On my return, in looking over my finances, I was no poorer than when I left. It must be evident to the reader that I had acquired no wealth to astonish my friends with my riches, which was the visionary expectation of the early pioneers to the gold Eldorado. I have been writing from personal recollections of events that occurred forty-five years ago. Of course, there was nothing in my enterprises, or the little fluctuations of fortune that would be of particular interest to any one; but in the form of a personal narrative, it was the only way I could recall vividly to my mind, the events of so long ago. There were a series of articles published in the Century magazine two years ago, which I read with great interest, for they were truthful, but no book has ever been published that took in fully those two years when common labor was $16 per day, payable in gold. Such an event was never known to occur before, and probably never will again. I have not drawn on my imagination in the least in this narrative. I have simply attempted to portray from memory events that actually occurred under my own observation. Any Forty-niner will concede the truth of my narrative. I did not return to California as I had expected. Cupid’s arrow pierced my heart in the person of a young lady, and sealed my fate. I had a cottage built in the quiet and beautiful valley of Schoharie, where I have passed more than thirty years of happy married life. While not possessing the wealth of the successful pioneer, I have been content.
“A MONUMENT TO JACOB A.L. FISHER, A UNION SOLDIER.
“Interview with Doctor Knower, who has Charge of It–Some Interesting Reminiscences of Forty-niners.
“A monument to be erected in the Old Stone Fort Cemetery to Jacob A.L. Fisher, a Union soldier, by Abraham Schell, his uncle, of California.
“A draft of the above monument is before us. It is quite an affair, about twenty-seven feet high, with a full length statue of a soldier on top. It is now being constructed in Des Moines, Iowa, to be shipped by the 1st of May, and unveiled on the 4th day of July, 1894, with appropriate ceremonies. Dr. Knower, in 76, in laying the corner-stone to the David Williams State monument, gave the grandest celebration that ever occurred in this county. This one he expects to rely to a great extent on the local army organizations of the county, as this honor paid to one of their compatriots in arms is an honor to them.
“We have before us a copy of the Stockton (Cal.) Evening Mail of November 9, 1893, containing a seven column article descriptive of Abraham Schell’s vineyard at Knight’s Ferry, Cal. We quote from it: ‘A characteristic act of Abraham Schell was to give a deed to the entire place and all of its appurtenances, last summer, to Herrick R. Schell, his nephew, who had served him faithfully as assistant and business associate for twenty-six years.’ The property conveyed consisted of three thousand acres, upon which Mr. Schell had expended at the time the deed was given a quarter of a million of dollars. We see by the same article that Abraham Schell’s landed purchases in that locality, in the early days, amounted to fifteen thousand five hundred and thirty-five acres.
“Mr. Schell joined a company formed by Dr. Knower (who made an investment in it, and was then a resident of Albany), which sailed on the ship Tarolinton from the port of New York, on the 13th of January, 1849. The doctor, the following spring, shipped from Albany, twelve houses around Cape Horn, the freight on which was $5,000, he going by the way of the Isthmus, arriving in San Francisco on the 25th of September, 1849. On the steamer going up from Panama was Judge Terry, of Louisiana, who killed United States Senator Broderick in a duel, and who was years afterward assassinated.
“In these early days there was a contest between Northern and Southern pioneers whether California should come in the Union a free or a slave State. Broderick, a Democrat from the city of New York, represented the Northern sentiment, and was supported by the Whigs of the State. Common labor at that time was $16 per day, payable in gold. It was more from pride than from any thing to do with the moral question of slavery. They did not want to come in competition with slave labor. The Northern element predominated, and California came in a free State. Its first constitution was written by George Washington Sherwood, who was a Democratic member of the New York Legislature from Washington county, and copied after the constitution of this State.
“California may be said to be the child of the State of New York; her citizens may be said to have been pre-eminent in its development and present greatness.
“Abraham Schell was born in Gallupville, and proposes to be buried in the neighboring village of Middleburgh, his wife’s native place, where he has erected a monument.
“They say that all Forty-niners who remained in California either became millionaires or paupers. It seems that Mr. Schell was one of the former. He was an unconditional Union man in the rebellion, visiting the hospitals of the wounded soldiers, and assisting them by his means, and the erection of this monument to his nephew for his services in that war is but in accord with his acts of patriotism at that time.”
The above article inspired this undertaking at this time. I expected to find my friend on at the dedication of the monument, and thought I would have the manuscript ready on his arrival and submit it to him, and propose to have him go in partnership with me in its publication, and have him revise it with me. He was a man of high literary attainments, and an experienced Forty-niner, who could have added many important events to it that did not come under my observation. He was wealthy, and had the means to bring it properly before the public.