Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Life of Enos, Part 6

(The two men standing in the doorway of this photo of the Sonora Herald are unidentified but could well be Lewis Gunn and Enos Christman. The photo is from "Newspaper in the Old West," by Robert F. Karolevitz.)

Around Stockton, there was a lot more money in harvesting hay than in panning for gold. Enos Christman hit the fields, but "Atkins is still too sick to work," he wrote in his journal on June 1, 1850. "But rich or poor as long as he is sick I shall stick by him and it shall never be said of me that I deserted a friend when health and fortune failed."

A few days later, Enos found work "sticking type" at the Stockton Times. The money was good – about $50 a week. The Times also began printing the first newspaper to serve the gold fields - the Sonora Herald - on July 4, and Enos was sent there to sell the papers, at 50 cents each. Eventually, the old Ramage press, which had printed The Californian, the first newspaper in that state, was sent up to Sonora, where Enos operated it along with editor Lewis Gunn. The two would eventually become partners and owners of the Herald.

There was no shortage of news or other jobs to print. The business of elections was brisk, particularly with California becoming a state. And then there were the Indian raids, the rampages of Mexican bandits, frequent murders and the swift justice of vigilance committees and lynch mobs when horse thieves were caught.

The letters, which usually took two months to be delivered, continued to flow between Enos and Ellen Apple, she always pleading for his return, he always maintaining that he would stay as long as necessary to return well enough off to repay his former employer's investment.

Ellen to Enos, July 14, 1850 - ... Dear Enos, you have made every effort to obtain gold. You have failed in the effort. Be not disheartened. Riches taketh wings and flies away but happiness no one can take away from us. I repeat what I have said in all my letters, that it is not every man's luck to make a fortune. If your health has improved and you have a safe return to your dearest friends, to have made the effort will perhaps be a lasting benefit and repay you for all your trouble. I have told you that a living can be made in Chester County and gold will not buy health and happiness...

Enos to Ellen, Oct. 6, 1850 - ... Advise me to stay and try my luck another season, and in a year from now I promise to be with you. Or beneath the waves of the ocean, or my bones bleaching on the plains, if Providence should so will it..."

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