[Illustration: Building of the society of California pioneers.]
It was organized for the purpose of perpetuating the memory of the events of those days and for the benefit and mutual protection of its members. No person was eligible for membership except he had arrived in California before the 1st of January, 1850, and the descendants of Forty-niners when arriving at the age of twenty-one are eligible. At the opening of the World’s Fair in San Francisco in January last, in the ceremonies in the marching of the procession through the streets of the city, they were received with the greatest enthusiasm and cheers, which was a marked manifestation of the veneration in which they are held by the people of California.
The writer was practising his profession in the city of Albany, his native place, in 1848, when reports came of the discovery of gold in California. In a short time samples of scales of the metal of the river diggings were on exhibition, sent to friends in the city in letters. Many of Colonel Stevenson’s regiment had been recruited in that city. Soon these rumors were exaggerated. It was said that barrels of gold were dug by individuals named. Soon the excitement extended all over the country, and the only barrier to wealth, it seemed, was the difficulty of getting to the Eldorado. Why the discovery of gold there should have produced so much excitement cannot be fathomed. It seemed an era in human affairs, like the Crusades and other events of great importance that occur. Your correspondent became one of its votaries, and organized a company to go to the gold rivers and secure a fortune for all interested in it, and it seemed all that was required was to get there and return in a short time and ride in your carriage and astonish your friends with your riches. Suffice it to say, this company was fully organized (with its by-laws and system of government drawn up by the writer), and sailed from the port of New York on the ship Tarrolinter on the 13th of January, 1849, to go around Cape Horn, arriving in San Francisco on the following July. From that time I became absorbed in all the news from the gold regions, and losing confidence somewhat in the certainty of a fortune from my interest in the company, and reading of the high price of lumber, the scarcity of houses, and the extraordinary high wages of mechanics there, conceived the project of shipping the materials for some houses there, having all the work put on them here that could be done, thus saving the difference in wages, and to have them arrive there before the rainy season set in, and thus realize the imaginary fortune that I had expected from my interest in the company. In the following spring I had twelve houses constructed. The main point upon which my speculation seemed to rest was to get them to San