The mill property was owned by Johan (John) Sutter who employed Marshall to build his mill. The wave of gold seekers turned everyone’s attention away from … HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. The peak year of the gold rush, 1852, 100,00 miners had produced nearly $80 million in gold. It is estimated about $80,000 in gold was taken from the canyon before the shallow deposits played out. Marshall and his men set out for the millsite that September. On the south fork of the American River, 45 miles northeast of Sutter’s Fort, near a Maidu Indian village called Cullumah (Coloma), Marshall began construction. Marshall would build and supervise the operation of the mill, while Sutter would find provisions, teams, tools, and pay for the workmen s wages. Miners extracted more than 750,000 pounds of gold during the California Gold Rush. He soon partnered up with another miner in a gold mine near Kelsey, California. The pension was renewed in 1874 and 1876 but lapsed in 1878. The metal was mined at least as early as the beginning of the 19th century, if not before. Go to discoveryplus.com to get the greatest real-life entertainment plus exclusive originals, all in one place. On January 24, 1848, James W. Marshall discovered gold on the property of Johann A. Sutter near Coloma, California.A builder, Marshall was overseeing construction of a sawmill on the American River. Chester Nimitz, U.S. admiral who commanded naval forces in the Pacific during WWII. Wilhelm Carl Grimm, compiler, with his brother of fairy tales. When he returned to his land, he found his cattle had been stolen and he was forced to sell his land. He noticed several flakes of metal in the tailrace water and recognized them to be gold. His refusal to reveal the location of these so-called rich diggings only angered resentful miners, who even threatened to lynch him if he did not lead them to new sources of treasure. Sutters Mill, Coloma, California by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. He spotted a gleam in the bottom of the ditch, scooped up a handful of gravel, examined it closely and concluded that he had found what appeared to be gold. In 1847, having been discharged, he returned to Sutter’s employ. At that point, the bewildered, depressed Marshall seriously undermined his own future. Suspecting it was gold he took them to John Sutter. James Marshall’s discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in California in 1848, started the California Gold Rush. ‘Gold,’ he shouted, ‘Gold, gold from the American River!’ Within days, half of the city’s population had departed, and within weeks, the news had spread as far south as distant, sleepy San Diego. HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. He immediately advised Sutter, who swore all his employees to secrecy. This Day In History: January 24, 1848. Marshall was 62 years old at the time. There, he contracted malaria and at the advice of his doctor, he moved westward again. Overlooking the south fork of the American River, a monument was erected over the grave site in 1890. But, the “news” was just too big, and in no time it leaked out. In the meantime, his state pension had been cut in half after 1874 and eliminated entirely in 1876. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. Padre Luis Antonio Martinez of Mission San Luis Obispo did, however, operate a modest gold mine in his district in 1829. Margaret A. Kelly, Marshall’s friend during his embittered old age, wrote that ‘probably no man ever went to his grave so misunderstood, so misjudged, so misrepresented, so altogether slandered as James W. Marshall.’ Although possibly true, it should be noted that Marshall’s self-destructive, often bizarre behavior contributed to his misfortune. Your email address will not be published. Though Marshall tried to secure his own claims in the goldfields, he was unsuccessful. However, his identity was so widely and well known that miners hounded him wherever he went. The events that set the world in motion to the new El Dorado began almost by accident–John Sutter decided to build a sawmill in partnership with his employee, James Marshall, in 1847. Much has been written about James Marshall's discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848, thereby precipitating the California Gold Rush. He also was taught his father’s trade as a carpenter and wheelwright. It was at the sawmill that, on January 24, 1848, he discovered gold in the water flow through the mill’s tailrace. Though he tried to keep it a secret, the word spread quickly and triggered the California Gold Rush of … El Dorado County Though he tried to keep it a secret, the word spread quickly and triggered the California Gold Rush of … The California State Library got its start during the height of the Gold Rush. However, the development of the mine proved expensive and yielded nothing, leaving the unlucky Marshall once again close to bankruptcy. The mill property was owned by Johan (John) Sutter who employed Marshall to build his mill. James Wilson Marshall (October 8, 1810 – August 10, 1885) was an American carpenter and sawmill operator, who reported the finding of gold at Coloma on the American River in California on January 24, 1848, the impetus for the California Gold Rush. If I sought employment, I was refused on the reasoning that I had discovered the goldmines, and should be the one to employ them; they did not wish the man that made the discovery under their control….Thus I wandered for more than four years.’. James Marshall’s discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in California in 1848, started the California Gold Rush. Marshall was the oldest and only male of four children. Marshall never did marry. This was an ironic turn of events, since at one time large numbers of miners had been willing to follow him anywhere in search of gold. Peterson has published extensively in the mining history of California and the West, including numerous book reviews, articles and three books. According to legend, Lopez fell asleep under an old oak tree after tending cattle on a nearby rancho. It was a member of the battalion, Henry Bigler, who recorded the date of the discovery in his diary. He packed a few supplies on his back and sought to hide out in the hills. Don Abel Stearns, a native of Massachusetts who became a naturalized Mexican citizen and large landowner in California, shipped 20 ounces of gold to the East. Our cookies are delicious. Initially profitable, his endeavors as a vintner would also fail when, by the end of the decade, increased competition and less demand put him out of business once again. News of the discovery, however, soon spread, and they were besieged by thousands of fortune seekers. Hoping to get on with his life under better circumstances, young James headed west, drifting into the Ohio Valley during the 1830s and for a while settling in Missouri. He haggled with the eager prospectors so forcefully that they became enraged to the point of finally attacking the millhands and driving Marshall from the site of his discovery. James Marshall at Sutter’s Sawmill, Coloma, California, 1851. To accommodate the flood of '49ers(as these new, would-be gold miners were called), gold mining towns sprung up all over. Terms apply. Soon, the area surrounding Sutter’s Mill became the first mining boomtown in California – Coloma. If luck were a critical factor in the discovery of gold that initiated the California Gold Rush, probably the unluckiest man of that period was no other than the original discoverer himself, James Wilson Marshall. Sutter and Marshall agreed to become partners and tried to keep their find a secret. On January 24th, 1848 Marshall found several shiny gold colored nuggets in the American River. August Derleth, writer (Still is the Summer Night, The Shield of the Valiant). His sawmill also failed, as every able-bodied man took off in search of gold. California Indians gave gold to the mission padres in return for trading goods. It was displayed at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. Despite prior appropriation, the greedy miners in their furious rush to get rich quick showed Marshall and Sutter no respect or restraint. It was financed by the Native Sons of the Golden West and an appropriation by the state legislature. (Last Privacy Policy Update July 2020), Byways & Historic Trails – Great Drives in America, Soldiers and Officers in American History. LEARN MORE We use cookies. In 1844, he arrived in Oregon by wagon train. Who: James Wilson Marshall and John Sutter, main people of the first discovery of gold in California. This small piece of yellow metal is believed to be the first piece of gold discovered in 1848 at Sutter's Mill in California, launching the gold rush. John Marshall, foreman of the mill, gave Jennie the gem while dubbing it the "Wimmer Nugget". The statue is located at the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma at the end of Highway 153 (the state's shortest highway) off of Highway 49. A vaquero named Francisco Lopez is credited with making the first commercially significant, well-documented gold discovery on March 9, 1842, in Placerita Canyon about 35 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Unlike the earlier discoveries, however, his find was like a shot heard around the world. They decided to keep the discovery as secret as possible. Marshall convinced Sutter that a partnership in a sawmill in the Sierra Nevada foothills would be a profitable venture, and he set out to find a suitable location. Few people know about Marshall’s ironically tragic life after he made his great discovery, from which he did not profit; he died with assets barely sufficient to cover his funeral expenses. On May 3, 1890, a monument of the man whose discovery unleashed the force and fury of the California Gold Rush was officially dedicated with an elaborate program attended by thousands. Sometimes, important or momentous discoveries are made by people who aren't even looking for them. James W. Marshall was building a sawmill for Captain John Sutter, using water from the South Fork of the American River. John A. Sutter and James W. Marshall’s sawmill, on American Fork River, California. On January 24, 1848, during his regular morning inspection, he made the discovery that would change the course of California and even American history. This article was written by Richard H. Peterson, Ph.D. and originally appeared in the December 1997 issue of Wild West. Additional tests at Sutter’s Mill convinced the partners that Marshall indeed had found gold. Marshall’s gold discovery more than 150 years ago arguably began the modernization of California. In 1857, he returned to Coloma and started a vineyard in the early 1860s. I have had to carry my pack of thirty or forty pounds over the mountains, living on China rice alone. Each night Marshall directed the river’s flow through the millrace to allow erosion to deepen the channel and carry away the debris from the previous day’s work. In 1848 alone, $10 million in gold was produced by 6000. In 1872, he received some compensation for his contribution to California’s gold-crazed growth. Coloma, California 2009 by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. The events that set the world in motion to the new El Dorado began almost by accident–John Sutter decided to build a sawmill in partnership with his employee, James Marshall, in 1847. Required fields are marked *. An attempted lecture tour failed to sustain a profit, in part because Marshall was a poor speaker. After spending a long, wet winter doing carpentry in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Marshall soon wandered south to California where he worked for Sutter, making tools, furniture, spinning wheels, looms and virtually anything else that could be made from wood. Sutter tells of the Gold Discovery - 1854. John Stone With Gold Mining Pan… August, 1939. Explore our collection of motivational and famous quotes by authors you know and love. John Marshall, (1859-1908) was an adventurer, journalist, public figure and Digger’s leader on the Coolgardie-Kalgoorlie gold field who wrote of the early days on West Australia's gold fields in "Battling For Gold." Marshall was forced to flee for his life and try to start over as just another prospector. In 1872, Marshall had a turn of luck when the California State Legislature awarded him a two-year pension in recognition of his role in an important era in California history. According to the legend, Marshall then went to visit the legislative assembly in person to get the pension renewed again. In time, failed mining and other business ventures deeply embittered Marshall. The news of gold brought approximately 300,000 people to California from the rest of the United States and abroad. In 1848 John Sutter was having a water-powered sawmill built along the American River in Coloma, California, approximately 50 miles (80 km) east of present-day Sacramento.On January 24 his carpenter, James W. Marshall, found flakes of gold in a streambed. Fairing well there, he improved his economic prospects, purchasing a ranch, and began to raise cattle. He then formed a partnership with John Sutter to build a sawmill. His body was then taken to Coloma and buried on the property where he had owned his vineyard. The gold discovery site, located in the still visible tailrace of Sutter's sawmill in present day Coloma, California, is one of the most significant historic sites in the nation. Even before his famous discovery, he was known as a person who told tales about spiritual visions and claimed to have heard strange voices. Discovery and contains artifacts and memorabilia regarding the man who had begun.. As possible in 1810, Marshall left the area surrounding Sutter ’ s became. 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