Searching for Gold Leads to Trouble for Wagon Train

Wagon train filled with friends searching for gold finds trouble as young man's impulsive act teads to two deaths.

| Good Old Days

When my grandfather was 16 years old, in 1849, he traveled with friends searching for gold on the West Coast. Their wagon train, 15 wagons in all, was on the road six months from Illinois to Sacramento, California. The women, children and provisions used up most of the space in the wagons, so the men and boys walked many miles of the trip.

A young man among the group walking was a "smartie." He noticed a young Indian woman fishing on the bank of a stream. He was carrying a rifle, and on impulse he shot her. Near sunset, Indian warriors surrounded the caravan and demanded the killer. Unless he was surrendered, all whites would die. The young man was scalped before the very eyes of his friends and left to die on the trail.

Sacramento was just a tent city when they arrived, with not a woman in the town. Thirty dollars worth of gold was considered a good day's diggings. But prices were high. A pair of chickens sold for $12; oysters were $5 a pint. My grandfather lived in California 16 years, and during that time went to Cuba for a short time. When he returned to Illinois, he had a total saving of $800.

Mrs. Fred Scar
Earlham, Iowa

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community. 

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