March 1856 found spring flowers blooming in Calaveras County. Reading the entries in David Lewis Drew’s diary, spring rain and high water from winter snow melt impacted his efforts to recover much gold from the river.
Although David and his partner consistently found gold in their sluices, they had to pay expenses associated with repair materials and investment payments on other mining properties in addition to other living expenses.
David received a letter from his father, David Drew, of Plymouth, Massachusetts in the last week of the month. The mail took 40 or more days to travel across country. Postage costs were very high in comparison to the rates today, so communication by the Massachusetts miners back to their homes in Plymouth were typically limited to once every other month or so.
As noted in earlier posts, David’s spelling has been left intact in this transcription. Writing in a shirt pocket sized diary while sitting on a cot in your tent did not lend to worrying about perfect spelling or lengthy entries.
SATURDAY 1 — finished ground sluceing below the dich to day. here it is spring again time seemes to slip away awfull fast.
SUNDAY 2 — Went up on the Flat to day. dry times up there watter dried up.
TUESDAY 4 — Found the dirt so hard above the dich that we concluded.
WEDNESDAY 5 — Ground did not pay very well to day only got ten dolars.
THURSDAY 6 — Quit about the midle of the afternoon. The slide company are sluceing across our dich and cut it away. White went up to Columbia after letters. did not get any.
FRIDAY 7 — Got our watter on this morning and went to washing.
SATURDAY 8 — Been to work in a sink to day and it paid pretty well. Got forty dolars. Took out $97.50 this week.
A "sink" is a low spot in the bedrock of the stream bed. Frequently these were especially rich in gold nuggets.
SUNDAY 9 — Went up to Columbia to day. Paid $26.50 expenses on my Shaws Flat claim.
References to "the flat" may have meant just up on the generally level ground around Columbia, Springfield, and Shaws Flat, or specifically Shaws. The latter was a fairly well established town, and apparently was the headquarters of a number of the Pilgrim Mining company members who came out from Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1849, as well as those, like David Drew, who followed later. Most of the speculative deals in which David was involved were with other members of this group of Massachusetts Argonauts.
MONDAY 10 — Shifted Sluice and washed the top dirt.
TUESDAY 11 — Pretty warme to day and does not look as if it was agoing to rain again this season.
WEDNESDAY 12 — Looked like rain all day to day. but does not seem to make a raise. took out six oz and ten dollars to day.
THURSDAY 13 — Rained a little last night and has looked squally all day to day. Washed down and shifted sluice this afternoon
FRIDAY 14 — Rained this afternoon so that we did not work. the river rose so about night that we thought it best to take our boxes and spouts.
SATURDAY 15 — Good weather this morning. Put in our boxes and spurs and went to washing. Took out $265.25 this week.
SUNDAY 16 — Went up on Shaws Flat to day. Paid an assessment of $11.00 on the New York tunnel.
MONDAY 17 — White stoped up to Columbia last night to try and sell some of our shares in the Know Nothing tunnel.
TUESDAY 18 — White came down to day. has disposed of one share. and there is a prospect of getting clear of the rest.
WEDNESDAY 19 — Commenced ground (slucing) to day. We have come to the conclusion that it is not going to rain again this year.
THURSDAY 20 — Been pretty warm too day. and it makes the sweat start. The floweres are a begining to bloom on the hills.
FRIDAY 21 — The river rose considerable this fornoon. the affects of warme weather
SATURDAY 22 — Len was not very well to day and so he did not work.
MONDAY 24 — River is up pretty high this warm weather melts the snow.
TUESDAY 25 — John is down to day a prospecting the bar above.
WEDNESDAY 26 — It looks as if we might have some rain to night. and I hope that we shall for it is needed bad enough.
THURSDAY 27 — It looked bad enough to rain too day but it is starlight to night.
FRIDAY 28 — Len was not very well and did not work.
SATURDAY 29 — My self and white went to Jim town at day to attend a meeting of the K.N. tunnel company paid an assessment of $13.50 to the share.
SUNDAY 30 — Staide on Shaws Flat to day raind pretty much all day. Received two letters one from farther and one from Charly Wadsworth.
MONDAY 31 — Came down from Shaws this morning worked a few minits and it commened to rain and kept it up all day Wrote to farther to day.