1860: Egbert Jacob Bloomer to David Rose

This letter was written by “E. J. Bloomer” (b. @1825) who seems to have been running a sawmill operation in California near the Liberty Hill Gold Diggings “that were located on a ridge between Steephollow Creek and the Bear River, about 10 miles east of Nevada City and about 2 miles north of Alta, as the crow flies. It was part of Little York Township and within what was generally called the Lowell Hill mining district, a rich channel of gold bearing ore that ran around Remington Hill to the north down to the Bear River and then crossed over towards Dutch Flat and Alta.” [Nevada County Historical Landmarks Commission]

How E. J. Bloomer might have looked (Crocker Art Museum)

Placer mining for gold required a good supply of water and laborers were required to dig ditches or to saw wood into lumber for making flumes—particularly to carry water to gravelly “dry diggings.” To make sure there would always be a constant supply of water to feed the trenches and flumes, a reservoir was built at Liberty Hill and it appears that Robert Gardner, a “water agent” from Illinois, was at least partially responsible for its construction.

The 1860 US Census for Red Dog Post Office, Little York township, Nevada county, California, enumerates 35 year-old Jacob Bloomer (a laborer from NYS) residing with 24 year-old laborer Peter Rose (also a laborer from NYS) in the household of 30 year-old R. Newton (a “water agent” from Illinois). Also in the same household were 25 year-old Alphonzo Sweet (laborer from Illinois), and 21 year-old Frank Voit [Voight] (a laborer from Illinois). Residing next door was 38 year-old Joseph Gardner (a placer miner from NYS), and 40 year-old Robert Gardner (“water agent” from NYS).

I’m inclined to be believe this letter was written by Egbert Jacob Bloomer (1823-1900), the son of Joshua Bloomer (1792-1835) and Betsy Scott (1797-1888) of Ovid, Seneca count, New York. Egbert was married in 1846 to Mary Vanpatten and they had a child named Ella Rebecca (1848-1905) when they were enumerated in Fairfield, Michigan, in 1850. He was remarried to Mary Vaughan (1839-1914) in Adrian, Michigan, in 1868 and with her he had two more children born in the 1870s. In the 1870 US Census, the couple were enumerated in Fairfield, Michigan, and 23 year-old Ellie (his daughter by first marriage) was living with them.

Egbert’s ancestry record is substantially complete with the exception of the 1860 Census record which is absent. My hunch is that he went to California under the name “Jacob Bloomer.” In November 1862, a letter awaited “E. J. Bloomer” at the post office in Sacramento.

The 1870 US Census for Little York, Nevada county, Ca., enumerates 40 year-old David Rose from New York State as the head of household with two others—50 year-old Oscar Berg from Finland, and 32 year-old Henry McGinn from Ireland. All three were identified as “miners.”

[This letter is from the private collection of Richard Weiner and is published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]


Addressed to Mr. David Rose, Charlotte Centre, Chautauqua county, New York

August 26, 1860

Mr. D. Rose, Sir,

I received your letter today July twenty-eighth and was glad to hear from you and from my folks and about my children. I received a letter from Love some two weeks ago stating that you had been there and should been glad to have had you stayed longer. I should like to see them.

I will give you how things have went since you left the best I can think. We finished the old logs the first day of June and R. Gardner had let some men the job of cutting logs that day we went to Nevada [City]. They came from Fraser River—some connection of Moody of Liberty Hill. they cut the sugar pine up above the house. The best logs scaled sixty-seven inches and made when sawed twenty-four hundred [and] fifty feet.

Joe Muncan’s [Munson’s] boy, or child, was buried the 9th of June. The cattle got here the sixth and looked first rate. Sam Latta has got a yoke of oxen. Give two hundred [for them]. He had them picketed out on his ranch and one got his foot fast in the rope and killed him. Now he has bough that ox that Sweet claimed. John Smith of Liberty had one bone of his leg broke the 12th of June in the diggins. Liberty has used up some men this year. A[bert] Nutting has got well so he begins to work. He was a hard-looking sight. R. Gardner though most too much to do so. He had Frank Voigt to come and work. He came some two weeks after you left and he had one by the day some four or five weeks to help me and help pile the lumber.

The oak trees commenced looking green Sunday the 17th of June. They had a ball at J. Duffy’s the twentieth for his benefit and they took in some seven hundred dollars. John Whitedge and Jim Myers had some words and John shot Myers arm off—or so they have to cut it off close to the shoulder—and John left and they have not got him. Jack McConnell gave up the chase and said that he would not try anymore.

The Fourth of July they had quite a time at Dutch Flat and Pete went, and a picnic at York and Jack went to York. Robert went to York in the afternoon but I stayed and sawed all day alone. It commenced raining the night of the tenth and rained all the next day. The eleventh about eight o’clock I was sawing [when] that guging they put in last winter dropped off. I was sawing sugar pine and went without any jare. Got a new one in and started the nineteenth and plenty of water till the first of this month. Quit sawing last Thursday the 23rd. Water was turned out of the ditch on Friday and Jack came back from turning out the water and went to York that day and the next day he said he was a going home. He is to leave York today. I suppose he will go on the same boat with this.

They had a dance at Parish on Saturday, July 21st. Quite a turnout. J. Gardner went down to Sacramento the last of July and got a span of Spanish horses. They are not broke to work. He got them to draw lumber. They built a blacksmith shop across the road from the logs under that fur tree and had Old Tiger of Remington Hill here to fix the wagons. We got up August the 4th and shop tools of all kinds. He had most all out of the mill [which] was burnt slick and clean to the ground and the woods on fire and the fire going towards the mill when I got there at four o’clock, August 6th.

Donald McKenzie was killed in V[alentine] Curran’s diggins [when] the bank caved in on him. He got some sixty feet when it buried him up. It catched Tom [too] but he got out. It took some time to find him for they did not know where he was was. He was buried some four feet deep with red dirt and [7 year-old] Jimmy Dryman fell and broke one arm the same day. Jack Stuart left here the last of June for home. He sailed the thirty-first. Pete [Rose] and Jack is a team a drawing logs and they have got most all in, some fifty more to haul. Gardner has commenced his flume for Christmas Hill. I started for there with the team on Friday with nineteen hundred feet [of lumber] and got down below long ravine where that bridge was. They took off the plank and filled in with brush and dirt. I went on and over went the load and wagon on top so I came back and tried it again. Yesterday I went through but they had to fix it some.

I do not know what I shall work at now. [Robert] Gardner is a going to make the reservoir larger. Oh yes, they have got a school house just above that spring up from the reservoir and have a school. Cooper—that one is sick—teaches. I can’t think of anything more. If you can make this out, you will do well. You must write again.

Oh, Miss Ann Swift is here yet. She goes by here some two or three times a week. My best respects, — E. J. Bloomer

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