From the Vineyard Gazette edition of October 12, 1849:
The schr. L.M. Yale, of Holmes Hole, is now ready and will sail for California in a day or two. Below we give a list of her company:
Otis Smith, of Tisbury, master; Warren Cleveland, Charles Peaks, Wm. A. Robinson, John Perry, Charles Cleveland, of Tisbury; Leonard Luce, Ira Luce, of West Tisbury; Granville Manter, Osborn Tilton, Caleb L. Rotch, Ellis Skiff, Prince Athearn, Daniel Luce, Jr., Hiram Luce, of Chilmark; Joseph Athearn, of Edgartown; Abraham Gifford, of New Bedford; Johnson Simson, cook, colored.
Capt. Downs, of Schr. Rialto, of Holmes Hole, returned from the Mines. This gentleman arrived at Holmes Hole, direct from California on Wednesday last. Capt. D. returns on account of ill health. He had been troubled with fever and an attack of the dysentery. He gives a very discouraging account of the affairs at the gold diggings; and as he was at the mines himself and engaged in digging, his statements can be, of course, relied upon. He states, as we learn from a gentleman who conversed with him, that he was at the mines a week, during which time he got little or no gold — that only one person out of twenty, on average, did well — while the balance did worse than they could at home.
The Rialto’s company had left the mines, by Capt. D’s advice, the yield of gold being so very small, and the hardships so very great — The schr. was freighting, which was all the business that paid well. Many persons had been ruined by speculation. One company, engaged in a Relectory, had failed, losing an immense amount of money, owing to the fall in the prices of everything.
Capt. D. says that he, with others, at the mines, had often laughed heartily over the gold stories which were published in the New York papers.
The captain advises all persons of family, who can do a moderate business, to remain at home.
The following extracts are made from a letter written by Dr. D. C. Winslow, of Nantucket, to his friend Capt. John R. Sands, of this town, who has politely placed it at our disposal. To account for its late date, it is only necessary to say that the letter was brought by Capt. Downs, late of schr. Rialto.
San Francisco, Aug. 28, 1849.
I wrote you soon after my arrival here and advised you not to come here. I still remain of that opinion. I have been a fool for coming, to speak in the broad sense of the phrase, though there is an abundant field for me to make money by my profession, and much faster than I made it at the Sandwich Islands. I am doing business while I remain here, but if I had not been purchasing real estate, I would not now do so, but would return by the first steamer. The climate is not agreeable to me.
It is one of the hardest places if you get sick, or are in need of aid of any sort. Labor is so high that you must be neglected or be used up in paying for services grudgingly rendered. The suffering of the sick for lack of suitable shelter and accommodations is often very great, and the dead are oftentimes found when the nearest neighbors in tents had not been aware that life was extinct or so near its end. Even the Alcade of this town refused to bury a man who had no one in the world to administer or have administered to his remains the rites of scripture, and he laid on the shore at the south of town some hours, till people became interested and buried him by subscription. No person should come to California unless with a companion or friend who will adhere to him in sickness and in health. Money will not pay you for much that you will be obliged to undergo if you come to this country.
As you are waiting for my opinion and advice, I feel it my duty to utter it to you, though I do it with great reluctance, for it may be contrary to your most ardent desires. But don’t come, brother, — go to New Bedford — take command of the finest ship the T — will buy for you, and pursue your old business with a contented mind, and you will be as rich and as happy in the end.
Gold is inexhaustible, but the product is uncertain, and the toil to obtain it is unspeakable.
Carpenters can do first rate here, and some other mechanics, but if a man has not a trade he cannot make more than $7 or $8 a day, by his labor. Board is high — $14 a week for eating — poor at that — and lodging a dollar a night — or if you board and lodge, your accommodations will be such that you will regret that you ever left home. This is truth - so stay at home, or take your wife in a fine ship, and follow your regular profession.
I see many of our old acquaintances here. Waldo is dead. He died two days since of the fever of the country. He sent for me to see him. I found him a wretched looking object, and drawing near his end. I told him his hour was near; but he was wandering, and did not think of what I told him. He died on Sunday at 3 o’clock, and was buried ay 5 the same afternoon.
Compiled by Hilary Wall