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Biography of William Taylor (1804-1890)

by Sally Knutson

(Return to Biography title page)

Page 1--Early years
Page 2--First journey to California
Page 3--Life in Nevada County
Page 4--Later years

Page 3

(Paragraphs in italics are the exact words of William Taylor--spelling, punctuation and grammar as he wrote it.)

“After this we had no trouble for the want of grass and water. We "crosed" the "Sarrea" Nevada at the "Heness" (Henness) Pass and I had been expecting "dificulty" in getting over the summit, but we "pased" several miles and I "discoverd" we were going down pretty rapidly, and must have passed the rubicon without noticing the divide.”

They paid their older boys a visit. They had been pretty successful on the Yuba River. William was in a huge hurry to find housing for his family because he remembered the winter before and how miserable it was with rain and snow.

“One of my mules was a fine "travler". I mounted, went to Grass Valley to see a friend who had "crosed" the plains with me the year before. The friend "toled" me, that the Tennessee Ranch was for sale, and he thought it a bargain at two thousand dollars, and "reccommended" it very highly. I went to see the Buena Vista ranch, but the price was too high. I really did not like it and "woud" not have bought it if I had had the money. I returned and "staid" all "knight" at the Tennessee Ranch. The ranch belonged to Charly Gassoway and a partner (I have forgot his name). Gassoway was away from home, but his partner showed and pointed out all the good "qualitis" of the ranch. There was one thing I liked it was on a very "publick" road, where by going to the door we could see "waggons" and "travlers" all the time. I never did like to be outside of nowhere, but like to see and have company, but on the "hole" did not think the ranch worth the price, and started to look further. About the time I reached Pet Hill, the heavens decided it; clouds began to loom up; I "stoped" in the road (I remember this "occurance" "distincly"), deliberated, looked up at the clouds, "stoped" some time, and finally decided this will never do. My family must be housed, the rain is coming! If I could have seen the fore sight as well--it did not rain more than a sprinkle for a long time afterwards; if the clouds had not "interferd" God only knows what would have been our fate for either good or bad; but the decision was made, I turned back, and bought the Ranch, and paid two hundred dollars to secure the bargain.”

During the next three years a son died, a son was born and the oldest daughter married. The new son-in-law was a Nevada City store keeper and he offered William a job of keeping the books and tending the store. Then they decided to open a store in the new diggings called Humbug. William went to Humbug to tend that butcher shop.

“How long I had charge of Mr. Johns business I have now forgot, no matter. Mr. Johns proposed a copartnership in starting a store and butcher shop in a new camp, then “caled” Humbug but afterwards changed to N. (North) Bloomfield we arranged for him to go up to Humbug, build a store house and start the butchering business, and I to go to San Francisco and lay in a stock of goods. Mr. Johns had sold out his stock of goods in Nevada City and rented his brick store for four hundred dollars a month, a handsome income, that I believe would have satisfied my highest ambition, but the Brick though considered fire proof, afterward burnt, when the city was swept by the awful fire of fifty six. Fire proof buildings were then considered so safe that a good many “staid” in them during the fire and burnt! It was awful!! Poor Johns must have felt as I did when my all was swept from under me!”

“We had the first store in Humbug (1856) but unfortunately Mr. Johns located in the wrong place. There was a much “handsomer” and level piece of ground for the town close by on which the village was built. More stores came in, tavern, blacksmith shop, livery stable, grog shops, “Hurddgerdy” houses, “Brewry”, and we became quite a little village with a school house and a snug little school, a doctor, and post office, we “cept” the post office but we were on the outside of the village but notwithstanding continued to do a very good business until we had to refuse a good many customers that was slow pay that we could not furnish beef, pork and lamb without they paid us. Some of the citizens got up their dander and induced another butcher to come in who located in the most populous part of the town; this was soon after the disaster of the tree. If I could have “cept” the “control” of the meat trade, it would have been a pretty fair business of its “slf”, but two butcher shops, in our little village, could not live! It is different from any other business meat wont “ceep”. You must sell so much daily, if you butcher your own cattle. You see trouble hardly ever comes single. This was nearly as discouraging as the “faling” of the tree, but we continued to retain the best of the cash customers until our “oposition” butchers concluded it would be best to buy us out, they offered a pretty fair price which we “acepted”.

“A mining camp is a dangerous place to do a credit business, indeed with the “stricktest” precaution, merchants, if they credit much, will inevitably loose a great “deel”. They had better cry over goods on the shelf, than a doubtful debt. My misfortune was I was too anxious to sell!”

“We left North Bloomfield out of debt, I “staid” until “evry” dollar was paid, and with my family returned to the Ranch. The wheat crop was a failure it took the smut and was unfit for bread”

“Mr Hatch at Indian Springs had built a School House, with the expectation of building up a flourishing institution of learning the “yong” “idia” to shoot, and it did look promising, for at this time he had, a good many boarding “”scholars” besides the “neighbourhood” support. I went to see Mr. Hatch and told him that I wished to send some of my children but did not know when I could pay him, schooling was high. Send them! Send them all!! Never mind the pay! I sent Katie, Gerty, Allen and John, Eddy was too “yong”, but when I went to settle for the schooling, the amt was pretty large for me at this time and he wanted more interest than I thought the law allowed, but he finally agreed to the amt I was willing to give and I gave my note as well as I recollect at two per cent per month. I believe that was the currant interest for money lent at that time. I finally paid the note and interest although it was a pretty big debt for me “strugling” as I had to support my family by my own “leighbor”, as said before all my first children had gone to seek their fortunes, and the little ones depending on me for their bread, none of them old enough to help me! But my motto was never give up the ship, so long as there is a plank to stand on!”


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This page last updated: 4 July 2015

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