Chapter 6 - Hot Time in Old San Francisco

June & July 1858

The group travels to San Francisco, the city by the bay, for rest and relaxation. The city is preparing for what might be its largest ever Independence Day celebration – though there is much debate on whether such celebration is appropriate for the Sabbath. Do our adventurers ever really get to rest?

Progress and California

Funding for the CCRR has been obtained – with multiple PCs as founding investors.

Site prep is going on at Mississippi Bar for the new railroad bridge over the American River – when finished it will be the largest and strongest bridge in California. But in the 1850s high-quality iron and steel has to be imported from the eastern foundries. Wilson has gone to New York to negotiate the supply of the cable wire for the bridge supports, the support beams, and the first sets of railroad ties – and the first load of supplies is on its way around the horn.

Garrett Mathews is travelling to San Francisco to oversee the first load of supplies for the CCRR and its transport on paddlewheel steamer to the docks at Sacramento.

Adventure Begins

We will pick up the story en route to San Fran. Not all is as it seems though, and many contacts and frenemies are expected to appear. Should be lighthearted though — focused more on negotiation, gambling/drinking, bar fights and maybe a little bit of industrial espionage.

Interlude : Someone to watch over you

Several letters of interest that the party receives in mid/late June 1858.

Letter #1 : To Jane Wilson

To : Mrs John Wilson, St George’s Hotel, Sacramento
From : Mrs. Aaron Sargent, Nevada City

I pray this letter finds you in good health and humor. Although we have had rare occasion to socialize, I always find our visits enlightening and entertaining – and so I hope you will forgive the forwardness of my desire to begin a correspondence.

May chance we shall have the opportunity to meet soon – which would bring me good joy. My husband has finished his sulking and promised to once again don his armor and enter the halls of power. I have informed him that he shall not leave three ladies at home saddened by his absence while he speaks, drinks and smokes his way across the west. So I am soon to tour our fair state, while playing not just wife but also nursemaid and tutor to dear little Ellen and Elizabeth.
More somberly, I have thought much on poor Lily V and the sorry events that orphaned her at such a tender age. She is fortunate to have family to care for her and honorable prospects – but all too many children could now be living a story even Mr. C. Dickens is loathe to write.

California needs more than man’s strength and sinew – she will need compassion, courage and empathy. Thus have I started to communicate with ladies of good character to discuss what this state should become and how we may effect it. I hope you will place thought on this as well, and share your intelligence in good time.

One final paragraph and admonition if I may be so bold. Through our mutual acquaintance Mr. L and my own inquiries, I have become aware of certain troubling events of the spring. I applaud your zeal and energy – but we must take care not to put our own soul in jeopardy, even in the execution of such a worthy cause.

Yours in Christ,
Ellen Clark Sargent

Letter #2 : To Samuel Davis

From “E.G. Waite, Nevada Journal, Nevada City” and addressed to “S. Davis, St Georges Hotel, Sacramento”

Inside is a packet of a

  • dozen newspaper clippings
  • small handwritten note : You should share your train story with H.H Bancroft. He pays well for that sort of tale – E.W.
  • reference letter

To Whom It May Concern

Be advised that Mr. Samuel Davis, originally of Baltimore and late of Nevada City and Sacramento did serve as writer for The Nevada Journal during the periods of 1857 and 1858.

During his tenure, he has worked on routine reporting and transcription of legislative and political matters, and also in the interview of social and cultural affairs as instructed. He also did occasion to perform his own investigations.

In all matters, his writing proved competent to the task and compelling to the reader. He was also punctual in his reporting on most all occasions – an important quality for contributors to a daily periodical.

Edwin Waite
Publisher, The Nevada Journal

Letter #3 : To Jost Althaus

Written in German. The return address is a street on Russian Hill in San Francisco.

Good Sir
I have heard that you possess three qualities of which I find myself in strong need – an honest and fearless German character, experience upon the southern trail – commonly called the Gila – and a strong sense of adventure.
It is my earnest desire to offer you a partnership in a most impressive expedition. The undoubted success of which promises to increase both our fortunes.
Please join me for sunset dinner on June 26th to discuss the adventure and its particulars. I would also invite you to bring a small number of companions that you might see fit to include as well.
Yours in earnest
J.Abraham, Esq

Letter #4 : To Gilbert Warfield

To: Gilbert R. Warfield, St George’s Hotel, Sacramento California
From: Isaac J. Wistar, Attorney at Law, Baker & Associate, San Francisco, California
Dear Mr. Warfield,
On May 31, 1858, our law firm was retained by Bejamin Warfield, Attorney at Law of Lexington, Kentucky. We were retained to be the custodians for the Elisha Warfield purchase in the CENTRAL CALIFORNIA RAILROAD and have been entrusted to see this matter to conclusion. The investiture of $10,000 in the CENTRAL CALIFORNIA RAILROAD is a matter for which you will duly understand is of the upmost of importance.
As a direct result of this, the Benjamin Warfield, Attorney at Law, has entrusted you, one Gilbert R. Warfield originally of Lexington, Kentucky, to be the guaranteed signature for the Elisha Warfield in all matters in regards to his investment in the CENTRAL CALIFORNIA RAILROAD for matters which can only be finalized the state of California.
The contract will be finalized here in our office in San Francisco, California no later than Monday, June 7, 1858. Shortly after that time, we will require your presence in our office to place your signature on the documents which will ensure your fathers investment in the CENTRAL CALIFORNIA RAILROAD. As you, yourself are also an investor of the CENTRAL CALIFORNIA RAILROAD you will recognize that this investment is time sensitive and we will need for you to present yourself on or before Monday, June 21, 1858.
Once the contract is signed, Mr. Elisha Warfield investments will be finalized and the funds will be forwarded to the Chemical Bank of New York.
I look forward to making your acquaintance.
Isaac J. Wistar
Attorney at Law

Letter #5 : To Garrett & Jess

The session will start with a conversation (and job opportunity) from Judah to support the CCRR.

Chapter 5 - Damsel in Distress

After surviving the first (attempted, not successful) train robbery west of the Mississippi, the Concerned Citizens arrive in Sacramento.

Violette Washington is deep in hiding in Napa County – but can she safe with two scoundrels hot on her trail?
Gilbert’s injuries have left him near death – will waiting for him to heal cost poor Violette her freedom?
Can our heroes escape a city enflamed by the Lee/Stovall case?

Tune in next time for the next exciting story in our thrilling tail of yester-year.

Rest and recuperation in Sacremento
Gilbert style...

St._Georges_Hotel_Sacramento.jpg Once again Gilbert finds himself laid up in a hotel under the ministrations of the lovely Nurse Jane. Finding himself under strict bed rest orders for the next two days Gilbert once again had to find ways to pass the time. He was happy that everyone had picked a nice hotel to stay in the St. Georges Hotel footed the bill nicely. Once Garrett and Jost had helped Gilbert up to the room and got him in bed, Nurse Jane didn’t leave his side until dinner the next day. Garrett came in that first day to ensure Gilbert that Darley was well taken care of and to bring him his supplies from his saddle bags. While Nurse Jane was out of the room, Gilbert implored Garrett to get him a bottle of whiskey and a pouch of jerky so he could help soothe the pains. Garrett thought for sure Nurse Jane would have a mighty fit, but Gilbert worked out a plan to hide the items good so she wouldn’t know. A wink and a smile from Gilbert and a few extra coins and Garrett said he’d be happy to oblige Gilbert as long as Garrett didn’t catch any “heck” from Nurse Jane. Gilbert said not to worry, he’d make sure Garrett was as innocent as the day he was born of this little plan. As Garrett left the room, Nurse Jane was coming back in. Gilbert was already working working on a letter to his sister (Mary Jane Warfield); Nurse Jane smiled as she saw the sweet Gilbert writing to his sweet sister, Garrett checking on his friend, and mostly Gilbert being a good patient. Garrett walked out and Gilbert gave him a wink, knowing that late that evening he would have is “contraband” safely in hand. Gilbert took a gulp of the laudanum and slipped off to sleep the night away. Waking up the next morning with pouch of jerky on the night stand. Gilbert reached over to and picked up the bag; opened it up and found a note inside that simply said: “BOOTS”. Gilbert smiled, leaned over, and reached into his boots. Popping the cork out of the bottle, Gilbert lifted the bottle up, “To ”/characters/garrett-mathews" class=“wiki-content-link”>Garrett", and took a nice long tug.

When the hotel manager came in the next morning, Gilbert paid up for his room and made sure they also delivered the paper daily and that his meals were all paid for. Samuel once again made sure that Gilbert’s letters were mailed and even read some of the morning paper to Gilbert when Gilbert’s energy was waning. Nurse Jane noticed Gilbert was getting tired. She double checked his bandages, gave him a small sip of laudanum; she shewed Samuel out of the room and told Gilbert to get more sleep. After the door closed, Gilbert out his bottle of whiskey; took a couple of tugs and closed his eyes.

Friday evening, Nurse Jane told Gilbert that he could get up and go take a bath and shave and he did just that. He noticed his clothes were full of holes and covered in blood. Jost was in the lobby as luck would have it. Jost said he had some free time and Gilbert said he would love it if Jost could buy him a suit, shirt, and vest; kinda like what he already had. Jost was happy to do it and Gilbert slipped him enough to cover his expenses. Jost noticed Gilbert wasn’t walking all that great and helped him across the street to the bath house with the barber. As they crossed the street a bottle fell on the street. Gilbert reached down to pick it up and gave Jost a little wink. “It goes good with a nice, warm bath. You should try it some time.” Jost rolled his eyes and continued to help Gilbert across the street. Jost left Gilbert at the door, Gilbert turned around and called out, “Jost!”. “Ja Gilbert?”, Jost turned and said. “I was serious about the bath. I’ll put one on credit for you here.” Jost rolled his eyes again and shook his head and started to walk on down the board walk.
“I’m serious, Jost!!!”, Gilbert yelled out and slipped in the door.

Dinner time found Gilbert, resplendent in a new suit courtesy of Jon Jost. buying a nice dinner in the hotel for Jane. With plenty of laughing and smiling at the table with Gilbert “holding court” for him and all his friends. “To Nurse Jane, the best doctor this side of the Mississippi!!” Cheers and glasses were raised. Gilbert sat there and smiled. This is what life was, good time with good friends.

Jess Philosophizing

This whole slavery thing kept me up for hours last night. You might think, growing up in Missouri and all, that I would have thought this through before now. But I really hadn’t. Maybe I was too young, or too blind, or just too self-absorbed to worry about it. Now all of a sudden it’s my problem and I need to figure out where I stand.

On the one hand, you might say that slavery isn’t such a big deal. It seems to me that there’s a pretty fine line between slavery and employment sometimes. I reckon most of the house slaves I grew up with have better lives than most of the folks working on the railroad, for example. In both cases, you pretty much do what you’re told to do and effectively earn just enough to scrape through life. Either way, all the profits from your labor go to the boss man. It took me a while to get there, but I came around to thinking that most of the difference between slavery and what most regular folks have is semantic.

But there is at least one real difference, and I think it’s a pretty important one. Most times an employee can choose to leave if he thinks he’s getting the short end of the stick. Sure, he might end up in a worse state, but he has the opportunity to use his own free will to make a choice. That’s important practically, because it creates a market situation where employers who are blatantly abusive might have trouble finding workers. Slave owners don’t have the same checks and balances; a slave who has an abusive owner is stuck in that situation until he dies.

So slavery is worse, but does it really matter? It’s nice to talk about free will and all, but the opportunity to use your free will only matters if you have the ability to use your free will. The way some folks talk, it seems like maybe slaves don’t have that ability. But if that were true, why are some of them trying to escape? Why do we have an Underground Railroad? It seems obvious to me that, given that they are freely choosing to look for a better life, at least some slaves have more capacity than a lot of folks give them credit for. It also seems to me that it’s just wrong to intervene in the lives of people who have free will in such a way as to circumvent that even if you think they might be better off after your intervention. I think that’s pretty important; maybe we should give it a fancy title like The Prime Directive.

Interlude : Two days in Sacramento

Adding this link for quick stories and character development for the characters time in Sacramento.

Here is what works well for the plot – but is subject to change if you want to go a different way.

Healing up – that’s pretty much it.

Spent his time shopping, buying the masterwork rifle.

Need to get you fired from the Nevada Transcript so you are free to go. I’d like to have Niles show up and displace you – along with a letter saying “you did good work but your expense account was too heavy” and offering you a letter of introduction to Hubert Howe Bancroft, a publisher in San Francisco who might be interested in buying your stories on spec.

In the spirit of “not putting down roots” you might want to write about passing over (or being passed over) for a job on the stage. Or you can take a quick run to Placerville and back, if you don’t want to spend your 20 hours in town.

Nothing right now

Nothing right now

Chapter 4 - Don't call us Vigilantes !

Thu February 4th 1858

The reward money and a mild winter made for easy living the last few months. But whiskey ain’t free, and eventually you got to figure out something to do. Folks are picking up odd jobs and thinking about how to scratch out a living this year – but you miss the excitement of last fall.

The thaws are starting in the high mountains. The creeks are flooding with meltwater, and survey crews have started repairing the damage to roads and bridges from the winter.

Any day now the first riders from the Utah Territory should be arriving in town. Then one day troubling news arrives in Nevada City, and the “Concerned Citizens Posse” rides again to right injustice!

The Cub Reporter

Samuel Davis – Diary from 20 January 1858

Not sure how this all happened, but somehow I am now a reporter for The Nevada Journal, a fine, upstanding newspaper. I came to Sacramento in pursuit of another teaching position as the one I was “promised” in Nevada City fell through. I had a lead for a position at a local college, but that also did not pan out, so an acquaintance suggested working for the local newspaper.

The newspaper gig has been interesting. Ironically, the first story I helped cover was the formation of the Sacramento County Teachers Association. Sometimes I think that God has a wicked sense of humor. I have been helped mightily in learning the business by following the local star reporter F.R. Folger of the Sacramento Daily Union

I confess it was an interesting assignment. The work was being ably discharged by the Sacramento County superintendent of many years (Dr. F. W. Hatch) and then as the deed was almost complete, a San Franciscan of some skill but little formal education (John Swett) attempted to vaingloriously establish himself as the mentor and author of what had been considered a purely local concern.

22 January 1858

With the legislature in session, my life has been rather busy. It is amazing how little can be said by using so many words. Winnowing through to get at the heart of the matter takes more skill than I would have anticipated. The arrival of two federal legislators has the entire city in an uproar. This should be the highlight of the current reporting cycle.

Fortunately I have secured an introduction through Folger to Mr. Cazneau, clerk of the Assembly. I am well aware that his friendship is mostly expediency – but I shall endeavor to generate the most possible benefit to my readers and the Nevada Transcript.

27 January 1858

My world has been upended. Folger has been assailed on the streets of Sacramento and put near death. The publisher (J. Anthony) has been quite supportive and is offering a $250 reward for the prosecution of the guilty – but I fear this attack may go unreported.

Many believe this was a random act – but I suspect otherwise. Folger had told me in confidence that he was conducting a deep investigation into the situation with the escaped slave, Archibald Lee, and I suspect that lead him into mischief.

If only he had told me more, I might be able to track down his wrongdoer.

3 February 1858

It has cost me many nights, and quite a lot of my expense account, but I have secured an itinerary for Senator Gwin and Rep Scott a highly placed source who wishes to remain anonymous. I have it on good authority that they are finishing the tour of the Gold Country in Folsom and then will turn west into Sacramento.

Furthermore it is widely believed that they will be taking the SVR, and that Gwin plans to give an “impromptu” speech on the future of progress from the back of the train upon his arrival.

Jess and the Pioneer Stage Line

January 1858

Although it can provide an entertaining diversion from time to time, it turns out that being a concerned citizen doesn’t reliably pay the bills. So I had to find a job. I had a few offers that weren’t too appealing, including one from a client of Nurse Jane’s. As it turns out, I stumbled across my job while visiting the vacation mecca of Alisal after a hunting trip. It turned out that a slightly overdressed gentleman in his 40s by the name of Jared Crandall happened to be enjoying (tolerating?) dinner at a nearby table in the same less-than-fine establishment I was. Mr. Crandall’s mind was obviously elsewhere, but it was pretty obvious that a few less than savory types were sizing him up as a mark.

When mealtime was over, Mr. Crandall’s unsavory entourage followed him out and I followed them out. The thugs approached Crandall, things started to get ugly, and I rushed in to save the day. Not exactly a perfect story of heroism, though, because if Mr. Crandall hadn’t tipped me off about the third thug behind me things would have ended a lot differently.

Normally I figure that no good deed goes unpunished, but in this particular case my good actually got rewarded. Duly impressed with my mad pistol skillz, Mr. Crandall asked if I was interested in work, and a brief interview later I had a nice position as an express messenger for the Pioneer Stage Line (PSL). Basically I babysit passengers and cargo moving between Placerville, Folsom, Sacramento, Stockton, and San Jose. Babysitting is a more violent business than most folks would probably suspect, though.

The PSL is run by two men, Jared Crandall and Lewis Brady. Jared and I hit it off from the beginning, and I kind of see Jared as a cool father figure who maybe cuts me a little too much slack. Mr. Brady is more of a businessman, and probably would say I did a bad job if I saved customer’s lives but put a dent in his coach. Mr. Brady and I have had a few discussions about priorities… once he was even going to dock my paycheck until Jared stepped in on my behalf.

Wednesday, 3 February 1858

Moving up toward the present day, my PSL coach had just arrived at San Jose. I wasn’t feeling at the top of my game… a little nauseous and maybe a low fever. Making matters worse, we were supposed to have a run back to Sacramento, but Wells Fargo cancelled the contract at the last minute after deciding to send their box by steamer instead. That meant a little less cash for me and a deadhead ride back to Sacramento. So I dragged my butt up early to catch the coach at dawn, feeling way worse than I had before.

There was only one other passenger – a man in his late thirties with a serious face but a friendly disposition. He bought a ticket all the way to “Folsom and beyond”. He says he has business in Carson Valley, and needs to make the crossing over the Sierra Nevada at the first melt.

Mr. Smith and I were having a friendly chat while I was loading his gear when two rough looking men come up. Smith took a carpet bag back (that he had just asked you to stow up top) and asked me “why don’t you go help those fellows”.

So I did. Green seemed like a nice enough guy, and pretty sharp. He wore a grey duster and a tan sombrero in the Mexican way. His friend Charles had a scarred face with a black overcoat and a white stetson that was stained muddy grey.

There seemed to be a little tension between Smith and Green/Charles, but the coach left on schedule. I heard them talking among themselves in low tones, but couldn’t pick up much. Where’s the German when I need those sharp ears of his? I think I heard that Green and Charles are heading to Sacramento and then “up to the mining towns” – and that they are looking for something. I might also have been distracted by the fact that I was puking sick by now.

We pulled into the midday station at Alisal (now Pleasanton) hours behind schedule. The driver told me I was slowing them down too much, which was true. He also told me I was getting left behind, which sucks but is also business as usual. The show must go on, right? Smith took a quick walk to relieve himself, bought tacos (gag, the thought of tacos right now…) and fresh fruit from a stand, and then got right back in the coach. G&C came out of the saloon with a bottle of whiskey, brown bread and cheese.

Great, so I’m stuck in Alisal. Without a doubt the biggest shit hole on our route. Bandits and gunfights are regular occurrences here, and I wonder if I’m even fit to shoot straight if things go bad. Basically the only things in Alisal are assholes and whiskey, and I’m not in the mood to spend several days with either of those waiting for the next stage.

I just wasn’t up to walking yet, though, still fighting that fever. I got a room for the night and felt a little better in the morning. Even went half an hour without puking, so I must have been ready to hit the road.

Thursday, 4 February 1858

The options for getting from Alisal to Stockton range from bad to worse, so I chose bad. I walked east along the same road the coach took. Rough country for about 30 miles, but things smooth out once you get to the San Joaquin Valley.

I forgot there was a little bit of a tricky turn near Altamont Pass, so on the first day I spent a good chunk of time wandering around aimlessly. Eventually impassable terrain reminded me that maybe I should try a different route. At least I got it right the second time, but I lost about half a day in the process. Later on I saw some bandits. Lamest bandits ever… hiding in plain sight, or not. I gave some serious thought to messing with them, but decided maybe taking on 4 armed men in the middle of nowhere wouldn’t be the smartest thing I’d ever done. Hopefully I didn’t pay the bandits forward to a defenseless group of orphans who happened to be the next ones coming this way.

The next day wasn’t so eventful. I was running a bit slow thanks to taking the scenic route the day before, but pretty much the only challenge in the San Joaquin valley is finding good points to ford the creeks. My navigation skills were apparently too embarrassed to fail me again, and I got across the creeks with no trouble.

And that has me walking into Stockton bright and early on Saturday, February 6th.

Interlude : The Long Ride

Late January 1858

Another munitions run into Sacramento.

How in hell did Mr. Johnson get to be a foreman for the Valley Railroad? Maybe it’s just bad because he is the foreman for a demolition crew and he doesn’t seem to get how things should work. He sure as hell doesn’t like takin advice…at least not advice from his crew. I figure I keep gettin the ‘supply run’ cuz he don’t care for my comments, that, and the fact that he keeps wastin explosives on unnecessary and inefficient blasting. Mr. Judah even commented on the fact that it seemed like our crew was going thru explosives like <cliche>. I find it interestin that Mr. Judah didn’t mind my comments regardin a bridge tress construction he was overseein and actually complimented me on my keen eye for weaknesses. Hell, I was right proud when he walked up to me in front of Mr. Johnson and asked if I could spare some time to look over another structure he was concerned about. I almost laughed as I caught a glimpse of Mr. Johnson as I walked away…he looked madder than an Irishman when the pub is closed for holiday.

God damn it! I can’t believe Sacramento ain’t got no munitions and I’m pretty sure we already run Folsom dry last month. I’m not sure what other towns in this area would have any. I’m sure San Francisco would have them, but that’s too much open country for a lone rider. I’ll just make a run to Nevada City.

Well…got the munitions, but Johnson ain’t gonna be happy considering how inept I am at haggling price. At least, I got a volume discount…I think. Kinda glad to be back here, at least I know where I can get a great meal.

I’ll be! That can’t be Gilbert sittin there. I’d figured Nurse Jane would have had to tie him to the bed until he was completely healed. I guess even she isn’t immune to his charming personality. He’s one lucky cuss! Although, he sure has had a bad run of luck when things have gotten nasty. I guess luck likes both sides.

‘Gilbert, I can’t believe you are out an about. What’d you have to do to convince Nurse Jane you were fixed?’
‘Sure I’m up for a night on the town! You don’t need to pay, but if you offer again, I won’t turn ya down.’

Gilbert sure knows how to have a good time and how does he manage to land the prettiest dancer? I bet Hazel or her friends wouldn’t have even talked to me if I wasn’t in Gilbert’s company. Well, probably not completely true, since they would probably be friendly if I was throwin around money like Gilbert was. I guess you don’t have to worry about losin money if you make sure you ain’t got much to keep up with. It sure was nice of Gilbert to treat me…sure beats the hell out of sittin in the ‘whiskey tent’ with the rest of the laborers. Looks like Gilbert has plans with Hazel so I’ll make my departure quick and get to my room…Johnson’s gonna be pissed it took me this long, but he’d be pissed at me for something so I may as well give him something.

Finally back. Better find Johnson and explain things and find out what I missed. I wonder how long this load of explosives will last…I bet I have to make another run to Sacramento before the month is up.