Intelligence reaches us of the death of Abraham Schell, at his home at Knight’s Ferry, California, in the early part of February. Mr. Schell was seventy-six years old, and was a native of this county, having been born in the town of Wright. At the time of the gold excitement in 1849 he was in the mercantile business in Albany, but sold out and joining a company of friends journeyed to California, where he invested his means to good advantage and became highly successful, amassing a large fortune. His vineyards and their product have long been celebrated. A man of independent thought and fine literary attainments, he was one of the sons of Schoharie county, whose enterprise and intellectual culture we may take just pride in.
His remains are deposited in a vault there, to be brought here in the spring by his nephew, and interred in their final resting place in the cemetery at Middleburgh, where he has a $2,000 monument erected.
We learn from Dr. Knower that the proposed monument to his nephew at Old Stone Fort will undoubtedly be erected, as it has been contracted for, but the full details he will not be posted on until the arrival of the nephew in the spring.
The above will show that death, which plays an important hand in the events of human life, intervened; so I have gone on alone and submit it to the public, such as it is. I hope and trust it may meet the approval of all Californians, more particularly of those of the days to which it refers. If they will give their approval, it will add to the happiness and gratification of one of their compatriots of those early days of the pioneers and founders of the State of California. What California has become since, we, at that time, had no realization of. Instead of conceiving it an utter impossibility of ever building one railroad across the continent, we now have five. Instead of conceiving the idea that it would never be an agricultural country, it may be said to be the vineyard and wine producing country of the world, and it has a greater variety of productions than most any other land.
The city of San Francisco, when I first entered it, had not as many good buildings as a common eastern village. Now it has a population of nearly four hundred thousand, and edifices that cost millions. It has produced more millionaires, from persons that went there poor, than any other country before in the history of the world, and more money has been donated to science and education by those successful pioneers, who were the creators of their own fortune in the same time, than all the rest of the world in the past forty-five years, since the days of the Forty-niners.
Lick’s institution for the science of astronomy, Leland Stanford’s twenty millions to the Alto University of Learning, open to all students, are illustrations of the above statements.
The foundation of the fortunes of many bankers and wealthy capitalists of the East were made in California in the days of the Forty-niners. Mill, the owner of the great building at the corner of Broadway and Wall street, the ground on which it stands costing a million, who is many times a millionaire, went from Sing Sing, in this State, a poor boy in 1849. Armour, the great millionaire cattle dealer of Chicago, made his first money there in those days, which laid the foundation of his great fortune, and many others I can recall to mind too numerous to mention.
While all did not succeed, as they never do in any human enterprise, some got discouraged, others fell by the way and laid down and died from disappointment, yet others more than realized their most fabulous conception of wealth. I was told when I was a boy if I went where the sun set and dug for gold I would find it. When I became a man I went three thousand miles in the direction of the sun setting and dug and found gold. It is not a dream, for as I close this writing I see on my little finger a gold ring made from the gold I there dug, which has been there for forty-five years. It is so fine that it has been wearing away, and it is not more than one-fourth the size it was when I first put it on, and time is likewise wearing on me, and it will probably last as long as I do, and we will disappear together, as Shakespeare says, “besmeared with sluttish time.”