May 10th.—Yesterday and to-day nothing has been talked of but the new gold “placer,” as people call it. It seems that four other men had accompanied the person Captain Fulsom saw yesterday, and that they had each realized a large quantity of gold. They left the “diggings” on the American Fork (which it seems is the Rio de los Americanos, a tributary to the Sacramento) about a week ago, and stopt a day or two at Sutter’s fort, a few miles this side of the diggings, on their way; from there they had travelled by boat to San Francisco. The gold they brought has been examined by the first Alcalde here, and by all the merchants in the place. Bradley showed us a lump weighing a quarter of an ounce, which he had bought of one of the men, and for which he gave him three dollars and a half. I have no doubt in my own mind about its being genuine gold. Several parties, we hear, are already made up to visit the diggings; and, according to the newspaper here, a number of people have actually started off with shovels, mattocks, and pans to dig the gold themselves. It is not likely, however, that this will be allowed, for Captain Fulsom has already written to Colonel Mason about taking possession of the mine on behalf of the Government, it being, as he says, on public land.
May 13.—It is now finally settled that we start off on Wednesday to the Sacramento Valley. To-day, under Bradley’s direction, I have bought a good horse, for which I paid only fifteen dollars. It will be very little more expense than hiring a horse of the hotel-master here, besides being far more agreeable to have a horse of one’s own; for everybody, the commonest workman even, rides in this country. The gold excitement increases daily, as several fresh arrivals from the mines have been reported at San Francisco. The merchants eagerly buy up the gold brought by the miners, and no doubt, in many cases, at prices considerably under its value. I have heard, though, of as much as sixteen dollars an ounce having been given in some instances, which I should have thought was over rather than under the full value of gold in the United States. I confess I begin to feel seriously affected with the prevailing excitement, and am anxious for Wednesday to arrive.
May 17th.—This place is now in a perfect furor of excitement; all the work-people have struck. Walking through the town to-day, I observed that labourers were employed only upon about half a-dozen of the fifty new buildings which were in course of being run up. The majority of the mechanics at this place are making preparations for moving off to the mines, and several hundred people of all classes—lawyers, store-keepers, merchants, etc.,—are bitten with the fever; in fact, there is a regular gold mania springing up. I counted no less than eighteen houses which were closed, the owners having left. If Colonel Mason is moving a force to the American Fork, as is reported here, their journey will be in vain.