Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Gold Hunter's Experience  -  1898
Chalkey J. Hambleton
122 pages
genre  -  Memoir
my rating  - 3 out of 5 stars

"Early in the summer of 1860 I had a bad attack of gold fever...Gold had been discovered in the fall of 1858 in the vicinity of Pike's Peak...[the stories of returning miners] were fed out to the public daily in an appetizing way by the newspapers. The result was that by the next spring the epidemic became as prevalent in Chicago as cholera was a few years later."

Mr. Hambleton formed a partnership with three other individuals, raised $9,000 dollars and started gathering the equipment, supplies and men needed to furnish a mining outfit headed for Colorado.  

He tells all kinds of stories about driving young oxen, passing through millions of 'buffalo', meeting with the Native Americans in that area, food on the trail, prairie dogs and wolves, and information about prospecting and the fascinating miners that he met, including a young George M. Pullman.

About halfway to Colorado "We also began to meet the vanguard of the returning army of disappointed gold seekers...many of them were a sorry, ragged looking lot....[they] told sad stories about life in the mountains, the prospects and the danger from Indians on the road....Some of these chaps showed a humorous vein in the mottoes painted on the sides of their wagons. On one was "Pike's Peak or bust," evidently written on going out; under it was written, "Busted."

I love how he concluded his memoir: "In summing up the losses and gains of the expedition, I have to charge on one side two years and four months of time devoted to hard work, with many privations, and about $500 in cash which I was out of pocket.

On the other side, I had built up a fine constitution, increased in strength and endurance, gained valuable business experience, learned in a measure to persevere under difficulties, and to bear with patience and fortitude the back-sets, reverses and disappointments that so often beset...Did the enterprise pay?"

A special 'thank you' to the volunteer at LibriVox for taking the time to record this book.  While I could tell she was not a professionally trained vocalist, she did a fine job.

About the author  - 

I could find very little about Hambleton.  He was a prominent Chicago lawyer, real estate developer, and a member of the Chicago Board of Education. He wrote this candid account for family and friends, publishing it privately in 1898.

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