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Brother [Ashley Hibbard]
Bushey Bar North fork of the Middle fork of the American River
August 20th, 1850
My Dear Brother,
Yours of the 6th of May came to hand yesterday and in order that your expectations may not be realized, I hasten to reply to it.
I have not written to you, or any of the family, for more than a year it is true, but you should not conclude from that I had forgotten or ceased to think of you. No. My dear brother that is far from being the case. Many and a nights after a days work hard enough to ensure any man a sound sleep have I lain awake in my hammock (slung between two trees) and gazed into the starry firmament above me to distinguish those planets that we had often gazed at in commons at home until I could imagine that my spirit held communion with those oved ones so far away, and trying to look beyond the stars, often, have my midnight supplications been offered up for the welfare of all of you. But yet (methinks I hear you ask) why have you not written to us. I must answer for several reasons. My dear brother. In the first place, you will recollect that when I wrote you as I was about leaving San Francisco I told you that I should not write you again until I was able to send you the sum I borrowed of you when I left home, this is one reason, for after I commenced work in the mines I did very well, making from 12 to $16 per day,
For some time and as I was in a fair way to be able to repay you in a short time and send something home to [assist] the family I delayed writing. In the second place. After working about two months I was taken sick with the fever again followed by inflammation of the kidneys, and dysentery. And for four months did nothing. In that four months, I suffered more than I ever did in my whole life before. I did not write then because I would not on any accounts that you or any of the family should have known my situation then for it was a critical one. In case of my death I wrote a letter for you to be taken charge of by a friend who was very kind to me. Who was to mail it to you with one from himself giving you the particulars. But a kind providence saw fit to spare me, and so it was not sent. The place where I was sick was at Coloma formerly known as Sutter’s Mill. As soon as I got able I joined the party with whom I had come to the mines in the mountains. I was then quite out of funds and in debt to my medical attendant. With the rainy season coming upon me [had] so dishearting was the prospect that I could not write to you at that time although I knew that you must be anxious concerning me, for I was aware that the truth if made known to you would only increase that anxiety instead of allaying it. However I went to work as well as I was able and succeeded in making something before the rainy season was over, I had found Chs [Charles] Perry in November & in January I moved my winter quarters to where he was stopping. I was [there] daily expecting to get a letter from you and others of the family as at that time I had received but one
which was from you and bearing date the 26th of April weeks passed on and the month of May arrived before I received any letters from home. Two were from you one bearing date Sept 27th in which you speak of having written as well as William by Mr. Beauchamp, those letters I never received. The other Oct 4th sent by [Mr.] Lafleur in which you mention that you had sent two by the mail previous enclosing one from Frances & one from William those I never received. And one from William by Mr. L. O’Dwyer arrived at San Francisco in June. He visited me week before last was in good health and brought me a letter from William [&] Harriet’s likeness or portraits. You say that you have written fourteen times & William as many. At present I have received but six letters from home. Four from you , two from William.
I should have answered them immediately, but have been deferring it until I should see how this seasons operations [shou] would turn out. [l] Perry myself & ten others engaged in turning the stream that we are now or from its bed for about a quarter mile by diggin a canal and daming it. We commenced in April and after four months hard work have succeed in getting the bed of the river pretty dry. It has been an expensive and difficult undertakin. And I do not yet know whether we shall yet paid for it or not. Although we make some days 30 & $40 apiece there are others engaged in the same operations both above & below us on the river some of whom are making fortunes rapidly.
We are now five Montrealers strong, Charles [Furezyn], and two young Weekses sons of Weeks the notary have bought into the company. I hope that we shall all do well, but it is lottery a game of chance.
Charles Perry wishes me to say to you that he has written to you & will do so again although he has rec’d nothing from you. I hope that will write me on receipt of this and give me more particulars about the family and about business. You have never mentioned anything about your wife and child to me. It was from O’Dwyer that I learned that you were a father. Let me know whether you have succeeded in getting our discharge or not, and how [Cairins] is getting on I am glad that you have been able do something for him and I trust that one day we shall be able to pay him & some others.
I have seen nothing of [ ] Babcock or Adams although I knew that heyu were in the country before you wrote. Neither have seen LaFleur. I [am] in the enjoyment of the greatest of all [blessings] here, excellent health, and trust that our Heavenly Father is bestowing the same to you all. I shall write again soon. William may expect a letter from me next mail. Give my love to Father & Mother and the rest of the family, tell them all to write to me. Remember me kindly to Sarah and give that little girl I have not seen an uncles kiss for me. And I remain,
Your Affectionate Brother,
Bushey Bar North fork of the Middle fork of the American River
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MSS2.H621 HIBBARD, AUGUSTIN GOLD RUSH LETTERS
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Hibbard, Augustin, "Letter from Augustin Hibbard to Brother [Ashley Hibbard], 1850 Aug. 20" (1850). Gold Rush Life. 1.