None of his crew dared such an undertaking.
Just at that moment, William Dall, a young, compact, energetic sailor who was going to the Pacific to act as mate on a steamship, and who afterward was captain, and later superintendent of one of the principal mines on the Comstock, volunteered to cut the ropes. He bound a rope around his waist, sprang to the stump of the mast and tied himself to that, and swung out in the air, cut the ropes and cleared the ship before the next great wave reached her. After that the wind gradually subsided, although the waves still ran mountain high.
By twelve o'clock that night the coal which had been between the decks was so far used up as to give no further trouble. I asked the captain if he had anything more for me to do, and he said no, that I had better take a rest.
I started down to the cabin, heard the pounding of an anchor chain, and met two sailors going to fasten it.
50 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
One of them was a very large man and the other a very small one. The little man said to his companion, "I wish it was morning." The other replied in a gruff tone, "What bell is it?" The little sailor told him it was the third. The big one replied, "That is three hours before daylight. It will take you just two hours to get to hell and you will have a chance to roast there an hour before daylight."'
I went down to the cabin, a long, narrow room between the bunks and shelves where we were packed, and was crawling into my berth, which was near the entrance, when a very corpulent man, whose name was Patterson, who had been a justice of the peace in Vermont, caught hold of the stanchion at the opening to steady himself and said to me, "What do you think the chances are?" I told him I thought they were about even, they might be a little against us. He raised his hands to pray, and as he did so a tub of butter floated behind him, and as the ship rolled he took a seat in the butter. I think I would have laughed if the ship had been sinking.
The next day we got into still water among the islands of the West Indies, and every ship we passed hailed us for a wreck. But the weather was then delightful, and the passengers all crawled out on deck and looked happy. I have no doubt they felt happy, for I am certain I did.
About noon my attention was called to a number of gentlemen engaged in playing poker. My prayerful friend Patterson was one of the party, and I called the attention of the passengers to the marks on his trousers occasioned by his attempts to pray the night before. The boys made life uncomfortable for him during the rest of the journey.
We arrived about sundown at the mouth of the Chagres River, where there were several hundred boats of all shapes and sizes, in which the natives rowed,
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 51
or rather poled, the passengers up the river to a place called Gorgona, from where they either walked or were carried with the baggage on the backs of natives and mules.
I heard the officers of the boat discussing the chances of securing passage to San Francisco. They said there were ten tickets reserved for the agents of the Adams Express Company and their friends, and that they must hurry to Panama in time to secure them. I determined to be there as soon as they were.
The boat I selected for the trip up the river carried three passengers besides myself, and was propelled by four natives with long poles. We encouraged them as best we could, and our boat landed immediately behind the Adams Express boat. I did not take time to engage mule transportation, but relied on my own feet, kept up with the Express Company, and by insisting got one of the tickets.
It was several days before our boat sailed, and I occupied the time looking over Panama and the surroundings, and found many old buildings and remnants of the ancient Spanish town when the city was the central depot for the western coast of America and the islands of the Philippines in Asia.
I arrived Saturday, and about ten o'clock Sunday morning a long procession of men and women passed through the main street to a large stone cathedral where religious services were held. The priest who officiated was a very devout and solemn-looking person.
As I left the cathedral I met some Americans who had been on the Isthmus for several weeks waiting for transportation, and they told me there would be another performance of a different kind in the afternoon.
About one o'clock they led the way to a secluded grove where the men were coming from all directions to a central point, in which there was a round pit about thirty feet across and two feet deep.
52 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
To my astonishment I saw the same priest who had officiated at the religious service in the morning, approaching with two servants, each carrying a basket filled with fighting-cocks. He jumped into the ring with a fighting-cock to meet a man from the other side, who also had the same kind of fowl, and the trouble began.
The priest stayed in the pit nearly all the time, his servants handing him a new fighting-cock as fast as his fighter was killed. Thirty or forty chickens were killed in the hour and a half or two hours that the sport lasted. At the end of that time the only living chickens belonged to the priest, and he had two left. His servants put one in each basket with the sacks of silver which their master had won, and the priest marched away in triumph, the proudest-looking man I ever saw.
When the time arrived for the ship to sail upon which I had secured passage I went aboard of the little propeller Carolina, and was surprised to see so many passengers crowded into so small a vessel. There was hardly standing-room, much less sleeping-room. The craft would have been overcrowded with three hundred; and more than thirteen hundred came aboard.
I had provided myself with a quantity of tobacco, which I had learned was a good medium for making friends with the sailors. I took a fancy to the second mate and furnished him with tobacco for the trip, and he returned my courtesy by swinging a hammock in the rigging for me to sleep in, which added greatly to my comfort.
The vessel went very slow, and it required more than a month to go from Panama to San Francisco. Our food was very bad; corned beef and hard tack, with coffee, being the only diet. After the first two weeks the water got low, and then we were put on short allowance. Before we had been out a week the third mate rebelled, and a half day was spent in overpowering him
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 53
and putting him in irons. More than half the passengers sympathized with the mate, and if I remember rightly some profane language was used.
The next day after the trouble with the mate, excitement was created by one Micky Free, who was an Irish-American about six feet three, and as agile as a cat, with the strength of at least two ordinary men. He was from Ohio and had the reputation of being a little queer. The meat being unsatisfactory, he made speeches with regard to it which occasioned much amusement. He finally commenced auctioning it off to the highest bidder in such a ridiculous manner that the passengers became boisterous with laughter, in defiance of all discipline.
The captain wanted the sailors to arrest him and put him in irons, whereupon he ran up the ropes like a wild animal, and when the sailors attempted to follow him he told them if they had no mercy on him to take care of themselves; as the first man that touched him would be sure to fall down on the deck. No one touched him, because in the first place they could not catch him, and in the second place, they dared not capture him if they could.
He stayed up there tantalizing the officers with his witty remarks for about half a day, and then they told him to come down and have a talk. He replied that they could not catch him that way; but he finally pointed to me and said to them :
"That light-haired young man down there is my agent, and any arrangement that you make with him I will carry out."
I negotiated with the captain, and an agreement was reached that he should come down and be unmolested, and that he should not auction off any more meat.
Notwithstanding all the discomforts, we had on the whole rather a jolly trip, something out of the ordinary course of events taking place every day.
54 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
When we reached San Francisco the harbor was full of ships lying at anchor. The bay at that time extended up to Montgomery Street, with a peninsula jutting down to where Market Street now is.
We landed in boats where the Montgomery Block was afterward erected. The day I arrived I went to the corner of Market and Kearney Streets, where the principal gambling-establishment of California was located. It was in a roughly constructed building about thirty feet wide by one hundred feet long. As I entered the door a smart-looking little chap met me and pointed to a roulette table near by, and told me if I would say nothing about it, he would give me a secret. I told him I would say nothing, and he told me if I would bet at that roulette game and double the bet every time I would win all the money in the bank.
I took out a quarter of a dollar and marked a cross on it with my knife, and bet it. There was a gentleman betting who had won several hundred dollars, and I bet as he bet and won every time. I continued betting all the money I won, saving only a quarter, until I had won twenty-five dollars, when the dealer swept that money in and also the pile the other gentleman had won. I then proposed to the dealer that he take the quarter I had and give me back the quarter I had marked, because the marked quarter was the lucky quarter. He supposed I wanted the marked quarter to bet with again and he made the exchange.
I put it in my pocket and bade him good-morning. I have never bet a cent from that time to this. I went through the gambling-house. There was an enormous amount of money, something like four or five hundred thousand dollars, on the tables, mostly in sacks of gold dust. Miners were betting against gamblers, male and female, dressed in the most gaudy styles; and while I watched for perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes I saw quite a number of miners lose every dollar they had.
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 55
I worked a short time on the wharf unloading vessels at a dollar an hour, and I then went up the river to Sacramento on a steamboat. From there I started up the American River with a view of finding a place to mine, but the river was too high for mining on the bars. So I returned to Sacramento and met a gentleman who wanted some wild grass cut for hay. I worked for him a couple of days, when I was taken sick with Panama fever. A young druggist whose name was Crane, whom I had known in Lyons, advised me to go to a hospital which he had established in Sacramento in connection with his drug store.
The hospital was a sorry-looking building. The water under it was about eighteen inches or two feet deep, and it could be reached only by a platform of boards.
An untidy-looking Mexican who spoke some English had charge of the establishment, and I inquired of him how many persons had died there. He undertook to count them up, but I stopped him and told him that was enough. At the landing there was a small river boat, called the Governor Dana. I got the Mexican to take my luggage to the boat, where I followed him and lay down on a bench on the deck.
My friend Crane came to me with considerable agitation, and wanted me to go back to the hospital, saying I would not live to get to Marysville, the destination of the boat; but I declined. His hospital couldn't have my patronage. It was not good enough for me to die in. When the boat landed at Marysville I could scarcely stagger up the bank, which was very high at that time; but since then the river channel has been filled up with debris from the mines, leaving little or no bank. I spent the evening and night under a cottonwood tree where the boat hands placed my luggage.
In the morning two men with a team consisting of twelve oxen were loading supplies for a mining camp
56 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
known as Deer Creek, afterward Nevada City, about forty miles up in the mountains. I asked them to take me on their wagon. They objected at first, and said I was too sick to go, and that it would take several days with their ox team. I plead very hard, and they finally consented to take me. They loaded me on their wagon, put some loose hay under me and made me as comfortable as they could. It was a dreary ride, lasting three and a half days. I was racked with pain, and part of the time I was delirious.
When we arrived at Deer Creek the teamsters camped about a quarter of a mile out of town in a grove of fine timber near a mountain spring called Roger Williams Spring. They fixed me a bed of leaves above the spring, and split a stick and put a dipper in it, which enabled me to reach the water from my bed.
Miners who came up to the spring frequently discussed my case, the general conclusion being that I would not be able to "make a live of it." I drank enormous quantities of water every day, and finally on the morning of the eighth day I found myself in a violent perspiration. The fever was gone, and I was well, but very weak. Later, when I was informed of the fate of the others who had been taken with the same fever, I congratulated myself that I had no money to employ a doctor or buy medicine, as I was the only one who recovered.
I had just ten dollars left. I went out immediately to secure a pick, shovel, and pan, with which I was told I could dig and wash out three or four dollars a day. I crawled over to the town, bought a little food, and located an old pan for which I paid a dollar. I did not have money enough to buy a new pick or shovel, as the shovels cost sixteen dollars and the picks ten dollars. I found an old stub of a shovel pretty nearly worn out, which I bought for seventy-five cents. I was told that a doctor on a knoll a little distance from the
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 57
town had a pick which I might buy. I called on him and found him sitting on a stump whittling a stick and whistling.
"You appear to be very comfortable," I said.
"Yes, I'm making about a pound of gold a day on an average," he replied.
I told him I had heard he had an old pick that he would sell. He looked around indifferently, pointed to an old pick worn off on both ends within three or four inches of the eye, and said I might have that for a dollar and a half. I bought it because it was the best I could do.
While I was standing there conversing with the doctor I heard groans in his tent-house, which was built up about seven or eight feet high of sticks and mud covered with canvas, with a door and no windows. I asked him who was in there, and he continued to whistle, but finally replied, "Some patients of mine; they are very sick and I have to keep the air away from them." I stepped to the tent, jerked open the door, and looked in, and there were four or five persons nearly dead of the fever, deprived of air and water.
The sight was so horrible that I left the doctor at once and went down into the village and told the people what I had seen. A party of young men started immediately for the doctor's camp ; but as he saw them approaching he made his escape, or they would certainly have lynched him after they ascertained the facts. He had already buried four men a few feet from his tent-house.
His scheme undoubtedly was to get sick miners into his power, rob them, and cause their death. About five years afterward I met the doctor in San Francisco, and he saw me quite as soon as I saw him. He was a ghastly looking wretch, and ran from the sidewalk between two buildings into the dark. He was evidently suffering for his crimes.
58 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
I worked around in the ravines which had been worked over, but found some rich places and was able to make from two to six dollars a day for about ten days, when my strength returned and I determined to go to mining in earnest. So I bought a pick and shovel and went up on a hill called the Coyote Diggings to find a claim that I could locate.
The diggings consisted of a body of gravel extending across a low range of hills about three or four miles, and cut by ravines emptying into Deer Creek. These hills had different names; the one I selected was known as Buckeye Hill.
On the hill I met a man by the name of Savage who had been a fellow-passenger from Panama on the propeller Carolina. He seemed very glad to see me, and showed me where he had intended to locate a claim, but said that he had changed his mind and was going on the other hill across the ravine to locate. I then told him I would locate the claim that he suggested, and he remained there until I had driven a stake at each corner, which was claimed by miners' rule, thirty feet square.
He then went over on the other hill and made a location at the place he had described. I commenced to sink a shaft on my claim, and I told a young doctor, named Merrick, that he might go in with me if he desired, but he did not give me an answer that evening.
The lead struck-I defend my rights—The first woman in camp—"Oh, Joe !"—Three thousand dollars for the timid female—Brisk matrimonial market—Ten divorces in one afternoon—Starting a frontier aristocracy.
When I went back to work in the morning there was considerable excitement on the hill. The lead had been struck near my claim, and in line with it, so it was evident that the claim was a good one.
About eight o'clock Mr. Savage, who was a large man of powerful build, came to where I was at work, and in a rough and excited manner wanted to know what I was doing there. I told him I was sinking a shaft on the claim I had located the day before. He told me to leave the ground. I said to him, "You told me to locate here, and it's mine." I proposed to him to leave it to arbitration, which was the usual method of settling claims at that time. The plan of arbitration was for each claimant to select a party and the two chosen to select a third to hear and decide the case at once.
"You will never arbitrate with me; you get out of here," he replied.
He grabbed me by my woolen shirt, but as he jerked me up I put my feet against the side of the shaft, which was about two feet deep, and grabbed him around the waist and gave a tremendous spring. His back was toward a small ravine, about fifteen feet down, with quartz boulders in the bottom. He went to the bottom of the ravine and I on top.
The fall made him unconscious for a short time, and I wound his woolen shirt about his neck and twisted it with my hands so that I could keep him unconscious or let him up at will. I then loosened my hold and he
60 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
came to and attempted to fight. I choked him and took up a rock and told him he must tell the truth before those who were present or I would knock his brains out. I then let him have breath enough to speak, and stated to the by-standers what had occurred. Some of them were present the day before when I made the location, and verified what I said. I gave Savage ample opportunity to indorse the truth of my statement and he did so with a hearty good will. I let him go and went back to work. By that time I had plenty of friends, and Dr. Merrick said he would accept my offer to go in with me and work the claim.
Merrick and myself sunk the shaft which I had begun to a depth of 100 feet, when we struck a body of gravel under a strong formation of pipe clay about four feet thick, which averaged in washing out over fifty cents to the pan.
Charley Fairfax, who would have been Lord Fairfax if his family had remained in England, had a mule and cart and hauled our gravel to Deer Creek, where we washed it out in a sluice box, called a "long tom." Although he had been hauling our gravel several weeks, I did not become acquainted with him until one day when the men who were hauling gravel got their carts tangled up. Charley was a boyish-looking youth, and they appeared to combine against him.
He showed remarkable spirit, and was willing to fight the whole party. I took a liking to him, and he and I managed to get the carts out of the way and give him a chance at the creek. This circumstance led to a friendship which lasted through life, and was the real cause of an interesting transaction which will be related later on.
My partner, Dr. Merrick, was a remarkable character. He was a graduate of Harvard College, and also of a medical college in Boston. After he graduated he went to Chicago and entered upon the practice
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 61
of medicine. There he fell in love with a beautiful woman, but her father interfered and prevented the marriage, and he left Chicago and went to California.
He was gifted, brave, and handsome; but he had a habit of drinking too much at times, and of gambling on all possible occasions. There was a gambling-saloon in Nevada City which he frequented, and as I became very much attached to him I often went there and took him home.
One evening as I was hunting for him I heard angry language in the saloon, and the dealer threatening to shoot him. I knew that my friend was in great danger, as the man who made the threats had already killed several men. I rushed in at the open door, and saw the dealer on the opposite side of the table with a six-shooter in his hand, and Merrick sitting on a stool on the side near me. I crawled on my hands and knees as rapidly as possible to where he was sitting, and as the dealer was about to fire I caught the stool and jerked it from under my friend, letting him down on the floor. The pistol ball went harmlessly over his head. I then took Merrick by the legs and dragged him out of the saloon. The by-standers were so thick that his antagonist could not get an opportunity to shoot him, and as it was dark on the street I got him away. The next day Merrick and myself were eating our mid-day meal fifteen or twenty feet from the bushes under which we slept, and where we had left our fire-arms. The infuriated dealer of the night before came upon us when we were both unarmed, and with drawn pistol declared that he had come to kill Merrick.
Merrick instantly sprang to his feet, threw open his flannel shirt and shouted, "Shoot, you damned cowardly assassin !" His antagonist dropped his pistol by his side, saying, "I'll be damned if I'll shoot so brave a man. Go to Hell!" And he turned on his heel and went back to town.
62 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
We obtained from the workings of our claim that summer about seven thousand dollars apiece, and I proposed to Merrick to buy up a number of claims in the ravine in front of us to work whenever water could be procured for that purpose.
He declined to do so, and the next spring water was brought down and more than one million dollars was taken out of that ground which we could have bought for about eleven thousand dollars.
Merrick left in the fall of 1850 and took a steamer bound for Panama, remaining for a short time in the beautiful harbor of Acapulco. He went ashore to assist in the burial of a doctor there who had died on his way from the last. He learned from the papers of the dead man where he was from, and sent home to his widow a full account of what had occurred, and a good deal more money than the effects of the dead doctor, which he kept, were worth.
An American who resided in Mexico gave me a very interesting account of Dr. Merrick's career after he secured the medical outfit, and it was in harmony with his character.
He took the diploma of the doctor, adopted his name, and commenced the practice of medicine in Mexico. He had no difficulty in making himself acquainted, for he spoke the Spanish language as fluently as the natives. He married a rich girl and gambled away her money. Later he rose to be the chief surgeon of the Mexican Army, and was so skilful in his profession that the people thought he had some miraculous power.
Dr. Merrick was taken violently ill and was conscious that he would not recover, so he made a will which was believed to contain his medicinal secrets, sealed it in an envelope, and ordered the envelope to be sold at auction to the highest bidder and the money obtained given to his widow. After his death this was
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 63
done and twenty thousand dollars was realized at the auction. When the envelope was opened and the will read, it was as follows: "If you want to preserve good health, keep your head cool and your feet warm."
Many interesting events occurred that summer while Merrick and I were working our claims, one of which afforded us much amusement.
I awoke one morning and saw a covered wagon, with two oxen which had been unyoked and were grazing on a grass plot near a spring in the ravine below me. I soon discovered that a line had been drawn from the wagon to a clump of rocks, upon which were hung several articles of feminine attire to dry.
Women were so scarce in California at that time that this was sufficient to arouse the whole camp. The "boys," as we were called, were scattered along the Coyote diggings for a distance of about four miles, and when anything unusual happened the words "Oh Joe !" would be passed along the whole line.
When I saw the feminine raiment I raised the usual alarm, "Oh Joe !" and this called the attention of the miners on Buckeye Hill, where I was, to the clothesline which had attracted my notice. They gathered around on the hill, nearly surrounding the covered wagon and its contents.
The rush of the boys in the immediate vicinity to see the wonderful sight attracted those farther away, and in less than ten minutes two or three thousand young men were anxiously watching the wagon, clothes-line, and fascinating lingerie.
In alarm the man that belonged to the woman inside stuck his head out of a small tent beside the wagon. I assured him that no harm was intended, but that we were very anxious to see the lady who was the owner of the clothes.
This aroused her curiosity sufficiently to induce her
64 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
to pull the curtain of the tent aside so that her face could be discovered, but not fully seen.
I then proposed that we make a donation to the first lady that had honored our camp with a visit. I took from my camp a buck-skin bag, used for the purpose of carrying gold, and invited the boys to contribute. They came forward with great eagerness, and poured out of their sacks gold dust amounting to between two and three thousand dollars. I then proposed to appoint a committee to wait on the lady and present it. The motion was unanimously carried, and one of the gentlemen appointed on the committee suggested myself as chairman.
I took the sack of gold and went within about thirty feet of the tent, and made as good a speech as I could to induce the lady to come out, assuring her that all the men about her were gentlemen, that they had seen no ladies for so many months, and that the presence of one reminded them of their mothers and sweethearts at home. I told her the bag of gold was hers on condition that she would come out and claim it.
Her husband urged her to be brave, but when she finally ventured about half way, the cheers were so vociferous that she was scared and ran back.
She repeated this performance several times, and kept moving slowly back far enough to get her away from the little tent so the boys could have a good view of her. I suppose half an hour was occupied with her running back and forth while the boys looked on in admiration, when I finally gave her the bag with all the good wishes of the camp. She grabbed it and ran into the tent like a rabbit.
The next morning the wagon, oxen, man, and owner of the inspiring apparel were gone, and we never heard of them in after life. It was no doubt well that they hastened their departure, for in those days it was a very usual occurrence for the young wife coming to that
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 65
country to be persuaded to forsake her husband on their arrival in the new camp.
The immigrants of 1850 included thousands of newly married young people whose wedding journey included all the hardships and privations of crossing the plains. These hardships made the men look rather rough and scrubby, and they were all miserably poor.
The women were young, and after they had an opportunity to wash their faces, looked more attractive —particularly to the miners who had been deprived of female society for many months and had accumulated some money.
Such young men usually indulged in store clothes and spruced up. The contrast between them and the immigrant who had just crossed the plains was very marked. These young men were very anxious for ladies' society, and at once paid court to the young married women, and in a very large number of cases they were able to persuade the ladies that they were not fully appreciated at the time of their marriage, and that they had made a mistake in marrying beneath them.
Usually the husband, naturally enough, became jealous and tried to prevent the sociability which sprang up between his wife and the spruce young miner. Then there would be angry words between the husband and his wife's admirer, which frequently resulted in blows, and if the husband got the worst of it his wife would have no further use for him. The miner would propose marriage if a divorce could be obtained. Extreme cruelty was given as the reason for the separation. The intended bridegroom was always a ready witness to swear to a case of "extreme cruelty."
In the fall of 1851 I went to Nevada City to buy supplies for the men engaged in constructing the Grizzly Ditch. I bought several mule-loads, and was having them packed very early one morning, but before I could get away I was summoned as a juror in Judge Bar-
66 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
ber's court. This was before I made myself exempt from jury duty by becoming a member of the bar. I saw the Judge, and tried very hard to beg off; but he told me there were ten divorce cases on hand and he wanted to dispose of them that day, and could not excuse me. He said he thought I could get away in time to return to my camp that night. So I had to submit, although I did not like it. I then prepared the jury-room for use by conveying to it a demijohn of whiskey, a bucket of water, and twelve tin dippers.
The charge in each case was extreme cruelty, and the principal witness for each plaintiff—in all cases the wife —was her new friend who was engaged to marry her as soon as she could get the old love off.
We heard the first case, and retired to the jury-room, where the jurors proposed to elect me foreman. We were all young men except one man by the name of Morgan who was over eighty years old. He had been brought over the plains from Missouri by his relatives. I told my fellow-jurors that I was willing to act as foreman provided they would agree to be guided in each case by the judgment of Mr. Morgan, as we were all too young to pass upon the question of divorce.
They agreed to this. As foreman of the jury I inquired of Mr. Morgan what the verdict should be. He said, "I believes if they can't agrees to go together, lets them go apart," and I wrote the verdict as follows: "We, the jury, find the defendant guilty of extreme cruelty."
We returned the verdict into court, heard the next case, and followed the same program in the jury-room, continuing so to do until we had disposed of the ten cases. There were ten weddings that afternoon and evening.
I then thought, and still think, that we did the best thing that could have been done. These women had separated from their husbands, and if they had not
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 67
been allowed to marry the men who had parted them they would perhaps have done worse. Some of them made good citizens and raised families, and when they grew rich became very aristocratic.
Scourge in the Diggings—Prospecting in the Sierra Nevadas--Grizzly Ditch—Lost in a blizzard—I-lam-bone soup for starving men—An arrow through my hat—Indians—We wipe out Chief "Big Jim's" band--A ghastly discovery—Surveying without instruments.
In the fall of 1850 a terrible scourge visited the diggings. Cholera raged in Sacramento with a few cases in San Francisco. In the mountains it was not cholera, but black erysipelas, which soon spread to all the principal mining regions. Several men died in the Coyote diggings; not one was saved who was stricken with the disease. There was no doctor in the town who understood any kind of erysipelas, although two or three druggists had established themselves there.
A young man named Graham, from Harvard University, was a near neighbor of mine and we had been intimate friends for some time. Two or three of our immediate neighbors died, and there was nobody to bury them but Graham and myself. We made coffins of empty goods boxes, dug the graves, and buried the bodies.
The next morning Graham told me he had the erysipelas. A nail in one of the goods boxes had scratched his finger, and in handling the corpse he had been inoculated with the disease. His finger was swelling rapidly.
He wrote several letters to his family and informed them I would attend to his affairs. The next morning at sunrise he was dead, and I alone buried the body of my friend. He had a bag of gold dust, and some keep-sakes which he had brought from home, all of which I took to the Adams Express office and sent to his relatives as directed.
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 69
About the first of November, 1850, I left Nevada City with a mule to prospect for mines. I followed the north fork of the American River to the head, and found nothing worth working because I was above the mineralized belt of country from which gold was obtained. I passed over the Sierra Nevada Mountains and down the eastern slope to Lake Tahoe, a magnificent body of mountain water, at that time, so far as I know, without a name.
I followed around the margin of the lake with some difficulty until I reached the Truckee River which was its outlet, then went down the river prospecting for gold without success until I reached the valley where Reno is now located. I then turned back and followed Donner's trail, which was then known as the Truckee route.
When I came to where the Donner party perished I found the log cabins which they had constructed a year and a half previous still in a state of remarkable preservation, although they had been built on the snow fifteen or twenty feet above the ground, as shown by the stumps of trees which they cut off. The cabins had settled, as the snow melted, to firm ground. I passed over the Truckee route and went down the ridge between Bear River and South Yuba. When I got within about twenty miles of Nevada City I turned down to a mining camp on the river called Washington, which was at the junction of the South Yuba and Poor Man's Creek. I followed Poor Man's Creek ten or twelve miles, and there I met a little bald-headed man by the name of Allen, a nephew of Ethan Allen of Revolutionary fame.
I had parted with my mule at Washington and was on foot when I met Allen, so we went up the creek together to its source and discovered placer diggings of considerable extent and richness which I named "Eureka." I then went to Nevada City, and selecting a
70 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
party of three besides myself we started out with our provisions and supplies on our backs for the new diggings.
Snow began to fall, and before we reached the mines was about two feet deep, which made the trip very difficult and laborious as we were loaded with about a hundred pounds apiece. I was compelled to lead the way and break the trail.
Finally reaching our destination, we constructed a cabin of logs and went to work in the diggings. It was difficult to get water to wash the gravel on account of the deep snow over the little stream; but we worked on for about two months and a half, when the snow became very deep and it was still storming. Our matches were wet, and we lost our fire and were compelled to subsist on raw pork and raw flour with a few acid pickles that came very near destroying our teeth.
One of the party, Tinney, proposed to go with me to obtain relief, the other two remaining in camp. The first afternoon we reached the ridge between Poor Man's Creek and Middle Yuba, where we cut off some branches for a bed and retired for the night. In the morning the new snow over us was from eighteen inches to two feet deep, and when we arose we saw an uncanny path circling around where we slept, about sixty or seventy feet across.
We thought it best to leave that locality and started down the ridge. We had not gone fifty yards when we saw a California lion, the author of the encircling path, in full pursuit of a deer. The deer dashed down the mountain with tremendous jumps; the lion after it. The race continued down the mountain for a mile or two, the deer thwarting the lion by side jumps until they passed out of sight, and we did not learn the result of the chase. We then proceeded down the ridge between the south and middle Yubas, with the intention of crossing the South Yuba at the Illinois Bar, opposite, and about ten miles from Nevada City.
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 71
The trail from the ridge was covered deep with snow and we reached the river just after dark, about half a mile below the bar. Tinney was so much exhausted when we reached the river that he lay down and said he must have rest. I knew if he were allowed to lie there he would inevitably go to sleep, and that that would be sure death, so I told him I would not leave him in that condition, but would kill him to get him out of his misery. This roused him, and he followed me until we could see the light of the camp on the bar. I then left him and went to the camp, where I found two men, and they went out and brought him in.
We laid him down before the fire, and rubbed and warmed him until he recovered. I then told them that we were very hungry and asked them if they had anything to eat. They said they were entirely out of provisions and that two of their party had left early that morning to go to Nevada City to get some supplies. I saw a large ham bone lying in the corner which had been scraped pretty bare. I took a kettle, filled it with water and put it on the fire. They wanted to know what I was going to do, and I told them I was going to make some soup.
While the water was boiling I broke the ham bone with an ax and put it into the pot and let it cook fifteen or twenty minutes. All of them were surprised to find how good the soup was. We drank all of it and lay down before the fire and slept well until morning.
Tinney and I started at daylight and reached Nevada City about ten o'clock. I had lived on salt pork and flour so long that I was in the incipient stages of scurvy, so I went at once to the grocery store of Gallop & Bashford, friends of mine from Wayne County, N. Y. There was a large basket of magnificent onions on the end of the counter, and I ate onion after onion, to the astonishment of the people who had gathered around. When I could eat no more I crossed the street
72 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
to Turner's Hotel and asked for a room. I immediately went to bed and slept until the next morning, and then went back to the grocery store and ate more onions. I ate nothing but onions that day, and the next day I was quite well and had an appetite for ordinary food. I never could tell how good those onions tasted.
There were no hogs in Nevada City, so I got a man to go with me to San Jose. We bought two hundred hogs, which we put on the boat and brought to Sacramento. We hired some Mexicans to help us, and made three thousand dollars selling the animals.
I then formed a company to dig a ditch, known as the Grizzly Ditch, between the south and middle Yuba to bring water into the Cherokee Corral, where there were some good diggings, but no water. I went up to Bloody Run and Grizzly Canyon on the north side of a very high mountain to look over the ditch route.
There was a trail from the ridge to Kanaka Creek where there was some rich mining. The trail crossed Bloody Run a short distance above a cascade. I heard the cascade below the trail and had a desire to see it, so I undertook to ride through the brush around a small hill to get a view from below.
I was riding a very good mule, bred from a fine mare and raised in Kentucky for the Santa Fe trade. She was one of the best riding-mules in the world, and had been brought up to Sacramento with the idea that she could be sold for at least $2,500, but when attempt was made to sell her and a Mexican bit was put in her mouth and a Mexican saddle on her back, she fought so fiercely that nothing could be done with her.
The owner said he would take any bid, and I offered him three hundred dollars, but on condition he get everything off her. He took off the rig and I gave him the three hundred dollars.
I waited a little while, took a plain American saddle
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 73
and common bit and laid them down, took some sugar and gave it to her, and then put the saddle on her and rode her about the town. She was marvelous. I could ride her any distance in a day.
My desire for a better view of the cascade came very near proving disastrous, for when I got fairly in the brush, six Indians came up on the ridge, gave a whoop, and fired their arrows at me, which made my mule jump forward. I thought I could get around on the other side of the hill and regain the trail before the Indians could head me off, but in this I was disappointed.
Another party of Indians were in the brush on the other side of the hill. They gave a war-whoop and my mule turned, and I let her go as she pleased through the brush. The Indians fired their arrows at me, one of them striking the top of my hat and taking it off.
The mule made good time through the brush, and ran right into an Indian camp, where there were several hundred Indians, braves, squaws, and papooses. The mule ran so fast and her appearance was so unexpected that they did not have time to molest me, so I got through the camp and rode up to the trail again.
My hat was gone, my clothes were torn, and I was rather a dilapidated specimen of humanity. I rode down the ridge about six miles and finally came to the camp of Tom Burns, an Irishman, who was establishing a wayside whiskey shop. I told him my story, but found him very suspicious. He thought from my appearance that I must be crazy. I succeeded in convincing him that I was sane, borrowed his rifle, because I did not want to rely on my pistol alone, and an old black hat nearly destitute of rim and open at the top. On riding back to the Indian camp I found the body of a Frenchman whom the Indians had murdered the day before, and I thought we had better clean those redskins out.
74 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
After riding around on all the prominent points above the camp to examine the situation and get the lay of the land for future operations, I went over to Nevada City and collected twenty young men of my acquaintance. They were well armed with pistols, rifles, and shotguns, and accompanied me back to the camp of Tom Burns, where we spent the night. In the morning we rode up the ridge and looked the ground over again. It was a little past the full of the moon, so the after part of the night was almost as light as day.
The following night we rode up the mountain opposite the camp of the Indians, hitched our animals, and crawled around the camp, remaining quiet until daylight, when I gave the signal for operations by firing a gun.
The Indians sprang to their feet at the alarm, but we won the battle before they knew where the enemy was located. Big Jim, their chief, was not injured and we took him prisoner. He was well known to all of our party, spoke English perfectly well, and was supposed to be a good, friendly Indian. He had visited the mining camps, conversed with the miners, told them stories about the country, and was a most interesting person.
We made a treaty with him that the Indians should leave that part of the country and never return. After the treaty was concluded and we supposed the difficulty was all over, we observed Big Jim with a party of his followers fortifying themselves behind rocks and brush. We moved on their works before they were perfected, but they fired several shots and slightly wounded one of our men. We hanged Big Jim for his treachery. The Indians then left and did not return.
One day a short time later, while I was surveying the upper part of Grizzly Ditch, near where the trail crossed Bloody Run, I found eight skeletons in the brush, of persons who had been murdered by the
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 75
Indians on the trail between the summit of the mountains and Kanaka Creek. I do not know who the victims of this massacre were.
I had no instruments to survey the ditch between Bloody Run and Grizzly Canyon, the plan being to turn Bloody Run into Grizzly Canyon, so I made a triangle of two strips of board, with a cross piece about two feet from the ground. I drove a nail in the cross piece, cut off the ends in the legs of the triangle so that the line of the plumb bob would be opposite the nail on the cross piece when one leg of the triangle was half an inch higher than the other, and with this I surveyed the ditch around a rough mountain, a distance of ten miles. The water ran through it without a break when first turned in, and when I visited that locality a few years ago I found the ditch still in use for mining purposes.
After the water passed through Cherokee Corral we turned it into Shady Creek and attempted to take the same amount of water out again and convey it to another mining camp. A ditch had been taken out below, and the ditch owners brought suit.
We contended that we had a right to use the natural water channel and take out as much water as we put in, but the court denied us that right. Afterward, in connection with Judge Sanderson and others, I brought the question before the Supreme Court of California, and obtained the decision that a natural water course could be used; that is to say, water could be turned into the channel, and lower down the same quantity could be turned out; and such is the law of California to-day.
We constructed a sawmill on Cherokee Creek in connection with the Grizzly Ditch, and it was quite profitable.
I begin the practice of law—Appointed District Attorney—A fight in the court-room--I polish my legal knowledge in jail—The heathen Chinee—I meet an obstacle in a murder case.
In the spring of 1852, having closed my business in connection with the Grizzly Ditch and the sawmill, I entered the office of J. R. McConnell at Nevada City to study law. I had read some law at odd times in the office of Mr. Sherwood before I left Lyons, N. Y.
When Mr. McConnell resigned the district attorneyship in November of that year, I was admitted to the bar and appointed to fill the vacancy on the same day. Upon entering that office I found a large amount of business to attend to. The grand jury met the following week and investigated many matters, finding some eight or ten indictments for various offenses, including murder, arson, embezzlement, etc. I managed to draw the indictments and make them all stand, but in doing so I followed very closely Chitty's form of pleading.
When the various criminal cases on the calendar, including those recently indicted, came up for hearing, nearly all of the members of the bar were pitted against me.
The most formidable adversary I had was James Churchman, of Illinois, who had practiced at the bar with Abraham Lincoln, General Baker, and others, in the early days of that State. Unfortunately for me, my predecessor and Mr. Churchman were rivals and enemies. Both were able, rather vindictive, and very sarcastic. As I had been in Mr. McConnell's office and had taken his place as District Attorney, Mr. Churchman transferred his antagonism from Mr. McConnell to me. Realizing this, I tried the less
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 77
important cases first. Never having practiced law, 1 was unfamiliar with the technicalities, although I was able to study the general principles of every case.
Mr. Churchman took advantage of this and made it very hard for me. On several occasions he got me in a corner, and I resorted to the only means available to extricate myself. I retorted to his sarcasm in very harsh language. In fact, I was as insulting as I possibly could be in a court of justice, whereupon he became enraged—as I desired—and called me a liar, which gave me an opportunity to have a personal encounter with him.
The court, in dealing with the matter, ordered my imprisonment until the next day and imposed a small fine, which I paid. I went to prison, a retreat I desired under the circumstances. The sheriff, William H. Endicott, was a friend of mine, ready to do anything he could to assist me.
The jail consisted of a long log building with a number of cells, but in the front, which faced my office, there were two rooms, the first being the sheriff's office and the second his sleeping apartment. Instead of putting me in a cell he placed me in his bedroom, brought over my books, and gave me an opportunity to study the questions which had involved me in the difficulty. He provided me with good meals and made me very comfortable until the next morning, when I went into court well prepared to meet my adversary and succeed with my case.
It required three performances of this kind to make me sufficiently familiar with the practice of law to take care of myself. Churchman constantly grew more cautious in giving me an opportunity to exhibit my physical strength and thus enable me to extricate myself from legal difficulties.
During my first term as District Attorney a man named John Hall was convicted of murder in the first degree for killing a Chinaman. The only witnesses to
78 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
the crime were six Chinamen, who testified to his guilt before the grand jury, and he was indicted on their testimony. There was at that time great prejudice against Chinese testimony. The State imposed a foreign miner's tax and collected it from Chinamen only. It was collected by roughs in a most brutal way, and the Chinamen, looking upon it as robbery, did all they could to conceal their money.
Chinamen had been allowed, however, to make their statements in mining cases and other litigation. I observed that they all told the same story. I applied to the board of supervisors for an allowance of $5,000 in that trial. I told them I did not know what oath would bind the Chinese, and I did not want a man convicted on false testimony. I wanted to get a separate room for each of the witnesses and to have them held, unable to communicate with each other until after the trial. I also wanted to procure a competent interpreter. The supervisors made the appropriation.
I went to San Francisco and saw Rev. Doctor Speer, a Chinese missionary who had spent some twenty years in China. After some persuasion I employed him to go to Nevada City as interpreter. Before the trial I tried very hard to get him to tell me what form of oath was binding upon a Chinaman, but he was quite reserved about the matter, although a very conscientious man. I told him that I had heard it stated that cutting off a chicken's head or burning paper, or something of that kind, would "swear" a Chinaman. "Well," said he, "burning paper is just as good as anything."
At the trial every Chinaman told the same story, although the interpreter tried to vary it a little. I asked him if they all told the same story, and he said they did, which was a mystery to me. I had not the slightest doubt that Hall killed the Chinaman, because he was seen coming from their camp where the dead body was found.
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 79
Hall was convicted, and his friends employed Mr. McConnell to take an appeal to the Supreme Court of the State. No exceptions had been taken during the trial, and by the statute nothing could be considered by the Supreme Court unless exceptions had been taken in the court below. I supposed of course that the court would have to dismiss the case. Mr. McConnell made a short speech in the opening, saying that Chinese testimony was inadmissible; that the matter came under the statute which provided that the testimony of an Indian should not be taken against a white man. He said Chinese were the same as Indians and that the statute applied.
I replied to him that no exception had been taken, and that even if an Indian had testified the statute would not apply. Of course, I contended that they were not Indians, but belonged to the Chinese race. In his conclusion Mr. McConnell made a very elaborate argument, attempting to prove that the Chinese and Indians were of the same race, and to my surprise the court held that the statute prohibiting Indians from testifying applied to Chinamen,* they being of the same race, and reversed the judgment below. Justice Murray, in deciding the case, delivered a lengthy opinion. sustaining the position assumed by Mr. McConnell. I had no other evidence and entered a nolle pros in the case.
While attending the Supreme Court, which was held at San Jose, I stopped in San Francisco, and Rev. Doctor Speer called on me and said there were two Chinamen of the higher class or nobility in town, being entertained by the Six Chinese Companies, who united to do them honor, and they were anxious for me to meet them at dinner. I accepted the invitation; but before doing so, and during the conversation with Doc-
* People vs. Hall, 4th California, page 399.
80 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart
tor Speer, I asked him to explain more fully to me why he had been so reticent in regard to the oath that would bind a Chinaman. This was before the decision had been rendered in the case by the Supreme Court.
He said he did not want to state it publicly, as it would be prejudicial to the Chinese in this country; but that in China, where he had been a privileged character, traveling all over the country and visiting the jails and courts of justice, when a crime was committed the principal men of the community were at once arrested and torture applied to make them tell the truth in regard to the matter; and to avoid the torture they invariably agreed upon a story they would all tell.
At the dinner only four persons were seated, the two distinguished Chinese visitors, Doctor Speer, and myself. The heads of the Six Companies, dressed in silks, waited on the table. The two visiting Chinamen were very accomplished men. They were graduates of numerous European universities, spoke several languages, had examined our institutions, and appeared quite familiar with our form of government. In the course of the conversation I remarked to them that I was sorry to see the prejudice that existed between the races, and that I hoped on better acquaintance there would be more friendly relations. The leading man of the two, who did most of the talking, said:
"You arc mistaken. There never can be friendly social intercourse between the Chinese and the American people. There may be among the higher classes who understand the situation, but not among the common people."
I asked why, and if it were on account of color.
He replied in the negative, and said it was on account of religion. The Chinese, he added, were very strongly wedded to their religion and to their gods, and had no faith in our religion or our God. He said the principal argument they used was that our American God was
Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 81
killed by a man, and therefore could not amount to much. He said we could not overcome this prejudice with the masses very soon, and perhaps never. "Although," he added, "we who have been educated understand your religion and respect it."