This is a continuation of Daniel Stark’s Diary as he and his company made their way from Auburn, Illinois to the gold fields in Sacramento, California. Daniel was 26 years old and had been married about two years. He left his wife and his one-year-old child at home while he and his friends and family journeyed west. They had hoped to strike it rich and then come back home to their families with gold. One member of their company, Elias Giltner had already died of cholera and most of them had been sick for part of the way. They were making about 20 miles per day and on July 27, 1850 they had only 25 days to go to get to Sacramento. Daniel says in his diary, “I can’t tell how we will come out but hope that we can git along some how but pervisions is scarce.”
Monday, July 29, 1850…Marched to day 8 miles and in campt on Mary’s River in the most luxurent grass that we have had since we have been out and splendid clover with it and we have wild wheat also here. It grows like the Bannon grass in Illinois but has a head like wheat & clover is like tame clover all but the blow and that is blew. M. Giltner is able to fish this evening and him and JB and myself is a fishing and the 2 sons is getting super and father is herding the stock and all goes off fine.
July 30…Marched to day 25 miles and in campt on Mary’s River again. This is a tolerable sised streeme abourt 4 rods (one rod equals 16.5 feet) wide and runs swift. There is firstrate grass here. Michael Giltner is about well again.
August the 1 A.D. 1850…Marched to day a bout 26 miles and in campt on Mary’s River again after a march of 26 miles and 18 of that a desert over hills with out water or grass except a small spring or two. We crost the river twist this morning and traveled down it 8 miles and left it the 18 miles.
August 2…Marched to day 20 miles and in campt in the bottom of Mary’s River or a fork of it. We over took the Mr McNaries and Towel and Gifeth to day which was unexpected to us but you had better believe that we was a glad set for we had not saw them for the rise of four months and we found them all well and they come past the Salt Lake and laid in a supply of flour and we was about out and they say they will lend us whats a plenty to do us through which was a great satisfaction to us for we had ben trying to bye for a week and cold not buy a pound. Flour is worth from 40 cts to a $1.00 and scarce at that I assure you and bacon from 15 to 25.
August 3…Marched to day 23 miles and in campt on a slew. Nothing of importance took place to day.
August 4…Marched to day 20 miles and in campt on the river. We past firstrate roads to day. The weather is quite warm to what we have had.
August 5…Marched to day 12 mile and we laid over half of the day and rested our cattle and do some cooking and washing.
August 6…Marched to day 18 miles and in campt on the bank of the river. We have firstrate roads to day and we in campt early as we found firstrate grass.
August 7…Marched to day 20 miles and in campt on the river again. The grass in this bottom is full of sloughs and myre holes and there is no timber ecept some willows and them are small. But they do better than no wood. We happen on a wagon frequently that helps to bake with them. We are all well at this time.
August 8…Marched to day 20 miles and in campt on the River. We have heavy sandy road to day. We had to buy some bacon today. We had to pay for one midling weighing twenty two lbs we payed $11.00 and glad to git it at that. Flower is $2.00 pr pound.
After August 8, 1850 they are just 14 days from Sacramento and the diary ends. The diary was written in the back of a ledger in which Daniel kept track of all the money transactions. The daily travel entries (journal) at the back of the ledger end but the entries in the front of the ledger continue.
In October 1850 there is an entry in the ledger, “Dust to company.” Members of the company were mining or panning gold and turning it into the company, just as they had planned. There were also entries of expenditures for such things as boots, leggings and various amounts of food. They had made it to California and they were gathering gold. But I doubt that any of them could have imagined what it would be like. Accounts of the gold fields tell of a lawless group of miners from every walk of life.
Written in the margin of the first page of the ledger is a note stating, “September 3, 1851: These credits squared this page by money paid back and all equal.”
The Company was started on March 28, 1850 and was dissolved on September 3, 1851. They had begun by sitting around a bar, donating money into a company. They purchased their supplies and headed west into the unknown, hoping to strike it rich and live easy the rest of their lives. Along the way they met Indians, saw early forts, forged rivers, saw buffalo and buffalo hunters, crossed mountains, experienced hot springs and found death on the trail. What an adventure.
Family legend has it that Daniel had some gold minted in New Orleans. He would have taken a sailing ship back from California and then traveled via riverboat back to Illinois. An aunt in Watseka, Illinois has the ledger and a deerskin vest. The family genealogy shows that Daniel’s second child was born on December 25, 1853. He and his first wife, Galena Galeton Griffin went on to have nine children and after her death in 1870, Daniel remarried and had another four children. He was an innkeeper and became Postmaster in his area. Daniel passed away February 25, 1898, at the age of seventy-eight, leaving behind his diary and many a tale to pass on to future generations.