Wednesday, January 22, 2020

If only, what if


Sutter's Mill

This time of day was just about the only part of life that James Marshall enjoyed: Seeing the West reflected into the East, changing the sky into a sky of molten gold.

James chuckled bitterly…molten gold… His own gold, now long gone, was only brass in his mind.  His mind was filled with what-ifs about the past, when he found gold flakes which had ruined his life, ruined his life but good.

Where Marshall found gold flakes
If only John Sutter had been just a smidgen parsimonious.  Sutter spent money he did not have, borrowed money he could not repay, and lost his own fortune. Damn fool. Marshall spit tobacco onto what had once been a mecca for gold diggers.

Marshall clenched his misshapen hands when he thought about Sutter.  All the work Marshall had done, breaking bones in his hands, and for nothing.  No blessings showered on me then.  Or now.

With all that could have been, Marshall could not gain any traction in keeping his sawmill running. His workers had dropped their tools and picked up pans, running to the American River.  Penniless again.

He pleaded with the California State Legislature and they awarded him with a two-year pension.  What he really desired was some investigative search into the theft of his future.

 Re-creation of James Marshall's homesteader cabin at the end of his life--
While on a field trip of middle-schoolers, I saw this.  Pretty sparse.


So here he sat, gazing at the dusky sky disappear, before he arose and went into his homestead shack.  If only, if only…


Gold was discovered on January 24, 1848

The underlined words are from March 2015  Wednesday Words, donated by fellow blogger Delores, and has since been continued by other bloggers. These awesome writers, Elephant's ChildMark KoopmanRiver can provide these interesting words.

When I was teaching middle school, we took 5th-8th students to Sacramento for two overnights. Visiting this site was part of our trip; I do not know if the students understood the impact of this part of history or not.


California Historical Landmark #143: James Marshall Gold Discovery Monument
monument plaque
California Historical Landmark #143: James Marshall Gold Discovery Monument
Marshall pointing toward the Mill
  

36 comments:

  1. Sad story. The gold rush ruined many lives, I'd wager.

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  2. I do enjoy these short stories and the history lesson this time. BUT I cannot imagine herding a middle school on an OVER_NITE anything! Y'all be brave teachers......

    Love from a 50 degree Florida at noon. Just a little unusual....

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    1. Let me tell you, the trip was hell. It was 2 nights, had to share a room with 4 female students. they hated it and I hated it. Other than that, it was great. The other teacher (a young unmarried man) was seriously lacking in commonsense.

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  3. This was an interesting look at the history involving a particular person. That is what makes history worth learning.

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    1. When our guide told us this remaining part of Marshall's life(the underlined words were from Wed. Words) and I saw the inside, I was saddened by his life. His daughters went to the CA gov't to obtain enough money to provide for his remaining life.

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  4. Loved revisiting this W4W tale.
    And yes, gold made some people fortunes, and broke other people's hearts, minds and bodies.

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    1. It broke more people than it gave riches to a few.

      Sacramento provided a view of that time period.

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  5. Replies
    1. Have seen many dilapidated cabins like that out in the woods near my old hometown.

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  6. Chasing that dream of striking gold, a bust for most people. Like the looks of the cabin.

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    1. It is a replication of the original, altho in much better shape. I looked inside and there was a sparsity of any furniture. A sad ending.

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  7. We can learn a lot from history.

    God bless.

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  8. This story, like all of them from the gold rush is fascinating. But so sad. And you did an awesome job telling it!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and enjoying this. If he not had some daughters, he might have starved to death.

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  9. Luck was not a lady to most of those who came for gold.

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    1. Who were the most successful? The store and suppliers who collected so much money found great success throughout their descendants.

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  10. At least he's a part of history...

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    1. He and Sutter will find their places in history.

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  11. Such a bleak existence when hopes and dreams are shattered. Sutter's Mill looks like it could use some TLC.

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    1. If it could be reconstructed, who knows what it would be.

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  12. Hi there, I just want to thank you for your kind comments and visiting my blog.

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  13. We always hear of Sutter. Nothing of James Marshall. Thanks for that.

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    1. One dreams and then fails is what Marshall found.

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  14. Whenever I see these old buildings that people used to live in, I wonder how they did it.

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    1. Exactly my thoughts. a few planks nailed together.

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  15. Dear Susan, I Follow the blog Elephant's Child (Sue G) and sometimes do try on her blog to use the words to write a very short story. Your posting here is the first time it ever occurred to me that we might take the words and write a story to post on our own blog! You are such a creative, imaginative genius!!!!!! Peace.

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    1. You honor to much. Take though few words and see what one can make. With your brain, it would be great to sew what you can do.

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  16. unwilling to spend money or use resources; stingy or frugal - Yep, had to look that one up. LOL
    Great information. I think get rich quick - only works for those already there!

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    1. Too greedy, keep digging even though you found a few flakes.

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  17. Get rich quick - big part of California's heritage. See: John Steinbeck.

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    1. Get rich or die poor. Pretty much the way of life their.

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  18. Is it not the function of the teacher to explain the context of the history to the students?

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  19. this is sad dear Susan

    i have seen movies about gold seeker and no one happily lived after

    yet if it is just about setting goal and trying to chase ,not bad to have one

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!