Titus Hale’s autobiography. [His references to F. A. Hihn]. 1907.


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Source: Society of California Pioneers Autobiography. Records, Vol. 1, pg. 171-177

[Annotated by the Transcriber, Stanley D. Stevens]

[Transcriber’s Note: This version of Titus Hale’s autobiography is somewhat different, in punctuation and one or two crucial dates, than the version published in the Santa Cruz County History Journal, Num. Four, 1998, pp. 118-121, which was obtained from the Archives at the Pajaro Valley Historical Association. This copy is transcribed directly from the original held by the Society of California Pioneers, as noted above.]

Titus Hale

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I arrived at the California line Sept. 1, 1849, came by the Lawson route. A month later arrived at Lawsons (now Vina) [see Historic Spots in California under Lassen’s Ranch, Tehama County] here our company separated, the greater part going to “Reddings diggins,” and I have only seen a few of them since. The 15th October I was at Sacramento, a city of cloth houses and tents.

The first few days in Sacramento, I spent in looking after the team [so] that the cattle did not stray away.

On election day I went to Sutterville, looking for the steers. It rained and I went into a bakery to get my dinner, which consisted of 50 cts. worth of ginger cake.

Two Indians came in and called for Vino, after they drank, they tendered the baker $1.00, he demanded $4.00, -$2.00 per drink- as the Indians refused to pay he pulled out an Allen revolver and began to shoot. Now every one knows that the safest place to stand when an Allen’s is fired is right in front of the gun. I got out as quickly as possible. It is unnecessary to say that the Indians were not injured; although the man fired five shots at them at a distance of not more than five feet.

After this little experience I went into the house where the election was held. Captain Sutter was there and they were having a boisterous time, they insisted on my voting. I suggested that I was rather too young, but that made no difference, but when I told them that if I must vote I would vote for [Peter H.] Burnett, they concluded that I was not eligible. A few days after that we sold our team, and I engaged in business peddling Nuts. I bought my first stock from R. Gelston, 25 lbs. for $6.25. I used an old champaign basket, had a hoop tied on to it for a handle. I commenced work at Noon and sold out before midnight, profit $10. After I had accumulated about $300. I put a small tent house on the lot of Suydam and Galloway, next door to the corner of 4th St. now J., where I sold pies, cakes, nuts, etc. I had about $600. stock when the flood came. During the time of the overflow, I boarded on the Brig Toronto. Among the boarders was our respected brother Paul - he was partner with Dr. White of St. Louis, Mo. Among the guests on the Toronto, whom I remember, were - Dr. White and family; Miss Caroline Fairchild - a most beautiful young lady -; Major Dudley[,] Joe Bassett; Mr. Patrick. The Proprietors, were Mayhem and Hite.

During the time I was peddling nuts, Mr. F. A. Hihn -of Santa Cruz- was peddling candy. We both frequented the Auctions. Among the Auctioneers, were Major Dudly [sic] and Dr. Pierson Starr - I followed the crowd at the auctions in day-time, and at the Gambling houses at night.

There were about fifteen boys in Sacramento during the winter of ‘49. Most of them took to drink. (I never drank liquor unless administered to me by a Doctor, and only three times in that way.) Some of the boys were making lots of money gambling, so one evening I concluded to change my business. I left my basket of nuts at home and went down town with the intention of making a fortune out of the Gamblers, as some of my companions had done. I bet, 50 cts. on Monte and won, I continued through the evening to win and lose, at midnight I had lost the original investment, 50 cts. I have never bet on anything since.

The flood about used up my capital and my lease of the lot only ran till June 1st so I concluded to abandon pies, cakes and nuts and on March 4th 1850 started for Georgetown; I was at Coloma and saw the Mill where gold was discovered.

We settled at Oregon Canõn. I was thought too young to work with the men, so I hunted up a claim for myself. I made $600 out of my claim, which my Father sent home to my Mother. That was the first money sent home by any of our party.

After digging out our claims at Oregon Canõn we went to Spanish Bar -say in May- we had indifferent success here, later we went to Shirt-tail Canõn, and that trip was a failure. While at Spanish Bar I met Colonel Gift, [George W. Gift] he was Collector of Foreign Miners taxes. I heard him tell a funny story there, twenty-five years after, I heard a man tell the same story in the Commercial Hotel in this city [San Francisco]; it was the same old Colonel Gift.

From Shirt-tail Canõn we went to Sacramento. On the way stopped at Greenwood Valley. The night we went there a tree fell across a tent in which six men were sleeping, killing five of them. The five killed were Freemasons, the one who escaped was not. My father was a Mason so we stayed there a day for the burial of these people.

We only stayed a few days at Sacramento, then went to Rough and Ready. We mined there awhile, but there was no rain that winter, consequently no water in the Gulches, so we went down to Deer Creek and worked on a bar there. We made about $1500 and left for Missouri. We were in San Francisco for a few days in March 1851, and sailed for Panama on the Bark Elizabeth. We were forty days going to Panama, stopped in Panama two days, walked across the Isthmus in one and one half days to Gargona, there took small boat for Chagres and came by Steamer Falcon to New Orleans and by Steamer St. Louis to St. Louis.

I was not pleased with St. Louis wages they were too low. The forst [sic] work I had was a clerk in a wholesale grocery at $10 per month. As I boarded with my employer I had to dress fairly well so I could save but little although my salary was increased to $16 per month after a short time. It required three years for me to save money enough to come back to California. I returned in 1855 and settled at Santa Cruz. I had $180 when I arrived at Santa Cruz. I lived there twenty-five years, was successful most of the time.

At one time I paid taxes on $66,000 and a few years later I left Santa Cruz with a wife and seven children and my net assets were not over $1000 and I was in miserable health.

I submitted to a Surgical operation, recovered my health and started in business again. The first year I made about $4000. I then went to Solano County and bought a farm near Dixon for $4500. I raised $8000 worth of barley on it the first year and sold the place at big profit, and then bought 1000 acres near Collinsville. I still own that and hope to keep it till the end.

I once owned some interest in the San Andreas Ranch between Watsonville and Santa Cruz. This Ranch was first owned by Jose Castro who died in 1834, (the year I was born). He left a wife and fourteen children, his estate was never settled and the children had conveyed interests in the lands by all manner of deeds and in all quantities; some selling more than twice their interest. All the lands were in the possession of a few of the owners and (some squatters) and the other owners received no benefits or rents.

I commenced and carried on a partition suit, by which title to the property was settled. It was a mammoth undertaking; there were one hundred and twelve owners beside other claimants. I spent two years in transcribing and examining deeds in this work. I was assisted by Stephen M. White who at that time was a Law student in Hagan and Younger[’]s Office [Albert Hagan and Charles Bruce Younger].

I gave Stephen the first fee he ever received, he was a noble fellow. I examined over 1200 deeds and decided what each owner[’]s interest in the Ranch was. We compromised and went into court with a decree allowing each owner the amount of land I was willing he should have, and the judge signed the decree. The Attorneys in this case were - Charles B. Younger; Albert Hagan; William H. Patterson; Judge Currey; O. P. Evans; Cornwall McCabe; Julius Lee; J. A. Barham; and a host of others.

My portion of the Ranch was 3000 acres. That suit was entitled Briody [Edward Briody] V,S [versus] Hale and entailed the hardest work I ever did, but it paid well.

In 1872 the Santa Cruz people thought we needed a Railroad to connect at Pajaro with S. P. RR for San Francisco. We organized a company to build it. The Directors were F. A. [Hihn], Claus Spreckels, B. F. Porter, George E. Logan and Titus Hale. Mr. [Hihn] was President and I was treasurer. Mr. [Hihn] and I were authorized by the Board of Directors to build the road.— We built it but it was a difficult thing to do. We were hampered first by want of funds and next by all manner of law suits. The farmers were up in arms against us and we had to condemn the right of way for nearly the whole distance. We had to encounter new rulings of the Supreme Court. In one case - Sawborn [Sanborn] versus Belden - the Court announced the new doctrine that R. R. Companys [sic] must acquire the right of way before taking possession. This compelled us to take up two miles of track after we had finished it.

In another of our suits - S. C. R. R. Co. versus Spreckels, - the court held - that corporations can continue levying assessments (when in debt) even after the stockholder has paid up in full for his stock.

We finished the road in 1876. As a Mechanical proposition it was a success, as a Business venture, it was a dead failure. The first year after road was finished, our receipts were about $75000; by that time the South Pacific Coast R. R. ran a line direct from San Francisco to Santa Cruz was completed and there-after we never made running expenses.

In 1879 we transferred our stock to the S. P. Co. Mr. Hihn made the negotiation with Charles Crocker. Mr. C. came to Santa Cruz and looked the situation over, when he returned to city he said - “well boys you’ve got an elephant, your road is not worth what you owe on it, but if you will pay us $25,000 and turn the majority of the stock over to us we will take it.”

Mr. Hihn paid the money out of his own pocket and the S. P. Co became the owners under fore-closure of Mortgage.

Mr. Hihn paid this in order to protect small stock-holders from liability in case road should not bring enough to pay Mortgage and floating debt.

This is the same Hihn that peddled candy in Sacramento in the winter of 1849 and is one of the wisest and most honorable men it has ever been my good fortune to meet.

It is generally understood that in early days, there was great disregard for life and rights of property, but my experience has been some-what to the contrary.

I passed through the so-called trying times without any great amount of trouble or anxiety, and it was not till 1899 that I ever looked into a gun that was held by a man who contemplated murder. I was building a levee at Marcuse, Sutter County and had about fifty men at work. At noon one day the Foreman and I were talking and all the men lounging around, when a man whom the Foreman had just discharged, demanded his pay in coin. Now I had never paid any one coin, but always gave the men whom we discharged, checks on the Bank. These checks were good anywhere and all the merchants were glad to get them and it was no hardship on the men as all discharged men went in to town. Marysville where the Bank was located, and men were informed of this rule before they went to work, but that fellow wanted coin. He had a Winchester rifle drawn on us, we knew it was loaded. There were fourteen charges in the Magazine. Now we had no money in the camp and we tried to explain the matter to the scamp, but all the answer we got was - “give me my money, or I will kill you.”

The Foreman attracted his attention more than I and I walked away. The fellow fired at the foreman, but missed him. The bullet went close to a dozen of the men but hit no one. It was not long till the camp was deserted, the shooter had it to himself and he left. The Sheriff caught and landed him in jail before night. We prosecuted him and sent him to States Prison for life; he was an ex-convict and had been sentenced for life for murder and pardoned out, later he was sent for ten years for rape and had only been at liberty three months when he was sent back again where I hope he will stay, for he was the most disagreeable man I ever met.

Like most Pioneers, I have been engaged in various occupations. In 1861 I was going to sea, but I did not like it. Missourians seldom do. I did not continue long in that business, but I owned interest in vessels for some years after. Last sea-going vessel I owned was lost, with all hands (five men) went ashore at Santa Cruz 1870.

While I am in excellent health, yet I realize the fact, the end cannot be very far off; and in looking back over the past 51- almost 52 years - I have had much to be thankful for, and feel that the day I arrived in California is a day to be commemorated, and that I am enrolled as a member of “The Society California Pioneers” is a very great honor, and in conferring on my Male descendents the privilege of becoming Members of the Society, I have bestowed on them a great heritage.

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