I had returned to my office on the North Beach after my only trip to Stockton on my brig. My friend R. was progressing with his brewery. He had received a favorable letter from Lieutenant S. about our Touwalma city, and informing me that S. had a diamond ring that cost $800 in Rio Janeiro, at a broker’s office, as collateral security for $250 borrowed on it at ten per cent per month, and the time was about up. If I would redeem the ring I could keep it and wear it until he paid me. I went and saw the ring. It was as represented, and I redeemed it and wore it for a considerable time. One day R. came to me with a naming letter from S. that he had laid out the city and been elected alcalde, and we would make our fortune, and there was a friend of S. that was going up there, and if I would send up the ring by him he would appreciate it so much, and he would be responsible that I should not lose any thing by it. I was foolish enough to be persuaded by him and handed him the ring, for which act I have never forgiven myself. That was the last I ever saw of the ring or any of the money invested in Touwalma city, for it turned out a failure. It was never the head of navigation on the river, or any thing else that was ever heard of.
There were three unfortunate events that occurred in California in the winter months of 1849 and the beginning of 1850. The rainy season had destroyed all the dams constructed on the gold rivers and raceways, which had been constructed at great expense for the purpose of working the beds of the river for gold, the rivers often rising from ten to eighteen feet in a night, and the current running with terrible force. The second, the flooding of Sacramento, destroying large quantities of merchandise and carrying away and undermining the houses there. The third was the great fire in San Francisco, destroying one-third of the main business portion of the city, upon which there was no insurance. There were no companies organized or agents there to insure property then, as it was too risky. There was one four-story fire-proof building that was stored full of the most valuable goods, at a large price for storage, for it was considered absolutely fire-proof, but when the fire came the heat of the fire from the buildings around it caused the iron sides of it to expand, which let the roof fall in and burned every thing to the ground, so that nothing was saved. Instead of being a place of safety, it was the most destructive of all.
Some ships in the bay were burned. I succeeded in getting in the rear of the fire to save my brig. I ordered the men to hoist anchor and put out further in the bay, which saved it. These unfortunate events destroyed and marred the fortune of many. On the day before I called on a private banker, G., on the plaza, and presented my check for $800. He said to me, if it made no difference, it being steamer day (once a month they went East when the gold was shipped to the mint in Philadelphia by them),