San Francisco Daily Call/July 9, 1863
Virginia City, Nevada Territory, July 5, 1863
EDITORS CALL: – After an absence of two months, I stand in the midst of my native sagebrush once more; and in the midst of bustle and activity, and turmoil and confusion, to which lunchtime in the Tower of Babel was foolishness. B and C streets swarm with men, and horses, and wagons, and pack-trains, and dry-goods, and quartz, and bricks, and stone, and lumber, to such a degree that it is almost impossible to navigate them. And then the infernal racket – O, for the solitude of Montgomery Street again! Everybody is building, apparently. The boundaries of the city of Virginia have not been extended during the past two months, but the number of houses has been fearfully increased – doubled, I may say. Some portions of the town have grown clear out of my recollection since I have been away. Maguire has erected a spacious and beautiful theatre on D street, exactly after the pattern of the Opera House in San Francisco, and it is nightly crowded with admirers of Mr. Mayo, Mrs. Hayne, and other “theatricides,” whose names are familiar to Californians.
The Henness Pass
I came by the Henness Pass route. I don’t like it. I brought my other shirt along, and they charged me extra baggage. Besides, Uncle John Atchison, Mr. Harris and Mr. Chapelle were in the party, and they created a famine at every station we stopped at. They fell upon the Barnum Restaurant in Sacramento, and ate the proprietor out of house and home; then they attacked the first station this side of Lincoln, and brought ruin and desolation upon it. I am a mighty responsible artist at a dinner-table myself, when I get a chance – but I never got one until we arrived at Lake City, on Wednesday evening. We met the down stage there, with five or six men in it who were considerably battered and bruised by a recent upset. They were unable to eat. But the landlord lost nothing by it – I disposed of those extra rations. The only man among the wounded who was seriously hurt was a Mr. Tomlinson, from Humboldt Bay -shoulder dislocated. We seventeen passengers, however, traveled without fear of accident on this part of the route – from Nevada to Tracy’s – as our driver was the best in the world except Woodruff (they call him Wood), who drives on the Placerville route from Genoa or Carson to Strawberry. They gave us a fish breakfast at Hunter’s, on the Truckee – trout, Uncle John said, but it was hardly tender enough for that – I expect it was whale. We dashed by the Ophir on Thursday morning at half-past eleven o’clock, twenty-nine hours out from Sacramento – which reminds me of an anecdote, one of Mr. Merritt’s, President of Imperial Gold and Silver Mining Company.
What Our Future Prosperity Depends Upon
Thus. Mr. Nathaniel Page, of San Francisco, was coming to Virginia one morning, in one of the Pioneer coaches, and enjoying the conversation of a sociable old sot, who decorated the middle seat. The sociable man pointed to the hillside, and remarked:
“When I first come here, two years ago, that Savage, there, ‘n’ the Hale, ‘n’ the Norcrus, ‘n’ the Potosi, could be had for the askin’ – any of ’em. Now look at ’em! (hic) Bilin’, ain’t they? H__ll! thousands couldn’t touch ’em this very minute!”
Mr. Page said, “Well, those claims have increased in value rapidly – but do you think they will continue to do so?”
To which the sociable man replied, “Blessed if I know – ‘n’ no other man don’t know, either. It’s all owin’ (hic) to how many more d__d fools comes here f’m Sanfercisco!”
The Fourth in Virginia
Yesterday was the greatest day Virginia ever saw. From morning till night her streets were crowded to suffocation with citizens, and soldiers, and fire companies, and the air was filled with the music of brass bands and the booming of cannon. I traversed the city in company with Billy Welch, of the California mine, in his “Washoe carriage,” (being favored with the vacant seat aft the middle gangway, on that gentleman’s little mule,) and had a notable opportunity of wondering where such multitudes of people could have come from, and of never arriving at any satisfactory conclusion about it. The reading of the poem, and the Farewell Address, and the President’s Message and accompanying documents, and so forth, came off in the afternoon, at the theatre. Of course, the house could only contain a very small fraction of the public, but that fraction was well satisfied with the exercises.
Mr. Frank Mayo read the poem (written by Joseph T. Goodman, Esq.,) which was a masterly production, as was amply attested by the tremendous applause with which it was received. Had I dreamed of such an enthusiastic reception as that, I would have dashed off a dusty old poem myself for the occasion. Thomas Fitch, Esq., delivered the oration. I don’t know Mr. Fitch personally, but by reputation I don’t like him. He is a “born” orator, though. If he always swings the English language as grandly as he did yesterday, I shall always be happy to hear him. He is a regular masked battery. He lulls you into a treacherous repose, with a few mild and graceful sentences, and then suddenly explodes in your midst with a bombshell of eloquence which shakes you to your very foundations.
Yesterday evening, a grand display of fireworks on Virginia Hill finished the Fourth of July festivities in this metropolis. Our wonderfully clear atmosphere vouchsafed to the pyrotechnics a splendor and brilliancy never attained at lower altitudes. Various figures and mottoes were represented, and the beauty of the designs and the excellence of the execution did infinite credit to Virginia.
The good order and freedom from disturbance which prevailed yesterday, were the subject of general remark. I hardly think old citizens were fooled by it though. If they did not speak of it openly, many of them must have been speculating inwardly as to what man we were likely to have for breakfast. The fearful question was solved – or almost solved – just before midnight. Two Irishmen got to fighting in the San Francisco Saloon, and the proprietor of the establishment, Mike Millenovich, attempted to separate them. Two policemen – McGee and Scott – came in, attracted by the noise, and a general row ensued, in the course of which nine pistol shots were fired, one of which broke Millenovich’s arm, and another entered his side, inflicting an ugly and probably fatal wound. I get this meagre and unsatisfactory statement from an eyewitness, who says “they made it so warm for him in there that he don’t rightly know much about it.” I entertain a similar opinion myself. Another witness tells me several outsiders were wounded by chance shots, but I have been unable to stumble upon any such.
I cannot say anything about the mines this time, because I have not had time to visit them since I got home. That villainous trip over the mountains has relaxed my tremendous energies to some extent, also. From the increasing richness of the developments being made in the Hale & Norcross mine, however, I think you may count on a great advance in the price of that stock within the next few days.
There was a report about town last night, that Charles Strong, Esq., Superintendent of the Gould & Curry, had been shot and very effectually killed. I asked him about it at church this morning. He said there was no truth in the rumor. And speaking of the church, I am at this moment suffering with an itching to do up the fashions there, but I expect it might not be an altogether safe speculation.
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